Chicago Trans Liberation March

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.

Trans Liberation Speech17103407_1927202584182783_1155758211698881018_n

3/3/2017

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 17155282_1927203767515998_6222986021861960918_nbuilt 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 17103319_1927200360849672_1032785269679509848_nisn’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 17098595_1927202397516135_7469735253154061769_nwhite 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 d17022494_1927200357516339_287257540069699445_nemonized, 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!

More Photos From the March 

#dirtyartboi #TransUpFront #TransLiberation #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #Chicago

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Chi City Rose

images-5I’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.

 

Not Another Tape

Not Another Tape

Not Another Tape!
Not another state sanctioned assination
Not another black body to mourn.
There is a grieving happen all over this place.
This grief is for the pigmented ones…
our sister brother cousin ones
often suppressed, miseducated, envied yet hated ones
…it feels like a permeant state this grief.
How do you live when we always dying?
How you living … we crying?
To love under oppression is to be in a constant state of grief, lost, sadness, anger?
Fatha Baldwin named it a constant state of rage.

This rage is blazing in the bellies of us the tired ,fighting, resisting, ones
Yea you I feel you raging, you the fired up and ain’t taking it no more ones.
The old, young, wild, free, aa21b679dc31672cd48fe93ebb3de727bold, queer, conscious and laying your bodies on the gears, facing fear, protesting, yelling, campaigning, demanding, and building a better world, ones.
This rage is a flame burning in the hearts of weeping mothers who’ve buried children shot down by these systems.
There is a grieving happen all over this place.
This grief is for the pigmented ones…
our sister brother cousin ones.
Targeted by too many violent system ones.

This grief is radiating from all us.
The ones who hurt when people hurt.
Those who feel powerless to stop the assault on black, brown, poor, and anybody who refuses to bow to state violence.
There is a grieving happening all over this place accompanied by a battle cry.
One moment we’re crying the next fighting.
When you’re done crying how and why
on the backs of those tears
are what now …lets go… can’t stop now… . ‪#‎strugglecontinues‬ ‪#‎DiryArtBoi‬

 

 

Naming the Myth, Resisting the Myth

StopMystfyPascalRobertsPascal Roberts

This reminds me why I have started calling it the Myth of white supremacy with intentional lowercase. I stay grasping for the words and actions to effectively resist the myth while building new ways of relating to people and the planet. Sometimes just saying white supremacy reenforces it in our minds and continues to center whiteness.  We must find ways in language as well as action to be real about the nature of this thing while struggling to destroy it.  This is warfare and the power of words and propaganda cannot be under estimated. 

Many societies have cultures rooted in myths and propaganda which justifies the damage they do to people and the planet in the pursuit of power or “nation” building. These myths give a sense of identity to the people and attempt to mystify governments and institutions away from responsibility for the blood on their hands and harm done to the environment. At the core of American so called patriotism is the myth of white supremacy and its insidious partner capitalism.

 The Media repackages, reenforces, and promotes assimilation and justifications for these global predators. Pop culture is constantly telling us to consume things that help you succeed, aka earn money and prestige in the white business world. The clothes you wear, the way you talk, what’s considered sophisticated versus what’s “ghetto”,”classy”, “respectable” or “professional. Behind all these are things that tie you to the myth of white supremacy and press you to perpetuate the globalization of capitalism. 

As we acknowledge the reality of how it impacts the world we must also affirm its fallacy and finite nature. As we continue to critique it we must not give it more power in our minds than it deserves. Though it has real political implications at the end of the day it’s a lie. A lie intertwined with capitalism used to create systems and institutions of oppression that can be destroyed and replaced. Too many people want to hold white people “accountable”,try to convince them to walk away from world domination, privilege, and the status quo. Most of us are taught to believe that we can convince at least a handful of good people to be a little nicer to people of color, the poor, or anyone outside the 1% for that matter. You know the way liberals rather frame the same old white supremacist and capitalists exploits as civil or human rights issues. Worse others just want more of “their” people to get a  piece of the action or a place at the table so they can prove they’re ability to assimilate and integrate into these systems to their own benefit.  

