Month: August 2015

Thoughts on What it Means to be Queer and Black in Today’s America

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Last month, the Supreme Court made history across America by finally acknowledging that members of the LGBT community deserve access to all of the rights and privileges our heterosexual counterparts have received since the birth of this nation.  Each of my social media newsfeeds were inundated with rainbow profile pictures and #lovewins posts.  For weeks after the monumental decision, I have watched as many people lauded the great strides being made in the realm of LGBT rights, celebrating the greatness of this event.

I’ve also watched with mild amusement the number of people – specifically Black people – who have used this achievement for the LGBT community to rail against their lesbian, gay, transgender, and other family members in an attempt to downplay the importance of this decision.

Now, before I go on, allow me to clarify that I am not a big advocate of marriage equality.  As a Black, Queer woman in America today, I feel that there are many other issues that need to be focused on, and I have always felt that the push for marriage equality was a token win at best. That said, I’m not mad at any of my LGBT brethren who want to indulge in wedding cake.

I have also always found it incredibly interesting that the heterosexual/cisgender section of the Black community seems to delight in denying the personhood of those in the LGBT community… as though many of us are not one and the same.

So, when earlier today someone shared Brandon Ellington Patterson’s Mother Jones article from last month on the subject, I couldn’t help but want to share it with you all.  Patterson does a great job of making the case for how ridiculous it is to think that someone can be pro-Black and yet still homophobic.  Some of the best takeaways from the article are:

he simple truth is this: It’s problematic for members of any one marginalized group to challenge the progress made by members of another, especially when both groups suffer as a result of the same system—a system that favors being white, male, straight and “cisgender,” a term used by academics and advocates to describe the opposite of trans.

But it is especially problematic for black people to reject the LGBT rights struggle, especially when, over the past year, black people have been particularly vocal about their own racial oppression, via sustained, high-profile protests that have swept the nation.

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And black LGBT people and their allies have made incredible contributions to the black liberation struggle, from Bayard Rustin during the civil rights movement to Audre Lorde, a poet, feminist, and LGBT advocate, as well as the three women who founded the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and the organization that birthed the movement: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.

Activism like this is even more inspiring than most because, in addition to state-sanctioned racism, LGBT people face state-sanctioned homophobia and transphobia in the form of unchecked employment and wage discrimination, housing discrimination, health care disparities, increased risk of brutality at the hands of police, and so much more. And then they face ridicule and violence, oftentimes from within the black communities they call home.

The biggest takeaway for me, however, was where Patterson pointed out that the identities of being Black and Queer are not mutually exclusive.  In truth, these identities intersect for many people in both communities – myself included – and we face a particularly sinister form of oppression all on our own because of that… even moreso if we happen to be a transgender member of this community/movement.

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For the greater Black community to deny our existence or place in this movement is not only morally reprehensible, but it just doesn’t make good strategic sense overall.  By rejecting LGBT persons on the basis of sexuality, straight Black people are contributing to the continued marginalization and oppression of other Black people.  Queer Black people are among the most endangered in our community, and yet we are the ones who, more often than not, are the leaders of the movement for Black liberation.

It’s time for heterosexual, Christian, Muslim, militant, and whatever else Black people to hold up their end of the bargain and show up for us, the way that we’ve been showing up for them for quite a while.

#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t just mean straight Black men and when we #SayHerName, we are missing the point if we are not saying the names of Black transwomen who are victimized as well.

My Queerness no more dilutes my Blackness than the reverse.  I am unapologetically Queer, unapologetically Black, unapologetically Woman, and unapologetically Proud of the way all of these identities intersect in order to make me a unique and special individual.  Queer Black people are a valuable part of the Black community and we are just as deserving of the same support and respect as any other person here.

If you can’t see/understand that, then we aren’t the problem – your ignorance is.

With revolutionary love,

~ Kioshana

Read Patterson’s full article here (please read – it was a great piece!)

#musicforthemovement – Hell You Talmbout?

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So, yesterday Janelle Monae (artist, activist, and the walking personification of #BlackGirlMagic) released a protest song through her Wondaland Music imprint called “Hell You Talmbout”.  This song, which all at once simple and powerful, is a tribute to the many many Black lives lost in the fight against White supremacy.  For nearly a full seven minutes, Janelle and her male counterparts speak name after name of those brothers and sisters who have been lost to police or vigilante violence over the last years.

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As I listened to the song over and over again last night, I couldn’t help but appreciate the power of Janelle’s voice in making this move.  So often we talk about how we wish that more Black celebrities would use their platforms to bring about attention to our cause, and while they occasionally do, more often than not it seems that they live in glass houses in the ivory tower and largely ignore the greater issues of our community because their class privilege insulates them from the realities of what it is like to live as a Black person in today’s America.  Janelle, however, shows us that once again, she is unashamed and unafraid to speak for those whose voices have been silenced by the state.

