– Danez Smith, Not an Elegy for Mike Brown
This blog is about queer culture in Chicago — it collects some of the embodiments of queerness that we have encountered so far. As Ele and I do this archiving work, this celebrating work, we risk the definitional power that comes from collecting things together under one name — here, the name “queerness.” This power is supersized when we, the collectors, are white and thus have the full force and violence of white supremacy pre-authorizing our voices and bodies (as valuable, as “correct,” as mattering). As Jennifer Loubriel has already put it, “Part of white supremacy as a larger system is the idea that white people are “objective” and authorities over everyone else in the room.”
In the face of this, I believe it’s critical to reiterate that our understandings both of queerness and of culture itself are only possible due to the (long history of) work being done by Black and brown trans*/women and femmes. We honor and attempt to be accountable to these folx and the work they have done and continue to do; this is an active process.
As part of that process, here are some things that people we name as our teachers — Black and brown trans*/women, femmes, and gender nonconforming people — have been saying/ offering up to the world, and that we are trying to take into our bodies and metabolize. Instead of providing analyses of our own, we are collecting and compiling things that have already been said and work that is already being done. We are so, so thankful for these teachers for calling us always towards struggle.
*NOTE* There are events in Chicago happening TOMORROW 7/9, Saturday July 9th. We know of at least three so far:
A protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, 11 AM, Jackson and Wacker
Protest Police Brutality 1:30 PM, Millennium Park
Taste of Chicago Shutdown, 4pm – 8pm, 325 S Michigan Avenue
1. “What Can I Do?” — Black trans*/women and femmes have already done the work of compiling ideas and questions in response. Here’s two examples:
– @IjeomaOluo via Mariam Asad via Luis Mejico
2. Stay vigilant: educate yourself and remember history
b) End the Police & Prisons
- What to Do Instead of Calling the Police via Veronica Morris Moore
- Origins of the Police as Slave Patrols/ Slave Catchers here and here
- Event July 19th: Policing the Planet: Why the Policing Crisis Led to Black Lives Matter
- Thinking Through the End of Police: Readings Compiled by Mariame Kaba
- “Summer Heat” by Mariame Kaba
- On Trans and Queer Prison Abolition: An Interview with Eric Stanley
- “The Police Are Killing People As Often As They Were Before Ferguson” by Carl Bialik
- “Abolish the Police. Instead, Let’s Have Full Social, Economic, and Political Equality.” by Mychal Denzel Smith
- “Constructing a ‘Black-on-Black’ Violence: The Conservative Discourse” by David Wilson
- “No Humans Involved: A Direct Letter to My Colleagues” by Sylvia Winter
c) Police kill Black and Brown trans*/women and femmes
d) Black Trans women continue to experience violence beyond the named “police”
- “Black Trans Woman Goddess Diamond Is The 14th Trans Person Murdered in the U.S. This Year” by Heather Hogan
This violence has been happening, and continues to happen. For white folx like me and Ele who don’t experience extreme unsafety at the hands of police and the state, we learn about this violence at a distance. People who experience the violence of white supremacy in their everyday lives — Black, Native, and Latinx peoples particularly — already know what’s going on. But it’s useful to know that:
3. Alternatives ARE possible (to the police state, to the state itself) — & people ARE (and have been!) fighting for them
– Mariame Kaba
b) Event July 25th: Know Your Rights: Police Misconduct Workshop with SWOP and CALA
e) Donate to these orgs. If you have any money, there’s a really good place to put it. If you don’t see a place to donate, ask!
4. Start where you are
a) Look at and Support What People are ALREADY Doing Around You In the Place You Live
- Groups like BYP, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Black and Pink Chicago, Love and Protect, Project NIA, Chicago Community Bond Fund, and more are already doing work. Take a look! Donate! Go to a community dinner that’s also a fundraiser!
- For example: Petition to Rescind the “Blue Lives” Chicago Ordinance
- Call an Alderman to Tell Them to Oppose the “Blue Lives” Ordinance
- Go to Club spaces dedicated to QTPOC like Duro on July 13th
- Join if you can! And/ or…
b) Organize your own (white people, organize white people)
-Via Mariam Asad via Luis Mejico
- “Stop sharing videos of murdered black bodies” – Mariam Asad via Luis Mejico
- Donate if you can to Philando Castile’s family, Alton Sterling’s Family Scholarship Fund. Research Goddess, Alton, and Philando’s lives and their loved ones accounts of what happened to them.
- Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism–from Ferguson to Charleston via Compton Quashie
- A Challenge to White Allies in the New Year: Resolve to Do Your Part to Dismantle White Supremacy by Monica Raye Simpson
- What White People Can do to Support Black Lives Matter
- “White People Have No Place in Black Liberation.” by Kevin Rigby Jr. and Hari Ziyad
- How People Whitesplain Racism
- 4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears
- Ally is a Verb: Finding Your Role in the Movement for Black Liberation (Chicago event)
5. Art is vital to resistance
- “It Doesn’t Feel Like a Time to Write” by Danez Smith via DarkMatter
- As2WaterHurricanes by Sol Patches
- i can’t talk small (a rant) by Adrienne Maree Brown poetry/ visionary fiction
- Poems by Chicago Poet Diamond Sharp via Mariame Kaba and Hannah Giorgis
- “Sun Moon Child,” a celebration & tribute to black dance. created in 2007 by pierre bennu, via Suzi Q Smith
- Remember that cultural producers ARE workers, and should be paid for their labor. If you don’t see a place to pay someone for their work, ask.
Again, none of these ideas are new or my own. This is a collection of work that has been done by others, most of whom are queer, Black, brown, trans*/women, femmes, and/or gender-nonconforming. It’s v provisional, so let us know if there are resources we should add, if there are things we should be called on, if we need to credit someone, if there’s a better way to say something or a better way or platform to organize things.
– Helena + Ele