Kiesha Jenkins – Say Her Name

This article originally appears on For Harriet. Reposted with the author’s permission. 

In a dynamic time of #BlackLivesMatter, the conversations around the violence inflicted upon Black bodies have been become more and more prevalent. However, despite the fact that the intention of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter was to always be inclusive of all Black lives, that has not completely translated to the movement. We’ve already seen examples of openly hostile and homophobic behavior of Black cisgendered men in the form of “Straight Black Pride.” This type of violence within the movement is only one example of what is the daily experience for trans and gender nonconforming people.

2015 has been a year marred by violence, and this pain is palpable when discussing the number of Black trans women who have been murdered. Most recently, the life of Kiesha Jenkins was taken in Philadelphia, making her the 20th trans woman to be killed in the United States this year. In the wee hours of the morning, Kiesha was allegedly approached by six men who proceeded to savagely beat her. At the height of the attack, one of her assailants pulled out a gun and shot her in the back, a move that ended her life despite the efforts of first responders.

In the days that followed, more information on Kiesha’s death has left her community with lingering questions. Therefore, when the news broke that the police were investigating the possibilities that Kiesha was being robbed or partaking in a solicitation deal gone wrong, advocates rightfully cried fowl. The only thing “robbed” in this tragic situation was Kiesha’s life and the hesitation of the Philadelphia Police Department to pursue this as a hate crime. This is troubling. This (lack of) action can set in motion an incomplete form of justice and would only be a reflection of a system that failed her in life as well as in death.

As of Oct. 12th, one of her attackers had been arrested and three more are being sought. The police have set up a $20,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of her other attackers, yet in spite of this, I fear what is to come. I am fearful because of the intentional lack of dialogue around Black trans lives outside of queer communities. I am fearful of my fellow Black cisgendered women who do not see the necessity of amplifying and centering the work of trans sisters who push back against this system and are always present at vigils for Rekia Boyd and Aiyana Stanley-Jones. I am fearful because we, myself included, do not consistently show up for Black trans women when their lives are taken from us. But what can we do to combat this?

Vital work has been done to (re)centralize Black queer voices in the movement and address the lack of visibility for trans and gender nonconforming people. When BYP100 called for a National Day of Action for Black Women and Girls, organizers around the country hosted actions for #BlackTransLiberationTuesday. Organizers in New York captured the moment and not only called out Black cisgendered people on their complicitness in the erasure of trans lives in the #BlackLivesMatter movement but also gave us tangible actions and steps to reshape the ways in which we engage in movement work.

But as the number of murders continue to rise, now more than ever is when we have to start showing up on all levels if we ever hope to truly consider ourselves as comrades in the struggle. Looking forward, we have to start having honest conversations about the erasures of trans lives from our conversations on Black Lives Matter. We must be prepared to be made uncomfortable when called out on our complicitness and lack of action because our sisters (not just our cis-ters) are dying.

#SayHerName

Community–

We are honored to be sponsoring this incredibly important event taking place tomorrow evening at Union Square (southside), alongside our friends and comrades of AF3IRM NYC, Yeah That’s What She Said, Black Lives Matter NYC, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project and many more.

We hope to see you then.

In solidarity,
the SCC


 

#SAYHERNAME – A Vigil in Remembrance of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police

Wednesday, May 20 at 5:30pm
Union Square (Southside) 

Background: Although Black women are killed, raped and beaten by the police, their experiences are rarely foregrounded in our popular understanding of racialized state violence.

Join us in remembering Black women and girls who have been victimized by the police, but whose experiences are all too often relegated to the margins.

If the loss of their lives matters;
If the grief of their families matters;
If the impunity with which all Black lives can be taken matters;
Then we cannot allow these tragedies to remain unmarked, silenced and forgotten.

This vigil is being held the evening prior to May 21st, a national day of action to end state violence against Black women called by BYP100.