Thank you, Janelle.  We see you, and we thank you.

Check out “Hell You Talmbout” here

~ Kioshana

Creating Your Own Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

In the spirit of manifestation, we are reposting a previous blog to help you on your journey to creating your best life and being your best self.

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I saw this graphic today as I was doing my morning stroll down my Facebook timeline.  One of my friends had shared the photo from another site, and included my signature “Make it a great day!” underneath.  The photo really caught my attention because it applies to me so well.

How many times during the day do we think of things we want to accomplish, be they big or small, and then immediately think of all the reasons why we can’t?  If you’re anything like me, you probably do that quite often.  I have a nasty habit of over-analyzing EVERYTHING!  Sometimes this is good, because it ensures that all of my decisions were made after having properly thought everything through and considered every imaginable consequence, good or bad.  Sometimes though, doing this boxes me into a corner and stops me from taking action on things that I would like to do because I’ve already thought of every thing that could possibly go wrong.

Yesterday I watched a video from Marie Forleo of MarieTV (if you’ve never checked her out before, I urge you to do so – she has great career and life advice – I love her!) which was called “How to Use Manifesting to Get Anything You Want”.  In the video, Marie interviews a woman who is presumably a manifestation expert on ways to use the process to bring about positive changes in your life.  The woman, who has a very new-age, hippy-dippy feel about her, talks about willing things into existence by simply thinking positive thoughts, and she asserts that you can have anything in the world that you want if you are positive and focused enough.

Now, before we go into my opinions on manifestation, I’ll quickly explain what it is (since I’m sure some of you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about).

Manifestation is defined as simply bringing something into existence.  In the context that we think of using manifestation in our lives, it is using the Law of Attraction to bring about what you want or need in your life.  The Law of Attraction states that we attract what we are – meaning that if we are positive people, we attract positive things.  Similarly, if we are negative people, we attract negative things.

Basically, it’s a very hippy-dippy way of saying you get what you give to the Universe (or God, depending on what you believe in).

For anyone who has ever heard of “The Secret”, you’ll understand what I mean here.  Essentially, manifesting and the Law of Attraction are all about willing things into existence in your life by simply thinking positive thoughts about them and eliminating negative thoughts.

Now, all of that said, I am a believer in the Law of Attraction and manifesting… to some extent.

I don’t believe that God or the Universe delivers everything that you need or want to your door step, simply because you asked for it (like ordering from a giant cosmic takeout menu).  I don’t believe that starving children around the world will suddenly make food appear or a person with a terminal illness will suddenly be cured, simply because they asked it to be.  Sometimes favor is granted in situations like that, but that is exactly what it is:  divine favor, not something they did for themselves.  Realistically speaking though, most of those children will continue to starve and that person with a terminal illness will complete this phase of their journey most of the time.

I do, however, believe that manifesting works on a smaller scale.  For example, Gabourey Sidibe speaks very openly and candidly about having an unconventional look in Hollywood.  She has spoken often about how people in the industry and throughout her life have told her that she could never be a famous actress because she “didn’t have the right look” or wasn’t “image-conscious enough”.  To that Sidibe simply states that she wanted to be beautiful growing up, and so she went about life as if she were a beautiful woman.  Now, the entire world recognizes her talent, grace, and her beauty, and her “unconventional look” has far more defenders than detractors at this point.  She decided she was beautiful and she is, she decided she would be an actress and she is, she decided she would be famous and she is.

Henry Ford said it best:  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”  Manifestation and the Law of Attraction are not some magic way to get everything you want from the Universe by simply saying that you want it.  Instead, it is a mindset that allows you to create positive energy within yourself and overcome whatever negativity you can dream up.  Being positive motivates you to get out of your own way and start living your life according to your purpose.  You already have the tools inside of you; all that is required of you now is that you put those tools to good use working toward your dreams and goals.  Understand that changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight.  As with any bad habit, it takes time and focus to overcome negative thinking.  Still, with determination and commitment, you will be able to see the positive effects of positive thinking quickly.  Focusing your energy on to a few clear goals allows for better space in your mind to reach those goals.  When you believe that you have the ability to do something, you’ll be amazed by all the opportunities that are placed before you to do so.

If you want to learn more about manifestation, check our MarieTV’s video below.  Then, take a few minutes each day to focus on changing a negative thought that you have into a positive one.  You’ll be able to notice the difference very quickly, and I’m sure you’ll have positive results to share with me soon!

Have you ever used the Law of Attraction and manifesting to make something happen in your life?  We want to hear from you!  Leave me a comment below about whether or not manifesting has worked for you and how you feel about it!

Thanks for reading – Have a great weekend everyone!

~ Kioshana