What are your thoughts on the nature of white supremacy? What are you strategies for resisting and unlearning its influence on your day to day? Have you thought about connections between the way we talk about oppression and perpetuate it at the same time?  Have you thought about the connection between this myth, globalization, and your daily spending habits? Have you had this types of discussions with young people or everyday poor/ working class POC?  Can you explain the myth of white supremacy to a 10 or 16 year old? I ask these questions in a effort to push us towards sharping our analysis, tactics, and continuing to shape a practical black liberation politic for the masses.  If these words and ideas don’t translate into the day to day lives of the poorest of the poor as well as the so called middle class they mean nothing. -#DirtyArtBoi

You Shine We Shine

We do not have to agree on everything for me to be your fan, supporter, and a person who enjoys seeing you do well. This is apart of what it means for me to practice solidarity. If we truly believe that our freedom and happiness is tied together across many intersections then when I shine you shine and vis versa. Competition can be fun but is often bred in us to keep us divi

youRBeautifulded. We have to intentionally work against the urges to compare and compete for profit over people. A common challenge to this are our own insecurities and ignorance of self. When you are ok with who you are you don’t need to compare nor do you feel threatened at others’ success. Now someone else’s success or shine at the expense of my peeps or liberation politic thats another story.

 

Politics of Trans Liberation

Below is a piece I prepared for Solidarity Summer School Panel on Trans Politics last month. The question was: What are your thoughts on oppression particularly against trans people of color and how to build a grassroots movement? Trying to skate away from tokenization and wanting to reframe conversations about oppression into freedom dreams I decided to share my ideas about trans liberation. I had 15 minutes to respond and chose to start with what trans liberation is not because there are so many people outside of my community defining the transgender experience in the media these days who I just disagree with. Then I shared a few ideas for building grassroots movements for trans liberation.

Politics of Trans Liberation

Solidarity Summary School, Thursday July 23, 2015, Chicago, Il

I enjoyed how Tiq Milan spoke of the current shifts in Trans politics…

The scope of emotions, questions and challenges we face within our families is emblematic of the cultural shift that’s happening right now. We’re all being challenged to understand gender as a spectrum of possibilities that is determined by the individual not something rigidly defined on a binary axis. The transgender experience is being addressed within the LGBT movement and explored within the broader population as a means of understanding. For so long, a lot of the engagement with the trans community has been antagonistic and shaming yet now we are pushing ourselves culturally to reexamine gender identity and how it’s created or defined.”Tiq Milan

While keeping that in mind and recognizing how we as trans and gender fluid people are continuing to suffer the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and hate motivated violence in the LGBTQ community. We have to remember that Trans Lib is more than employment, housing, safety, & respectability. Lets begin with what it is not before looking at some ideas for building grassroots movements for trans liberation.

Liberation is not…

           Gender Conformity Conformity is boring and oppressive. Gender is too complex to fit into any of your boxes and its naive to think all trans people are seeking the same outward display of gender. Telling me how well I “pass” is not a compliment. What surgeries I’ve had or might be thinking about are none of your business. Nor should physical changes be used as badges of approval and social capital in our communities. My trans liberation includes non gender conforming and gender fluid expressions of humanity.

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 in everyday people’s lives such as suffer the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, incarceration, and hate motivated violence.

              Visibility Its time out for the type of representation in the media and arts that erases people of color, ignores or demonizes trans masculine people, waters down our diversity, complexity and beauty to make us palpable to our oppressors and in the efforts to keep hope alive for those who just want to assimilate to the status quo. No more” if you could just see how much we are just like you” narratives. I refuse to assimilate for you to respect my humanity.

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               Money or participating in capitalism, assimilation, the american dream, aka fuck your dirty notes and fiat currency.

