the philosophactivist

Monday, June 13, 2016

Owning Orlando

We are all complicit in what is happening/has happened in Orlando and the numerous other meeting places of "marginalized" folks that have been targeted by law enforcement, disgruntled townspeople, terrorists, etc. The American people need to own Orlando. Own what it's really about. It's about the premises that this country rests upon. It's about the colonizer's legacy: White supremacy, patriarchy, xenophobia, war-mongering, genocide, etc. (And in saying this, let's acknowledge where the colonizers came from and that it's not just an "American" problem, as a significant portion of the world has been affected by colonization).

Many of us are broken and scarred, healed and healing, wounded healers, victims, perpetrators all at the same time. My questions will always be- what do communities of healing look like and how do we continue co-creating them in the face of trauma and tragedy? What does OUR healing look like when layers upon layers of genocide continue to happen? When our movements are rooted in centuries, millenia of injustice and barbarity. Yes, there is room for the therapy of acknowledging, talking, protesting and I wonder- who among us will co-create circles of healing, join together our healing super powers/ancestral inheritance (whatever they may look like- cooking for our families, energetic and/or or physical healing, going to the capitol, staying at home in bed and healing, reaching out to loved ones, writing articles, poetry, making street art, etc.) and form an even larger healing, liberatory network of folks resisting the narrative that we will always be wounded, marginalized, dependent on the dominant for our liberation (funding-loans, grants, land, health, etc.)

This is what I KNOW: my ancestors did not survive what they did for me to sit around complicit in any of this. It is an affront to all they endured and overcame. People may see my blackness, my queerness, my gender variance, my illness as marginalization but, in reality, those are my superpowers. It's why I connect with medicine making the way I do. Colonization, colonialism...the colonizers, those folks who are commemorated in statues, plaques, money, etc. ...they are the reason my superpowers are seen as weaknesses and reasons to be murdered. But my ancestors knew that people like me had healing powers and that our otherness was sacred. This knowledge is what I try to share with our queer communities (especially our QTIPOC) communities so they know the Truth about who we are and where we come from.

Let's continue to address the ills and legacy of colonization in substantial ways. Let's continue to look at our place, the ways that we perpetuate patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. and what we're doing within our own families and communities to address this. And let's understand what we need to heal individually and collectively when these tragedies happen. How are we healing from historical trauma and present-day tragedy? Who is holding us? How do we need to be held? It is too much to handle alone..."self"-care here is not going to be enough.

We need collective healing and collective liberation.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Liberatory Medicine, QTPOC Healing Histories, and Online Knowledge Shares

**Cross-post from QueerHerbalism blog**

May has been a busy month. I returned from a few weeks in Puerto Rico building with some amazing co-visionaries: Maria Reinat-Pumarejo (Colectivo Ile- Africa en mi piel, Africa en mi ser), a phenomenal organizer and Raul Quinones Rosado (C-Integral), a liberation psychologist. Both do anti-racist trainings with PISAB and also facilitate Latino Challenges Toward Racial Justice workshops. We talked about anti-racism, liberation, colonialism in PR, decolonization, psychology, organizing, health and healing, and so much more. So needed and nourishing! I also got to spend some time with brilliant herbalist, organizer, and author Maria Benedetti of Botanicultura (FINALLY!) We ate and sang and she discussed her new novel, Dolores y Milagros. I also went to Finca FlamboyanT, a queer land project in Sabana Grande. It is a sanctuary, artist retreat and home with so many fruit trees and medicinal plants. Speaking of retreat- I stayed with Michelle of the Nietas de Nono in Patio Taller- another amazing artist retreat space (and space for youth organizing and so much other amazing work) with a beautiful herb garden and fruit trees. Hers is located in Carolina. We shared such insightful conversation about community, organizing, art, herbs, you name it. I also hung out with some created family members who really helped me out when I was living in PR last year. Without them I would not have survived. En serio. I restocked my zines and added some new ones at La Chiwinha, a fair trade ecotienda in Rio Piedras. And last but not least, I revisited Casa Mucaro high in the mountains of Las Marias. This communal land houses musicians, puppeteers, and artists of many persuasions. I stayed there in 2014 and was able to really focus on the Queering Herbalism Encyclopedia and I did a talk for the Sistah Vegan Conference (organized by genius, diversity strategist, scholar and critical theorist Dr. Breeze Harper) "The Vegan Praxis of Black Lives Matter" entitled Transvisibility, Survival and Solidarity which was part of a joint talk “ALL Black Lives Matter: Exposing and Dismantling Transphobia and Heteronormativity in Mainstream Black ‘Conscious’.

