BlaqOut Women's History Month Issue
BlaqOut Dallas is an online publication that profiles the people, organizations, arts, politics and culture of the Black Queer North Texas community.
Mailing Address 1633 Pear St. Dallas, TX 75215 Publisher/Editor-In-Chief Harold Steward Fashion Editor Ruqaiyah Johnson Contributing Editor Eric Reese Copy Editor Contributors Toi Scott is a writer and Superhero/Cofacilitator for the Anti-oppression Empowerment for Ordinary Superheroes Thinktank, a civil rights and anti-oppression empowerment organization for ordinary superheroes (like us). Toi is also a 2011 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College with a Master of Arts degree in health advocacy and regular contributing writer for The Dallas Voice. Jon Luke Graphic/Web Design Julius Harper Advertising Green Bandana Group Darryl@GreenBandanaGroup.com Contributors Ava Wilson, Vonnie Spiv, Dr. Latrese Adkins, Toi Scott Published by Stewardism, Inc Vonnie Spiv is a community activist and organizer with a passion for changing her community. Originally from Nebraska, she studied Mass Communications and Spanish at Jackson State University and received her Masterâ€™s in Urban Social Planning from UT Arlington. She created Reina Magazine to expand the voice of the lesbian community of color and bridge community resources. \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 Harold Steward Editorin-Chief EDITOR’S NOTE Last year while visiting my family for Christmas, my aunt asked me a question that she wanted to ask me since I came out to my family two years ago. “Mookie, are you the man or the woman,” she asked.I chuckled and asked her to repeat her question. “When you are in a relationship with another man, are you the man or the woman?” I could tell she honestly wanted to know. So, in the ten seconds it took me to gather a response, I tried to figure out what would be the best way to answer the question without making her feel ashamed for asking. I replied, “In my relationships I try not to use gender roles, I am the man and he is the man.” I failed her. Instead of clarifying the ambiguity of maleness, I left her with the understanding that gender is a binary. I didn’t give her the tools to even expand her way of thinking and questioning. Estelle Disch wrote at the beginning of the introduction of her book, Reconstructing Gender, that “in any discussion of gender, serious students of the social order need to be prepared to ask, Which men? Which women?” I should have replied, “Auntie, I am a man and he is a man, this how we are alike and this is how we differ.” Estelle Disch’s idea regarding the continuum and complexity of gender and the conversation with my aunt have informed the way I think about and celebrate this Women’s History Month. This March I want to make a conscious effort to celebrate female identity and all of its beautiful complexities. I wish to celebrate women who bore children and women who did not; women who possess feminine qualities and “masculine of center womyn;” those who were deemed female at birth and those whose gender identity has evolved over time. This month I invite us to recount the contribution of iconic women like Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde and Lorraine Hansberry. I encourage us to celebrate the women in our lives, like our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers ,aunts, nieces, cousins and friends. I also challenge us to mention the names and works of woman who don’t fit into societal ideas of what women are or should be. Woman like the larger than life musical protégé’ Toshi Reagon, the brilliant gender bending poet and prophet Nikki Giovanni, and the award winning trans identified writer and advocate Janet Mock. I would be remise if I did not lift up our own resilient, gender reco strucing warriors, media guru and activists Q-Roc Ragsdale, minister and speaker Carmarion D. Anderson and emerging trans leader Shannon Walker. This year as we celebrate Women’s History Month, let us be like babies and celebrate with an affinity with womankind. Harold Steward Editor-in-Chief \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 Content Page March | April , 2012 8 -9 \\ Queer Note 10 -11 \\ Uwezo Shoes 12-13 \\ Angelaâ€™s MixTape 14 \\ Words Of a sistah 15 -16 \\ BlaqOut On the SCene 18 -23 \\ The Eye of Roneka Patterson 24-25, 28 \\ Black Transman 26 \\ The Leader and the Legend \\ blaqoutdallas.com #blkqueerFeminist By ASHLEY SPIVEY Portrait Sed Miles Alexis Pauline Gumbs is a queer black feminist troublemaker from Durham, North Carolina. Alexis is the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind educational program and the co-creator of the Mobile Homecoming experiential archive, amplifying generations of LGBTQ Black brilliance. Alexis earned her PhD in English, Africana Studies and Women’s Studies from Duke University in 2010 and is a prolific author. She was named one of UTNE Reader’s 50 Visionaries Transforming the World in 2009, a Black Women Rising Nominee and a Reproductive Reality Check Shero in 2010, a recipient of the Too Sexy for 501C-3 torphy in 2011 and one of the Advocate’s top 40 under 40 in 2012. Tell me about your journey with being a feminist. 