In March 2nd 1955, Claudette Colvin was a high school student attending the segregated Booker T. Washington High School in Montgomery Alabama. Returning home from class on city busses, Claudette Colvin was thinking about a school paper she had written on local segregation issues within department stores. Black folk weren’t allowed to use dressing or fitting rooms.
At the time, segregation meant that Black folk were expected to stand in the back of the bus, rather than take up seats up front that were reserved for white people. When a white woman entered the bus, the driver insisted that Colvin move to the back of the bus, and she refused.
Police were called, and Colvin was arrested, and convicted of disturbing the peace, violating the segregation laws, and assault. Colvin insisted, accurately, that there was never any assault. She was bailed out by her reverend, who told her that she had brought the revolution to Montgomery
Colvin was one of the five plaintiff’s in a lawsuit by Fred Gray against the Mayor and city of Montgomery, Alabama which ultimately determined that bus segregation was unconstitutional. The lawsuit made it to the Supreme Court. On November 13th, 1956, The Supreme Court ordered Alabama and Montgomery to desegregate the bus system. This finally happened on December 20th, 1956.
Marsha “Pay it no mind” Johnson was a trans woman and LGBT liberation activist born in August of 1945. Marsha is widely cited as being instrumental in starting the Stonewall Riots in response to the arrest of another Black activist, Stormé DeLarverie during the raid.
Marsha P. Johnson worked tirelessly to further civil rights for the LGBTQ community, cofounding Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries* (STAR) with another POC trans woman, Sylvia Rivera. The organization worked to house homeless LGBTQ+ folks, establishing the STAR house initially as a parked truck trailer in a Greenwich Village parking lot.Eventually Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera managed to secure a building, 213 Second Ave., to act as their STAR house. Marsha, known as the house’s “Drag Mother,” worked to provide previously homeless transgender and gay youth a home, food security, and safety.
Marsha didn’t stop there though, she continued to work with other civil rights organizations, notably, working as an AIDS activist with ACT UP, as an organizer and marshal until her death in 1992.
While the official story presented by the police and medical examiner states that Marsha died of an apparent suicide, many in the community believe she was murdered.
*The term transvestite, while the original name of the group, is considered inappropriate to use today and should be avoided. The correct terminology as it is used now is “transgender”
We are hurtling our way through the month, on this 5th day of February.
I met (as a representative of FAM) with Representative Levin last week, with a few Indivisible members. He would like us to focus on midterms (as is logical) and stressed the importance of getting a Democrat governor in Michigan. Congress is in session two days this week, and two days next week, with a vote on keeping the budget open occurring by Thursday. Another CR is expected.
After last week’s grandstanding and drama, the Nunes memo was rather anti-climactic. But, it may have exposed more unintentional information than Nunes expected. I don’t want to try to break the memo down here – when doing my own research, it’s really tricky to sift through the partisan skews on the information. I would suggest you read the memo for yourself and make your own conclusions, without media bias. The Republicans think it’s a bombshell for their side, the Dems think the same for their side. Big picture, Nunes is promising more “memos” to come, and the players involved are ignorant (maybe not?) to the damage this is doing to our country.
Each weekday this month, in honor of Black History Month, our fabulous moderator Pip is going to writing an entry with regards to African-American history. Please check out her first installment here:
As always, we ask you to stay aware and stay involved. Read. Watch. But more than that, Read and watch WIDELY. Challenge what you are being fed. Read the same story from multiple sources. Watch for emotional appeal in the news – it helps to identify media bias. Look for qualifying words that are intended to influence your opinion. You have beautiful brains (the best, believe me! 😜) – use them to form your own opinions based on FACTS.
Take care, FAM. ❤️. Enjoy today. Thank you for all you do!
Hey FAM! Every week day this month, we’ll be posting a brief biography on a figure in Black history.
Latasha Harlins was a 15 year old girl Black girl murdered in a convenience store in Los Angeles. Her murder, 13 days after Rodney King’s beating, and the murderer’s subsequent slap on the wrist contributed to tensions leading to the LA Riots.
Soon Ja Du, a 51 year old convenience store clerk assumed Latasha Harlins was attempting to steal a bottle of orange juice, despite Latasha having the money to pay for it in hand. Mrs Du reacted by grabbing Latasha’s sweater and backpack, and assaulting her.
