Why Organizers of Sunday's Massive Black Trans Live Matter March Urged Protesters to Wear White
At least in terms of fashion, the recent protests sparked by George Floyd's murder are characterized by a lack of uniformity. The masses of the Hodgepodge painted a strong picture in contrast to the heavily militarized police, the poorly disguised undercover police and even the far-right counter-protesters who protested against Hawaii. The lack of unity left no doubt: this was a movement of the people.
But the estimated 15,000 people gathered in front of the Brooklyn Museum and across the country on Sunday to support the lives of black transgender people live after the death of Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, Riah Milton, Tony McDade , Layleen Cubilette-Polanco and others This trend: The large crowd sent a strong message by wearing white.
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According to Fran Tirado, one of the organizers of the event, the idea came from a conversation with West Dakota co-organizer, who had the idea to reflect the 1917 Silent Protest Parade. This protest march against violence against blacks was one of the first of its kind and gathered 10,000 on the streets of Manhattan. Men dressed in black, while all women and children wore white. The idea came to Dakota, a drag queen who had heard from her drag mother that she felt insecure about protests: was there a way to create a safe space for black queer people who were justifiably concerned about taking part in rallies? that have been overwhelmed with potential so often? for police violence?
The March of 1917 provided a useful template. "It wasn't necessarily a direct correlation, but I knew our movement had to be noticed," Dakota wrote. Through their white clothing, protesters gathered on Sunday to illuminate the lives of black transsexuals as they continued to develop the message.
There is a long tradition of using uniforms during a protest. Suffragettes united around white, purple and green; Civil rights activists in the 1960s often did their best on Sundays; and more recently the women's march has used pink pussy hats to create visually appealing images. The very first stated purpose of the Pussyhat project, which organized knitters of pink hats, is "to make a unique collective visual statement that helps activists to be heard better". Protest uniforms are not just a reason to dress up - they serve as a codifying silent statement that is immediately recognizable.
Dakota and Tirado didn't just choose white to reflect the 1917 protest. White was chosen because of all the poetic splendor associated with the color. In literature, white often stands for novelty - a fresh blanket of snow, an empty board - and it was the same for Sunday's Brooklyn Liberation Match. “Another part of our incentive for people to wear white was to help the public understand a new, visual way in which they could imagine our community - the beginning of a new era in the Black Trans and gender-compliant people were not only included, but placed in the foreground where they belong, ”said Tirado by email.
Both Tirado and Dakota believed that the rainbow, which is usually associated with Pride, lost its resonance when companies started to cover up otherwise problematic behavior. If rainbows appear on NYPD patrol cars and hang outside of boroughs, they make less sense in protest against these entities. White should "highlight" the crowd, wrote Dakota. “Not only against the other actions that take place every day in the city / country, but also against the rainbow washing, the co-opting of the rainbow flag by companies that say that they represent strange people. I wanted this to remind us and the world of what our community looks like. Tirado added, "Unfortunately, the general feel of 'Pride' as a construct has been affected by corporatization, rainbow washing, police cooperation, and a space primarily for cis whites - although that's exactly the opposite of how Pride started 50 years ago. ”(Pride, of course, started as a protest against the NYPD and its attack on the Stonewall Inn in 1969.)
The eye-catching photos that emerged from the march prove the point of view of the organizers: pictures of the scene are breathtaking in their vastness, like an avalanche that came to rest in front of the Brooklyn Museum. Together, the people dressed in white have created an impressive representation of something completely new - hopefully the birth of new ways of thinking, acting and treating.
Originally released on GQ
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