This Still Matters
In June 2017, I was leaving my job. I was overcome by the racism, sexism, ageism, and heterosexism I had faced as the Executive Director of a nonprofit in the transportation advocacy space. I wrote this article then. Today as I think about the beginning of Spring and perhaps tackling a new rebirth in the season of resurrection, as I reflect on another senseless life lost — this time in Sacramento — I can’t help, but be reminded of how true these words still are.
June 17, 2017
The outpouring of love and support the last few days has been beautiful and humbling. I’ve stayed quiet because I’m overwhelmed by the love, but also because it’s not really about me. It’s always been about the work. Stepping away from something isn’t about leaving it behind, it’s about knowing that others are there to step up and getting out of the way for them to do so.
Plus, transportation isn’t something I could ever just leave behind. As long as black folks aren’t free to be mobile in our communities I’m still up in this work. I’ll always be working on how people get from place to place. I’ll always be scheming and I’ll always be fighting. Because let’s be honest, America is killing us. And getting away with it. We all heard, oh, but video and cameras will make it so that our lives matter and no one can deny when we’re murdered. Well tell Philando Castile’s family how that works?
Tell the families of people being picked up by ICE as they walk to their cars. Tell the families of trans folks of color who continue to be targeted and killed without the majority of the population even paying attention.
Tell our families that we matter. Tell our families that it’s not inherently dangerous to go to the store, take our kids home from school, fix our flat tires, get on the train, ride our bikes, play with toys in the park. Tell us that we’re safe because you’ve made a street safer. Tell us that we’re safe because enforcement is “non-biased.”
We know it’s not true. I know it’s not true. That’s what fueled my drive at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. That’s what will fuel my passion wherever I go. I grieve for Philando Castile. I grieve for my people. I know my work isn’t done. I know there are still folks out there holding it down. I’m changing work locations. The subject matter might be a little different. But I’m still a queer gender nonconforming person in this country. My reality hasn’t changed. My legal systems, education systems, enforcement systems, transportation systems…all systems…they remind me that our lives don’t matter. A number of us are out here unapologetically living our full lives, doing the work, giving everything, trying to change it. We’ll keep fighting, no matter where we are, pay or no pay, popular or not, because until a man driving with his family can live when pulling out his wallet, our work won’t be done.
Folks have asked how I could walk away when there is still much to be done in the transportation world. But please believe, that no matter what world I’m in, it’s still a white world, there is still work to do. We are dying in our cars, we are dying crossing the street, we are dying in prison cells, and yes, we’re dying in every type of public space you can imagine. Until a little boy can swing at a park without being shot on sight, our work won’t be done.
There’s more to come from me in talking about how folks of color in this country can be free to move, to be in public space, to build community, to live…
It’s not the end, I want to talk about all of it. I want to feel all the feels from the love I’m getting. But I also want to mourn. I want to mourn the lost of another life at the hands of people who are theoretically supposed to protect us. Instead, they fear us. They believe our skin is a weapon. They believe their lives are endangered as long as we live. That’s why it’s so important for people to step up now more than ever. For everyone saying nice things about me, thank you. But beyond your kind words, what are you going to do? When are you going to step up? When are you going to fight the urge and comfort of staying silent?
We out here trying to get free. We out here dying. Today I’m thinking of Philando. I’m thinking of all the work to do. I’m still doing that work. Are you?