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    Announcing the Next Chapter in My Leadership Journey

    By Carolyn Wysinger–

    (Editor’s Note: The San Francisco Bay Times is proud to launch in this issue a new column by SF Pride President Carolyn Wysinger, who is the Education Coordinator at The Commonwealth Club of California. For several years she has worked in the LGBTQ community in many capacities and leadership roles. As a blogger, she has written for Autostraddle, Everyday Feminism, Black Girl Dangerous, and Media Diversified. As an author, she published her first book, Knockturnal Emissions, which has been listed on LGBTQ essential reading lists at several universities.

    In 2013, she was appointed to the Human Rights & Relations Commission of the City of Richmond. In 2020 she was appointed by Mayor London Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros to the Economic Recovery Task Force of the City and County Of San Francisco. Currently, she is the Vice President of Programs for the El Cerrito Democratic Club and PAC Chair of the Lambda Democratic Club of Contra Costa County. She was recently appointed to the Legislative Committee of the California Democratic Party as well as the Legislative Committee of the National Federation of Democratic Women, which functions as the Women’s Caucus of the Democratic National Committee. She also serves alongside the family of George Floyd on the board of the Philonise and Keeta Floyd Institute for Social Change.

    Photos Courtesy of Teofie S. Decierdo

    As an educator and workshop leader, she has facilitated workshops at BUTCHVoices, Black Lesbians United, BLAQout Conference, and Gender Spectrum. A former faculty member at Richmond High School, she taught English Language Learning, 10th Grade English, Leadership, and African-American Literature, while also serving as advisor for the Black Student Union, Majorette Squad, and LGBTQ Student club. She was recently elected Delegate to California Assembly District 15.

    We are honored to feature her new column, “What Does Dubb Say?,” monthly in the Bay Times.)

    If you had told me in 2018 that I would have been making the announcement I’m making today, I would have called you a liar. In that year, I worked on a very dear friend’s political campaign, and I saw firsthand the emotional toll it could take on a person. How many people pull at you, dig into your personal life … and every person expected you to take care of them personally in lieu of community. And my friend was a straight man! Oh, God, I thought to myself. I knew it would be 100 times worse as a Black LGBTQ woman. I had no interest in putting myself through that drama.

    Enter the San Francisco LGBTQ Pride Celebration Committee.

    Since joining the board in 2018 and being elected Chair in 2019, I have learned exactly how important it is for Black LGBTQ people to be visible & represented in all segments of community. While Pride board members are not quite the “quasi-public officials” that someone once claimed we are, it certainly puts us in the position to very publicly grapple with all kinds of community issues, deal with actual public officials, and be a public voice in the community. I decided that same year that if I could do it for Pride, I should do it for my local community. Queer voices are needed and necessary everywhere that equity work is being done.

    The work of making sure that we don’t have state legislatures creating policies and laws that marginalize LGBTQ people starts locally. It starts with making sure that our voices are there in our local municipalities running our cities. That we are on the ground floor making housing, economic, and safety laws so that we aren’t left reacting to already enacted unjust policies. There is an old saying, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.” I decided it benefits my community more to be at the table instead of on the menu.

    Today I am announcing the next chapter in my leadership journey, which is running for El Cerrito City Council! You may have heard of the little city on a hill right between Berkeley and Richmond. There are several random pop culture facts about the city, but my favorite is that it’s the home of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which means I get to claim at least a tiny piece of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” Ha!

    I was born and raised across the Bay Bridge in West Contra Costa County. My family came to Richmond, California, during the second wave of the great migration, and for decades has been known for service to the West Contra Costa community as well as our hometown of Deridder, Louisiana. One of my great-uncles, Rev. WW Batties, was the first Black Councilmember in DeRidder. Here in Richmond, my great-uncle Odis Cotright opened the first Black business in the city and started the first Black Chamber of Commerce. After the grocery workers union fought to desegregate their workforce, they came to my uncle for a suggestion of who should be the first Black clerk in Contra Costa County. He immediately fired my aunt and namesake Carolyn Bluitt and sent her to work for Lucky’s, where she worked for over 30 years. Years later, my grandfather would take up doing the crucial work of helping community members on their road to sobriety.

    So, you see, I am blessed to come from a family with a legacy of leadership. At the core of that legacy has always been a commitment to protecting and uplifting our community. I’m running for El Cerrito City Council because, for my entire life, I have seen EC as a city where a kid who ate a reduced lunch and had to work a family paper route before school to survive had no place in besides the fun I had as a student leader at El Cerrito High School and birthday parties at Chevy’s in the El Cerrito Plaza. The people who ran the city didn’t look like me or anyone in my community. Now, in 2022, El Cerrito is one of the most diverse cities in our state with a rising number of working-class Black and brown families (especially LGBTQ families) and students.

    When you elect diverse members to any council or commission, you aren’t just doing it because it looks good. You should be electing representatives who make sure every nuanced view is represented when decisions are made. When elected to the El Cerrito Council, I will be the first Black LGBTQ councilmember in the city’s history. As a councilmember I will: lead economic growth and recovery, ensure an equitable & transparent budgeting, prioritize community safety, support housing development, and expand El Cerrito’s climate leadership—all with a fresh, Black, queer view for the city with a view.

    That’s a heck of a way to jump off a column, huh?! You are all invited to my campaign kickoff on Thursday, April 14, 5:30 pm at Los Moles Beer Garden in El Cerrito. I look forward to seeing you all there!! Register here:

    Carolyn Wysinger is an LGBTQ author, activist, and President of the SF Pride Board of Directors. She has written for Autostraddle, Everyday Feminism, and Black Girl Dangerous. She can be found starting trouble on Instagram & Twitter @CdubbTheHost 

    Published on March 24, 2022