Latasha fought back in an attempt to get away. As she stepped back, Mrs. Du threw a stool at her. Latasha bent over to pick up the orange juice that had fallen to the ground, when Mrs Du snatched it from her hand. As Latasha turned to leave, Mrs Du reached under the counter for her handgun and shot Latasha in the back of the head from three feet away.
Mrs. Du was arrested and claimed self-defense, however her testimony was contradicted by both eye witnesses, and the security camera.
Mrs. Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the murder of Latasha Harlins, which carries a maximum sentence of 16 years. While the jury recommended the maximum, Judge Joyce Karlin claimed “mitigating factors” and sentenced Mrs. Du to five years probation, 400 hours community service, and a $500 fine. Judge Karlin is quoted as saying Did Mrs. Du react inappropriately? Absolutely. But was that reaction understandable? I think that it was….this is not a time for revenge…and no matter what sentence this court imposes Mrs. Du will be punished every day for the rest of her life.”
This sent a clear message to Los Angeles’ Black community that to the white justice system, Black lives did not matter.
Aila Moireach is a social justice writer and educator. You can find her on facebook.
As I chatted with the other admins last night, wondering what we should highlight (lowlight?) today, we realized there is SO MUCH horrible shit going on that we didn’t know where to start. We realize that y’all are keeping up with the news, and you don’t need to be hammered over the head again with it. So, here’s some perspective:
* As mentioned in a previous post, things are going to get worse before they get better. As the handcuffs tighten around 45’s neck, he is not going to go quietly. He is doing everything he can to discredit Mueller and the investigation. And congress is letting him. I’m baffled.
But, Mueller is a consummate professional. He can handle this. (“Yeah, but what if they fire him?” We will revolt. That will be a constitutional crisis – direct violation of our checks and balances that the founding fathers put in place to keep one person/party from gaining too much power).
* Nunes Memo – it’s going to get released – despite many groups, including the DOJ trying to keep it confidential. Nunes is 45’s lap dog, and 45 is grinning and clapping like a 2 year old in front of birthday cake. He can’t WAIT to release it. So, prepare for the fallout from that. (There is a lot of confusion over what the hell this “memo” is – here’s some info: https://www.justsecurity.org/51630/five-questions-nunes-memo-answer/) Kristen Vandoorn Myers thank you for the link! 😊
* Russian sanctions: the ENTIRE congress, House and Senate, save five, voted to impose additional sanctions on Russia (just like the ones we (didn’t) already impose last summer). 45 said “nope.” So, again, thumbing his nose at the Constitution. Call everyone you can think of to demand enforcement of the sanctions THEY voted on.
*MSU is installing John Engler (!!!) as interim president after Lou Anna K. Simon resigned. Feel free to contact the board of trustees to express how you feel about this. Vested interest or not, MSU is a public, taxpayer-supported university. We are ALL invested.
Do we have any good news out there? Of COURSE we do!! ❤️
Join us next Saturday, February 10 at 4 pm at La Pita for the next Shawarma Law Enforcement meeting at La Pita in Dearborn. Here’s a link to the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1441668395955439/?ti=icl If you missed Zahra Ayoub on Comedy Central last week, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyVLoDv_EIQ We will get through this. Our country will survive. We will emerge more unified and stronger than ever before. We will realize that our process is not perfect and changes need to made to prevent this authoritarian crisis from ever happening again. We will get back on our feet. Take names. Take action. Don’t forget. Move FORWARD.
We are so grateful to have you with us this week–and we’ve got some work to do.
Before we get started, a few quick reminders: When posting to the group, lonely links will be declined. A lonely link is a post that just contains a link, no commentary or background from the poster or reasons why it is being shared. We delete these because they give the page a spammy feel and they are almost unsearchable. Secondly, on that topic, please SEARCH the page before posting. This prevents splintered conversation and keeps the page clean of repeated information. Lastly, check your PMs–moderators will send messages there if your post needs attention or changes. Note that we don’t always send PMs for lonely links or duplicate posts because we get so many. If a post of yours is not approved, it is more than likely in one of those two categories.
Now, onto action!
