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Vita E.’s reads poetry at Knox College event for Trans Day of Remembrance

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GALESBURG — Vita E., a Black trans femme poet read her poetry at the for Knox College event on Zoom and at the Knox College Hope Center for Trans Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20, and was founded as a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. 

Vita E. shared poems like “Glow Up”, about the growth of a trans person,  “We Are the Forgotten Messengers” about Black trans women, and even an acrostic poem in which the acrostic message read, “Men are trash.” They also read, “Layleen’s Bill with Revisions” by Benji Hart who explained that, “Layleen Cubilette-Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Dominican trans woman and member of the legendary House of Xtravaganza, was found dead at Rikers Island Prison on June 7, 2019. It was the first week of Pride Month, marking the 50th anniversary of the infamous Stonewall Riots.” 

for Layleen Cubilette-Polanco Xtravaganza

The New York City Council will pass a package of legislation,
expanding services for transgender, gender-nonconforming,
non-binary, and intersex inmates      will turn out its pockets,
never sign another ransom note
All officers with trans inmates in their custody will undergo
a competency training      will have their badge numbers
etched off with diamond-tipped acrylics, aquamarine
New beds will be added to the transgender housing unit
      beds of wildflowers will erupt from lots that were not
vacant, just holding their breath
Counselors will be made available to all trans inmates      we
are each our sister’s counsel
The Board of Correction will convene a task force      will
be tasked with something useful, like beekeeping, or collecting
rainwater
Sex workers will have their cases diverted to Human Sex
Trafficking Intervention Court      will spray paint the words
“we are the intervention” on the courthouse rubble
The Rikers Island compound will be replaced by a series of
smaller, borough-based facilities      will slip into the rising
Atlantic, the ribs of our dead prepared to cage it
Trans elders will be held in solitary confinement for their
own safety      will have their charcoal locs retwisted in
chosen hands
This legislation will take effect in the summer of 2020
      we have never asked permission to sing”

Vita E. also spoke about how this year has held the record for most trans people being murdered than any other year since Trans Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Smith, a trans activist. The majority of the victims were trans women. Rain Garant, LGBTQ campus advisor, read out the names while participants held candles. Afterwards, there were processing groups available, one for trans students of color, on that same zoom as the rest of the event, and a link to another processing group for students who did not meet those criteria. 

As these statistics suggest, it a somber event, but also inspirational with poems, like, “A Dream Come True”, 

“We are the wildest dreams of our Transcestors come to life. 
The beating of ancient drum, now transformed to the snap of fingers, 
Clap of hand, spit of sickening syllables. 
The full weight of bodies, 
spinning magick into the air,
 Appearing weightless on descent, 
landing fiercely without effort. 
Vibrant hair, bald heads, boss braids, lit wigs, 
Tits out, clit, click, and dick out-hedonistic liberation. 
Authenticity sourced from bloodlines of deities, 
Brown skin perpetually creating euphoria, Trans truth, Afro-tenacity.
 Revolt beating in pulse with the heartbeats of Black Trans Elders, 
Black Trans Futures learning and evolving the pace, 
While we, the present, give and receive the lessons as we learn them. 
We are the wildest dreams of our Trancestors come to life. 
Warriors who refuse to let silence or submission be our melody. 
We prove that shit with our feet, our canes, our wheels, our signs and our voices, 
Taking the streets before ignorance finishes its evening commute.
Rattling the earth, cracking the sky in two. 
Streets know Black Trans rage, 
Stronger than they know the red of our blood, 
Though the streets still know it well. 
Now the world knows history books with our names actually in them, 
Immortalized in Black ink, 
leaving the red behind.
Like no more being error, more like icon.
 More Marsha P. to Andy Warhol, 
Jennicet to Obama’s opportunism, 
Miss Major to the whole country, 
And your most recent Emmy winning Netflix search. 
We are the wildest dreams of our Transcestors come to life. 
We love ourselves out loud, we love each other. 
I’ve shaken the hand of a child, 
Clad in melanin, love, truth of identity and expression, 
And “Black Trans Lives Matter” patched on their back. 
The smiles of who no longer search for love in words kept in shadow, 
Now the sunlight that makes shades of earth, stone, sand, and root grow. 
Makes our love pop like our skin, like our hearts. 
That love, more viral than any campaign against us. 
Our agency over our minds and bodies as fluid as the waves inside us,
 Sorcery beyond the range of closed minds, 
Conjuring outside the realms of hate and death. 
We are the wildest dreams of our Trancestors come to life. 
Once deemed more target than human, 
Now clapping back at presidential proportions
Every election will know that “president” cannot exist without the T. 
Neither can ancesTry, wiTchery, resisTance,
 Even culTure itself owes us for the bite in its articulation. 
We carry our ratchet with our Black feminist theory and unmatched aesthetic. 
Holding our trauma and our dreams as armor. 
Serpentine shade hand in hand with steel spirit as we
 Transform the world.
They have been reminded of the ways we Transcend, 
Transporting between the human, and the divine. 
Living beyond the lies, into our power, into our magick.
 annoinTed. 
immorTal. 
eTernal. 
We are the wildest dreams of our Trancestors come to life.
 And our dreams are wilder because of it.”

For more info and resources like an article by Benji Hart explaining “Layleen’s Bill with Revisions”, a Trans Day of Resilience zine, a Vita E.’s facebook account to book a reading, click here: 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/harriet/2019/11/for-trans-day-of-resilience-envisioning-the-end-of-the-systems-that-killed-layleen-polanco

https://www.facebook.com/twocpoetry

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