Since the Pandemic began, our Nation's People have had a need for support unprecedented for most since the 1920s. As we entered into June, BIPOC Americans faced compounding grief as more black Americans were murdered by police officers across the United States. Here in Tallahassee, we lost a third black man by the hands of officers since the appointment of Police Chief Lawerence Revell three months prior to the murder of Tony McDade. The majority of these officers have not been held accountable for their actions.
For a lot of our City here, June was a blur of exhaustion and movement as Tallahassee activists continue to demand the resignation of Chief Revell & City Manager Goad, the body cam footage of officers involved in murdering our neighbors, the mass reform of TPD policies, and the development of a Citizen's Supervisory Board to oversee our City Police Department.
Tony McDade's death was especially hard for the Queer Community, as media, authorities and the uninformed, repeated an age old cycle of passive queer erasure. Like most Trans & Gender Non-conforming people, the worry of not being provided your dignity even in death is an unnecessary burden placed upon us by the fallacy that humans are by default cis-gendered or heterosexual.
The systematic oppression of BIPOC Americans defines a foundation of oppression that is inherently intersectional- and the anti-racist work NECESSARY for Americans to successfully make this the last time Activists have to march about this shit is more than just saying Black Lives Matter.
Anti-racist work involves your introspection on your own behaviors and lifestyle choices; past and present. Anti-racist work involves evaluating the amount of harm your consumer purchases inflict on our world. Anti-racist work involves breaking habits of language, microaggressions, and self-serving individualism. Anti-racist work is harm reduction, is healing, is hard- and involves more than taking photos of yourself at National protests. For us all to really be free, there needs to be a massive shift in our perspectives and submerging ourselves into the teachings of Black Abolitionists.
Here in Tallahassee, local activists are still putting pressure on our City to do the right thing. These last few months have been hard because it has felt like we have had to ask so many in this State to do the right thing...all while still in the midst of an ever spreading Pandemic and the increasing burdens put on our neighbors by the failures of our State Government.
Despite eviction moratoriums in some Counties here, the number of folks in need of shelter has sky rocketed. Homeless youth across the Big Bend currently face a waiting list of 200+ individuals before they have a chance at temporary housing services. While homeless, an individual will face higher rates of violence and health issues, and those rates are compounded when you're queer, a person of color, femme, or ability diverse.
The Halfway Point's business model has always been rooted in the practice of Restorative Justice, and within our network of community organizers and fellow business owners, it's been a long few months ensuring we can provide effective community support amidst the dumpster fire that has been June 2020.....And by chance of an electronic coupon, The Halfway Point's first piece of our Mutual Aid Collection manifested itself.
With a goal to provide hotel rooms for homeless youth of the Big Bend, in a time when they need it most, Our Black Trans Lives Matter bumper stickers are the first of many fundraising purchases that directly impact the people in our community.
Printed in a limited batch, these stickers are sold at two price points, and purchasers get to choose what they pay. With the option to purchase for either 50% or 100% of a night's stay in a hotel room, those funds go directly to a network that works with unsheltered queer youth of the Florida Panhandle. If reprinted, this design will only ever be sold to profit the efforts to provide housing to displaced youth in our community. Even one night in a hotel room can provide safety, peace, and comfort to someone constantly weathering the elements. Not to mention the internet access or the privilege of a quiet room.
In organizing theory, mutual aid is a voluntary reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. We honor those that have served us by serving others sustainably. Our business wouldn't be here without community support, and tithing back to our community is just part of being a small business for us. Of all our years on this earth, this philosophy has yet to steer us wrong.
Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living.