“Dream Hampton explained to me about how this is a time when women are fighting for their rights, and here’s a video that describes an assault. I’m actually a very knowledgeable brother, but Dream schooled me in the conversation. It really opened up my eyes to something I had not known about. She told me that if we were kids at a pool and I ran by and yanked her top down, it wouldn’t be a joke or a prank to her – that would be a traumatic incident, and it is along the lines of sexual assault. As little boys, we’re running around tapping girl’s a**es like it’s funny, but they’re really victimized by it. I learned that it’s not a joking matter. I feel like I needed that education because had I not, I could’ve continued thinking that it is a joke. Even with my music filled with misogyny, I still have morals.”—
Rapper Too $hort being accountable to the backlash surrounding his “fatherly advice” in XXL Magazine.
he also says, when the interviewer asks if Dream forgave him: “There can’t be any forgiveness. I don’t expect anybody to be like, ‘I forgive you for being remorseful.’ That’s bullsh*t. You’ve got to do something. I have to reverse the message.”
when Too fucking Short can understand this and professional f*eminists can’t?? yeah. of course it remains to be seen what he’s going to do, but i’d personally feel much more willing to work with someone who gets that saying “sorry” is not a get out of jail free card and that no one owes you their forgiveness.
“Child Gender Nonconformity Linked to Higher Risk of Abuse.”
“Kids Who Veer From Gender Norms at Higher Risk for Abuse.”
“Gender identity issues can harm kids’ mental health.”
These are just a few of the headlines that have been used in pieces referencing a new study on gender conformity in children and risk factors for abuse. Similar headlines have been published in virtually every mainstream media (MSM) outlet including CNN, ABC News, and the AP.
Framing the issue in this way smacks of victim blaming and transphobia, for three reasons:
This coverage conflates being transgender and being gender nonconforming/veering from gender norms. While there may be overlap in the categories, being trans is not the same thing as being gender non-conforming, and there are tons of gender non-confroming people who may not identify as trans. The study dealt with gender nonconformity among kids under the age of 11, and its findings should be reported as applying to that category, which could include but is certainly not limited to children who identify as transgender.
Secondly, this kind of framing make it sound like gender non-conforming kids are to blame for their own abuse. Trans is a gender identity, not a”risky behavior.” Where are the headlines putting blame on the perpetrators of violence and abuse against trans youth? I think you’d be hard pressed to find a headline like “Parents more likely to abuse children who identify as trans,” even though that’s at least equally as accurate a description of the study and its findings.
Lastly, I’m disturbed at the implication that it’s the gender non-conformity, rather than the stringent social norms, pressures, intolerance, bigotry, fear, and general pearl-clutching around gender, that poses a risk to young children. While the study did find that gender nonconformity before age 11 years was “a risk indicator for physical, sexual, and psychological abuse in childhood and lifetime probable posttraumatic stress disorder in youth,” correlation doesn’t imply causation. What about the fact that most of the mental health risks associated with gender non-conformity aren’t about the gender non-confirming part, but instead how society treats people who choose not to conform?
And while there are certainly important and necessary reasons to talk about the dangers and health disparities that trans people face, this study and the headlines it inspired aside, I’m skeptical of the larger framing of “trans people as tragic.” As Jos wrote in her groundbreaking piece “I am not your tragic trans narrative”:
“Even when I write or speak about trans experience, there’s inevitably someone somewhere on the internet who responds with how tragic it is that someone has to live like this – who sees my transness as an illness, either something wrong with my mind that I’m sadly off about (the compassionate anti-trans take) or something that should be respected for social justice reasons but is still so, so sad.
Here’s the thing: we’ve all got our own experiences, but in mine being trans is not tragic. It’s incredible. In fact, I’m fucking amazing. And my transness has a lot to do with that. I’ve broken one of the most absolute rules handed down by our culture, and that gives me a vision that goes beyond what seems possible to what’s needed and desired. Coming out may have felt like a necessity, but it’s given me incredible strength, the ability to take big leaps of faith, make exciting mistakes, and find liberating new possibilities. I’ve become a more caring, compassionate friend in a real way, because I also take care of myself. And it’s given me an extraordinary community if trans and gender non-conforming folks and allies who are honest, direct, incredibly loving, and fucking hilarious. And hot. So damn hot.