8 I am proud to be a queer black feminist. I am proud to proclaim with my actions and my example that (as it says on a yellow button on my altar) BLACK FEMINISM LIVES! For me Black feminism is a spiritual practice that was a part of my life even before I started reading sacred texts by Black feminists like Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith and June Jordan. The practice of Black feminism has been a source of power in my life since I first started to love myself, and since I first took on the complicated task of loving the first Black woman I met: my Mama. Which means I was a Black feminist from birth. For me, Black feminism is first the practice of holistically, relentlessly, continually, loving Black women in a way that changes the very meaning of life and second creating a world that honors the complexity that Black women’s experiences represent. That means working to create a more What social issues are you most involved in at this point and why did you get involved in them? My work at this point is most explicitly focused on fostering intergenerational relationships within the Black LGBTQ community; ending sexual and gendered violence and developing sustainable practices to support wellness and wholeness in historically oppressed communities. more sustainable loving world that values difference as a creative power and honor the fact that all people and all life is interconnected and necessary. . In order to share and develop sustainable practice, we NEED intergenerational connected communities and the wellness of our communities not only requires but also makes possible, the end of all forms of sexual violence. As a survivor of sexual violence and as a believer in the need for self-determination on the level of our bodies, food and water supplies and everyday life these activist focuses are a part of my own healing, visioning and an expression of who I am. You do public speaking, what is the one message or idea do you always want the audience to take away? Does being a feminist relate to your sexuality? I always want the people I interact with to have a profound sense of being loved, and a renewed belief As a queer Black feminist, the adventure of loving in their capacity to love. I want them to leave the room believing in the myself and the transformative journey of loving other power that their love Black women are has to transform the intricately tied toworld. So I identify as queer, not only because my romantic love gether. So I identi fy as queer, not only exceeds the bounds and norms of heterosexuality, but also because my romanspecifically because I center all forms of my love on Black tic love exceeds the women and radiate to the rest of the world from there. â€œ bounds and norms of heterosexuality, but also specifically because I center all forms of my love on Black women and radiate to the rest of the What does it mean to be queer in 2012? world from there. This is a queer thing in our society because loving Black women is not the norm To be queer in 2012 (and every year) means to put in our contemporary society. It is a radical for us to love first and to let love change everything. love ourselves and each other as Black women, and it challenges the norms of our culture. So my queerness lives in the way I love my mother, my sisters, my firstname.lastname@example.org 3509 Holloway St. Durham, NC 27703 \\ 919-827 2702 community AND my romantic partner. â€œ \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 21012 9 UWEZO SHOES- SOLE DIVINE By Ruqaiyah Johnson Uwezo shoes are a new line of Ugandan desert boots, oxfords, and slip ons for men and women made from hair on hide cow skins. The English translation of the word Uwezo means talent, capacity, and ability. How do these two relate, you ask? Well, these stylish little steppers are not just pleasing to the eye and easy on the toes, they’re actually easy on the conscious as well. Uwezo shoes partnered with Empower African Children and debuted their exclusive collection in November 2011.The nonprofit, started in 2006 by Alexis Heftley, partners with individuals, governments, institutions, and corporations in the U.S. and Uganda to provide programs aiding East African children and families in their pursuit of a better \\ blaqoutdallas.com future. Proceeds go towards education and classrooms for vulnerable and orphaned children. These shoes are made in Africa for and to the benefit of African people-love it. Even better, the shoes are fair trade, and the hides used to make them are byproducts from Kenyan and Ugandan cows. Waste not ,want not. So, Uwezo: talent, capacity, and ability. Talent to recreate and update a classic shoe, capacity to recognize that that talent could be used to do something more, ability to make it really happen. Uwezo is planning on expanding the line to accessories and home décor, which will be amazing and I can’t wait. Until then, check out the shoes at Macy’s online and the Uwezo website. 11 “Angela’s Mixtape” Our History Set To A Hip-Hop Heartbeat 12 by Ava Wilson with Photos by Classi Nance Graphics by Chris Herod “Angela’s Mixtape”: Our History Set to a Hip-Hop Heart Beat Soul Children’s Theatre Company ends its 2011-2012 season with the thoughtprovoking, daring, and educational choreopoem, “Angela’s Mixtape” by Eisa Davis. With the production set to premiere in time for Women’s History Month for one-weekend only (details at end of article), the production is a milestone in itself in that it is the Southwestern debut of the play. Also, its cast of five African American women and an almost-all-female production team, promote a girlpower revolution to the young audience. A revival of several theater veterans, “Angela’s Mixtape” brings Dallas native actresses Anyika McMillan-Herod (formerly of Soul Rep Theatre Company), Catherine Whiteman, Ashley Wilkerson, Monique Ridge-Williams (Under One Roof), and Ava Wilson back to the stage in a powerful, must-see show. Director, Vickie Washington, theatre teacher at Booker T. Washington High School of