1. According to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Congress is planning some sort of vote to ban abortion at 20 weeks. We know this is nothing more than a veiled attempted to control women, especially poor women and women of color, from making choices about their own bodies, and sexual health.
We need to call Republican senators and let them know there are more things to be worried about like DREAMers, homeless veterans, and police brutality.
If you like, you can also add your name to the Senator’s petition against the bill.
2. WE MUST DEMAND A CLEAN DREAM ACT. Now the current administration is going back on their word that they originally went back on after promising it during the election season (who else is dizzy?) and is making all kinds of nonsensical demands. This is all just a delay tactic while ICE thugs round up more parents and grandparents and send them back to countries where they would surely meet a terrible fate.
Call the senate switch board and DEMAND a DREAMER bill today. We cannot wait any longer, we’ve already waited too long. Remind Republicans that their president promised a path to citizenship during the election cycle. They can’t be a pro-life party unless they care about all children, not just the unborn ones.
3. As we continue to be shocked at the level of complacency and enabling happening within USA Gymnastic, the US Olympic Committee and Michigan State University–we must know that other organizations out there have these same issues that have yet to be brought to light.
If you are a current college student, an alumni of a college, or anyone in between, call your Alma Mater and ask them what their policy is for handling reports of sexual assault or rape.
Let’s force some of these schools to fix what’s wrong and prevent a Larry Nassar situation before it starts.
Also, if you are a survivor or rape, sexual assault or abuse, and you need resources, please reach out to any of our admins or moderators for a completely confidential conversation. We are here to help!
As always, we are proud of have you with us. Each day brings us closer to realizing freedom, equity and safety for all people.
This is our second week of our education series on Social Justice. This week, our awesome moderator Ayla (along with several other awesome contributors) has provided us with an in-depth look at Transgender Individuals and gender education. Thank you, Ayla for helping us grow!
1. FAM is committed to elevating members of marginalized groups. We especially acknowledge women of color whose voices are systematically and repeatedly silenced.
Below is a resource to identify women of color running for office. Donate if you can. If you can’t, share this link (click the link and then hit share). We can elevate these women by making their names, faces and causes known.
2. WE NEED A CLEAN DREAM ACT. Besides being a campaign promise of the current administration, the right thing to do is protect DREAMers and build a path to citizenship. The accident of the location of someone’s birth location doesn’t make them more worthy. Call or senators and demand they create and vote on a bill to protect these folks.
3. Tom Cotton (R-AK) seems to think citizens sharing their thoughts and concerns with him are “harassing” and has sent several cease and desist letters to constituents within his state and beyond who disagree with him. So, let’s let him know FAM is not down with that. Please feel free to reach out to Sen. Cotton using any of the methods below:
On this week’s Social Justice installment, we’re going to discuss Trans issues. We’re going to touch a bit on the Transgender community and some of the ways they are marginalized by cisgender folks.
Let’s start with a few definitions:
Gender: A social construct that allows individuals to make logical assumptions about someone based on cues such as appearance, mannerisms, presentation, clothing, speech patterns, name, and other cues. Often, this is “assigned” to an infant at birth based on their genitalia (when those genitalia are unambiguous). On an individual level, gender is an emotional, mental, and social state that is influenced by a number of factors, including genetics, society, neurochemistry, upbringing, exposure to media and academia, as well as other nonspecific factors. Often, this term is conflated with ‘sex‘ as a way to differentiate “how someone feels” from their genitalia. However, genitalia, chromosomes, and assigned birth gender have no scientifically provable bearing on one’s gender. Only people have a gender; genitals, objects, actions, media, and other such items are not gendered. Society may at large may associate them with a particular gender, however these associations are a function of a strong bias towards binary gender, and to a greater degree, gender essentialism. Gender Presentation: How any individual represents their gender through mannerisms, appearance, name, and other nonspecific factors. Gender Binary: The concept that only two genders exist, male and female, and that all other genders are invalid, made up, fake, or some other similar term. Gender Essentialism: The practice or idea of boiling down an individual to so-called “essential” qualities associated with the gender they are, or present as. Examples include reducing an individual to their genitalia or secondary sex characteristics, to a biological function (such as pregnancy/birth or menstruation), to a societal role (housewife/homemaker, breadwinner, think 1950s americana), or to another lesser quality to remove the complexity and abstraction of the individual. This is harmful not only in trans discourse, but also in feminist discourse in that it is often sexist as well as cissexist.
