Sunday, November 15, 2020

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man - Keep Demanding Justice

Intersectionality Through the Lens of a Queer Black Man - Keep Demanding Justice

Where do I start?

The last four years have been a roller coaster of triumph and heart wrenching violence. Violence through policy. Violence through physical actions. 36 year old Ashton looking back, sees all of the trials and tests that he went through and sees it all as a strength building process.

Last month my big sis Monica Roberts died from blood clots in her lungs. It was the most devastating blow of 2020 for me (so far). That loss took a lot out of me, it broke my heart into pieces. We did a lot of great work over the last 7 years. 7 years is all the time I got with Monica and I figured that she would always be here in the background with a sneaky grin when I was acting a fool.

My heart still hurts, but I am working through it. Even though I saw her get laid to rest. even though there was a funeral, I have not said goodbye. But, this major event in my life has brought my spirit for writing back. I don't know how often I will write, and what I will speak on.... But I'm back. In truth, I lost the energy to write because I got too technical and too hard on hard on myself. No, I am not trying to fill the void that Moni left as I cannot speak for Trans people. Best believe, if I see disrespect for the Trans community, I will ream the bigots royally.

Our voices matter, and I feel a pull to write about us and our voices that are so often disregarded and treated as anecdotal. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won, but we did not in a way. We are still in the America that disregard the Trans lived experience of people like Monica and folks whose identities don't fit the constructs of what is normal. But, really? What the fuck is normal? Getting back to pre-Trump normal is not a good place to go. As it places the onus on us to be the bigger people in the face of racism, fascism and a host of other evils we are subjected to in marginalized communities. We really did do a lot of great work under President Barack Obama, BUT....

But, what I remember is being hindered by the gatekeepers of respectability politics, organizations with healthy budgets that didn't do the work that would have made it harder for Trump to do what he has done since he was sworn in, in 2017. When I spoke out Monica and other cherished friends stood right beside me and we were shunned. We were told to play nice and be ok with the continuation of things as they were, to wait our turns. It has cause many activists, myself included to feel and experience the extreme highs and grand canyon lows that come with activism.

We are faced with a choice, we have to reconcile that for the first time voting will save lives on a larger scale, especially in a time of a pandemic of epic proportions. The choice we had to get Trump out of office was Biden and Harris. I am happy about the history made (neither were my first choice), BUT in many ways I still believe that voting does not save lives. It address racism in the most shallow of terms... In 2016 I wrote:

"There has been this theme of evoking the ballot box as a remedy to racism. Voting for a liberal person will not change the make up of our racist society. They say that overt racists, White people make up a fraction of the sum total of the White population. The fact is that Trump gave higher visibility to them to an extent, these fools really have been emboldened from the damn day that Barack Obama announced his candidacy in 2007 for President.

These factors have always been part of the American equation. So to suggest voting will fix issues of race and other societal problems without addressing and dismantling the systems of oppression and degradation is just psychotic to me. In reality, it is the activists, organizers, and other community members that do the work that is required to create change, NOT POLITICIANS. Yeah laws can be changed on every level, but who enforces it? And when will we realize that laws are a matter of interpretation?

Interpretation is a dangerous thing, when the very power structure and system of privilege are still intact after laws are reformed or repealed. People will still be bigots, haters, rapists and etc. We must be careful to note the truth, yes vote, but dont pretend that it will fix all of our societal flaws.

Stop lying to yourselves!"

And now, 4 years later, it was the Black women, Black LGBT folk and the Black Lives Matter movement that drove the results of the 2020 election. Sometimes I hate being right about these things, but look at the 70 plus million people (overwhelmingly white) that voted to re-elect Trump. The fascism, racism and violence perpetuated through different means. We have streets named after Black Lives Matter and on those same streets, white people in denial that Trump lost are protesting the election outcome and being violent about it.

The reality is that we have made strides, but Blackness is still seen as deviant. Being any race other than white, hold different religious beliefs or having none at all is seen as deviant, being LGBT (especially those under the Trans umbrella) is still seen as deviant and we must do the work to ensure that we dismantle the power structures that allows this view to permeate laws and policies at every level of government. It is unreasonable to think we won, because Trump lost. The responsibility rests with us to keep fighting, not for just a seat at the table.... but the ability to build our own tables by our own rules.. unhindered by mainstream norms.

Anyway, I say all of this to say that Black people and other marginalized groups are being terrorized by our government, its police and those who preside over it. This post is my farewell to Monica and a promise to never give up on fighting for fairness and true equality.