Peace, family! Welcome to The Tea! This is our first issue for 2022. We are excited to be back, and also intentionally easing into the year and getting ready for Black Futures Month (BFM) in February. Check out our BFM campaign from 2021 here.
As always, this month has been full of ups and downs in the Black queer and TGNCI (transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex) community. We’ve celebrated some amazing accomplishments, like Andrea Jenkins of Minneapolis being unanimously voted to become the country’s first Black trans City Council President, and MJ Rodriguez becoming the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe (which is a win for our community—but reminder: we are not dependent on problematic white institutions to validate us!).
We also dealt with our share of heartbreak; 2021 was the deadliest year in recorded human history for Black TGNCI folks. Look back at the last issue of The Tea for four actions you can take to work toward abolishing transphobia in the Black community.
This year, we are hopeful and ready to take action and make the changes we want to see. Our communities are fighting for policies that protect Black trans youth, dismantling systems of oppression and violence, supporting Black queer leaders, providing housing and resources for Black queer and TGNCI folks, and fostering deeper connections between Black TGNCI, queer communities, and the larger Black community.
In this issue, we include a dedication to one of our nation’s unsung heroes, we break down what Roe v. Wade has to do with Black queer liberation, and we put you on to What We Are Vibin’ To this month! We also really want to hear from you! Every month, we slide in your inbox with news from our ecosystem, honoring our TGNCI heroes, sharing what we’ve been vibin’ to, and more—but we’d like to get to know more about what you wanna see when you open The Tea. Throughout this issue, there are a few questions to get you thinking about what you want to read about in The Tea this year. Share your feedback, and let’s keep building fam!
Bayard Rustin had a 60-year career as a civil-rights activist and expert organizer but was most known for being an advisor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Rustin began to advise King in the early 1950s on organizing, political strategy, and movement-building. He was a mentor to King, teaching him about the nonviolent philosophies of Gandhi—which he learned from his own Quaker upbringing—and advising him on civil-disobedience tactics.
Rustin was a self-proclaimed troublemaker, an intellect, and a rabble-rousing speaker in the movement. He was also an openly gay man, which was almost unheard of back then. Because of this, he often organized in the shadows of other organizers and leaders, like Dr. King, even though so much of what was accomplished during the civil-rights movement happened because of his vision and work.
One of his most notable accomplishments was organizing the March on Washington. In less than two months, Rustin brought out hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country on the historic day that King called, “the greatest demonstration of freedom” in American history.
According to NPR, “in 1953, Rustin’s homosexuality became more of a public problem after he was found having sex in a parked car with two men. He was arrested on a morals charge. Later, when he was chosen to organize the 1963 march, some civil rights activists objected. In an effort to discredit the march, segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond took to the Senate floor, where he derided Rustin for being a communist, a draft dodger and a homosexual.”
Of course, Thurmond’s efforts to discredit the march failed; however, this was an example of how homophobia further forced Rustin into the shadows of the movement.
At the end of the march, Rustin got on the mic and spoke passionately to the crowd of almost 300,000, reading the demands that the leaders of the movement would later take to President John F. Kennedy. This action would eventually lead to the Civil Rights Act being passed.
After the 1960s, Rustin began “promoting international activism across the globe, from free elections in Central America and Africa to aiding refugees.” In his final years, he became more dedicated to fighting for LGBTQ rights and addressing intersectionality.
Rustin died in 1987 in New York, just four days after the 24th anniversary of the March on Washington. He was 75.
Watch the Brother Outsider Trailer here:
Who are some amazing folks in the queer and TGNCI community that you’d like to see featured in The Tea?
Forty-nine years ago, in January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States decided Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right. Today, the right to abortion is in grave danger through attacks on Roe and state legislation banning or restricting conditions under which abortions are available. This has had devastating effects on Black women, girls, transgender, gender-nonconforming, and intersex people.
Black women, girls, and TGNCI people have been subjected to a long history of reproductive control, and are increasingly being denied access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive and gender-affirming health services. Access to abortion; affordable birth control; and gender-affirming, culturally competent reproductive and maternal health care are increasingly limited in Black communities.
Black TGNCI folks regularly experience discrimination or denial when seeking reproductive health care. Increasingly, because of how their gender is being perceived or because they live in a place where abortion is banned or inaccessible, many of these folks manage their own at-home procedures. Though lots of people have found success, safety, and comfort with at-home abortion, the full weight of our criminal legal system is being leveraged against those who are finding ways to take abortion into their own hands, while simultaneously denying people their right to resources. We know Black people are targets. We can’t look away as the most violent machinery of the state begins to aim its weapons at Black women, girls, and TGNCI and queer people.
We demand full access to abortion care, a necessary component of freedom for all Black people.
Our liberation will not come from the courts. We know that reproductive justice for Black people requires more than any one legal right can provide, but history teaches us that the war on Black women, girls, and TGNCI and queer folks serves larger structures of power and domination, including colonialism, chattel slavery, racial capitalism, cisheterosexism, and ableism. Black feminists have exposed how this war has been promoted and justified through persistent narratives framing Black people as inherently inhuman. Anti-choice narratives rely not only on patriarchy but also on racism to do their work.
Show your support to some of the organizations in our ecosystem that are fighting this fight by donating to Sister Song, Black Feminist Future, and New Voices.
What are the issues that are most important to you in the Black TGNCI community that you’d like to read more about in The Tea?
This is What We Are Vibin’ To this month! Check out these dope queer and TGNCI folks from our community who are doing amazing things.
Kotic Couture is a queer trans non-binary rapper, host, and DJ. Their musical prowess embodies all the ways they have been influenced by their city and community. In one moment they are giving Baltimore club, then ballroom music for the gurlz, or making a stance on the violence perpetrated by the state. No matter what they are giving, they are always “giving.”
“Pink Durag” is their 2019 single that showcases their lyricism and a visual that you can watch over and over again.
Ashlee Marie Preston is a host/media personality, as well as a social entrepreneur. In this five-minute clip, she shares her experience of being a Black trans woman, and the ways interlocking systems work together to deny access to Black trans women who need support and resources.
“Tonight, in Oakland”
I did not come here to sing a blues.
Lately, I open my mouth
& out comes marigolds, yellow plums.
I came to make the sky a garden.
Give me rain or give me honey, dear lord.
The sky has given us no water this year.
I ride my bike to a boy, when I get there
what we make will not be beautiful
or love at all, but it will be deserved.
I’ve started seeking men to wet the harvest.
Come, tonight I declare we must move
instead of pray. Tonight, east of here,
two boys, one dressed in what could be blood
& one dressed in what could be blood
before the wound, meet & mean mug
& God, tonight, let them dance! Tonight,
the bullet does not exist. Tonight, the police
have turned to their God for forgiveness.
Tonight, we bury nothing, we serve a God
with no need for shovels, we serve a God
with a bad hip & a brother in prison.
Tonight, let every man be his own lord.
Let wherever two people stand be a reunion
of ancient lights. Let’s waste the moon’s marble glow
shouting our names to the stars until we are
the stars. O, precious God! O, sweet black town!
I am drunk & I thirst. When I get to the boy
who lets me practice hunger with him
I will not give him the name of your newest ghost
I will give him my body & what he does with it
is none of my business, but I will say look,
I made it a whole day, still, no rain
still, I am without exit wound
& he will say Tonight, I want to take you
how the police do, unarmed & sudden
& tonight, when we dream, we dream of dancing
in a city slowly becoming ash.
By: Danez Smith
Source: Poetry Foundation
What have you been vibin’ to this month? Let us know which Black TGNCI and queer artists, books, movies, shows, etc., you have been feeling this month!