Transgender or Trans: (adjective) Transgender is an umbrella term for anyone who is not the gender doctors assigned when they were born. This includes binary and non-binary genders and identities as well. This is an adjective (not a noun) and should never use the -ed or -ism suffix. While you may see trans folks refer to themselves as “a tran” or “a trans” or “the trans” colloquially (and often in jest), much like with racially-charged language be sure to avoid mimicking the usage of the trans community as a cis individual. Generally one should refer to binary trans folks as “trans men” or “trans women” as the term “trans” is an adjective, similar to blonde, white, fat, disabled, or neurotypical. Specifically, using the terms “transman” and “transwoman” (note the lack of space) implies that these individuals are fundamentally “not” members of their gender, by creating a fully new term rather than applying an adjective to said gender.
Non-Binary: (adjective) Sometimes shortened to NB, or enby. This is an umbrella term for folks whose gender doesn’t exist within the gender binary. They aren’t “men” or “women,” but often have identities such as agender, gender-fluid, etc. If you think of gender less as a binary and more as a big ball of wibbly wobbly gendery-bendery stuff,* then non-binary folks are somewhere in said ball. Sometimes this term is shortened to NB, or “enby” by members of the community.**
Cisgender: (adjective) Anyone who is the gender they were assigned at birth. Also referred to as “cis <insert gender here>” such as cis man or cis woman. Borrowed from latin, where it is the opposite of the prefix “trans”. This word follows the same grammatical rules as transgender, and should never have the -ism, or -ed suffix attached.
AMAB/AFAB: Abbreviation for “assigned male at birth” or “assigned female at birth”; this is an abbreviation often used by/around trans people to avoid harmful or misgendering language such as “born <insert different gender here>” or “<insert different gender here>-bodied”.
Deadname: A trans person’s deadname is the name they were assigned before their gender became known. It is incredibly problematic to use this name, or to ask about it. Using it suggests that you don’t respect a person’s declaration of their authentic selves, and also runs the risk of potentially outting them.
Misgendering: The act of referring to someone using terms, implications, imagery, or other communication that expresses or implies that they are a different gender than they are, or are not genuine about their identity. While it may be easier to understand this as “a different gender than they *say* they are” that language implies that an individual’s gender is invalid and based only on that individual’s opinion and that they do not have the agency to know their own gender moreso than society (or simply another individual). While this can be as simple as using the incorrect pronouns, it can also be less obviously done via explicitly avoiding using a gendered or genderless pronoun to indicate a trans individual, preferring to use their name (or worse, their deadname) even when it is grammatically awkward or conversationally inappropriate.
Dysphoria: This is the distress a trans person experiences as a result of the gender they were assigned at birth. Not all trans folks experience dysphoria, and for those who do, the degree to which they experience it may vary. Historically ‘gender dysphoria’ was the medical term for the condition of being transgender, much like how homosexuality was considered a mental illness in the socially unaware days of yesteryear. As of the release of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (or DSM-5 for short), this is no longer the case.
Intersex: Intersex refers to a person who has a body that does not fit society’s binary definitions of male and female. This includes variance in chromosomes, hormones, secondary sex characteristics and sexual and reproductive anatomy (sometimes referred to as “ambiguous genitals” at birth).
Cissexism: The discrimination of the dominant group (cis folks) against the oppressed group (trans folks) based on the quality of being trans, or having one or more qualities associated with trans folks, or the assertion/implication that trans folks are inferior to cis folks.
Folks: An easy-to-use genderless reference to a group of individuals. Sometimes used in text as “folx” in the LGBT community to be more inclusive, and as a nod to the role of the internet and social media in modern LGBT culture.
TERF: “TERF” is an abbreviation for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERFs are a hate group and are known for doxxing (tracking down and publishing private information about), harassing, and excluding trans folks from spaces (including LGBT spaces). For more information, check out: Cathy Brennan is a Fake Goth. Originally coined by trans activist and historian Katarina Rose around 2008 as “Trans Exterminatory Radical Feminist” in an effort to describe a subset of radical feminists who, under the guise of “gender critical” arguments, seek to exclude trans women from feminist and female-only spaces, and to a greater extent, to eliminate the acceptance of trans women as women entirely. Over time, TERFs have (largely successfully) rebranded as “exclusionary” but given their stated goals, this term is not entirely accurate.