What’s tragic is a culture that thinks trans folks are so wrong it wants us dead, or that insists we must conform to a tragic narrative to excuse our existence. That’s the problem, not being trans. Which I happen to think is pretty fucking awesome.”
Asians know everything. Seriously, everything. And they can probably fly in secret and they just don’t tell us.
If an Asian person tells you to do something, for the love of god, do it. NEVER cross them.
Black people are all hard. Every one. They’re hard as fuck. You can’t break them with a hammer.
Despite being really hard, black people tend to die very easily and repeatedly.
Despite black people dying really easily, cops still need to shoot them and/or taze them and/or tackle them in large groups to the floor.
Attractive white men will rarely suspect suspicious attractive white women. The only people who will are black or latino people and other attractive white women.
God is black, but only a tame kind of black.
All black people look alike.
White women are very delicate and special.
Despite white women being very delicate and special, they often seem to live through entire shows.
Despite white women having higher survival rates than probably anyone else, everyone falls over themselves to protect them, almost as if they are in danger.
Black people know all other black people. All of them. Seriously every single one.
Most Latinos just look like white people.
The ones that don’t are very, very HARRRRRRD.
Muslims and Middle Easterners who aren’t completely Americanized down to the tiniest degree are barbaric and horrific. But at least you can count on your Americanized ones to side with white people on just how barbaric they are.
Brown people love the shit out of arranged marriage. In fact, they are all arranged married. Even ones who have lived in America for several generations. Or sometimes they play a doctor (who just isn’t arranged married yet).
Darker-skinned black people all come from the skreets. Suburban upper or middle class black people are all light skinned. Very light skinned.
Non-white trans women only hold two jobs; prostitute and casualty of prostitution.
Lesbians are all white.
If a trans woman isn’t a prostitute, she’s definitely white.
Trans men are also all white.
Gay men are mostly white except for black guys who share their massive black dicks.
The few massive-black-dick-sharing gay guys are all on the down-low.
Forgive me for sending this as a submission and not an ask, but it’s way too long and I didn’t want to whittle it down and lose the nuance. Let me start off by saying that I’m happy that the fervor over your “die cis scum” tattoo has died down, and I don’t want to pile on for the sake of piling on. However, certain things have been nagging me about it for a while, and while it clearly took me a longer time than everyone else to process my thoughts, it’s still important for me to try to engage even though it would appear the moment has passed; I’m submitting this anonymously because, even though I follow you, I don’t want to “take credit” for calling you out, and because my intention is not to attack you or to potentially incite more hostility from my followers. As a trans, mixed-race, first-generation American, I submit this to you in concern and solidarity, in the hopes that you will simply consider what I have to say.
While the fact of your trans identity has been what’s been most discussed with respect to your tattoo, as somebody who’s white, American, not an immigrant, TAB, etc., the fact that you are even able to name one form of oppression and throw the weight of a prominent “die cis scum” tattoo behind it is as much a statement about your privilege as it is your oppression. The absence of “die racist scum” or “die colonialist scum” tattoos on your body is jarring—clearly it would be absurd for you to have them because you do not experience those oppressions and are by definition complicit in furthering them, and yet as a white American, you fail to recognize how you are still complicit in much of the violence committed against trans people. The trans folks who most often are murdered in anti-trans hate crimes are women and MAAB folks of color, many of whom live in countries directly and indirectly under the control of the U.S.: whether by way of American foreign policy; predatory practices of the U.S.-controlled WTO, IMF, and “development”-oriented NGOs; or simply the legacy of Western cultural imperialism. The impact of Western and particularly U.S.-ian neocolonialism is largely responsible for the ways in which anti-trans violence plays out on a global scale. (I would recommend doing some outside reading on this point if you don’t believe me, but I really can’t do this idea justice as a tangent here.)
