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Trans Resistance at AfroPunk Festival


Trans resistance and defiance showed up at the 2015 AfroPunk Festival on stage at the conclusion of an AfroPunk sponsored Trans March.

Noting that no trans performers had been included in the official line up, J Mase III (of awQward) and singer Shagasyia Diamond presented a list of demands to the AfroPunk community. Additionally, public personality, Cherno Biko led a cover of Janelle Monae's "Hell You Talmbout," chanting the names and honoring the lives of recently lost trans sisters.

The Village Voice had this to say about it:

Not long after, a march for Trans justice wound its way through the grounds, shutting down the main stage while protesters chanted “Black Trans Lives Matter!†These words held a particular resonance in light of the fact that nearly twenty transgender women, mostly women of color, have been killed in 2015 alone, including six since the beginning of August. The march was not just about honoring those lives, but, in the words of protesters themselves, “celebrating Trans lives while we’re here.†Two representatives ran through a list of demands that, really, should extend far beyond AFROPUNK to all festivals, such as the inclusion of trans artists and performers in festival lineups, and the blacklisting of performers who exhibit or promote transphobia in order to create safer spaces for trans people. ShaGaysia Diamond performed two original songs followed by Janelle Monáe’s recent, provocative single “Hell You Talmbout†which lists the names of victims of police violence; Monae debuted the song last week at rallies in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Shagasyia Diamond and J Mase III offered the following demands from the stage (video is also below).

  • Hire trans performers for AfroPunk
  • Ensure that your venues are trans friendly
  • Co-Sponsor, publicly, with black trans led organizations on more than just the trans March...our black trans led businesses and organizations are suffering and need support
  • Talk about us and uplift us on your social media
  • Think about us before our death
  • Hire trans staff for the planning team!!!
  • Commit to not bringing transphobic performers
  • Speak about and dismantle transphobia where you are

Shagasyia Diamond attempted to perform two songs shortly after, but was cut off early by AfroPunk staff due to a three minute time limit imposed on the trans speakers. After a brief argument with staff, mics were temporarily turned on so that Cherno Biko could lead a cover of Janelle Monae's chant/song "Hell You Talmbout," featuring Black trans women lost to violence. Mics were once again cut off a few minutes into the chant and trans leaders were asked to vacate the stage.

My brother and artist Shagasyia Diamond on stage at Afropunk demanding rights for trans people.

Posted by Jennifer Marie Mason on Sunday, August 23, 2015

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