I was asked,” what can we do to stop the murders of Black trans women?” I simply responded, stop killing us!
A Critical Response to Performative Activism and Call to Action
Oftentimes I am interviewed by various outlets or speak at an event for reasons related to my academic research and body of work that explores a 360 examination of the socio-economic impact of state sanctioned violence in the lives and livelihoods of Black trans women. I’m often asked, “what can we do to stop a, b, c, or how can Black trans women overcome 1, 2, 3?” And I’m always like quite simply, “we didn’t create nor benefit from any of this shit. White supremacy, nope! Anti-Blackness, transphobia and ableism, capitalism, prison industrial complex, non-profit industrial complex or the gender binary, nope not at all.
Before I get the response, “I haven’t killed a Black trans woman”! Of course, well my hope is that you haven’t, you know, I am not saying you have pulled the trigger, but have you? Perhaps we journey deeper into this thing. No, you did not physically murder a Black trans woman. However, critical race theory encourages an intersectional view of this thing. With an abolitionist feminist lens that encourages the elevation of the leadership of Black trans women in social justice spaces. Perhaps, conduct a thorough examination of your identity and its proximity to whiteness, cisness, ableism and hegemonic culture.
Let’s look at all the ways specific aspects of your identity in respect to its proximity to whiteness, cisness, ableism and hegemonic culture have lent itself to your socio-economic benefit and thus the benefit of those around you. Let’s examine all the ways your identity “leveled up” your proximity to whiteness, to cisness, to ableism? Let’s interrogate all the ways you have leveraged anti-Blackness, transphobia, ableism, fatphobia, colorism or just the plain ole basic jealous bitch with nothing better to do but to disrupt the love, joy and happiness of a Black trans woman.
Within our examination of who we are and how we show up in the world, we are asking ourselves a series of complex and transformative inquiries that enable a clear vision of how you are showing up in the world. Inquiries such as, how have I benefited from proximity to whiteness, cisness, ableism, colorism? In what ways have I benefited from classism or generational wealth built of slavery, genocide or state sanctioned violence? This level of examination allows for a peak into how state sanctioned violence works in concert with whiteness, ableism etc.
At this point most folk heads are spinning, vibrating or elevating and all of those are good things because it means the wheels are moving, that shifts are beginning to happen and that transformation is possible and just might be manifesting in multiple ways not in your view. For me, it is really about people experiencing life without prescribed restrictions to gender identity or expression and without bounds and barriers socially constructed to reinforce state sanctioned violence. It’s simply not worth it Ms. Celie.
But seriously, if you are examining all the ways you show up in the world and desire to leverage your access to resources to make an intentional investment in the socio-economic growth, development and sustainability of Black trans women, then do just that. It’s that simple. Name all of the ways your identity and your proximity has created unearned opportunities that have enriched your socio-economic position then click the donate button on the nearest fundraiser (or ten) of a Black trans woman. Named the ways you have leveraged your identity and proximity to engage in anti-Blackness, transphobia, fatphobia, ableism, colorism, xenophobia, ageism, classism or any other oppressive behavior that reinforce whiteness then organize a fundraiser for a Black trans woman led organization and send then the money. And it’s not just money. Name all the ways you have benefited then leverage that access to curate opportunities for others.
Take the opportunity to be blessed by the words, wisdom and experience of Black trans women, especially during this global pandemic of coronavirus. Folk say we are living in perilous times and many Black trans women have been navigating similar circumstances of survival since colonization began its genocide of our Ancestors.
When talking about abolitionist feminism, Angela Davis speaks of the role of Black trans women in social justice spaces as those who should be leading the way towards collective liberation. “Black trans women constitute the target of racist violence more consistently than any other community. We’re talking about, State violence, we’re talking about individual violence, stranger violence, intimate violence.”
Dr.Lourdes Ashley Hunter
Orator, Academic, Black Trans Revolutionary
Executive Director, Trans Women of Color Collective