Support the Detroit Anishinaabe Delegation to Standing Rock

Posted on November 08, 2016

Emergence Media supports the Detroit Delegation to Standing Rock in North Dakota. The Standing Rock tribe’s members and hundreds of other Native people have been protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline since April. The delegation, planned by Aadizookaan and the Detroit Anishinaabe Family, will bring much needed supplies to the Standing Rock camp, provide workshops to boost moral, and build indigenous support.

#WATERISLIFE Poster

You can support the delegation by purchasing this limited edition #WATERISLIFE Poster, designed and printed by Elijah Ford in collaboration with the Aadizookaan and ill Weaver.  All proceeds from poster sales will go towards the Anishinaabe delegation to Standing Rock. Specifically, we will create zip -up hoodies printed with this design for members of the delegation and as gifts to give the water protectors at Standing Rock to keep them warm through the cold winter months.

This delegation will also make connections between the struggle in Standing Rock to the water warrior movements here on Anishinaabe land/Detroit addressing issues such as mass water shutoffs, water privatization, poisoning of water in Flint, and the building of Line 5 in Michigan.

We have a limited number of posters, so get yours today!  

 

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Posted in Aadizookaan, Detroit delegation, standing rock, waterislife

Complex Movements Hosts Community Events During Beware of the Dandelions Residency in Detroit

Posted on October 11, 2016

Complex Movements is presenting its project Beware of the Dandelions (BotD) in Detroit throughout the month of October. Read on to learn more about the special community events taking place this month.

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THEY: Interview with Mo Willis

Posted on October 04, 2016

 

Morgan Mann Willis is part of the team at bklyn boihood, lead editor of the anthology “Outside the XY: Queer, Brown Masculinity,” and is working on their novel “Politics from Nowhere”. Morgan offers organizational strategy and management consultation for community-driven collectives. She is also the program director of the Allied Media Conference.

This interview is presented as part of a series of "They/Them" interviews conducted by ill Weaver. ill Weaver and Wes Taylor have developed and are sharing a line of apparel for Emergence called "THEY". “THEY” is a strategy for signalling one’s self-identification with the gender nonconforming pronouns “they” and “them” in an affirming and aesthetically bold way. As part of the project accompanying this new apparel, ill discussed “they/them” with other inspiring individuals who use “they/them” pronouns.

Read on for ill’s summary of their conversation with Morgan. Read more thoughts from ill Weaver on the THEY campaign here.

ill discusses THEY with Morgan   

Morgan shares their initial reasons for choosing the pronoun They:

“‘They’ feels like a really important pronoun to use.  I think I started using They as a pronoun because I heard myself often refer to women as if i'm not a part of that group and I still do that.

I found myself creating this separation, which was really telling a story of my gender experience. It felt like instead of this They that's meant to separate me the pronoun became this tool of inclusion. So that I feel like I can exist. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure within the most broad thinking queer spaces to fucking make some concrete decisions about whatever you are how you identify, how you present and I'm just not there, and I never was. They allows me to identify with all these other parts of myself.”

Morgan reflects on their given name, Morgan Mann Willis, in the context of their complex identities and relationship to pronouns:

“I identify in terms of my pronouns as she/they. And I've recently been thinking a lot about just using my name. My full name is Morgan Mann Willis which is the most fucking androgynous and also just masculine name ever which I love. But it took me a very long time in my life to get to a place where I felt like it wasn't embarrassing and I think that in some ways connected to the relationship i've had with my own gender identity. Especially because it doesn't necessarily fit on the trans masculine spectrum and it definitely doesn't entirely fit into this binary of male/female, woman/man spectrum. But I do identify as a Black woman. I also identify as genderqueer. And They feels really important and can hold both of those things.”

Morgan is a writer who recently published her first book . They break down the poetics of the word They:

“It's a word that implies layers. And as a writer I fuck with it because I love imperfection and I love the idea that it's doing all this work. It's like plural in that it's holding all these multiple spaces. It's both referring to yourself as someone else but also as yourself I love the way that it could be either yourself personally or talking about another group of people I like the way it stretches as a word.”

