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Stop Leaving The Most Intersecting At Every Intersection

NOTE:
I wasn’t gonna publish this personal piece about my current lived experience, sometimes you write and see what happens. Then, I went to my kid’s school last week and saw white Martin Luther King covering the walls of his after school program. Ain't never seen white MLK before; and I call myself an anti-Blackness detector!
I’m thinking we call it anti-Blackness 2.0; when Black icons are claimed for white supremacy by communities of color who aren’t Black. I’m not comfortable keeping my silence over my own experience of discrimination or the fact I feel forced to move consistently because of it.

Stop Leaving The Most Intersecting At Every Intersection
My experience as a Black queer, trans, intersex and bi+ housing insecure woman in California.
By thefayth, Faith Cheltenham

Really pisses me off the headlines.
“Black, LGBTQ students suffer!”
Or “LGBT students, Black students doing poorest in California schools.”

Meanwhile what about the BLACK LGBTQIA students in California schools, you know the ones who identify as BOTH Black as well as same gender loving, lesbian, gay, bi+, pan, trans, queer, intersex and/or asexual? All in the same body and bodies? How do you think their experiences fare while they are neatly erased by these headlines, not to mention the policies developed to protect them most? Not well.

I’m Black and LGBTQIA (specifically bi, intersex, genderqueer, and trans) and my child is Black and gender non-conforming. To be frank, it’s been the most terrible time, and we’re only at 2nd grade. We live in California, “one of the best states for protections”, but as far as we can tell, no one has told the teachers, administrators and superintendents.

Luckily for him, me, and you, I also live with hyperthymesia, or the inability to forget, so I can detail experiences long after I’ve had them in great detail. At least from the perspective of how I personally experienced any moment.

I’ve shared some stories on my blog at facebook.com/thefayth over the years about my child’s journey, but this is the first time I publicly allege discrimination against myself, and my child inside the state of California. Most recently experienced with Fremont Unified School District, but also experienced with Los Angeles Unified School District and Redwood City School District.

I went into the school system open and hopeful, I recommend you do not.
I enrolled my child trusting the federal and state law to protect him, I advise you do different.
I called agencies expecting them to be trained, and instead provided free training; don’t be me.

I worked for over 20 years to develop better laws and protections for people like me, it’s stunningly sad to realize what a waste of time it was to trust white led gay organizations to ever develop policies that could ever protect the whole of Black LGBTQIA female me.

Meanwhile utilization of all state laws that protect each of my intersections might; especially if they are equally applied at the same time. Thus, I plan on sending this article to each agency assigned to protect each element of the body offended: disability, gender identity/sexual orientation, housing status, and race.

It is my hope that my work, and my very life, will be part of a blueprint for human change. None should live in pain without it spoken, not when change and healing are still doors we can open.

In order to fully understand the experience of my discrimination, and that of my child, some terms and definitions culled from the internet, you can search on them too:
  • Ableism: discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities.
  • Classism: prejudice against or in favor of people belonging to a particular social class.
  • Anti-Blackness: acting opposed to, hostile, fearful, and/or isolating toward black people.
  • Non-Black POC racism: when ethnic people from non-Black communities discriminate against Black people, can include appropriation, colorism, resentment, hostility, microaggressions and more.
  • Intersectionality: a theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of one's social and political identities might combine to create unique modes of discrimination.
  • Transphobia: encompasses a range of negative attitudes, feelings or actions toward trans people.
  • Biphobia: aversion toward bisexuality and toward bisexual people as a social group or as individuals.
  • Housing insecure: lack of security in an individual shelter, poor housing quality, unstable neighborhoods, overcrowding, and/or homelessness.

Resources For Finding Out More

WHO IS HOMELESS AND HOUSING INSECURE IN THE U.S.?
According to “Discrimination at the Margins: The Intersectionality of Homelessness & Other Marginalized Groups”, a Seattle University School of Law Homeless Rights Advocacy Project:
https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi…
  • “An estimated 3.5 million people experience homelessness in the United States annually.
  • 42% are African American (despite being only 12% of the population overall).
  • Female single parents and female domestic violence victims are discriminatorily impacted by homelessness.
  • Nationally: The population of homeless single parents with children: 80% are female.
  • Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness for women and children.
  • LGBTQ individuals, particularly LGBTQ youth and young adults, are discriminatorily impacted by homelessness.
  • Nationally: 20–40% of the homeless youth population identify as LGBTQ, compared to only 5–10% of the overall youth population.”

If you follow my writing at facebook.com/thefayth with my over 170,000 followers, or across my other channels at twitter.com/thefayth, and instagram.com/thefayth, as well as my blog since 2004, thefayth.net; you know this now: I identify myself as a survivor of intimate partner violence with my ex-husband which directly led to a cycle of housing insecurity and homelessness.