While threatening violence against an oppressive class is certainly not abusive, the impact of your words cannot be divorced from the fact that you are a white American saying them. A white American advocating violence against folks who may not be white or American will always be coming from a position of relative power and be imbued by a legacy of violence. While you’ve suggested that your statement is acceptable because it comes from a person oppressed by cissexism, thus selectively invoking your identity as a trans person and not as a white person, your message is still etched into your white skin. By claiming that this tattoo is not coming from a place of institutional power because you are trans, you are obscuring the fact that your trans identity is shaped by your whiteness. While you have clearly experienced cissexist violence personally, your tattoo still speaks on behalf of an experience and therefore a class of people among whom you hold immense privilege: while intersectionality is colloquially used to refer to multiple oppressions operating at once, it is also important to consider intersectionality as a reminder of the ways in which our each of our identities influence our other identities—this is to say, your whiteness and nationality means that, even given your marginalization due to your trans identity, you hold privilege with respect to other trans folks in terms of the types of cissexist violence you are subject to.
What troubles me about your tattoo is not that an oppressed person is advocating violence against their oppressor: I support this completely, and on somebody other than you I would support your tattoo 100%. Rather, what troubles me is that you point the finger to others as your oppressors in a way that conveniently excludes you as somebody responsible for the systems of oppression that facilitate most forms of violence against trans folks. For you to advocate on behalf of a class of people whom you largely oppress and thus do not and cannot speak for troubles me; there is a reason you, as a white American citizen, are only person to publicly boast such a tattoo, and I suspect it’s related to the fact that you live in enough relative freedom and safety to be able to access having and displaying such a tattoo without already experiencing swift and violent repercussions.
This isn’t to say that your experiences and indignation at your own experiences of oppression are not valid; I simply wish to implore you to consider the context in which, as a white American, you are pointing your finger at cis people categorically as if they are solely or even primarily responsible for the violence that is actually carried out against trans folks. Are colonized cis folks and/or cis folks of color more responsible for these global and intersecting systems of violence that enable this particular brand of violence than you are? I doubt it; I certainly don’t think it’s useful to compare the severity of various oppressions, but it is necessary to consider the ways in which your other identities perpetually mire you in violent racist, colonialist, and cissexist systems that, while harming you, also greatly reward you.
There are times when “types” of oppression cannot be teased apart neatly into an SJ framework of separate vectors or axes or what have you (i.e. sexism, colonialism, cissexism), and when most of the people on lists of murdered trans folks and victims of anti-trans hate crimes are disproportionately oppressed by systems you benefit from, this becomes such an occasion. You cannot believe that the cissexism you experience is the cissexism they experience, and that you are not implicated in the latter.
In case it needs saying, it would be inappropriate for a cis person to have a tattoo reading “die cis scum”, because their voice would displace the voices of people they wield power over by virtue of their cis identity, and would speak for them (to say things they may not want to be said). Your particular relationship to cissexism is not one in which you are solely on the receiving end, and by advocating violence against cis folks as a white American while failing to acknowledge that you continually benefit from violence against trans folks, you are speaking for other trans folks in order to say things that are incredibly disconcerting given your relative position of power to them.
-submitted by anonymous
I want to thank you for your excellent commentary and for putting in the time and energy to send it over.
You are absolutely correct. I cannot and will not argue against the fact that I, as a white middle class US citizen, profit from the rape and murder of trans* people of color worldwide.
I’m familiar with the TDoR lists. I acknowledge the fact that, as a white trans* person, my risks are incredibly lower and my privilege is overwhelmingly greater than any trans* person of color.
I do think that the murder of any trans* person adds to the normalization of violence against all trans* people. Exponentially so for people of color, obviously, but I think that the general acceptance of anti-trans* violence does affect everyone under the umbrella. Again, I realize it is vital to be aware that this increase in the risk of being trans* has a huge disparity which is rooted in race and class.
I get a little emotional discussing this sort of thing so please bear with me. I know that my chances for being killed as a result of my trans status are nowhere near what they would be if I was not white. Here, in my apartment, typing this out at my laptop, this is an obvious certainty. During those moments in which I have been convinced through abundant evidence that I would not live out the next few minutes, the fact that my chances of being killed are lower has not served as a useful comfort. Again: I understand that my experiences are limited and reasonably benign in comparison to what someone without my privilege must endure.
