Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mississippi "Odd" Damn: Intergenerational Black Feminism is Unbelievable

Black women on the move have always been queer to the intersecting systems of oppression that rely on us staying in our interchangeable and demeaning place.

“It just sounds really odd. You know?”

This is what a white male police officer said to me several times after he separated my partner and I for questioning and we both explained to him that we were driving through Mississippi as part of our cross country journey interviewing black LGBT feminist elders.

And outside the matrix of uniforms, skin, privilege and visible weapons, ghosts and the bloody history of the state (in the specific sense and the general sense) his disbelief would be at worst a strange look to brush off and at best a conversation to have about intergenerational black feminist love in action. But in this case the fact that the officer could not believe our truth and was much more likely to believe that we were troublesome black teenagers joyriding across state lines in a stolen RV, could have been the difference between us driving through Mississippi and being locked up, or worse. We are inside a matrix where to be black and feminist, to be black and driven by love, where to be black queer women on the move together is unbelievable from the perspective of the state. And we still live in a time when to be black, queer, brilliant, feminist, driven, to be incredible, unbelievable, stunning, to be exactly who we are, is a threat to the state and a risk to our lives.

Officer writing a "courtesy warning" to us for being "odd" in Mississippi.

The Story:

While driving on 1-20 in Mississippi a police officer from the interstate crime division pulled us over, citing a traffic concern: our following distance. Once we were pulled over, he asked us who owned the RV and what we were doing. We explained that we bought the RV, which is in my name, together with the support our community in order to travel the country interviewing our elders. The officer then asked my partner to leave the RV and called for back up. He questioned us separately. He asked us several times where we were going, how we got the money to be able to travel, how did we find these so-called elders, why would we want to visit them, was this for school, where did we live, how were we going to get back home, how did we get connected to these so-called black feminists, how did we know there were black feminists in the southern and western states we were planning to travel, and who are we to each other.

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