TransGriot Note: The text of my speech I’m delivering for the March For Black Women here in Houston.
To my beautiful Black sisters cis and trans, Kandice Webber, Nisha Randle our allies and accomplices, supporters and friends, I am pleased, proud and honored that my unapologetic Black trans feminine self was invited to be here and say a few words to you on this historic day.
I find it so apropos to be standing here today in solidarity with my sisters on the hallowed soil of Emancipation Park because this place has enormous historical significance for Black Houstonians. The ten acres of land you are standing on was bought in 1872 by a group of our ancestors organized by the Rev. Jack Yates in the wake of our emancipation from bondage and to hold our Juneteenth celebrations. .For decades it was the only park Black Houstonians could go to because of Jim Crow segregation. As a child I watched along with my late grandmother Tama Juneteenth parades come down Emancipation Avenue and terminate at this spot before it became a state holiday.
And in this 21st Century moment, I can’t think of a better place for this inaugural March For Black Women to be taking place than on these grounds. I also can’t think of a more appropriate place to announce that on March 6 and in a few short months, we will begin the process of emancipating ourselves from the bondage of Republican tyranny in Texas and beyond.
That emancipation from Republican bondage is going to happen if those of you assembled here and within the sound of my voice do two simple things. One of them is to vote on March 6 and November 6 as if your life and your democracy depends on it, because frankly, that’s where we are right now as a country.
The second, and most important thing to do is TRUST BLACK WOMEN to lead you to that electoral promised land and in all the fights to come.
Trusting Black women to lead also includes without exception trusting Black trans women.
As Lucy Hick Anderson said several decades ago, “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.” And yes, Black trans women , despite all the anti-trans rhetoric being spouted by various faux faith based haters and the Republican Party, ARE Black women.
Black trans women are ready, willing and able to do our parts to uplift ourselves and the Black community. But were frustrated as hell because the community at large is ignoring our suffering. We have Black legacy organizations that haven’t uttered one syllable about the ongoing slaughter of Black trans women occuring at a near genocidal rate, and we are distress about our legacy organizations and Black church folk being silent in the face of white fundamentalists, the Trump misadministration and the Republican Party attacking our very humanity and human rights.
You trans siblings are also angry over the fact that some of our skinfolk are gleefully colluding with white fundamentalists , trans exclusionary radical feminists sellout pastors and the GOP to demonize us, and that reprehensible behavior needs to end today.
Let me say this loud and clear, and I want you to commit this to memory. Black trans women are women. Black trans men are men, and Black trans people are Black people.
Saying that is the first step for the Black cisgender community recognizing beyond as shadow of a doubt that Black transgender people are Black people who are part of the kente cloth fabric of the Black community.
Diana Ross once said in a 1989 ESSENCE magazine interview, “I never considered it a disadvantage to be a Black woman. I never wanted to be anything else. We have brains. We are beautiful. We can do anything we set our minds to”
And what we Black women as a group need to set our minds to do is come to the realization that Black trans women are not your enemy, my Black cis sisters.
Black trans women, it is also past time for you to stop giving your Black cis sisters the side eye and treating them as if they are our enemy. They aren’t.. It isn’t Black women who have been gleefully colluding with the GOP to mess with your human rights. it was a far too long list of folks who didn’t look like us in the persons of Janice Raymond, Germaine Greer and other TERF’s.
It wasn’t a Black woman who wrote SB 6 or other anti-trans Texas legislation. What I saw in my multiple trips to Austin last year were Black women legislators like Senfronia Thompson calling it out and helping to kill the unjust SB 6.
It was the Lone Star dynamic oppressor duo of Lois Kolkhorst and Joan Huffman, Kolkhorst authored it, and Huffman shoved it through her senate committee. Both of them need to be punished at the polls for it along with the man who egged them on in Potty Dan Patrick.
However, a note to Chimamanda Adichie, Stacey Patton and anyone else in the Black feminine ranks cosigning their transphobia, we will not tolerate and will swiftly call out anti-trans rhetoric coming from you or any Black cis woman. We don’t need that TERF crap in our ranks because we have more important societal fish to fry.
Black trans people, Black trans kids and Black trans women exist. Being trans isn’t ‘just a white thang’, and we aren’t going away or going back in the closet as evidenced by those of us showing us and standing here in solidarity with you here today in Emancipation Park.
From this day forward, we want and need our cis sisters standing in solidarity with us, and we want to be standing in solidarity with you our cis sisters.
We know who our enemy is, and it isn’t our cis Black sisters. We are fighting the same demonization and denigration of Black womanhood you are. We are dealing with the same anti-Blackness you fight against. We are fighting the same issues of living in an America hostile to Black people and Black feminine bodies you are fighting in addition to having to deal with transphobic ignorance inside and outside our shared community/ We want to work with you in sisterhood to eradicate it.
But the non negotiable price of us offering that help is unconditional acceptance of who we are as Black trans people. It’s past time for cis and trans Black women to have those tough ongoing conversations that will lead to us building sisterhood so we can focus on the larger, more important tasks ahead.
And by doing that you may get an amazing friend in the process.
It’s nation time people. Houston, Texas, America and our people are depending on us to as usual, save this country and this state from itself, provide the visionary leadership necessary to liberate our people and to paraphrase Barbara Jordan bring about a Texas and America better than its promise. .
Let’s get to work making it happen.