I suppose I’m trying to say that there is a point at which I believe people ought to feel that anger is an acceptable reaction. I thought I had come to that point, and I thought my anger was justified. I generally support a wide range of expression for survivors coping with their trauma; however, I get the message that my having the ability to advertise that anger does come from privilege and entitlement.
If people want to comment on this, I’d actually appreciate it a lot because obviously I need some additional perspective. I would like it if anyone who is white could take a back seat in this conversation. I do not want this to turn into a space for people to whitesplain racism.
Wow. This commentary is fucking amazing. My first impression of the image was my love for the text, but to be honest what stood out to me was the fact that the person with the tattoo was a white person with a haircut often worn by lady skinheads. The picture has a skinhead vibe, which is often elevated as something radical by queers who claim elements of skinhead style as a more general militant style while ignoring the racist culture that popularized the style.
I almost always doubt white queers, especially in conversations about transphobia, for the reasons outlined in the original submission. I reblogged the picture because it’s badass, but I’m really happy that someone started this conversation and articulated how necessary it is for white queer and trans folk to acknowledge their role in perpetuating transphobia via their privilege.
(reblogging for that amazing fucking original message)
Are there any amazing, groundbreaking graphic novels that I’m missing? I mean, I know Watchmen is a thing, but I’ve already seen it and I can’t remember if I have it in storage at mom’s house or not so I’m avoiding buying it. I am trying to expand my graphic novel vocabulary, and get inspiration for getting one of my own off the ground. So: what else does the internet think I need in regards to grown-up comic books?
You’ve probably read Blankets already, right?
If you haven’t read From Hell, you should. Lost Girls is also a kick.
I remember loving Box Office Poison, though I haven’t read it in years.
Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol is incredible, and Rachel Pollack’s followup (which has never been collected in trades) is worth tracking down back issues of. (Morrison’s includes a sentient, crossdressing stretch of road and a genderqueer mystical being, and Pollack’s includes Coagula, the world’s first trans woman sex worker superheroine)
“I was a radical, a revolutionist. I am still a revolutionist. I was proud to make the road and help change laws and what-not. I was very proud of doing that and proud of what I’m still doing, no matter what it takes.” Sylvia Rivera to Leslie Feinberg
(Sylvia Rivera & Marsha P Johnson, photo by Leonard Fink)
Tomorrow marks the 10 year anniversary of Sylvia Rivera’s transition from this life. I never knew her but as an trans activist and organizer at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project I am constantly surrounded by people who did and consistently bare witness and benefit from Sylvia Rivera’s work for self determination and liberation.
A lot of people within queer and trans social liberation movements know about or have known Sylvia Rivera. I am moved and inspired by the length of time she dedicated to fermenting revolutionary change and generating self determination. She did this before, during and after the Stonewall rebellion. She co-created Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) after fighting off the NYPD at NYU and together created STAR house in the east village. Upon meeting Sylvia Rivera at the Peoples’ Revolutionary Convention in Philadelphia in 1971 Huey P Newton knew exactly who she was and told her so, affectionately calling her “that queen from New York City.”
Two years later Sylvia Rivera during her fight against the commercialization of Gay Pride, Sylvia Rivera was pushed out of the movement moved to Terrytown and supported trans people there. She moved back to NYC in the 90s to occupy the Christopher Street pier in order to support homeless and low income queer and trans people and challenge affluent queers who were invested in assimilation than creating radical reciprocity in relationships. Before she died she organized around Matthew Shepard’s death, Amanda Milan’s death, the gentrifying of the pier and continued to build a movement to hold the lives of many poor trans & gender non conforming people and trans & gender non conforming people of color.
I am fascinated and in awe of her life. In an effort to resist the nostalgia that often accompanies people who are larger than life & help support a social history inhabited by a human Sylvia Rivera I want to everything I could get my hands on about her. In honor of this I’ll be posting on my blog only SylviaRivera related material including copies of her speeches, writings, articles from her organizing from the late 60s to 2001 as well as interviews she gave. I’ll be doing this for the next 10 days, hopefully this will be the start of an abundance of digital archives on her life as well as the lives present with her that few people know about.
