Avoidance, Mass Shooters & Violence Against Black Trans Women
Day Eighteen: Don’t underestimate the power of shame to dictate your life.
Do you use your pinky finger to type ‘p’ on the keyboard?
A stranger posed this question on Twitter. More than ever, I rely on the Internet’s beloved bird app to provide conversational fodder. Distractions to kick up the dust, something to rev up my hopeless, sputtering social motor.
It’s easier to talk about my pinky finger than to talk about anti-Black racism. I’ll talk about every stupid thing except for anti-Black racism. In fact, I’m so sick of saying the phrase “anti-Black racism”, I don’t ever want to see those words strung together again.
These are often the subconscious thoughts we harbor before we spew something ignorant or hateful, walk away from an honest conversation with a Black colleague, or crawl into a very large, shared delusional bubble where racism doesn’t exist.
Every time I confront my feelings about anti-Black racism, the more I realize how right Black people are.
I feel bad.
I wonder, if non-Black people spent more time sitting with their own thoughts, could race scholars have spent the years they dedicated to multi-disciplinary studies analyzing why people respond so poorly to anti-Black racism talks, vacationing in the South of France instead? Just living their damn lives? Doing whatever the fuck they want? Could I be vacationing in the South of France instead of this?
I know why most people don’t speak regularly on this topic, that’s because it’s exhausting. Behind the wall of fatigue though is the reality of how little we really care, a bit of sociopathic ambivalence. We witness an act of horror, like the unjust murder of George Floyd and after a few days of expressing outrage, we go back to our normal factory setting: repression.
Don’t get me wrong, take breaks. Go shopping and support Black-owned businesses. Pretend life is good for a few hours or a whole week like I did.
Come back though. Come back and see how frustrated you are. How disappointed you are. How guilty you feel. Are you really tired of Black people talking? Or are you just tired of lying to yourself that you’re a good person in a bad world? Maybe you think that racism never managed to penetrate your way of thinking. It’s absolutely unreasonable for you to think that racism could have dictated such personal decisions as who you married, who you decided to be friends with, who you decided to work for, and who to vote for.
Dana Martin, 31, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Montgomery, Alabama, on January 6. Daroneshia Duncan-Boyd, an Alabama-based trans advocate, said that “she was a person that was loved by many.”
Ashanti Carmon, 27, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on March 30. “Until I leave this Earth, I’m going to continue on loving her in my heart, body, and soul,” said Philip Williams, Carmon’s fiancé. “She did not deserve to leave this Earth so early, especially in the way that she went out.
Claire Legato, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Cleveland on April 15. Friends and family took to social media to mourn Legato’s death, remembering her as someone who was “full of life.”
Muhlaysia Booker, 23, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Dallas on May 18. Friends, family and advocates across the country took to social media to mourn Booker, sharing their shock and disbelief. “Such a beautiful spirit taken too soon,” wrote one person. “She lived her life and loved all of who she was.”
Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, 40, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Philadelphia on May 19. Washington, who was also known by the name Tameka, is remembered by friends and loved ones as a beloved sister and “gay mother.”
Paris Cameron, 20, a Black transgender woman, was among three people killed in a horrific anti-LGBTQ shooting in a home in Detroit on May 25, according to local reports. Alunte Davis, 21, and Timothy Blancher, 20, two gay men, were found dead at the scene and Cameron was taken to the hospital, where she died from her injuries. Two other victims were also shot but survived. “This case illustrates the mortal danger faced by members of Detroit’s LGBTQ community, including transgender women of color,” Fair Michigan President Alanna Maguire said.
Titi Gulley, 31, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Portland, Oregon, on May 27. Her death was originally reported as a suicide but is now under investigation.
Chynal Lindsey, 26, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in White Rock Lake, Dallas, with signs of “homicidal violence” on June 1, according to police. Friends, family and community members took to social media to share their shock at her death, describing her as “smiling” and “a person I had never seen mad.”
Chanel Scurlock, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in Lumberton, North Carolina, on June 6. “RIP baby,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “You [lived] your life as you wanted. I’m proud of you for being unapologetically correct about your feelings and expectations of YOU.”
Zoe Spears, 23, a Black transgender woman, was found with signs of trauma near Eastern Avenue in Fairmount Heights, Maryland, and later pronounced dead on June 13, according to local reports. “She was my daughter — very bright and very full of life,” transgender advocate Ruby Corado, the founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, told HRC. “Casa Ruby was her home. Right now, we just want her and her friends and the people who knew her to know that she’s loved.”
