Tag: Black

Dr. Martin Luther King and the Ferocious Possibilities of Black Liberation in Our Darkest Hour

Dr. Martin Luther King and the Ferocious Possibilities of Black

I’ve been staring at this blank screen all day. For the past five days, actually. Traditionally on Martin Luther King Day, I write some form of a reflection. It’s ironic that in a time we’re facing that has never more closely mirrored King’s — I find myself most adrift from his words.

I say his words because it is his words that have so often been called upon in to soothe a nation that still searches for its soul. Familiar words taught to me in childhood that once brought solace — “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you have to do, you keep moving forward” — now leave me cold and distant. I know “the arc of the moral universe is long” and was certainly never naive enough necessarily to believe in a Dream, but damn I didn’t know it would hurt like this.

I don’t mean to sound self-pitying. The Civil Rights Movement itself was defined by uproar and awakening. There’s nothing — not a pandemic; not nationwide uprisings after the continued state-sanctioned murder of Black people by the police; not seven-hour waits at ballot boxes and legal elections being questioned and irreparably damaged by a white supremacist who stokes racial unrest; not even insurrection — that’s worse than what Black people have fought and faced down and banished before. But I’d hoped by now that we’d at least be fighting newly cloaked battles in new ways, not a flat circle of the exact same battles in the same exact ways. King said “we’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end,” a mantra he proved true with his own life. 12 days ago I watched as a Confederate flag marched through the Capitol, a feat that wasn’t even accomplished during the actual Civil War, and even though I know (I know) it’s awful, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking: What the hell did he give it all for?

Less than six days before this Martin Luther King Day, Ayana Pressley, a Black woman representative from Massachusetts, one of the most powerful advocates for Black and brown people speaking up in Congress right now, announced that in the days before a lynch mob descended on the U.S. Capitol, all of the panic buttons in her office had been ripped out. Her Puerto Rican colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who much like Pressley has become somewhat infamous in hate mongering white supremacist circles, openly feared for her life. And here’s what I can’t stop replaying: Representative Pressley’s response to this violence? These experiences “were harrowing and unfortunately very familiar in the deepest and most ancestral way.”

The deepest and most ancestral way. Latosha Brown, one of the fierce Black women organizers in Georgia who just finished a momentous feat overcoming white supremacist tactics of voter suppression with her organization, Black Voters Matter — a cause King laid down the blueprint to fight for over 60 years ago — reminded us on Dr. King’s birthday just this Friday: “The same energy that killed him is the same energy that we witnessed at the Capitol.”

It’s feels impossible not to see this Martin Luther King Day as one of grief and mourning.

But Black liberation politics is one of turning impossibilities into stubborn realities. I mean, someone once told enslaved people it was impossible they’d be free. And so, while I am immensely grieving how clear it is now how much work is actually left, how little it feels like we’ve come as nooses are hung outside the Capitol building and Twitter threads are full of Black people warning each other to “stay at home, stay safe” like we’re whispering into the wind, I’ve realized that the reason I couldn’t write this essay was that I was looking in the wrong place. We don’t need Dr. Martin Luther King’s words — we need his actions.

On Wednesday there will be a new President, and he will be a Democrat. That is no reason to rest; it’s only a reason to push harder. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 happened under a Democratic President. The original Voting Rights Act of 1965 happened under a Democratic President. Dr. King and was a never-ending thorn in Lyndon B. Johnson’s side — an exceptional political organizer and strategist — and so too, should we. And even that will only be a start.

The good news, the best news even, is that we have already been doing that. The key is in not letting up. To recognize these newest waves of vitriolic flames of hatred as also a marker of our work. Dragons breathe the hottest fire when they feel threatened. And good. Let them.

This morning, I thought a lot about another Black organizer, a mentee of King who was only 23 when he was not only one of the lead organizers, but spoke at the March on Washington. Who was 25 when police brutally beat him on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in a march for voting rights which he led. Another giant lost in this agonizing year.

John Lewis left us on July 17, 2020 — in the middle a summer defined by uprisings for Black Lives — but his final goodbye was not published until the morning of his homegoing service. In it, he wrote a public letter to Black Lives Matter organizers: “Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.”

Of course, those days are also now, he realized. But unlike me, he didn’t become brokenhearted. Instead, he found peace knowing the work would continue. It will always continue, as long as we don’t let the fire die out.

