Thursday, January 01, 2009

In Solidarity

TransGriot Note: One of the things I want to do this year is foster open discussion and communication between transwomen and our biosisters about various issues. From time to time I'll be opening up TransGriot to various women of color bloggers in order to facilitate these conversations, and I've been invited to do the same on several of their blogs as well.

My Canadian sister Renee of Womanist Musings kicks off this series of posts.

Hello everyone, my name is Renee and I write a blog called Womanist Musings. I would like to first say thank you to Monica for sharing her space with me. It is a real honour to be given an opportunity to blog here.

On my blog one of the things I focus on is having the conversations that no one else is having. I believe that unless we speak for the marginalized and exploited bodies of this world they will continue to be ignored in our quest to amass greater and greater privilege. This is detrimental not only to us as a society, but to our little blue planet.

I have spent a lot of time in conversation with Monica recently. Yes, she is as marvelous as you think she is. In our conversations we seem to come back to one reoccurring theme, the need for cisgendered women of color and trans women of color to unite. As a womanist I have had many dealings with the feminist community and one thing has become overwhelmingly clear, though many pay lip service to intersectionality, it really is about progressing the needs of white women. While discussing my frustration with feminism with Monica, she related a similar story about the trans movement.

Oddly enough I met Monica when she came to cuss me out. I laugh about it now because we have developed a wonderful friendship, though girlfriend still owes me a cornbread recipe. At any rate, as we got to know each other and share our different experiences the more I began to realize that if two individuals, hundreds of miles apart from each other could forge a bond based in our mutual frustration with racial discrimination and a belief in our self worth, then it is quite possible to create a larger coalition.

Black women are not strangers to work. From the moment we stepped on this continent in chains ours have been lives of intense labour. We have worked under the cruel threat of the lash and we have more often than not laboured to benefit others. When you examine any social justice movement you will find white people in leadership roles with black women serving as support staff. The one commonality of all organizations or corporations is the distribution of labour; it is the support staff that does the real work without any real acclaim, or reward. I am tired of whiteness being the face of my labour, and I am sick of whiteness being the beneficiary of my blood sweat and tears.

TWOC and CWOC have divorced from each other and given our energies to our separate social justice movements. The end result of this is that neither one of us has been able to achieve much social progress, nor are we in leadership positions in our respective groups. Essentially we have allowed whiteness to divide and thereby conquer us.

When I talk to Monica, I know that I am talking to a comrade in arms. We have dealt with many issues that are common in our efforts to try and achieve equality for WOC. Our blackness and our femininity are our common bond. There will be times when we face different issues based in the fact that I am cisgendered and that she is a trans woman; however our desire to forge a relationship has caused us to focus on our commonalities, and talk our way through difference. This has reinforced my belief that we must begin to coalition build between cisgendered WOC and trans WOC. Whatever petty divides we have had in the past must be released if we are going to move forward as women.

No one is out there fighting for us; and therefore we must join forces and fight for each other. The issues of my Trans sister of color are my issues. When she is harassed on the streets, beaten or murdered it very well could me, and knowing this cisgendered women cannot turn their backs. TWOC are attacked as much for gender issues as they are for their race. Their vulnerability is my vulnerability.

In this coming year it is going to be my goal to try and forge more bonds with my trans sisters in the hopes that we can stand together and fight the forces that oppress us both. I know that my freedom can never truly occur until my trans sisters are also free. We are women and we are one. If the world cannot recognize this we must join together and make them see what their privilege denies. Together in solidarity I cannot imagine a force of nature stronger than black women aligned in the cause of justice.


Renee said...

I just want to say thanks again Monica, I so appreciate you opening your space to me. BTW if you think I am forgetting about the cornbread you have another thing coming. LOL

Monica Roberts said...

I'm sure you'll remind me until Ii e-mail it to you.

Happy New Year sis and great piece.

eileen said...

Oh, this is wonderful! I read Womanist Musings often. "If You Can Make A Black Woman Smile" had me bawling like a little baby. Renee is just as awesome as (you) Monica and the idea that *all of us* can come together to work together for change, understanding and acceptance is a beautiful thing. This makes me very happy. :-)

Polar said...

Renee, I was at the Delta House speaking with Monica tonight, and the discussion of which cornbread recipe you'd prefer, came up. Dawn and I are going to assist Monica in this, because, while the TransGriot is a woman of many talents, the kitchen is not quite her workshop.

As you may have heard, there's many ways to make cornbread. Do you prefer yours sweet, or unsweetened?

The best cornmeal for making cornbread that I have used, is available here: They will ship to you. Their cornmeal is stone ground from Kentucky grown corn in Midway, KY., has no preservatives, and includes the corn bran and germ, which is not normally present in most commercial cornmeals. Adds to flavor, and adds that fiber we all need more of. (no, I don't work for them).

Monica Roberts said...

That she is. We've had some fascinating conversations while getting to know each other

She's now at #15 in the BBR rankings and probably will be in the Top Ten before this year is over.

Renee said...


I prefer a sweet cornbread as I normally serve it with something savory like chilly or even a good roast please.

Go Go Jo Jo said...

Great post and great project. I look forward to seeing more of what happens.

Monica Roberts said...

Jo Jo,
So am I. I'm interested in seeing how this will develop, and how much Hateraid will come from the peeps that DON'T want to see us work in a unified manner.