I generally read a little every day– not out of any effort or toward any specific reading goal, but because it seems impossible not to. Earlier this week, though, I felt distracted by a heavy weight on my heart as December 17 was International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. I spent the day in NYC, attending a vigil and preparing for a celebration of life in the evening; earlier in the day I attended a protest outside a precinct in Queens, letting police know that we want answers for the death of Yang Song and an end to the use of police raids which often victimize, traumatize, and can be physically/sexually violent against sex workers. One thing that keeps haunting me is the common thread running through the events I attended and posts I saw from comrades online– workers feeling alone and noticing a stark absence of allies. It can feel uncomfortable taking up space in a place if you don’t know your presence is wanted or needed, let alone in spaces related to such a controversial issue. But I want to start this round-up with a moment of recognition for workers who we’ve lost to violence, and who have survived through violence. You can read more about the issues these workers face here.
The past few days I’ve been curling up in the comfort of blankets & the following pieces:
On Birth by Steven Sanchez: “My mother shows me / a naked woman splayed / across the page, // a fetus tucked / inside her.”
The Way We Move through Water by Lino Anunciacion: “a glass of water / melts on the / kitchen table // a nervous hand / taps against / the wood”
For the Questions You’re Too Afraid To Ask by D. M. Macormic: “Let the musty incantation sour before spitting / the brown back into your hand. Nothing has changed. You are not changed.”
Autobiography Of A Taxi Driver by Hussain Ahmed: “he says the best gift he sends home is fire extinguisher / we have this in common no one believes we should lead / the prayers in a borrowed tongue”
GOOD GIRLS by Shannon Barber: “I say, new heart who dis? / How am I gonna / Exalt an ain’t shit Daddy / Who can’t protect me”
One Poem by Lara Mimosa Montes: “people in general / do not teach one another /to embrace the undisciplined object of study > the unschooled part of you”
Triptych by Monique Quintana: “Your mother was a brown girl who found herself on a dirt road speckled with stems. The stems began to turn into princes.”
No Water in Dryland by Stephanie Valente: “You don’t know this yet, but there will be someone else. There will be several someones. There’s a man from the neighborhood that you convinced yourself you love. He has a false sense of mysteriousness and a duplex apartment.”
Introduction: Antinormativity’s Queer Conventions by Robyn Wiegman: “While its focus and theoretical inheritances vary, antinormativity reflects a broad understanding that the critical force of queer inquiry lies in its capacity to undermine norms, challenge normativity, and interrupt the processes of normalization—including the norms and normativities that have been produced by queer inquiry itself.”
Between Black and White: Red-Brown Color Consciousness by Roberto Rodriguez: “Mexico has always been a predominant Indigenous/mestizo-based nation, with a dominant small minority of Europeans. Of note, during Mexico’s 300-year colonial era, more African peoples, than Europeans, came to Mexico. And yet in the art world, and in modern times, television, advertising and the larger media universe, white and light-skinned people have always predominated.”
How Every Issue Is A Disability Justice Issue by Marion: “People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority at twenty percent of the population. But disability justice is not a minority issue: it benefits us all. Taking steps towards accessibility and inclusiveness is not a charitable gesture, but a basic requirement of a democratic society.”
Stephanie Kaylor in based in upstate New York and is currently a MA student in Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought at European Graduate School. She holds a MA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University at Albany and is Managing Editor for Five:2:One Magazine and Reviews Editor for Glass: A Journal of Poetry.