Jasmine Reynoso and Taylor Amari Little on #InternationalWomensDay at EMU

Jasmine Reynoso and Taylor Amari Little, Eastern Michigan University, March 8, 2017

Concerned folk gathered near the ground level entrance of the Student Center at Eastern Michigan University to stand in solidarity against racism, imperialism, and whitewashed feminism around noon on Wednesday, March, 8, 2017.

Megaphones projected remarks acknowledging and addressing gendered violence, racism, immigrant and refugee rights, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice, access to education, labor rights, disability access, full social provisioning, environmental justice, and a call to end all wars, domestic and abroad.

High winds and the sound of university pond fountains forced listeners to huddle. Exclamations echoed off of the Student Center glass windows as speakers addressed societal issues often left ignored, especially on holidays.

Conversational points featured in the footage below challenge dominator culture. Jasmine Reynoso and Taylor Amari Little reminded listeners to contest their complicity. Complicity unchecked injures female bodied and identified Americans at a rate much higher than cis-gender Americans.

Before concerned folk marched together towards Welch Hall, two Eastern Michigan University students reminded the crowd that regardless of who’s or who was in office, that the yards, parking lots, etc. belonged to them. Without saying hashtag #OurHouseEMU.

Listen to Eastern Michigan University students, Jasmine Reynoso (QPOC and Events Coordinator) and Taylor Amari Little (Founder, Queer Ummah):

[Editor’s note: Jasmine Reynoso and Taylor Amari Little regret not making available typeface included in the distributed literature readable for all participants.]

Jasmine Reynoso and Taylor Amari Little
on #InternationalWomensDay
at Eastern Michigan University
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

This is a decolonial reminder that we are on stolen land, and some of us are stolen bodies forced upon this land.

The following quote is by Lynx M’Chea, “Celebrating & Uplifting Women: All Women is Dope,”:

Women celebrating and loving their bodies is dope.
Saying having a vagina, menstruating, getting pregnant, having breasts makes someone a woman or a part of womanhood is wrong and violent.
Your body doesn’t make you a woman, your energy and spirit do.

With that being said, now we can begin. On January 4, 2017, Mesha Caldwell was killed in Canton, Mississippi. She was 41 years old.

On Jan. 8th, 28-year-old Jaime Lee Wounded Arrow was killed in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

On Feb. 8th, 23-year-old Jojo Stryker was killed in Toledo, OH.

On Feb. 18th, 18-year-old Jaquarrius Holland was killed in Monroe, LA.

On Feb. 22nd, 24-year-old Keke Collier (Tiara Richmond) was killed in Chicago, IL.

On Feb. 25th, 31-year-old Chyna Gibson (Chyna Doll Dupree) was killed in New Orleans, LA.

Two days later, on Feb. 27th, 25-year-old Ciara McElveen was also killed in New Orleans, LA.

All the women we have listed happen to be trans women of color but this is no coincidence.

Every year transwomen of color are killed in disproportionate rates especially Black trans women. Six out of the seven people that we mentioned are Black women and one of these women is indigenous.

When we talk about trans rights we can’t only talk about rights but justice. It’s important to emphasize justice because not only does it aim for law and policies that provide access for marginalized communities but also highlights respecting and centering marginalized beings especially those with marginalized intersectional identities.

The bathroom conversation and the death of trans women have become the focus in mainstream news. Yes, it is extremely important to emphasize these things like the bathroom conversation for example because Black youth are already targeted disproportionately in our educational institutions.

For example, Black youth are four-six times higher than that of white children to face suspension, be perceived as more hostile, aggressive and suspicious even though they’re no different from other children. So when you have conversations about policing trans folx simply using the restroom and them possibly getting in trouble for doing so, where does that leave Black trans youth?

“Let us not forget the school-to-prison pipeline. Who will be the first Blk Trans girl arrested over this (and sent to a boy’s/men’s center)? Who will be the first victim of police brutality over this? Bathroom laws are not about bathrooms. They are potentially life-or-death.”

Words spoken by the Black trans queer Twitter user @AdamantxYves.

And like we stated earlier transwomen of color especially Black trans women are killed at very high rates. The average lifespan for trans women in the U.S is the age of 35, and the number becomes around 30 years old for Black trans women.

We also have to recognize their being in life, support and fight with them for their liberation. This helps to create safe spaces generally because by recognizing, supporting, centering, and celebrating their beings we deconstruct transphobic rhetoric that aims to erase their stories, contributions and lives and we inevitably replace the spaces that make this rhetoric thrive by having these conversations and fighting for trans justice.

If you are not transgender, you have a responsibility to eradicate the transantagonistic violence that harms our siblings everyday and to emotionally, physically, and financially support trans folx so that they are not struggling to survive in this world and are actually thriving, rightfully so.

In order to help, y’all, other cis folk, out [here], we have helped curate a list that should be being distributed to you right now of trans folx of color who you can financially support by donating to their projects, organizations, surgery funds, PayPals, and GoFundMes for survival (e.g., food and bills), etc. This will be an ongoing list online, but this printed out copy you’ll be receiving is at least a start for most of you. In saying this we identify as cis-women and recognize that we have to continuously hold ourselves accountable, to use our privilege to dismantle white supremacy that includes and upholds cis-sexism and other oppressive systems.

Additionally, to let y’all know, Tay and I were actually very hesitant to speak here today because we were confident that this was going to be full of whitewashed, cis bullshit, especially after viewing the results of the women’s march in Washington DC and in other locations on January 21 of this year. As y’all may know, white women reminded people of color what white feminism looks like. From the transphobic ugly ass pink pussyhats that essentialized womanhood to vulvas and vaginas, to the fetishization of indigenous folx through comments of “look at their costumes” to solely taking pictures of them without permission or care for their actual cause and culture, to making fun of people of color emphasizing their cultures, to tone policing people of color conversations, chants and songs, to the bragging of the police presence being peaceful without consideration of the feelings of people of color and that white women are protected against police brutality by their whiteness.

On this day, let us leave you with a few reminders:

White women, you are a significant reason of why Trump became president, whether you actually voted for him or not. Fifty-three percent of y’all. Whereas ninety-four percent of Black women tried to save us.

‘Cause we knew.

So remember, on this day especially where we are celebrating women, we need to center the most marginalized and vulnerable groups of women and femmes within our communities and internationally, being mindful of intersectional marginalized experiences and beings and making sure they are not silenced or erased.

Assalamu alaikum.

May peace be upon you and have a Black day.

PDF // Project: Pay Up Cis Folk