We also spoke about the double edged sword of grammar how They is both invalidated by grammar police, and more recently institutionally validated by grammar scholars and journalists.

“I have a lot of thoughts on institutions and spaces giving people green lights when the green light was already lit. We didn't need your [permission] it was real whether or not this conference or committee or whoever made that decision. But it's infuriating to me. It's ridiculous because we all are waiting.

And we're all really compelled to wait for that institutional message: ‘you're real now.’ Same way that we waited for marriage. Gay marriage. All marriage. Being legal for some folks gave them permission to do what other folks had been doing since the advent of love. And wanting to license somebody. It just feels like the whole They thing sort of reaches these points of...grammar is the same kind of institution. The whole world is determining whether what comes out of your mouth is valuable. So to think about that as it relates to our identity is so hurtful.

There are many ways in which I have had to unlearn these colonial notions of the proper use of language. And how to not value it over other forms of more basic or rudimentary expression or whatever the language is. To unlearn the value of institutional backing when it comes to expression.”

Morgan also speaks about their frustration with how binaries are perpetuated within queer and trans spaces:

“It's about people's discomfort. For example, we privilege folks who have transitioned and who give you realness people who are able to make us feel in our deepest selves a little bit more comfortable. Because then we're able to understand. And this thinking is within our most loving and radical communities. I think it just speaks to the ways in which queer culture still has a lot of work to do to undo this binary thinking. They is in resistance to binary thinking.”

Morgan recently shared a story of how her three year old niece outsmarted all the grown folks who can't seem to grasp the layers of their identity:

“Kids are awesome. My niece Raeya she was three when this happened and we were playing castle and she was giving my sister, her mother, her little sister, and me and her dad all these different characters inside of the world and I got crowned “King Auntie” which is the best thing I've ever heard. She just read energy in a way where you would think this is the hardest thing in the world, but you're three you don't even know anything and you just figured it all the way out.

It's the best. You spend all this time trying to get all this acknowledgement from adults around you and shit and she just naturally has this very very clear sense that I'm holding masculine and feminine energies and not even necessarily equal parts. It's like the ultimate proof that people can ultimately get it the fuck together and just move on.”

This led Morgan to reflect on their own childhood experiences with being forced to gender conform, and how their mom had their back in the process.

“When I was a child someone asked me in a disrespectful way are you a boy or a girl and I remember I told my mom and her answer to me was you just tell them that you're Morgan.

I think about that a lot as I think about my expansion and understanding of pronouns. My name itself is doing a “They” thing. It's telling a lot of different stories. My mom set me up. She's the highest femme in all of creation so for her to say that was similar to my niece having this very raw reaction to who I am.” //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0346/2897/files/YUNG_MOMO.png?v=1475269279

Posted in them, they, theythem

THEY: Interview with Nico

Posted on September 28, 2016

 

Nico is a non binary fat femme Afro Tainx Boriqua and lifelong brooklynite. They are the campaign organizer of TransJustice program at the Audre Lorde Project. Nico is fiercely committed to his communities. He is a cultural worker who uses multiple mediums to document history, share knowledge and create avenues to reconnect to the ancestors. On their many journeys, they are learning history and using it to fuel their fight for the revolution. 

This interview is presented as part of a series of "They/Them" interviews conducted by ill Weaver. ill Weaver and Wes Taylor have developed and are sharing a line of apparel for Emergence called "THEY". “THEY” is a strategy for signalling one’s self-identification with the gender nonconforming pronouns “they” and “them” in an affirming and aesthetically bold way. As part of the project accompanying this new apparel, ill discussed “they/them” with other inspiring individuals who use “they/them” pronouns.

