The President of the Dolphin Democrats, the Broward LGBT democratic club, caused a stir Monday when he posted what it’s like being a Brown man leading the organization.
“I am not one to throw the race card around freely because I hold a lot of privilege, but let me tell you that as a brown man, in 2020, it could be exhausting to lead a democratic organization that in the past has been predominantly male/female white led,” Alfredo Olvera wrote on Facebook. “[We] were able to resurrect an almost dying organization that is actually active in the community, and get its members involved in the process. NOPE, some folks just like to question everything when you are brown or black. They didn't care, and were silent, when incompetent white folks were in charge.”
His post quickly generated a lot of comments, mostly expressing support for Olvera.
But when Dean Trantalis, the gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale, jumped into the debate he received pushback.
“Not sure if it is appropriate to define competence based on race. Or to pull the race card out to defend the club. We can do better than that,” Trantalis wrote. Olvera responded: “Dean I'm so confused about your comment. Are you denying my experience? I am not defending the organization. The work we are doing speaks for the organization. I am speaking about my experience as a brown leader.”
Two other people blasted Trantalis’ comment.
“Wait you’re the Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale?! Alfredo shared a frustration about his experience about not being heard as a brown man, and THIS was what you focused on? Read the room,” Nathan Bunch wrote. While locally known LGBT rights activist Naomi Ruth Cobb added, “Dean, listen more, speak less. Maybe it hasn't been your experience. It doesn't make it less so. I had a conversation with a former Board member who saw the organization declining and said nothing. Since there have been folk who aren't white involved.”
Many commenters praised Olvera’s leadership and his handling of the organization.
“You are doing a great job and we are so very proud of you, the time you have spent, and the group of very talented people you have attracted to work alongside you. Keep up the great work and see you soon,” said Daniel Sohn, former Council member of Haverhill. Adam Sabin added: “As the longest [current] serving member of The Dolphin Democrats board, I can say with certainty that the organization has never been more well-run or inclusive than it is now. When I first joined in December 2016, the majority of the organization was made up of old White men. It is now a much more diverse group, and truly reflects the character and profile of the LGBTQ+ community. Haters gonna hate.”
Meanwhile Cliff Eserman attempted to give Olvera a 390-word history lesson to which Olvera responded: “This is the problem with white folks. A brown person can’t express their views because we receive a history lesson, like if we don’t know about the shoulders we stand on [...] I don’t need a history lesson, I’m very much aware of the work that was accomplished before us, and acknowledge the framework that was left for us to continue the work today. You really missed my point, but I’m too tired to explain myself again.”
Cobb went on to write that it’s hard to discuss race within any organization and it “gets some folks uncomfortable.” But it’s an important discussion to have.
“Have the hard conversation,” she said. “It will produce good.”
Olvera agreed with Cobb saying “people get very uncomfortable.”
Cobb responded: “As we move forward, these conversations will be hard, at times, contentious, but they are necessary for our collective growth and for equality for all.”