“While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society…

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.”

It’s funny. So often we talk about how Dr. King — or John Lewis, or Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, so many who others have walked before and are now immortalized — are more than their black and white photographs and grainy newsreels. But we’ve never less needed paper doll cutouts of revolutionaries than we need right now.

In our upheaval, soft words will not save us. Look to the playbook instead.

“Batwoman” Season 2: In Our Ongoing Uprising for Black Lives, Ryan Wilder Is Right on Time

"Batwoman" Season 2: In Our Ongoing Uprising for Black Lives,

Almost six months ago to the day, Javicia Leslie was announced to follow Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane as Ryan Wilder, the first ever Black Batwoman. My very serious and understated quote here on Autostraddle, the lesbian paper of record, was an all caps “LET’S FUCKING GOOOOO!!!!!!” — so, no big deal. Supremely chill vibes. And it certainly hasn’t hurt that Leslie has spent the entire time since her announcement seemingly becoming a one-woman Black Bisexual Queer Nerd Catnip, complete with an enviable kicks collection, an adorable dog (he’s a pit bull rescue!), and ahem, an affinity for bodysuits. Still, whatever my confidence, it was hard to suppress nervous butterflies when I received the Batwoman Season Two press screener for review.

Just to get it out of the way, right at the top: Ryan Wilder is not Kate Kane. I suspect that sentence might make some of the original fans uneasy, but let me follow up by saying the decision to make Ryan a woman of her own changes very little about what makes Batwoman beloved. Ryan may run warm in all the places where Kate instead chose calculated cool, but she loses none of the badass strength that makes Batwoman who she is at her core. Her tomboy swag’s more Nike Air Force 1s than Kate’s James Bond bowtie, but the bravado itself is still undeniable. They are both proud, out lesbians.

In Leslie’s hands, Ryan Wilder is instantly and infinitely likable; she’s a little emotionally raw and surprisingly snarky (her humor was easily my favorite thing about her!). Overall, she comes across as very true to her original character description, “a girl who would steal milk from an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands” — which just happens to be my favorite kind of woman. (Other parts of her character’s description, namely having “spent years as a drug-runner” were mercifully and correctly adjusted after casting a Black actor in the role.) If for some reason none of that wins you over, please also know that Ryan is a plant mom!! And as a fellow plant mom, please know that we are the best kind of people.

Ryan Wilder reads a newspaper in her RV van — that is also her home — while sitting next to her beloved plant.

Going into its second season, Batwoman couldn’t have possibly had more stacked against it. The series namesake abruptly left after one season, the writers had to write them out while also maintaining continuity — when nearly all the characters of the series, including the lead villain, are directly related to Kate either by blood or love or both (I found Ryan’s new connections to Alice to be shockingly unexpected, yet organic and fully believable). They had to do all of that while in the middle of a global pandemic the likes of which haven’t been seen in 100 years! Oh and then they cast a Black woman to literally be the first very Black person ever to don the Batsuit on film; Javicia’s casting announcement came during a summer of Black Lives Matter protests and uprisings and now her TV debut as Batwoman will occur as we are once against bearing witness to large-scale white supremacist violence in this country. So again… supremely chill stakes here. Really just going for the hat trick.

The thing about comic book superheroes is that on the surface they may seem silly — all brightly colored suits and flying capes and gizmo gadgets and KABLAAM — but they are some of the most homegrown, American mythos that we have. They’re the stories we tell children, right from the youngest age, to explain right from wrong. They become buried deep, right into the marrow of who we are. Even people who have never picked up a comic book in their life or barely ever watch television know who Batman is. And when Batman is a billionaire playboy with fancy bat toys, or Ironman is a billionaire playboy with fancy Iron Hearts, or Superman is a homegrown blue-eyed boy right from small-town Kansas, that says a lot about who we believe can be “heroes” in the first place.

Kate Kane originally mattered, not only because her story was great, but because at the height of national debates around “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”gay marriage, and what it means to have the full rights of citizenship as a gay person in this country — she was kicked out of West Point for being a lesbian. But now it’s 2021, we are facing the dying gasps (we can only hope) of a fascist wannabe dictator that has cannibalisticly fed from and emboldened the violent racist backbone that has long existed since the founding of this country. After years and years of work at the hands of Black activists, cries of Black Lives Matter are finally sweeping this country. It’s time for a new story.

