Mad Trans Dreams

Visions and Resistance from outside Norms of Gender and Mental Health


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Daily Donations

Since the election, I have been making at least one small donation a day to a different organization each day. I expect that eventually I will stop doing this sort of giving and instead just increase my monthly giving to a handful of organizations. But for right now, I love this approach. It reminds me of how many organizations there are doing incredible work. It strengthens me in a time when I feel I need it.

By this point, though, I am starting to forget where I have already given. So below is a list of the places where I have given money post-election so far (through this process of daily small donations to different organizations–I have also given money to a number of others not listed here). I have such a long list in mind of places I want to give in the coming days that it feels both overwhelming and amazing. I am always also interested in learning where other people are giving their money, and why.

1/17: American Muslim Community Centers

1/16: Cicada Collective

1/15: CK Life

1/14: Southside Together for Power

1/13: National Black Disability Coalition

1/12: allgo

1/11: Navajo Water Project

1/10: Indigenous Environmental Network

1/9: Tohono O’odham Community Action

1/8: Society for Disability Studies

1/7: Sins Invalid

1/6: Visual AIDS

1/5: Give Directly

1/4: Critical Resistance

1/3: Chicago Community Bond Fund

1/2: Asian Pacific Environmental Network

1/1: Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

12/31: Black Lives Matter

12/30: The Icarus Project

12/29: Community Voices Heard

12/28: La Colmena

12/27: Hui Mālama i ke Ala ʻŪlili

12/26: Preemptive Love Coalition

12/25: Family Farm Defenders

12/24: South Asian Organizing Center

12/23: City Life / Vida Urbana

12/22: Justice at Work

12/21: The Audre Lorde Project

12/20: Transgender Law Center.

12/19: BreakOUT!

12/18: Iraq Veterans Against the War

12/17: Karam Foundation

12/16: LGBT Books to Prisoners

12/15: Operation Welcome Home

12/14: Arab American Association of New York

12/13: West Fund

12/12: Women with a Vision

12/11: TGI Justice Project

12/10: Black Youth Project 100

12/9: Partners in Health

12/8: Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois

12/7: Prison Birth Project

12/6: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities

12/5: The Network / La Red

12/4: Detroit REPRESENT!

12/3: The Trans Latina Network. “Founded in 2007, Translatina Network is made up of trans individuals working locally and nationally to promote the healthy development of transgender Latina communities. Through the delivery of a wide range of information about services and events, educational outreach, and capacity building resources, Translatina Network supports individuals in maintaining personal wellness and developing leadership skills.”

12/2: FUREE. “Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a member led Brooklyn-based multiracial program of Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) led by mostly women of color. We organize and unite low-income families to build power to fight against systems of oppression so that the work of all people is valued and all of us have the right and ability to decide and live out our own destinies.”

12/1: Autism Women’s Network.  “The mission of the Autism Women’s Network is to provide effective supports to Autistic women and girls of all ages through a sense of community, advocacy and resources….The Autism Women’s Network is dedicated to building a supportive community for Autistic women of all ages, families, friends and allies. AWN provides a safe space to share our experiences in an understanding, diverse and inclusive environment. AWN is committed to recognizing and celebrating diversity and the many intersectional experiences of Autistic women….Our goal is to dispel stereotypes and misinformation which perpetuate unnecessary fears surrounding an autism diagnosis.”

11/30: Rahma “RAHMA’s mission is to address HIV/AIDS, Sexual Health, and Women’s Health primarily in the American Muslim community through education, advocacy, and empowerment.”

11/29: Black and Pink “Black & Pink is an open family of LGBTQ prisoners and ‘free world’ allies who support each other. Our work toward the abolition of the prison industrial complex is rooted in the experience of currently and formerly incarcerated people. We are outraged by the specific violence of the prison industrial complex against LGBTQ people, and respond through advocacy, education, direct service, and organizing.”

11/28:  Disability Visibility Project. “Our aim is to create disabled media that is intersectional, multi-modal, and cross-platform.”

11/27: Lakȟól’iyapi Wahóȟpi Immersion Nest, “a Lakota Language Immersion school housed on the Sitting Bull College campus, located on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota…. All instruction is conducted in Lakota with lessons mixing traditional Lakota seasonal and cultural knowledge with best practices in early childhood education.”

11/26: Mijente “Imagine a movement that is not just Pro-Latinx…but pro-Black, pro-woman, pro-queer, pro-poor because our community is all that and more.”

