For a little over a year I was apart of a support team in a Community Accountability process to address a sexual assault. It was a trying and transformative process to say the least. If you are interested in alternatives … Continue reading
This past Friday I supported the Trans Liberation March Chicago. I read BTGNC list of demands and gave a speech about trans liberation. Here is a video of the march and the full text of my speech is below.
Hello beautiful people my name is Xavier most people call me X and you can find me online as dirtyartboi. I wanted to take a moment…
A moment for those who walk around, between, and above genders. A moment of silence for innocent blood shed simply for being who you are. This moment is for those of us who’s ability to be true to self is a matter of life and death. For those of us who know life is more than the need to check male or female. To those who walk among you with love, pride, and respect though our contribution to the spectrum of humanity is often misunderstood, neglected, and abused. Thank you to all the family and allies who’s love, pride and respect doesn’t depend on our ability to fit into societies’ boxes. Much gratitude to those who made the path a bit easier for me and much appreciation to the ancestors who still hold us up today.
I want to share a few of my thoughts about Liberation because too often ideas about trans rights and trans liberation don’t include my experience as black trans queer black man.
My liberation is not Marriage Equality There are many privileges built into marriage in america that all people should have access to if they so choose. However the way the fight for marriage has been waged is a backdoor fight for access to the status quo not a challenge to how problematic it is to tie privileges to an institution thats not for everyone. Marriage equality fails to address many of major issues. It doesn’t get ton the root of why black trans tgnc people continue to suffer from the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and hate motivated violence.
My liberation is not progressive politics, liberalism,reformist politics, choosing between the lesser of two evils, or participation in any process that allows the U.S. government to masquerade as a civil society. My liberation doesn’t support xenophobia Islamophibia and the demonizing and detaining of refugees and immigrants this current administration is reviving. We have to build a new society. stop pretending like the ship isn’t sinking and we have to scurrying for crumbles from capitalists tables while licking the wounds from the oppression that holds the table together. There is no such thing as justice in a corrupt society driven by profit over people. I am not surprised by the recent resurgence of white christian nationalism and xenophbia that Trump road to office. This has always been apart of the DNA of American culture. My people have been at war with these types of people for 100’s of years and I refuse to have the nuance of my struggle as trans and queer person be dismissed and left out of our visions of black liberation and the liberation of all oppressed people across the world.
My liberation is not Money or participating in capitalism, assimilation, or the so called american dream. My choice to transition medically isn’t about blending in and proving I can be someone else’s definition of normal. Many of the issues I face are driven by the disastrous impact of capitalism and classism in this country. Aka fuck your dirty notes and fiat currency. Fuck working for those who hate us in order to survive. My liberation means the end to having to give the majority of our physical and creative energy working in institutions that are designed to exploit our labor and pin us against each other.
My liberation is not Equality or having enough privilege to assimilate into white supremacist power structures and binaries. Unlike too many celebrity and stays quo chasing people the goal of my transition and gender expression is not to find a place amongst wealthy elites. I don’t want to be equal to white people, the so called average American, cis, hetero-normative blah blah nor any other privileged person in society. I want to build new ways of relating to and valuing life thats not dripping with the blood of oppression and funded by the dirty american dollar. Equity to equality is is essential to trans liberation.
As for this current round of anti trans legislation and the bathroom conversation.
The way they are framing this conversation is backwards. If people only understood how hard it is to go to a public restroom as a trans or non binary person. No matter how well you do or don’t ‘pass’ it can be full of anxiety, fear, and panic. I always feel unsafe in public restrooms. I try not to use public restrooms and plan my day around where its safe for me to pee still. I stop by my office when I’m doing things in that neighborhood just so I can use a safe single stall restroom all the time. Many of us have been harassed and beaten in restrooms. I’ve been chased out of public restrooms when I was still trying to pass as a woman and if I use a women’s restroom today someone will probably call the cops on me. I’m not a student but I work with students and and faculty on campuses all the time. Which restroom is safe for me on campus?
