after taking a good, hard, critical look at hrc & what i believe it is doing right or (primarily) wrong, i wanted to spend a little more time & energy researching, supporting & actively involving myself in positive movements & organizations. i want to draw your attention to a few organizations & resources i know of:
obviously not all of these are local to me, but i’m privileged enough to live in a very active city with many organizations, probably many more i have not even heard of, & i am really grateful to have so many resources at my disposal. the thing is, i want the word out there. i want everyone talking about how fucking amazing the audre lorde project is & how immigration equality & the sylvia rivera law project can be best utilized by those who may not know how or where to look for help. i want them to know because we are all shouting it at the top of our lungs, because we are proud of our community & the action that is happening — i want to draw national attention to the great work that is being done around us all of the time. i want to celebrate the strength & passion & commitment this community has to social justice, advocacy & mental/physical/spiritual health & welfare. like…can we take a moment?
I’m not angry or upset about anything in particular at the moment, but I thought I’d take a little time to write something out that had been bugging me about allies. It’s certainly not all-encompassing or totally comprehensive, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about in terms of being a good ally and a good neighbor, especially here on Tumblr.
Before you step in to help us out, I’d just like to clarify a couple things.
You and I, we may have taken the same seminars and maybe even read the same Audre Lorde excerpts or Ronald Takaki books, but know this: we learned very different things in very different ways
For students of color, for gay students, for trans* students, for the children of immigrants and refugees, these classes aren’t always about learning new concepts when it pertains to us. It’s more about learning the names of things we already knew fairly intimately. Do you understand that? You learned it another way. You went in, you got this set of key words and a list of definitions. Your learning was, in all likelihood, “Here is this word. This is what this word means.”
For you, it was “Xenophobia: a strong fear or dislike of people from other countries.”
For us, it was “Xenophobia: the time that boy in my kindergarten class spat on me because I couldn’t speak English yet. Or when I saw that clerk yell at my mom in the grocery store because her English wasn’t clear enough. Or when USCIS had us confirm our American citizenship with the same set of papers seven times over the course of sixteen years because they wanted to confirm that we were, in fact, actual American citizens.”
For you, it was, “Racism: unfair treatment of people who belong to another race; violent behavior towards them.”
For us, it was, “Racism: that one time I saw that manager tell that sales girl to follow my dad around at Kohl’s. Or that one time my neighbor’s kid got shot by the police and they tried to cover it up by convincing everyone he was in a gang because he was Hmong, but we knew he wasn’t. Or that one time my dad told me I shouldn’t rollerblade to the library because I’m not white and it’s not safe for me.”
For you, it was, “Homophobia: a strong dislike or fear of homosexual people.”
For us, it was, “Homophobia: that time in the sixth grade when Ryan shoved me against a glass door and banged my face in it while yelling, ‘faggot!’ at me until the teacher stopped him. Or when my Catholic high school’s president told me that, though he loved me as a child of God, he still believed I was sinful when I suggested that we start a GSA.”
For you, it was: “Classism: prejudice or discrimination based on social class.”
For us, it was: “Classism: that one time when my best friend came over to hang out in high school and her parents didn’t want her to come over again because they didn’t like our neighborhood. Or that one time when my friends had no idea what food stamps looked like and I was too embarrassed to explain what they were.”
So while you were learning that these academically-framed phenomena were real problems, we were just getting little figurative nametags for awful things that we already knew. Your weekly vocabulary list was, to us, just a hollow shadow of our lived experiences.
So my point is this:
If you didn’t live an experience, then step aside. Because we knew this stuff before our professors told us what to call it. We learned it from the bottom up, you learned it from the top down, and that’s not even a metaphor.
When you step out of class, you get to be like, “Oh, awesome. I am learning how to be a good ally and a better human being. This will help me.” For us, it’s more like, “Ah, so that’s what they’re calling it nowadays. When exactly did they say change was going to come for us?”
So in practice, here’s what all this theory looks like: you don’t always have to speak. I mean, certainly, you should totally call someone out on their oppressive bullshit. But if you identify as male, you don’t get to tell people what is best for women as though you have that authority. If you’re white, you shouldn’t be trying to “uplift” people of color by the grace of your intellect or your words. Nobody’s looking to be ‘rescued’ or ‘pulled up from out of their unfortunate circumstances’ as you may be tempted to believe.
All anybody’s looking for in an ally is someone who knows that “empowerment” means taking a step aside in a place where you know you have privilege. And if it is, for example, a PoC-to-PoC conversation, a woman-to-woman conversation, a queer-to-queer conversation, etc. about this stuff, and that isn’t who you are, you don’t need to be chiming in.
Just take our word for it, let us talk, and let us vent. We’d like you to give us room, and if you have to be helpful, then help make room for us by giving up some of your proverbial social girth.
Because the bottom line is that our academia has made a commodity of our lived experiences as teaching moments for you. And if you think your academic knowledge is more valid than our lived experiences, then you’re definitely not part of the solution.
With the projected $50,000 in increased revenue from couples seeking same-sex marriage licenses next year, Joe McDermott, Seattle City Councilor, drafted a last minute amendment that sends all of that money into programs designed to help at risk queer youth. According to The Stranger,
“I wanted there to be a nexus between that money and where it went,” says McDermott, who is the county council’s first openly gay member and who intends to marry his partner. “We know that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in at-risk, homeless, runaway, and sexually trafficked youth populations.”
All nine members of the council’s budget committee passed the amendment this morning—that’s all the Democrats and all the Republican on the council—assuring its adoption into the full budget. It directs $35,000 for at-risk youth programs run by the nonprofit Youth Care and $15,000 for Lambert House.
This is so beyond awesome.
I would like to offer my sewing skill and time. There are probably many young gender queer and trans folk on tumblr who want to bind their chests and don’t have the money/family support to purchase a quality binder, and don’t have the ability/resources to make their own. Because I don’t want anyone to use ace bandage or duct tape, I would like to propose an offer.
If you would like a binder made in your size from spandex fabric, I will sew you one. All you need to do is pay for the material (shouldn’t be too much for a simple bra or tank top sized binder) See this website for special/ fancy stuff, but I can get normal cheap stuff from my local store. Provide me with your measurements, address, and the money for fabric, and I will donate my time to you. Young folk need to support each other.
Please pass this on! Open to anyone in need.
signal boost! bonnie is delightful.
SIGNAL BOOST!!! Bonnie is a very talented seamstress, she’s going to school for costume design. Take her up on her offer!
Pass it on, y’all.