Noted social justice educator Laci Green brings us this short introduction to systemic racism in America.
When I opened my Facebook today, one of my close friends had posted this on my wall:
“Wake up, it’s Christmas!”
It made me laugh, and a little teary, because really it did feel like that – that exquisite breath of hope and desire hovering over the day. My darling queer nephew woke us up this morning, poking his head in to whisper “Did you hear!?” We grabbed our phones to see, excited….I had visions of tiptoeing down the hall, hoping to catch a glimpse of Queer Saint Nick, and as we peeked around the corner of our virtual living room, we found this:
I’m not gonna lie, there’ve been a lot of tears. I’ve been obsessed with scrolling through my feed today, seeing all the pictures and posts, all the kisses and rings and declarations of love. It’s a heady thing, to have a feed literally filled with nothing but sunshine. It’s a big deal.
I’ve vacillated mightily today. I’ve cried tears of joy and rage. I’ve imagined a thousand weddings and mentally designed two thousand rhinestoned gowns, all while cursing the proprietary and historically oppressive institution. I’ve been excited, then furious with myself for being excited about something so freaking stupid.
It’s stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The government denied civil contracts based on assigned sex, and then after decades of sweat, tears, blood, and lives, the government finally decided that maybe sex is not a legitimate reason to grant or deny the associated benefits of that contract. I’m furious that it took so much and so long to get something accomplished that’s not even close to the biggest issue in my community. What kind of idiot am I to jump up and down for this? You don’t get cookies for doing what you’re supposed to do.
And how can I cry tears of joy when there’s so much suffering? How can I throw sunshine to Obama after he shut down Jennicet Gutiérrez’s cry for help earlier this week? How can I be excited about the increasingly widespread acceptance of trans representation in pop culture, when there’s little activity in areas that actually impact the lived experiences of trans folks themselves?
How can I not be excited? How can I not feel a little victorious, a little hopeful? How can I not cry when I think about Chloe’s little niece, who’ll be present at her (other) aunt’s now-legally-sanctioned wedding next Friday, never knowing a world where that wouldn’t be a thing? (I admit, I also cried when I imagine that baby showing her grandkids pictures in 60 years…”your aunts got married a week after the laws changed!”)
It’s a foothold, though. I think it can mean more than just marriage. Having SCOTUS-sanctioned legal protection in one area will make it easier to get it in other areas. Marriage equality can be another tool in the toolbox, but we can’t be fooled into thinking that marriage was the battle. It wasn’t. If we could spend the amount of money, time, energy, and meme-making on these other issues as we did on marriage equality, maybe we could make some progress that would feel more meaningful for the people in our community who are suffering.
So I guess I’m gonna accept that this day and this issue will always bring mixed feelings. It’s paradoxical, but not untrue, to be excited and angry. I can be jubilant, and still heartbroken. So I guess I cry, and let the tears mean what they mean.
So now that it’s done, here’s a new To-Do list (it’s actually the same to-do list, but now we’re less distracted):
Be a pen-pal for LGBQ and Trans people who are incarcerated.
Learn about and get involved with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.
If you’re in a caregiving or legal profession, read this about how to write about transfolks in a respectful way.
Remember when Obama won, and there were a ton of asshats who went around proclaiming racism dead in America? This is the same thing. Don’t be fooled into believing marriage equality means heterosexism is dead in America. It’s not.
Anna Gibson writes a piece introducing the myth of the welfare queen and the realities hidden behind that myth.
“What we find in impoverished communities are a number of Black women who work two to four jobs to keep food on the table, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. This lack of time limits the ability to actively apply and pursue higher education or at least finish an equivalency program such as a GED. The lack of education keeps them away from higher paying jobs and leads to them and their children being ceaselessly being mired in poverty.”
Included are links to more detailed analyses of this pernicious and politically effective lie and the cascading consequences of building policy that conflates and demonizes being Black and poor.
Ben Irwin takes us on a fantastically clear and well-sourced journey through some of the struggles people living in poverty face, including difficulties with housing, lack of sleep, juggling multiple low-paying jobs, dealing with interpersonal violence, and more. These are excellent talking points for deconstructing hegemony and elitism. Continue reading “20 things the poor do daily”