Had the opportunity to share some thoughts at Black Youth Project 100 Chicago Chapter, We Charge Genocide, BLM Chicago and the Chicago Light Brigade National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls last night. I was moved by the words of Rekia Boyd’s Mother and Niece as they shared the painful story of how CPD’s Detective Dante Servin took the life of their love one.
Here’s the video of what I shared and below is the speech I prepared.
#SayHerName IF Black Lives really matter. By Xavier MaatRa
If black lives really do matter why is the traditional story about state violence in the black community dominated by what’s happening to black men? Black women, queer, trans and non gender conforming people have always been active in the fight for black freedom in America. Black women are just as targeted by state violence and their stories need to be centered as we continue to scream #BlackLivesMatter .
If it weren’t for black women we wouldn’t have a social justice movement period. I’m here because of the words of late greats like Claudia jones, Amy Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, Audre Lorde, and to name a few. As a queer, black, transgender, and masculine person, I was lucky enough to have been raised and taught by so many incredible black women. My masculinity is a direct result of the beauty and resiliency of black women, beginning with my own mother. I carry their words of love and struggle in my body. It is to their stories and wise words that I owe my life and accountability as a black man in this sexist society. Many of the powerful leaders and driving forces of the Black Lives Matter movement are queer black women. It means so much to me as a queer & trans person to witness them push to bring queer, trans, and feminist lenses to their organizing because in the black community, historically we weren’t always invited to be out and at the table.
Queer, trans, and Non Gender Conforming people find ourselves in the crosshairs of the overlapping oppressions of racism, sexism, trans and homo phobia. Daily we also struggle to survive everything else that comes with the beast called Capitalism, who is daily creating new ways to profit from our pain. In the eyes of the state our crime is not fitting into white supremacist definitions of woman, man, and/or love. The crime of being ourselves pushes us away from families, our communities, and out of the workplace into the arms of the Prison Industrial Complex daily. Black gay youth are more likely to have low self esteem, depression, and experience suicidal thoughts . LGBTQ people make up about 5% of population yet 65% of all homeless people are LGBTQ and 42 % of homeless youth are GLBTQ. We must stop deserting queer youth and leaving them open to abuse and disease in the streets. As black people we often live in neglected communities with limited economic opportunities and support networks. Today about 25% of black women live in poverty. Black, queer, female, or trans, it doesn’t matter just being who we are increases our chances of coming into contact with police.
Almost 40 percent of black transgender people have experienced police harassment. Who wants to call the police in an emergency if you have to worry about having your gender and relationships questioned or dismissed ? Why does any black person want to call the police for help when we know the historically racist and brutal ways they murder and mistreat black people. As a black transman I have been stopped and frisked, mis gendered, mocked by police, and accused of things just for being me. Just as I understand that my survival depends on my ability to navigate the criminalization of my black body and queer masculinity. I also understand how our society polices gender and privileges masculinity. We must expand the conversation surrounding police brutality to include black women. Especially black trans women who have been victimized or murdered by police. Trans women are pressured to live up to warped ideas of womanhood and America comes down hard on them when they fall short of Eurocentric standards of beauty and femininity. Today 35 years is the average life expectancy of a trans woman. As a queer black trans masculine person sometimes I can blend in in ways that trans women can’t and with that comes much responsibility. I have the responsibility to communicate with other men about trans misogyny ,sexism, feminism, and the messed ways we treat women. I must use my access in a male dominated society to push back by seeking ways to center the needs and demands of black women. For me that doesn’t mean macho posturing about how we need to protect “females”. I center woman by stepping out of the way so that they speak for themselves and continue being as amazing as they have always been.
When it became popular to quite the stat from the Malcom X Grassroots Movement study about how black PEOPLE are killed every 28hrs by the police. Most people were saying every 28hrs a black MAN is killed by a police. Why and how was it so easy for black person to be turned into black man? Sexism is pervasive and we have to watch how its used to divide us in the struggle for black liberation. We don’t have time to argue about whether or not homosexuality is a tool for genocide in the black community (ridiculous I know but many deeply believe this) or whether or not black men have it harder than black women. The study found that one black person is killed every 28 hours. All black people are in the crosshairs of the PIC which is inherently racist and genocidal. Our freedom and peace as black people whether queer, trans, NGC, cis or straight is tied together. We must fight these overlapping systems together and centering the lives of black women and femmes is an important part of that fight. Whatever you thought you were doing it isn’t enough. If they can shoot down Mya Hall for making the “wrong” turn and Rekia Boyd for standing with friends in her own neighborhood, who’s next? What else has to happen for us to come together to really hit the streets and fight like our lives matter?