I’m glad that Caroline Dries, Batwoman showrunner, for deciding to make Ryan an entirely new character — not to recast Kate or to adapt another DC property into the role. The questions we are facing, the stories we need to tell ourselves now, they require fierce new answers. At least from the premiere episode, it appears that Batwoman won’t shy away from the responsibilities that it’s facing. I don’t want to wade too far into spoiler territory, but Ryan’s backstory comes with multiple points of entry to explore the ways that systematic racism impacts Black America Gotham specifically and opens up critiques of state-sanctioned violence that I don’t believe Kate, a military trained fighter who’s father is the head of the CROWS, would have been able to ask.

In her LA times profile published just this weekend, Javicia Leslie feels the weight on her shoulders, but she’s not letting it crush her. “Now that Ryan is becoming Batwoman, I feel like it opens up the possibility of what it really means to be Batwoman and that it doesn’t really matter who’s under the suit… Anyone can put that suit on and be a hero.” Superheroes shine brightest when they are made for their moment.

In this Batwoman season two review, Ryan Wilder is in the Batsuit with her wig and make held in her arms.

That doesn’t mean that this Batwoman is robbed of joy! I’ve already mentioned Ryan’s contagious snark, but as someone who deep in my bones loves a good woman villain, Rachel Skarsten continues to make my skin crawl in the BEST kind of ways. The fight choreography is slick, the bat toys are aplenty, and there’s gay melodrama and tortured loves. All the things that made the first season of Batwoman grow into its best are accounted for and welcomed back. Narratively speaking, what’s being asked of the Batwoman writers’ room is a tall order by any definition. They handle the transition as smoothly as anyone could have asked them, finding a tone that feels like its past but also a new and exciting terrain. And there’s enough about Kate left to continue to unfold in the episodes to come. Just as a nerd and a fan, I was impressed that anyone could pull that shit off.

Next week we’ll be back with even more details and a weekly Batwoman recap (!!!!) from Nic (!!!) — one of my favorite queer recappers in the game right now (have you read her work on Black Lightning?? It’s so smart and so, so good!!) — but for now I just wanted to say: If the writers of Batwoman can successfully walk the tightrope of “What happened to Kate Kane?” and the staggering, necessary demands of this moment we are living in, and still manage to get in a few flirtatious winks while they’re at it? There’s absolutely no telling what’s next.


Batwoman Season Two premieres Sunday, January 17, on The CW.

Gay Black man stabbed and left in coma but his attackers are still free

Anthony Crumbley, a gay Black man who was stabbed, alongside a CCTV photo of suspects

Police have released a CCTV photo of people they would like to speak to in connection with the attack on Anthony Crumbley. (GoFundMe and Boston Police Department)

A gay Black man in Boston, Massachusetts, who was stabbed and left in a coma for four days, is living in fear knowing his attackers are still “out there”.

Anthony Crumbley was walking home from a bar in South Boston at about 10.45 pm on 18 December when he was attacked, according to CBS Boston.

The 25-year-old said: “The two males and a female approached me and two males attacked me and stabbed me in my neck and in my stomach, and pretty much ran and left me there.”

Suffering life-threatening injuries and left the bleed out on the ground, Crumbley was taken to Boston Medical Center where he spent four days in a coma in the hospital’s ICU.

Police have released a CCTV photo of people they would like to speak to in connection with the attack, but reportedly said they have no reason to believe the stabbing was a hate crime.

Crumbley insisted: “I believe it was an attack that had to do with gay hate because, you know, I dress very femme and I’m a very outspoken person.”

Still recovering in hospital, the young gay man said he is living in fear and struggling to make ends meet after being stabbed.

He wrote on a GoFundMe page: “No one has been arrested for doing this to me and I’m scared, truthfully, knowing they are still out there on the streets and could do this to me again at anytime.

“This traumatising situation has left me hopeless, after waking up from being in a coma for four days in the ICU at Boston Medical and I’m STILL here in the ICU now writing this on my birthday, December 26th.”

Crumbley’s mother passed away one year ago, and he is the legal guardian of his 12-year-old sister.

He continued: “Before all this happened I was very energetic and outgoing, always doing what was needed to make ends meet for me and my younger sister.  I just don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet now with this gained disability from my attackers.”

He said that after the attack, his left arm is now not functional because of “the severed nerves in my C6 section of my shoulder”.