Read on for ill’s summary of their conversation with Nico. Read more thoughts from ill Weaver on the THEY campaign here.

ill discusses THEY with Nico

Nico is the lead organizer of the TransJustice program as part of the Audre Lorde Project, but they started out organizing as a member of FIERCE!. In our interview, they talked about the feeling of being a street-based youth:

“There's this thing that happens here where you become homeless, and your biological fam doesn't accept you, but then you also find this deep sense of freedom of 'I'll be homeless, and I'll go to the pier everyday, and I'll go steal an apple from the store, but I will be so fucking queer and free to be in my queerness.' So I was really in that place of investing my energy into everything I was. I really did admire that these folks, like Emerson, were going by They, and there wasn't any way that they were gonna let you categorize them. That really encouraged me to find out what pronoun it was that I wanted to use. And to really fucking hold on to it and be proud of it. They demands that folks who use it do the work to break down gender as they understand it.”

Nico uses both They and He as their pronouns. They made this decision after years of going by both He and She, but experienced too many people wrongly defaulting to using She to describe him. He explained the reasoning for utilizing both pronouns:

“I wanted to reclaim what I define as masculine and what I define as feminine because if I let the world define that for me then there's many parts of my physical body, identity, and history that will be masculinized and held to this fucked up standard of masculinity. So if I can reclaim that and define what my masculinity looks like and what my femmeness looks like, then it's a way for me to reclaim my body as a fat disabled person and uplift the feminized and therefore often invisibilized labor and work I do for my people.”

They went on to break down some commonly held false perceptions of fat folks in relationship to race and gender – as well as the underrepresentation of femmes who use They and Them pronouns:

“There's definitely more representation of people who identify with They and Them pronouns who are masculine presenting or just gender neutral or who try to be andro but even that in terms of bodies – fat folks can't really access androgyny as it is defined by thin, white, eurocentric standards – this widely embraced definition of androgyny does not fit fat Black and Brown people. Femmes [are] resisting the idea that they need to use She or Her or any societally defined characteristics of femmeness and reclaiming who and what we are, what we look like, how we love. My rage and my commitment to my people, that's my femmeness.”

Nico spoke about the layered meanings of They and the importance of making space for their multitude of stories and identities:

“I've experienced mad violence in hospitals, the medical industrial complex, policing and sexual violence, all these experiences I carry and how that related to me being fat and being disabled and also even being from New York. Being from Brooklyn, being displaced and being pushed out. All of those things are relative to my gender expression. And the more that I can reclaim and define shit for myself, the more free I feel. So using They is more than just about gender, it's about the multiple layers to our identities and why They fits all of our identities as one intersectional representation.”

He discussed the ways that gender binaries are perpetuated, even within queer and trans spaces where they receive criticism of their pronoun:

“I get it mostly from other trans folks who are like 'you have not transitioned'. But there are so many transitions actually. There are social, spiritual, mental, emotional transitions and people put all of it into one physical transition. I think that is also obviously real and rooted in deep trauma of what you have had to do to validate who you are. And sometimes we start doing that to each other. We're actually really violent to the people who haven’t medically transitioned or will not. Or cannot. And also violent to people who have. Like we're never gonna be able to actually one hundred percent become cis, if you do identify with the binary. And then for some of us, we don't have a specific way that the gender we identify with is supposed to look, but there are so many reasons why someone would not take T or not bind, or not get top surgery, or whatever. We can really limit each other and ourselves.”

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Complex Movements’ “Beware of the Dandelions” Opens in Detroit, October 6-31

Posted on September 08, 2016

Allied Media Projects and Talking Dolls are excited to present Complex Movements’ Beware of the Dandelions in Detroit, October 6-31. Beware of the Dandelions is a mobile art installation that functions as a performance, workshop space, and visual arts exhibition. The piece is created at the intersection of community organizing, visual design, hip-hop and electronic music, architecture, and theater.

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Posted in Allied Media Projects, Detroit, Installation, Performance, residency, Talking Dolls

They: Interview with Kiley May

Posted on August 30, 2016

ill Weaver and Wes Taylor have developed and are sharing a new line of apparel for Emergence Media called “THEY”. “THEY” is a strategy for signalling one’s self-identification with the gender nonconforming pronouns “they” and “them” in an affirming and aesthetically bold way. As part of the launch of this new apparel, ill discussed the “they/them” pronouns with other inspiring individuals who use “they/them” pronouns. Read on for ill’s summary of their conversation with Kiley May.