Yes! My trip as inspiring as it sounds. I am so grateful for the amazing people in my life who are doing such tremendous work. My heart was so full. I was so nourished during my journey this month.

When I returned I began working on two new zines and I put together the Liberatory Medicine Collection which contains the 4 second edition volumes of your decolonial herbal favorites: Queering Herbalism 1, Herbal Freedom School 1 and 2, and the new Partnering with Plants guide. Through this Sunday 5/29 the collection which has a $40 value is $25.

You can purchase here:

Partnering with Plants is also only $5 through Sunday 5/29. Use the code: PWP2016. <3

You can email me at for sliding scale discounts on the collection or to barter/trade medicine, knowledge, techy skills, etc, etc...I really need help designing flyers, websites and online courses and on making audio and video courses more accessible to those with different abilities.

In June I will be at the Philly Trans Health Conference sharing on QTPOC healing histories and your purchases will partially go toward making that happen.

So what's this about online knowledge shares? Well, after much ado and some folks asking to be my "students" I decided to finally put together a little something online to see how it goes. A couple prototypes if you will. I won't reveal too much yet but I will say that one accompanies the Partnering with Plants guide and will be 4-6 weeks long and is a mini-program of sorts, while the other online knowledge share is a longer course- a full 3 month program- that explores all the volumes of the Queering Herbalism Encyclopedia. Ok. Cats out the bag. Hold me accountable to rolling these out this summer. Send me some messages and emails letting me know of your interest so I know all this hard work is going to resonate with some of you out there.

Well- I guess that's "it" for now. Be on the lookout this month for the mini-program/online knowledge share. I'm working on the flyer as we "speak". The registration page will be up soon.

Healing and Justice,


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Not Really Creating Change


Creating Change recently canceled a discussion with ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) officials because of pushback from organizations like Not1More, Familia: the Trans and Queer Liberation Movement, the Transgender Law Center, GetEqual and the TransLatin@ Coalition in Florida. A petition and hashtag (#IceOutOfCC) were created. It has since been shared through social media 2,600 times. It seems just a few days was enough time to put pressure onto the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that hosts the yearly event.

From the petition page:

Is Creating Change a safe haven for all of the LGBTQ community or isn’t it? 
That’s the question we are left asking when we saw that representatives of Immigration and Customs Enforcement were invited to hold a caucus at the conference. 
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the agency that oversees the detention centers where 1 in 5 trans detainees will experience sexual assault and is in charge of deporting us to our potential deaths. Our families and community continue to be terrorized, deported, and separated by ICE, just this month ICE raided many homes and deported over 100 Central American children and women.
But right now that same agency is an invited presenter at Creating Change. 
ICE has no place at a conference that, at its basic principle, should be about providing a safe home for all LGBTQ people. 
The National LGBTQ Task Force fails in providing that sanctuary if it provides a platform to the agency that allows the physical and sexual abuse of trans undocumented women inside detention and at the same time refuses to meet with trans undocumented organizers to hear from the most impacted. 
Our families and community face ICE’s terror on a daily basis, we shouldn’t also have to face it at the conference where we come together to create change. 

Please join Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, GetEQUAL, Not1More, the Transgender Law Center, and the TransLatin@ Coalition/Florida in demanding the National LGBTQ Task Force and Creating Change affirm that the conference is a sanctuary for all LGBTQ people by denying ICE entry and a platform and for ICE to instead meet with trans undocumented women and grassroots organizations off-site to discuss how to make real change and end the inhumane detention and deportation of LGBTQ people

Here is the response from the Task Force:

"Sue Hyde here. I am the director of the Creating Change Conference. In early Fall, we received and reviewed a proposal from three ICE officials to convene a caucus for the purpose of engaging attendees about ICE detention policies. As we reviewed the proposal, we perceived that ICE officials would get important and critical feedback and input that might lead to improving policies on detention of LGBTQ people in ICE facilities. Creating Change seemed an important gathering for ICE officials to hear from advocates on these matters. Then came the recent wave of deportation raids. We took action to cancel the session, which was completed today, Monday 1/11/16. I apologize for the original error of accepting the session. We should not have done that. The presence of ICE officials, whether uniformed or not, poses a threat to undocumented attendees at Creating Change. I have heard, loud and clear, that this was a breach of trust and one that I very much regret."

Why they can miss me with all of this

I'm perplexed. They have so much whitesplaining to do...