the Performing and Visual Arts, spearheads a production crew that features a female stage manager (Sheri Nance), lighting designer (Velyncia Caldwell), and costume designer (Ruqaiyah Johnson). Don’t worry, the brothas are represented, too, with scenic design by Chief Karioki and sound/ DJ mixing by O’Dire Williams. Such an empowering month is bringing the sistahs together to pass on the legacy of Angela Davis and the Black Power Movement on to the next generation. Angela Davis championed the rights of African Americans during the tumultuous years of the Black Power Movement. She rose to prominence and argu- ably became the face of Black Power due to her succinct, eloquent, and unwavering dedication to mobilize the poor, ostracized, and marginalized of the American society. Simultaneously, she challenged the chauvinistic morays of males in the Movement by rallying the collective consciousness of women as an oppressed class. Davis hasbeen broaden- ing the scope of the liberation struggle and continues to carry on the mantle for justice in contemporary times by urging the African American community to make gay rights a priority and an supported lifestyle.Eisa Davis, the niece of Angela Davis, dramatically and pragmatically weavesand “rhymes” together a hip-hop coming-of-age story of living up to her name.(Her first name is also Angela). The play details Eisa Davis’s life with her aunt,mother, grandmother, and cousin with several twists and turns on her journey to discovering her family history and coming to terms with who she truly is. The edgy and eclectic vibe Davis evokes is history set to a live hip-hop beat, rendering it relevant to youth and adults alike. “Angela’s Mixtape”, written in 2003 and produced widely in 2008-2009, was conceived by playwright Eisa Davis prior to the recently released documentary “Black Power Mixtape” that dawns Angela Davis’s likeness. Though the two are seemingly different, Davis’s play and the documentary do well to humanize the participants in the mass movements of the 1970s and shed light on a period of time that has been erased from the pages of history. In the Words of a Sistah V returns to celebrate Black Woman's Month! This annual spoken word and music event has become a "must attend" event at the South Dallas Cultural Center. Each March, B Randall emcees an evening of stirring and moving poetry, musical performances and dialog that serves to lift up the Black woman in particular and women in general. On program this year is award-winning theater artist and poet, Ashley Wilkerson who is joined by Cilla, Fluid Imagery, Gemini, Giselle, Ms. Vicki, Selah, Sharon Smith Knight, Shelly and Rye. South Dallas Cultural Center Theater Sunday, March 25 at 5 PM $10 \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 BLAQ ON THE SCENE photography ANTHONY RICHARDSON On February 24, BlaqOut checked in on Fahari Arts Institutes’ monthly “Queerly Speaking” event. \\ blaqoutdallas.com The Eye Of Roneka Patterson “The photographs don’t arouse me. All I can think about is the hard work it took to make them.” - Helmut Newton Roneka Patterson A native of Austin, photographer Roneka Patterson has been shooting freelance travel and portrait photography in north Texas for 5 years. Her work shows a great attention to detail in the areas of lighting and framing. With a shooting style that leans editorial, she considers her photography a form of storytelling. Notes Roneka,”I connect spiritually with everyone and every thing that I shoot and I think its cool that what’s left from that moment of interaction is a visual story of sorts for others to experience and enjoy.” \\ ronekapatterson.com \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 19 20 \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 “Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph. – Matt Hardy” ““Maybe the judgment of whether something is art or not should come from the viewer and not the doer.” – Alan Babbitt 22 “The sheer ease with which we can produce a superficial image often leads to creative disaster.” – Ansel Adamsjected \\ blaqoutdallas.com \\ March | April, 2012 23 Making Black History: The Black Transmen Advocacy Conference BY Toi Scott Black Transmen Incorporated (BTMI) will be hosting their first annual Black Transmen Advocacy Conference and Dinner March 29th- April 1st, 2012 at the Dallas Marriot Market Center. The theme for this year is Stepping up- Stepping Out, Men Uniting and Impacting the World. Founder and CEO, Carter Brown, informs us that many transmen go “stealth” and are hidden or living a life of secrecy. The conference theme is a call for Black transmen to step up, come out and say who you they are. BTMI also wants “transmen to be able to embrace who they are without feeling that they have to conform to societal impressions of what a man is.” 24 The organization behind the conference Black Transmen Incorporated (BTMI) is the first national non-profit organization of African-American transmen solely focused on social advocacy. Black Transmen seeks to acknowledge and empower African -American transmen by providing resources to aid in a healthy female to male transition. Their programs provide all female to male (FTM) transmen and SLGBTQIH (Straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transegender, questioning/ queer, intersex and HIV positive) individuals with the necessary tools to secure identity and equality within our society regardless of race, creed, color, religion, sexual identity or sexual expression. BTMI sponsors a new equality movement, seeking to empower and incite admiration of African American Transgender FTMs