Blog > Seven Quotes about Resiliency from Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women

Seven Quotes about Resiliency from Black and Indigenous, Queer, Trans, Women

April 24, 2020

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​.dai​lyx​tra​.com/​t​h​e​-​r​e​a​l​-​p​r​i​c​e​-​o​f​-​t​r​a​n​s​p​h​o​b​i​a​-​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​.lean​nes​imp​son​.ca/​w​r​i​t​i​n​g​s​/​n​o​t​-​m​u​r​d​e​r​e​d​-​n​o​t​-​m​i​s​s​i​n​g​-​r​e​b​e​l​l​i​n​g​-​a​g​a​i​n​s​t​-​c​o​l​o​n​i​a​l​-​g​e​n​d​e​r​-​v​i​o​lence). 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 9055254162. 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.