               Dominance or more guns, wars, cops, and imperialism. Our blood is constantly being shed and we are constantly punished for standing up for our so called civil rights.  Its doubtful we will ever have the ability to manufacture or amass enough weapons to destroy our oppressors without killing the planet along the way. Liberation is not my ability to use violence to feel “safe”. I don’t want power by might but I will use might and any means necessary to protect myself and love ones.

               Equality Or Equity  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.

            

            Social Justice, 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.  We have to build a new society stop pretending like the ship isn’t sinking and 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.

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Its difficult to untangle poor, black, trans, womanist, queer or any other aspect of myself and communities I’m tied to from my visions of liberation. One of my favorite writers and thinkers said this about liberation:

“We need Liberation, not this quasi-religious notion of sovereignty promoted by the Moors and other Black cults.  Liberation means we create Systems and Institutions for our own governance and security while removing the oppressive authority of White Domination from our lives.  Liberation requires us to dismantle oppressive Institutions and Systems, not just get out from under them and level them standing.  Liberation spreads to all life, to all ecosystems, not just a defined, exclusive population, that’s what sovereignty is, the freedom of a selected and predefined population. “  Diallo Kenyatta

Here are a few of my ideas for to Building Grassroots Movements for Liberation.

Prioritize Supporting and Learning with Young People

Organizations, conferences, organizers and activist to really need to prioritize cultivating young people, creating spaces for them to, learn challenge, build, and support the world we are fighting for.  Children aren’t just the future they are now and they are amazing. Our movements are weak and the work is futile without their insight and leadership.

More Coalitions That Aren’t driven by identity politics, good intentions of 501c3s, white saviors, and poverty pimping. Revolution, social change and require disciple. We have to know history and study strategy. We have to stop organizing in class based cliques, affinity groups and comfort zones. The people we are closest to yet irritate us the most, the people we share interests or privileges but choose to avoid cause in other ways we are so different, those are the people aka the masses,who we have to learn, organize and build with. Especially White people who love to go to POC orgs and communities to live and organize. Stop skating your responsibilities and go organize you father’s cousins and neighbors. For myself its the conservative christian family members who’s homo/transphobia cuts me like no other’s.

Less Reactionary Coalitions

We need to develop better processes to cultivate everyday working people and make spaces for the masses of people to lead their own struggles. People getting active is great but that activity growing out of dramatic moments makes sustainability challenging. Resistance to oppression has been present from the beginning of this country, there are plenty of books, movies, and veteran activists to share the art of successful organizing, we know how to win campaigns, spread info, develop leaders etc. We need more coalitions based on strategic targets, issues, and visions of liberation.

Get Really Serious About Funding Ourselves

We have to create and raise our own resources without strings attached in order to have independent sustainable grassroots movement.  Revolution will not be funded or supported by capitalism or foundations.  Call it co ops, social enterprise, hustling whatever. We need funds to fight capitalism a lot of the time. The rest of the time we should practice barter systems and other alternatives to fiat currency. Groups developing time banks and barter systems are slowly growing across the country.

Learn to Live Accountability

When the same intersections of oppression play through our bodies and actions we act like we have lost all our problem solving skills and ability to forgive. We need real commitments and opportunities to struggle through Accountability not just Proclaim it. Develop guidelines for relationship building and supporting each other to live the values and principles we love to proclaim but fall short of everyday. Falling short and hurting each other is apart of the human condition but we have lost to many groups campaigns, and people over internal conflict. Just because we are fighting the oppression doesn’t mean we are immune to perpetuating and profiting from it. We want to intellectualize and demonstrate all day for political ideas but run to our comfort zones, burnout, or drown in pain and trauma when we deceive or hurt each other. Learning how to have healthy relationships is essential to liberation.

