It has been a year of surviving pandemic, and while we've moved through many challenges with perseverance, even in isolation, the uncertainty of when we will be able to gather again safely still weighs on every aspect of how we are able to support each other and organize in these unprecedented conditions.
The life and work of Audre Lorde beg us to imagine the world through a lens that critically examines power where it is gathered, and where it must disperse for the well-being of our communities. It asks that we learn from her lived experience as a poet, scholar, mother, worker, teacher, organizer, survivor, and movement leader. Her legacy requests that we learn from her experiences in imagining and creating empowered futures that integrate the understanding that the political and the personal are inextricably intertwined. Political conditions preclude our personal experiences, and those personal experiences are catalyzed into power by expressing ourselves, caring for one another, caring for ourselves, and working towards our collective freedom. It is no wonder that the systems we are forced to live in, designed by straight white cis-gender men, are reacting in force in this political moment. They are afraid.
Every November, we honor our communities by observing Transgender Day of Remembrance and Resilience, and the following week, we engage our own values in considering "Thanksgiving". ALP was founded in response to the public health crises facing LGBTSTGNC people of color, and in this moment, we are reminded of the ongoing amplified assault of the settler colonial state on non-white marginalized bodies as COVID rages in its second wave.
This month's election season comes to a dire conclusion, regardless of electoral outcomes. White supremacist reactivity and assaults on our human rights and bodily autonomy will be the outcomes -- there's no point in denial about these realities. The only way to react is to build and to create our own tools.
Time is moving differently. The pandemic is asking us to reflect on our own ways of looking at the world and how these perspectives have served us or created challenges for us in the past. It's undoubtedly a growth period for Audre Lorde Project's staff, members, and board.
We are asking questions, like, how do we gather safely? How do we keep each other safe and connected in this isolating time? How can we adapt to this new landscape of movement building and political education? What are we doing to build resilience in this moment? How can this era teach us about our own roles in building movements, creating solutions, and participating safely, in resistance? Who is this crisis turning us into? How is it strengthening us? What is it showing us about ourselves as individuals and as communities who are most impacted by long-standing systems of structural oppression that become most obvious in times of crisis? These are the questions we're asking ourselves at ALP, as we turn the bend on six months of pandemic life.
I attended this weekend’s March for Black Trans Lives, a powerful space where an estimated 15,000 people showed up to support the call to end violence and harm against trans, gender non-confirming, and non-binary Black and Brown folks. It was the first time in weeks that I was honest about how I’ve been affected by the rampant murders, attacks, and police brutality on my community. A friend who I hadn’t seen in months due to the pandemic asked how I was doing and I said “terrible. Everything feels awful. But we’ll be ok.” I stopped pretending I was fine, that the trauma we face by watching the news, walking down the street, having cops occupying every (non-white) space in the city, doesn’t impact me greatly. As a Black trans masculine person, I’ve been more alert and vigilant than ever lately, worried about how cops and others will see me, especially in a mask, as a threat. Worried about being an immunocompromised person during mobilizations. Worried about my comrades and those close to me in community who remain isolated at home or behind bars. But I maintain hope. Hope that these uprisings show that our people are not willing to go back, return to a world where the few with power and money control the lives of the many without.
Compiled by our amazing Director of Dignity and Care, Simone Sobers, we offer community a list of COVID-related resources that center the needs and resilience of QTBIPOC folks in NYC.
Click "read more" to learn about the intentions of this resource.
The Audre Lorde Project is so grateful for all of the support that we have received in the past week. As an organization rooted in the collective wellness and safety of LGBTSTGNC people of color, we appreciate how our community of supporters has grown to show solidarity for Black Liberation.
We attempt to always move from a place of abundance though, so we want to encourage folks to stay engaged in our work and also please be sure that you're always directing resources to Black folks in your local communities. Our staff want to uplift a few comrades in the struggle who are organizing for the safety and dignity of Black folks and could use your support.
It's with love and a sense of hope that we must regard our movements in one of the most challenging ordeals in human history. We might feel like we have no energy left after watching toxic news cycles, designed to weaken our resolve by reminding us of what we already know. We might feel inhibited by our inability to gather on the streets in resistance. We might feel daunted by the fact that there is no clear path or way forward ahead of us, according to the media that we are being fed and are acclimated to. We might not know what to do with the burden of grief, combined with the understanding that we must transform the same world that is harming us every day. The energy that is required for this project is infinite, and unknowable, until the process is complete. And we must trust each other more than ever in this moment to be on the same page about creating a better world, while that very world is keeping us from physically gathering, harming us, and taking our lives.
Hope resides in the understanding that our movements can, and have, created massive shifts in the political landscapes we live in currently. Hope resides in the fact that we are a resourceful community that will gather and resist, regardless of the white supremacist infrastructures that we have already survived. Hope resides in the fact that we know how to resource ourselves by creating our own pathways and strategies for carving out futures that shed toxicity by creating shelter and safer space, by us and for us. Today's newest challenge is not to create physical space, but to continue to gather and resource each other in emerging spaces that will escalate in their capacity to transform or destroy the systems of oppression that target our most vulnerable.
I believe that we will reach liberation in our lifetime. I believe that now more than I ever have before.
This is an extremely scary time. It is scary how Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans, and Gender Non-Conforming Black, Indigenous, People of Color community has been disproportionately affected by COVID and the fall out of the disease – the loss of income, increased poverty, criminalization of the poor and the ill, and barriers to healthcare. Many people are learning now what our communities have long known – the state does not exist to help us. Systems of power in this country are built intentionally to dispose of those who have the least.
Why do I think liberation is possible? Because of you.