I have made a handbook for Black people who want to better support other Black people. We are not a monolith: some of us need more help than others, and some of us need very different kinds of help. This handbook is a conversation starter – some ideas to consider if you want to ensure ALL Black Lives Matter, not just the ones currently trending. A Trans and disabled Black person is going to have different needs than a young cisgender Black person living in a predominately Whyte country. We Black people are all individuals and our identities don’t stop after others see the colour of our skin. Included in the handbook is a list of resources for more information on each of the points.
This handbook is also useful for Whyte people and Non-Black Indigenous people or Non-Black People of Colour. I hope you can learn about the complexities of living as a Black person, and all the battles we have to fight on multiple fronts. I hope you can gain an increase in empathy and understanding, because we need as much help as we can get.
Trigger Warning: non-detailed mentions of the affects of surviving ritual and/or spiritual abuse
Note 1: I see the word Ritual used a lot in Black & POC community healing. There are people including survivors of abuse, who use this word as a way to celebrate and empower themselves and others. THIS POST IS NOT ABOUT THEM IN ANY WAY.
Note 2: Ritual Abuse is not only Satanic Ritual Abuse, despite what we read in the media. There is a good webpage that explores the different kinds, and the help that is available for survivors. https://information.pods-online.org.uk/demystifying-ritual-abuse/. PODS – Positive Outcomes for Dissociation is a site that also provides resources for people with Dissociative Identity Disorder and OSDD
Words and their meanings change over time – that’s a feature and not a bug. Reclaimed words however can still wound me if I have spent most of my life hearing them in certain contexts.
As a survivor of abuse, the R-word is incredibly triggering to me, even in safer spaces. For example: I joined a healing group meeting on Zoom a few weeks ago, and had to leave about five minutes in, as the facilitator kept using the R-word to describe what we would do. I could have spoken up, but to do so would make me feel even more vulnerable than I already was. In addition, I am often unable to communicate normally when I’ve been triggered. I have too many memories of abusive people using the R-word to mask their physical, sexual and spiritual violence to vulnerable adults and children in my past, for it to be a neutral term to me now. Other words like Spells and Magic, don’t bother me as much, but Witchcraft does. I know other survivors may have different connotations to these words. I am writing from my own lived experience.
In decolonised healing practices, R-word and W-word are reclaimed from a time where indigenous spirituality was outlawed or at the least mocked and disparaged. The whyte Halloween/Hollywood version of W-word that many see as a bit of harmless fun in the media, isn’t what I personally feel when I hear them. I see sinister ways to control people in a non-consensual manner. I see practices that are distorted from their original intent, often mixed with Christianity (or other dominant religion) to make a truly toxic mix.
Words can carry a lot of weight to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and other types of trauma-related mental health issues. There may not be another word but those above that encapsulates a process involved in healing in a non-western way, but checking that others are okay with these words, is a way to be more inclusive. Speaking for myself, I’ve already been cut out of most healing practices because of my size, ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation. And I’d like a chance to feel better too, without being triggered by the things supposed to help me
But seriously, representation matters! Whether in small everyday things or in big flashy stuff that everyone except you gets to fully enjoy. Sci-fi and fantasy has the tendency to be very, very white – whether the media or the fandom. It’s easy to feel alienated when I go to conventions and am the only black person in the room. The usual state of black people in scifi is like this: http://j-applebee.tumblr.com/post/141781152918/i-wrote-the-poem-below-for-mancunicon-the-uk
This trailer makes me happy. And it makes me especially happy that it features black people and it’s NOT IN AMERICA. I get thoroughly sick that if I ever see Black people in anything visual, it’s always in the U.S. *cough* Blade *cough*
I have loved this poem for a long time. As a fellow survivor of child abuse, I can connect with what Maya said in these words. I have many scars on my body as a result of the first 22 violent years of my life, and whenever I saw them I would remember the incident that caused it. I see tattoos as positive scars, and with the bird tattoo I’m especially happy as it’s the first colour tattoo I have. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time as an activist – that I’m shouting into the void. But I shout for freedom – for disabled, survivors of abuse, the ageing, people of colour, and LGBT+ people to be treated better than they currently are. Freedom shouldn’t feel like an impossible dream to me. I hope this tattoo will remind me to keep going; keep on singing.
Content note: Swearing. And when I start swearing, you know shit’s bad.
So which one comes first? Are you black or fat first? Are you LGBT+ or fat first? These are questions that need to piss off and die immediately. I cannot seperate myself into palatable components for your digestion. I could draw a Venn diagram of how they all overlap, but sadly the people who ask these sort of things don’t want to learn – they want you prove yourself. Spoiler alert: you will never be worthy to them.
If you discuss fatphobia, but never mention how race affects how you are treated, then what the everlasting fuck are you doing? Fat liberation is blindingly white, cisgender and heterosexual. These are the voices who get heard, whose articles appear in popular media. These are the people who can afford to attend Fat/Body positivity conferences and know they will receive a warm welcome. They will never be the only one of their ethnicity in a group of fat folks.
If you discuss fatphobia, but never mention how fat LGBT+ people (with a few Bear-shaped exceptions) are subject to punishing drives of fat hate; how poverty affects fat LGBT+ people of colour differently than their white counterparts, then take the first exit out of here, you useless cumstain.
I am thoroughly sick of the white, able-bodied cisfemale gaze being the only thing I see in fat liberation. I am tired of their voices as the only ones amplified. And I could happily live the rest of my life without reading another piece on fatphobia that only concentrates of American white women who are at the smaller end of the fatness scale.
I want to read about experiences of disabled fats, LGBT+ fats who are black or brown, fat folks who are elderly and/or poor. Because we are the ones who face multiple oppressions, who can’t afford to shop the latest fat celebrity lines (I’m looking at you, Beth Ditto) to look incredible. We are the ones who get written out of conversations time and again, even though we have been speaking out for decades.
So all you gusset-tickling, wankers can just shut your mouths for one shit-stained minute. The rest of us would like a chance to be heard.
Stage 2* of the Bi’s of Colour History Project is underway. I aim to interview bisexual people of colour on their lives and on the common themes that arose in the Bi’s of Colour survey report. I also want to include photographs of the interviewees, alongside ephemera relating to bi/pan/fluid people of colour.
I am based in London, but I am able to travel to carry out interviews in the following places: Brighton, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin and Belfast. For interviewees outside of these cities, I can email a list of questions.
Individuals: I know money is tight for all of us, but if you can donate even a small amount, it will help this campaign.
LGBTIQA organisations, you can help me to complete this work. If you’ve read the Bi’s of Colour Report, you will know how vital this is. Your assistance will be added to the Stage 3 exhibition/display. You’ll get publicity for supporting a very marginalised group of people.
Your donations will help to pay for travel, and to reimburse participants for their time. I need to pay for photography and printing. I cannot do this without your help. There is currently nothing like this out there. It doesn’t have to be like that.
If anyone wants to contact me to discuss how to get involved with this project, email me at email@example.com
Stage 1: Bi’s of Colour survey and report
Stage 2: Oral history interviews
Stage 3: Travelling exhibition/display of Bi’s of Colour History