Unless ICE is planning to completely put an end to deportation and detention centers completely and not just get ideas for how to better detain Queer and LGBT people (of color!)- I'm not really sure why a conversation is necessary. What dialogue is there to be had in a space that's supposed to be safe for the very folks they are hoping to "engage with". Of course they want to "engage" with the immigrant activists at the conference to get some ideas to take back to headquarters. Why this was acceptable is beyond me. This was a huge misstep that deserves some accountability. Someone on one of the discussion forums mentioned they should have a panel on why this happened. I agree. Obviously folks are out of the loop on the realities of immigration and detention and also on what it means to be a safe space for those undocumented folks in our community. This eminds me of the collaboration with police in Austin for QueerBomb and the fallout around that. Just because law enforcement doesn't pose a threat to you as a privileged white person of middle class standing doesn't mean that everyone has that experience. If you are going to say you are a safe space for "The LGBT Community" you have to think about these things. There are no excuses. And saying "Well we've learned from this now" is not enough. You've violated a lot of folks trust. If you had more undocumented immigrants and folks of color in your organization or organizing your conferences, perhaps this debacle would not have happened.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

New Beginnings, Same Old Struggle for Existence

Here I am, sitting in my new place in the DMV (DC/MD/VA) thinking of how I got to this place after all these years. Six months ago I was in Puerto Rico living a life of struggle but trusting that the ancestors would give relief. And they did. I spent the latter part of the spring and most of the summer back in Austin recuperating from all I witnessed and experienced in la isla del encanto. I was disenchanted with many ways that things transpired over in that colony but so appreciative of the friends that were there to help me when I needed them most.

Housing insecurity has been something I have been coping with for the last few years and it is definitely not a big secret that many folks of color, especially queer and disabled folks of color, deal with this frequently. So- now I'm sitting in an apartment in the DMV grateful for shelter though largely disappointed in the management company hopefully is not preying upon low income folks by offering subpar housing to those of us who have no other choice because we don't have the best credit due to our economic insecurity. Our survival is of no consequence to many management companies. We are just a piece of another fat paycheck.

I'm sitting here freezing in my living room where the heat doesn't work and during late summer, the cold air wouldn't circulate. They just had to knock down a part of the wall to fix the piping that was leaking and had the wall rotting. And don't even get me into other aspects of this place. We spent the first month and a half of living here with maintenance in and out of our apartment for repairs that should have been done before we moved in.  Lots of times management companies expect us to appreciate that because at least it is semi-affordable and they accept section 8 and guarantors. These are some of the only apartments that seem to have open doors to us low-income folks, so those of us without many choices must put up with it. I've been in conversations over the past month with different managers and higher ups and I will write about that soon- especially about the issue of my limited ability as a person with chemical sensitivities and an autoimmune disorder and their blatantly misleading residents to believe they are a smoke-free community. Disability injustice. (**update: though management says they sent out a notice to everyone about not smoking in common areas, we didn't receive one in our mailbox and there are no signs to indicate that there are smoke free areas or that this quadrant is smoke-free, which I discussed over a month ago with the manager).

Folks, be careful when you are apartment hunting and you find apartments that seem to be a steal. I will keep you updated on the saga and be looking out for an article on housing justice and the experiences of our community and similar situations in a few media sources.

In other news,

I have been writing a zine entitled Survival and Sustainability as required reading for the Food and Urban Change class at the University of Texas at Austin and I am really loving doing research for new essays. This weekend I am finishing up the last of the essays. One is entitled TransVisibility, Survival and Solidarity and speaks about economic insecurity and food insecurity within Queer and Trans communities. The other is entitled Sankofa, Survival and Sustainability and speaks mostly about the African diaspora, our agricultural legacy and white supremacy within the sustainability movement (especially the food justice movement). It has felt amazing to be writing again after so many months of struggling to survive. My job right now is pretty soul sucking but it is paying the bills and I have shelter which allows me to focus a bit more on writing about the injustices black and brown and QTPOC communities face. Being here so close to the capitol (and cradle of colonialism) just deepens my commitment to voicing the Truth about what we deal with day to day. Finding a job that sustains me here in this astronomically priced place has been sobering. I've been so close to being hired and I can't help but wonder if my trans identity, or my natural hair, or my blackness, or my resume with so many organizing jobs is what keeps me from having a paycheck that actually signifies my true worth. Or is $11 an hour is what they think I'm worth?

I'm working at this job where I get misgendered and called by my birth name all day every day, which is violent. I'm being subjected to air fresheners and toxic cleaners even though I've said I have chemical sensitivities. I sit for sometimes 12 hours a day with no true breaks, though this is against labor laws and I have talked to my supervisor about my limited ability due to my lupus diagnosis. This is America folks. The marginalized have fewer choices every day. I could choose to be housing insecure again. I could choose to only write and do what I believe in...but that would also be choosing to struggle to pay for my life-sustaining medicine and to feed myself food that won't exacerbate my autoimmune disorder, like I had to do in Puerto Rico.

