Celebrating our resiliency during a time of crisis seems almost redundant. The spaces in which we survive seem to grow smaller and further apart as we continue to respond to the Covid19 pandemic. Many of us are isolated, in poverty, we are survivors and so we remain resilient. We’ve witnessed community collectivity blossom amidst the chaos, and just like how SACHA does, we are here to celebrate us, our communities and the quietly powerful ways we survive.
Examining statistics, we know that Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women face sexual violence at horrific proportions, we know that their lives and their deaths are devalued by the media and institutional powers. Here are seven of the most inspiring quotes we found from Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women. that may help to ground and energize you through these times. It’s not easy but we’re in this together. When we amplify Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women voices, we are saying that we believe in your power, your resiliency and your truth.
Despite all of this, we continue to witness their courage and resilience. As the quotes below will show you, it’s with all sorts of magnificent prowess that we continue to do so.
1. “We are powerful because we have survived, and that is what it is all about- survival and growth.”
― Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde is a Black intersectional feminist that inspires us endlessly. Like many other racialized queer, trans, women, Audre centred her lived experience in her writing. The multiplicity of her identities is a difficult path to walk; Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor and mother.
When she writes that we are powerful because we have survived, we are reminded that power is created, not given. Survival and growth. We will succeed because we are in a constant state of growth — something that racialized queer, trans, women face a lot is the constant need to produce to be recognized as valid.
We see growth as mutual aid, increased compassion and kindness, more organizing and community care. Audre Lorde saw difference as a vehicle for creative change. Transformation is possible, similar to the way that a seed breaks through the ground, the goal is liberation. We are here for that.
2. Of course, trans women find joy and pleasure in our lives and accomplish incredible things. We have always been very resilient — but our resilience doesn’t mean that our lives are ever “easy.”
― Gwen Benaway
Gwen Benaway is a “trans girl of Anishnaabe and Métis descent.” We love Gwen because of her fearless approach to sharing the truth about surviving as a trans girl living inside of a racist and colonial system. Her words reflect the reality that life is hard, especially for racialized trans women.
Statistics continue to demonstrate that legal, medical and social institutions are often outdated, and even dangerous for trans women of colour. (https://www.dailyxtra.com/the-real-price-of-transphobia-142981) According to Benaway, within these cycles, these repetitive and oppressive cycles, the opportunity to feel joy and happiness are often the result of having privilege. Accessing emergency medical services, legal services, or community support then becomes a matter of solidarity and mutual aid. She asserts that there is a possibility of joy for racialized queer, trans, women.
When we create our own sites of power we reclaim our right to joy. During this pandemic, this intersection becomes more difficult to navigate, to push through. Our creativity, our love for each other and our combined goal of safety, freedom and joy are the tools we can use to recreate truly safe spaces for our trans siblings.
3. “Strong communities are born out of individuals being their best selves.”
― Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist. She inspires us throughout her spectrum of work. Simpson explains resurgence as resilience in her 2014 essay “Not Murdered, not Missing: Rebelling against Colonial Gender Violence” (https://www.leannesimpson.ca/writings/not-murdered-not-missing-rebelling-against-colonial-gender-violence). She asserts that “radical thinking and action despite [the] reality of gender based violence” is key to reclaiming ourselves despite the destructive forces of hetero normative colonialism.
Kinship has long been a distinctive aspect of racialized communities. A decolonial kinship is inclusive and connects people through their differences. “The diversity of highly sufficient and self determining people ensured survival and resilience that enabled the community to withstand difficult circumstances,” says Simpson. These uncertain times can be a catalyst for change.
Isolation is difficult. We are here for survivors that feel alone. Active listening and support are available through our Support Line which is available 24 hours a day 905−525−4162. This is only one example of countless examples of community care and support. Another notable example is the Caremongering movement here in Hamilton that is administered by Disability Justice Network of Ontario and the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network.
4. “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.”
― Angela Y. Davis
Hope and optimism remain elusive tools during times of crisis. Angela Davis, a Black feminist, political activist, philospher, academic and writer offers this quote in her 2015 anthology “Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement”, For decades, her work has been instrumental in movement towards intersectional, liberatory Black futurisms. Davis imagines and bullds avenues for freedom despite enduring the violence of being a Black woman.
