For the last of our weekly June donations to support racial justice organizations in the United States, I am making a donation to the Black Excellence Collective.
The Black Excellence Collective formed in 2015 to “organize for our collective liberation using art, direct action & political education.” Over the past five years they have hosted workshops and trainings, organized rallies and vigils for members of the community lost to state or interpersonal violence, and coordinated direct support for people in need.
As many of us are aware, the black trans and queer communities are disproportionally affected by COVID-19 as well as racism, transphobia, rising unemployment, and police and interpersonal violence. As trying as these times are, they are multiplied in these communities – making the work of the Black Excellence Collective even more essential.
You can see an example of the powerful actions they are leading on this video and follow their activities on their Instagram.
They are currently working to raise $250,000 for their programs. They will divide the funds:
• 50% for bail funds, legal fees, and food/ride share support for black trans/queer youth in New York City
• 20% to build out organizing and arts mentorship programs for black trans/queer youth in NYC
• 15% to send commissary funds to incarcerated or detained Black trans/queer young folks nationwide
• 15% to continue a mutual aid micro grants program to black trans people nationwide who are affected by COVID-19
For the last week of Pride Month, we donated to The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). NBJC focuses on federal public policy and “strengthening bonds and bridging gaps between movements for racial justice and LGBTQ/SGL equality.”
“NBJC envisions a world where all people are fully-empowered to participate safely, openly and honestly in family, faith and community, regardless of race, class, gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Please join me in learning more and supporting them in their advocacy alongside the African American LGBTQ/SGL community.
We imagined that we would emerge from our sheltering in place to find a beautiful world where neighbors still sing to one another, the air is clean, animals have returned to regions from which they have long ago been displaced by humans.
But the world has far from healed itself. Abuses of power, of systemic racism, of racial capitalism did not magically disappear as we stayed at home. For black people in the US and for people around the world, stepping out of their homes – to shop, to jog, to eat – and sometimes even when they are sleeping in their homes, is a risk to their lives so much more pervasive and immediate than the virus that keeps us inside.
And now we begin to step outside, not to a healed idyllic environment, but to find ourselves on the streets. Demanding justice. Demanding humanity. Protests around the world in support of Black Lives Matter bring us together to demand that we transform into a just society.
How we get there is something that is our responsibility – every day – to get our heads around and take that next step. To make the time to learn about our history and to identify and dismantle the white supremacist frameworks that we inhaled with the air we breathed. To feel that in ourselves, to recognize it, and to act differently.
These issues are not new, and those of us who are newer to them must follow the lead of those more experienced, and of those who are negatively affected by systemic racism in more aspects of their lives. Especially if we have always been a leader, this experience of getting in line and taking direction is part of the change we need to make in our world.
Sprout the seeds for what will be created next like a caterpillar in a chrysalis.
We will learn, rethink, reimagine.
Stand up. Support. Every day. As long as it takes. Even when we are tired. Because someone else has been fighting longer and is more tired.
Staying home for 3 months won’t reset the planet’s ecosystem. Being on the streets for a month won’t reset entrenched systems of injustice.
A combination of long-term commitments and perseverance is the only way.
As we hope, pray, and take action for meaningful systemic change, the past week has brought us the high of the Supreme Court ruling that the Civil Rights Act provides legal protection for LGBTQIA employees and the lows that the Trump administration allows health providers to deny service to transgender patients. This year, the murders of Nina Pop, Monika Diamond, Tony McDade, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah Milton, and activist Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, the lynchings of Robert Fuller and Malcolm Harsch in California, and the killing of so many others tumbles our broken hearts to new depths.
We do not have a beautiful world until there is justice for all. Until every individual is able to go about their life without fear of being harassed or murdered and is treated equally under the law, in their communities, and in their families.
This week we donated to a basket of black trans-led organizations that includes:
• The Okra Project providing black trans people with mental health care and therapy
• The Third Wave Fund led by and for women of color, intersex, queer, and trans people under 35 years old to resource political power and self determination of communities of color and low-income communities
• The Unique Woman’s Coalition to foster the next generation of black trans leadership through mentorship, scholarship, and community care engagement work
• Black & Pink advocates to end the criminal punishment system and the harms it causes on LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV/AIDS
• My Sistah’s House which is a resource for finding doctors, social groups and safe spaces for the trans community, and provides emergency shelter, access to sexual health services, and social services.
