Wednesday, June 24, 2020

#PrideMonth Challenge - 1 mile everyday in memory of a murdered #transgender person

The month of June is usually "Pride" month; a month when the LGBTQIA community celebrates their history as a community and hosts events and parades to celebrate all things LGBTQIA.

This month I challenged myself to walk a minimum of 1 mile each day in memory of a murdered transgender person.  I have been using the work of the Human Rights Campaign.  They track the murders can publish a list as well as release a yearly report on the status of the transgender community.

While I knew people who are trans have a harder time in the general population than perhaps the rest of the LGBTQIA community, the numbers are staggering.  In 2019, there were 26 known murders of transgender people.  Of those 91% were Black women.  81% were under the age of 30.  Maybe less surprising, 65% were in the South.  

So what?  Why focus on transgender people?  Well simply, it matters.  Trans lives matter.  I have taught and worked with several people who transitioned or identify outside of cis-gendered norms.  Of those students, there isn't a single one that I believe is an extra or unworthy human life and therefore would be okay to murder.  If the Black Lives Matter has taught me anything, it is that silence equals implied consent.  I will not stay silent.  Transgender Lives Matter!

On June 21, I did my walk in memory of Baily Reeves, who was only 17 when she was murdered for being transgendered.  Her mother reached out to me the next day and thanked me for walking in her memory.  Honestly, I cried when I saw the message.  She took time out of her day to thank me.  Like my 5k walk is really as close to nothing as I can do and yet the small gesture seemingly meant a lot to her.  Her little girl was not completely forgotten.  

I have done 24 walks equaling 80 miles or so.  I have listed 25 names (I did 2 on one post) and there are still names to go.  I'm focused on all Black trans people murdered in 2020 and 2019.  The list is too long.  Our silence is way too loud.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

Leave a Record - Podcast Episode

Trying a new format for sharing content.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Do the work: Black Lives Matter

Normally I reserve posts about race to my Wetback American blog but today I need to address something with my fellow mommas.  In case you have been under a rock, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has again come to the forefront of American consciousness.  The exact why can be traced to recent murders of Black men by White men, both police and "regular" citizens.  So what does that have to do with Wheatless Mama and/or you?  Keep reading.

If you are a regular reader then you know that I, Martha, am married to a Black man, normally called DH.  We have 2 beautiful daughters, Gymgirl and BabyLala.  If it somehow escaped you, I am Mexican or Latina if you prefer, personally I prefer Mexican.  So I am coming to you from a place of motherhood, especially as the mother of biracial girls.  I am not here to hurt you.  I am here to hopefully remind you of the work we all have to do as mothers or inform you about the work if you were ignoring it.  I am going to be political and abrasive but you need to understand it comes from love.

It pains me that in the weeks since the protest began, we still have more Black men being murdered by police officers in what from footage show is excessive use of force and quick escalation.  It pains me because this is all on video and people are still denying we have any issues.  It pains me because I don't want to see that trauma porn and yet new footage is released daily so no matter which one of my social medias I use I am forced to confront the fact that my husband, father-in-law, brother-in-law, nephew, and all other Black men are in constant danger in a range that I couldn't imagine before.  Folx we have work to do!

The work is hard.  The work in many ways is nebulous and hard to pinpoint; this is the crux of the issue for many.  The work is overwhelming and no one wants to give you a list so you can check off your way to not being racist.  I can't give you a list either.  I would love to give you a list.  I want so badly to help you check your way to being a loyal anti-racist advocate; I want to make this easy on you but there is no easy way.  

As you work, you need to become familiar with the stages of grief.  You will be grieving.  What will you be grieving?  Honestly, 2 things: 1 - the death of your own innocence and 2 - the death of the America you thought you knew.  This is scary as fuck.  I know you don't want to die, not physically, not metaphorically, not in any way shape, or form.  I'm telling you this upfront because it feels awful.  It feels so bad that you want to stop doing the work.  You want to go back to your old ways but I've just shattered that space for you.  How can you go back when you know something new?  You can't.  Now you have to push through.  

Remember the stages of grief.  You will get sad.  You will cry.  You will wish you didn't know.  You will deny this is real.  You'll be pissed at me for asking you to open your eyes.  You'll be mad at your eyes for having been blind for so long.  You'll curse the day you started the work.  You'll swear to do better if you can just stop working and knowing.  Then you'll get active and become the advocate this world needs.

Okay so the work?  You have to admit you hold racist ideas.  You have benefited from racist policies. You have to understand that you are not a horrible person for any of it.  Easy?  Not even close.  Checklist?  It doesn't exist.  Can you do it?  I'm pleading with you to do it.  My family's lives depend on it.

I'm saying all of this as a woman who has so much work to do.  I have been married to DH for 18 years.  I have been with this man since 1996, almost 25 years.  I have birthed 2 Blaxican daughters.  I work at an HBCU.  I grew up in one of the Black areas of my city.  I have so much work to do.  I actively avoid it.  Ya'll I hate the work.  