Opportunities to Practice the Liberation

Strategizing, Visioning, dreaming, relationship building, art making and campaigns that push us towards and give us opportunities to practice the liberation we hope our children will live one day. Dancing, loving and laughing with each other is just as vital to grassroots movement-building as planning the next action.

When I finished the room, filled with mostly white people 30 and up, was tense for a few seconds before 1 of 2 people of color started crying and saying thank for articulating somethings they had been struggling with. A good part of the group shared some appreciation for my thoughts and then continued to ask me questions that defended the fight for marriage equality… go figure.

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Black Liberation Strategies for the Masses?

Been trying to get my thoughts together about my frustrations with some recent protests and black progressives in general. Really don’t see a place for me on the Left, with liberals or progressives. Doesn’t mean we don’t agree on somethings or that you won’t see me trying to build with people who identify as such. However I must get better at not assuming our definitions of black liberation and methods for living it are aligned just because we share common language and love for the people. Nor will I shrink back from criticizing current trends, personalities, and groups whose tactics and politics I think distract from the many paths to liberation for the masses. This ain’t no preaching from the sidelines or social media activism. As a person who has been surviving in the heart of the Amerikkan Beast while trying to live my politics of love, resistance, and black liberation for half of my 3 short decades, I am very excited for the recent surge in political activism. I stand with everyone screaming we will not let you continue you to kill us without consequence. It fans my flames of love and resistance to see black people stand up and fight. The question is what are we fighting for and how are current tactics serving the masses of black people?

Black liberation will never come through the right Amerikkkan legislation. Fighting for progressive policy is harm reduction at best. A frustrating yet necessary survival tactic turned distraction and meal ticket for too many. Its often saps the energy of amazing minds and spirits who are needed to create something thats designed for our well being. We need something independent of capitalism and the myth of white supremacy. 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. Could we turn that creative energy towards a livable black liberation politic for the masses?

This is where I want to begin my conversations about social change and freedom for black people in particular. Tired of reformist, lefty, progressive attempts at reforming and scrapping for pieces of these corrupt systems maintained by the blood of all types of people and the abuse of mother earth. Why are people so excited to create actions to disrupt american politics or to “challenge” whiteness? Are we so frustrated and ignorant of history that we have fallen into the traps of political theatre for white audiences. Just like its easy for white people to run to be active in POC neighborhoods away from the accountability with their white family members holding up and benefiting from racism. It’s also easier for people of color black people in this case to run to white spaces to hold protests instead of building bases of resistance and political education in the heart of our communities feeling the brunt of capitalism and the myth of white supremacy.

Activism and egos often go hand and hand. We get turnt up feeling that rush of protest and speaking truth to power then strategy gets lost in the commotion. Next thing we know we are running from protest to protest shouting at police and racism in these general ways that feel good in the moment but rarely lead to actual change in the conditions of the masses of our people. We run to case after case of murder, lynching, and people outraged that the system came to their door. We turn victims and grieving families into celebrities empathizing with their feelings of shock at how state violence has taken their loved ones. Often fear of feeling the direct impact of living under this state of war black people have been in since some of us were dragged her in chains is what drives our activism. So we seek to make the system a lil better, a lil more accountable, and we push for progress in hopes that it won’t come down on us too hard one day. In the mean time we work for a lil piece of this sour pie.

So tired of reformist, lefty, progressive attempts at reforming and scrapping for pieces of these corrupt systems maintained by the tears of our mothers. Why are people so excited to create actions to disrupt american politics or to “challenge” whiteness? Is it tied to long term strategies for practicing freedom together outside of the white gaze and the overlapping systems of oppression that feed global capitalistic domination thats also killing the planet? Or are we just trying to make things a lil better for the next generation while we enjoy our shot at fame, SUVs, sneakers, cars, addicting food like products and smartphones. 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. Could we turn that creative energy towards a livable black liberation politic for the masses? This is where I want to begin my conversations about black liberation.

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#dirtyartboi #politics #liberation #progressives