Welcome to the Gay Shame “reparations salon,” where we talk about the hot topic of taking back what’s ours.
We all deserve a check, but what forms can reparations take outside of capitalism?
Your host Mary ponders the question from indigenous and/or transgender angles, with the aid of two Bay Area activists working to rematriate land and power to people in the Bay Area.
Recorded December 4, 2020. Transcripts and links to more info at gayshame.net/index.php/gay-shame-the-podcast/.
This is just a content warning for state terror, police terror, colonial sexual and transphobic violence.
[Cat Girl] Can I be “Cat Girl”?
[Mary Up] Sounds good.
[Maria Mestizaje] Damn! I could have been anything. “Cat Girl!” I love that. I’ll be Maria Mestizaje.
[Mary Up] And this is Mary Up. Thank you for joining us for our I don’t know, fourth fifth third podcast. This is the gay shame podcast. Gay shame is a radical queer direct action group. In the occupied territories that were christened by the mass murderer, Father Junípero Serra, as Frisco he called it Frisco. But there there are other names for this area in this region that we’re in. And tonight, we’re just going to have a conversation about reparations. Basically, tonight, we’re going to explore what renewed and unthought approaches can bolster our ongoing anti colonial and abolitionists reparations strategies to address the unceasing intramural murder of Black trans women and consolidate into stronger coalitions between the surviving descendant generations of indigenous slaughter and chattel enslavement. So this is going to be a chill little conversation about reparations tonight.
So like, the podcasts sort of began, around the middle of the year around lockdown, and it was just sort of like a way for us to have a conversation about all the stuff that was happening. You know, like all the different, just all the stuff that was happening, like George Floyd and all this stuff, and people talking about defund the police, abolish the police. And so gay shame did a podcast trying to contribute to this conversation because for the first time in history, we never expected this, people were talking about, you know, all the stuff we’ve been talking about forever. And so it was kind of confusing. And so initially, our podcast discussions were about, “okay, so abolishing the police, abolishing the police in the prison system is just the floor, is just the beginning of this thing. Like, we actually need to go further and do a whole lot more in order to make these things happen in order to make the world that we want.” So that’s kind of what the first podcast was about. And so we were having these conversations. So the progression was like, the first one was about that, the second one was about cooptation. Right, that was happening at that time, and you know how everyone was trying to talk about defund the police and how confusing that was. And then, like, the next podcast we had was about conservatorship because that was an issue that gay shame, had been organizing around for a while and trying to figure out how to make it topical. And so we came up with the idea of having it be a conversation that is maybe a little bit more accessible by talking about Britney Spears because there’s like a whole free Britney thing. And it has actually sort of promoted people wanting to organize against conservatorship, and stuff like that. And so this conversation is kinda like the ones we were having before, where we’re trying to talk about what’s happening now and where people’s political consciousness seems to be going now, and wanting to have a conversation about reparations, because I think like when ’round we initially–there was a thing that was going on where TI was talking to Lloyd’s of London,
[Recording of TI] Us, the descendants of the slaves that they insured, and that were brought here due to the transatlantic slave trade, us the descendants, I believe, are entitled to at least 10% of Lloyd’s of London, the entity in perpetuity, because they built this empire off of the blood, sweat and tears and the backs of our ancestors. Okay, and next given, you know, and not just slavery, all of the things that come after slavery, you know, where there’s Jim Crow segregation, even right now to police brutality.
[Mary Up] Because Lloyd’s of London was a British holding company that insured slave ships. And so they were like we’re acknowledging this history, blah, blah, blah, abolish the police, Black Lives Matter. And we are interested in, you know, doing a payout or working with people around that and so
[Recording of TI] mass incarceration, all of it, you know, say us being poverty stricken. All of that is a result of their participation in the transatlantic slave trade. It’s…so their empire, you know, their $56.8 billion dollar– and be that as it may, and also, they’ve also acknowledged the shameful role that they played in it all and apologized, which is noble, we do appreciate you holding yourselves accountable and acknowledging the role you played. But I don’t think given the severity of the nature of this outcome, I don’t think that an apology will suffice.