Unity can provide some hope and optimism. Since the Covid19 pandemic fell upon us, collectivities have arisen across the world, in response. The sharing of information, resources and support has escalated our mannerisms away from polite charity towards a solidarity that is liberatory, in the most collective sense. Realistically, we know that there’s still a lot to work to do and the trajectory is immense but with integrity and hard work, we know we got this!
5. “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
― Toni Morrison (from Song of Solomon)
Born and raised in Lorain Ohio, Toni Morrison (1931 — 2019) was a Black American novelist that enthralled readers with stories of Black independence, self realization and relations with non Black people. As a writer and storyteller, Toni inspires us because of her indomitable approach to surviving with fierce determination. Ferocity can be understood in a multiplicity of ways, whether it’s through activism, mutual aid, collectivity, or even laughter.
In 1933, when Toni was two years old, their landlord set fire to their family’s home after falling behind in their rent, which was $4 a month. The story goes that after this “hysterical, out-of-the-ordinary, bizarre form of evil,” Morrison’s family responded with laughter because they refused to internalize the “monumental crudeness” of the continued violence. “That’s what laughter does. You take it back. You take your life back,” Morrison says.
We know it’s hard and sometimes, laughter isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when surviving. We see the power in Toni’s advice, we see the determination to reclaim space on her own terms. The mirth and merriment despite the hatred and terror creates a contradictory convergence of two types of power. There’s the structural power of racism and then there’s the inherent power of joy. We think this is interesting to reflect on.
6. “The land knows you, even when you are lost.”
― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
Robin Wall Kimmerer is a Potawotami woman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She combines her indigenous knowledge with her botanical and scientific passions; which includes being a professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York. Our main takeaway from Robin’s work is her focus on relationships, not with each other, but our relationships with the living world.
Pandemics are rife with fear, isolation and panic. Social media and repetitive news cycles permeate our realities daily with reflections of the truth of the horror of these times we are surviving. Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks about resiliency in the context of our relationships with the land. We also believe that it’s important to refocus and re-energize ourselves based on our relationships with each other, the land and the water. When we decolonize these relationships, we no longer see ourselves as the centre because then we realize that we are but a piece of the larger puzzle.
When we practice reciprocity, the art of giving and taking, we overcome isolation and fear. Instead of being made to feel powerless, we are invited to control our own honour.
The water and the land can be our teachers, if we allow them space to lead our thoughts and conversations and relationships. With an Indigenous Feminist lens, Robin Wall Kimmerer suggests that we can create powerful social movements. A feminism that centres connection is one that we can get behind — one that honours and uphold Indigenous women having sovereign bodies that are honoured, including land and water.
Decolonizing community practices and seeking “justice not only for ourselves but all of creation” (Audrey Shanendoah, Onondaga Nation Clanmother) will help us to find balance and strength in our pursuit of safe and healthy lives.
7. “Find freedom in the context you inherit”
― Lee Maracle (Stó:lō)
Lee Maracle is one of our favorite Indigenous Feminist writers because of her unapologetic approach to telling the truth. She uses stories to fix the human gaze upon queering decolonial futures and enquiring as to how Indigenous peoples can bridge the gaps between sovereignty and decolonization. Our current context in April 2020 is a pandemic, a society that seems to be learning how to centre its most vulnerable and collectivities of people taking it upon themselves to share kindness, love and support.
This is the freedom in the context that we have inherited. It’s contradictory that we suggest there is more freedom amidst the continued lockdowns, legislated social distancing and limited access to green spaces. However, we want to go there. We want to suggest that there is more to freedom that we have been brought up to believe. Perhaps freedom looks like learning to grow our own food from seed or relearning a forgotten language.
Our freedom is outside of the box created for us. Let’s hold ourselves with relentless care and compassion while we pursue freedom that feeds our heart and soul and drives us towards a future that we can imagine and work towards with action and solidarity.
It’s such an incredible task to survive this world, we uphold Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women for inspiring us to seek goals beyond what is presented to us as options.