All Black Lives Matter, Not Just Men’s
Monika Diamond was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 18.
I don’t remember where I first heard the phrase, “Black men are the white people of Black people”, but the truth of it couldn’t be more exemplified when rapper and celebrity Joe Budden tweeted out “Black Trans Lives Matter”. I always hope that a prominent figure saying something might be enough to sway the masses, but sadly what followed was the same vitriol I’m used to seeing, specifically from Black men who claim to be for the cause of justice. Lots of “the gay agenda is trying to leech off the Black Live Matter Movement”, “We can’t lose focus on the goal by splitting up into factions”, “Why are we putting labels on things”, “What about the children”. It is the same replay of all the nonsensical hits that come out any time Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade show support for their queer child, or when the Smith children refuse to conform to anyone’s gender norms. It is maddening to hear this, as this is the same type of rhetoric that I hear from white people trying to diminish ANY racial equity/justice movement.
Nina Pop was killed in Sikeston, Missouri, on May 3.
Furthermore, just like the idea of “black” as a race, trans folks have been here since before there was a modern term for trans folks. Black queer folks are all over the Diaspora, and the queerphobia spewed by people bristling that anyone besides Black men getting the focus on this movement are just reguritating a colonized view of gender and sex conformity. Yaa Asantewa was a warrior queen who had a harem of men who were required to dress as women (think Pose, but with a weapons arsenal). Baganda (Modern Uganda) King Mwanga II was open with his homosexuality. There are troves of anthropological proof that queerness existed in Africa and was just another part of life before European colonists used a subjugating version of religion that demonized it. Modern queerphobia is an offshoot of white supremacy, and it is heartbreaking that Black men would perpetuate it with such fervor.
Tony McDade was killed in Tallhassee, Florida, on May 27.
Another case of Black men “all lives mattering” the movement is when Black women are killed. Suddenly we can’t focus on it. Oluwatoyin Salau, a 19-year old leader in the Florida #BlackLivesMatter movement, was found assaulted and dead, along with Victoria Sims, after Salau tweeted about being sexually assaulted. The alleged assailant was arrested, but men are saying that we should not be talking about this, because he is a Black man. I highly disagree, though. We need to talk about this BECAUSE the alleged assailant is a Black man. Black Lives Matter EXISTS because of women, and the violence against Black women given even less attention than violence against white women (and that attention is already quite low). Meanwhile, in the midst of facing racism from a system that needs them and sexism from people of ALL races, Black women have persevered and been the unsung backbone of a movement for empowerment since it started. It wasn’t Harold Tubman who freed 100 people and became a Union spy. It was Harriet. In the 20th Century, Black women were behind the concepts of Black Power and Black is Beautiful, then Black men would use both phrases regularly. “Black Lives Matter” is a phrase coined by three Black women, yet we hardly hear it when a Black woman is killed.
Both Black women and Black queer folks have been on the front lines and the leaders of civil rights movements. Even Huey P. Newton stated that unity with women’s and LGBTQ movements are the way to go forward. Here in Rochester, the most prominent voices in the movement for police reform are Black women and queer folks. They endure detractions and threats all day, but they still persevere. Black Lives means ALL Black lives. If you cannot respect that sentiment, if you dismiss the plight of Black transgender and queer folks, if you don’t talk about the violence against Black women, then perhaps you should keep the woman-created #BlackLivesMatter phrase out of your mouth and off of your feed.
Breonna Taylor’s killers are still free.
About Chris Thompson
(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog he currently writes and regularly posts on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon. Chris is also a regular contributor for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com
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