[Mary Up] So kind of like the frustration is that, well, on the one hand, you know we all deserve checks, like, that’s great. Yeah, like, you know, get those checks. But like, the different kinds of conversation around reparations that have happened, are more complicated than that, a lot of them have looked at sort of prison abolition as being perhaps what reparations would actually be. That’s I think, Angela Davis, is part of that whole conversation.
[Recording of Angela Davis] The history of the prison is the history of prison reform. The prison itself was a reform, introduced around the turn of the 19th century, as a way of expressing that punishments, corporal punishments, capital and corporal punishment were undemocratic. This is around the time of the American Revolution, all of the new discussions of democracy. And then, reform later in the 19th century, say around the 1870s led to specific architectures and regimes for women, the women’s prison is introduced, which is often patterned after youth reformatories. And then in the 1930s, rehabilitation becomes the focus, it becomes the emphasis of reform efforts. In the 1970s, many of you are probably familiar with the Attica rebellion. In the aftermath of the Attica rebellion, there was a wave of calls for prison reform. As a matter of fact, the Attica uprising produced a list of demands that helped to drive this reform movement. And this came from the prisoners themselves. You can google Attica demands there’s something like–I have all of the demands listed there.
[Mary Up] And so on that note, like wanting to be in this moment, where everyone’s thinking and talking about these things, how can we take it even further. And so the two questions consist of sort of, I mean, I’ve done like a lot of organizing a lot of Black and Black and queer organizing spaces that people are always talking about, we need to get some land, we need to get some land.
[Recording of Laura Flanders] Hi, I’m Laura Flanders. Black land matters. This week on the Laura Flanders show, we take a look at the way 19th century African Americans bought land in order to win things like votes and safety. And then we take a look at a few initiatives to do that again, today. Welcome to our program.
[Mary Up] And so I’m just like, okay, how can we talk and think about these things together with indigenous people and not, you know, reproduce? I mean, you know, and also can we have a conversation about the sort of ongoing collectivity and sort of synergy between Black and indigenous folks that have always happened? And then like how the same kinds of horrible genocide have happened to our communities. And also at the same time, while we’re talking about abolishing the police and abolishing policing, can we talk about their surveillance of Black trans women, and have that be a Black conversation where we’re like somehow when we’re talking about trying to get rid of policing, trying to get rid of prisons that we’re also thinking about getting getting rid of the sort of legacy of plantation gender.
[Recording of Kayla Moore march published by thedailycal march 13th 2013] [there’s a man in the yelling over the speaker “gettin’ paid to murder” intermittently] Yes, you cops are bastards. You’re not exempt from being bastards. It’s been one month and we do not know the names of the officers involved in the death of Kayla Moore. One month has passed and we do not know if the officers involved in the death of Kayla More, we don’t know if they’re off duty, we don’t know if they’re on duty, we don’t know if they’re on paid leave, unpaid leave. [crowd starts yelling “All Cops Are Bastards, ACAB” drowning out the speaker]
[Recording of Boona Cheema] the story Kayla Moore, who died in the custody of the Berkeley Police Department on February the 13th. The Moore family has had to wait three months to get the coroner’s report. As a mother who lost a child to mental illness, I can tell you that waiting and not knowing the cause of death of your child is an excruciating experience. We need to reach out to this family and we need to organize to get justice for Kayla Moore.
[Recording of news anchor Cameron Jones] In February KPFA News reported on Black transgendered Berkeley resident Kayla Moore’s death while in Berkeley police custody after a violent struggle with police at her apartment on Allston Way on February 12. [WeCopwatch] Who killed Kayla Moore? [Officer Frankel] No one did. [WeCopwatch] No one killed Kayla Moore, she just died on her own? [Officer Files] I have no comment. [WeCopwatch] So you know and you don’t want to comment. [Officer Files] I still have no comment. [WeCopwatch] Got it, um. [Officer Files] This conversation’s over. [WeCopwatch] No, No. [Officer Files] Have a good one, bye. [WeCopwatch] I know you guys all know each other by–
[Recording of Laverne Cox] He very aggressively like askedfor the time as he passes us and my friend who I’m with said to tell them the time, looks at his watch, and tells him the time. And then the guy who had asked for the time says to my friend “guy or girl?” My friend says “Fuck off.” I’m walking I’m hearing all this is happening like in a split second. And then all of a sudden the guy is attacking my friend.
