#FreeBree – Bree Newsome and the incredible act of capture the flag.

image1This is yet another really late post and many probably have already heard what happened but I still wanted to write about Bree Newsome – the black woman who scaled a flag pole and removed the confederate flag that was still flying over the South Carolina capitol. She, along with her partner in crime who was on guard below the pole, were both arrested and were charged with “defacing monuments on state capitol grounds”. There has been a petition started to drop the charges that also has more information.

Newsome released a statement to Blue Nation Review, where she wrote about her work regarding racial justice and community organizing and overall, wrote an incredibly powerful statement. She wrote about standing in solidarity with all marginalized and oppressed and being heartbroken over the murders of the nine black Bible study members in Charleston and that #BlackLivesMatter. At one point, she wrote in particular that:

For far too long, white supremacy has dominated the politics of America resulting in the creation of racist laws and cultural practices designed to subjugate non-whites. And the emblem of the confederacy, the stars and bars, in all its manifestations, has long been the most recognizable banner of this political ideology. It’s the banner of racial intimidation and fear whose popularity experiences an uptick whenever black Americans appear to be making gains economically and politically in this country.

It’s a reminder how, for centuries, the oppressive status quo has been undergirded by white supremacist violence with the tacit approval of too many political leaders.

There have also been many amazing art works done in honor of Bree and what she did. All of them are so well done and capture the amazing grace of Bree and her act.

Unfortunately Bree has been getting a lot of death threats and general negative comments because of her amazing act of civil disobedience. So her family has been asking for people to send in encouraging words and love for her to [email protected]. I’ve sent in an email with some love and encouragement but again: Bree – you are wonderful and amazing and thank you so much for your act of civil disobedience! The flag needs to go and you scaling that flag pole was tremendous.

#TransIsBeautiful and #GirlsLikeUs

Hashtags like #TransIsBeautiful and #GirlsLikeUs make me so happy because as a society, we’ve (unfortunately and as a whole) gotten really good at demeaning, being violent towards, and erasing the trans community. Seeing the love and support in those hashtags makes me so happy because I’m so excited to see a different narrative being put out there about trans individuals.

And the fact that Laverne Cox and Janet Mock both started those hashtags and are on the forefront of trans visibility also makes me so happy because within the LGBTQ+ community (and especially within society has a whole), we have this unbelievable ability to whitewash and erase so many other identities. (Although that doesn’t mean only one type of person can participate in either hashtag.)

The New York Times has an article about the fact that broadening the transgender tale has only just begun and interviewed several trans actors and actresses – something that I just love so much because we are so often left out of telling our own narratives. Laverne Cox also had this wonderful exchange with a young trans girl, telling her that transgender is beautiful. And the additional Twitter hashtag #RealLifeTransAdult shares powerful testimonies about being a trans adult and that it’ll never be too late to be you or to transition.

So this is to all the trans people out there, to all of those questioning, to all of those who are sure, to all of those who have to be closeted, to every single one of you: I love you I love you I love you. You are wonderful and worthy and valid. Your existence is necessary and your gender real.

One day I hope to be out and proud as trans. At this point, my trans identity is a sort of subtle thing in my life – something I have to stay quiet about as a way of survival. So to all those who are closeted in whatever way, just know that you aren’t alone and that one day you will most definitely be able to live your truth.

Media Monday: Queer and Trans Artists of Color – Interviews by Nia King

4659300I finally got around to reading through Nia King’s book “Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives” and I honestly could not love and recommend this book enough. There are so many honest and amazing stories from queer and trans artists of color who share their experiences of trying to or making it as an artist. The spectrum of jobs and experiences are amazing to read through and it’s refreshing to read through the stories told by the people living through them.

Not only that but Nia is a really great interviewer – each conversation always covers an amazing array of topics. And each conversation often talked about similar issues (struggling to make it as an artist, gender, sexuality, the person’s story) but reading through each interview still felt fresh and nothing seemed repetitive. In addition, every interview reads really organically (props to the co-editors for helping the words go from the way people talk to paragraphs and sentences that are easy to read).

One of the things that I also really love about this book is being able to read and understand the stories and beliefs of the artists in their own words. They are the ones controlling their own narratives and that is so often missing from mainstream media. (Hello lack of diversity in so many mainstream things.)

I also know how much work Nia has and continues to regularly put into this project – from getting other queer and trans people of color to write transcripts (and compensating for the work), to having the interviews in audio form, to getting a wide range of people with different backgrounds and art forms to talk with. Her book comes from the interviews she does on her podcast We Want the Airwaves and if you have the ability to, I definitely recommend supporting her work!

#Pride should be proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatter.

We are reaching the end of Pride month within the United States (and in some other countries as well), with this weekend being the last Pride weekend of 2015. Celebrations in New York City and Seattle have been going on all weekend long but it’s so important to remember in the midst of celebrating this past week’s SCOTUS marriage decision, that there is still a huge pile of stuff to fight for.

Additionally: There was a #BlackOutPride action that disrupted the Chicago Pride Parade today, calling for the end of the constant erasure within the queer community. A few weeks ago, a similar action was done at the Boston Pride Parade, in which activists stopped the parade for 11 minutes in protest.

I’ve been writing SO much about the issue of erasure and single issue focus over the past few weeks but the fact of the matter is that this is such an important thing for the LGBTQ+ community to be addressing. And to be honest, the reason I keep writing and keep addressing all of these things over and over again is because I don’t want to lose sight of what’s important or to forget the most marginalized.

Looking at incidents like Jennicet Gutiérrez getting booed and jeered by fellow queer people or marriage seemingly being the most mainstream queer issue is incredibly upsetting because rather than fight for all, it seems to be the case that the most privileged in the queer community (white, middle/upper class, cis, etc) are just fighting for themselves and the issues that pertain to them. (Of course this doesn’t mean that every single fairly privileged person is terrible and focuses on narrow issues. But that’s another point for another day.)

