Jovanka Beckles, Richmond, Calif.’s first openly lesbian council member, has become the victim of vicious heckling.
“I’m going to keep coming up here and tell you how gays have no morality. … You’re filth. You’re dirt. Because I have the constitutional right to say it,” Richmond resident Mark Wassberg said at a recent City Council meeting, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Beckles is being disrespected not only by residents during council meetings but also by some of her fellow council members.
According to the Chronicle, Councilman Corky Booze has been the source of much of the harassment Beckles faces on the council. Booze has repeatedly questioned Beckles’ alliance to Richmond’s black community because she does not identify as African American, the news site reports.
Beckles, the child of Caribbean parents who immigrated to Panama, identifies as Afro-Latina. She is an alumna of the historically black Florida A&M University and has been a vocal advocate of civil rights, reports the Chronicle.
In short, Beckles is of African descent, but that fact doesn’t deter Booze in his harassment, the Chronicle reports.
“She says she’s a black Latina. Well, you’re either African American or you’re not. If she’s really black, then why does she throw black people out of City Council chambers for speaking their mind? She just says she’s black around election time,” Booze told the Chronicle.
Beckles has no plans to let the harassment stand in her way. She is running for re-election.
“We’re making big strides. I think things will eventually change for the better in this city, and in the end, that’s a cause I think is worth fighting for. It’s worth putting up with all this other stuff, ” Beckles told the Chronicle.
Read more at the San Francisco Chronicle.