Black Girl Magic

I’ve been focusing on my journey of womanhood and the women I see around me. Specifically black women and women of color. Losing myself in books and photographs of those identify with. A celebration of black a celebration of womanhood a celebration of black womaness, black girl magic. I am a difficult being to love I am a queer black woman a moderately attractive one at that with assertion; qualities and identities that aren’t so much of a recipe for beauty.

This year, especially the second half of this year has been heavily focused on reflection and my personal development of what I find to be my most prominent identities. My writing has shifted and become reflective of that. I used fewer words but convey the same points. I think much more than I write and having been using the words, writings, reflections, and activism of of black women to guide me.


New York City 

In my first week of living here I was told New York is like an abusive relationship; “You’ll know something is off by you’re so loyal and attached and there are truly great parts to it. When you finally have had a enough and you get the strength to leave you’re persuaded into staying.” 
Over a year later and those words could not ring more true to me. When I first moved to New York I was missing that feeling that the white women in the movies get when moving to the city. I chopped it up to having already frequented New York as a visitor and that shiny feel big city bright lights polish worn off. I have experienced some of the highest highs and lowest lows in my short time here in New York City. Being in this city has shown me so much I don’t believe I would’ve gotten anywhere else for better or worse. I have grown and continue to grow into this multi dimensional deeply spiritual and thoughtful being. 
What I do know is that this is my home right now in this moment and I love it as equally as I hate it. And I understand I have been brought to this space and time for reason, and that my experiences and existence here is not in vain. And for now I will remain in this abusive relationship.


As I turned 25 this month I realized how much I have changed and continue to change. My circumstances and experiences have led me to this very moment this very presence of my being my and the energy I possess. The past 12 months of my life have been equally challenging and rewarding as I settle into a new city I now call home. The practice of gratitude is one of the challenges i set as a goal to be able to understand absorb and practice this year. The summer of 2017 I came to this pivotal moment that I feel has changed my outlook on the things in everyday life around me. I have truly evolved. I the last twelve months I have found that I speak less but my words mean more, the energy that raidiates from me has shifted and I feel more at peace in chaos. 
I spend much of my time constantly trying to find a a way to recenter myself to narrow in focus and understand the universe is preparing me fir the things I asked for in life. Understanding that the amount of control I possess in this world is small but one of the most powerful things I do control is my energy. I struggled with that for so long because I thought controlling my energy was about controlling the way I reacted to things I thought it was about being passive I’ve come to understand changing my energy was about directly changing the way the stress affects my life it was about changing the physical and emotional tolls that life takes on your body. Changing my energy was about me and it wasn’t some magical way of making me more successful or rich but rather changing my attitudes changing conversations I had and engaged in which inherently changed the people around me and by changing those things success wouldn’t inherently follow. 

Changing my energy helped me understand the practice of gratitude. I held on so dearly to the pain I’d experienced and some of the pain I continue to experience and it shielded me from seeing exactly what I had to show gratitude for. And there is so much to be grateful for. As I move into another year of life my hope and wish is to continue to grow in my journey of gratitude. 

The Problem with Laverne Cox and Janet Mock pt 3 of 3

The Conclusion:There are young unnamed  black trans women in pockets across the country who are doing serious work and quite literally putting their lives on the line and those women go unseen and unacknowledged and more importantly referring to Janet Mock and Laverne Cox as activists is dangerous; two women who now have class privilege that allots them the choice of staying silent or speaking up when it’s convenient while for their wallets or career advancements. 
No one challenges or critiques these women because the visibility in the trans community is small and visibility is important, also because people are reasonably cautious to critique trans folks on their relationship with other black trans folks. In fact if we looked at the pro black and and antiracist movements in comparison we don’t refer to Kerry Washington or shonda Rhimes or Tracee Ellis Ross as activists at best we consider them advocates because these women do at least use their platforms to speak out for other black women. 

I don’t want to demonize or turn against other black women, but I take their lack of action so personally because I am a black trans woman, they are black trans women and all three of us know there are black trans girls out there dying month after month, starving, impoverished, forced into sex work, homeless and forced to live on the streets, mistreated in the workplace or even worse not even welcomed into the workplace because in some places it’s legal to deny trans folks jobs, and even housing and other services. How are Laverne and Janet not outraged to the point of action, to the point of creating an actual physical space and community for trans women? Those thoughts ideas and the fiery fierce passion they has gets buried under their celebrity and the checks that role in from remaining silent. I take their lack of action so personally because they will not be the women harassed physically assault or arrested for enter bathrooms that do not align with their birth sex, because their class buys them out of those experiences. These women won’t likely be the one to feel unsafe walking through their own neighborhoods in the middle of the night to get home after working all day. And for so long as I looked for people to agree with me or give me permission to be outraged at their lack of action, but I realized I don’t need permission. We have to do better as a community of people. Girls who like and identify like us are dying in varying ways. The black trans woman is endangered and writing books or posing for magazine covers will not change that. Laverne and Janet who use the titles of “advocate and activist” on their resume havingbeen active in providing a space and solice for black trans women.  They have the agency and following to directly impact the lives of black trans women. But these girls need jobs, healthcare, Visibility, stable and consistent housing and the right to choose when they do and not not want to engage in sex. These are common things I see black trans women grabbing with on a day to day basis across the country. This lends to a greater conversation about what does activism truly look like while remaining authentic to ourselves and taking care of ourselves? How do we truly shift our activism and advocacy to being selfless?  How do we  empathise and balance the burden they have of being hyper visible and representative but also hold them accountable and welcoming of critique. I remember when these were girls for the people by the people and now they’ve faded into these distant ungrounded figures. I recognize my opinions of these women will likely be divisive, but also I feel like my words are tame in comparison to bell hooks (woman that I as well as Janet and Laverne admire) referring to Beyonce as a domestic terrorist. At what point do these women become complicit in the oppression of transgender women of color which is the exact thing bell hooks was asking of Beyonce as it relates to black women and black beauty standards? 