[recording of TS Madison and Chi Chi from the car] [TS] Bitch. [Chi Chi] Get you some pistols, you nice You two are nice [TS] She can’t have no pistols, she ain’t that kind of girl. [Chi Chi] Well get you a, get you [TS cuts in] She can get her [TS cuts in] I’m gonna send you a TASER yes Laverne I’m gonna send you a care package from TS, listen: post your PO Box. So y’all so y’all good sister, TS so your your younger sister TS [Chi Chi] and your niece [TS] and her daughter yo something yo niece. Okay, send you a care package.
So that if it happen again, it won’t happen again. Because the headline will read “Laverne Cox Takes Out Her Attacker” [Chi Chi] Period. [TS] “Laverne Cox Slits Throat…” [Chi Chi] “Bludgeons Her Attacker.” [TS] “Laverne Cox Bludgeons Her Attacker.” I need the headlines to stop being different trans women. “Trans Woman Bludgeoned Attackers To Death.” [Chi Chi] Trans women. [TS] “Trans Woman Gunned Down Attackers.” “Trans Woman Slices Throat…” [Chi Chi] Yes bitch [TS] “of Attackers.” “Black Trans Woman Found Hiding In Bushes After Killing Attacker.” [Chi Chi laughs] [TS] It don’t need to say “more Black trans women are attacked and killed,” they need to say “Black Trans Woman Bludgeons Attacker Until His Demise.” “Black Trans Woman Found Hiding In Roof In Ceiling Of Abandoned Shop Because Police Was Looking For Her After Killing Attacker.” [Chi Chi laughs] [TS] It don’t need to say “more Black trans women are attacked and killed,” they need to say “Black Trans Woman Bludgeons Attacker Until His Demise.” “Black Trans Woman Found Hiding In Roof In Ceiling Of Abandoned Shop Because Police Was Looking For Her After She Killed Her Attacker.” The headlines need to be different and fucking with TS?– The TS– the headline will definitely read different “BMW Sign, BMW Emblem Found In Man’s Chest After Being Ran Over Three And Four Times Forward And Backward From TS Madison’s Car.” [Chi Chi] Bitch, I pinned him to the fucking wall bitch and I maced him. [TS] “Tire Marks Found Across Man’s, Across Black Man’s Face After Trans Woman Ran Over His Face Repeatedly With Her Automobile.” I’m sick of the headlines bitch we being attacked. I’m sick of it.
[Mary Up] So this is just my conception of it. You know what I mean? Because it feels that like In a lot of cases, and, um, maybe we could speak to this, you know, however, whatever kind of experience we have, um.
[Cat Girl] yeah, I mean, Kayla had quite a few stories about police officers and encounters with the police. And, you know, yeah, she had her own issues with the police. But you know, she, she was also she knew how to talk her way out of a lot of things. But, you know, she was, she was just, I don’t know, if she was always targeted because of who she was that maybe they felt that, you know, she was different. But, you know, she, she, she really has to be brave being out there.
In the Tenderloin, you know, she just has to be very careful. Yeah, you know, Kayla, she, she had her second family, and those were her girls, you know, and most of them lived around the same area, in the same hotel, and she had, you know, they did what they needed to do to survive to make money. But, you know, they, they were, she had that community there for her. And, you know, Kayla was just a wild child and curious about everything. And, you know, she was, she was the life of the party, as always, you know, she had just as an amazing personality that was so outgoing. So she, she, she made friends so quickly. You know, she would be that person on the bus, talking to a absolute stranger across the river. You know, that’s just how she was. So, you know, and, you know, she, she was proud of who she was. And, you know, she dressed the way she wanted to dress. You know, she was able to get the clothes that she felt comfortable in.
