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LGBT organizations and the white LGBT community only center, honor, and see Black and Brown Trans people when we are dead.

by Kay Martinez  It's Transgender Awareness Week and I’ve been feeling erased by the Trans community and LGBT organizations as whiteness continues to be centered. This week, individuals and organizations will participate in Trans Awareness Week to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people, and address the issues the community faces. Yet how do these LGBT organizations internally treat their Trans employees, particularly their few Trans staff of color? Are Trans Black or Brown people in leadership positions? Are we tokenized?  I can’t help but side-eye these organizations’ performative allyship this week knowing how many climate reports I’ve read about the racism and transphobia within these organizations and my own personal experiences with them. I’m currently in Boston where folks expect me to celebrate the recent win on Ballot Question 3 during the midterm elections. Massachusetts voters faced the first-ever statewide popular vote on protections for transgender people from discrimination. The referendum would have repealed our current state law that protects trans people from discrimination in public places, including restaurants, stores, and doctors’ offices. A “yes” vote on Question 3 kept the current law as it is. I’ve found myself asking, how did we get this win? I can’t fully celebrate because the visual marketing campaign led by Freedom for all Massachusetts did not prominently feature any Black or Brown Trans people in their videos and it has left me feeling erased, invisible, and degraded by my hometown. As election day neared, the face of the campaign I saw everywhere was Ian, a white transgender teen. In the commercials, I saw close-ups of Ian and his family having dinner in their beautiful home, playing on their yard and enjoying their Rockwellian upper middle-class life. I looked at all eight videos on Freedom for all Massachusetts’ website and I failed to see any Trans Black or Brown people prominently featured. In the video entitled, “This November, Massachusetts Will Vote YES for Dignity & Respect,” news footage of one Black Trans Woman, Chastity Bowick, speaking is used for a few seconds which made me feel like they Google searched for some diversity to tack on rather than affording a Trans person of color a featured speaking role like the other white trans folks and allies they included. How ironic that a campaign fighting to protect Trans people from discrimination in Massachusetts excluded Black and Brown Trans people from full participation in the visual campaigning. Seems discriminatory to me. But why? Who were these advertisements for? [caption id="attachment_50231" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Kay Martinez by Rai McKinley[/caption] Massachusetts is 81% white.These ads were designed for white people to see the plight of Transgender people reflected in the upper-middle class struggles of Ian and his family so they would see themselves—and how could anyone vote to keep another white family down? Is an appeal to whiteness going to lead to Trans liberation for all of us? What Freedom for all Massachusetts’ ad campaigns showed me was that the voters of Massachusetts could never see me or my Trans Black and Brown siblings and deem us as worthy of humanity. Yes, the legal protections for Trans folks in MA are intact, so perhaps we won, but would the results have been the same with a diverse and inclusive ad campaign including people who looked like me?  Had I seen myself in these ads, I would have felt like I had a Trans community in Massachusetts that was truly fighting for my freedom. I feel like this organization did what white LGBT people and white cis-led LGBT organizations are currently doing and have always done to Black and Brown people, which is further pushing us and shushing us out of sight and out of mind to the margins because they think they know what’s best for us. Transgender Awareness Week is followed by Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), an annual observance on Nov. 20 that honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. At TDOR ceremonies I’ve organized and participated in, Black and Brown death take center stage and are focused on because of the sheer volume of atrocities my communities disproportionately face, particularly Black Trans Women. I’ve also been to ceremonies where my dead siblings’ names were mispronounced by well-intentioned allies amid chants of "Black trans lives matter". LGBT organizations and the white LGBT community only center, honor, and see Black and Brown Trans people when we are dead.   Ever since the news of this administration’s plans to write Transgender people out of existence, my whole body has been tight. I’ve been breathing shallow breaths and experiencing whiplash every time I looked at my newsfeed. Every bit of legislative progress we’ve made on Trans rights is being knocked back and it takes a piece of my resolve with it. How can we chant, “won’t be erased” in the streets together as a community, when white Trans people and LGBT organizations erase us from within? That’s not freedom for all.  
