Current events are hardly ever the topic of my writing. I am a sensitive person, and I get very passionate and emotional about things; it’s best that I take some time to process it all. But this business about Trayvon Martin is everywhere, and in the spirit of healing my very tender heart, I must talk about it.
People are talking race now like you wouldn’t believe. Tim Weiss wrote an eloquent and insightful post, Christy Oglesby wrote this opinion piece about her son, Huffington Post has so many articles about it, I couldn’t begin to read them all. Of course, race relations in the US have always been a constant topic and source of research and academic discourse, however, it is now front and center, flooding our media and forcing us to talk about it.
Everywhere folks are vehemently denouncing the actions of this Zimmerman dude and calling for an honest look at race and racism in this country. Of course, you also have those other people who think those of us who feel that this killing, this murder, is about race are delusional. I won’t argue racial theory or white privilege or go into institutionalized racism. Tim Wise and others are doing a fine job. Selfishly, It’s my household that I’m thinking about.
My partner is transitioning from the gender people expect and the one she really is. The recent travesty with Trayvon has rerouted a portion of my enthusiasm and transformed it into skepticism and worry. Our world is going to change, and I must be prepared for it. I must be prepared for the moment when my love ceases to be seen as a queer black woman and is seen instead as a black man.
Despite the fact that I am most often seen as a straight, black woman, I am still a person of color in a predominantly white city, and I experience my share of racism. Still when my partner and I are together, and we are read as however we are read, the occasional funny looks are nothing compared to what men of color endure on their own. Once my partner is read as a black man, the way people interact with us on the street, the way we receive service, our degree of highly visible invisibility will change.
The thought of this makes me want to steel myself, prepare much like Christy Oglesby writes about in her piece. Remind myself that people aren’t always going to see my loving, incredibly sweet, kind, artistic soul of a husband. Sometimes, they will see scary black man. And I don’t appreciate that shit.
People who say this isn’t about race, and that black people – hell, people of color in general – need to quit whining, need to take a look at reality. I’ve never had one of my white male friends tell me they’d been stopped and randomly searched or harassed by the police. But almost every single one of my guy friends of color has been. They’re not criminals, but they’re also not white. It’s just one small example, but even weekly or monthly harassment like that is enough to fuck with someone’s psyche. And in some parts of the country, that harassment is a constant accompaniment to daily life. There is emerging dialogue about this from black trans men, and I hope it continues. It needs to continue. As the partner of a trans person, I also feel it is my responsibility to contribute and to be aware.
I don’t want my love to become an even greater target than she already is. I don’t want her to be followed or stalked or assaulted. I don’t want her to have to worry about what part of town she is in and when, any more than what’s just fucking sensible. I don’t want her to become hard and angry, trying to navigate this new life, this new way of being seen in the world. I don’t want her to change because people have suddenly changed how they see her.
I don’t want anyone to ever see her as just another dangerous black man.
In an ironic state of helplessness, I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop what may happen from happening, I can’t protect her, anymore than I can predict my future or abuses. I can only hope that she Is able to walk around in this world proud, free, and undeterred by the ignorance of others. I can only hope that any added difficulty from her perceived sex and gender is offset by the liberation of being true to herself and comfortable in her own skin.
I can only hope that if she’s in a rich white neighborhood in Somewhere, USA, that whoever she comes in contact with is able to see reality, and not view her through the eyes of their own hatred and fear.
** May Trayvon Martin rest in peace. **