[Maria Mestizaje] Well, one thing I wanted to say, while you were talking was that, you know, that there’s actually another extension of the prison industrial complex in California, which was that that mission system, that Junípero Serra started and it was a slave system that incarcerated indigenous people, and it had that same kind of economic and social function in society of producing wealth for certain people while enforcing white supremacy. And, and that was very recent in California, that that that slave system was happening. And then straight out of that came, you know, is another branch to the prison system that we have today. I was interested in what you’re saying about like extending the scope and understanding of reparations. To include like, more things, can you I mean, maybe we can talk like what what there’s so many different levels, like what a reparation is, or it could be and like, I know some folks consider like those police payouts a form of reparations, you know, like every now and again, when someone gets found in a city gets found, whatever at fault and they do a pay out. But other places that go full towns and cities that have decided to to pay reparations to certain groups of people, as I call it, isn’t there like universities that have universities that held folks in chattel slavery? There’s a couple that are doing reparations now. That’s what that those are, like, some of the institutional ones that I’ve heard of.
[Mary Up] Is there anything that you’ve learned from kind of trying to work with or like, against the system around what happened and trying to figure out like how do you deal with that, like, how do you figure out what you want from it and you what would actually feel like change to you?
[Cat Girl] You know, um, to see the change, and I have seen some changes over the over time I think the most important thing is that we’re getting their attention now. I mean, it was such a struggle in the very beginning. You know, they just didn’t, they weren’t understanding of the need of the resources to have mobile crisis and how important mobile crisis is, when anyone is going through a mental health crisis or in need of a 5150. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s a traumatizing event for the person involved. So, you know, just knowing what that’s like for the individual, it’s a scary process that when you have to have armed soldiers come to a mental health call. They’re not there, they’re not equipped they don’t want to be counselors, they don’t that’s not what they’re there for. And for someone who is in crisis, and just needs help, you know, when you add cops and and, you know, ambulances, it’s just like a terrifying event. And there’s a better way to do this without, you know, there there are there other ways to have additional mobile crisis teams, you know, what we’re trying to do in Berkeley is get what’s called a specialized care unit. So we can be able to, you know, the city as well can help be involved in terms of making sure we have you know, the fire trucks the you know, the people who need to be added to 5150 at those calls so you know, progress is being made, it’s very slow. There’s a lot of bureaucracy and you get there’s so much hoops to go through and policies and procedures it’s it’s a lot involved but it’s it’s amazing when you see the community get so involved. I mean, this is practically community-run this is what the community in Berkeley saying they want as well, to what I’ve been asking for the past eight years. So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s moving slowly but it’s happening.
[Maria Mestizaje] Have you guys okay, this is kind of a related one, but there’s like, on some days, they’ll be going around or if you’re part of any of those like social media, online groups, like free exchange and stuff that they’ll be on certain dates, call outs. For for Reparations, they’ll say things like Venmo, your Black friends. Venmo, your indigenous friends today. Have you seen these kind of posts? And do you have anything–you’ve never seen this? Oh, it’s like very common, like, on. Like on thanksgiving for indigenous people and things like that. And I’m just wondering, because I’ve also heard of people kind of being like, getting a random Venmo. Just kind of being like, “what? is this? like?” Like, people? It’s just like, so awkward, but people are trying, it seems like so much folks are trying to like recognize like, okay, “yeah, we’re, we’re on stolen land. Everything is built on stolen land and stolen lives and stolen people. What do I do? I’ll Venmo someone $10″ like it’s just like, not quite. Um, it’s a process, right? This is pretty common, and it’s working on the insight that there’s people that are trying to engage in giving right or like they’re, they want to…”repair.”
Or people with money, there’s some kind of recognition that there’s like a financial an actual financial line to all those things. Right. So it’s like, I don’t know, it’s interesting, because because you can’t just throw money at it. You know what I mean? It’s not just but also Yes, please.
[Mary Up] Right.
[Maria Mestizaje] But it’s like, the money is not it’s not just about the money. Right?
[Mary Up] Well, I mean I guess we would hope that people would stop killing us too. Like, I think that’s like something that really concerns me. Is just the idea that you could be technically fully enfranchised and part of the system and a citizen and all that and still have things happening to you? Which is a deeper question.
