On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped explosives containing C-4 on the roof of a house where members of the black liberation & social justice organization MOVE lived. Right before, police attacked the house with 10,000 rounds of ammunition in 90 minutes, knowing that children were inside. The house burned for 45 minutes before hoses were turned on.
Eleven people, including founder John Africa, five adults & five children were killed. The incident also destroyed 65 homes in the area, leaving 250 homeless. Witnesses reported police officers shooting at those trying to escape from the fire that ensued.
MOVE continues to advocate for prisoners’ rights & for the release of Mumia Abu-Jamal & nine MOVE members who were found guilty of the murder of a police officer in 1978.
This is what a trans woman of color who works full time as a trans activist and advocate that lives on less than 400 a month and has only this as her job looks like.
How do I do it? I focus on what I can do, on what matters, on solutions and possibility; and let go that which others say I cannot do, or should not do, or who forget the past is then and this is now, for when all you see is problems, you cannot see solutions.
People like me exist, undaunted, resilient, and indefatigable. Driven by a passion not for ourselves, but for others.
Don’t believe anyone who says we do not exist. They are lying to you.
Yaaaaassss! You better tell em Toni!
“We’ve been ‘cool’ for a very long time, and in that sense our culture has been taken for a very long time. How do we define when we’ve arrived? It’s not when a young, white girl in Berkley is wearing nice garlands or those nice buddhist beads, or wearing bindi. I don’t feel like my life in anyway has been improved because she has the ability to do that and thinks that’s okay. My life hasn’t improved. The life of my mother has not improved. Our voice as a community within this economic system has not improved.
A good friend of mine, she’s south Indian, and she grew up in Connecticut. Her mom would make her wear her bindi and go to school. She would get harassed by kids… she would be harassed so much that what she would do, is that because she was so ashamed to have that bindi on her head, she would leave her house, wipe it off… and then come home and put it back on.
To the point where a child would have to think about such a deliberate attempt to refute their own culture I think is pretty profound. If there’s a white girl wearing a bindi walking down central avenue in the heights, she’s not considered a dot head, even though she has a dot on her head.
For me, the feeling is disgust and anger. The way I look at it if I see it, I just get so mad because I think, how dare this person be able to wear that, or hold that, or put that statue in her house and not take any of the oppression for that. How dare they. That’s not fair. We have to take so much heat and repression for expressing ourselves.
I’m going to rip that thing off your head, and I’m going to scrub that mehndi off your hands, because you don’t have the right to wear it. Until the day when you walk in our shoes, and you face what we face… the pain, and the shame, and the hurt, and the fear, you don’t have the right to wear that. It is not your right, and you’re not worthy of it. I feel like it’s so superficial and it’s so disrespected. One day, wake up, be me, and then you’ll see how powerful what you’re wearing is. “
—Raahi Reddy, Yellow Apparel: When the Coolie Becomes Cool