He continued: “I have to figure out how I’m going to ever finish raising my sister the way she deserves and give her everything I never had… Working won’t be an option for me at the moment until I can fully recover, so even though this hurts me and is so embarrassing to say I’m asking for help from anyone and everyone who knows me personally or who this even touches the slightest.”

Anyone with information is asked to call Boston Police at 617-343-4742.

Two Picture Books Offer Joyous Portrayals of Black Trans Kids and Supportive Families

Two Picture Books Offer Joyous Portrayals of Black Trans Kids

I’m continuing to wrap up the LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ book reviews for the year, so here are two recent titles that share the stories of Black transgender children—one a girl and one a boy—and their supportive families.

My Rainbow

My Rainbow, by DeShanna Neal and Trinity Neal and illustrated by Art Twink (Kokila), is based on Trinity’s own life. The book opens in the Neal’s living room, where Trinity, her two sibings, and her mother and father are sitting together. Trinity is stroking her pet pig, Peter Porker. “She loved soft things, just like many kids with autism, and Peter’s hair was perfect,” we learn. Her father is playing the cello, “enveloping the room in tranquility and making it feel safe.”

That sets the tone for the rest of the book, as the family maintains a safe and supportive place for Trinity and her siblings (including Hyperion, who is nonbinary and uses “they” pronouns). One day, however, Trinity says that she can’t be a girl because she doesn’t have long hair. Her mother notes that she, the mother, has short hair and is a girl.

For Trinity, however, it’s different. “I’m a transgender girl,” she says.

Her mother already knew she was trans. “Trinity’s gender was part of what made her a masterpiece, just like her autism and her Black skin,” she reflects. Yet she senses Trinity is trying to convey something more. She listens, and Trinity explains, “People don’t care if cisgender girls like you have short hair. But it’s different for transgender girls. I need long hair!” Her mom gets it. The problem is, however, that Trinity’s sensitivity to texture means she dislikes how her hair made her itchy when she tried to grow it out before. Her parents confer, but neither has an idea.

Trinity’s older sibling Lucien then suggests going to a beauty shop (where the clerk has a “they/them” tag on her apron), but none of the wigs he and his mom find there seem right. He then has the idea that Trinity needs her very own rainbow wig. The mom works long into the night on the wig, although she has never made one before.

In the morning, Trinity cries tears of joy at the wig her mom made from the colors Lucien chose. The rest of the family comes in as she is dancing joyously and surround her with a loving group hug.

This book is such a pleasure on so many levels. It’s great to see an entire family of color in an LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ book; it’s terrific to see a story with a trans character that doesn’t center around the revelation that they are trans (an important topic, but already done in several books); and it’s so, so, wonderful to see that the whole family is nothing but supportive right from page one. The love of the family for Trinity and their desire to help her shines from every page. Less important, but notable are the antics of Peter Porker, who tries on wigs, paints his hooves with nail polish, and generally provides background amusement on every page—the kind of fun extra details that can make a picture book even more of a delight to read.

Read more about the real Trinity and her family, their fight for transgender rights, and their pet pig, in this 2017 article from DelawareToday.

My Name Is Troy

My Name Is Troy, by Christian A’Xavier Lovehall and illustrated by Chamar M. Cooper, is a self-published title available for sale through the author’s website. “My name is Troy, and I’m a beautiful, Black Trans boy!” it begins, then takes us through Troy’s day in rhyming couplets as he shares what he likes and doesn’t like. “It’s okay that I don’t like dresses, or my hair long in pretty tresses,” we learn. He doesn’t like pink, or playing with dolls, but “it’s okay” that he likes to play outdoors, play sports, camp, explore, and play with bugs. He likes race cars and trucks, vampires, zombies, and collecting rocks. “Like most kids” he also doesn’t like to do his chores. As he goes about his day, we see images from his life and with his parents, who are also Black.

While most of his likes lean towards the rough-and-tumble variety, he’s also “kind and not mean” and tells us, “It’s okay when I cry and need a hug” (as we see the image of his father hugging him). He proudly waves (or wears) the trans flag on several pages, and towards the end, we see a “photo” of him and his extended family as we read, “I love my family and they love me too!”

What the book lacks in a narrative plot, it makes up for with a joyous “slice of life” portrayal that conveys Troy’s self-confidence, enthusiasm, and family support. Trans boys whose activities and interests go beyond the traditionally “boyish” ones that Troy favors might not see themselves reflected quite as well, but they should still be buoyed by his happiness and the love that surrounds him.