[Cat Girl] Yeah. Well, it’s definitely a reality check when it does happen to you. Yeah, I mean, you know, we’re dealing with it right now in Berkeley as well, where, you know, the majority of their police stops are Black and Brown people who only make up 8% of the population. So, you know, there’s a lot of work that that still needs to be done. Even after all this time.
[Maria Mestizaje] I have heard that Berkeley passed no more traffic stops.
[Cat Girl] Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Something along those lines. Yeah.
[Maria Mestizaje] Not next year two years or something. Whoa.
[Cat Girl] yeah, I mean, they’re definitely trying to to change their image and the police chief they’re looking to get him fired. Because of how horribly, he handled the protest, his comments about protesters, and wanting to shoot them as you know, if need be. So, yeah, so they’re doing a lot of like I said, cleanup work right now.
[Maria Mestizaje] Damage control.
[Mary Up] Yeah. Do do people think that the anti police movement is genuinely working on its gender problem is genuinely, like it took a long time for Brianna Taylor’s case to get any traction. You know what I mean, and like, as I was saying, earlier, I’ve done a lot of organizing around people being murdered by police around here. And it seems like, people don’t really ever say Kayla’s name like it very rarely ever comes up. Like, people will talk about Derrick Gaines and stuff. I mean, and it’s not so much like, you know what I mean? And like, I feel like people talk about Sean Monterrosa and stuff, and people just still have issues, you know, saying her name and and like, acknowledging it, or am I just being whatever I’m being? And is that happening already? Right? Like, are people already doing that? It doesn’t feel like it’s as much as I would like to see because people keep dying. So…
[Cat Girl] it’s a great point, actually, it’s something that we discussed with the Say Her Name, ladies and who lost their daughters to police violence, because you don’t really care a lot about the women you hear a lot about the men.
We’re trying to also kind of, you know, just let the world know that, you know, what happened to George Floyd was horrible But, you know, looking at, you know, what has happened so far, you know, Kayla’s, last words were “I can’t breathe.” On top of her, so it That was never discussed back then. But now, it’s important. So regardless of where how we got there, at least, it’s shining some lights on what has been happening to Black people, at the hands of police for for centuries. So, right.
[Mary Up] There’s like Black trans Lives Matters, you know, buttons, t shirts, you could get, you know, whatever. screensavers. And it still feels like something that I don’t know it just and like, I don’t know. I don’t know–oh sure, go ahead.
[Cat Girl] Whether there’s there. Like I said, there’s there’s so there’s so much that’s going on around this this whole movement. So, you know, I’m when I see allies out there it doesn’t matter what race it is, it’s a good feeling. To know that there is support. But there’s just still a lot that that goes into making change and changing and policy. And that’s the part that’s so slow. It’s like, you know, I mean, it’s, they don’t make the process easy for you. But, you know, when you’re trying to get a lot of people on the same Zoom room, it’s you know, it’s going to be a challenge, but it’s a, you know, now’s the time.
[Maria Mestizaje] And Berkeley’s also like getting sued right now, by the developers that are trying to build on the Ohlone burial site. I think they sued for like the last year or something because they didn’t grant the permits under that, that Wiener bill, the rapid development don’t have to do nothing just to build whatever you want stuff. Folks have been trying to protect that spot. It’s down on Fourth Street. It looks like a parking lot. And they’re trying to put in some huge condos and what do they call it multi-use or whatevs the thing they’ve been doing lately around and but it’s a it’s one of the oldest indigenous burial sites in this whole coast underneath that parking lot. And so folks have been trying to protect that site for a while and I we’ll see what Berkeley does.
[Cat Girl] We’ll see..
[recording of people chanting at Berkeley Shellmound protest] [recording of Chuck Cfapps7865] The most sacred thing in San Francisco for probably 10 times longer than San Francisco has been a city. Now today down by Ohlone Street. And that was the name of the Indian tribe that held this ground sacred. Right down here. There are just a few little reconstructed mounds that today there are a few reconstructed tiny mounds that kind of mark this spot. But this is just kind of a poor attempt to mask some disgraceful history.
