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05 July 2008



UPDATE: Jasmyne Cannick has now decided to tell the truth on her blog, and place the blame for the cancellation of the beach party where it belongs. The ATB team totally dropped the ball, missing several deadlines and not showing up to meetings. Shame on the ATB team. Apparently the people hired by the organization to check bags didn't do their job and some drunk person actually was brandishing a gun. (it wasn't stated that it was a lesbian but i'll bet you anything that it was).

We have to be careful when we sound the racism alarm. If unfounded claims occur too many times, no one will believe us when real acts of hate occur.

Milton Smith

Dear Los Angeles Black LGBT Family and Allies:

It pains me to have to write a letter like this, but I’m sure you’ll agree with the cancellation of this year’s pride, it is long over due. It seems far too many of us have sat idle and watched as others have dictated for us what they think we should have. As a young black, gay male I find it is my duty to speak on behalf of myself and others who remain silent. I strongly believe that even one person can spark change.

Over 20 years ago in the summer of 1988, Duane Bremond and a group of friends decided to come together to organize and enjoy a day "At the Beach" over the 4th of July weekend. Every year since, At the Beach (ATB) aka Black Pride LA has grown in participants and in scope. It was to become the nation's largest recognized Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride celebration, instead it has become a yearly on again off again, meager celebration which hasn’t made any inroads towards becoming a permanent fixture in our community, let alone nationally. This has happened for several reasons, far too many to list, including but not limited to past corruption from former event organizers. Two of the top reasons however are much more simplistic. Lack of communication between pride committee members, Los Angeles County personnel, and the public, and the lack of infrastructure have resulted in the cancellation of yet another year’s pride. And I feel that the excuse for this year’s cancellation is in poor taste, and condescending to our community because I have direct knowledge confirming that the reason given isn’t one hundred percent factual!

To honor Duane’s vision I think we should reassess what the ATB has become, think about how we can reverse the downward spiral it has caused, and craft a strategic plan for future success.

Our black family is experiencing a great shift in its thinking, and fresh new minds are being recognized. This is evident in politics with the election of Barak Obama as the Democratic presidential nominee, and with newly elected Benjamin Jealous, the Executive Director of the NAACP, who at 35 is the organizations youngest leader in history. In order for our voices to be heard more in LA, we need to take away the assumed power of few and hand over the encouragement to empower many.

Looking at the model of Washington D.C.’s Black Pride, it is very impressive to see that they have a governing body in the form of a volunteer committee that plans pride a year in advance. It is also impressive to see their attendance numbers, and that their mobility in the community continues to increase. Although LA’s black gay population statistically isn’t as high as D.C.’s we should still be able to adopt some of their processes and mirror some of their successes. Just from taking a look at their website it is clear that they are an asset to their community, and should be applauded for their efforts.

In conclusion, this letter isn’t meant to negate all of the work from past and current members of the ATB committee, but it is meant to spark dialogue and move towards creating positive change. I think the current ATB committee should chalk its organizational structure up as a failure and we as the Los Angeles Black LGBT Community should start from scratch. I think having some new blood on the committee along with a new name, I suggest Black Pride LA, an operational website, partnerships with service providers, a pool of volunteers and similar progressive steps to move forward would be a good starting point. We should spend some time speaking with other successful black pride organizations like D.C. or Atlanta. This shouldn’t just be a day “At The Beach” it should be a day to honor the past, celebrate the present, and ignite enthusiasm for the future.

My name is Milton Smith and I was moved to write this letter as a community minded HIV prevention researcher, and a member of this community. The cancellation of “At The Beach” 2008 has not only not proved ATB unsuccessful, but has also harmed the chances for service providers like myself to reach our all to underserved population.

For me as an individual I feel disgraced that our family couldn’t unite and “get it together,” and that I too waited so long to voice my concerns. I would feel privileged to be an integral part of a teamed rebuilding process. I can be contacted at blackpridela@gmail.com.


Milton Smith

Quinton M

Rod, thanks for the update. I think we still have to be vigilant because often 'our' events and 'our' people are targeted, but LA ATB has been in steep decline for some years. They are just having major problems attracting a loyal, quality clientele. I also agree with Milton that the management is very old school and not very responsive.


The party was almost cancelled last year. It was poorly organized and the promoters do not try to connect with other black prides.


So is there an event or not.


You know black folks. It's so much easier to blame race or racism than to actually admit maybe they messes up.


CC I resent that comment about Black people. We just need to learn how to know that there are two sides to a story and judge so quickly. Just be reserved until we have all the facts straight. I think once all the dust has settled we can fully understand what really happened to ATB.


Check out Jasmyne's blog...she too was bamboozled by the ATB....we gotta send her some support because we will need her as we rebuild the new BLACK PRIDE LA..http://www.jasmynecannick.com/blog/?p=1997comment-12061

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