Lovehall himself is “a proud Black Trans man with Caribbean roots” he tells us on his website. He founded and organized the annual Philly Trans March in 2011, has worked as a certified peer specialist helping trans people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, and is a certified doula, hip-hop artist, and freelance photographer. The back of the book tells us that this story “is a re-envisioning of the love he wished he received from his family.” He adds, “My Name Is Troy is not only a children’s book, but also a tool to help families see the importance of creating support systems and safer homes for Trans youth.” May his words and his book reach the ears that need to hear them.

Both My Name Is Troy and My Rainbow fill a much needed gap in the picture book representation of young Black trans lives. No one book (or even two books) can capture the entirety of those lives, however. And while the images of supportive families are absolutely vital, one further thing that neither book here shows us is Black trans children playing with friends who are supportive of their identities. Kyle Lukoff’s Max and Friends series and Tobi Hill-Meyer’s A Princess of Great Daring are good models for showing how this can be done. Perhaps that’s a subject for Troy and Trinity’s sequels.


(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

Black queer travel guide wants to build bridges across the diaspora

Black queer travel guide wants to build bridges across the

When straight cisgender people travel, they think about the sun, spending money and which tourist spots to hit first.

But travelling as queer person means having to think about homophobia, and about the more than 70 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal. Travelling as a Black person means having to think about the anti-Black racism that remains entrenched around the world. And travelling as a Black queer person – in a world where more than half of LGBT+ people of colour have faced racist discrimination from within the queer community, never mind outside of it – means thinking about both.

This is something Paula Akpan, the Black British lesbian journalist and historian, knows all too well.

Once, when trying to plan a trip with her girlfriend, Akpan made a list of countries around the world, skipping the ones where they might face threats of violence from racism or homophobia. It left a very small, sad list of places that might be safe. 

“For the longest time I wanted to go to Italy, until I saw Black people being like: ‘No!’” she tells PinkNews.

Although historically beautiful and easy to get to from London (where Akpan lives) Italy has a serious problem with racism, something many travellers might not be immediately aware of. For reasons such as this, Akpan and many like her are reliant on word of mouth when planning.

“I’m very dependent on what other people – specifically Black people, and ideally, Black queer people – have to say about places that they’ve been,” Akpan adds.

“When you’re having a gay bar being described to you, it’s like, but is it white? Is this a space that I’ll feel comfortable with?”

Out of this experience came the idea for The Black Queer Travel Guide, a resource that hopes to stop people from having to choose between their Blackness and their queerness when travelling.

A web app populated by articles written by queer Black locals, the guide would make travel and exploring while queer and Black easier safer and more enjoyable.

Using it would be as easy, Akpan explains, as saying “you have 24 hours in Rio de Janeiro, here are the places that you need to go. And all of these places are Black queer-friendly or Black queer-owned”.

At its heart, The Black Queer Travel Guide is about more than just vacationing – it’s also about connecting and building ties across the diaspora, enabling users to find community in the countries that they or their families are originally from.

“In a country where it’s criminalised to be queer, then of course, you’re going to be somewhat underground, or will be using language or platforms in a way that isn’t as easily accessible,” explains Akpan. “If you don’t know where to look, it can feel like you are the only Black queer person in a country.”

So far, Akpan has created a web app to host The Black Queer Travel Guide with a group of developers, and is crowdfunding to commission Black queer travel writers from around the world to populate it, offering unmatched insider knowledge, authentic information and resources.

Funds raised will also go towards moderating the guide, with second stage funding going towards the development of a fully-fledged app.

“In five years time, I would love to have a downloadable app,” explains Akpan. “You arrive at your destination, you open it and there’s a pinpointed map that shows you what’s going around in your area with ambassadors from various countries who are happy to show people around.”

The crowdfunding site is currently live and welcoming donations here.  

 

 

 

COVID ‘amplifying’ inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

COVID 'amplifying' inequalites faced by queer Black people, study shows

Black LGBT+ lives land in the intersection of racism and homophobia. (Getty/Hollie Adams)

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on Black queer households as decades of discrimination compound economic insecurity, a worrying new study has found.

The report released by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) identifies American communities that are bearing the brunt of COVID-19, noting that LGBT+ households were disproportionately challenged in work, school, childrearing, healthcare, financial insecurity and social isolation.