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Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex.

I marathon-watched season five of “Bojack Horseman” in a single day because of who I am as a person. It's been a couple months since the season dropped on Netflix, but it's still on my mind, especially Todd's story. Despite the show’s issues with white actors voicing characters of color (and the, ya know, normalized beastiality), it's still one of my favorite things Netflix has ever brought to life—a guilty pleasure, more or less. One of the reasons I keep watching it is Todd Chavez. Not because he's an incredibly well fleshed out character, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Todd is a habitual couch-surfer and self-saboteur, an accidental genius who stumbles his way into various powerful, decision-making roles, a regular Captain Obvious who somehow simultaneously takes an inordinate amount of twists and turns to monologue his way to simple point of truth that everyone else in the room already arrived at eons ago. The most interesting thing about Todd, for me, is his place as one of the few asexual characters visible in the media, and his asexuality is explicitly stated. It's not something left ambiguous for fans to speculate about, the way many have done with Dexter Morgan, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, The Doctor, and Jessica Rabbit. In fact, Todd's most compelling storylines revolve around him reckoning with his asexuality, coming out, and navigating the dating world as someone on the spectrum. In the most recent season, Todd is dating a fellow asexual, Yolanda. When she takes him home to meet her family in episode three, “Planned Obsolescence”, it's revealed that Yolanda’s father is a best-selling erotic novelist, her mother is world-renowned adult film star, and her twin sister is a sex advice columnist. Her family is obsessed with sex. So much so that her father exclaims things like “As I jizz and breathe!” and tries desperately to gift Yolanda and Todd an obscenely large barrel of personal lubricant, a family heirloom, her great grandmother's recipe, with hopes that they will use it to have sex in the family home that night. Eventually, this absurdity culminates with the entire family covered in lube and Yolanda screaming, “I'm asexual!” in the midst of a slippery fight with her twin sister who is determined to seduce Todd. But Yolanda’s coming out doesn't happen where we can see it. Immediately after this is a time jump, indicated by a title card that reads: “One thorough but respectful dialogue later.” If only coming out as asexual were this easy and headache-free. I assure you, it is not. In the end, they break up. The only thing they have in common is their shared asexuality, Todd notes, with a sadness in his voice. He knows they shouldn't resign to dating each other simply because they are the only asexual people they know. That is not how human connection, emotional investment, and relationship-building work. Todd assures her that there is a guy for her who is smart and accomplished and impressive. “Who also doesn't want to have sex?” she interrupts. “Yeah, probably,” he responds. “...But what if there isn't?” [caption id="attachment_50218" align="aligncenter" width="800"] courtesy of Netflix[/caption] This is a fair question from Yolanda, and one that I can absolutely feel the weight of. Meeting other asexual people is not nearly as simple as meeting allosexual people. We're only about 1% of the population, as far as we know. The thing is that asexuality is still such an obscure topic to most people, to the point where some people don't even know that it even exists, there are a significant number of people who are on the asexuality spectrum but are simply unaware because of this glaring gap in discourse about sexuality and orientation. So, yes, it can be exceedingly difficult for us to meet other asexuals, and it is even more difficult for us to meet allosexual people who are interested in dating us and also willing to respectfully accept that we do not experience normative sexual attractions and/or normative sexual desires. Cultivating the kind of comfortability, intimacy, and trust with someone that I need to truly be able to enjoy sex is exhausting, especially if I have to explain my sexuality to them a dozen times in the process, and the mere thought of going through this is often anxiety-inducing. Dating as asexual is hard for a lot of reasons, largely because so many people don't understand what it is to begin with, and because of that misunderstanding, many people see it as a challenge. This, among other acephobic sentiments, unfortunately leads to asexual discrimination and sexual violence, such as corrective rape. Dating as asexual is hard because we are supposed to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, but we often aren't even considered as part of the queer community. Gatekeepers continually try to push us out, and if they say we don't belong here, then where? Dating as asexual is hard because living in a sexually repressed society that is also constantly throwing sex in our faces (much like Yolanda’s family) causes most people to view asexuality as an unnatural impossibility, even a rude position to take, unable to comprehend the fact that it is not a choice, anymore than anyone else's sexuality is. Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex. Dating, for us, involves nuances that the vast majority of allosexual people simply do not have to think about on the level that people on the asexuality spectrum do. Some asexual people still engage in sex acts, for valid reasons that are our own, but many of us have no desire for sex at all. For people who fall on this end of the asexuality spectrum, trying to navigate the dating world often leaves us in unsafe spaces, in which we are coerced or pressured into sex, pressured into presenting as and performing a sexuality that is not natural for us. We get accused of being “a fucking tease” for simply being ourselves and have our boundaries disrespected by people who we thought we could trust. It is true that many people experience this pressure on some level, especially non-men, but experiencing this while asexual adds another layer. In the same way that my Blackness and my fatness create additional layers to my sexualization.
