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.

When white people enter a space, anti-Blackness always does too

On October 29th 2012, Glenda Moore’s two sons were killed during Hurricane Sandy, the youngest casualties during the storm. I say during rather than of the storm because the death of Moore’s children–Connor, 4 and Brendan, 2–was caused by another type of tempest, one that has gone on far, far longer and is far more brutal.

Police said Moore, a Black nurse, became stuck in Staten Island while trying to get to safety. When the floodwaters began to sweep her car away, the desperate mother was able to pull her sons from it, but the two small boys were quickly whisked up by the currents. Distraught, Moore banged on the doors of many neighbors who refused to lend a hand. One told her, “I don’t know you. I’m not going to help you.” Another turned off the lights and refused to answer when she rang the doorbell. Moore’s neighborhood was 64% white (in 2010).

If Black innocence never exists to the state, how can passivism and perfect victimhood save us?

[Banner photo: A headline from The Daily Kos seeming to play up the fact that Jordan Edwards was unarmed and an “honor roll student”]

By Zoé Samudzi

On May 20, Richard Collins III, a young Black soon-to-be graduate of Bowie State University, was murdered by Sean Urbanski, a member of a white supremacist Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation, whilst waiting for an Uber. The murder will be investigated as a hate crime. In the wake of recent emboldenings of white nationalists across the country, Black Americans are increasingly caught between a state and non-state white supremacist hard place. What does it mean when our sense of freedom and liberation is tied up, in the words of Shannon Houston, in having been trained to negotiate with terrorists?

Keep your white friends and partners away from Black Pride events

This June marks the 48th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of violent acts of resistance in New York City credited with sparking the modern Gay Rights Movement. The uprisings, led mostly by trans people of color and drag queens, are commemorated each year with celebrations across the globe during what is known as Pride Month. For many LGBTQQIA+ people, this is a time to reaffirm their right to life and liberty against the backdrop of anti-queer stigma and violence they experience at the hands, knife- and gun-points of society-at-large.

Behind Amy Schumer’s ‘Get Out’ joke: The horrible legacy of claiming the Black phallus endangers white women

By Sherronda Brown

Amy Schumer is racist, and white women love her. The White Feminist icon’s most recent public display of Beckery is yet another demonstration of the sexual racism she so often falls back into, using racist stereotypes benefitting her white womanhood while decrying the sexual proclivities of men of color.

Two weeks ago, when asked about past instances of her own rude behavior in the bedroom in an interview with Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens: Live, Schumer answered: “A guy had an uncircumcised penis and it was too big and I just was like ‘Peace!’ Like, I got out. I got right out of there. I was like, ‘I’m not going to be deformed because I had sex with you once.’ That’s what the movie Get Out should have been about.”

I’ll still complain about politics even when I don’t vote – fight me.

I am a non-voter who has the audacity to still be upset that my people are dying. I have been told innumerable times that I am not supposed to be allowed this. “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain” is perhaps the most common non-voter shaming refrain I’ve heard, right up there with “your ancestors died for the right to vote.”

But I am not generally one to accept what society allows me to do as gospel.

I learned this from those very same ancestors, who, as even non-voter shamers acknowledge, lost their lives so that I could do what they weren’t allowed. Some say their deaths were only for my right to vote, but I know they died to get closer to freedom. I know they died also to be able to refuse the vote if it does not work towards that freedom. I know that my people are still dying–still died even when I did vote–and, if anything, my ancestors lost their lives so that I would never let anything get in the way of raising hell about it.

Black people not voting is logical, and vote pushers are usually anti-Black

For most of my schooling, I was treated as somewhat of a golden child. As an advanced placement student in a majority Black district, where most of the other Black kids weren’t surpassing their white peers scholastically like I was, the fact that I seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of my ivy-league older siblings did not go unnoticed by the approving adults in my life.

Not only did my “achievements” translate materially in the form of scholarship money, I received an enviable range of post-graduate opportunities, as well as positions of authority offered to me while still in school. I was also told flat-out many times and in various ways how different I was from the average Black student. It was never an insult. The average Black student was not someone to desire being in community with, apparently. My differences were always pointed out as if not being like them other niggas was the biggest compliment I could ever receive.

Solidarity can’t work without understanding that Blackness has a role in every struggle

The first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency have been marked by continuous attacks on the most vulnerable communities, just as promised. Those who have been resisting this administration have rightly responded to these attacks by attempting to shed light on every step taken toward such harmful efforts—from the blatantly bigoted “Muslim ban” and its equally bigoted second iteration, to threats against “sanctuary cities” whose governments refuse to go out of their way to target the undocumented.

However, in shedding this necessary light, many people have also chosen to distinguish struggles such as those against Islamophobia and anti-immigrant violence from the plight of Black people. While some have argued that its apparently lessened visibility is only a necessary evolution of the Movement for Black Lives, others have questioned the movement’s continued relevance after Trump’s ascension highlighted so many struggles that are seemingly distinctive and equally important.

The Bigots Are Right: The HIV Epidemic Among Black, Gay Men is from Immorality

By: Marq Montgomery

**This article was originally posted at AngryBlackHoemo.com and has been republished with permission**

 

It’s Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, so it’s a good of a time as any to dive into this topic.

When we talk about the HIV/AIDS epidemic among Gay men, in general, there’s often an air of judgement and condescension, dripping with implications that any of us who contract the virus “deserve it” for our “immoral” behavior. And when you add in the racism of addressing Black, Gay men, that attitude only grows…even from other Gay men.

Why asking Black people to forgive whiteness won’t ‘heal this country’

It’s time we have a serious conversation about what it means when white people offer disingenuous apologies to Black people they have harmed while expecting absolution and exoneration from those very same people.

Last week, news broke that a 79-year-old Trump supporter named John Franklin McGraw, who was seen on video elbowing a young Black anti-Trump protester named Rakeem Jones in the face at a Trump rally, was sentenced to probation. It was McGraw’s own words during that sentencing that draw attention to the ways that white supremacy operates to protect whiteness at all costs while demanding emotional labor from Black people in the form of forgiveness.