In particular Black and Latinx LGBT+ people are facing significantly higher levels of financial insecurity, with a shocking 95 per cent of queer Black households and 70 per cent of queer Latinx households experiencing at least one serious financial problem since the pandemic began.

And more than half of Black LGBT+ households have been unable to get medical care or had delayed medical services because of the economic strain of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has disrupted life for all of us. Yet, some communities have borne the brunt: Black and Latinx people, low-income people, and, as this new data shows, LGBT+ people,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director at MAP.

“Decades of discrimination on the job, in healthcare and beyond, combined with uneven legal protections around the country make LGBT+ people more vulnerable to pandemic-related instability and insecurity, with an even more devastating impact on LGBT+ people of colour.”

The long history of racial discrimination in the US is contributing to many problems, but the disparity is also seen in the wider LGBT+ community, with queer people of all backgrounds experiencing increased challenges compared to the straight population.

For example, LGBT+ households are twice as likely to be unable to get necessary medical care and four times more likely to go hungry.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT+ people and their families experienced a job loss or disruption, compared to just under half (45 per cent) of non-LGBT+ households.

29 per cent had serious problems with internet connection for work or schoolwork at home, compared with 17 per cent of non-LGBT+ families. And a quarter were unable to access prescription drugs or experienced a delay, compared to just eight per cent of straight people.

“It’s clear that the COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated disparities that existed before the pandemic,” concluded Logan Casey, policy researcher at MAP.

“LGBT+ people were more likely to struggle with economic stability and have challenges with access to health care prior to COVID, and that’s even more true now.

“The existing patchwork of legal protections is insufficient, which is why we need a nationwide law like the Equality Act so that LGBTQ people in every community are protected from discrimination.”

 

 

 

 

 

Cartoon Network and National Black Justice Coalition Launch Comic Strip Celebrating Gender Diversity

Cartoon Network and National Black Justice Coalition Launch Comic Strip

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and Cartoon Network have launched a cheery new comic starring Cartoon Network characters that highlights the power and importance of respecting gender identity through the use of pronouns.

NBJC - Cartoon Network Gender Identity Comic

The comic, part of NBJC and Cartoon Network’s ongoing collaboration, was designed by members of the NBJC Youth and Young Adult Action Council (YYAAC) with artist Steven Lowe (@steeeeevn), a team of talented creators from Cartoon Network Studios, and leadership from NBJC’s director of education programs and research, Dr. Kia Darling-Hammond.

“At the heart of our work at NBJC is affirmation of the dignity and beauty of our Black transgender, gender nonconforming, nonbinary and other gender-expansive siblings,” said Darling-Hammond. “This comic strip advances our goals by showing what it looks like to treat people with respect, while finding a sense of common humanity. Our hope is that this strip’s audience, of all ages and backgrounds, will feel inspired to begin volunteering their own gender pronouns, respect those of others, and normalize awareness of the existence of people across the gender universe. We believe that recognizing and celebrating gender expansiveness will move us closer to a world where we can all be healthy, happy, and whole.”

NBJC’s YYAAC member Tyler Miles adds that “Part of the excitement of this project is that we are engaging a topic that young people almost always have experience with, but don’t often have the space to discuss. Whether these youth identify as transgender, gender nonconforming, cis, or the multitude of identities therein, this comic is a radical act of trust and care to reach all youth who are beginning to, or have already, thought critically about gender. They are heard, they are seen, they are accepted, and they are loved.”

The comic stars feature characters Craig (Craig of the Creek)Chloe (We Bare Bears), and Stevonnie (Steven Universe) as they meet new friends Kam and Alex while learning about gender, respect, and belonging. Learn more and read the entire four-panel comic at the NBJC website.

TV series replaces Sean Connery with Black lesbian

Sean Connery Finding Forrester NBC television series

Sean Connery’s character in Finding Forrester will be replaced with a Black lesbian in an NBC television adaptation (YouTube)

The late Sean Connery’s character in the 2000 film Finding Forrester will be replaced with a Black lesbian writer in an upcoming NBC television adaptation.

The original film, directed by Gus Van Sant, told the story of a teenager called James Wallace (Rob Brown) who befriends the reclusive writer William Forrester (Sean Connery).

The much-loved film is now set to be adapted into an NBC series, with Connery’s character of William Forrester replaced with a Black lesbian writer, Deadline reports.