[I wrote this one last summer as the end of a series of monthly poems that I’d written for an ex-girlfriend, but although it was inspired by our breakup, it kind of went its own way and didn’t really wind up being about that relationship at all. My muse is as near-sighted as I am, and she has poor aim.]
July by Rachel K. Zall
This is the room in which I did not live. This is the room which I lived in once but don’t anymore. This is the room where I intended to live, but
couldn’t find the money couldn’t bring my cats couldn’t find a roommate who was willing to live with me.
And that’s where my bed never was. That’s where my bed used to be, but not anymore. That’s where we lay naked on a pile of blankets promising: Next time, a bed.
Those are the curtains I didn’t hang above us. Those are the curtains we hung but couldn’t keep. Those are the curtains we planned to hang, swore we’d hang real soon, but slept on after arguments instead.
And this is the room where I never touched you, never held you with your melancholy breast pressed breathing against my warm palm; never said or heard or promised that next month things would be better.
This is the room where I loved you once and where I love you still. Your hair’s beneath my pillow waiting as if it thinks you’ll come back.
This is the room where I will never love you again. I promise.
I hate cis people making me feel bad about my body
I hate cis people who get offended by my body
I hate my body having—always—to be a political site
I hate the idea that death is the first step in transition
I hate all the yappie talking heads that push the trans woman body in their 20/20 specials all between commercials for cleaning products, fast food chains, and car companies
I hate that ever autobiography I read about a trans woman starts off with “I use to try on my mothers/sisters clothes”
I hate that advice given to trans woman about hormones and surgery always is talked about with regards to our sex drive
I hate that people constantly want to know if i can still get “a boner”—including my family
I hate that I am talked down to about casual dating because I’m trans
I hate the expectation that something specific should be between my legs
I hate that the “queer” community is pretty informed about surgical options for trans men/masculine folx, but when I say “orchi” I get blank stares
I hate that moment when people realize that, yeah, in fact they have no idea what trans women experiences are like
I hate being an educator
I hate having to have to constantly take care of myself because of the constant bombardment of stupid bullshit that I am faced with.
I hate that when there is something medically wrong with my junk, I have to turn to a trans woman who lives half way across the country for advice
I hate that i can’t simply go into an ER when there is something medically wrong with my junk
I hate that I am not educated well enough about my body to know where and what is hurting me when there is something wrong with my junk
I hate that I don’t have terminology that I like for certain parts of my body
I hate that I can’t use most social network sites because their gender option in their profiles allow cis folks to treat me like I somehow misled them
I hate cis folks who tell me i’m pretty/flirt with me and bounce once they find out i’m trans
I hate that in the event I wanted to get an orchiectomy at a reasonable price and without the bullshit of having to get permission from another medical gatekeeper I would have to put up with being misgendered and patronized
I hate that surgical opportunities for trans women are always talked about through a misogynistic lens of “castration,” “getting your balls cut off,” etc.
I hate that there are no well produced or access information about surgical options for trans women.
I hate that we expect trans women to keep their body issues to themselves because it makes others uncomfortable
I hate when I read about women and trans health centers and know almost 100% that what they actually mean is women and trans men health centers
I hate that its cis women and trans men that get heard more often about the mis-use of the word “tranny”
I hate that its cis women and trans men who get heard more often in general
I hate that my body is constantly talked about using language that I don’t choose
I hate that I am treated like my body is an inconvenience
I hate that my body is only sexual when its a fetish
I hate that there is no porn that I can watch with bodies like mine where those bodies aren’t portrayed as exotic
I hate that for the most part, in any given situation, I’m usually the only person in the room with a body like mine
I hate that we are constantly fighting stupid battles about why trans women are actual fucking human beings
I hate the misogynistic attitude that trans men are heros, trans women are creepy
I hate that we can’t call misogynistic trans men misogynistic
I hate the rhetorical tactics that trans men use to avoid being held accountable
I hate that feminism gets to clam “transsexualism” only when its convient for them
I hate that the Capital “G”ay community gets to clame “transsexualism” only when its convient for them
I hate that the “queer” community gets to claim “transsexualism” only when its trans men, genderqueer, or any non-CAMAB people.
