After a robust pride season and COVID restrictions lifted for gatherings in New York City, we hope you are re-emerging into public life in safety, good health, and spirits raised by sunlight and safe gathering. It is a hopeful time in comparison to August of 2020, and we are moving forward optimistically and with caution about the future of convening our communities. There is still work to do in the wake of a revolutionary year that normalized phrases like abolition, racial justice, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness into the popular dialogue and conversation around achieving a world that does not permit the murder and neglect of QTBIPOC bodies by forces of the state.
We hope you’ve enjoyed a safe and connective pride season and are finding your power in community as the summer kicks off.
For the past two years, due to pandemic conditions and concerns for community safety, we have provided digital alternatives to being on the streets and are beginning to re-imagine how to gather safely, inclusively, and with accessibility in mind as the lessons of the pandemic teach us how to care for each others’ well-being in public spaces. The necessity of consent culture, the normalization of communicating our safety needs to one another in shared space, and the critical importance of understanding who our immediate networks of care are, have been powerful developments in our communities’ values. These are also organizing trajectories that the Audre Lorde Project has always been rooted in, for the purpose of gathering folks safely to advocate for our needs without a police presence. The goal has always been to create tools that do not replicate the white supremacist heteropatriarchal tactics that have been designed to control Black, Indigenous, POC, Immigrant, Femme, and Trans and Gender Non-Conforming bodies.
Our search is live – the Audre Lorde Project is looking to recruit a new wave of leaders to support LGBTSTGNC organizers of color in New York City! Currently, two full-time positions are open at ALP: Executive Leadership and a Manager of Finance and Operations!
New York City is opening up again after vaccination rollout, and it’s going to bring up a lot of important new questions as we move forward into the next stage of the pandemic. For a community organization that has historically gathered people as part of our work, this is the moment to consider the balance between autonomy and collective safety in movement building cultures. The safety work of gathering crowds is being transposed to meet the needs of the moment, but the philosophical questions underpinning it are present.
At every turn of our 25 year history, the Audre Lorde Project has been navigating the impacts of violence against otherness and defining ourselves as a protective space for the oppressed. In this benchmark year, we can reflect together on what it could mean to be free after a global pandemic, while fully understanding that our decompressing lives will require community, love, safety, and support more than ever. We will be contextualizing the strength and gifts of our identities with our power to envision collective action that holds together with unity.
It’s time to announce that after a combined 15 years of work at ALP that we, Co-Directors Cleopatra "from the Bronx" Jach and Maxwell Scales, will be transitioning out of the Audre Lorde Project on October 1, 2021. That’s still a long way from now, but it will be here sooner than we know.
We moved into these leadership positions officially in October 2019, and we knew that it was imperative to restore as much integrity, structure, and core values as possible back into the organization. After launching a much needed (and successful!) restoration period that addressed the cracks of transparency, conflict, and trauma, in October 2020, we announced to our board that it was time for us to start planning for transition. We feel that ALP, and its stakeholders (members, leaders, supporters, and allies), are ready to move into the opportunities we have established due to our diligent work. Going into ALP’s 25th year, we are in a place to really take in its profound legacy, honor, wins, and successes.
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.