11/25: Native American Community Board, which “works to protect the health and human rights of Indigenous Peoples pertinent to our communities through cultural preservation, education, coalition building, community organizing, reproductive justice, environmental justice, and natural resource protection while working toward safe communities for women and children at the local, national, and international level.” They are water protectors, run Dakota Talk Radio, and also run the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center. #NoDAPL

11/24: The North American Indian Center of Boston, empowering and investing in the Native American community of Massachusetts for over 45 years.

11/23: The Native Youth Sexual Health Network, an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.

11/22: Communities United Against Violence (CUAV) “Founded in 1979, CUAV works to build the power of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) communities to transform violence and oppression. We support the healing and leadership of those impacted by abuse and mobilize our broader communities to replace cycles of trauma with cycles of safety and liberation.”

11/21: The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, working to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination, or violence.

11/20: Trans Women of Color Collective, working to uplift the narratives, lived experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, our families and comrades as we build towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.

11/19: Trans Queer Pueblo, an autonomous LGBTQ+ migrant community of color who works wherever we find our people, creating cycles of mutual support that cultivate leadership to generate the community power that will liberate our bodies and minds from systems of oppression toward justice for all people.

11/18: Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to legal system for individuals who are deaf and for people with disabilities. HEARD primarily focuses on correcting and preventing deaf wrongful convictions, ending deaf prisoner abuse, decreasing recidivism rates for deaf returned citizens, and on increasing representation of the deaf in the justice, legal and corrections professions.

11/17: Mariposas Sin Fronteras, a Tucson, AZ based group that seeks to end the systemic violence and abuse of LGBTQ people held in prison and immigration detention. They support LGBTQ people currently detained in Eloy and Florence, AZ through visits, letters, bond support, advocacy, and housing upon freedom from detention.

11/16: Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. It was founded at the beginning of 2014 by trans and queer immigrants, undocumented and allies, youth leaders and parents.

11/15:  Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD), working to support, empower, and connect LGBTQ Muslims.

11/14: Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), a faith-based human rights education organization focused on racial justice.

11/13: Muslim Justice League, “formed in the midst of the ongoing ‘War on Terror’ to defend the rights of Greater Boston Muslim communities. MJL was founded on the principles that discrimination towards any group endangers the rights of all and that Muslim advocacy is a valuable force for promoting global justice and equality. MJL defends human and civil rights through community education and mobilization, facilitation of cross-movement solidarity, legal advocacy, and cultivation of an environment in which pride in Muslim identity flourishes.”

11/12: Southerners on New Ground, “a regional Queer Liberation organization made up of people of color, immigrants, undocumented people, people with disabilities, working class and rural and small town, LGBTQ people in the South.  We believe that we are bound together by a shared desire for ourselves, each other, and our communities to survive and thrive. We believe that Community Organizing is the best way for us to build collective power and transform the South. Out of this belief we are committed to building freedom movements rooted in southern traditions like community organizing, political education, storytelling, music, breaking bread, resistance, humor, performance, critical thinking, and celebration.”

11/11: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dakota Access Pipeline Donation Fund

11/10: Families for Freedom, a New York-based multi-ethnic human rights organization by and for families facing and fighting deportation.

