How do we stop the killings of Black trans people and dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex as a whole? Justice for Muhlaysia and Michelle
In response to our sister, Muhlaysia Booker
It has happened again. As we bury yet another Black trans woman whose valuable voice was silenced and whose precious life was drastically shortened, we can no longer afford to believe mouthed intentions. We need action from everyone who purports to be a protector and nurturer of Black trans lives. Are you a bystander while Black trans women are being killed - or are you an upstander? If you actually care about Black trans women’s lives - show it - step up. Now. Another life has been lost and we find ourselves spiraling in grief and fury. Muhlaysia Booker was shot and killed just weeks after surviving a vicious attack by a mob of people in Dallas, TX. Less than 24 hours after her death another Black trans woman, Michelle Washington, was found dead in Philadelphia, PA. Now is not a time for statements of mourning or solidarity. Now is a time for ACTION. All communities come together for action. NOW!
Black trans women experience violence, trauma, and deep losses across our community every single day. We know what we need to survive, to thrive, and to create the world we’re all fighting for. It is time to invest not only in the solutions, but the actual people that have shaped & sharpened the solutions we need based on our lived experiences. We are capable & competent enough to take care of our own, we just need the resources to do so.
If you don’t care enough to take action for Black trans women outside of your funding cycle then say it & stop using us to fund your cis white-led organizations. Don’t you dare exploit Black trans folks for the benefit of white-led organizations. Stop hiring one Black trans woman to show how much you prioritize our community without investing in our community as a whole. We face some of the highest rates of imprisonment, recidivism, violence, housing instability, unemployment, and discrimination. If you are not invested in Black trans safety, say it. Unless we are a part of the power structure & decision-making process, don’t claim that you’re out here fighting for Black trans lives if we don’t have an actual seat at the table.
The hurt, sadness, grief & loss we experienced at the hands of both systemic and interpersonal violence MUST be addressed. We need healing, we need safety, and we need to not be the only ones doing the work to challenge white supremacy, transphobia, and toxic masculinity. We need to challenge what safety looks like for all Black women. The solutions are not found by looking to police or prisons--institutions that have for a long time decimated Black trans community--but rather to ourselves & to our allies because our liberation is tied & none of the work matters if our people are still being forgotten or left behind.
How do we organize around Black trans safety? How do we memorialize Black trans people being murdered? How do we stop the killings of Black trans people and dismantle the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) as a whole? We do it together. We do it by organizations stepping up not only with words, but action. Every single person fighting for trans rights, or Black liberation, or against the PIC: If that is the goal you are fighting for, Black trans women must be a central part of the work. Not just in thought or theory--but in the room and at the table because we were the first phone call you made and the first invitation you extended.
If you see yourself as an ally or organizer, ask yourself: What relationships have I built with Black trans people and organizations? Am I aware of issues impacting Black trans people and do I reach out to the folks I know when issues arise? Are there Black trans people that know they can reach out to me if they need safety or support? How am I centering the expertise of Black trans women when it comes to addressing issues of domestic violence, public safety, healing justice, disability justice, reproductive justice, housing justice, and more?
Black cis men this is your chance. Your chance to check your brothers, defend your trans siblings, and prevent so much of the violence faced by Black women--trans and cis--on a daily basis. The normalization of transphobia, homophobia, and sexism grow these ideas from thoughts & beliefs to acts of violence all too frequently. Have courageous conversations with your brothers and loved ones, show up for ALL Black lives, and support Black trans women trying to make it past 35.
Today, TGIJP will be holding space for Black trans women to celebrate the life of Muhlaysia Booker and all of the Black trans lives that have been lost.
Here are some ways that you can take action & show up for Black trans lives:
As always, be safe & stay strong!
Janetta Johnson & the TGIJP Family