If you are in your early 40s like me you have never seen this kind of awakening and so you have no roadmap.  I'm not excusing you, me, from doing the work.  I'm telling you I know you want a checklist or at least to be able to rely on your upbringing for how and it does not exist.  We grew up in a "melting pot" so we were raised "color-blind."  Most of the racism we grew up in was covert.  Now it is called microaggressions but when we were growing up, we called it becoming "Good Americans."  

Still with me?  Okay how are you feeling?  You think I'm full of shit right?  You feel like I'm judging you or your parents or your mothering?  All valid feelings.  Hell, maybe I am doing all of those things.  I don't know.  I'm at a computer crying my eyes out while I write this hoping that maybe it will help one person actually wake up.

How does one start the work?  See this is why I can't give you a checklist.  We are all in different places.  Some of us have lots of Black friends and People of Color (POC) around us so for the most part we think we don't have work.  We have work.  Others live in such a mono-colored world that again, why even start the work?  

I'm going to tell you about my work.  It is less scary when you know someone who is working through something so here it goes.

This round, I began with "Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I cried my way through it.  I spoke to my husband about Ta-Nehisi's experience and how those related to his own.  My DH is also a Howard alum so I knew the landmarks and about the culture.  I didn't know about the brutality.  You know that's a lie.  I knew but I didn't want to know.  (This is some of the work.  I have to admit I want to be blind to the truth so I blind myself.)  I have been in several traffic stops with my husband.  I know what he has been trained to do.  I know that as a POC I have to act a certain way.  Anyway, I cried my way thought DH's affirming of the dangers Ta-Nehisi described.  Why did I cry?  Because a part of my innocence died.  I know my husband is in danger but somehow I had delusional ideas that he had just not experienced anything that bad.  Surely, everyone can see his wonderful spirit and that has protected him.  Bubble burst, it hasn't.  He has "protected" me and my innocence since day one.  I want to badly to believe that we are safer than others but it's just not true.  I was just being blind.

Once I had worked my way through that grief, I watch John Leguizamo's Latin History for Morons and I entered a new phase of work.  I was almost completely ignorant of my own history.  My parents are from Mexico and I had bought the American dream without even thinking about the cost for my own people.  Then I read "1491" by Charles C. Mann.  More crying.  More loss of innocence.

Then I started "Stamped from the Beginning" by Ibram X. Kendi and I could take no more.  I was too raw.  I was too scared.  I decided that I knew enough and the things Kendi was saying wasn't of any benefit to me.  I work at an HBCU.  I'm married to a Black man.  I'm so woke.

I was so wrong.  What restarted my journey?  One of my former students contacted me asking for help.  She was trying to get her OB to listen to her.  She knew her life was in danger so she was calling for help from anyone that might do something.  Again, my sister-in-law almost died after giving birth.  My mother-in-law almost died after giving birth.  My husband's father's parents both lost their mothers shortly after giving birth.  Black women die in childbirth at rates that infuriate me.  Because I had lost a White friend in childbirth, my focus had always been on safer birth practice for everyone.  I had blinded myself to the reality that my daughters are more likely to die in childbirth than I was when I gave birth to them.  Ya'll in most families, each generation has a better chance of surviving childbirth but not mine!  My level of education.  The healthy lifestyle that we live and model.  Living in a 1st world country.  None of that adds protection for my daughters!  We went backward all because my girls are Black!  

Now there are more steps and turns in my journey but this post is long enough, right?  I know not all of you have father-in-laws who were in the Black Panthers or husbands who attended HBCUs or children who have to bat people's hands from their hair.  That does not mean you are excused from the work.  Hell even if you do have those things, you have work to do.

This is going to sound crude and harsh but someone who loves you has to say it so here goes, "Just because you fucked a Black guy/girl/person does not make you not racist!"  Trust me, you can have a KKK robe in your closet and fuck Black people.  Don't pull the "I love Black dick/pussy" card with me.  25 years I have been on the arm of a big Black man and I have work.  41 years I have been Mexican in a country that hates my kind and I have work.  Don't you dare tell me you are woke because you love the Blacks.  You are the worst kind of racist, the most dangerous kind, the person that says all the right things until it matters.  You are loud standing behind a Black person but around your White friends, you laugh at their jokes about POC or LGBTQIA or those that are differently-abled.  

I don't want your "I'm sorry."  I don't want your promises to do better.  I want you to do work.  If you can read Coates, Mann, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, and countless other accounts of the Black experience and still think I'm full of shit then okay.  I'll accept that I'm the ignorant one.  I'll accept that my girls are just like your girls.  My husband is just like yours.  My life has been full of privileges and I just need to shut the fuck up.  I promise to accept all of your criticism and add that to my work.  But first, do your work like your family's lives depend on it.