I hate that there are no famous trans women who get the money that Chaz Bono gets
I hate Chaz Bono
I hate that I am expected to have a specific teleology for my body, my narrative, and my life
Asleep on a burning street. The streetlights are murmuring lullabies. The concrete crackles to grass in the voice of the fire. And then there’s you.
You are not concrete, not grass, not a light. You are something this street thinks it’s never seen.
The fire is asking how best to burn you, how quickly you can be removed. It tries a red flame, then a yellow flame, then back to red. Asleep, you have no answers. Asleep, you are stepped on but give like grass; the wind blows through you and you are not moved.
The streetlights avoid the question, simply do not sing to you. They flicker off and on and off. Uncertain, they turn to the median strip instead.
The bird that skips among the flames is building a nest of your hair, struts up and down your back. The bird likes you best but does not understand you. You sing in your sleep, and the streetlights burn. They ask the bird if you think you’re a bird or a streetlight now. The bird mumbles and shrugs and plucks a hair. The streetlights smirk and turn again to adore the fire.
The moon is covered by a cloud, about to tip and spill rain. The fire is hiding in a newspaper, the grass bends its back thirstily, and the concrete doesn’t care. You are as still and peaceful as the ocean, no opinions.
Maybe you’re something that doesn’t have opinions, an object that can’t decide. Maybe you don’t speak or think, the way a plastic bag drifts into a tree and just hangs, shivering like a ghost. You’re a bag with a hole, a creature with no clear use, garbage left to disintegrate on someone else’s branch. The trees tell the concrete to keep you. The concrete sneers: concrete always gets the trash.
The rain comes down to see; it tickles your ear to wake you. The fire wants to see you extinguished, but won’t say so. The grass wants to see you grow, become something with a purpose. The concrete doesn’t care. And then there’s you.
Your hair waves gently in a puddle, passive as underwater seaweed. Everything on earth is waiting for you to speak.
This is actually quite lovely. He has a great voice, of course, and he brings real energy to the work, which people often forget to do when reading such delicate poetry… but it did take me a minute or so to stop waiting for him to punctuate a line break with “motherfucker!” and actually lose myself in the poem.
The creator of Ghost Rider, who is destitute after creating a character who has made millions for its Publisher, just lost a lawsuit over the rights to said character.
Not only is he not allowed to say he created the character, he is not allowed to profit in any way from the character. Worse, Marvel is demanding he pay back $17,000, money he clearly does not have, that he has made at conventions selling Ghost Rider prints. A guy off the street with no connection to Ghost Rider can sell Ghost Rider art at a con, for a commission, if he wants.
The CREATOR of Ghost Rider can’t. Can’t even say the name Ghost Rider in an interview that might lead to more work. Can’t profit in any way.
AND he has to pay back $17,000 he doesn’t have.
Marvel, I understand contracts are contracts. I understand that you want to protect your intellectual properties. But this is so purely punitive that there is no defense for it that works at all.
I know you guys have done the right thing behind closed doors in the past. I know no one wants to make a destitute creator pay money he doesn’t have that you won’t even notice. And what a gesture of goodwill it would be, before this blockbuster movie, to do the right thing here. We’re begging you. You have won the court case. Please let that be enough.
From Bleeding Cool:
Recently, Marvel triumphed in court against Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider, as to whether any moneys or rights were owed to him from the use of the characters in movies, with the second movie starring Nicolas Cage on its way.
And while the court decided that Marvel owe Gary nothing, they also decided on a counter claim from Marvel, that Gary Friedrich owes $17,000 for selling prints of the Ghost Rider character at conventions and the like.
This represents Gary’s earnings from selling such prints over several years – but now Gary is penniless. And Marvel are demanding payment now. Oh, and that he is not allowed to say he is the creator of Ghost Rider for financial gain, say by doing an interview, in the future.
Marvel was recently bought by Disney for $4 billon. Nicolas Cage recently sold his copy of Action Comics #1 for over 2 million, and will have received similar for starring in Ghost Rider 2.
Gary Friedrich, the creator of Ghost Rider is, however, penniless.”
I have been looking around our communities lately. I’ve been taking a long, hard look around when I’m out at my favorite queer-friendly restaurant or bar. I’ve been looking around at the online communities.