Pride was started by queer people of color and it’s roots come from a police riot that condemned the legislation and oppression of the entire queer community. Flash forward 45 years since the first march and 46 years since the Stonewall Inn Riots, it seems like Pride has moved away from it’s revolutionary roots and from focusing on intersectionality issues.

Of course, this is all based on my own experiences but I do think it’s important that we as a community step up to the challenges that still face many within our chosen family. We should be spending less time on respectability politics (because that will not save us) and more time on liberation for us all. We (this time we meaning white people) should be loudly proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatter because we have helped create and benefited from a society that devalues black life.

We (again, meaning white people) should be supporting black people (and especially black women) in the fight for liberation. We need to use our privilege and our position within society to fight for liberation for all – for people of color, for the working class, for immigrants, for mothers and fathers and families who bury their loved ones too soon, for those with different abilities.

And all of this ties back to Pride because the queer community needs to stop throwing the more marginalized people under the bus as a way to assimilate into the larger mainstream society. We need to work for all, not just some. We need to remember that some of the most influential work has been done by trans women of color and we need to not forget and erase the work done by people of color in our own queer history.

Doing More and Community Resources.

Here’s a very incomplete list of organizations to support not only during the last few days of Pride month but year round as well. Many focus on housing, provide resources, are drop in centers, offer legal services, and do many other things. Some organizations need financial support, others ask for safe places for individuals to crash for a short time, among many other things.

If you have the resources to help, I definitely recommend donating what you can to not just the organizations below but all that work on the many issues that continue to impact many. And if you don’t have the resources but need some help, I really hope one of these organizations can offer some support or at least a community.

In no particular order, they are:

  • Transgender Housing Network (online)
  • Trans Lifeline (phone)
  • Casa Ruby (Washington, DC)
  • Audre Lorde Project (Brooklyn, NYC, NY)
  • Sylvia Rivera Law Project (New York City, NY)
  • Sexual Minority Youth Resource Center (Portland, OR)
  • Lamba Legal
    • They have a list of resources by state for LGBTQ+ youth
    • Also feel like adding that they do more than marriage stuff
  • Southerns on New Ground (Atlanta, GA)
  • The Trevor Project (Online, phone, texting)
    • They also have a list of resources that you can search through by location and specifics.
  • TGI Justice (San Francisco, CA)
  • Gender Diversity
  • El-La Para TransLatinas
  • This is HOW
  • Trans Student Educational Resources
  • Trans Women of Color Collective

Trans Day of Action (#tdoa)

I’m a day late to this unfortunately but yesterday was the trans day of action – a rallying march organized by the Audre Lorde Project in New York City. This year’s day was the 11th annual and the press release from the Audre Lorde Project says the march is to:

lift up the leadership and resilience of Trans and Gender Non Conforming New Yorkers and continue the fight for social, economic, racial and gender justice.

Fighting for the rights and intersectionality of identities for the trans community is incredibly important. The mainstream queer community has gotten incredibly good at erasing the trans part of LGBT (particularly if you add race and class into that mix). From Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson being erased from queer history to mainstream organizations like the Human Rights Campaign constantly throwing gender identity and the trans community under the bus regarding legistation, erasure has been an unfortunate part of our community.

So days and events like Trans Day of Action are so important because it’s time that we as a society and as a queer community start to center the most marginalized communities and let them tell their own narratives. It’s also important that as a queer community, we also work on internationalist issues like racism, classism, ableism, and others and fight against the systems that continue to oppress so many.

Your Faves are Problematic – Joss Whedon.

After watching Avengers: Age of Ultron and finally finishing up season two of Agents of Shield, I’ve been thinking a lot about the problematic man that is Joss Whedon. There is a small, tiny, really minuscule part of me that really does want to love him and his work but there is just so many problematic things that have come from him. So I thought I’d share some of the things that Joss Whedon has done to earn the position of problematic celebrity.

Rather than ramble on and on myself about the man, I’m just going to link to other things that have been critiquing him and his brand of feminism.

  • There’s an entire tumblr called ‘Joss Whedon is not a feminist’
  • Here’s a long list of shitty things he has done with more links, including:
    • Being ableist
    • Being transphobic
    • Racist
    • Whitewashed on more than one occasion in more than one major project
  • There is a tumblr dedicated to collecting receipts on celebrities and has an entire tag devoted to Joss
  • Another list of things he has done with even more links (some in this list have already been covered but wanted to include it anyway)
  • What Joss Whedon gets wrong about the word ‘feminist’

I honestly don’t expect people, celebrities in particular, to be perfect and flawless humans. Making mistakes and messing up is part of humanity and honestly, I don’t think that part of us is ever not going to be a thing. But one of the most awful things you can do regarding mistakes (in my opinion) is to not grow and learn from them. Repeatedly doing the same mistakes and shitty behavior over and over again starts to not be mistakes but reinforced behavior. After a certain point, it won’t be a mistake but instead will be a significant part of the person you are. Or at least, that’s my own opinion.

Learning from your mistakes (and the mistakes of others) and changing your behavior from what you’ve learned should be a key part of feminism – especially for white people. I think it’s important to be vocal about the ways in which people have fucked up and hold others (and yourself) accountable. Liking a problematic person doesn’t make you a bad person but justifying their terrible behavior does. Saccharinescorpine on tumblr wrote a really great post about liking problematic people and states that:

you’re allowed to like something while being loud, vocal, and angry about how much you hate the bad parts. be mean, be unpleasant, but never just be the person who gives a pass to all the bullshit that assholes can get away with in this world just because you don’t want to feel bad for liking a tv show or celebrity