On June 5, 2011 in Minneapolis, CeCe McDonald and her friends were passing a bar on the way to a grocery store when they were accosted with homophobic, transphobic, and racist slurs. CeCe defended herself with a pair of fabric scissors in her bag. She was accused of murder even though she acted in self-defense, jailed for defending herself against bigotry and violence that transgender people often face. The judge rejected considerations of how gender, sexual orientation, race, and class played into the situation; statistics that trans people are more at risk for hate violence; the swastika tattoo on the attacker’s chest and his three previous convictions for assault; as well as the meth, cocaine, and alcohol present in the attacker’s system.
In this Democracy Now! clip from February 19, 2014, CeCe (after her release from prison) and Laverne talk about why black trans bodies matter. It is a must watch for anyone who cares about human beings and wants to better understand what is at stake in the movement for trans liberation. As a cisgender (in other words, non-trans) queer white woman, I am inspired and humbled by these two fierce trans women’s words.
“I know what is like to always have this guard up because you don’t know when somebody will literally try to kill you for just being who you want to be…. I’ve yet to hear of a trans woman who has just lived her life happily….” CeCe McDonald
Why do we insist that there are ok expressions and not ok expressions of masculinity and femininity?
When will we stop policing people’s gender expressions?
When will we start allowing ourselves to see people who challenge mainstream notions of gender not as freaks who are offensive or dangerous, but as beautiful people with unique gender wisdom?
Many trans people are warriors on the front lines, fighting for liberation from restrictive and false gender norms. When will we wake up and see that this fight is one that all of us, people of all gender identities, will benefit from?
Laverne calls us to the future we can all be a part of creating if we choose to:
“How do we create spaces in our culture where we don’t stigmatize trans identity, where we create spaces of gender self-determination? It is so often acceptable to make fun of trans people, to ridicule trans people. When we look at the epidemic of violence against trans people so many people think that our identities are inherently deceptive, inherently suspect, and that we should be criminalized because of that. In Arizona they were trying to criminalize going to the bathroom last year. How do we begin to create spaces where we accept trans people on trans people’s own terms and let trans people lead the discussions of who we are and what the discussion about what our lives should be?” Laverne Cox
Keep an eye out for the release of the documentary, FREE CeCe, to learn more about CeCe’s story and the culture of violence experienced by trans women of color.
I came up as an organizer. I approached that work by working hard to persuade others that change was possible. I then proceeded to illustrate the type of change that we could work on. It is important and dignified work.
But as I came to understand networks I found myself doing a lot less persuading. I’m not just seeking to build a critical mass. I’m seeking to make critical connections. Emergence bursts forth from these connections.
Marty Kearns, our friend at Netcentric Advocacy, tackles an important distinction and invites us to strategize with the difference in mind. I found this this to be an excellent piece for advocates.
Organizing and Mobilizing – 2 Distinct Strategies in Your Advocacy Effort.
I have been struggling lately to get more clarity on the concepts of organizing and mobilizing. These are terms of art in my world but often see the concepts mashed together. These terms do not mean the same thing in an advocacy context and BOTH are very important.
Video blogger and hip-hop radio host Jay Smooth makes an eloquent case for understanding that being good does not require us to be perfect, and that learning to live with our imperfections is a way forward in contemporary race discourse. I’d share a few of his comments, hoping this will inspire you to find the time to listen to the whole talk.
“Are you saying that I am racist? How can you say that. I am a good person! Why would you say I am a racist?”
And you try to respond “I’m talking about a particular thing you said.”
“No, I am not a racist.”
And what started out as a “what you said” conversation turns into a “what you are conversation,” which is a dead end that produces nothing but mutual frustration and you never end up seeing eye to eye or finding any common ground…
I made it out to #occupywallstreet last Friday night. Here is how my experience unfolded:
1. Culture Shock
I’m into showers, they’re not. I’m in my mid-thirties, grew up in a working class Puerto Rican community and I’ve been yupified over the years. I didn’t see a lot of people of color and I wasn’t feeling the vibe. I wondered how people from my community could ever make a link to this crowd. I was welcomed to walk around, curiously browsing, checking out the scene, the art and the people.
I spent last week alternately avoiding and arguing out loud with the wall-to-wall media coverage of the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. I started to hear—mostly through the silences and omissions—many lessons that seem still to be unlearned.
I am honored to be part of a listserv called “The Gamechangers Salon,” there is brilliance and passion in it. There is also a lot of anger these days, particularly given recent events in Washington. Following is my recent contribution to the conversation, coincidentally, my colleague Cynthia Silva Parker, just wrapped up her blog series on Power & Privilege with a post on Pursuing – something in the air at IISC! Here is my post:
Each January, whether formal or informal, uttered or silent, many of us resolve to do something different for the coming new year. We commit to starting some things and finishing others. We put plans into motion, we reassess, reevaluate and take stock of the life that we have and where we want it to be.
In two weeks, as President of the United States, Barack Obama will issue the State of the Union, as is constitutionally required “from time to time,” reporting on the condition of the country and setting forth his legislative agenda — resolutions for the nation — for 2011. Likewise, as a Movement of Peoples United in striving for a just and equitable world, we should require of ourselves a reflection upon the state of our union as we reconsider and reset our course for change in this new year. Read More
There is a dangerous and ultimately very confusing trend emerging in our sector. In the wake of the financial meltdown and its impact on funding, foundations and others are proposing organizational mergers and strategic alliances as a solution to the problem. The danger is that they are calling this “collaboration” and giving collaboration a really, really bad name!
For many years at IISC we have been trying to overcome what is often the very bad taste left in people’s mouths after some horrendous experience that they have had in a poorly executed and therefore failed collaboration. In many cases these were marriages forced by foundation funding or coalitions of individual organizations coming together but unable to detach from their own identities and agendas.