Every day I wonder if there is a better way. If I am doing something wrong. And every day, the answer is still the same...I was born brown and gender non-conforming in a white supremacist, homophobic and transphobic country. My ancestors were the first capital in this capitalistic nation. My marginalized life does not matter and my existence is inconsequential to the running of this country. Audre Lorde said that we were not meant to survive and every day that I had to eat only one meal or lived near a grocery store with food I couldn't afford or a clinic I didn't have access to, I felt her words. Every time I go for a job interview, I know the deal. I know what it means to not be a good "cultural fit" for these non-profits, and NGOs. I know there can only be one token and I'm tired of fighting other trans folks for the few trans jobs where I can be all of me. And they keep encouraging women and QTPOC to apply for these jobs, yet expecting all these years of experience and master's degrees or doctorates, even. It's a joke. They don't really want us. They want the thought of us so they can appear "progressive". They want our voice only if we are saying what they want us to say and if we can get our communities to nod their heads along to their agendas.

Caring about sustainability in the face of not being able to survive or exist- you have to laugh. I have so much more to say. So much more to get off my chest. But, be on the lookout for a few new zines over fall and winter for those words.

And check out Queering Herbalism and the Herbal Freedom Schools. I've got a few new volumes coming out soon.

Healing and Justice,


**Update 10/27/15**

I spoke with some folks in management and admin. They came to our apartment and heard us out and promised to fix what needed to be repaired- starting with the AC unit. For the past few weeks they have repaired things little by little as we have had to coordinate schedules. It is unfortunate that we spent the first month dealing with repair after repair but we are glad that management has taken notice and this is being taken seriously. The heat is working (though the vents make a weird noise and my vent is still not fixed) and there are some seriously drafty windows in my room that, I kid you not, make it 10 degrees cooler in my room than the rest of the house. I have two quilts on my bed now to deal with it on the colder nights. We are waiting to hear back on scheduling the last of the repairs (a few not mentioned here) and on the rent situation. We haven't seemed to hear back on the latter, though we were told that the situation would be taken care of. I guess we need to wait for November's statement to confirm that they've kept their word on the decrease. I'll keep you posted. I hope to collect some feedback from a few residents. One of my lyft drives was lamenting about living here when he came to pick me up and my co-worker shook her head when I mentioned that I lived here...we had a long conversation about the experiences of her friends living in this complex.

Once again, a housing justice article has been in the works for a few online media sources!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Struggle in Paradise

True, transitions are rarely easy. At least in my case, they haven't been. People don't normally associate an island full of sea, sand and sun with the other S- word, struggle. When people think of Puerto Rico, they think- tourism. Salsaing on the sand. Eating fried foods from the kiosks and drinking creamy pina coladas and watching the sunset. Relaxing. Hiking in the rainforest, etc. People (other than Puerto Ricans) rarely think of this little isle (actually an archipelago) of paradise- La Isla de Encanto- as a colony. An actual colony with pseudo-autonomy, political prisoners, a tragic history of quelled resistance, racism, colorism, U.S. dominated commerce affecting everything from agricultural export and imports to the cost of shipping or if a businesses will even ship to you because you live in a " U.S. territory." Hmph. I learned this the hard way. Associated free state?

The struggle for basic needs- like affordable fresh food not from China and other countries thousands of miles away, land to grow said food, a decent education, decent housing- and most of all EMPLOYMENT are so very real. The U.S.' dominance, paternalism (or is it imperialism...), and control under the guise of pseudo-autonomy is much of the reason for the strife here. "Manifest Destiny" has shown itself to be a sentence of poverty for those colonized by the decree.

Many of us know how expensive it is to be poor. Creditors prey upon you, making their money off your struggle. You pay more for interest on your house, credit cards and other loans. You pay more for gas in your neighborhood due to lenders charging more to gas stations because it is a higher risk area. And here in this particular colony, since 90% of food is imported- the cost of shipping is shouldered by the consumer, seriously affecting those living in poverty. With so much being imported, things are really expensive. Folks pay a lot due to monopolies on gas, electricity, water.

There are many who talk negatively about the number of Puerto Ricans on the island receiving public assistance. Those who do, fail to see that a)the percentage is not correct b)systemic causes c) classism. classism. classism. (which is closely tied to colorism/skin color here.)

