i recently watched i am not your negro, the recent documentary film featuring black scholar james baldwin’s unfinished writings. it’s intense and valuable in many ways, and i wanted to share one moment in particular that struck me:
it’s powerfully articulated and drives home the fact that it doesn’t really matter if i and fellow white folks think of ourselves as racist or hateful — i believe most people don’t think of themselves as hateful — what matters is our explicit or implicit support of the institutions we benefit from due to white supremacy. definitely a helpful reminder for me to continue to push myself to figure out the best and most felt ways of putting my principles into action.
navigating the changing landscape of how the outside world perceives me and reacts to my gender expression continues to be a mix of challenging, interesting, exciting, and absurd. because i am more frequently being addressed using he/him pronouns or other male-oriented terms, i am feeling more comfortable to explore and play with gender expression, wearing lots of floral, painting my nails, adding a little gold earring to the mix. the other day when I was waiting in line, a clearly confused stranger stared at me and asked, “are you a man or a woman?” i replied, “that’s the question, isn’t it?” there’s the absurdity — the urgent desire to know how to categorize a total stranger. a friend of mine on testosterone astutely observed about how peoples’ obsession with what ‘parts’ we have directly corresponds to how they decide to treat us. what other reason would anyone think they needed to know?
two of the best experiences i’m having connected to being on hormones and getting more comfortable in my body are: feeling physically strong as i continue to exercise and build muscle, and feeling cute! especially in the midst of mental health struggles and what still feels like an overall unkind world, i never want to underestimate the power of an affirming selfie that depicts me how i see myself.
observing and feeling my voice changing is also a mix of feelings — i’ve written briefly before about the inherent loss there is in transformation, and how it feels appropriate to grieve that loss. in acknowledging grief and loss here, i fear those harboring subconscious transphobia will see this as a reason why i and other trans people are unfit or unwise to use hormones to self-actualize. however, i believe all physical, emotional, and mental growth involves loss and letting go of a previous version of oneself in order to welcome in the new. for me, where there is grief, there is also joy and gratitude. that is what i dominantly feel as i continue to explore these changes through singing and making music. my friend kieran recently recorded and mixed this track of me singing in their backyard in oakland, and my friend elisa is singing harmonies.
in other news of what’s been running through my head lately, I saw hamilton! my abridged thoughts, in classic virgo bulletpoint form:
- what the fuck? i thought i heard something about flipping the script, but all i see is another glorified portrayal of the colonization of turtle island, albeit with a very talented cast of black and brown actors.
- is there really no mention of the colonization and genocide of indigenous people… anywhere? even in lin manuel miranda interviews about creating the show?
- holy shit, satisfied is catchy.
- does this show even come close to passing the bechdel test? is one of the two woman-sung songs really called “helpless”?
- holy shit, every song is this show is catchy.
- i guess i have a new problematic fave. i mean… have you heard the mixtape? queen latifah, usher, and alicia keys ftw…
but seriously, if anyone who engages with decolonization is interested in sharing their experiences of the show/music (raves or critiques or both), i am interested in hearing about it!
wanted to share one more piece of organizing and mobilization that i found incredibly powerful and beautiful. a coalition of black-led organizations ran a campaign to raise funds to bail out over 100 black incarcerated mamas leading up to and on mother’s day. some words from mary hooks, co-director of southerners on new ground (SONG):
We know that about 80% of black women that are sitting in cages right now are single parents and caretakers. We know that one out of three black trans women who have spent time in the cage have experienced sexual violence in the cage. One out of nine black children have parents who are incarcerated. Our goal is to be able to free our people from these cages, using the traditions from our ancestors that bought each other’s collective freedom, to get our folks back home and to highlight the crisis around the cash bail system, put pressure on all of these institutions who are making money off of our people’s suffering, but, most importantly, restore the life that this cash bail system have taken from our people.
if you’d like to hear or read more about these actions, i recommend watching mary hooks’ interview on democracy now, and reading caitlin breedlove’s piece on what white-led organizations can learn from this mama’s day bailout action.
that’s all for now. ’til next time…
ps — if you are a queer person interested or involved in farming and/or ecological justice, check out queer ecojustice’s summer reading group! you can participate from anywhere…