ActivismRaceSex & Gender

why i stood up to charlamagne tha god and why you should too

August 3, 2017
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By Ashlee Marie Preston/ Wear Your Voice*, AFROPUNK contributor

It’s time for the black community to stop neglecting black trans women and leaving us to fend for ourselves.

When myself, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors and community activist Blossom Browninterrupted Charlamagne tha GOD’s Hip-Hop and Politics panel on the MSNBC stage at Politicon this weekend, we knew it would be the catalyst for an overdue conversation within the black community.

As news of our protest spread like wildfire on social media platforms, thousands of people began stating their positions on whether they felt that Charlamagne tha GOD, and alleged comedian Lil Duval, held fault in the dangerous transphobic dialogue that took place on air last week during iHeartRadio’s show, The Breakfast Club.

Of course there were apologists who immediately began defending Charlamagne and Lil Duval. Instead of addressing how Charlamagne used previous guest, transgender author Janet Mock as a prop to provoke a controversial response from Lil Duval for sensationalism and ratings, they chose to argue that Lil Duval is his own man and independent of The Breakfast Club. They didn’t see fault in Charlamagne and his co-hosts laughing hysterically at his adamant assertion that if he had sex with a trans woman he’d kill her.

They didn’t see any harm in Charlamagne and DJ Envy sexualizing Janet Mock – a married woman – by asking Lil Duval if he found her beautiful and if he’d engage in sex with a transgender woman. They chose to defend death to trans women by making the false argument that we are sexual predators who are out to trick men into having sex with us, therefore if we’re killed, it’s a justifiable response.

This argument is disingenuous, false and has facilitated the deaths of thousands of trans women. They use the “panic defense” argument that the men are victims to the seduction and persuasions of trans women, therefore absolving them of any guilt for committing acts of violence toward us.

The reality is that trans women are the victims of hyper-sexualization under the male gaze. Society is riddled with social cues that suggest that trans women are to either be fucked or killed.

Rather than deconstruct their own issues with fragile constructs of masculinity, homophobia and transphobia, cishetero men are killing trans women. Trans women are killed by their lovers or intimate partners who KNEW they were trans but couldn’t reconcile with loving a trans woman and feared societal backlash if they were open about it. Thanks to the work of The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, that argument no longer holds up in Californiacourts and it shouldn’t be held up in the black community.

It’s time for the black community to stop neglecting black trans women and leaving us to fend for ourselves. Black trans women have to navigate through society with the same challenges as any other black person, only with an added layer. To be anti-trans toward a black trans woman is simply another form of anti-blackness.

One of the most problematic ideologies within the black liberation movement is that the welfare of black trans women is not deemed part of the “black agenda”. Black lives are black lives, and black trans lives are the most vulnerable of them. The marginalization and mass murders of black trans women stems from society’s failure to recognize our humanity. Trans women are human and need society to stop seeing us as anything less than that. You cannot be pro-Black and anti-trans.

Following our Politicon demonstration and hashtag campaigns such as #BoycottBreakfastClub and #TransFolksAreNotAJoke allies spoke out against the transphobic conversation that aired on The Breakfast Club. There were heteronormative black men who confronted Charlamagne and Lil Duval for reinforcing transphobia and redefined manhood by vowing to stand up for trans women.

The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which advocates for transgender interests, is circulating a petition via their #bashback campaign which lists a set of demands to WWPR-FM & iHeart Radio on how to rectify the wrong done to the transgender community.

Allyship is a verb, not a noun. We ask that you take action with us by sharing this petition by using the hashtags #BoycottBreakfastClub #TransFolksAreNotAJoke #WeAreNotAJoke and #BashBack. Hate for black trans women and femmes shows up in every space in our society and I refuse to give it anymore space beyond this sentence. Instead, I’m taking the opportunity to recognize allies to femmes of color and engage those who wish to exercise their power by standing with black trans women. Let’s let the world know that black trans women matter!

*This post is in partnership with Wear Your Voice