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 The referendum would have repealed our current state law that protects trans people from discrimination in public places, including restaurants, stores, and doctors’ offices.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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Everything we know about obesity is wrong, and everything about who we listen to on the subject of fatness and fatphobia is bullshit.By Hess Love I can't blame Michael Hobbes for writing “Everything you know about obesity is wrong” or for writing what seems to be meant as a compassionate piece. It was well written, factual, and even my fat Black ass learned something. It is not necessarily Hobbes who is the problem when it comes to thin white people writing these articles. It's the people who value to voices of thin white people who write about fatness over the voices of actual fat people. Those that rely heavy on “Ally Culture” to introduce them to perspectives outside of their own experiences—the Jane Elliott or Tim Wise effect. It's a phenomenon where those who have the most privilege exercise that privilege in a way that ironically continues to elevate them and sideline the voices of the marginalized people they attempt to speak on behalf of. I cannot count the number of people who bypass my fat Black ass and my social media posts about fatness and fatphobia, bypass me and my physical and rhetorical loudness, but shared Hobbes’ article with glee. A performance of acceptance and progression that they themselves do not possess. I, and many other fat Black women, have been saying the very same things that Hobbes writes in his article for years, but they don't listen to us. Our society sees Blackness, fatness, and oftentimes even “womanness” as unhealthy, disqualifications, and ultimately as sins. Many people believe Blackness is the mark of Cain, that fatness is the mark of gluttony, that untamed womanhood is the mark of disobedience and chaos. A walking embodiment of the Pandora's Box, “apple-shaped” bodies symbolize the forbidden fruit that caused the world to fall. To embody all of those things in a Judeo-Christian society, and then to have the audacity to talk about our right to happiness, leaves us being unheard. Happiness, in the form that people feel it is, is supposed to be, and the way that they have been programmed to believe it is, is not a right of ours. We are a living and breathing sin in a world where people hate both the sinner and the sin, no matter how much they tell themselves that they can separate the phenomenon from its actualizer. But fatness is not a sin, and fat people do not need visiting pastors to proselytize on our humanity despite our conditions. Fat people do not need translations of how we move in the world. The language that we use to talk about our experiences are not foreign, however our bodies are seen as alien and intrusive. To exist as a fat person is to be seen as a societal burden, so to talk about that existence, especially in a way that indicts society, is seen as a nuisance.
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"Crazy Rich Asians" promotes the ongoing systematic erasure and oppression of Singapore minorities on a global screen.By Sangeetha Thanapal After the trailer for "Crazy Rich Asians" was released, the internet went wild over it, especially those of us who care about representation and diversity. Based on Kevin Kwan’s book by the same title, the film about a Chinese American woman who travels to Singapore to meet the family of her Chinese Singaporean boyfriend, is being lauded as a huge win for people of color. At face value, the movie is a stepping-stone for more representation of Asians in Hollywood, signifying a milestone for diversity. Except that neither this movie, nor the novel it is based on, are even representative of Singapore. After gaining its independence in 1965, the tiny island-state of Singapore has gone on to introduce a set of economic and social policies that are often marvelled at all over the world. The country is touted as a model to follow, both for its economic prowess and its multicultural approach to racial harmony. However, underneath the façade of skyscrapers, is a country that has systematically disenfranchised its minorities. Chinese Singaporeans, at 77% of the population, are the vast majority of the nation and the population’s minorities are Malay and Indian people, who make up 15% and 7% respectively. There is also a sizeable populace of racialized labour from neighbouring countries with construction workers from South Asia and domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia. Racism against minorities is endemic in Singapore. Job advertisements frequently only ask for those who can speak in English and Mandarin, and even if minorities are able to do so, they are told that only ethnic Chinese are wanted. Muslim women in hijabs are kept out of certain civil service jobs because of their headwear. While there are police bans on speaking in Tamil, there are yearly tax-funded programs to promote speaking in Mandarin. Minority representations are rife with stereotypes and the idea of the quintessential Singapore girl is one that embodies only East Asian beauty standards. The country’s ruling power has stated that Malay-Muslims in Singapore cannot be trusted in the armed forces due to their divided loyalties between religion and state. It has further accused them of being unable to ‘integrate’ an irony considering that Malay people are considered the original inhabitants of the land. The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, holds views on genetics that would seem disconcertingly similar to eugenicist and white supremacist ideals, as he has touted the genetic superiority of the Chinese as stronger and hardier, with Indians not being as bright, but still better than the lazy, un-driven Malays. Chinese people wear Indians in ‘brown face’ and many elite public schools are reserved for them.
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To be a leftist of color is to open yourself up to insult and attack from different directions, yet, still, we fight for the liberation of every human being. Over the events of the last year or two, being a leftist is