The past few months have been nothing short of overwhelming. From a pandemic that drastically shifted the way we do life, to powerful Black Lives Matter protests that are forcing people to recognize systematic oppression, to a very different Pride month celebration back in June, life in the United States has been filled with tension and uncertainty.
As I reflected on this tumultuous time, I kept recognizing the specific intersecting challenges that the Black transgender community is grappling with, especially at a time when these folks should be celebrating Pride Month by watching parades expressing themselves to the fullest, rather than marching in the street to stop police violence and defending Black lives. But, the first Pride was a riot, and I suppose this year the riots have come full circle.
On top of protesting for equality, Black transgender folks already face a myriad of different oppressions, from high unemployment and homelessness rates, unfair treatment in the healthcare system, and higher rates of targeted violence, among many other systematic issues directly related to discrimination. It is tragic and unacceptable to realize how many Black transgender folks may not have access to regular income, jobs, shelter, and healthcare, especially during a worldwide pandemic. These already unfair conditions are only compounded with the dangerous toll coronavirus is taking on our nation, as millions have become unemployed in the recent months. So when our Executive Director, Maya Smith, offered our team the opportunity to donate $250 in our name to any organization we wanted, I knew that the Marsha P. Johnson Institute was the perfect choice.
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is named after the incredible activist and drag queen who is well known
for her advocacy for gay rights and a notable figure in the Stonewall riots, which is also known as the original Pride. Her advocacy supported the LGBTQ+ movement, and much of her work focused specifically on helping homeless transgender youth. This powerful organization aims to “protect and defend the human rights of Black transgender people.” Through artist fellowships, community organizing fellowships, and the Freedom Beyond Imagination Coalition, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute centers the “arts and community organizing” to “honor Marsha’s commitment to human rights and showcasing her flair for life.”
When considering the trials Black transgender folks are already consistently facing, I can think of no better organization to support during this difficult time. The pandemic may be taking a dangerous toll on this community, but the work the Marsha P. Johnson Institute does can support and uplift the lives of Black transgender folks in our nation.
To learn more about the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and how you can support this organization, check out their website at https://marshap.org/