[Recording of Mitch McConnell] I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea. We’ve, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war by passing landmark civil rights legislation of…
[recording of Ta-nehisi Coates] Any time, you know, someone makes an anti reparations argument almost 95% of the time. What under girds that is the idea that one can have an a la carte approach to history. So Mitch McConnell would never say, you know, George Washington died a long time ago. So therefore, you know, we shouldn’t you know, paying attention to George, you know, George Washington, we shouldn’t
[Mary Up] I mean, part of me also wants to sort of think about like, indigenous spaces and transgender and like policing, and things like that, and sort of conversations and ideas that have been happening there. Yeah, we tend to be incredibly critical of these alleged plans to build a transgender cultural district. I think they dropped the “Compton’s.” They were they were trying to call it the Compton’s transgender cultural district after Gene Compton’s cafe, and ’68, ’65 was the Compton’s Cafeteria riots? Anyway, it’s interesting that so I guess officially on paper, this district, I don’t know has been drawn up. And there’s like, telephone poles that have sort of pink white and blue flags on them, you know, around certain blocks and areas. But at the same time, Divas is closed down, that used to be on Polk Street, Polk and Post, and Transgender Intersex Justice Project is no longer actually even located in the district, I believe, I think that they no longer in it within the actual jurisdiction. So it’s a kind of question about who is this actually for and what kind of weird political theater is being performed by it? And it’s something that Gay Shame is very critical of because it has all just sort of seemed like I mean it appears to have mostly been dreamed up by like a developer. I think Group I or something is the name of it and they have been just building like, you know, they’ve been clear-cutting a lot of buildings within that sort of district and building luxury condos. Walking down Market and there’s like, I don’t know how near completion. This one particular really large, luxury condo complex that’s going to be on Market. And I think Turk or Eddy is kind of like a block away from Aunt Charlie’s, but like, I don’t know, it’s very worrying. It doesn’t feel like it’s really for trans people, I guess. Like there’s a lot of sort of really online performative space that is sort of produced around what it’s going to be for, that it was started by Black trans women. And that, you know, allegedly that’s like what the story is. But it just seems like a developer scheme at this point. And it’s obscene. It’s horrifying. And it’s ongoing and it’s all being done for these techies which now that they’re working from home I think they were saying there’s been like a mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of tech workers from the Bay Area. So these luxury condos that are being built in the in the trans cultural district. I mean, I doubt that they I mean, anyway, you kind of need to say about and all that stuff going on. Because again, it’s like the issue of land and appropriation. And it’s like the issue of whether or not resource redistribution is actually going to happen to folks who were you know, vulnerable and continually being targeted by this violent system, right?
[Cat Girl] Well, yeah, it’s gonna take a minute Yeah.
[Maria Mestizaje] That’s wild I hadn’t heard about the transgender district, it’s like the how they did that with the leather district too right, they made it a tourist attraction?
[Mary Up] Yeah. And it’s almost the exact same thing with the leather district. Um, a bunch of bars. You know, the Stud close down is gone. I think that I think the Eagle might have might have been sold or something. Um,
[Maria Mestizaje] all the classic leather bars that flipped into a new are gentrifier bars. Yeah, and the other district, right. That’s what’s so interesting about you talking about the trans district or something of being like, you know, what, like, they keep the trappings of it or whatever, you know, right.
[Cat Girl] Yeah, but that was her stomping grounds right over there. That area. Yeah.
[Mary Up] Yeah. Do you do you think they would have given her a condo?
[Cat Girl] Yes.
[Mary Up] Okay. [laughs] I want to believe that for you, I definitely want to believe that.
[Maria Mestizaje] Let’s just say yeah…[laughs]
[Mary up] yeah, we’ll just we’ll just say yeah, everyone’s gonna get one. Yeah. But then again, it’s like the question of like, what that looks like.
[Closing narration by Mary Up] Gay shame is a virus in the system. We are committed to a trans queer extravaganza that brings direct action to spectacular levels of confrontation. We work collectively outside boring and deceptive nonprofit models to fight white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, cops, settler colonialism and all forms of domination. Liberals think we are frivolous decorations and mainstream gays want us gone against them and with each other, we instigate irritate, agitate to build cultures of devastating resistance.