Category Archives: Activism

When will it end?

I was reading the blog piece Sandra Bullock, black women have been fearing for our sons for centuries! by the Kinfolk Kollective.  I was once again moved by LaSha’s passionate expression of what “other people” go through everyday.  Honestly I encourage anyone reading this to read her piece first.

The following is my reply.

LaSha I wish I could look you in the eyes and honestly tell you that you’re wrong, that you’re too cynical and the world and our country is a much better place; but the truth is… I can’t. You articulated your collective existence better than anyone I’ve heard or read to date.

I was born the year Stokely Carmichael coined the phrase “black power”, two years before I would have been legally allowed to marry my ex-husband, three years to the day before the Stonewall Inn raid and subsequent riot. And while I am a white female, my mother growing up mostly in Texas, made sure that I was versed in the reality of our nation and it’s citizens.

This is something I have made a point of instilling to my daughter (also white), the kid who was the only white kid at daycare that would come home crying because she couldn’t have pink lotion and pretty beads in her hair.

Her first introduction that hit home was when Nickelodeon started running PSAs about tolerance and racial differences, because she’d never seen other humans as anything other than human before that moment. She was six. She didn’t grasp the depth of it until after I remarried and she was referring to her Afro-Cuban stepfather as Daddy, since he was the only one she’d ever known.

For a while, he worked at a large retail store and every time we’d shop there, the old white guy at the door would stop us to inspect our receipt while my husband made booming comments about the racist at the door and his behavior.

Finally, my daughter and I shopped at that store by ourselves, that same guy was working the door and this time he waved us through with a smile before returning to his usual scowl to stop the black customers behind us. It was at that moment my heart completely broke as she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “Oh my god, Daddy was right.”

LaSha I also would like to commend you for highlighting and articulating the difference between having issues with the situation and having a personal connection to them. That is a huge distinction and one that is rarely pointed out.

I became pregnant during the course of my marriage and after the initial shock of finding out that I was pregnant on my daughter’s 16th birthday wore off, panic of all that you’ve described immediately set in. The realization of the world that my second child would live in compared to their older sister was very overwhelming and I fixated on the fact that someday someone would refer to my child with the N-word, was for lack of a better word – horrific.

Just having loyalty to black friends (and the human race) made me want to bludgeon people and tear out their throats for using that word, now this would be directed at my child.  When I heard a fellow employee use the word, in earshot of customers, I demanded that she be terminated.  Instead I was informed that the white district manager had decided that I “wasn’t entitled or allowed to be offended by that word – because you’re white”.

It’s my opinion that the world should be taught to be offended by that word because of the history and hate it represents.  To be told that I’m not entitled to be offended because of my skin color (much less without knowing my personal attachments), to me was reprehensible.  I quit my job after 9 years with that company.

Sadly my pregnancy did not have a happy ending. A few months later, still grieving, my old neighbor called me after my overnight shift asking for an emergency favor. Her father had passed and the only pants that she could wear to the funeral needed to be hemmed because they were 4 inches too long. I offered a half-assed job, nothing more, not feeling particularly motivated since she only called when she needed something but willing to do so because of why it was necessary.

As I was working on the stitching, she sat next to my husband who was laying on the couch watching tv (he had just finished an overnight shift as well) and my daughter sitting next to me and assisting. The former neighbor was blathering on about her family gossip while I struggled to focus on the stitching as my eyes were rolling up into my head. She gets to the story about her white niece calling her black stepfather (also one of the few decent people in the family) by that word. I immediately had to clench to contain myself. I commented that the niece had a lot of nerve when she’s the N-word of the group, only for her to reply – “no, she’s not black”. ?!?!?

We’re done, get out.

The realization that my biggest fear had come to life even though my baby didn’t was too much for me to handle. To know that my child would never get to know me or his father or his sister or even have a name.. but was given one that day based on the increased melanin he would have in his skin… was far too much for me to bear when I was still grieving my loss. That’s not to say it sits any better now 8 years later, it still twists my guts in a knot, but you’re right, now it’s personal and will be to the end of my days.

So while I’ve been a staunch support of the civil rights movement as well as a part of it, not only being female but LGBTQ as well, the fight and the contemptible actions hurt even more and cut much deeper than they used to. Sadly I don’t think we’ll ever see all the changes that need to take place until everyone is affected by it personally.

 

Maggie 

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No More Invisible Children!

It is with a heavy heart that I offer Safe Passage to 17 year old Skylar Lee, of Madison, WI, who took his own life on this day ~ September 28, 2015.    An active and powerful rising voice in the LGBTQ community, his light will be dearly missed. ~ Adam Lodestone

These words were spoken just yesterday, this time for Skylar Lee, the latest casualty in the silent war on the Transgender citizens of this country.  Trans* people are killed everyday from hatred, disgust, lack of compassion, lack of empathy, violence, bullying, and abuse, by complete strangers or by their own hands.