The series is being written by The Chi co-executive producers TJ Brady and Rasheed Newson, and will examine “the cost of success and the price of redemption through the unique and between two gifted Black writers”, according to reports.

In the NBC adaptation, the aspiring writer will be a homeless orphan, while his mentor will be a reclusive woman who had her career ruined by a public scandal.

The series will be executive produced by Brady and Newson alongside NBA star Stephen Curry and Erick Peyton, while Ti Story will direct.

It will be produced by Curry’s Unanimous Media as Sony Pictures Television.

Finding Forrester series comes just weeks after Sean Connery’s death.

The new series is part of a deal Curry made with Sony Pictures in 2018, media reports have said. His company, Unanimous Media, aims to put a spotlight on diverse voices and tell stories that deserve to be heard.

The original film also starred F. Murray Abraham, Anna Paquin, Busta Rhymes and Rob Brown, and went on to gross $80 million at the box office when it was released on 22 December, 2000.

Finding Forrester was later ranked as one of the best films of the decade by acclaimed film-critic Richard Roeper.

News of the television adaptation of Finding Forrester comes just weeks after Connery’s death.

The Scottish actor died in the Bahamas on 31 October, aged 90. News of his death led to a huge outpouring of grief from famous figures across the world.

Black Women Organizers Deserve More Than Just Your Flowers and Thank Yous

Black Women Organizers Deserve More Than Just Your Flowers and

It’s starting to become a little bit like clockwork. There’s a major national election, and all over social media there are overflowing streams of stories about how for Democrats, Black women voters are a lifeline. That without their over 90% voting bloc, Democratic agendas would die at the ballot box. Then well-meaning non-Black liberals and progressives write “Thank you Black women!” or “Listen to Black women!” or “Black women will save us!”

It’s true that Black women, no matter the age demographic, lead in voting percentages at higher rates than any other racial and gender groups in the country. It’s less reported that Black women are never voting to save “America from itself” — we aren’t voting to save your democracy. We’re voting to save ourselves. We’re using the most powerful collective tool available at our disposal to save our own communities from the racist, racist (yes I said this twice on purpose and not a typo), patriarchal, violent system that we’ve been saddled with by design.

This year in particular, as so many celebrated the election of Joe Biden and the defeat of the racist human horror show that is Donald Trump, one story began bubbling up — that for the first time since 1992, and after nearly 15 years of “almost purple” promises — Georgia was likely to vote for a Democrat for president (as of the time of this writing President-elect Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by 14,057 votes in the state, 49.52% overall, a number that is going to be hard for Trump and the GOP to overcome, though they are trying their hardest to distract the media with their lies). More than that, the strong turn out had also forced a double run-off for Georgia’s two Senate seats — keeping alive the admittedly slim, but not yet impossible, margin of hope that the Democrats might still be able to gain control of the Senate and therefore Congress as house warming present for the Biden Administration. Giving us a real chance to finally have decent values in the laws of our federal government.

Black women organizers, like former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams of the organization Fair Fight or LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund, and Nsé Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project, became the focal point of this year’s “thank yous” — with Melissa Harris Perry, professor of Black politics and the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University, going as far as to make a biblical joke on Twitter that, “I’d like to see Joe Biden wash Stacey Abrams’ feet with his tears and dry them with his hair.”

When Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 gubernatorial race after rampant voter suppression cost her 55,000 votes — she didn’t just get mad. In a 2019 Vogue feature (aptly titled “Can Stacey Abrams Save American Democracy?”) she told the magazine that she “sat shiva for 10 days” and then she “started plotting.” Her plotting lead her to start the voting rights organization Fair Fight, which along with the efforts of so many other Black women organizers, registered more than 800,000 new voters in Georgia. Abrams told NPR that 45% of these new voters are under the age of 30 and 49% are people of color. But Stacey Abrams and these other powerful women first started organizing to turn Georgia Blue more than a decade ago. Georgia’s demographics don’t match its leadership, that’s a problem of voter suppression, and not a lack of desire. Organizers knew that with increased voter participation, as well as eduction around elections and voter rights — another future was possible.

