NABG Issue 20: Black Trans Voices To The Front

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In our last newsletter, we defined abolition, reform, defund, and divest with the hopes of bringing people into this conversation and to emphasize why we need abolition in order to find liberation. In this edition, we want to uplift the work of people who have been leaders and influences in abolition work, because Black women and Black femme folks do not get the credit they are due. Leaders like Candice Montgomery, CeCe McDonald, Mariame Kaba, and Joshua Allen, whose interview we are featuring today, have worked tirelessly for the movement to abolish all oppressive systems and binaries.

On June 14th, there was a historic march for the Liberation of Black Trans Lives in Brooklyn, NY, with over 15,000 people in attendance. The march was organized by groups that represent different voices of the Black trans-led community, G.L.I.T.S Inc., For the Gworls, The Okra Project, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, and created a space where the rights of Black trans folks and young people were fully centered. G.L.I.T.S. Inc. is focused on providing housing, especially supportive housing for Black trans people being released from prison, For The Gworls works to address inequity in housing and medical care, The Okra Project is tackling issues about hunger and food insecurity, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts focuses specifically on arts and media.

I had the privilege of interviewing one of the organizers, who is also an influencer and partner for A National Agenda for Black Girls, Joshua Allen (they/them), about their work, the march, and how to use this moment for Black trans liberation. I hope you can take the time to watch this interview as it is incredibly powerful, but just in case, we have included some highlights below.

Access the video here. Access the transcript of this interview here.

A part of this interview that resonated with me, and the rest of the #BlackGirl2020 team, was Joshua’s message:

“The idea of bringing this group together [at the Liberation March] for us to speak was to imagine what it would be like if we didn’t just care about Black trans lives after the fact, but if we thought about them beforehand. Because so often what we’ve done with the cases of people like Dominique Fells from Philadelphia, is that by the time we’re finally hearing these things, and we’re finally hearing these stories, it’s too late. And the brutal murders have already happened.”

We need to support our girls through our community work and in our policy work before it is too late. The violence needs to end. We need to take care of our young people before the systems enter their lives. A National Agenda for Black Girls aims to push elected officials to prioritize preventative policies to protect Black girls. Our communities know what we need, but are denied the funding as it gets rerouted to police forces or white-run nonprofits. We need social services that uplift our lived experiences and push for change that centers us.

There must also be a reinvestment into our communities and a recognition of the power of the Black trans community.

Joshua said:

“I think that we’re now finally pushing the discourse past reaction and trying to step more into the preventative, trying to build positive futures for ourselves to step into. I think that we’ve finally opened up the space to care about more than just state violence; we’re realizing that a lot of the issues that we’re dealing with, including issues of robbery, sexual assault, and more, are direct reflections of the ills that exist in ours society that are directly related to the apparatuses that oppress us”.

We are in a pivotal moment where changes are starting to happen and we must keep this momentum to be able to create a culture shift to a world that allows those closest to the pain to be closest to the power, the resources, and the money.

Once again a huge thank you to Joshua for their time with us and their work as they continue to push for Black trans liberation. We see you, we honor you, and we are following your lead.

P.S. Today is Juneteenth (also known as Jubilee)! On this day we celebrate the 155th year of our people’s emancipation and acknowledge the ongoing struggle against systemic racism and the ills of white supremacy. With even more enthusiasm than other days, we will be uplifting and pouring love into Black people today, and hope you can take time to honor our resiliency, fight, and freedom struggle as well. Learn more about Juneteenth in our latest Instagram post.

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