So they won’t enforce the law the way Obama did. There are practical things you can do where you have influence to resist how this current administration is choosing to enforce this law. There are other ways you can resist this administrations attempts at scapegoating and demonizing trans and non gender conforming people. Will you support a person when you see them being harassed for being a trans and non binary while walking down the street or sitting on the train? What have you done to make your public schools, workplaces, and public restrooms more inclusive and safe for all genders?
Barriers to finding work because of gender is what impacts our safety and ability to survive in this society just as much if not more than being harassed in restrooms. What’s the point of being safe in the restroom as a student if when you graduate you can’t find a job because another piece of legislation says a person can deny another person access to services and goods because of their gender and sexuality? What are you doing to fight the 30 pieces of anti LGBT legislation that are using the smoke screen of religious liberty to justify a new form of legalized discrimination? Are you the children of those who fought and died for access to public spaces and employment going to sit by and let this society continue to deny access to us because of our gender identities?
This isn’t just about the safety of students in restrooms this about our right to NOT fit easily into boxes labeled male or female and to walk through this world with dignity while doing it. This is about our humanity. It’s about our right to express ourselves as freely in public spaces along side anyone else without fearing for our safety.It’s about fair access to the same spaces we help build and pay taxes to maintain. Our differences in gender identity and expressions doesn’t mean we are deviant and we will not continue to be dehumanized,denied access,criminalized, and killed without a fight.
Black Trans Lives Matter. My life matters. The lives of my sisters being ripped away too soon in these streets matter. My often demonized, overlooked and mis judged masculine brothers and sisters matter. My non binary gender fluid peeps are essential as well. So grateful for those who lived these magical lives under the trans umbrella before me and helped me find the strength to live my truth and fight everyday with love of self no matter how much this world tries to dismiss and punish us for refusing to fit into their boxes. We are beautiful and powerful amongst the many complicated faces of this thing called humanity. Peace blessings and All Power to the People!
#dirtyartboi #TransUpFront #TransLiberation #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #Chicago
I refuse to participate in a fixed game out of fear. Why should I legitimize this corrupt system with my participation when life will continue to be hard and probably get worse no matter who wins? My ancestors fought so I could have the right to this opinion and to choose whether to vote or not. Don’t use their legacy to shame my choices.
We have been throwing votes and hopes into a system that has been beating, raping, and exploiting people and the environment for centuries. When will you have enough of choosing between the better of two evils ? What is it going to take for you to jump off this burning sinking ship? Don’t you believe in our ability to create something more humane together?
This culture is literally killing our sisters, brothers, and ripping apart families daily. In the era of the so called first black president our suffering can be googled and watched online for entertainment while the perpetrators continue to go free with no consequence from this so called criminal justice system. Yet you want to fix your mouth to tell me if I don’t vote its all my fault and I have no right to say anything? How dare you insult my intelligence by going into empty naive speeches about how someone died so I could therefore I must. Trust, I am not ranting based on what they teach us about the so called civil rights movement I understand political science and resistance.
My ancestors died protesting the same system that continues to find new ways to enslave and kill us today. Voting was the strategy then and now after decades of exercising the vote how has that strategy served us? Us, as in the masses of people not just a handful of politicians,reformists, and business people who have found a comfort zone profiting from our pain under the guise of “American Democracy” or the so called “Free Market”.
What is the role of the vote in the struggle for liberation in America? Are the participatory democracy strategies worth all the time and energy we have been giving them? Did our ancestors really die so we could choose between Trump or Clinton? If voting isn’t such a high priority then what next? These are the intergenerational discussions we should be having? Not patronizing respectability diatribes about whats wrong with young people today or why one must vote. How much more political theatre must you see? Bush stealing an election and lying to take us to war wasn’t enough? Maybe the betrayal and disappoint from little return on Obama’s hope dope campaign and his subsequent continue of the status quo time in office might move you. If having a black president can’t stop the police from murdering people with little to no consequence daily what’s the point?