A thing about America is that we like to celebrate our victories by saying a quick “thank you” and then just as quickly forget the past. But democracy doesn’t work like that. It requires that we remember. It requires that we work. Honestly, it requires that we never stop working. So if you’re excited that Black voters and organizers in cities like Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and Indigenous voters/organizers in Wisconsin and Arizona, and Latinx voters/organizers in Arizona and Nevada, saved America from the majority of white people in this country who felt perfectly fine voting an incompetent, dangerous, racist, misogynist, wannabe dictator back into office — please remember these four things.

First, that none of those communities — who overcame forces looking to discount their vote at rates that are unfathomable and positively dystopian to the majority of white Americans — did that work to save you. Second, you can best honor them by championing (and pressuring your elected officials, especially if you live in “moderate” or “swing” districts, to champion) progressive values like economic justice, Medicare4All, Indigenous land rights, worker protection, climate change, and a radical transformation for how we imagine “policing” in this country that isn’t scared of words like “defund.” Third, that none of those values can be enacted until Democrats take control back of the Senate.

And finally, Number Four — much like Stacey Abrams, still stinging less than 10 days from her gubernatorial loss, there are only 55 days left until the Senate Georgia run off and it is time we get to work.

Look, I am not Autostraddle’s strongest political analyst. And that’s OK! We have a lot of very smart humans on our staff, and I’m proud to be their colleague and editor. I also believe in the good of our community to do actionable work. I believe we don’t have to be experts to help. And there’s still a Senate race win in Georgia (two of them, in fact!). So that’s why I am here today.

If you are reading this, and you are not Black, please heed my words: Black women do not need your flowers. We do not need your Thank Yous. Those overly effusive tweets and Instagram posts? We’re good. Being acknowledged is nice, it’s a beginning. But what we need is for you to follow the example that Black women have set for more than the last 200 years: Roll up your sleeves and Get. Back. To. Work.

Here’s a few places where you can start.


“Fair Fight Action engages in voter mobilization and education activities and advocates for progressive issues; in addition Fair Fight Action has mounted significant programs to combat voter suppression in Georgia and nationally.” (Founded by Stacey Abrams)

Volunteer Local in Georgia // Volunteer Nationally

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“We seek to achieve our goals with the following 5 core beliefs in mind: 1) The key to effective civic engagement and community power is understanding, respecting and supporting local infrastructure. 2) Black Voters Matter not only on election day, but on the 364 days between election days as well. This means we must support individuals and organizations that are striving to obtain social justice throughout the year. 3) Black Voters Matter *everywhere*, including rural counties and smaller cities/towns that are often ignored by candidates, elected officials, political parties and the media. 4) In order for Black voters to matter, we must utilize authentic messaging which speaks to our issues, connects with our hopes and affirms our humanity. 5) The leadership, talent and commitment demonstrated by Black women in particular must receive recognition and, more importantly, *investment* in order to flourish and multiply.”

The Black Voters Matter Fund does work in Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Alabama and Mississippi. (Co-founded by LaTosha Brown)

Volunteer Local in Georgia and also Nationally

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“The New Georgia Project is a nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage Georgians. Georgia’s population is growing and becoming increasingly diverse. Over the past decade, the population of georgia increased 18%. The new american majority – people of color, those 18 to 29 years of age, and unmarried women – is a significant part of that growth. The new American majority makes up 62% of the voting age population in Georgia, but they are only 53% of registered voters.” (CEO Nsé Ufot)

Volunteer Local in Georgia

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“ProGeorgia brings together the power of existing non-profit groups to work in a more strategic way, with new tools and technology, to change the policies of our state. ProGeorgia is building infrastructure by supporting, connecting, and coordinating civic participation efforts of our non-profit member groups. And ProGeorgia is implementing ways to win policy and electoral battles for progressive social change.” (Executive Director Tamieka Atkins)

Volunteer Local in Georgia

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“Georgia Strategic Alliance for New Directions and Unified Policies (Georgia STAND-UP), a Think and Act tank for Working Communities, is a Georgia alliance of leaders that represents community, faith, academic, and labor organizations that organize and educate communities about issues related to economic development. With the goal of alleviating poverty and encouraging regional equity through the empowerment of leaders and the inclusion of community benefits, STAND-UP empowers residents to ensure economic development meets the needs of their neighborhoods.” (Executive Director Deborah Scott)

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Love Conquers All wedding giveaway theme revealed: Black is Queen

Love Conquers All wedding giveaway theme revealed: Black is Queen

Love Conquers All wedding giveaway theme revealed: Black is Queen