I have to tell you that I’ve been noticing a pattern. It’s a pattern of whiteness. I’ve started a tally you see. I’ve counted how many people of color I see in places that are supposed to be friendly to trans or queer folk. It is not many. It’s a pattern I’ve ignored my entire life. When I lived in the suburbs I rationalized it away with white flight. I always had that thought in the back of my mind that it was the other white people, the racist ones, that were keeping me from connecting with PoC and forming relationships with them or even communities that involved them. Or maybe, I even thought a time or two, it’s the people of color that are avoiding ME because I’m white!
After a while I didn’t really think about it any more.
I realized I was trans and my world got cut out from under me. My family treats me different. Strangers treat me different. Getting a job seems impossible due to simple discrimination. I did the only safe thing I could, I stopped sharing my life with most cis/straight people. I have built my own family with my wife and other people I felt safe with. Queer people. Trans people. These are my new family because the cis people didn’t get it. They didn’t even seem to have the tools to grasp the concept. All I got from talking to them was pain and regret.
That’s when I started getting it. Not just in an abstract way, but in a really deep, gut way. We, the white queers, we are isolating queer people of color from our communities in the same way we are isolated from the cis-dominated communities.
Trans people of color avoid white trans people because we are not safe.
Take a moment and think about what that means. Think about how unsafe it is to be trans. Then think about how it would feel to not even feel safe amongst other trans people.
The next logical question is “How do we reach out and let PoC know our communities are safe?” right?
The next logical question is “how do we make our communities safe for people of color?”
The first step is hardest because it involves a lot of listening. We need to listen to people of color. I don’t mean go out and demand to be educated by the next non-white person you see. No. I mean we need to go the library and take out books by PoC, watch movies made by PoC. Follow tumblrs addressing racism that are written by people of color.
We need to learn the language of oppression as it pertains to PoC. We know the language of oppression as it pertains to trans or queer issues. We know exactly how deeply the cis-sexist and homophobic things cis/straight people say to us sear into our souls. We need to know what things we say hurt PoC and why.
Then we need to stop it. Stop it forever. We need to stop making excuses for screwing it up. As a trans person I always know when someone is misgendering me on purpose, out of ignorance, or as legitimate slip. I’m sure PoC know how we intend our words when we are racist, so don’t try to explain why. Just apologize and stop doing it.
After doing all that we will be ready to reach out to trans and queer PoC. Finally we’ll be able to reach out a hand that isn’t cupping ignorance. We will be able to reach out a hand that is the handshake of an equal, not a patronizing hand to “bring people of color up to our level”.
The capitalist social pyramid is black at the base and white at the top. In South Africa, until apartheid was formally abolished in 1994, this pyramid was legally sanctioned. Elsewhere, while slavery and segregation have been outlawed, the richest people are still the whitest and the poorest are the blackest.
Racism suits capitalism because it’s an important way of justifying economic discrimination. It’s no accident that wherever you find racism, someone seems to be making money from it.
Racist ideas help capitalism get away with super-exploiting racial and ethnic minorities, and all non-white people.
“Those Arabs” or “Those Asians”, we’re told, “are used to doing dirty, hard work, and they’ll be glad to get a job at all.”
Or when unemployment is on the rise, it’s always handy to blame “Asians”, or whichever ethnic group is being demonised at the time, for taking jobs away from “real” Australians.
And when governments in the rich countries impose welfare funding or wage cuts on working people, they always start by targeting the most vulnerable groups — non-Anglo migrants or indigenous people. International students are often the first to cop attacks on higher education.
Racism fosters the idea that the massive under-development and deprivation faced by the people of the Third World is “their fault”. This leads to acceptance of the idea that, while rich countries should give some aid or loans, it should be tied to the recipient government agreeing to terms favourable to the donor countries, including huge interest charges.
Without racist and nationalist ideas prevalent in the populations of imperialist countries, people would be less likely to accept as “natural” or “inevitable” the huge inequalities between the First and Third Worlds or endorse wars on Third World peoples who resist imperialist domination.
In other words, racism is a way for the capitalist class to divide ordinary people from each other, within and between countries: divide and rule.