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News

After the election, I have found facebook both incredibly stressful and incredibly difficult to tear myself away from. One problem with tearing myself away was that facebook has served as my main source for news, and I have not been willing to go without news. But the other ways I typically got my news–like reading mainstream news feeds–upset me so much I would typically stop reading (that part was true even before the election.) Given that, and given everything people have been saying post-election about echo chambers, fake news, and suppression of freedom of press, I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful about how I consume news. That process has led me to consider what I’m actually (not) looking for in my news sources.
1. I don’t want news sources that are so blatantly hateful they diminish my humanity or the humanity of others. Whether it’s Breitbart or the NYTimes, if it’s publishing thought pieces on whether trans youth really deserve to use public bathrooms, or whether maybe women do belong in the kitchen after all, or whether all or only some Muslims are violent extremists, or whether trans women bring murder on themselves, or whether it’s a good thing to try to control autistic people by administering electric shocks, or whether it wouldn’t after all be best for everyone to involuntarily commit more people with mental illness…I’ll pass, unless I have some really specific research related reason motivating me to dive in. I’m not worried about it influencing my views in an insidious way, so much as I am worried about it devastating me emotionally while giving me no new or useful information. And I don’t want to support authors, editors, or publishers for doing horrible things.
2. I don’t want news sources that resonate perfectly with my politics, but that don’t bother with fact checking, skip entirely over complexity and nuance, or pack in so many advertisements that I can barely read the content. The political resonance makes me vulnerable to not looking at claims as skeptically as I should, so I’m actually somewhat less worried about reading sources like these when they do not match my views–although they still wouldn’t be my first choice.
3. I don’t want news sources that are written primarily by and for white U.S. urban progressive-liberal-moderate professionals with lots of investment in the status quo. For me, it’s too risky–these sources can subtly suggest collusion and complacency in ways that appeal to me a little too much, and pull me in directions I would rather not go.
4. I don’t want most of my news sources to be owned by massive corporate conglomerates or governments–and while I’m okay with reading a few that do fit this profile, I want them to be a minority of my sources, and I don’t want any of them to be owned by the same massive corporate conglomerate or government.
5. I do want news that tells me about things happening that I don’t already know. I want news from around the world; I want news that pushes me out of my U.S.-centric perspective and broadens my knowledge base. I also want hyper-local news; I want to know about proposed zoning changes in my neighborhood that could speed along gentrification, or about the local city council person accused of corruption. And I want national news–I want to learn about these cabinet appointees as if my life depended on it (maybe it does). I want news about issues that I rarely think about or have never even heard of, and I also want news about issues I care deeply about and am personally and professionally invested in.
7. I want news that pushes me to question and think, not just to feel fear, disgust, outrage, or hero-worship. I don’t want news that shows investment in “balance” (as in, acting obligated to share the views of someone who thinks Black lives don’t matter in a piece about Black Lives Matter or to dig up some obscure climate change denial person in a piece on global climate change) and “objectivity” (as in, pretending that the authors’ and editors’ culture, politics, experiences and biases could never influence their work).  I do want news that highlights at least some nuance; that provides context and history; that strives for transparency about relationships that may influence reporting; and that offers multiple informed perspectives on events, primarily from people directly affected by them.
8. As much as possible, I want news from sources that treat their workers well, that have leaders from various marginalized groups, that have some independence from those in positions of the greatest social power, that try hard to resist government or big business control of their content, that respect requests for anonymity from vulnerable people, and that try hard to verify the information they provide.
9. For better or worse, I also want news that is convenient for me to consume–ideally, that I can easily read on my phone in the train.
10. I want most of my news in English, because that is the only language I know at all well. I want a little of it in Spanish or French too, though, because I can at least read those languages a little and would like to learn them better.
I’m still trying to work out how to achieve as many of those goals as I can, but here’s where I am. With the help of many people’s suggestions and some of my own explorations, I have started reading the following pretty much every day:

Those are the ones I read most regularly, because I can read them very easily from my phone. But here are the others I am also trying to read at least somewhat regularly (originally, I had a plan of looking at a different three of these sources each day of the week, but it has not turned out that way):

I’ve only been trying my new approach for around a week, but it’s already a revelation. I think on some level I thought the changes to the news I consumed would be fairly minor–that my friends on facebook were probably posting roughly the same articles I would get through choosing my news sources and looking at them directly. Not so, not even remotely (or if so, the facebook algorithm changes all that). This new approach has also yielded very different material than I would get (and cringe about) through Google news.  I can’t claim to suddenly be calm and well-informed, but I am learning more about what is happening outside of the U.S. than I was learning before, and I’m not finding the news so unbearably upsetting to read.

I’m going to keep experimenting, probably shifting some sources out and others in. Once I’m more confident I can make an informed decision, I’ll choose at least a few to support financially.


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One American Muslim’s requests

In the name of God, the most merciful, the most Compassionate.

A number of non-Muslim people have asked me for what I want and need in this moment, and how they can help. I have generally brushed aside those questions. But I just spent a a chunk of last night pacing the apartment and thinking about possible registration, and I realize there are some things I would like to ask for.

Before I go ahead, I need to emphasize that I am just one person, and not one of the Muslims likely to be most affected by the intensified anti-Muslim bias, Islamoracism, and white Christian supremacy of this time. Contrary to popular belief, a single Muslim does not and cannot speak for anyone else, much less for all other Muslims. These are just my personal thoughts, ideas, and desires, and you should listen to many, many other Muslims and your own heart before deciding what–and what not–to do.

