To be Black & LGBTQ in America
It is now 2017 and America has a new President. His name is Donald Trump. Americans are scared. White Americans, African-Americans, Mexican Americans, and everyone else. Meanwhile, under the thumb of President Obama, black trans-women of this ‘great’ nation have been dying in mass; therefore making it an epidemic. In the motor city of Detroit, a recent report by Buzzfeed stated that, “More trans women were killed in the United States in the past 12 months than any year on record…[and] it makes sense to examine the population getting killed: overwhelmingly black trans women,” (Why are so many black transgender women getting killed in Detroit? Buzzfeed: Dominic Holden, November 19, 2015; pg. 1/18-pg. 10/18). Being that this case was reported a few years prior, signifies that to be Black and LGBTQ is, and has always been, a problem within this country. LGBTQ people/women of color are often marginalized as a very small and often ignored group within the LGBTQ community and the black community. As a result, we are misrepresented and are often suffering in silence. When death happens in our communities, it is reviewed as irrelevant and/or deemed unimportant. Our bodies literally ‘hang under the tree’ without anyone bating an eye. It is truly shameful.
How do we thrive?
The question, how do we thrive, is a good; however the answer is often redundant with antidotes of remembering what our ancestors and elders have done for us to get us here; never acknowledging the very fact that they left ‘us’ out i.e. LGBTQ blacks within the black community. Therefore, surviving a conservative presidency as a marginalized group of people isn’t an easy feat. There are many things we have to consider. Looking forward, we must consider, that the rhetoric of the Trump administration is one that is indeed frightening; but is part of the fabric of the American psyche. Also we must understand that the plight of Black & LGBTQ peoples is mutually exclusive from the LGBTQ plight in general because of racism and sexism that excludes lesbians and other minorities within said community. We must also challenge the black community’s homophobia and call out the harm it has done to its queer people in general. We must not stand silent, fearful, and/or absent of black queer peoples suffrage when challenging the notion of the black status quo and its religious superiority complex within the black community. We must remember that self-healing is needed in order to truly thrive.
As stated by Frances Beale, “We must begin to rewrite our understanding of traditional personal relationships between man and woman,” (civil rights and women’s liberation Frances Beale from Words of Fire; an anthology of African-American feminist thought pg. 155). In order for black queer folk to get through these next 4 years (possibly 8) of a Trump Presidency, both black and queer folk of color have to acknowledge our power as a unit and stand strong against all odds while staying alive. We have to make sure that each of us within our consecutive black communities fight for black queer peoples right to live and thrive. Period.
Black queer women have played an essential and pivotal role within the black community and we have often acknowledged the need to be free. As stated by Audre Lorde, “The Black mother within each of us-the poet-whispers in our dreams: I feel, therefore I can be free,” (poetry is not a luxury Audre Lorde from Sister Outsider pg. 38).
As I get dressed up for a queer night out with my queer/ LGBTQ women of color, I’m troubled to think that this doesn’t happen often and that it does need to happen more; but I’m reminded of how harsh America is toward queer women of color (and has always been). I refer to this feeling as I reflect upon the brilliant words of Audre Lorde and Frances Beale; both black feminist and philosophical thinkers with vivid agency to garner toward the plight of folk of color in general. These women put women of color voices at the forefront of space and speak on how we can survive as a people despite whatever obstacle.