To learn more about what you can do to support the #BlackTransMovement including places to donate money; books and articles to read; films and videos to watch; podcasts to listen to; and people, hashtags, and organizations to follow, visit ActForBlackTransLives.org
Cash bail enables people to afford it to buy their way out of jail. It is unjust that people who can not afford to post bail must stay in jail when fellow cell-mates with access to funds can get out in a matter of hours (full disclosure, I bailed myself out using a credit card when I was arrested at Occupy LA in 2012). This financial requirement to obtain freedom disproportionally burdens (and thereby incarcerates) people of color and people living in lower economic brackets.
In the past 13 days of protests, over 10,000 people have been arrested across the United States. This week we donated to bail funds to assist people who have been arrested at the protests get out of jail.
Please consider supporting people in this way and also exploring the carrd for information about other actions you can take.
Right now, in the United States, people are responding to 401 years of state-sanctioned slavery, oppression, injustice, abuse, and murder of Africans and African Americans. The nexus of racist and white supremacist politics, policing, economic, and environmental justice that is at the foundation of the American system needs to change. It needed to change 401 years ago when the first African was brought to the US in chains, it needed to change in the 19th century at the height of slavery, it needed to change in the early 20th century with the rise of the Klu Klux Klan, it needed to change under Jim Crow, it needed to change in the civil rights era, and it needs to change today. From the other side of the world, in solidarity with those fighting for this change, each week for the month of June we will make a donation to an organization advocating for black lives, fighting for systemic changes needed to protect black people, bailing out protestors, and civil rights.
Our first donation was made today to Campaign Zero – an organization that analyzes policing practices across the US, identifies solutions to end police violence, provides technical assistance to other organizers in this space, and develops model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.
Please join me in learning and taking action to bring an end to state-sanctioned violence against African Americans in the United States. If you want to learn about ways to get involved, please look at Campaign Zeros’ recommendations for Immediate Action and this collection of Ways You Can Help.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent colonial scourge on indigenous communities. In the Amazon basin, people who have been defending the forests against colonial capitalism are now falling ill with this most recent disease from the outside. This is particularly tragic because of their remote locations they do not have easy and equal access to the healthcare required to treat the debilitating and life-threatening symptoms of COVID-19. Among the United States, there is exponential growth of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Hopi and Navajo and among the highest death rates in North America. This is again a function of settler capitalism that continues to threaten not only the health of indigenous communities but also created a situation where they are more vulnerable due to historical lack of access to resources including clean water, food, and modern healthcare.
As the world is reeling from the precautions that must be taken to stop the spread of the coronavirus until scientists are able to develop a vaccine or a cure and governments are able to distribute them, I decided that this month we would give our support closer to home.
I have been funding the production and distribution of masks in two communities in Nairobi, where I live – the community around Hands of Love school in Kariobangi and the communities in which Taka Bank Community Champions are identifying the most vulnerable in the communities; providing information in order to make the most effective interventions; sharing information about preventing, identifying, and managing Covid-19; and bringing resources to those in need.
In the informal settlements in Nairobi – people are not able to wash their hands after every activity and stay six-feet apart. People live without running water, families live in one-room homes, and 20 families can be sharing a public toilet yards from where they live. In these living conditions, masks are the the best option to prevent the spread of the virus.
Thus far, my friends and I have delivered over 3,000 masks and have another 2,000 on order. If you are able to join us in this effort, please visit Empower Venture Partners for information on how to contribute and updates on the number of masks we have provided.
The five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have full jurisdiction over their land. Canadian Federal and Provincial governments can not legally grant permits to industries with interest on Wet’suwet’en land.
The Wet’suwet’en have opposed all pipeline proposals and have not given free, prior, and informed consent for Coastal Gas Link pipeline owned by TC (formerly TransCanada) to work on their lands. Yet the Canadian government is not upholding Wet’suwet’en rights and the people are now blocking the largest hydraulic fracturing (fracking) project in Canadian history.
In December 2019, the court granted an extension to CGL’s injunction, allowing Royal Canadian Mounted Police to continue to arrest and remove anyone they consider could be involved in preventing the works and RCMP has begun to restrict supplies going to the camps.
Please consider joining me in supporting the Wet’suwet’en exerting their legal and lawful rights to their land, tradition, and heritage.
This month I chose to support the Lakota People’s Law Project. They are a powerful and dynamic team that came together to protect Native children and families and are now, in partnership with Native communities, “protect sacred lands, safeguard human rights, promote sustainability, reunite indigenous families, and much more.” I invite you to learn more about and support their work.
Today I am making my first donation in gratitude to the practices that inform my work. I invite you to learn more about the Navajo Water Project – a community-managed utility that brings running water to people without access to water or sewers – and to follow @digdeepwater on Instagram to be informed and to find our ways to be responsible to our greater family.