Last night, I struggled to go to bed. In light of the decision not to indict Darren Wilson for his murder of Mike Brown, I was sick with worry. Two people in particular rushed to the forefront of my mind, both of whom are Black masculine of center trans* people. I sat in absolute numbness while I remembered my friend Micah who, over the summer, posted an #IfTheyGunnedMeDown photoset. I remembered the panic and fear that photoset struck in me, and my sobbing uncontrollably due to the reality that Micah could not feel comfortable walking outside of their house due to the overwhelming presence of violent racism in this country. I remembered my helplessness, knowing I was over a thousand miles away from Micah, but then also in the same thought realizing that even if I was right next to them, I wouldn't be able to do much else but hug and hold them.
And I thought about a recent friend last night, too. I stayed up, worrying about zir, knowing ze was heading out to take part in a rally and march. The pain and the anger and the sheer overwhelming reality that the grand jury in Ferguson decided that it wasn't even worth having a conversation about a Black man's death was palpable, and I wasn't scared ze would do something, but I was scared the White people around which ze lives would. I felt small and helpless again, not knowing what it was I could do and worrying that much of what I had been doing was of little to no consequence.
I share this all not to elicit feelings of sympathy or messages of hope. To be honest, I am not sure what hope I have to cling onto right now. When I live in a world where Black life is not worth an honest conversation, when I live in a world where the Department of Homeland Security is providing massive amounts of heavy, military-grade riot gear for local police departments (like Ferguson) and suggesting they can use them whenever they like, when I live in a world where Black people are shamed by national leaders and those in control of the media for feeling anger and rage, when I live in a world where W.E.B. DuBois' prophetic statements about race seem just as prevalent today as they did when he first wrote them...when I live in this kind of world, I am not sure what hope there is right now. I am not sure how to move forward. I am not sure how to be present, or to show up as an activist-scholar.
But I do know that I woke up to my friends posting their rage on Facebook. And I do know that my friends who I mentioned above are facing another day. And I do know that more than ever, we need each other. I know that the police state in which we live will not keep up safe. I know that sometimes my holding someone, or bearing witness to hot anger, is good enough. I know that I have choices to make each day about standing against racism, and I know I will recommit myself to doing this today and each day forward. I know that all oppression is connected, and so I know one of my tasks is to talk about how all #BlackLivesMatter, including the lives of Black trans* people, and particularly Black trans* women, who are continually killed.
I know I cannot Solve Everything. I know I cannot change the course of history. But I also know, in the words of CeCe McDonald, if no one else is gonna do it, I sure as hell am. I worry too much for my two pals not to do something, not to be selfless, and not to be a risk-taker, and not to put it on the line and stand against the injustice that was at the very heart of the decision not to indict last night.
I woke up to the same world I went to sleep to last night. This racism was here well before Mike Brown, and White supremacy has shielded more people than just Darren Wilson. What is different is my eyes have been opened again. It's time to wake up. It's time to realize that racism, and trans* oppression, and sexism, and classism, and ableism--these are not new phenomena, nor are they abstract notions. These have real effects on real bodies. I know I cannot do much, but I can use the platform I have, and the space I have been granted as a White academic, to be bold, and to be a risk-taker, and to be selfless. I can use this space to agitate for change, and to speak truth to power, as so many have done before me.
This is not the world I want to be living in. But I know I have a chance to create a new world, one in which we marginalized populations look out for each other, and we love, honor, support, and see each other as we wish to be loved, honored, supported, and seen. I can't do something big, but in light of that, I will do the small things I can.
For if there is no justice, there will be no peace.
This blog is a space where I share my thoughts on trans*-related issues. I also will share my own research as it develops, including papers, presentations, and the development of my dissertation study with trans* college students.