Black and Latinx queer people need safe spaces, too

By Preston Mitchum

This past Pride month marked the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla. At approximately 2:00 AM, 29-year-old Omar Mateen – who allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS on a 911 phone call during the hate crime and terrorist attack – walked into Pulse on June 12, 2016, killed 49 people, and injured 53 others on the club’s weekly “Latin Night.”

As a Black queer man, it’s hard not to see myself in the victims and survivors. Despite much of the media’s attempt to whitewash this tragedy, the fact that the victims were largely Latinx and Black queer and trans people matters because our communities are often told that safe spaces are not a reality, and only part of our fictitious imaginations. But if Pulse made anything apparent, it is that spaces for Black and Latinx queer people are now, and always have been, necessary.

Two women, 41 and 32, shot and killed in Chicago’s Washington Park

The stories of Chicago’s gun violence often follow the same narrative – young men of color, particularly Black, fall victim to either side of the weapon while their women loved ones are left to grieve. A shocking incident in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood has throw that pattern out of play after two women, 41 and 32 years old, were shot dead.

Why reproductive justice is essential to understanding gene editing

By Victoria Massie

Originally posted at the Center for Genetics and Society Blog.

On June 13, the Center for Genetics and Society, alongside Black Women for Wellness and In Our Own Voice National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda , will be hosting the webinar, “Gene Editing and the Future of Reproductive Justice .”

Featuring University of Pennsylvania Professor of Law and Sociology and CGS Advisory Board member Dorothy Roberts , Princeton University Professor of African-American Studies Ruha Benjamin , and UC Davis Professor of Law Lisa Ikemoto , the webinar will discuss how emerging biotechnologies like gene editing are reshaping our ideas about what kind of human beings we will let ourselves be in the future.

Stop hoping “the shooter” isn’t Black.

Consider how much death and destruction has been permitted that there is even a such thing as “the shooter,” in quotations. Terror has become such a commonly wielded weapon that “the shooter,” the terrorist, is now an archetype, ready to appear at any moment, anywhere, for the foreseeable future and beyond.

And every time he does, without fail, there is an overwhelming faction of Black folks who hope and pray he isn’t one of us.

How I am managing toxic relationships with Bill Cosby rape apologists

I’m sure my relationship to Bill Cosby and his brand is similar to that of millions of other people. Before I reached adolescence, he’d already taught me weekly life lessons as Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show and made me laugh with his G-rated comedy routines. To show how deep my family’s appreciation of the Cosby brand goes, my grandfather even has two cats named Rudy and Bud. However, I’ve taken many steps back in my support – for obvious reasons.

Philando Castile Flickr

The system isn’t failing us because it isn’t ours

One of the earliest lessons I learned as child was “you can’t win if you don’t try.” The logic showed me that the critical ingredient to success was actually doing something to be successful. Now, as I look at the repeated miscarriages of justice where it concerns slain and oppressed Black people in the United States, I don’t see the system as failing. It just isn’t trying and was never meant to address the grievances and harms committed against Black people.

I hate having to write that, just like I hate having to write about a 32-year-old Black man having his life taken because of anti-Blackness and systemic racism only to have his killer walk free.

Yet, here we are.

INTERVIEW: Fight trans homelessness with J. Skyler Robinson

There are at least 1.4 million trans adults and around 150,000 trans youth living in the United States today. Although they only make up .6 and .7 percent of their respective populations, trans people in the U.S. are much more likely to face astounding levels of interpersonal violence, lack of healthcare, and homelessness. The latter is often a function of various manifestations of discrimination and family rejection.

J. Skyler Robinson aims to tackle the issue of trans homelessness head on.

Black Youth Project sat down with the Black, genderqueer transwoman to discuss their plans to create a transitional living home to support especially vulnerable trans people.

How did you decided to start mobilizing to create this transitional living home?

“I used to live in a Los Angeles gay and lesbian transitional living program for youth. I was there for a two year period. Since this was something that I’ve actually lived through, I know how beneficial it is. So that’s what led me to try and start up my own version of it. However the biggest difference is that it’s specifically for the transgender community.”

What is it that you hope trans people will be able to experience during their time in the transitional living home?

“My biggest hope is that trans people have a safe space to stay, and time to recuperate from whatever troubles they were experiencing before, to re-enter regular society and the workforce. Trans people face a myriad of violence: interpersonal, economic––so much. So having an area to rest and recuperate, I think, is so important.”

How crucial is that area of reprieve––especially in the current political climate?

“It’s definitely been compounded by the Trump Administration. Even Ben Carson, the new HUD Secretary, stated that he didn’t want [public housing] to be comfortable for homeless people, because he thinks people would never want to leave. I think that’s very misguided, and really unethical, even more so with the specific situation trans people face.”

Would you say Trump administration’s views about poor Black people are even more dangerous when one adds trans people in the mix?

“Most definitely. The current administration has demonstrated no understanding of transgender issues and ignorance often leads to death. Black trans women already account for the highest homicide rate among all LGBT people in the US. Employment, housing and healthcare discrimination (which are structural) all contribute to our deaths. I don’t see any reason to think the 45th or anyone in his cabinet would do anything to change this.”

“Where would the transitional living home be located? Do you plan on opening up more around the country?”

“I hope to build this facility in Las Vegas. I live in California, but I travel back and forth between LA and Las Vegas. We didn’t want to build it in California because of the economic situation––California is very crowded and the cost of living is extraordinarily high. So I think Vegas would be the next best step. The trade-off is that California does have the best legal protections of any state for trans people. Nevada is very close on a number of points, but my main concern was for those exiting the program who might be looking for work and housing. So I think this location would make it a bit easier.”

What stage is the project in now?

“We’ve already handled the articles of incorporation, but we’re not tax exempt yet. When you incorporate an office, the first stage is actually getting the Employer Identification Number, but filing for tax exempt status is a completely separate process… But we’ve filed that paperwork already.”

How much overall do you think you’d need to raise?

“So far, our goal is set at $500,000. That cost right now is primarily to be able to buy land to build the facility, and hire an executive staff to work on the project. But within the next 5 years, I’d like to have a volunteer board of directors and a fully compensated executive staff who would guide the entire project. So the current goal would go to those two things.”

What message would you like people to take away as they learn more about your project and the dire situation many trans people are currently facing?

“We have a lot of people looking out for themselves and literally no one else. That selfishness is apparent across all marginalized groups living in the United States right now, so whatever we can do to pull together and ensure that the people who are most vulnerable are taken care of, I think that’s where a great deal of our focus should be. I know the end goal for this facility is at least a few years away, but what can definitely happen right now is getting the ball rolling so we can get to the next stage.”

You can donate to J. Skyler’s transitional living home project here.