#SayHerName: June is About Uplifting, Honoring, and Protecting Black, Trans Womxn
Dana Martin. Jazzaline Ware. Ashanti Carmon. Claire Legato. Muhlaysia Booker. Michelle Washington. Paris Cameron. Johana Medina. Chynal Lindsey. Chanel Scurlock. TeTe Gulley. Zoe Spears.
These Black trans womxn have been killed since the beginning of 2019. The majority of these murders occurred recently, just in the month of June. This reflects the twisted, tragic reality that Black trans womxn face daily. Even in the month of June, Pride month, Black, trans womxn are the most vulnerable and unprotected group in the United States (occupied Turtle Island). This month we are supposed to be honoring, protecting, and uplifting Black, trans womxn because Pride started as an act of resistance to police brutality after Marsha P. Johnson led the Stonewall protest back in June 28, 1969. Fifty years ago today and we are still seeing the same, brutal violence inflicted on Black trans womxn.
Our role at Terra Incognita Media is to examine the outdoor industry through a feminist lens. To us, that means we look at the ways race, class, and gender impact what we see and experience in relation to this industry, as well as the outdoors, and the construct of wilderness.
This month has us thinking a lot about Pride, of course, and we are noticing that many companies and organizations in the outdoor industry are hanging up Pride flags, and giving discounts here and there to LGBTQIA+ communities, and perhaps providing other kinds of assistance and support. But we are asking who’s visible, who’s getting support, validation, affirmation, and acknowledgement throughout the entire year? What policies are in place at these organizations and companies year round to protect and uplift Black trans womxn? How specific do they get? What’s the culture like inside these organizations and companies, and who feels comfortable in their spaces?
What folx are getting sponsorship opportunities? Are companies and organizations just following suit with the cult of celebrity and offering baseless advertising like Taylor Swift, a cishet white woman, who used her platform to paint a flat, toneless, inapt depiction of how racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia works in the United States? What companies are using Pride as decorum to gain followers or to secure paying clients by just throwing up some Pride flags around their business, or only using Queer folx in their advertising? Representation matters, so a big yes to more Black and Queer representation in the media, but is this where it stops?
If someone’s version of Pride is not centering, uplifting, and honoring Black, Queer, Trans womxn, if it doesn't advocate for anti-police brutality, and if a company or organization doesn’t do these things all year round, then their version of Pride is a prop for white supremacy. Marsha P. Johnson started the Stonewall riots for everyone’s liberation, but still to this day, Black trans femmes are being killed for their existence.
Here in Portland, Oregon, the traditional territory of the Chinook, Molalla, Kathlamet, Multnomah, and Tualatin-Kalapuya peoples, (our unofficial headquarters), TeTe Gulley was murdered.
From the Justice For Tete Instagram page, a caption reads:
“She was kind and bubbly person with a huge heart. She loved her family and friends and they loved her. Please continue to respect that she was known by her family as Otis using he/him pronouns and they mean no offense to her by doing so. She freely expressed her transfemininity around her mother and her queer siblings. Of course, she will be known to the rest of the world as TeTe Gulley and she was a radiant light in the lives of everyone she interacted with. Make sure her story will be heard and she will never be forgotten by Portland.”
The organizers around Justice fo TeTe ask that “if you know the name of a community member, especially leaders or organizations that could be beneficial to TeTe’s family, please tag them below or email firstname.lastname@example.org (spelled incorrectly due to a miscommunication in the media). If you don’t know the name of a local PDX org, look for them and become part of one. Use your outrage and channel it to something that would bring TeTe joy.”
Rest in Power, TeTe, and all the womxn who we have lost.
The month of June holds heavy history. Along with Pride, June also carries the celebration of Juneteenth, which memorializes June 19th, 1865, the day it was announced that slavery was officially abolished with the ratification of the 13th amendment. Despite this official legislation, slavery still exists today, and many Black activists and scholars say oppressive conditions became worse as racism has evolved. Michele Alexander author of The New Jim Crow writes that she “...came to see that mass incarceration in the United States had, in fact, emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.”
At Terra Incognita Media, as much examination as we do looking out at the world, at the trends, at the movements, at the interplay of this niche industry with the larger political structures in place, we also want to turn that examination inward. We are constantly assessing not only the systemic and institutional aspects that influence our platform, but we want to examine our team choices when it comes to who are we highlighting, what are we talking about, from what lens, and how are our identities shape this media platform’s expression. We want to address in what ways is white supremacy showing up? We interrogate this, so we can dismantle toxic outcomes that stem from white supremacy.
This platform intends on building, bolstering, and nurturing connections and relationships with those who are in solidarity with the fight for indigenous sovereignty and reparations for Black folx. We are dedicated to equitable storytelling. If the most marginalized communities, Black trans femmes, are not centered, we know we have work to do. As a team we are working behind the scenes as a collective to create a culture that rejects white supremacist norms and habits, so that we can make our space a living model for what we claim to care about -- a space devoid of traditional hierarchy, where emotional and mental health are priority, where contributing artists and writers are paid and honored, and where we are open and willing to learn and unlearn.
Thank you for being in community with us as we work to live out our core values. If there are stories, people, places, events that you would like to see honored and uplifted please let us know by sending an email. As a small, three person team we are working right now on gaining grants and non-profit status, so we can pay artists/contributors. Funding is our priority at the moment because we want our labor, and our contributing writers’/artists’ labor, to be sustained.
With deep gratitude and care, your co-conspirators,
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