living life in spite of societal and traditional expectations of gender. They celebrate the beauty, strength and uniqueness of the Black FTM Transgender community and for all FTMs, though they have a specific focus on the concerns of the AfricanAmerican community. Their advocacy program includes transmen of all ages and stages of the ftm transition as well as members in the SLGBTQI community. Their goal is to empower the Black FTM community through providing resources in order to support healthy growth through the female to male transition. The resources have an emphasis on forming a complete identity, including culture, spirituality, heritage, family, health, sexual identity, employment, entrepreneurship, and kinship. es cater to the overall mental health of transmen- from physical transitions and the involvement of doctors, counselors, hormones,etc. to helping transmen understand their identity once they start to transition. BTMI partners with local community churches, schools & universities, and social groups to aid in their goal of awareness, advocacy and social change. Black Transmen also focuses on kinship. Members meet with each other to do various activities. They come together to connect, bond, have someone with similar cultural experiences to relate to. BTMI works with black transmen to develop strong financial independence. Many times transitions are not covered under insurance policies and employment policies are discriminatory against transmen. It has been shown through organizations such as Queers for Economic Justice , TransJustice, and the National Center for Transgender Equality's report, “Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey” that Black transmen have one of the highest rates of unemployment and homelessnesss among other disparities. It is important for Black transmen to become educated about how to become financially empowered and how to navigate an economy that actively pushes them to the margins. BTMI's food and clothing drive for transmen starting transitions or that have experienced displacement is another strategy for assisting those transmen who find themselves at an economic disadvantage. Excess food and clothes not given away are redonated to women and children's shelters. Black Transmen Inc’s motto is : “One is not born a man, he becomes one. Become the change you want to see in the world.” BTMI states that they work to ensure that all FTM men are provided food, shelter, a space for individual expression/creativity and celebration, the basic necessities in life and the things that we believe truly make this world complete, exciting and serving to all. Black Transmen believes that transitioning from female to male is an important passage that deserves relentless support, so their focus is to provide this much needed support in all the ways possible. Their causes include FTM Awareness, Anti - Bullying, Transgender Homelessness, Transgender Hunger Relief, AIDS Prevention, Suicide Prevention, Domestic Violence Prevention, FTM Surgery Funding, and FTM Educational Scholarship & Grants. CEO Carter Brown notes that the servic- Education is also an important part of BTMI's goals for the Black transmen community. When speaking about the importance of education Brown stated, “ We have to be independent. We have to be able to come back and get our people.” He stressed the importance of encouraging black transmen to go to college so that they can then educate others and do the important work that needs to be done in their community. Brown expressed the need for more black transmen doctors and counselors and that the medical profession is saturated with predominantly white doctors and counselors who cannot relate to the intersections of the black transman experience. Continue | pg 27 25 The Leader and the Legend by Dr. LaTrese Adkin The month of February for most Americans is a convenient time to recognize the importance of cultural diversity. Black History Month is celebrated, that is to say, in most public schools; and, public television from cable programming to premium channels feature movies, documentaries and other series that highlight famous people, events, and places to chronicle African Americans’ journeys in the United States. One of the most repeated, feature presentations during Black History Month in terms of the public broadcasting of a recognizable performance is Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Curiously, while the general public consumes Hansberry’s play, very few recognize that Hansberry has a much more complex socio-political identity than that of a race-conscious playwright. Perhaps one of the most obvious indications of her very dynamic and diverse identity was the fact that she was a member of as well as a contributing author to the Daughters of Bilitis, the first lesbian rights organization in the history of the United States. Ahead of her time with regard to the mental and emotional well-being as well as implications of the need to have a network of like-minded intellectuals who could gather in a “safe space” where they could express their ideas, make love connections, and argue as well as laugh, eat, and just relax, the Daughters of Bilitis was organized in 1955 San Francisco; and, it survived for 14 years. The club was not allowed to advertise their meetings in the local newspapers, so they created their own national publication called, The Ladder. This na26 tional paper was the first nationally distributed lesbian publication in the United States; and, when they mailed surveys to their readers in 1958 and 1964, it became one of the first to publish statistics about