My Struggle in Paradise

I got here fully aware of many of the circumstances. I knew of the economic struggle and colorism and in just 2 months my awareness deepened. It started when I got sick with the chikungunya virus. Then when I tried to shop for healthy food and when I tried to get holistic medicine and later when I tried to get medicine shipped to me from online since it was difficult to access.  Then there was the inefficient transportation. I heard the U.S. actually tore up the tracks to a train that used to connect major cities all around the island so it could build highways and later, tollroads.

My biggest struggles have been with health issues, access to healthy, affordable food and have housing security-- the struggle of many folks of color, especially queer folks of color. I've been houseless for a few months now, but not without shelter. I didn't expect my economic situation to magically change when I got off the airplane but I guess I expected my connecting with healing and spirituality to ground me through the hardship and make it less of a struggle.  It is true that it has lessened some of the hardship. Constantly I have tried to focus on the fact that I have all I actually need but it never really did feel secure or stable being in someone else's house with so much of life so up in the air.

I came here to live my values and write about the history of this island, connect with my beautiful surroundings and with buena gente but rapidly I became distracted with trying to exist.  Self-doubt, questions of worth, negative self-talk would wrack my brain sometimes. My health  throughout my time here has fluctuated. The virus has come around for a second bout. One day all these light splotches appeared all over my face and my joints hurt really badly on top of my lupus symptoms. It' was extremely hard to reach out and I didn't want to burden folks- because hey, folks think I'm in paradise, right?

I thank the universe and ancestors for my handful of created family who sent me wellness care packages as I struggled with lupus symptoms and heinous viral symptoms. So many times I sat in gratitude with calendula oil on my face, sipping a mixture of papaya and mango leaf tea and wondered how people without herbal knowledge were faring with the virus. A few times I made medicine and  housecalls for those who had been afflicted.

I chose this path. Or did it choose me? I chose to walk the road less traveled. I chose to walk alongside my ancestors. Healing does not always feel good. Sometimes we must bare our wounds, re-open our wounds, constantly before we can be healed and in order to help others to heal.

Exploitation and Resistance

When you don't have much money, you must compromise a lot with your living situations. I was a seriously exploited domestic worker, I lived with mushrooms and black mold growing in our walls, I lived in situations where there were environmental triggers for my lupus symptoms, I lived in a situation with a substance abuser. Why? Because I didn't have a lot of options.

You see, in Puerto Rico there are two faces. One face is the one that the ricos and tourists get to see. They have money and can afford decent housing and a car/rental car and to shop at the expensive grocery stores and see the sights of the island yet close their eyes to the struggle. Sometimes they stay around in beach towns and flip and rent out houses or build condos or start businesses that cater to other ex-patriates, tourists and ricos.

The other side of Puerto Rico is the side where folks are seriously struggling to survive. They live in neighborhoods with lots of stray animals, there is no transportation, maybe there is crime on their block, and existence is just hard. People work two and three jobs, share food, and rely heavily on family and friends for support through the hardship. I didn't have a lot of friends in Puerto Rico so I was vulnerable to those who seek to exploit volunteers and WOOFers (farm volunteers) and interns. Many times I got different prices or quoted higher rent because I'm not from here and they thought I was just another rich tourist from the States.

At some point I had no choice but to start standing in my power and not letting exploitation happen. During one housing exchange, when I was suffering through emotional violence and exploitation from a person not even from the island, my ancestors spoke up loud and clear. They said that if I continued to let people walk on me, that I was letting those people walk on their legacy. That changed something in me. I began to see that in trying to be my authentic self and my values, that it was about more than just me. It was also about the integrity and struggle of all those before me. If I lived in fear and let myself be exploited, I wasn't respecting all the courage and resistance of  my ancestors and predecessors. So from that day, I stood up for myself in ways I never had before. I found my voice in the most triggering and traumatic of situations. I left situations that were unhealthy. I left situations where energy was seriously imbalanced or where I felt that the person was not authentic or true to themselves or the community. I also learned that I couldn't hold that against some folks, because they really weren't aware of what community actually is or what a collective looks like or what co-healing looks like. The colonial mentality is really real. Our minds start to be colonized at really early on and actual decolonization doesn't just happen from going to a workshop or hanging out with anti-authoritarins and anarchists or anti-oppression organizers. It takes an actual shift in consciousness, an internal shift and collective action.


