the national republican convention came to an end tonight. sadly, so did whatever was left of the american fallacy of “all lives matter.” while the RNC has generously provided endless material for memes, tweets and posts, it was also the scariest shit we have seen this fuckin’ year. the above gif just being one of the million reasons why. notice the very intentional pause and positioning of the hands at the beginning of the wave.
laughing is a form of resistance. we honor that. we also want to remember that there are those of us who identify (or who are identified) as muslim, gay, queer, trans, undocumented, latinx, disabled, and/or activists who are whispering mantras tonight to calm rattled nerves before sleep tonight. whispering “this cannot happen, right?” “he will not win.” “we didn’t come this far to lose.”
if we thought or somehow tricked ourselves into thinking that RNC was not a threat, here are three sobering reminders:
1. THIS IS NOT A DRILL! this shit is real! posts like these could actually and literally be illegal in just a matter of months.
2. white supremacy is not maintained by just privileged white folks. milwaukee county sheriff david clarkeeven is just one of the prime examples but let’s be clear, so was rodney jenkins’ daughter’s “cute” performance tonight. many of the black and brown speakers were all part of a strategic ploy in maintaining white supremacy as an elite club that is accessible to black and brown people who “fall in line.”
3. trump is serious. he may be a joke to millions but he is dead ass serious. remember, people once laughed at hitler.
keep creating memes. keep tweeting. keep posting. keep laughing. keep whispering mantras. and please KEEP FIGHTING AND RESISTING!
sometimes, often enough
i feel that i will come undone
beneath the weight of a million eyes
watching gardens of strange fruit on repeat
my hands are heavy with grief
and the hope i worked so hard to build
that once filled my lungs
today, all fell away at the bone
my heart is set ablaze with rage
that i can no longer tone
the way we did while we ran
across a promised land
where white sheets roamed.
sometimes, often enough
i speak your names into the skies
and wait for any kind of reply in the wind
we ask ourselves again
what’s left after truth?
just proof spilled on pavements
our patience outlined by chalk
as we continue to walk
in the the fields alone
where white sheets continue to roam.
the moon in full bloom
stood perfectly balanced
behind the wondrous wings
mommy imagined you possessed
as she watched you swing
my wailing pain became a quiet ache
and the smile that broke across her face
told me of a story
of the tracks she traced
to get to this very place
where we now stand firm
soaked in blood and tears
and ready to burn
all of the fields where white sheets roam.
louie a. ortiz-fonseca
write. create. rage. be angry. smoke. drink. laugh. cry. march. post. take care of yourself and each other.
them, whom i love: but the news
me: listen to your eyes.
them, whom i love: but the law
me: listen to your eyes.
them, whom i love: but not all…
me: listen to your eyes.
or at the very least, listen to
the shackles of your chains.
listen to the ache and weight of
worry you carry every day.
listen to your mind, when it
if i “talk” white, i
will be alright.
my love, listen to your eyes
- louie a. ortiz-fonseca
white supremacy is: murdering our children on video and then telling us that our eyes are lying.
Her name was Tina. I called her Miss Tina. She was black, tall, muscular and unapologetic about her sometimes revealing 5’oclock shadow. She often referred to it as her “daytime” look. She was my mom’s best friend. I studied her like I should have been studying my math homework. I wanted to identify that one “thing” that made her magical. I wanted it for myself. I wanted to be as fabulous as Miss Tina.
It was the mid 80’s and the height of my mother’s crack addiction. If my memory serves me correctly, it was the height of my entire neighborhood’s crack addiction. In many ways, the crack epidemic was the equalizer in our neighborhood. My mother had friends who were lawyers, blue collar workers, bikers and business executives. I watched them roll in and out of our bedroom “apartment.” I never paid them much mind. Probably because if I did, I’d get my ass whipped for being nosy. But it was my mother’s friend Tina that always left me mesmerized.
She’d visit my mother at least two times a day. Once after work, where she would show up wearing a hard hat, jeans and construction boots and then, right before going out to paint the town red, she would show up looking like our neighborhood’s own lovely Donna Summer. This transformation always inspired me. She was my first tangible proof that we create our own beauty that we become.
