My name is Zion—my pronouns are they/them and I am a Nonbinary, Queer, Black and Mixed person in my mid 20's living on the stolen and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, otherwise known as Vancouver, BC.
With my intersecting identities, life constantly throws me curveballs; here's a window of insight into my world.
Alright, let's be real: It's been a rough year. Witnessing and participating in a global revolution has been terrifying, exciting, hopeful, devastating, anxiety-inducing and completely baffling. I have felt in a constant state of mourning and numbness as we are constantly exposed to graphic content of violence against Black bodies. But what has really changed? We know that violence against Black people globally, but in this context in Canada and the US, is nothing new. For some reason, the murder of George Floyd—in particular—changed everything and we are now in a new era.
Will Smith said, "Racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed." At a moment where everyone was stuck at home and glued to social media, the world had a moment to see a harsh pattern that they could not look away from. Finally, people seemed to be listening to what activists and organizers, hell, Black people in general—have been saying all these years: Racism is a pandemic and Black people are dying. En mass. Daily.
My heart sinks as I recall the all too familiar feeling of seeing another photo of a fellow Black person who had been murdered or killed, always completely unjustly. It never, ever gets easier to see. We are expected to see these gruesome and horrific stories and continue on like it's just another day. To make things worse, many of the faces I'm seeing belong to another community I belong to, the LGBTQ2I community. Violence against trans people—especially Black trans women—has skyrocketed. My heart hurts as I continue to embrace and explore my own gender identity and expression while understanding that we have been made outcasts, even within our own separate racialized communities.
The fear I feel taking transit or walking at night has exponentially risen over the past 4 years as my experiences with racist and queerphobic violence increased. I took a self-defense course in February just before the pandemic to learn how to protect myself. I still wonder when I see the names of the departed listed on the news or in articles if or when my own name will pop up, if or when a name of a loved one that I know will pop up. When will cisgender people in my life and in the world will stand up and say "ENOUGH"? All Black Lives Matter—and that includes Black Trans Lives. Still, I mostly hear this messaging in an echo chamber within the LGBTQ2IA community.
So how have I personally coped through this? It has been a true rollercoaster—and with the privileges I have, I know that the nightmare goes far further for others. As the future continues to be filled with uncertainty and unknowns, dance has remained fundamental to keeping my chin up. In fact, dance has been healing. The feeling of moving to a beat releases my mind from the choking feelings of confusion, fear and the grief that can persist throughout the day. I have found strength and deep joy in wriggling my body with no fear of judgment, no need for pants and—most of all—feeling as though in that moment, I am free.
One of the most uplifting moments through these intense few months was when a local Jewish family offered our local Black community in Vancouver some free meals in Jewish tradition for mourning called Shiva. At a time that I could physically barely use my hands and when I could barely get out of bed—let alone cook—these families came to my and other Black families aid to uplift and nurture us. I cried tears of joy and appreciation when I received a homemade lasagna with a letter expressing true and genuine condolences. These are the moments we can hold onto and remember to contribute when we have the ability and the energy. There is still much goodness, love, understanding and compassion in this wretched world. I will not deny the pain and the anguish this time is causing, but I look forward to a future where we can collectively come together and uplift, center, nurture and take care of one another.
The exhaustion is real. The sheer sadness is real. The fear is REAL.
Through all of that, the hope is also real. The visible change is REAL. I urge my fellow Black people to lean into yourself, be as true to you as you can, whether it be allowing yourself to feel/express joy or pain. Now is the time to really be unapologetically ourselves and to support and uplift others who have also been demonized and brought down by society but are deserving of life, love, respect, uplifting and freedom of expression. The silver lining of this situation is that I'm seeing people come together from all corners of identities for a united cause.
Let's support and uplift one another. Let's learn about each other and have compassion and understanding.
Join the momentum for Black lives.
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