Brooklyn Lindsey, 32, a Black transgender woman, was found dead in Kansas City, Missouri, on June 25, according to local news reports. “I love you, Brooklyn Lindsey,” wrote a friend on Twitter. “I shall live on for you. Rest in power, sista.”
Denali Berries Stuckey, 29, a Black transgender woman, was found fatally shot in North Charleston, South Carolina, on July 20. “I lost my best friend, first cousin,” wrote a family member on Facebook. “We were more than cousin. We were like brother and sisters. I love you so much, Pooh.”
Tracy Single, 22, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Houston on July 30. “Rest in power and peace Tracy,” wrote Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender advocate. “You were taken away from us way too soon.”
Bubba Walker, 55, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late July. Walker was reported missing on July 26. She is remembered by friends and family as “one of those people who was really fun to be around. She was very kind and she loved helping people.”
Kiki Fantroy, 21, a Black transgender woman, was fatally shot in Miami on July 31. Fantroy’s mother remembered her as having “a heart of gold” and being “a very loving person.” She also pleaded for justice for her daughter, saying, “My baby, my baby. Please help bring justice to my baby.”
Pebbles LaDime “Dime” Doe, 24, a Black transgender woman, was killed in Allendale County, South Carolina, on August 4. Doe’s friends and family remembered her as having a “bright personality,” and being someone who “showed love” and who was “the best to be around.”
Bailey Reeves, 17, a Black transgender teen, was fatally shot in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 2. She is remembered as “a person who lived her life to the fullest.”
Jamagio Jamar Berryman, 30, a Black gender non-conforming person, was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, on September 13. Local activists and community members joined family and friends at a vigil and took to social media to mourn Berryman’s loss.
Itali Marlowe, 29, a Black transgender woman was found shot in Houston on September 20. She was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, as reported by Monica Roberts of TransGriot. “You deserved to live a full and robust life surrounded by people who embraced and celebrated your real self,” wrote Sue Kerr, an LGBTQ columnist.
Brianna “BB” Hill, 30, was fatally shot in Kansas City on October 14. Kansas City Police Capt. Tim Hernandez told local press that the alleged shooter remained at the scene until they arrived. She was a beloved member of her community, a fan of the Kansas City football team and loved spreading joy by sharing funny videos on her Facebook page.
Yahira Nesby, 33, was fatally shot in New York on December 19. Nesby, a Black transgender woman, was a loved member of the New York ball scene. Her friends and family commented on social media about her death, calling Nesby “a good spirit,” “genuinely good people,” and said “Every time [Nesby was] around [she] put a smile on my face and others.”
Source: Human Rights Campaign, Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019
The suffering of Black trans women does not affect me. If I don’t go out of my way to care, I won’t feel bad.
I find thoughts like the one above to be both delusional and factually true.
Whichever forces are at play here, they’ve gained enough power, momentum, and permission that such a violent and complete expression as murder is happening and in increasing numbers. Innocent people are being murdered. How can we think such potent forces which prey on members of our own race, the human race, not eventually touch everyone? How can this level of hatred go unchecked and not grow in power? It’s delusional to think otherwise.
Yet, the very reason, much like how White supremacy maintains power, is that we remain in denial of its existence by constantly suppressing our horror. We don’t ask ourselves, “Why is this happening?”
Of course, we have names for ‘why’. The Human Rights Campaign says, “a toxic mix of transphobia, racism, and misogyny.”
What do these things really mean for us and who we are, how we feel when we’re lying in bed at night?
I can only make sense of these things by seeing them as a set of choices, a marriage, a commitment made from moment to moment, to fear, hatred, and rejection.
I can’t help but see the faces of young white men who decided to go to a school or a mall and shoot innocent people. So much shame oozing from their pores, minds crushed by the weight of rejection from women, caregivers, and their peers.
I see shame.
Shame keeps dirty secrets buried. It keeps us from acknowledging the very things that need to be seen precisely because they are so very wrong.
You’re probably not tired, you’re probably ashamed and so were these mass shooters. So should we be when innocent women, before they’ve even had a chance to live past the first quarter of their lives are murdered.
How does shame play a role in your anti-Black racism?
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