Toi

Toi
the philosophactivist

Friday, September 22, 2017

Support the BIPOC Communiversity



Help us raise $3,000 by Oct. 1 to fund 10 seats for the 3-month Fall session!



Learn more here:



Support BIPOC healing and liberation by clicking HERE!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

New Moon Announcements

Hello Medicine Makers of all varieties: Liberators, Artists, Activists and all of the above!

A few important announcements:
1. The on-going self-paced version of Part 2 of the Herbal Freedom School begins in less than 2 weeks on March 6th. We'll connect with our ancestral healing traditions, discuss the importance of ceremony in our medicine making and medicine making as resistance. Then, we'll talk about individual, collective and historical trauma and strategize different ways to heal together.
There are only 10 seats available so apply now!
**Email herbalfreedomschool [at] gmail [dot] com if you’re interested in one of the 2 partial scholarships.


2. I’ve recently created facebook groups for BIPOC-identified folks for the Queering Herbalism page:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1208833482527978/
- BIPOC-identified folks who have taken the Herbal Freedom School program:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/586656141533797/
- and BIPOC-identified folks interested in the School of Liberation Healing and Medicine and its various programs and projects (Herbal Freedom School, Queering Herbalism, QTBIPOC Healing Legacies, Liberation Library, etc.).
https://www.facebook.com/groups/218236898644173/
3. We need your support. Support our School as we create new programs, course companions, zine series and a Liberation Library archive of POC-centered healing traditions and information. You can do so in a number of ways:
patreon.com/liberationhealing
- cash.me/$toi
- Paypal: queeringherbalism [at] gmail [dot] com

More exciting news to come soon about our all community-supported Herbal Freedom School and private group lessons (Freedom Sessions) in late Spring/Summer.

Healing, Liberation, and Transformation,
Toi

Monday, February 13, 2017

Where to go from here? Reflections on a decade of organizing and artivisting


So, here I am in the mountains of Puerto Rico reflecting on the last 10+ years of my life.

Thanks facebook memories!

I started the philosophactivist blog around this time back in 2011 (and the queerherbalism blog 4 years ago). Back then I barely even knew what a blog was and I just wanted to be able to express what I couldn't in classrooms and on campus, nearly all-white "radical" community meetings and other spaces. I wanted to have a voice and talk unapologetically about all that I was experiencing and what I saw happening around me as I organized and walked between all these worlds of grassroots/community organizing and academia and more recently, communities of healers and healing. Of course my thinking on the intersections of race, gender, and class and even my own gender and how I see myself has shifted many times in the last 6 years. And I've been skeptical about documenting every twist and turn so publicly to a mixed audience out in the internet ethers.

As I was looking at some of my social media posts from 5 and 6 years ago+, I started wondering what happened to all those folks that were exploding on the scene from about 2009- 2012 (and basically 2000 up to then). Poets, graphic artists, playwrights, bloggers etc. all talking about gender and race and class in different ways than before. Doing what I say is important healing work for our QTBIPOC communities. I looked them up and some of them are public speakers, some returned back to school, some have fallen off the face of the planet (some purposefully and others not-so-purposefully, I assume). Then it dawned on me how I was basically there for the building of the foundation of this newer wave that's taking place.

I've been seeing how some of the folks who are now in college and high school are experiencing a bit more freedom of expression and connecting the pieces that the amazing organizers and artivists I knew from the early "aughts" helped co-create. They helped to break through some major boundaries which opened the door for later millenials to have the platform for expression that they have today. And of course they were, in turn, influenced by those the decade before them and the decades and even centuries before them.

But here in the west, elders aren't always valued. In western society the youth hold the future and predecessors and elders are swept under the rug a lot of times. Nowadays what these elders have done just becomes some quote or meme. Something to romanticize and then move on with these "new ways" of doing things. We've forgotten how to truly honor those who pushed open doors before us. As I move through my 30s and watch folks in their late teens and early twenties learn lessons I learned- and they're learning with more technology and at a much faster rate (largely in part because of this access to technology), I know it's more important than ever that we have intergenerational spaces where we can share about our challenges, inspiration, and victories. Places where we can share our tools for individual and collective care, learn about our legacies of liberation and about our birthrights and inheritance.

[Photo of a dashing black non-binary superqueero standing with a machete raised on a mountaintop appearing to slice the sky in Puerto Rico]

This morning I sat thinking about the things some of us need to do because we have to- and not because we can. I mean this in a lot of ways. Especially according to our physical abilities and economic situation. For instance, a friend of mine is beginning a QTPOC land project and it's not because he has the resources or the physical ability to farm- it's because this space is necessary for our survival. This makes me think of some of our BIPOC ancestors and the things they may have had to learn as maroons/cimarrones, immigrants and refugees in order to survive. The knowledge they had to share amongst themselves and across race and class divisions in order to ensure their survival and futures.