In the last 7 months I have had to be more creative than I have ever been to survive, whether to secure housing, food or my life sustaining medicine.  I began to realize that some folks will never understand the struggle. Some folks will never understand what it's like to not know if you will have a meal one day. They'll never understand what it's like to not know where your next meal is coming from or where you will find shelter tomorrow or next week. Some will never know what it's like to not know if you will have your life sustaining medication.  They will pass judgement on how and why you are where you are at as if  it is your fault or you deserve it. Why? Because we live in a meritocracy. Here you work hard and you get what you deserve, right? But my story tells otherwise. If I was a white (cisgender) male with my same qualifications- education and experience, I would have a lucrative position at a non-profit or I'd have my own business with financial backing. Instead, because I am a brown, gender non-conforming person who lives life authentically and doesn't f*ck people over to survive, I am in a precarious situation. Check out these links to see how trans folks of color like me are experiencing economic justice:

I have such gratitude for those friends who rescued me from some intense situations, housing me, sharing meals with me and being of emotional support. Ya'll were key to my survival and your support has meant life for me in some life or death situations. At a time when we were all struggling to survive, ya'll came through and I appreciate you.  I realized early on that in a colony such as this, when you don't have money to secure your situation, you need family or friends to survive. Ya'll were my created family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Afrovisionary Economic Justice 

As an act of survival and resistance in the face of our capitalist economy built on the currency of black and brown, queer, trans and disabled bodies, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Instead of continuing to be chronically underemployed due to circumstances beyond my control (being brown, visibly genderqueer, and chronically ill), I decided to create my own (community-supported) job using my skills, knowledge and experience. I call this the Afrovisionary position. In my new job I create new writings, skillshares and workshops for contributors and communities. The first campaign raises 6 month's salary.

It took a while to post the campaign for a number of reasons. One, some people close to me were also starting fundraisers for survival and I wanted to wait until they were close to their goals. Yea. I know that is really buying into the scarcity model. But I do feel like folks think "Well I gave this much to so and so, so that's enough..." I wanted to avoid that. Also, I dealt with major issues around self-worth and being vulnerable to so many by voicing my struggle and asking for monetary help. So many of my queer friends of color are struggling, too. But I knew I had to be courageous and try. There was no other choice.

Besides, this community-supported salary is a healing affirmation that my life and work matter. My voice is important. My work is important. I am important. And my inheritance is more than these carrots they dangle in front of us hoping we will assimilate. It is more than broken promises for an American dream always on credit that I could never qualify for or afford,. My inheritance is more than false notions of survival from a society composed of multiple systems with no intention on helping me, or folks like me, to ever to thrive.

The Afrovisionary Economic Justice campaign is at:

Please, if you are able, contribute to my act of resistance to a capitalistic, transphobic, ableist society that invisibilizes QTPOC and devalues our knowledgebase, work, and lives.

And please share widely with your communities.

Yours in Truth,  Power and Healing


Check out my short film, Survivin', that was created at the QWOCMAP Film and Freedom Academy

Survivin' cinepoem:

Click below to check out what I was up to in Puerto Rico:

Queering Herbalism 2

Resistencia: Sangre - Puerto Rico video

Friday, November 28, 2014

Shutting it Down Without Shutting Down

So, it's the holidays. You just want to sit down and spend time with the fam/loved ones/ yourself and not have to think of cities burning, police violence...injustice. You turn off Facebook, the TV, and stay offline for self-care because remembering hurts. Seeing so blatantly that black lives don't matter to many with institutional and positional power, the power to make many decisions that affect our day to day lives and well-being, shakes you to the core. And deep down you already knew this, you knew this before you were born. It is part of our DNA.

Those of you who are retraumatized by all that is happening, I hope and pray you find balm for those deep psychic wounds with friends and created family and in community.

Those, like me, with chronic illness perhaps sitting at or being pushed to the margin of these movements because you can't physically be on the frontlines , know that you are enough and you are doing enough. Your healing IS part of these larger movements.

Another way that those of us not having the mental, emotional or physical capacity to be in the streets can take part, besides in taking care of ourselves and our loved ones, is to not shop today. One day. No matter how great the sale, it is not worth the cost.

Help those putting their bodies on the line to shut places down- cities, stores, highways, by simply not purchasing a single thing today.

Help #ShutItDown

It's part of the healing this country needs.

For more on trauma and DNA:

Historical trauma and microaggressions:

Healing collective and multigenerational trauma:
Info on Ferguson:


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Trans* Day of Remembrance/ Resistance/Reclamation

This is a speech I gave at City Hall in Austin, Texas last year. It is printed in the zine Philosophactivism 2 and can be found HERE.

Audio coming soon...