  1. If/when Muslims or others have to hide out or flee the country, help. Open your home, open your wallet, and close your mouth. Be brave, be generous, and be quiet. Do not let an atrocity be committed against someone you could have helped.
  2. If you were fired up to take action against the registry of all Muslims in the United States, do not for one SECOND consider taking any less action or objecting with any less fire against a registry that would “only” reach a more vulnerable subset of Muslims, like Muslim immigrants. If you do not know what Special Registration was and what it did from 2001 to 2011, learn about it now. If it somehow seems harder to you to impersonate an immigrant than to impersonate a Muslim, think for a second about why that is. (Looking at someone or hearing their voice does not tell us where they were born or what “status” the government has accorded them, any more than it tells us what beliefs they hold.) If it somehow seems more acceptable to you for the government to do this “only” to Muslim immigrants, ask yourself some hard questions about why, and consider how you might unlearn any nativism or racism that you have internalized.
  3. That said, I have mixed feelings about the incredibly moving tactic that so many Jewish people in particular have committed to take, which is to register right along with Muslims. I fear that those who want to register, lock up, deport, or kill Muslims would be equally delighted to register, lock up, deport, or kill Jews, and maybe even those who support Muslims and Jews. I don’t want that to happen. I mean, I don’t want any of it to happen. But it twists my heart to think that my Jewish family would get badly hurt for the sake of standing with me and my Muslim family–I want as many Muslims AND Jews as possible to survive, unsurveilled and in freedom, carrying forward the struggle. And I want people to be available to carry out #1 on this list.
  4. But that said, I cannot imagine, as a U.S. citizen Muslim, not standing in line to register alongside Muslim immigrants, if that is the shape a registry takes. Or at least, I can only imagine not standing in line if Muslim immigrants told me that it would be safer for them if I did not. So who am I to talk? We must follow our conscience and consider how we can be of the greatest service, striving to prioritize our compassion over our pride.
  5. EDIT: This request comes from a Muslim who was subjected to special registration from 2002-2011. Right now, please take the following actions:
    1. Send feedback to the Department of Homeland Security, encouraging it to dismantle NSEERS (the structure for special registration) right now, before it starts getting used again.
    2. Call Pres. Obama and ask him to instruct DHS to dismantle NSEERS.
    3. Call your representative and senators and ask them to end NSEERS legislatively, and to vigorously oppose any form of “registration” for Muslims or people from majority-Muslim countries.
  6. Resist all forms of anti-Muslim bias, Islamoracism, and white Christian supremacy. Help educate your friends. Look out for proposed anti-Muslim federal, state, and local laws (like this one in Georgia) and speak out against them. Write to the media protesting stereotypical and vilifying depictions of Muslims and Islam. Intervene if you see anti-Muslim hate violence happening. Question why your organization gives off for Christmas but not Eid, Diwali, or Rosh Hashana. And if you are not Muslim and are not from a majority-Muslim country, do not speak out against misogyny, heterosexism, and cissexism in Muslim communities and countries without also doing the following:
    1. Speaking out against misogyny, heterosexism, and cissexism in your own communities and country;
    2. Opposing U.S., Canadian, European, and Israeli military aggression against majority-Muslim countries, remembering that those interventions kill women and LGBT people and worsen their living conditions; and
    3. Providing meaningful support to women and LGBT-led organizations that are actually a part of those countries and communities, such as AlQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (Pakistan); and Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Meaningful support means doing what those organizations actually request, not trying to “rescue” their members or tell them what to do.
  7. Donate to organizations run by and for Muslims in the U.S. too, preferably those that have a track record of centering leadership of women or LGBT people. This is far from a complete list, but it includes groups I personally admire.
    1. Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
    2. Muslim Justice League
    3. Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative
    4. Rahma (focuses on HIV)
    5. Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum
  8. Donate to organizations that are run by and for the marginalized groups that many Muslims belong to (immigrant, Black, South Asian, Arab) –preferably those that have a track record of including Muslims and centering leadership of women or LGBT people. Again, this is a far from complete list (recommendations welcome).
    1. Desis Rising Up and Moving
    2. Manavi
    3. National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
    4. Black Lives Matter
    5. Black Youth Project 100
    6. Arab American Association of New York
    7. Queer Detainee Empowerment Project
    8. Immigrant Youth Justice League
    9. Not1More
    10. Families for Freedom
    11. Karam Foundation
    12. Southerners on New Ground
  9. Post thoughtfully. On social media, consider the impact of the headlines and images you share. If you choose to post an article about some horrific anti-Muslim development from more than a month ago, acknowledge the time lapse in your description. If the image with the preview depicts some sort of violence, like the bloody body of a Muslim woman or scrawled hate speech on the side of a mosque, hide the image before posting. If you choose to post an article about a recent anti-Muslim development, make sure that the news source is reliable first and make it clear you oppose the development in your post. We are all scared and battered enough as it is–think about how to share information without needlessly escalating  pain, fear, and misinformation.
  10. Help immigrants naturalize. Even if no registry exists at all, immigrants remain particularly vulnerable to nativist, racist, and anti-Muslim actions. While only a relatively small number of immigrants are eligible for citizenship, I think it makes sense to do everything possible to help those who are eligible and want to naturalize. Look for local groups where you can volunteer to help immigrants practice English, study for the citizenship exam, or fill out naturalization paperwork (make sure the group has the expertise to supervise you appropriately if you do not already have experience with this type of work). Listen out for people who do not qualify for a fee waiver but still cannot afford the hefty naturalization fees and offer to help. If people need rides to their naturalization interviews and you can help in that way, do it. Give money to organizations that assist people with naturalization, including small organizations that work with multiply marginalized immigrants (like the Sylvia Rivera Law Project). You do not need to be a lawyer to help.
  11. Check in with Muslims you know personally. Just ask how we are doing, and listen. If we ask for help, try to provide it, or say honestly that you cannot. Be in touch. Be friendly. But don’t tell us how scared we should be.