What might be news to you, dear reader?
I’ve been here before, and lived there much of my life.
Such is the truth for many Black people (see above data).
WATCH: Amara La Negra walks through the #WalgreensWash and her experience as a homeless young person living in her car. AMARA "LA NEGRA" on Instagram: “Here is My Story!”
(https://www.instagram.com/p/B7GilGQjBwN/)

When I was 18, on graduation morning from high school, I got kicked out of the house for being queer. Or demonic, or demonically queer; it’s hard to say which specific community of people my COGIC missionary mom and step-dad pastor were targeting. And to be completely honest, despite the bisexual demonic bit following me throughout my career, I do not at all self-identify as a demon.

READ: The White House Must Be Exorcised Of Bisexual Native American Demons, Says Christian Writer a singular look at right wing response to my organizing (https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/…/the-white-house-must…/).

Back in June 1998, I did not know the word bisexual to mean anything wonderful, good, and community like I do now. I didn’t even know that the word “queer” had been popularized by bisexuals into modern use just few years earlier. In June 1998, on graduation morning, I was just packing up black garbage bags off my parent’s lawn as quick as I could; an effort to not “make a scene” anyone else would write about, besides me.

And back in 1998, I’d already been homeless several times. I’d been homeless with my mom when she fled her sexually and physically abusive husband and we’d ended up living with folks from our church, and in a motel during Christmas in the early 90’s. I’d been homeless again when she brought her abusive ex back and I refused to let him close enough to either molest me (again), speak to me, or breathe on me; preferring to sleep safe.

Subsequently, I went through most of high school at San Luis Obispo High School, housing insecure. I lived part-time in the San Luis Obispo Youth Shelter, before a friend named Sarah from Latin class noticed. Her parents, the Andersons of San Luis Obispo, CA, opened their home for me and gave me a job tutoring my friend’s younger brother. I understand they voted for Trump but nothing could ever shake my love for them, as they let a rather large Black gender-differing kid share space at their house for years, doing all kinds of good on their internet.

Some debts, aren’t debts at all, they’re evidence of who humans can be as the best among us, when things feel their absolute worst. Sarah’s bestie Allie, was one of a few good people who gave me a ride between homes, work and school so I could work over 30 hours a week at McDonald’s during high school to cover all my costs and make my ends meet. Many of which are fees and costs now covered by updates to The McKinney-Vento Act, a national act supporting homeless and housing insecure students, including college age people.

I was so lucky to finish high school and successfully transition to UCLA. And on that day in June 1998, when I was packing up those black garbage bags full of all my things, I didn’t turn back to wave goodbye, but headed straight to a graduation party the Anderson family helped my more supportive family pull together on the spot with leaders from Young Life, a teen Christian support group that helped me thrive in high school by providing me a space to be different that my fundamentalist parents also allowed me to be in. Kids like me need every one of those resources, my thanks to them all again.

Once at UCLA, I again had no house, but got a job at the dorms so I could have housing over the breaks if I couldn’t stay with my grandparents who often hosted me. So I was houseless, but able to access the McKinney-Vento inclusive federal independence program which allowed me to obtain financial aid and loans to get an apartment, and go to college without any financial support from my parents.

After college, I struggled to pay rent because I had a hard time remaining employed with all the elements of intersectionality working at once again, may they always do, for I am a Black bi, trans, intersex queer woman of color living with a disability. Work was hard to keep without also being harassed, assaulted or treated poorly. I was again lucky to end up with wonderful employers too; many Black trans and LGBTQIA people never do.

When I met the straight white cisgender man who would marry and abuse me, I was 30 years old and fully independent, repaying my school loans, making over $80k/a year, and in my own apartment half a block from a hot guy yogurt stop in West Hollywood, CA. When I left the straight white cisgender man who married me and abused me, I left with little.

I was fortunate, again, in in recovery from my abuse, unlike many others, I’ve had access to enough money to provide housing with AirBnb’s or terrible housing that would rent to me; many apartments turned me down with no job, as well as the whole Black bi+ intersex trans queer woman of color thing. I was again deeply fortunate and blessed by community members who reached out to provide support and help.

Since I left that straight white cisgender man who I married, and had a child with, I’ve struggled for my ex-husband to provide me appropriate and legal child and spousal support; leading me to seek support from agencies that work to affect change with dads like him. Learn more about obtaining child support in California via a free statewide service, they would love to help: https://childsupport.ca.gov/customer-connect/

All of these things helped lead me to living inside of Fremont Unified School District, the same county where my divorce is filed. By being in this city, and region, I also have access to rent easily 1/3 of the rents of San Francisco, CA; even the milk and bananas are cheaper in Fremont. Unfortunately, the biggest reason Black LGBTQIA people live in San Francisco, CA and Oakland, CA is because those areas are, explicitly safer for us to do so.
When looking at safe school data for LGBTQIA students in California, the reality is stark: live in a city if your child is queer, otherwise you will live in fear.

Witness the “Safe and Supportive Schools Report Card”, a Report from Equality Institute, from Equality California (EQCA). In full disclosure I’ve had almost nothing good to say about EQCA as a Black LGBTQIA person for over a decade.
READ: Revolution No. 8 (https://www.advocate.com/news/2008/11/14/revolution-no-8Advocate.com, 2008)

In this report, green is good, yellow is working on it, red is poor place and the rest? Didn’t respond. EQCA encourages individuals to personally contact the schools that didn’t respond indicating they reached out to each unified district, but what about the likelihood of Black students to be enrolled in other mechanisms than unified districts?