Feels more and more like fascism and less like democracy each day. What will it take for us to get real and move away from the participatory democracy strategies and the shaming of people who use their feet to protest and build; instead of voting just because someone died or because they are a little more afraid of one candidate over the other? We are the vanguard, the world is watching. Participating out of fear or ignorance isn’t freedom.
#JustVotingIsntEnough #DirtyArtBoi #CorruptElectionsWontFreeUs #WakeUp
In April I was invited to share my thoughts about the politics of the Black left at Platypus Affiliated Society International Convention. Below is the text of what I shared as well as the audio which includes questions from the audience. The crowd was 98% white including a few people from Germany and Canada. I intentionally wrote my piece to black people knowing there would be few if any black people there. I rarely get chances to talk to black people about capitalism and black politics so I seized this moment even if it meant black people probably wouldn’t hear my thoughts in person.
Politics of the Black Left, presented at Platypus Affiliated Society International Convention 2016 by Xavier MaatRa
Find the Audio Here http://platypus1917.org/?powerpress_pinw=23648-podcast (starts around 4:45-19:25)
In 2016 with all the history behind us are we really beginning this conversation with questions such as what is the nature of racism ? Why is it still here? What are the structures that perpetuate it and how can we address them? Or Is it about anti blackness or micro aggressions? When are we going to stop wasting time creating new ways to talk about racism and hoping that one day white people will decide to stop enjoying the comforts that come from the oppression perpetuated by racism and the myth of white supremacy? This isn’t rocket science as long as people are profiting from oppression it will exist.
It doesn’t matter how many anti-racist workshops you attend nor does it matter how often or how well you can cry and whine about how guilty you feel for being a person born so white and so privileged in America. As long as being white helps you to get a job, keep a roof over your head, support your family, and squeeze out some piece of comfort in one of the richest nations on the planet it’s just ridiculous for me to believe that you really care about undoing racism. You can call yourself a progressive, you can call yourself a liberal, you can call yourself whatever you want; if whiteness is a privileged class then the first step for white people is class suicide. What that means for white people is for white people to figure out. There are too many people dying trying to survive this mess for me to continue to spend my precious energy trying to teach you how to stop benefiting from my oppression.
Now what can black people who consider themselves a part of the American left do to free themselves from the mental and social-economical chains of racism and the myth of white supremacy? That’s a question worth examining. I would suggest that one of the first steps towards black progressives addressing racism is to divorce their definitions of comfort and success from the spoils and pleasures capitalism.
The rise of what Glen Ford calls the Black Mis leadership class to prominent positions in American government via mayors of large cities beginning in the 80’s all way up until the almost 8yrs under our first black president has taught us that putting black faces on capitalism, white power structures, and/or American Democracy gets the black masses no where. Ford says this about Obama’s impact on the lives of the masses:
“We thought Obama’s election meant that lots of Black folks would celebrate as their own incomes and wealth went further down the drain, and that many would cheer while a Black commander-in-chief slaughtered people of color all over the world. And we were right.” – Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
Now that the hype has settled and its undeniable that Obama’s allegiance is not to black people or the left but to the empire of corporate finance that placed him in power. Can we please give up trying to seek liberation via flawed two party electoral politics? Or at least begin to imagine what it would mean to resist pursuing social mobility derived from participating and profiting from a system designed to thrive off of our pain and exploitation. Its time we begin to look towards creating emancipatory political practices outside the flawed two party system, and the limited capitalism vs socialism or race vs class frames.