As I've done cross-issue organizing dealing with economic, food, health and environmental justice I've reflected on how the skills and knowledge our ancestors had, especially as it pertains to physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health and well-being, was wrested from them, commodified and sold back to them at prices no one can afford. Like the price of their and their descendant and descendant's descendants lives.

I am talking about how we all came from ancestors who knew how to feed themselves whether hunting and gathering or farming, they knew how to build their own homes and helped each other build villages, they knew how to take care of their health and also had folks in the village who had specialized knowledge about other levels of health that needed to be taken care of for their whole well-being.

And then colonization and colonialism happened. Industrialization happened. We were intentionally made dependent on so many things. We've forgotten our survival skills or - more truthfully, they were taken from us, purposefully. I've been thinking on this for over a decade, returning over and over to how our communities can be more autonomous in these white supremacist, capitalist (and so on, and so on) systems. I've seen many models from marxism to the communal ways of some of our BIPOC ancestors. And now I try not to romanticize about our ancestors' ways. I leave room for the complexities of elitism, patriarchy and other types of oppression and exploitation that existed. Nevertheless, there are models of collectivism to look to and over the years, I realize how important they are for us.

I also realize now more than ever how important it is that we simultaneously work toward anti-colonial ways of knowing and being. This is multi-layered and involves decolonial perspectives on science, math, history...well, EVERYTHING. It involves healing from the traumas of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial times. Which also involves healing from our own internalized oppression and all its layers. It involves connecting with our ancestry and dealing with ancestral trauma. It also involves working with collective trauma for our communities and countries and hemispheres.


In short, it requires unlearning just about everything we have been taught. Everything we think we know or have come to value (whether we want to or not) in the western world and all continents affected by ANY colonization efforts. (And let's be clear about how not all efforts are/were European.)

It's interesting how we start out thinking about an issue and then we see how it branches or splinters out into so many issues and after time, we see the roots of the trunk and its branches as we step back time after time to reassess. Many folks take on these leaves and branches as causes, some go for the roots. I think all the work is necessary and should be coordinated and should be Pan-African, Pan-Indigenous, Pan-Asian...etc. And I still believe in cross-issue organizing and always will because we can learn so much from each other by showing up to each other's meetings, protests, and/or homes and other spaces for meals and conversations. See, that's when we get to see the roots of our oppression.

This makes me think about workshops and popular education. I'm hearing there's this movement away from "workshops". I definitely get it. Information should be shared however it can be. But I know for a fact that some of these workshops came from the conversations in peoples' living rooms. Others may be using this platform for more "legitimacy". Which could be argued for or against depending your stance. And still, others may just be doing workshops for workshops' sake- just like meetings. I have seriously sat in organizer meetings to plan meetings. Seriously.

We have to share information in whatever ways are accessible and conferences and workshops aren't always the most accessible (economically, physically, etc.) to everyone. Neither are everyone's living rooms for many reasons. For instance, because these spaces might not be accessible to those in wheelchairs or for those with anxiety or those with chemical sensitivities.

So- diversity of tactics I guess they call it.

Now, I'm reflecting on all this and mostly my place in these movements as I've moved from protest (through writing and in-person) to pushing for policy change to political organizing to specific "healing work" and organizing toward health and healing justice. Not that protest and policy change isn't healing work, folks! Because it is. And it's also important to acknowledge how all of these are interconnected and many folks work across/with all of these strategies, as I have.

I guess I've realized slowly over the years that finding our power meant knowing our history- meant knowing our traditions- meant knowing our medicine- meant finding our power.

Having our traditions suppressed or stripped away from us - there are no words that I can think of that are explicit enough in expressing the impact of this oppression.

Since most of my adult life has been devoted to learning about health and health justice (18 years since my first days of pre-med!) and then stumbling upon it's connection to economic justice and environmental justice and food justice- naturally, I'm at this point where I'm invested in helping our communities connect with liberation healing and their medicine so they can understand their power and be even more prepared to deal with the branches of the tree.

The colonizers knew the power our traditions and medicine held and we should know and understand this, too.

So where do we go from here? We look backward to go forward. We honor those before us and those walking with us today in resistance. We share our tools for not only healing and resistance, but also toward transformation so one day we don't have to continue to resist. We work toward true liberation, and realize it looks different for everyone. Not everyone is trying to burn shit down and overthrow things and some of us don't even realize our complacency (and how we're complicit in the oppression of others) or the need for dismantling of systems. So how do we come together so everyone can be healed and feel liberated? How do we address those whose sense of liberation is rooted in others oppression?

#Questionsthatneedanswers.

I bet the elders could (and would) tell us a thing or two.



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.

So,
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 ...no...journey...was 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:
https://www.etsy.com/listing/281840666/liberatory-medicine-collection

Partnering with Plants is also only $5 through Sunday 5/29. Use the code: PWP2016. <3
https://www.etsy.com/listing/290061139/partnering-with-plants


You can email me at queeringherbalism@gmail.com 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,


Toi

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Not Really Creating Change

So...

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.