The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.
If I put a gun to someone’s head, say, a 30-year-old healthy male, pull the trigger, and kill him, assuming an average life expectancy of, say, 84, you can argue that possibly 54 years of life [were] stolen from that person in a direct act of violence.
However, if a person is born into poverty in the midst of an abundant society where it is statistically proven that it would hurt no one to facilitate meeting the basic needs of that person and yet they die at the age of 30 due to heart disease, which has been found to statistically relate to those who endure the stress and effects of low socioeconomic status, is that death, the removal of those 54 years once again, an act of violence?
And the answer is ‘Yes, it is.’
You see, our legal system has conditioned us to think that violence is a direct behavioral act. The truth is that violence is a process, not an act, and it can take many forms.
You cannot separate any outcome from the system by which it is oriented.
And after all these years, the trans community is still at the back of the bus. I despise that. I’m hurt and get depressed a lot about it. But I will not give up because I won’t give the mainstream gay organizations the satisfaction of keeping us down. If we give up, they win. And we can’t allow them to win. The reason we, right now, as a trans community, don’t have the rights they have is that we allowed them to speak for us for so many damn years, and we bought everything they said to us: “Oh, let us pass our bill, then we’ll come for you.”
Yeah, come for me. Thirty-two years later and they’re still coming for me. And what have we got? Here, where it all started, trans people have got nothing. We can no longer let people like the Empire State Pride Agenda, the HRC in Washington, speak for us. And it really hurts me that some gay people don’t even know what we gave for their movement.