we were never meant to survive.

november 20 was transgender day of remembrance, and only just days before as vigils were being planned, two more names were added: Jorge Steven Lopez-Mercado and Jason Mattison Jr. (possibly triggering details here.)

there is so much injustice in the world that fills me with grief and fear.

josé esteban muñoz theorized about disidentifications, which many a mac student are prone to bandy about (myself included) in reference to just about anything, but it must be remembered what comes after the colon in the title of his seminal book: queers of color and the performance of politics. disidentifications has to do with survival, the tactics that queers of color need to employ because we do not have the luxury of being single-issue. but it doesn’t always work.

saddened though i am, it is inspiring to read the article linked above, where people are organizing not in favor of increased police surveillance and punishment of criminals, which only supports the prison-industrial complex rather than protect communities. no, they are able to point to what is truly at stake: “Systemic homophobia and transphobia killed Lopez-Mercado and Mattison, who like other queer or gender non-conforming youth of color, faced barriers like street harassment and discrimination in every facet of life.”

oppression is a daily struggle, and sometimes it hard to get up and going with life when violence and its ever present possibility surrounds, but our lives are precious and vital and there is more hope and beauty to cope and overcome. below is a poem that helps pick me up.

“A Litany for Survival”
by Audre Lorde, from The Black Unicorn

For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
like bread in our children’s mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother’s milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive


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