Still with me? That was a whole lot of definitions, and they may be hard to remember, but it gets easier, I promise!
The problem of transphobia or transantagonism, like sexism, racism, ableism, or classism, is a systemic one. Under the theory of intersectionality, first coined by feminist Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, various oppressions can not be understood independently of each other. You can’t separate the oppressions of being a woman, a person of color, of being poor or being trans. They’re intertwined and they act on each other frequently compounding the trauma and oppression and magnifying it. For transgender folk, this manifests in the way stigma and transphobia drive other oppressions like class and gender.
Transgender folk are more likely to experience family rejection and homelessness. The 2015 Transgender Survey asked respondents a series of questions relating to their immediate family’s support of their gender. They found that of respondents who were out to their immediate families:
10% reported a family member was violent toward them because of their transgender status.
8% were kicked out of their homes
10% ran away from home
Trans folks experienced considerably higher rates of psychological distress as a result of the social stigma and rejection by their families.
40% of transgender folks who responded to the survey have attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to 4.6% of the US population as a whole.
Homelessness was a struggle for many of the respondents
30% experienced homelessness at some point in their lives
12% experienced homelessness in 2015 because of being transgender
of that 12%, 26% avoided staying in a shelter because of fears of being mistreated as a transgender person.
of those who did stay in shelters, 70% reported harassment, physical and sexual assault, or being kicked out because of being transgender.
Transgender folks are more likely to be victims of violence or harassment:
46% of respondents experienced verbal harassment in the year predating the survey (2015)
9% of respondents reported being physically attacked for being transgender in 2015
47% of respondents were sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime
54% experienced some form of intimate partner violence.
Transgender folks are often discriminated against when attempting to simply exist in public. 31% of respondents to the survey experienced some form of mistreatment while in a place of public accomodation:
Should Republicans have their way and manage to completely defund Medicaid and Planned Parenthood, trans folk stand to suffer as well — low income trans folk, just like cis women, rely on Planned Parenthood for reproductive health. In many states, Planned Parenthood is the only option trans folk have for access to hormone replacement therapy and other trans related healthcare. Many trans folks avoid seeing doctors for fear of being mistreated as a trans person, or because they could not afford too.
So what can we do to support our trans siblings?
I’m so glad you asked!
The most important thing we can do for our trans siblings is listen.
When our trans siblings tell us that our pink pussy hats hurt them, we need to take them off.
When our trans siblings tell us that our insistence on associating genitalia with femininity excludes them, we need to find new symbols.
When our trans siblings tell us to use their pronouns, we need to do it without question.
When our children and loved ones tell us they are transgender, we need to support them.
**There is some controversy as to whether or not it is appropriate for cis folk to use the term enby. While the term is generally accepted by the non-binary community, it is vital to always respect individuals and their choice of terms when referring to them.
I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to Bronwyn Sperling, Ian Pinsker, Alaura Mae, and Tawny for their significant contributions to this piece.
If you are trans and living in the United States or Canada, the Trans Lifeline was created by trans folk for other trans folk. They are a free, 24 hour hotline that can be reached at (US) 877-565-8860, or (Canada) 877-330-6366. You matter, and you are loved.
Today is Monday, January 22, 2018. We are we are 9 1/2 months away from midterm elections. Are we ready to mobilize??
This weekend so many of you participated in marches across the state and country, and millions of people joined you worldwide. We’ve seen lots of pictures – what were your takeaways from this weekend – most impactful or favorite moment? Comment below! 😁
As you know, the government shut down this weekend, after failing to come to an agreement on the budget. My favorite quip from this weekend is Senator Tammy Duckworth referring to 45 as “cadet bone spurs.” 😂. As the senate continues to debate, let our senators know what is important to you – use your voice. We want to see a clean Dream act with clear paths to legal immigration. We want to see our CHIP reauthorized. CHIP actually ends up saving the government money…so WHY we are arguing about this is unconscionable.