What of the Black parents engaging in homeschooling, Black centered charter schools, or non unified schools? Things stay the way they are because when pointed out, no one does anything about them. As you can see, notable historically Black California communities are too often non-reporters.

The area I live in is currently unmapped for school safety of LGBTQIA students, which is not surprising considering my experience. I’m smack dab in the middle of “this provincial town” as Belle sang in the early part of “Beauty and the Beast”, way prior to the pitchforks.

And I’m here to specifically access services specific to recovering as an intimate partner survivor, including a referral to a low cost lawyer familiar with domestic violence who could and would take my case; so I needed to be here, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay.

Not sure either that I could recommend any Black LGBTQIA people, or parents of Black LGBTQIA and gender non-conforming kiddos, bring their children to Fremont Unified School District; in fact, let me explicitly ask you to #BoycottFUSD if the chance arises for you.

Your Black gender non-conforming child won’t feel welcome, and you’ll experience anti-Blackness driven by NBPOC racism directed by Asian and South Asian communities alike. They will be bullied for their gender identity, for their Blackness, and for everything that makes them sparkle so bright and bold in this world.

At the same time, you as a parent will experience hostility, lack of training, and outright discriminatory practices that don’t reflect state policy. Since the district has already been investigated, even I don’t think my chances are all that good for change; but you’ll remember the joke “bisexual demons always win,” and know that I’ll always persist in demanding appropriate treatment for myself and my child.

Explicitly said, the state of California is failing Black kids; and has been forever, or I wasn’t also mentored at my grandma’s walking track as a little girl by Rep. Maxine Waters (I WAS).
Explicitly said, the state of California is failing LGBTQIA kids; and has been forever, or I haven’t been organizing as a Black LGBTQIA advocate since getting kicked out of the house and landing on UCLA’s campus like a meteor in 1998.
Explicitly stated, these fails are is in large part due to rich levels of anti-Blackness inside of LGBTQIA organizations themselves which are often almost all white and non Black, and suffer deeply from their lack of Black employees on management level. Instead, employing what I’ve called a “plantation model”, where nearly every person at the top of an LGBT+ org chart is white, and nearly everyone on the bottom, is not.

Thus Black communities are still last to be outreached to, and to be provided valuable resource materials on SGLBTQIA identity, although the first Black president of the vaunted LGBT civil rights group, the Human Rights Campaign, is working to change that.
READ: HRC first black president: LGBT fight must be racially inclusive (https://www.usatoday.com/…/human-rights-campaig…/2440164001/, USA Today, 2019)

Explicitly also stated, Black homo-bi-trans+phobia is entrenched, and has been since the colonizers came and stole us from our mother’s shore. Thus, it's even more critical for white people to take a seat when coordinating work targeting Black LGBTQIA communities and hire us to do that work for our own selves.

We’re all still trying to get back home; and knowing more on how to create homes for those who live at the intersections of being historically failed at the margin; can only be sourced by critical voices like mine that sit at crossroad after crossroad; pointing out what seems obvious to me: there is wealth of opinion and diversity in those that wear many different identities within one skin.

Not everyone knows it yet, but hundreds of years ago in Africa we Black people revelled in genders and sexualities even more diverse than the 40+ Pride flags you see today.

My work is to forward us to a world that once again recognizes itself for who it is. But at the moment...
I kinda just wanna sue:
-The State of California.
-white gays, white bis, white intersex and white trans at these “LGBTQIA” orgs who silence Black people and can’t outreach to Black people with any efficacy.
-“Equality” groups filled with white people and led by them too.
-Black “diversity, inclusion and equity” groups filled with straight, cisgender Black people, and led by them too.

Sue for what? The experiences, the pain and the difficulty they’ve caused me, and my child during the most sensitive time, and during a time I hoped for more support. Not to mention all the education time lost and wasted during my child’s 2nd grade due to our experiences of discrimination.

Thus, I turn to you dear reader, and to the many who I know can influence change at nearly every level. For, I’m actually not at all that litigious, and have a great deal of other things to do today, this week, month, and year. If you know someone in Fremont, or the state of CA in education, do connect me?

Otherwise, I just greatly appreciate being heard:
To be clear, a world where all the white people have ALL the equality, is no equality at all.
In the years to come, I hope to see more fully intersectionalized interventions for Black LGBTQIA people, and all Black people; created by us, not just by Black people who are cis and straight working together with white folks who are queer, bi, pan and trans.
Otherwise everyone is leaving the most vulnerable to be most at risk, over and over, until there's less and less of us left. And there weren't all that many of us to begin with.


MADE Black Parents Worldwide Black Parents of Gender Creative, Trans and NB Kids CA Black Parents on Facebook to cope over the days and year. Feel free to pop in if a label fits 

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