I’d ask her questions about her nail color and shoes. I really wanted to ask her how to beat up the boys who called me “faggot.” I was always too scared to admit that even at 8 years old I was called a “faggot” at school. Whenever we chatted, however brief the conversation, I felt like I was the only person in the world. Tina was God and I was praying at the altar.
One night, I woke up to hear my mom and Tina talking, whispering and crying. Our apartment, which was just a large room, was separated into two rooms by a clothes line and sheets - me and my brothers on one side with the TV and my mother and Tina on the other side sitting at the table near the kerosene heater. “I think you are going to need to go to the hospital,” I heard my mother say. I couldn’t make out Miss Tina’s response but from what I could gather from the tone, her answer was a resounding “Hell no.” The conversation and crying continued. I peeked through the sheet and saw Miss Tina’s bloody and swollen face. I wanted to ask what happened but even then I knew that she too got beat up for being herself, the way I got beat up during lunch at school. Miss Tina was brave enough to tell my mother, to tell someone.
As I got older, Miss Tina and I developed our own friendship. We’d talk about Janet Jackson, fighting and AIDS. We talked about the night that she showed up bloody to our room. She told me of the times she showed up bloody somewhere and found ways of performing her own triage. She told me how she endured. “Make every fight for your life the fight of your life, honey.” She told me to never do drugs or get AIDS. She told me of all the other Trans women who were murdered or succumbed to the AIDS epidemic and then buried as men. Sometimes I cried when she spoke. Sometimes I simply wanted to set the entire world on fuckin’ fire. Sometimes, I still do.
Miss Tina died in late 1996. 20 years later, I still speak her name. Miss Tina! I still say her name to keep her history alive because Trans women are still fighting for their damn lives and Trans women are still being murdered. Miss Tina! I say her name because some of us have not moved from whispering about these murders to shouting and disrupting systems of oppression that reinforce violence against Trans women. Miss Tina! I say her name because some of us still post Transphobic memes on our social media accounts for a cheap laugh. Miss Tina! I say her name because some of us are quick to celebrate Caitlyn Jenner for her bravery and courage but intentionally misgender Trans women in our own communities because they do not look “real” or “pass.”
Miss Tina! I speak her name because some of us “out” Trans women on Instagram. Miss Tina! I scream her name because her history is our history. I scream her name and the names of all the Trans women who have been murdered this year. I scream their names because screaming makes people uncomfortable and be uncomfortable. We should be holding each other crying. As cis-gender Latino gay men, we should all be clenching our fists, raging and making the fight for the lives of Trans women the fight of our lives.
Miss Tina! I say her name because Trans lives mattered in 1989. Today, I also say their name of the 13 Trans women who have been murdered this year because Trans lives matter now!
Yazmin Vash Payne
Taja Gabrielle DeJesus
Kristina Gomez Reinwald
London Kiki Chanel
Update: Friday, August 14th, was the absolutely bloodshed as the body of Angel Elisha Walker, a black Trans woman was discovered. The murders of Ashton O'Hara and Kandis Capri were also reported. This is a state of emergency! 14 of the 16 murdered Trans women were Trans women of color. This violence is an affront to our community, our families and our revolution.
Today we say their names:
Angel Elisha Walker
in 1997, i found myself
at my first philly pride event when a tall handsome and bearded white
man approached me with a pen and clipboard. i remember rolling my eyes; i didn’t
want to sign another petition for some cause that did not directly impact my
life as teen. i was polite though and entertained him by letting him give me
his spiel about gay marriage, which is what it was called in the 90’s. when he
was done, i immediately responded with, “well, i don’t believe in
marriage”. he didn’t flinch. he nodded his head and replied, “well do
you believe in choice?” i paused then signed the petition. of course i
believe in choice, i did then i do now. it was that one interaction however
that would challenge me to explore my thoughts and beliefs about marriage. it
was that moment, with that handsome, bearded white man i asked myself, were my
beliefs independently mine or those influenced by systematic homophobia?