Trans Day Of Remembrance/Reclamation/Resistance
City Hall Austin,TX

November 20,2013


Tired of survivin’/strivin’/ bribi’n …you to see my potential/credentials/my mentals/tired of survivin’/strivin’/to stay alive when/some peeps got this privilege/and all I got’s my soul to give/never thought about sex work til the economy tanked and went bisserk/became comfortable in my gender/inhabiting spaces/places/you wouldn’t wanna be/havin’ brown skin and bein’ queer/you can’t see me/invisible/and divisible/my community -is…

tired of survivin’/strivin’/hard to stay alive when…all you ever hope for is to take another breath/that you don’t catch your death/no time to worry about cultural theft/bereft/of heritage/society’s no longer sparin’ kids/so why me? You buyin’ beamers a schemer with an HDTV and all I wanna do is breathe/some fresh air/eat food with no toxicity/complicity/you blame us for/but this capitalism is pimpin’ you/yep your the whore/and …my people…are…

tired of survivin’/strivin’/to stay alive when you got ends and wealth/but we have to live our lives in stealth and assimilate/to keep food on our plate/fork and knife/we get tired of life/strife/ all these signs/the confines/bein’ on the grind/ and you can’t see the injustice/ of the majority of brown men bein’ in the prison system/ and you pushin’ for the expansion of ‘isms/

DAMN I’m JUST tired of survivin/strivin’/to stay alive when all you can think about is amassin wealth and gettin benefits/when the only benefit I get is grime and grit/and my will to uplift/my people/to awaken sheeple and zombies/but you want to be wearin’ abercrombie/and handin’ us your truth/ while poisonin’ our youth…

Man I’ma survive/stay alive/fight with each breath til the day that I die/for justice/and the end to your privilege/and white-given birthright/til the day we all know we’re descendants of kings and queens/and our spaces reflect this/til poverty and inequality/we wreck this/check this…you got a powerful enemy…but if you wanna work through this you got a friend in me…cuz we will survive! And with each death we cultivate the will to stay alive/your foot won’t be on neck for long/ we’re gonna right all these wrongs/ this isn’t rhetorical/or metaphorical/ this sh* is going to end/the patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia, racism, will fall…it’s up to us brown folks to pick up the phone …answer the call Get involved, get this sh* solved..we barely survivin’ but without comin’ together we can’t run…but crawl.


Tonight, I want to talk to you from a place of Power.

Perhaps many of us know that surviving….waking up day to day is a miracle in itself. It’s our resistance as folks who are found carefully tucked away or perhaps violently shoved into the margins. Some of us know it’s a revolution when we can still find ways to support others when we ourselves are finding it hard to smile or eat or sleep or make it through another day.

Trans* people of color have disproportionately higher rates of incarceration, unemployment, and homelessness. We receive poorer quality health care (if any) due to multiple levels of discrimination and we are often victims of police brutality, domestic and street violence. Transwomen of color are murdered at a much higher rate.

Victims. The media, grant writers and fund developers always paint us as victims…what about those of us survivors? What about us trans folks of color who are living, ordinary superheroes who sit invisibilized in this movement 364 days of the year? Resisting behind the scenes, at the frontlines of your movements but at the margins of your minds and policies, inching ever so slowly toward our liberation with the few organizations that exist that are willing to make our needs, hopes and dreams a priority- like allgo and the Audre Lorde Project, among a handful of others.

Now, I said I was going to talk to you from a place of power but it’s important to begin by giving the proper context for this state that we’re in now. It’s also imperative to actually name the institutions and systems in place that are constantly trying to render trans folks, and more frequently, trans folks of color, powerless. Such as the legal system, institutions of education, foster care agencies, law enforcement and immigration, health care institutions, etc. And lets be more specific- the people in these institutions, holding up these systems.

It’s important to acknowledge that race further complicates this picture we paint of transphobia. Skin color further limits access to numerous systems we now need for every day survival. And many behaviors and interactions displayed by individuals and groups within the LGBT and queer community further lead to us trans folks of colors’ subjugation, exploitation and dehumanization and make it harder, and many times, impossible for us to survive.

Now that you have that background from the poem and intro…

As a brown, genderqueer I’m going to tell you what I know of my ancestors…your ancestors…our Trans* and queer predecessors because I feel it’s important for us to know who and where we came from if we are going to move from surviving to thriving. It’s important for us to understand our legacy so that we can better understand our power and purpose.

Remembrance is a form of resistance.

So let me tell you a story. Not his story not her story…but OURstory.

First Nations Elders tell of a people who were gifted among all beings because they carried two spirits, that of male and female. Some say that these individuals were looked upon as a third and fourth gender in many cases and in almost all cultures they were honored and revered. Two-spirit people were often the visionaries, the healers, the medicine people, the nannies of orphans, and the care givers. They were respected as fundamental components of our ancient culture and societies not just in the Americas, also in South and East Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and many other places around the world.

