By Tekita Bankhead
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you have probably heard about FX’s groundbreaking series Pose. With the brilliant visionary contributions of Black LGBTQIA+ powerhouses, such as Janet Mock, Pose is a witty, hard-hitting drama that explores “African-American and Latino trans, gay and gender-nonconforming ballroom culture scene in New York City in the 1980s and, in the second season, early 1990s¹” while amplifying major issues that impacted the community during that time such as the HIV/AIDS crisis, discrimination, and disproportionate violence with no justice served. Since the very first episode, I have been HOOKED on this show. Not only are the actors immensely talented individuals, they are also handling serious nuanced topics masterfully and in a way that is creating long-overdue visibility.
In my opinion, last night’s episode “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” was one of the most powerful stories I have ever seen depicted in a television drama and the best episode of the series to date. In this episode, a key main character, Miss Candy Ferocity, is brutally murdered, and the episode sets the stage for the crucial conversation of the crisis impacting Black trans women. Played by the phenomenal Angelica Ross, Candy is a feisty Black trans woman whose no-nonsense attitude and unapologetic presence made her an undeniable presence at the balls and instant favorite for viewers. I won’t give away too much of the episode, but I would strongly encourage you to do yourself a favor and check out the entire series. This is truly a show like no other–I guarantee you that!
Unfortunately, Candy’s on-screen story is a frighteningly gruesome reality off-screen for far too many of our trans sisters. According to Serena Sonoma of Vox, at least 11 Black trans women have been murdered since the start of 2019, and at least 26 deaths were tracked in 2018. According to the Human Rights Campaign, their names are:
- Dana Martin, 31
- Jazzaline Ware
- Ashanti Carmon, 27
- Claire Legato, 21
- Muhlaysia Booker, 23
- Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington, 40
- Paris Cameron, 20
- Chynal Lindsey, 26
- Chanel Scurlock, 23
- Zoe Spears, 23
- Brooklyn Lindsey, 32
Despite these excruciatingly regular tragedies, many mainstream media outlets consistently fail to respectfully cover these stories, and some allies of the LGBTQIA+ are still contributing, both knowingly and unknowingly, to the trans-phobia and transmisogynoir that continues to threaten these precious lives. Their lives were valuable, and their stories deserve to be honored.
After making it through last night’s emotional episode, I had to ponder an extremely honest and reflective question. As a Black, heterosexual, cisgender woman, have I done enough for my Black trans sisters? Since I’m very self-aware, sometimes to a fault, I knew that the answer was “no.” However, I also know that the answer for many of my peers with some of those same privileged identities might also be “no.” Our Black trans sisters deserve much more from us a community. While their community as a whole is making significant strides, it is our duty to ensure that it is not solely of their own efforts. They are significantly impacted by housing discrimination, insufficient healthcare, blocked employment opportunities, and too many other barriers to count. They can not, and should not, have to continue doing this work alone. We have too many Candy girls, as she is lovingly referred to during the episode’s funeral scene, and we have got to turn the tide somehow.
Regardless of personal views, I’m a firm believer that humanity reigns supreme. Ignorance is no longer an excuse for inaction, and honestly, if we are going to be really real, it never has been. My plan to do more is to start my educating myself to develop a more expansive understanding of the layered plight for trans women of color. I also plan to use my respective platforms, both personally and professionally, to try to amplify their stories. Their lives. Their purpose. It’s the very least I can do, and I will continue to identify ways to do more and be of more support. I implore our readers to consider doing the same.
Tekita Bankhead is the Creator/Editor-in-Chief of the Pedestal Project, LLC. Tekita aspires to live a life that glorifies God above all and prides herself on being unapologetically authentic. In her spare time, Tekita loves reading, writing, traveling, cooking, concerts, sharing doggie cuddles with Roxie, and spending time with loved ones. She is an avid music lover, prefers 90s R&B over most new music, and is best friends (in her head) with Brandy and Beyoncé. Her Pinterest boards are filled with natural hair tips, quirky quotes, and every wedding pin ever created (What can I say, Real Gs love romance!). Connect with Tekita on Instagram and Twitter @tekitaapplebum.