Good afternoon and welcome to the live blog of Carleton University Students' Association's (CUSA) Gender and Sexuality Resource Centre (GSRC)'s Black History Month workshop: We're Not All In This Together: An Intro To Anti-Blackness in Queer Communities.
GSRC event coordinator Merissa Taylor-Meissner just introduced the event, and Martey is now speaking. Taylor-Meissner is passing out play dough, snacks, and markers, for participants who may need a distraction.
There are approximately 20 people at the event, which is being held in the GSRC room in the University Centre.
Both Martey and Taylor-Meissner have acknowledged that the workshop is being held on unceded Algonquin territory.
Martey has now directed everyone to go around the room to introduce themselves, state their preferred pronouns, what they want to get out of the workshop, and any issues/triggers they may have. Taylor-Meissner is also drafting a "Group Agreement" of rules for the workshop to follow, which includes respecting identities an triggers, not using slurs and keeping personal stories unidentifiable.
Martey says she is blending her experiences and understanding and readings together to build a workshop based on not only her experiences, but experience she personally hasn't experienced, such as trans black issues, and black-American issues.
Taylor-Meissner is jotting down people's notes on a sheet.
Another girl mentions the appropriation of Black culture and the entitlement to their bodies and hair, as well as the denial of white privilege and the work white people need to do to reduce anti-Blackness.
She reads a quote by Andrea Smith, about slavery and the logic of it and white supremacy.
Queer community treats black people in a way that parallels to slavery, says Martey.
Martey says the queer community dehumanizes black bodies by fetishizing or being disgusted by them but expects black people to produce queer culture, like their dancing, speech patterns, etc.
Martey's presentation says black femmes (feminine-presenting individuals) created the vast majority of queer culture, but it is now predominantly associated with the white queer community. She says one example of this is queer terms that are deliberately removed from Black culture. Words like "shade", "voguing", etc.
Martey says gas lighting (a manipulative technique used to deny experiences) is used to steal black experiences and cultivate ignorance.
Martey says black language, actions, dance, style, presence, resistance, and mannerisms are all stolen, and the theft of these concepts is denied and erased.
Taylor-Meissner is still jotting down notes, as are several participants in the workshop.
Martey says non-black folks often put on black culture as costumes, and laugh at it, and adopt these words with specific tones and mannerisms to laugh at black culture and black people.
Martey says putting on black culture and removing it at will is an act of violence, because non-black folk can choose when to adopt mannerisms, when black people, specifically black femmes, need to present themselves in a certain way to be taken seriously, and cannot use their own mannerisms and language without being ridiculed and taken less seriously.
For the workshop's second activity, Martey has participants watch Justin Bieber's video for his song Sorry, and write down 5 elements of black culture that he appropriates.
Participants critique the fashions in the video, the makeup styles, the patterns, the beat of the song itself, as well as the lack of dark-skinned black dancers.
Martey is giving a brief history of black dances that have cultural significance that have survived through slavery and transcontinental travel, and comments on their continued use by black sex workers as a means of survival, and how they were degraded, but that same dance is now stolen and commodified by non-black communities.
Martey says giving Justin Bieber's song a pass at a party and saying it's not a big deal, IS a big deal to Black communities.
Martey says black bodies are deemed useless by mainstream society, and thus people harass black people and touch them (their hair, bodies, breasts) out of a sense of entitlement that make queer spaces violent for black people.
Martey says she's had to stop attending dance parties, because she is harassed and her autonomy is stripped by gay non-black men because they believe their sexuality protects them from being viewed as sexual predators.
Martey says that in order to not be seen as being only into Eurocentric beauty standards, people will fetishize and objectify people of colour, especially black people, to prove they're not racist, and in turn end up being racist by fetishizing black bodies.
Martey is starting to wrap up, and is cutting sections of her presentation due to time. She is currently speaking about erasure vs. hyper-visibility, and saying that white LGBTQ+ folks erase the presence of black LGBTQ+ folk, and that black people cannot express themselves as clearly as white people can.
Martey says black communities are not more oppressive than other communities. People who say that deliberately ignore the fact that black people are the most hyper-visible and policed, and the consequences of straying from the norm are so much more severe for black people than for others, and they must adhere to the status quo to exist and survive.
Martey's third activity has the participants dividing into groups of 2 to discuss ways to make LGBTQ+ spaces safer for black people.
Participants are once again sharing their responses. Some responses include not commenting on body types, prioritizing black accessibility, not appropriating black culture or using black experiences to explain other experiences, and not touching people without permission.
The discussion has shifted to compliments, and the reception of compliments, and the line between genuine compliments and fetishizing compliments.
Martey says improving the status of black people in society needs to be an active process by non-black people.
Martey is now having participants go around and "check-out" by explaining what they're going to reflect on after the workshop ends in the coming days and weeks.
Many black participants say they're going to work on apologizing less, being themselves more, while non-black participants are mostly saying they will be more aware of the language they use and where that language comes from.
Martey brings the workshop to a close, and Taylor-Meissner gives an overview of the rest of the week's events.
The participants applaud Martey as she leaves.
One participant comments on the cathartic nature of the workshop as well.
As the event officially ends, some participants mill around and snack on refreshments, while others leave.