For this to happen we need to facilitate a mass movement of black people. The black left needs to explore what they can do to encourage a mass movement for Black Liberation that’s not contingent on giving blind allegiance to the democratic party in hopes of getting a piece of the American Pie? I agree with Margaret Kimberley when she said “Too many progressives really yearn for acceptance rather than bringing about systemic change.” Most people are too busy trying to survive capitalism or get a piece of capitalism to really engage in the political education and reflection needed to spark a mass movement of black people away from the spoils of capitalism. Perhaps a nation wide campaign for mass political education rooted in 3 questions to push black people on the left beyond empty rhetoric, identity politics, and blind allegiance to the Democratic Party.
Political Education for Black Liberation and emancipatory political practices on the Left must engage the questions:
1.Can you divorce capitalism from democracy?
2.Has democracy worked for black people?
3.Where are there places in our everyday lives, no matter our social economic status, where we begin to practice new forms of economy and apply values that push us past relating to each other based solely upon our ability to consume or produce?
If we aren’t careful these questions could circle us back to the door of one of the Left’s favorite smoke screen debates of race versus class. To steer clear of that trap I will add the question, If American Democracy and what’s know as Left politics can work for black people why in this so called post racial era of Obama are young people in the streets screaming Black Lives Matter?
Through the lens of these questions the masses could be organized to address the issues Perpetual poverty and materialism, Gentrification/Ethic Cleansing, and the legacy of slavery via police brutality and mass incarceration.
Perpetual Poverty and materialism
We must examine the history of black bodies feeding American Capitalism and its implications for our role in class warfare. There would be no American wealth with out black labor yet the masses of black people are still suffering at the hands of lack.Being poor and disenfranchised is hard but being poor in America is a major increase in quality of life for so many around the world.
What does it mean for the descendants of slaves to build their lives around technology mined by african slaves abroad.Everyday African Americans are buying into what bought our ancestors and still profits from the blood of our babies still today. Have African Americans grown pleasantly plump eating the scraps from the table of American Imperialism? We have to make connections between our issues here, the role of black dollar and global citizenship. If Capitalism Kills why are still fighting for a piece of it.
Gentrification or Ethic Cleansing
White flight is reversing, inner cities are neglected, and public schools are closing at alarming rates. POC are being pushed out of the major cities threatening our ability to organize large numbers of people. The way alot of 20 and 30 somethings talk about Gentrification is so ironic. You have all these white people saying what can I do? How can I be anti racist and fight for racial justice? Yet they have no problem moving into POC neighborhoods and pushing poor people out so they can shop at the local Whole Foods on their quests for mobility. How can they not see the connections between their white privilege, urban blight, privatization of public schools, and the legacy of racism in this country?Speaking of the legacy of racism lets talk
The New Jim Crow, Neo Slavery, or Mass Incarceration.
The role of police brutality and the prison industrial complex in the lives of black brown and poor people can not be understated. Recently BLM pushed the issues of police brutality and mass incarceration into the for front of American politics. BLM was instrumental in increasing the visibility of resistance to the police murders and lack of justice of the American Criminal Justice system for the families of of Mike brown, Sandra Bland, and locally in Chicago Rekia Boyd. Why would a young black person care about voting or debating the role of capitalism in democracy when they can’t walk home from school without the fear of being harassed by the police or caught in cross fire? Why are there still so many non violent drug offenders locked away for marijuana offenses while white millennials are getting wealthy building marijuana economies in California and Colorado?
I will close with this. Look around who is in the room? Who should be here and why aren’t they? Its the role of the black Left to create spaces where the masses can reflect and take action. We must put the tools for liberation into the hands of the masses if we want to see major changes in the conditions of black people. If we just continue to sit around with each other and ask the same questions we will go in the same circles while people continue to get manipulated and massacred by oppression especially the tyrants of racism, capitalism, and the myth of white supremacy that binds them together. If we would just leave the American Dream and the trappings of this consumerist fame worshipping culture alone and believe in our capacity to build something beautiful together then we might begin to see some glimpses of liberation. There is so much freedom in our creativity our global impact on the arts and spirituality speaks to that. What would happen if we (I’m speaking to children of African Diaspora) across the world, turned that creative energy towards a livable black liberation politic for the masses?
