the philosophactivist

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about the collective queer brown experience. Of course we all have our individual experiences, but the majority of us have similar experiences with discrimination because of our skin color. It's an unfortunate common thread. I've been thinking a lot about how brown, queer voices are rarely heard. We've got few zines and magazines, papers, youtube videos. We have more than we did, but it's still such a small percentage of what's out there. 

I was talking to a friend of mine about how I wanted to locate more magazines and zines with transwomen represented. Especially brown transwomen. And it dawned on me...well, had been dawning on me for the last couple weeks now- brown womyn and men/transmen don't have much literature and art out there because we are too damn busy trying to survive. We are trying not to be the next statistic. There aren't a whole lot of mentors because we've lost so many in the struggle. Every week, more and more. The importance of our existence is questioned every moment. So yea- there are a lot of stealth brown transfolks and closeted queers because life is difficult and even moreso when you're out. It's dangerous to be out, and if you're publishing magazines and zines and highly visible...that's an issue (pun intended).

Why would we opt to have our own community turn its back on us? Why give up the only family we have? It's not so easy for folks who aren't in metropolitan cities to forsake everything for the "queer bubble". Lots of us don't have queer bubbles ...don't have access to those spaces in metropolitan cities. It's rough. It's not just rough, it's jagged. And queers living in those spaces need to realize that it's a privilege that not everyone is privy to.

So many of us are underemployed or unemployed because of these multiple layers. I know for a fact that I am unemployed because of my gender presentation and skin color here in the south. I am queer. A dress is not going to change that. I can't bleach my skin. So I am screwed. I go in to these all white non-profits who are helping brown folks, but won't hire brown folks (accept for the usual tokens to translate for the "natives")'s disgusting. It's infuriating. 

I'm tired of being othered. And if there are any brown folks out there that think you are playing the game right...that you finally got your propers from the white man and the system. Think again. There is no 100% assimilation. As soon as you mention something about your culture or a value other than the "dominant" value---white values--your days are numbered. Now you are "just like the rest of them". Rest of US.

Don't pass your judgement on  brown, queers who are going into sex work and the informal economy to survive. We aren't some hipsters who are "renouncing" mommy and daddy's paychecks and trust funds to "rough it" or grow a conscience Americorps style...we are trying to survive! We didn't CHOOSE this. It's not a CHOICE.  We didn't wake up and say...hey I want to waste my money on an education or...hey I want to be poor today-I just want to get a taste of what it's like to not be privileged.

 I have NO insurance. NO public assistance. I'm staying with family...I'm barely making ends meet. I'm educated- but not many care about that in this economy. People are getting preference for those few jobs available...and those people are most likely not brown and queer.

When I did research on discrimination in institutions and the effect on the workforce and clients, I found out something astounding. Well, not that astounding for us brown folks, really. There really isn't anything in place to keep HR from discriminating during the hiring process. Not really. They can say you weren't hired for many other reasons and not have to admit that they are racist or homophobic. In fact, many  HR folks are in fact racist and homophobic. There are studies. Yes, the same folks who are supposed to be coming up with diversity trainings. HA! It'd be funny if it wasn't keeping so many brown folks unemployed. It'd be funny if people were actually able to feed themselves and their families despite the discrimination.


Go to this poem (a video) for more about how I feel trying to survive as a brown, genderqueer.


  1. Your words are so important. Thank you for sharing. I would like to link this post from my blog, is that ok with you?

    1. Thank you very much. Sure, feel free to link it!