The single major issue with both women is they both use the trans community and narratives of the trans community to advance their careers and finances. They want to list “activist” and or “advocate” of trans folks on their resume, but not put in the work to actually help trans people beyonding existing as themselves. Their celebrity was built off of the backs of trans folks. Trans people are the ones who watched them giving their shows ratings, purchased their books, subscribed to their social media and shared their stories and literally even protest and advocate for their rights and defend them through social media and other outlets when they are wronged. These are amongst some of the reasons Janet Mock and Laverne Cox owe the trans community so much more.  

The Problem with Laverne Cox and Janet Mock pt 2 of 3

Janet Mock 
The Background: Janet Mock is a 30 something mixed trans woman from the island of Hawaii born and raised as a misunderstood child raised alongside her transgender best friend. After turn 18 and “transitioning” to her satisfaction she too moved to the land of opportunity, New York City where she met her now husband Aaron.  Janet went to NYU for graduate school and worked and developed career as a writer and reporter before being out as transgender. After the article featuring Janet was released she decide to write her first book telling her own story becoming a New York Times bestseller. 

The Problem: While I do find Janet Mock to be far less problematic than Laverne Cox (I want to emphasize FAR LESS), I still find her being referred to as an activist troubling though I think could comfortably refer to her as an advocate. 

Honestly Janet Mock just confuses me a lot. She has said before she doesn’t want her life to be sensationalized and has even shaded media outlet for sensationalizing her story, but after years of following Janet Mock and her work I’ve come to the conclusion that’s exactly what her story is, sensational. The woman started hormones when she was what? between 8-14? Her best friend in youth was trans, something, I’ve never heard of, and she had all of these medically affirming surgeries by the time she hit 18 or 19? Though I read her book the details are kind of blurry to me because everytime I hear her speak the story and details seem to shift a bit (no shade just my experience and I genuinely could be misinterpreting). Her family accepts her, she now has a husband, a black man at that, a degree and a rapidly advancing career. I do appreciate her being vocal and saying Caitlyn Jenner does not represent her or her experience, but news flash I don’t think Janet’s experience is very reflective of 80% of the trans women I know.her life then and now is fairly privileged not to discount from the hardships she did endure growing up. I don’t know many black trans women with degrees, accepting and affirming families, early access to medical care, “fully transitioned” and cis blending before 21 and I maybe know of one other black trans woman with a husband. But Janet has been married twice. Like Caitlyn Doesn’t present her, Janet doesn’t present me or dare I say us. 

Janet I’m sorry to say specifically your personal life as a transwoman seems to exactly sensational. It hits all the marks of a great story. The difficult childhood you navigated with you trans best friend and by your first legal birthday you blended into society being perceived as a cis woman in every way with all of the medical affirmations you desired. Then you moved away to the land of possibility New York City where you met the man who’d eventually become your husband dancing in a club and just as you were living your life you were outed in a very public way through a magazine sparking your celebrity that you so eloquently shifted right into by writing your first book.…….While your journey was obviously difficult as life is for everyone and especially trans women the reality is your story is indeed sensational no shade but let’s call a spade a spade. Even the sex work (which I’m sure the actual experience was traumatic as hell, I can’t imagine) served as an unexpected plot twist that had everyone who read your book rooting for your happiness in the end. Your life has been quite the experience.

The Trans List documentary she made seems to be far less foolish than Laverne Cox’s The T Word, but it’s inaccessible. An HBO documentary made for trans people, but the gag is you have to have access to HBO, HBO is not a standard television channel it isn’t even a standard cable channel. How do you make a documentary for folks who do not have the access to watch it? I literally just got access to watch the documentary the day this writing was published. Maybe I’m mistaken and the documentary wasn’t actually made for trans folks and perhaps it’s for cis people, but if this is the case the question is even more relevant……..What are you doing for trans people?

To Janet’s credit she sent did donate several (I believe over 100, but I cannot remember) copies of her first book to places that would be accessible to trans folks and when I asked for an autographed copy of her first book for a friend I received the autographed copy free of charge, I’m not sure if that was because we’ve met on multiple occasions and she knew who I was or if it were because she does that for anyone who has the nerve to ask. 

Seeing Janet actually speak every time she speaks it does seem evident that she is continues to weigh and balance personal life with her advocacy which I can also attest to being a great challenge, but it’s also important to recognize that activism and advocacy comes when it comes and you are need when you are need and it’s not always at a convenient time or glamorous or comes with a red carpet, television time or a check. Black trans women need her to be the person she proclaims to be.

In essence the fact that her gateway into celebrity was being a black trans woman who wrote a book about her experience as a trans woman and now she is so quick to move run along and move on saying that she wants to be recognized for things other than being trans which is valid, but this is where she came from and being trans is how she (in many ways chose) to make her name in media. She needs to own and respect her claim to fame.