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Sabrina’s privilege lets her get away with everything, turning her into your basic TV frivolous white girl.

by Negesti Kaudo Note: light spoilers of 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' ahead. Sabrina Spellman, the teenage witch, has always been quirky, blonde, and charming. Whether you were first introduced to her through reading the comics, watching the 90s sitcom, or (my favorite) the animated series in the early 2000s, she has always remained the same: a blonde teenager struggling to balance her two identities while enduring the trials of American teenage life. With Netflix’s new TV adaptation of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s comic books Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, it’s possible that many of us expected to see the witty Sabrina we know and love, but instead we were met with a new, darker Sabrina, whose darkness was overshadowed by an archetype we’ve all seen before. Being half-witch, Sabrina has been donned a privilege (maybe to other witches a blight) of living separate lives. Her father married a human, which was “controversial” to the Church of Night, but a point Sabrina refers to throughout the show to explain her defiance of religion and devotion to her human friends. Herein lies the problem (for me): Sabrina’s privilege lets her get away with everything, turning her into your basic TV frivolous white girl. She is Rachel on Friends or Serena in Gossip Girl—characters you start out loving, but as time goes on you become sick of watching them have everything spoon-fed to them by the people around them. By the sixth episode, Sabrina had not only become the least interesting character on the show, but also the most infuriating. The entire plot revolves around Sabrina becoming a full witch on her sixteenth birthday (also Halloween and a blood moon) by signing her soul over to the devil in the Book of the Beast. In doing this, Sabrina would relinquish all her ties to the mortal world, including her boyfriend Harvey and friends Roz and Susie, and begin attending school at The Academy of Unseen Arts…like all the other young witches. But, of course, Sabrina doesn’t—wanting to have it all: free will, her relationships, and her powers. In “Chapter Two: Dark Baptism,” Sabrina expresses her animosity to another witch, Prudence Night, who she’s summoned (literally, with a summoning spell) solely for the purpose of working together to torment human boys bullying her friend Susie. Prudence—a black witch played by Tati Gabrielle and leader of a trio of witches known as The Weird Sisters—let’s Sabrina know that as a woman, she’ll never have it all. SABRINA: I WANT BOTH. I WANT FREEDOM AND POWER. [LAUGHTER BY ALL THREE WEIRD SISTERS] PRUDENCE: HE’LL NEVER GIVE YOU THAT. THE DARK LORD. THE THOUGHT OF YOU, ANY OF US, HAVING BOTH TERRIFIES HIM. SABRINA: WHY IS THAT? PRUDENCE: HE’S A MAN, ISN’T HE? While the trio—Prudence, Agatha and Dorcas—despise Sabrina’s duality, referring to her as “half-breed” and taunting her throughout the show, they know more about Sabrina and her family than she knows herself. Here, Prudence establishes herself in the role of a sage, constantly filling in the gaps in Sabrina’s knowledge of witch history and religion. It’s not rare for the media to show people of color mentoring or guiding white people through complicated situations. For instance, Maggie Pierce and Dr. Miranda Bailey on Grey’s Anatomy; Queenie and Marie LaVeau in American Horror Story: Coven; and even in Gossip Girl, Blair Waldorf’s minions are mainly women of color who are more intelligent and equally wealthythese women’s character development is largely based on how they support their leading white women. Prudence and her crony Agatha (an Asian woman) follow narratives that focus on their interactions with Sabrina: how they “show” her witches should behave and how Sabrina maintains her “good witch” status in comparison to The Weird Sisters. Personally, I love Prudence. Not only because I really appreciate marginalized representation in Sci-Fi/ Fantasy television, but because she exudes confidence and elegance. She