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This past fall we requested submissions for the THINK BE DO Forum in response to Dirty Art Boi’s Naming the Myth Resisting the Myth. Thanks to everyone who sent in a submission however we are only able to select 4 to feature in the Forum. We will post new pieces throughout May.
We are excited to share our next guest piece for the THINK BE DO Forum by the very talented Julian K. Glover.
Julian K. Glover is an academic, activist, and performer who recently graduated from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs with an MPA and has degrees in speech communications, music and sociology. He has been published in the Harvard Kennedy School’s LGBTQ Policy Journal is currently pursuing a PhD in African American Studies from Northwestern University where he works with E. Patrick Johnson. He has also worked for several national progressive organizations including the National LGBTQ Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality and the Center for American Progress in Washington DC.
“Every breath a transwoman of color takes in an act of revolution”
Lourdes Ashley Hunter
“I may not be a phenomenal woman, but I am an extraordinary queen!”
Tela La’Raine Love
“You will stand with me at all of my intersections or none at all”
Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi
The nature of white supremacy relies on its ability to remain invisible. Blackness is ruthlessly and mercilessly interrogated while whiteness remains the default and thus, unchallenged. I have developed strategies to resist white supremacy after understanding the importance of centering the wisdom, experiences, knowledge and survival practices of trans people of color and specifically transwomen of color (TWOC).
While attending the 2015 National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conference in Denver Colorado, I had an opportunity to attend a healing circle led by the National Director of the Transwomen of Color Collective (TWOCC) Lourdes Ashley Hunter. The purpose of this circle was to provide a collective space for transwomen of color to express their sorrows, trials, tribulations, triumphs and resilience in the face of the various systems of oppression that constantly expose the community to violence and death.
Though I was elated to attend the circle, I did not anticipate that the experience would be transformative for me. Witnessing TWOC speaking truth to power, engaging in collective healing and supporting one another in the face of a world that seeks to destroy them daily forced me to examine the various ways that I- as a cisgender person- was complicit in the subjugation and oppression of TWOC and the transgender and gender nonconforming community at large.
Not too longer after the healing circle and returning to the Midwest, I came to the conclusion that my liberation was dependent on the liberation of TWOC, the trans and gender nonconforming (GNC) community. Further, I realized that it was absolutely essential to not only center the trans (TWOC specifically) and GNC in our fight for liberation, but to demonstrate unconditional love, support and solidarity to that community as well. It is my belief that cisgender people who desire liberation will never achieve such a thing as long as we fail to love- physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally- the trans and GNC community.
Lest we forget that love is more than a discursive tool, but an action. We- as cisgender people who desire liberation- must learn how to love TWOC, the trans, and GNC community. We can do this by centering and highlighting their experiences while in protest of systemic oppression, critically listening to them and honoring their wisdom, making sure that they hold leadership positions in our organizations and allowing them to tell us exactly what we can do to improve their lives.
Too many times have I watched colleagues, family and friends who sincerely believe that they are being the best “ally” possible disavow and discount the analysis, wisdom, experiences and desires of those in the trans and GNC community. It is time for us (cisgender people) to acknowledge our cis-sexist privilege, humble ourselves and put our processed love of the trans and GNC community into action. It is through such actions that we can dismantle not just white supremacy, but also patriarchy, colonialism and even capitalism as well.
This past fall we requested submissions for the THINK BE DO Forum in response to Dirty Art Boi’s Naming the Myth Resisting the Myth. Thanks to everyone who sent in a submission however we are only able to select 4 to feature in the Forum. We will post new pieces throughout May.
We are excited to run our first guest piece for the THINK BE DO Forum by the very talented Almah the Alchemist.