Read more about the THEY campaign here.

About Kiley May

Kiley May is a Rotinonshón:ni Mohawk storyteller and artist from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory (aka “the rez”) and is now settled in Toronto. Kiley is a two-spirit person, who can also be called trans, queer and genderqueer. Her pronouns are they/their/them and also she/her. They do creative work in writing, theatre, film, photography, fashion and dance.  And transitioning, which is an art form; her greatest art work to date.

 

 

 

 

ill discusses THEY with Kiley

“It's strange and difficult to observe the strained reactions people have when you call gender into question. You uproot their whole idea of gender and it really moves or disturbs something on a deep level because for a lot of people gender is supposed to be this solid thing that never changes.”

Kiley identifies as a queer two-spirit, trans woman and emphasizes that they don't identify as simply a man or a woman. “For me, being a trans woman is very dualistic and fluid. How I feel about my gender can change according to the day or my mood or the phase of the moon. So that's why I felt most comfortable identifying with gender neutral pronouns, and began using both she and them.”

Kiley proudly identifies as Rotinonshón:ni and Mohawk. Their mom is Mohawk, and her dad is Cayuga. They grew up on the reserve called Six Nations of The Grand River Territory, or Six Nations for short. Prior to choosing their preferred gender pronouns - the question of language and identity was something they had to grapple with regularly, navigating between worlds.

“I grew up there on the rez and we called ourselves onkwehon:we or Indian people. It wasn't until I went to high school off the reserve that I got called native, and then in Toronto for university the politically correct term was Aboriginal and Indigenous. That was also when I first was introduced to the term ‘two spirit’ and started incorporating that. It’s an ancient identity, but two spirit is an English term that was created around 1990 so it's a very modern term.”

Recently they visited the reserve they grew up on and met with an LGBTQ youth collective. She talked to them about the term two-spirit and asked how the group felt about that term. “The group all sort of side eyed each other.” This group felt the term didn’t belong to people on the reserve and is a more modern term associated with academic or political native queers living in cities.

Kiley went on to explore the disconnections between language, colonization, and cultural practices across her communities.

“What I would like to propose to the LGBTQ youth collective in my community is that if they don't like the term two-spirit, we can create new words and we can insert that into our own vocabulary and vernacular. We can use the Mohawk language to describe trans people and queer people and two-spirit people, and start meeting people to recover, uncover, or create new ceremonies. We need to reintegrate and reinsert ourselves in order to take back our culture.”

They went on to explain how they grew up learning the Kanie’keha:ka (Mohawk) language, as well as traditional ceremonial practices in longhouse, which she explains is a sacred place for carrying out thanksgiving ceremonies. “The longhouse is gender segregated: there's the men's side and the women's side and there's men's ceremonies and women's ceremonies, which can be triggering for me. But having transitioned and going back and crossing over an actual divide from the men's side to the women's side - that alone is a radical act of decolonizing and indigenizing.”

She has been researching ways to approach this ceremonial process respectfully, and thinking of ways to have challenging conversations about gender and two spirit issues with the longhouse people, the faith keepers, clanmothers and the chiefs who run the ceremonies.

“We have to start with two spirit people being present within ceremony and taking on ceremonial roles, and then moving toward reclaiming and creating specialized roles for two spirit people to do. Oftentimes two spirit people are healers and medicine people, who historically could participate in ceremonies that are traditionally just for men or just for women and go between both worlds. When I first started transitioning and identifying as two-spirit, I was invited into a water ceremony which is usually a women's space to be a water bearer. The welcoming of trans people into ceremonial spaces is a huge first step, then we can reclaim our words and pronouns and start changing the language. Hopefully in my lifetime I will see the reintegration of queer and trans and two spirit people in my culture.”

They discussed the dynamics of using both they and she pronouns interchangeably - and how context and issues of safety impact their choice of pronouns.