runs her clique meticulously. Her hair and makeup are fierce. And her loyalty to The Church of Night and The Dark Lord is even fiercer. I feel very strongly that Prudence is a Leo (unless all witches are Scorpios, which nullifies that theory). But still, Prudence is labeled the bad witch and a bitch because she is juxtaposed against the blonde silhouette of an ignorant and privileged Sabrina. The only people who dare to check Sabrina’s privilege throughout the show happen to all be people of color, mostly Prudence and Sabrina’s house-bound cousin, Ambrose (two of the three black witches on the show). It is Prudence who laughs at Sabrina’s questions of whether witches can perform exorcisms, which they can’t, but Sabrina does it anyways, once again to save her human friends while putting her family and coven in danger. It is Ambrose who tells Sabrina that she is selfish when she plots a way to resurrect Harvey’s brother by killing Agatha. Prudence questions Sabrina’s belief in The Church of Night.
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It is our duty as people who exist on land that was brutally taken and brutally exploited, to make time to be informed and active political beings.

It’s a huge relief that the midterm elections are over. Everything leading up to Nov. 6 felt like having a cystic pimple being squeezed. For Black, Indigenous and people of color, especially those of us who lean left to far-left, the constant and consistent “vote you lil’ fuckers, or you’ll DIE” from liberals of all colors felt like being pelted by dirty, newborn baby diapers. It didn’t matter if we wrote about and organized against voter disenfranchisement, white violence, systemic racism and the need to focus on the ways in which white people vote. It didn’t matter if our lives revolved around grassroots organizing and various means of protest. It certainly didn’t matter if we were well-informed human beings who understood that change doesn’t come entirely from the ballot box, but rather that, as Lucy Parsons put so perfectly in The Principles of Anarchism, Governments never lead; they follow progress.” So, here we are. The Democrats and their “blue wave” (or rather their tepid, little splash in an inflatable child’s-sized pool) took the House of Representatives, while alleged serial killer Ted Cruz kept his Senate seat thanks to the massive amounts of white people who fear a brown planet, while other key seats remained under Republican control. This morning blue voters can pat themselves on the back for ushering in more women than ever into office, as well was a few other notable wins which ought to not be firsts, but who are we kidding in Amerikkka? Another day under another imperialist, capitalist, white supremacist, misogynistic, queerphobic, colonialist government continues and we’re here to remind you that your vote is not enough because centrism won’t ever defeat fascism. For many people, their participation in politics begins and ends with voting every two or four years. Part of this is because the United States government and capitalist entities have worked tirelessly to ensure that the working class has little time, energy or interest in participating in political matters, but for many other people, our existence is so heavily political and influenced by various oppressions, that we don’t have a choice but to pay close attention to what elected officials are up to the few days that they actually do work for the people, and we don’t have a choice but to organize against the ruling class aka, the bourgeoisie, the 1% and the people who uphold and protect them: police forces, judicial officials, politicians, etc.. It is easier to maintain a system of oppression that seems like it is either so terrible that we can’t do shit about it, or that it is so insidious that we wouldn’t know what to do about it because we know that the cuts hurt, but we cannot see the blade that sliced us open. But the truths are there and it is our duty as people who exist on land that was brutally taken and brutally exploited, to make time to be informed and active political beings.
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