growing up no one ever directly told me i would never be “allowed” to get married. i assumed by just existing and breathing that the kind of love i dreamt about could only be expressed through sharing monthly utility bills and other such grown up type responsibilities. i unconsciously surrendered to that notion. loving myself and loving another brown man was political enough for me and my mother, who up until her last breath, taught me, told me and reminded me that my kind of love always mattered. so marriage was not something i reached for.
twenty years later, on june 26th, 2015, the supreme court of the united states of america ruled that i now have the right to marry. this is a historically huge step forward for the community i have identified with since childhood. this is worth celebrating and we should, i will, i am. young queer kids can now grow up dreaming of expressing their love and commitment to other queers the same way my straight peers can. no longer will law stop this life altering expression of love. this ruling will serve as yet another reminder of our existence in this society. how we love and who we love matters because we are citizens of this country and deserve equal rights.
as i celebrate this historic ruling, and I DO because it now provides my son an other youth with new possibilities of what love can do. however, i caution myself with the words of gran varòn orlando gonzalez, “… if we have money to paint rainbows on cross walks, then we can certainly find money to house queer youth who sleep on those crosswalks.” i would add, “the will”, to house all the black and brown queer youth who sleep on those crosswalks. the mainstream lgbtq civil rights community must do more with regards to lgbtq communities who continue to be crushed by systematic oppression. some of us do not have the luxury of celebrating this historic moment because they are being held in immigrant detention centers. some of us are not celebrating because we’re worrying about we’re to sleep on the night of such a monumental decision by the supreme court of the united states of america; and some of us will never be welcomed to celebratory parties because of the shade of their skin and/or their gender expression.
all those who worked so tirelessly for a chance at being recognized by our government through the institution of marriage must now prove black lives matter, trans lives matter, poz lives matter, all lgbtq lives matter.
we have not reached the end of the rainbow, not yet, but it still shines, stands and glimmers with hope.
louie a. ortiz-fonseca
Over the past week, conversations about the construct of race have dominated social media. I won’t go into the fact that brown and black people have long challenged this construct and have paid a heavy price for it. However, few have shifted this “new” conversation that conveniently has “new” language (transracial) to shine light on the apartheid currently taking place in the Dominican Republic.
Admittedly, I have struggled with how to approach this horrific reality without imposing the judgement of developing countries that I have been socialized to believe. I have written and rewritten this piece about one hundred times, carefully crafting a statement that is informed on every level. As a Boricua, who was raised on the mainland, North Philadelphia to be exact, I recognize that I am not directly impacted by the history and continued tension between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, as a member of the Latin@ community, I do believe it is vital that we all stand in solidarity with all those who struggle to survive an oppressive state that often times robs us of our humanity.
We as Latinxs must address the anti-blackness that exists within the fabric of our culture and history as we again come face to face with the irrefutable evidence of the hatred it breeds. For all of us who work with and beside our undocumented family and friends, we cannot act as if our battles for freedom and citizenship here in America are not connected to the struggle of Haitian-Dominicans. It is not enough to simply place blame without understanding how the oppression in developing countries fuels a parallel experience of pain, anger and outrage. Haitian-Dominicans are suffering the very same systemic oppression that has socialized us all to believe, promote and reinforce the idea that the lives of poor people do not matter, that Black lives don’t matter and that queer lives don’t matter. Oh yes, queer folks are among those who will be facing detention and deportation in the Dominican Republic.
Our families have all courageously ventured to new land, seeking freedom and/or sanctuary. How dare we not honor our history by standing with others who have done and will do the same, others who continue to face violence for seeking these same human rights? #Not1More extends far beyond the borders of America. The foundation and promise of #Not1More must reach all corners of the earth, reminding us that humanity always trumps patriotism.
As this was going to “print”, details of the horrific act of terror in Charleston, North Carolina began to surface. And even now, it is clear that the only Black life that matters in this country is Rachel Dolezal. BBC is the only media outlet covering this at length. If you continue to keep up with this story via “popular” media, pay close attention to how media will humanize this US terrorist. Then remember that just two weeks ago, the young black teenage assaulted by police in McKinney, Texas was not provided the same opportunity of humanity.
We send love & light to all impacted by the war on black and brown bodies. We are raging with you. We are crying with you. And we are standing with you.