“When I first started transitioning I was at school, and very vocally advocating for myself and teaching people about gender-neutral identities. But when my hormones started taking effect more noticeably, people started gendering me as she, as female, and as a woman. There are a lot of times where I found it was much safer and much more convenient to go along with it. Because first of all as a genderqueer androgynous person it can be very volatile and hard. It's like you're a walking target. I remember walking down the street and people would verbally harass me. But there were also other times where I found it safer to identify as she or her. Like last summer I was unemployed and out of desperation took a landscaping job. I was working outside with mostly men. That was a situation where I decided just to go with she. I felt like that wasn't a circumstance and a context where I felt comfortable to really put down and educate people about gender neutral identities and pronouns.”

She also gave insight into the generational perceptions of pronouns and gender identity and different factors that can cause tension across generations within queer communities:

“A few years ago I was in a group for trans people at the Sherbourne Health Centre and whenever I was talking about being genderqueer and using they/them pronouns there were older queers who didn't understand gender-neutral pronouns or were resistant to them. Some explained that they were coming from a generation where trans women fought so hard to be recognized as women, and trans guys fought so hard to be recognized as guys, that they became comfortable with the gender binary and did not want it changed.  I was one of these young and up and coming queers from this new generation that are trying to create space and validation for genderfluid identities and adapt the language to include gender neutral pronouns. So it's really interesting to see how over the years it's evolved.”

They also spoke about the backlash since the heightened visibility of gender-neutral identities and pronouns:

“A lot of people think that gender neutral pronouns are something new and modern, but English and other Western languages are the few languages that use gender-pronouns and gendered language. So many cultures around the world and throughout history have languages that don't use gender pronouns or that have many gender pronouns. Being two-spirit, being queer or trans is nothing contemporary, it's ancient. As long as humans have existed trans people and queer people and two spirit people have existed.”

Kiley is deeply connected to her family-- the oldest of 12 children, with 5 nieces and 3 nephews. They said they feel like a role model and do all they can to teach their younger family members that many types of people exist, and what it means to be trans and about different pronouns.

“Familial titles are really difficult because you have aunt and uncle, which are gendered. I guess cousin and sibling are gender-neutral, but nephew/niece are gendered ((ill note: shout out to fam who use the term nibblings to describe their sibling’s children)) so it can be difficult. But kids can come up with creative names to call us. When I was at the Trans Day of Remembrance event at The 519 Community Centre, a trans woman who was learning ASL was explaining that the signed language for transgender translated to ‘beautiful heart’. So I think there are creative ways to describe each other.”

Kiley is passionate about art and creativity. She is working on a children's book. This year summer they will begin studying in an indigenous program focused on theater and performance art. She has made films and studied photography. They say that more than anything they are a writer and storyteller. She applies all this creative thinking to developing workshops and political education that focuses on uplifting the complexity of identities.

“Somewhere along the path of being an educator I started talking about kaleidoscope identities. It was in response to the use of the male/female gender spectrum, which can be very binary. So what I thought of instead is a

kaleidoscope - when you hold it up to the light it shifts and changes - it's very colorful and there are no boundaries that confine it. So instead of saying the gender spectrum, I say the gender kaleidoscope. I see it as a more appropriate way to describe gender and sexuality because they are so fluid and change and evolve throughout our lifetime. It leaves room for people to change, and to evolve.”

ill Note:

Special thanks to Chantelle Gallant for the intentional introduction to Kiley!

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Beware Of The Dandelions Detroit Homecoming: October 2016

Posted on August 30, 2016

Complex Movements' project Beware Of The Dandelions:

Detroit Homecoming will take place October 6 - October 31 at Talking Dolls 7145 E Davison including immersive and interactive performance, video installation of movement memory maps, and a series of community workshops and events.

Complex Movements is a Detroit-based artist collective supporting the transformation of communities by exploring the connections of complex science and social justice movements through multimedia interactive performance work.

ComplexMovements.com

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Posted in #BOTD, Allied Media Projects, Detroit, Installation, Performance, residency, Talking Dolls

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