Sponsoring Organizations:
African American Policy Forum
BYP100
Black Lives Matter NYC
Justice League NYC
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Stop Patriarchy
One Billion Rising
The Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform
BK Nation
Judson Memorial Church
The Precedential Group
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression
CONNECT
Donkeysaddle Projects
Brooklyn NAACP
AF3IRM
Yeah, That’s What She Said
Black Trans* Women’s Lives Matter
The Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform
Empowering Women of Color at Columbia Law School
Sister Circle Collective
the Revolutionary Communist Party
Sadie Nash Leadership Project

 

#FeministsOnTheMove – Press Release

image Media contact:   Veronica Agard – veronica.agard@gmail.com AF3IRM & SISTER CIRCLE COLLECTIVE CALL FOR A STRONG WOMEN’S PRESENCE, WOMEN’S VOICE AT THE MILLION PEOPLE’S MARCH NEW YORK:   From 92-year-old Pearlie Golden, killed in Atlanta, to seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, killed in Detroit, Michigan, police violence has impacted and continues to impact the lives of  black women and girls, as well as queer, trans and gender-nonconforming people.   It is time, says AF3IRM NYC and the Sister Circle Collective, to pay attention. Under the hashtag #feministsonthemove, the two organizations are inviting women, queer, trans, and genderqueer folk, as well as allies, to help create a strong woman’s contingent for the 13th December Million People March against police brutality.  Participants are asked to gather at Washington Square North/5th Avenue at 1 pm. We are asking anyone who would like to join to wear purple as a sign of unity in this struggle. “The message is simple:  state violence directly affects black women and girls, queer, trans and gender nonconforming people. The violence against black women and girls, queer, trans and gender nonconforming people, has been persistent and ranges from physical mauling to sexual assault.  It is time to acknowledge this and add it to our understanding of state violence and police brutality,”   said Olivia Canlas of AF3IRM NYC. “We cannot change what we do not name.   The violence against black women and girls, including queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people, has been with us for as long as such violence was inflicted upon black men.  It is as significant an aspect of state violence and police brutality,” said  Lanai Daniels of Sister Circle  Collective. Police brutality against black women, girls , queer, trans and gender nonconforming people occurs in practically all states of the United States.  Yvette Smith, 47, was killed in Texas;  Nizah Morris, 47, was killed in Philadelphia; Miriam Carey, 34, was killed in Washington, DC;  Rekia Boyd, 22, was killed in Chicago;  Kayla Moore, 42, was killed in Berkeley, California; Tarika Wilson, 26, was killed in Ohio;  Alberta Spruill, 57, was killed in New York as was Shereese Frances, 30.  We seek to call their names on the streets and the names of many others who have been murdered by law enforcement. The intent in calling attention to the constant police violence against black women, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people is to be inclusive, not divisive. It is to acknowledge the black women leadership of this movement, the anti-black racism prevalent in many communities of color and to show solidarity across racial and ethnic lines and the intersections we hold as women, girls, queer, trans and gender nonconforming people. Importantly, it is to recognize that minority communities, especially the Black community, is systematically  targeted as a whole, but that there are special actions directed against black women and girls, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people in particular. One such case involved Daniel Ken Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma police officer, who has been charged with sexually assaulting seven African-American women.  He is also accused of burglary and felonious stalking.  He is currently out on bail. “When we say #blacklivesmatter, that includes black women’s lives, black girls’ lives and the lives of black queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people.  State violence, as manifested by police brutality, is not piecemeal,” said Veronica Agard  of Sister Circle Collective. The women’s contingent is both an expression of active participation in the opposition to the murder of black men and a statement of protest against state violence inflicted upon black women, girls, queer, trans, and gender nonconforming people.   —  # #blacklivesmatter #blackwomenslivesmatter #feministsonthemove #holditdown #assatataughtme #angelataughtme www.af3irm.org; nynj@af3irm.org https://www.facebook.com/AF3IRMNYC http://www.sistercirclelcollective.org ; sisterscirclecollective@gmail.com http://www.facebook.com/SisterCircleCollective