Almah the Alchemist is a Black girl thunderstorm. She is currently at work on a book of Black folk fiction and is utterly in love with mixed media, winter, mail, kayaking, and rising tide of cat supremacy. Find her at stagecoachmary.tumblr.com and Twitter @mahla_creative.
We are honored to kick off the Forum with her piece. Listen to Almah’s audio response HERE
Your comments make the Think BE Do a Forum. Share your thoughts and repost widely.
What do you THINK?
How can we BE working together to develop a Black Liberation Politic for the masses?
Lets have a conversation and create together!
Having to cut myself in order to be free very conflicting.
Insanity according to my mother.
Being called she when you’re really mostly he
An insanely isolating pain.
Surviving in an a vessel that doesn’t fully express you
is a deep slow gnawing at the soul, weighting down the mind type pain.
Feeling foreign in the only body you have ever known,
walking around fully invisible like he they refuse to see in she,
living between pink or blue
constantly being punished and dismissed for giving zero fucks about pink or blue.
Can leave some thirsty for a dip in the shark tank
dreaming for the relief of the shark’s bite.
To tare down to rebuild is as old as time.
This taring is a mending.
A racing towards death for rebirth.
Chest flexes in the mirror like a 30 year old teenage boi.
Long deep scars stare back at me, invoking my wild shark tale.
For leaning into her mouth and surviving the
assault of the shark’s teeth some have called me brave.
More like desperate. I felt so fucking desperate.
Out of desperation I jumped into shark infested waters.
Out of desperation my body chose the surgeon’s knife,
increasing the chasm between my mother and I,
becoming a stranger to my brothers,
and more of a mystery to lovers.
I wont justify my body or defend my choices.
Their eyes whisper Insanity
at the sight of my transgressive temple
I don’t have the words to explain
why I rather a scar than a breast
my insides cringe at the thought of explaining my body
every time I have sex
I wont justify my body
How do I say I’m a man when the thought of you makes my pussy drip?
How do I explain to them that I am they, him and her but prefer he most of the time?
Their eyes whisper Insanity at the sight of my transgressive temple.
Next comes ignorant questions painting me into narrow boxes marked exotic, oddities, and experiments.
The tooth of a shark scraped my chest.
I left my breasts behind on a surgeon’s table in Florida
He ripped away a complicated part of me
Pain like never before.
I am healing.
Like never before.
They were ripped away so on paper I could be re gendered
When I left them behind did I ditch the binary mythology or cosign it?
Today the M in place of the F is a new Mis gendering.
Did I reject my body or this society?
Did I dismiss, embrace, or redefine myself?
What else did I leave on the surgeon’s table?
What do I have besides just another cliché ass shark tale ?
They executed #MarioWoods in the streets this week. #tired Anyone who cannot admit or see we are living in a police state I just can’t with you. There are too many videos, deaths, settlements ect for this topic be up for debate anymore. All these rampaging mass murdering ass white dudes get taken into custody but case after case of black people with alleged knives are being riddled with bullets and shot down in the streets by the police. When is enough enough. Then people want to debate about the phrase BlackLivesMatter verses all lives matter. More denial, racist ass bullshit politricks. History has shown in america black lives only matter when we fight, kick, scream, and shame this country for its crimes against our humanity. #DirtyArtBoi
I’m a small town back woods of NJ transplant almost 8 years strong here and the people of Chi City are beautiful. They remind me of Tupac’s metaphor of the rose who grew from concrete. Though the numbers are similar we are more than Chiraq. As I have traveled this country organizing between Cali, NOLA, NY, NJ and Now Chicago I’ve learned black folk and all oppressed people in the americas are facing the same systems no matter how small the town or wide the city. Even though the winters are crazy cold, this week I have been reminded of the power of the fire in young people’s bellies and how proud I am to say I currently struggle, love, and fight for black, queer, trans, and human liberation with the people of Chicago. #DirtyArtBoi #ChiCityLove
Checkout Project Nia‘s visual love letter to Chicago’s organizers.