Thank you.


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Mental state a week post-election

Content warnings: white U.S. citizen exploring his post-election feelings, discussion of sexual violence, mentions of many different forms of state and interpersonal violence

***

It has been a week since the election, and I have not stopped reeling and buzzing with anxiety. It might seem ridiculous to ask why Trump’s election has provoked these emotional excesses in me. But I’m asking why, and I’m trying to answer honestly.

  1. It’s fucking triggering. I’ve survived multiple acts of sexual violence over the course of my life, as I think most trans people and (cis and trans) women have, and most of which I certainly will not mention here. A few specific things just keep flashing in my mind. When I was eleven, two thirteen-year-old boys sexually harassed me relentlessly every day after school for a full year, threatened to rape me, and laughed about it. When I was fifteen, I went to my first and only high school dance, and I saw one of those boys get elected homecoming king. The election of Trump is absolutely not that. (It is a lot worse.) But it feels like that to me. Of course the loud and proud sexually violent white cis guy gets popularity, power, and applause. Isn’t that always what happens? Since when has anyone ever cared about survivors of sexual violence? It also reminds me of when I was 20 and walking on a busy city street in daylight. A stranger—an older white man—grabbed me, one arm around my waist and one hand groping my chest. I cried out and pushed him away. The bystanders laughed at me. Since when has anyone ever been anything other than congratulatory toward white cis men who publicly perpetrate sexual violence? (I know that there is actually important resistance, but right now that feels like tiny, barely-perceptible sparks on the very fringe.)
  2. I’m Muslim, Jewish on my father’s side (as he once told me, Jewish enough to have been killed in the Holocaust), trans, queer, and psych disabled. My race, class, geography, education, citizenship, and passing privilege have generally protected me from the worst ravages of Christian supremacy, anti-Muslim bias, and anti-Semitism; anti-trans bias and cissexism; anti-queer bias and heterosexism; and ableism and sanism. While other people who share my marginalized identities have gotten locked up, tortured, deported, displaced, forcibly separated from loved ones, pushed into homelessness and hunger, or killed, I have not. I have dealt with institutional exclusion, interpersonal violence, and discrimination, certainly, but I have rarely personally feared experiencing the extreme conditions that so many other people in the country and the world do. And even though some people I am very close to have experienced those extreme conditions, most of the time, I have not actively feared that most of my close family members or friends would face most of those things. What I’m experiencing now is losing some of that privilege. Or actually, because I still really do have all of that privilege, I guess what I’m experiencing is a change in perception: a sharp suspicion that my privilege may very soon have less power to protect me than it so recently did, given my vulnerabilities. I’m personally afraid that in the near future I and all of the people closest to me will end up experiencing some combination of murder, incarceration, deportation or displacement, torture, forcible separation from loved ones, or extreme poverty. It’s fucking scary. People who have already been living under these conditions have every right to have whatever reaction they have to me and others like me experiencing this fear for the first time.
  3. I’m a white lefty professional, and I’m worried that the basic tools, skills, and tactics I have developed are just no longer going to be even slightly effective, and maybe never were. If Clinton won, I would be dismayed about many, many of her positions and policies. In many ways, I think she would be a nightmare—in a few ways, actually even worse of a nightmare than Trump. But she’s the type of establishment nightmare I’m more or less used to, and that I have been trained to work both with and against. Trump is not. I don’t know what the fuck to do with/against Trump, the people he is bringing into positions of power, and the rash of increased overt bigotry and violence he has unleashed. Being and staying too comfortable with the establishment is a big risk for white lefty professionals, one that I have not been vigilant enough against.
  4. The aching fear, outrage, and grief I feel for so many people–friends, family members, acquaintances, and total strangers–who have been getting so badly fucked over for so many years has escalated to a fever pitch, overflowing the usual mental walls I create to prevent those feelings from overwhelming me. Perhaps those walls were never a good thing, but they let me function. Now, I feel adrift.