Many tribes were aware of the existence of two-spirit, gender-variant people and many still have a name in their traditional language for them.

There were rituals that determined if a child was two-spirited. Children of both genders would also spend time with healers, who were often two-spirit people. A Two-spirit child’s childhood was marked by acceptance and understanding by the whole tribe. Two-spirit folks were known to be able to 'see' with the eyes of both biological men and women. They were often called upon to be healers, mediators, interpreters of dreams, and some devoted their lives to the welfare of the group.

Two-spirit, gender non-conforming, and gender variant folks were revered for centuries. We had the gift of prophecy. We were messengers of the Creator. Keepers and teachers of spiritual principles. We were called upon to conduct burials, bless unions and births, and perform many, many other important ceremonies. Prosperity and even existence as a people depended on us and we were considered sacred.

Because we had both maleness and femaleness/masculinity and femininity totally entwined in one body, we were usually presumed to be people of power. Because we embodied both Mother Earth and Father Sky, and held both a masculine and feminine heart within our souls…two spirits…we were perceived as having twice the power.

As beings that transcended gender, we were thought to be better able to be fair. We were thought to be able to see into the hearts of both males and females. We were called on to be mediators. We were seen as bridges. Mediators between two worlds- that of Spirit and the human world, as well as mediators between partners, tribes and nations.

In older world religions the gods and goddesses in-between genders were viewed as whole-gendered and balanced.

Some say that two-spirit people are an affirmation of humanity’s pre-gendered Unity, the representatives of a form of solidarity and wholeness which transcends the division of humans into men and women. A third gender.

When people operate from a dual gender perspective, upholding the gender binary, one can only imitate the behavior of one the given two genders leaving no room for authenticity for those of us who don’t identify with either of these genders.

Transgender and Gender variant folks transcend conformity and in this patriarchal society set on two genders and the dominance of one over the other, we pay the price.

European colonialism has had a harmful effect on many transgender traditions all over the world. Occupation and religion has erased and destroyed a lot of our history and we have been forced to assimilate into a social construction that does not work for us. Will we continue to perpetuate it at the expense of being usurped of our power?

We have to continue to resist being othered. Resist marginalization. Question those boxes that we were not born to fit in.

We have been awakening to our Truth. It is imperative for us to continue reclaiming our cultural and spiritual roots even though our histories and our ways have been suppressed or, in some cases, completely destroyed during colonization and assimilation. We must continue to resist. We must refuse to be erased. We have to assume our rightful place as teachers, healers, and leaders.

Though I am a Trans* person of color, I am not a statistic. Though this day is about remembering those who have not survived, I am alive and already fully aware of the hardships that we face, through my own life experiences. I don’t need to read articles or theorize about what barriers I face. I live this every day.

Allies who are listening. Allies who have been deemed allies by the trans community, if you want to be a better ally…if you want to “help” us…help us to rediscover our legacy. Help us to rediscover our spiritual inheritance. Help us to stand in our power. Programs and services are great but they are not about autonomy. They are not about sovereignty. Help us find ways to develop our own leadership skills and abilities so we can reclaim our place among the leaders and healers of today. Help us to celebrate our cultural roots. Help us to acknowledge our predecessors . Help us to create a more just and equitable world no longer based on the colonizer’s ideas of acceptable gender roles and presentation. Challenge and smash the binary daily with your actions and remember us every day…whether we’ve passed on or if we are alive. Remember us invisiblized survivors that walk amongst you every day.

Queer and Trans* family. Let’s lift each other up and support each other. We need to be in solidarity. We need to take part in community/communal healing as self-care. Not that covertly individualistic happy hippy kind. The kind where we are patient, acknowledge and honor our struggle and pain. We need to work through our internalized transphobia, internalized sexism, internalized racism and other types of oppression. We’ve got to respect our bodies and honor ourselves. Share our stories and histories and nourish each other’s spirit in good company. Audre Lorde once said that self-care was not a self-indulgence but a form of self-preservation which is an act of political warfare.

Self-care is survival. Self-care and community care is resistance. 

And we need to survive. We need to rediscover our power and reclaim our birthright. We are beautiful beings. Powerful beings.

And white queer and trans* folks, acknowledge your privilege in this movement. See that your brown siblings, are suffering and take action to help them take steps toward their own liberation and autonomy.

No one can live with ease while others suffer. There can be no liberation while anyone experiences subjugation or exploitation.

We queer and Trans* folks cannot know our own complete histories without acknowledging those of our siblings. We cannot be whole without realizing we are only a part of the whole. A drop in the sea.