.. of burying young Black bodies
.. of living with the fear that comes with walking out of my front door
.. of driving with the fear of the police
.. of watching White people cross the street when they see me
.. of White women clutching their purses a little tighter
.. of thinking that I'm going to lose my life before age 30
.. of my chest hurting and sighing to relieve the pressure
.. of living in a World that tells me I'm worthless
.. of imagining that my parents and partner will bury me
.. of being anxious
.. of living in heightened trauma
.. of feeling like my value doesn't matter to anyone who doesn't know more than my skin color
.. of wondering what people will remember most about me if I leave this Earth too soon
.. of deciding my experiences based on the level of pain I can endure on a given day
.. of the scowl the White mom gives when their White child smiles at me
.. of folks only speaking about my body
.. of ignorance and bigotry
.. of not having a space to grieve all of these losses
.. and, then being called angry when I let a little of my pain out
.. of being pushed out, cast away, and being forced to live in the margins
.. of being tired
A few weeks ago I attended the National TransFaith in Color Conference. While I was there, the Board of Directors and Executive Director, Bishop Tonyia Rawls, suggested to me that I host one of the Regional TransFaith in Color Conferences here, in my hometown of Pittsburgh. As many folks are aware, my goal is to partner and collaborate as much as possible. Together, we can make this a great conference and one to be remembered. I'm certain that as we work on this conference together, relationships will be built and networks will be created.
The Pittsburgh Regional TransFaith in Color Conference has a goal of bringing together local folks from the area, professionals from all over, faith leaders, folks of all colors, folks of all ages, students and those concerned about the trans community and all that the trans community entails. Each one of you that has been invited brings something new to the table. One of the best President Barack Obama quotes that I have heard was, "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu." President Obama said this to say that when you're not present, your importance is eaten, overshadowed and overlooked. Please, be at the table to present your groups, your passions and your issues.
At this point, there have been 32 people invited to this meeting and each one of you has much value. I'm thrilled to see where we can go when we are all at the table. It is my hope that from this meeting, folks will have the opportunity to meet new folks, learn about a new issue and begin new partnerships and collaborations, with this TransFaith in Color Conference and beyond.
As a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, it is important to me that we include folks of all spiritual practices, religious, non-religious, atheist, or agnostic. All voices are important and I want to be sure that the conference reflects that.
Come ready to present ideas, experience with the group, and learn!
(If you do not wish to be a part of the TransFaith in Color planning group and wish to share what you would like to see at the conference, please send me a private email to email@example.com.)
If interested in planning, please contact me!
Michael David Battle
Founder, Garden of Peace Project
From a very young age, my paternal grandmother told me, "Birds of a feather flock together", "your friends are a reflection of your values" and "when you silently sit and watch others spew ignorance, you give the world permission to do the same to you". I learned then that it is my duty and obligation to stand up in the face of injustice, ignorance, and prejudice. There is no guilt or qualms when I state that I am intolerant of intolerance. I will not accept the ignorant, misinformed, hateful, prejudice, and hurtful views of others in my life. That does not mean that I will not accept those that are misinformed or ignorant in my life, but their views will be challenged, as I do not believe that being prejudice against others is acceptable in my life. If others hold ignorant views and are unwilling or closed to understanding things another way, I do not want them or their views in my life. I do not say these things to say that I am perfect. I have my flaws as well. I am prejudice and stereotypical. However, I am open to hearing other's points of view. If someone states something opposite of what I believe, I will hear it, even if I do not agree. If one states something that resonates and rings true within me, I will surely allow my opinion to be changed.
As human beings, we want to belong and be loved by others. We seek any qualities, gender, race, disability or something simple like a sports team, interests, or astrological sign, to find that camaraderie. When one feels a part of something, one begins to feel nurtured. Unfortunately, once a part of something, the group begins to band together to seek out those "other" than themselves. In addition to the camaraderie, based on similarities, that humans seek, humans will also find any reason to hate another group.
What we have failed to realize is that as a human race, we will not progress until we recognize that another's suffering is our own suffering. When one's neighbor is persecuted for their religious beliefs, it is no different than the suffering one felt for ethnic intolerance. When another suffers the pain of being a gay man, it is no different than those suffering because of their race. Unfortunately, too often we suffer our own pain because of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, sex, gender identity, ethnicity, nation of origin, etc., but when we see or hear the prejudices stressed upon another group, we are silent. The persecution that the other group suffers does not affect us in that moment, so we don't feel compelled to stand up.
My grandmother had a saying that had the greatest impact on me as child: "You are the company that you keep". If one is with prejudice people and raises no concerns about their views, one is no different than those around them.
Michael David Battle
As a lecturer, writer and advocate, Michael David Battle’s vision is to ignite others and move them to action through courageous conversations, exploring vulnerabilities, and collectively manifesting spaces of healing and restoration.