It’s hard to take enough care, and I’m having flare-ups of various chronic health issues. I know I’m not alone.


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#GetWokeADA26: Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part Two — Disability Visibility Project

This is the second of a 2-part report looking at the lives and stories of disabled people of color by Vilissa Thompson and Alice Wong for Ramp Your Voice! and the Disability Visibility Project. Part One of the report covers the following topics from our online survey: Introduction Description of Survey Racism, Discrimination, Violence, and Ableism […]

via #GetWokeADA26: Disabled People of Color Speak Out, Part Two — Disability Visibility Project


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could cops be useful?

On the way to an amazing Black and Pink event the other night, my roommate M and I walked through a Black neighborhood. M noticed someone on the ground, not moving.

We walked over, as did a few other people. A Black woman was laying on the ground, moaning, and bleeding from a cut near her eye. M got down on their knees and held the person’s hand, asked a few questions. When M asked a Black man to call 911, he turned out his hands and shook his head. I wasn’t sure if that was because he didn’t have a phone that worked, didn’t feel comfortable calling 911, or something else, but I wanted to be useful and volunteered to call 911 myself. He nodded. I called and gave the info to an operator who said an ambulance was on its way. I asked if there was anything we should do in the mean time, and they said to put pressure on the wound. Someone was already doing that, a Black woman who knew the woman on the ground. Turned out most of the people who stopped knew her–she lived in the same housing project as some of them. People gathered her things so she wouldn’t lose them, talked and joked with her, reassured her, told her not to move her head, told her the ambulance was on its way.

Someone said, “Hey, the cops are right there on the corner! Useless. I’m going to go get them.” I was nervous–would the cops make things worse? But in this situation, maybe they could help–weren’t cops supposed to have some basic medical training? The cops joined our little cluster and asked us, “Is she okay?” I don’t remember quite what we said, but the question frustrated me–she didn’t look okay, but how the hell were we supposed to know?

One of the cops then said to his partner, “Hey, hey, I remember that lady, she just talked to us like five minutes ago, remember? She was out of it! She was confused, thought we were cab drivers. Asked us to put in her in a cab and get her home.”

After the ambulance came and we walked away, I struggled to get a handle on what I was feeling. I was shaken, for sure, and reminded of times when people I loved were bleeding on the ground. I was impressed with my roommate and with the Black women and girls who gathered to help the hurt woman. I was worried for her, and hoping the folks at the hospital would be kind and helpful. I was embarassed, feeling that maybe I should have said or done something more or better. And I wasn’t sure what to make of the interaction with the cops. They weren’t threatening, and unlike M. and me, they knew the neighborhood and they were Black. Still, something didn’t sit right.

They really seemed to think it was bizarre that she should ask them to put her in a cab. Maybe it was bizarre, at least for a poor Black woman, to expect that sort of thing from the police. But if we’re going to have any sort of group of people out on the streets who are supposed to help out with crises, doesn’t that seem like a reasonable request to make of them? I mean, why couldn’t they–cops or not–hail a cab, make sure she got in it okay, make sure the cab driver knew where to take her, and pay the fare if she didn’t have enough? That might have really helped her out, kept her from falling and hitting her head. It certainly seems like what she was asking for.

I want a world where, if we have cops at all, that’s exactly the sort of thing they would do.