Transgender youth aren’t just under served, they are virtually invisible on the American media landscape.  There are no ice bucket challenges, no buying a cute little cutout at the grocery or gas station, no races to keep these kids off the streets when families turn their backs and send them out into the world unprepared with nowhere to go and no clue how to survive.

According to a research report issued by UCLA’s Williams Institute, based on the results from the respondents of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS).  The survey was conducted in a joint effort of the National Gay and Lesbian Task force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.  The findings are both staggering and heartbreaking.

Respondents who experienced rejection by family and friends, discrimination, victimization, or violence had elevated prevalence of suicide attempts, such as those who experienced the following:

  • Family chose not to speak/spend time with them: 57%
  • Discrimination, victimization, or violence at school, at work, and when accessing health care
    • Harassed or bullied at school (any level): 50-54%
    • Experienced discrimination or harassment at work: 50-59%
    • Doctor or health care provider refused to treat them: 60%  
  • Suffered physical or sexual violence:
    • At work: 64-65%
    • At school (any level): 63-78%
  • Discrimination, victimization, or violence by law enforcement
    • Disrespected or harassed by law enforcement officers: 57-61% 
    • Suffered physical or sexual violence: By law enforcement officers: 60-70%
  • Experienced homelessness: 69%

Family Transcends is a fledgling nonprofit organization that is being built from the ashes of these staggering statistics of losses of life.  Its senior staff have a set, sole focus to creating sibling-style mentoring partnerships, much like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, specifically aimed at at-risk transgender youth;  understanding their unique and additional need for understanding, which greatly surpasses that of the average youth.  With the intent of saving lives, Family Transcends mentoring and support structure , will be able to immediately impact the current suicide rates. Transgender suicide in this country accounts for over 45% of national deaths while the national average is less than 5%.

For those following me for a while, you’ll notice several changes with my blog.  Starting with the name but especially the content. The things that are dear to my heart that I am passionate about are what I prefer to write as they are labors of love not tasks or obligations.  I am both pleased and proud to announce that I am a contributing writer for their blog site Family Transcends News where this piece will be shared, along with volunteering in other ways to help get their program up and running.

 

Skylar Lee
The photo is from a post dated September 17th, 2015 on the FB page for GSAFE: “Skylar Lee, an influential youth leader at GSAFE has made national news. Skylar addresses why Racial justice and LGBTQ justice need to be apart of the same conversation to truly be successful.”

In his own words from the Power In Partnerships publication:

WE CANNOT SEPARATE THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN RACIAL
JUSTICE AND LGBTQ JUSTICE when our oppression and liberation are interconnected with one another. Our identities are intersectional simply because we exist; to say that they are separate enforces White supremacy, creating a culture where it is acceptable for queer and trans POC to be invisible and pushed out of society. We must understand intersectionality to truly be a united force in the fight to dismantle these systems of oppression.

Being East-Asian, specifically Korean, with light skin, able-bodied, and being born a citizen of the U.S., I experience a huge privilege within our education system. I understand that if I was not queer and trans, I would not have been impacted by the pipeline. I also understand that I have still not been as severely impacted by the pipeline as those whom I share community with.

In my activism in racial justice and queer justice, I work with queer youth of color every day who have experienced push out or are actively being pushed out of school. The direct and indirect ways the School-to-Prison Pipeline have impacted me gives me greater awareness to the urgency of creating programs to combat the pipeline.

It is not justice if we leave behind members of our communities. It is not justice if we ignore the interconnected oppression of those we share community with. It is compliance to the systems that tell us we must fight against each other to uplift our own identity. To dismantle systems of oppression, we must be more creative than our oppressors. We are all socialized to protect these systems, a thought pattern we must actively fight against every moment. One cannot dismantle a system by working within it; rather, one must break outside the limitations of the system itself.

To begin the journey to unification, we must actively and loudly address our own privilege, power, and prejudice. No one can do this perfectly, including myself. We make mistakes, and it is never easy. However, we must never shy away from talking about intersectionality in our activism, for that is exactly what the systems have socialized us all to do. If we do not actively have these hard conversations around racial and queer identities, they will never be addressed nor recognized, and the systems will only maintain their power. I challenge everyone to start their own journey to self-awareness and actively participate in these conversations revolving around racial justice and queer justice.
~ Skylar Lee

This country has lost too many people to the hands of inflicted sorrow, anguish and torture.  These victims are our kids.

I will not feel remorse for expressing my own personal commentary that if you can turn your child away for the way he was born due to your own genetics, you shouldn’t have been a parent in the first place;  You are an unfit parent and I pity any remaining children in the home.

Demand that this news is news, that we recognize it for the national epidemic that it is and work our hardest to eradicate these staggering statistics.  If you are interested in donating time, talent or funds to Family Transcends to help get them up and running, please click on the link here, or connect with another organization locally or nationally; all of whom would be grateful for your caring just as much as your efforts.  We can handle this problem, but we need to be aware of it and we need to want to.  Please help to keep another Skylar Lee or Leelah Alcorn from becoming an invisible statistic.