lesbians. Lorraine Hansberry’s contributions to and participation with both the club and the paper, in other words, qualified her as both a leader and a legend. We need to establish ways to move beyond the more traditional or orthodox stories that are told during Black History Month to the mining of our historical annals for more authentic retelling of what our heroines actually did in order to (de)construct those sexual fetters that are silencing their dynamism. In other words, too few of us know that Lorraine Hansberry belonged to an organization called the Daughters of Bilitis which publicized itself as a “women’s organization for the purpose of promoting the integration of the homosexual into society.” There are some very revolutionary implications for aligning the very socially acceptable, middle-class, Black intellectual Lorraine Hansberry with sexual minorities of the McCarthy-era lesbians. Some ethical factors and methods of analysis may need to be revamped because of that alignment. Additionally, conversations conducted by people responsible for dismantling societal stigmas, institutionalized prejudices and stereotypes such as policy makers, religious leaders and others may need to be retrained or re-educated through professional development if they are unaware of this heroine and her advocacy on behalf of same-sex loving individuals. Brown also explained that the transman experience makes for a more multi-dimensional man. He states that this is because transmen have been in the shoes of the woman and have been socialized as female and possess the skill of nurturing, among other traits or characteristics placed as feminine or female. BTMI doesn't want black transmen to overlook the empowerment that they have because of this. Black Transmen wants them to see their value and use it to make a positive impact on society. The Conception CEO Carter Brown notes that BTMI decided to put together the Black Transmen Advocacy Conference because of a group facebook page that connected transmen locally, nationally and internationally. At first the group wanted to have a time where everyone could meet and this evolved into wanting to set up something more sustainable, like a conference with a message. BTMI wanted to unite pioneers and experienced elders with younger guys who are questioning if transitioning is for them. It is phenomenal that men from all corners of the US are traveling to Dallas for this connection and message that is deeply needed in the African-American transmen community. Brown stated that this conference is about empowerment and is meant to deliver the underlying message of Self-love that is often absent within the black transmen community. During transitioning many struggle with Self-love whether it's because of pressures from society or other specific circumstances. Brown believes that once a person is able to establish Self-love that there is nothing they cannot do. Once people have cultivated Self-love, they are better able toconnect with others. “It is important for transmen to teach each other how to love ourselves,” Brown says. The Black Transmen Advocacy Conference's primary focus is empowerment through education . Many minds are coming together to share information. It is a chance for the community to educate themselves. Carter Brown informs that the conference is “ dedicated to increasing the value of the human experience and the transformation of men into catalysts for social, political and economic change.” And that the conference will “provide transmen with the opportunity to unite, learn and discuss the issues, express their opin28 ions, specify need and provide feedback for their vital contribution to the world.” The Conference The conference consists of a keynote address from Louis Mitchell who is a minister and long-time advocate for many disenfranchised communities. Among many other credentials he was the first out transgender-identified member on the board of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is a founding member of Lesbians and Gays of African Descent for Democratic Action, a Board Member of the Freedom Center for Social Justice, a member of National Black Justice Coalition’s Leadership Advisory Council, a member of The Fellowship’s Trans-Saints, serves as a consultant to the Interfaith Working Group and as a founding member of the Trans-People of Color Coalition. He is a consultant, public speaker, trainer and preacher and was recently honored as the recipient of the 2011 Haystack Award from the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC for his work in Social Justice and Social Ministry. Other presenters include: Justice Williams, Antywan Smith, CK Life's Mr. Cris, Treach Wilson, Dr. Peter Raphael and Dr. Oliver Blummer, Holiday Simmons, Joshua Holiday, Wives of Transmen, Antoyneo Robinson, Mercedes Thompson, Lyle Blake and a farewell address by Carter Brown. All those presenting, performing, and assisting with the conference from djs to those helping with hotel arrangements are volunteering their time and their own money. Brown notes that the need for this connection is that critical and that the bond is that strong that the men wanted to come together and unite for this opportunity. Throughout the 4 day conference there will be workshops and salons covering community building, HIV and responsibility, transitions and affordability, financial empowerment, gender confirmation surgeries, workplace strategies, religion, economics and much more. BTMI’s Black Transmen Advocacy Conference. wacth it ON YOUTUBE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7bjYbBCDM&feature=player_embedded