No Justice No Pride
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For those who don’t know, who and what is No Justice No Pride?
We're a collective of mostly trans activists from DC, mostly protesting the inequality in the modern-day LGBT movement. Most notably around the disenfranchisement from black and brown communities. Our first big action was the capital pride protest in 2017. We blockaded capitol pride three times over there insistence on including money hungry corporations and the police, weapon manufacturers and sponsors.
How and when did the No Justice No Pride collective start?
Well, a bunch of us have been involved in different social movements over the past couple of years here in DC. Some of us were involved in Disrupt20 which are the protests around Trump's inauguration. We saw that there was a lot of energy that year and we wanted to do something around LGBT stuff and around pride month. We didn't know what that was but then we saw that we were involved in a bunch of protests around the chief of the MPD. We were involved in a bunch of protests around his confirmation hearing. A lot of people who are trans and queer came and testified. We saw that the council took the voices of those who were more established, white, cis gay and lesbian organizations more seriously. So we wanted to start having a more active presence with more radical politics, and politics that are based within the trans community. So we started going after different franchisements like pride for example and we've later expanded out.
Within the film you talk about housing for trans women. Has housing always been an issue for NJNP?
Housing has definitely always been an issue. It’s a big issue within the trans community. We had started doing support around housing in 2018. A lot of our trans friends who previously had their situations somewhat figured out because they had access to Backpage or Craigslist. They had access to be able to make money if they needed too. For a lot of folks that came to an abrupt end in March 2018. So we ended up stepping up to make sure folks have housing by housing them directly. We got forced out of our first house and ended up just going all in and just getting a bigger house and continuing it, which later evolved into the NJNP collective, which is what a lot of the film is about. The film was kinda wrapped up towards the end of the summer when we were about to lose the last place, but since then we’ve expanded and got two new places and we’re working on the third.
With that being said, do you ever plan to spread and grow the organization beyond DC and possibly set up several safe spaces?
Well, we’re trying to toolkit it. I feel like people who are from different areas are gonna know what is best, and the best way that we can support that is to share our own experiences with them and help get them set up. We are planning on making a tool kit so people can recreate it in different cities.
That's amazing, what exactly would the tool kit consist of and how can one retrieve it?
It will mostly be how to get around different things, what are some of the different laws around renting, how to crowdfund rent for people, and stuff like that. We’re not really sure how we would release it just yet but it's something we’ve been working on for a minute.
It’s obvious that people are biased in their ways and opinions, but have you noticed any changes in how people view the trans community in your area from when the police first started harassing you?
Since we moved, I will say it’s been a lot more peaceful, but I think the other thing is instead of having a lot of people in one house we have it split up so it's been relatively a lot quieter at both places. I think going towards getting multiple places was a good idea.
On an average night how many women usually stay with you at the NJNP homes?
On an average night, I would say it is around 17 women as of this past month, but we had upwards to 40 people. There are folks that also stay with us that will usually stay in a different shelter because the shelter might have a curfew or some sort of restriction where they can't stay out at night.
Can you tell us about your process when coming up with events?
Yes and no. So the dyke march had asked us if we wanted to participate. We also have a steering committee and then we also kinda just have more of a loosely-affiliated spokes council of people who stay in the houses who often organize stuff with us more directly. Within NJNP, we have a couple of folks who are really active such as myself and Tiara who you saw in the film, who’s planning the ball. There’s also Kim, Bianca, Jessica, and Tracy. I don't know if you saw any of the banner drops we did but Tracy was the other climber. So we mostly operate around consensus and whoever is committed to doing the work at the time.
In your film, you also mention that you try to host events that aren’t always rallies or protests, what other events do y’all put together in order to bring the community together?
We do the ball—Tiara kinda just goes all-in on balls when she has the time and capacity to plan them. We try to make sure there is always an event around pride. If we’re doing an action around pride or around that time of the year we always try to make sure that there is also a kind of space that is demilitarized, that has no police, that's conflict-free so people can just chill. I also think Tiara is trying to plan another ball for sometime in the spring.
We know Tiara is really into dance, have y’all ever thought about hosting dance workshops through NJNP for queer and trans youth?
We did an action camp last year where Tiara had six different dance class sessions. We do kinda see that as really valuable. We can't be out there fighting all the time, we also need to curate community spaces where people can enjoy themselves and also pick up different skills that they might have always wanted to do but never had a person that can show them.
Do you think we’ll ever get to a point where we stop referencing trans women as trans and just as women?
I think in a lot of ways we do. I do personally. A lot of times I do say trans women because I'm trying to make a political statement towards the experiences of trans women. I see a lot of people, that when they do say women, they are automatically thinking of trans women. I don't know if we’re necessarily at that time where that is just assumed. I'm in the activist community so I kinda live in a bit of a bubble, so when people are in my circle they are definitely referring to trans women.
Who has inspired you to get into the activism work you currently do know?
So many, I have been incredibly inspired by the work of the black panther party. I’m incredibly inspired by being able to create this movement where you can have the resilience over the things that are harming your community and that the same time you can be doing mutual aid and supporting community members and use that as a mechanism to help build capacity to help make a movement even bigger. I think that's truly inspiring. They're huge idols of mine. Fred Hampton, Huey Newton. Of course, I'm also big fans of Sylvia and Marsha P. Johnson, these are also people that have really inspired me a lot.
How has having to experience life on the streets changed your overall perspective of activism through NJNP?
I dropped out of high school so when I first got involved in activism I didn't know what half these different terms meant and that took a long time to just understand. I feel like in a lot of ways it kind of makes me feel more rooted in my politics and my principals. It definitely helps me see a lot of different intersections and class issues.
What are your current goals and aspirations for NJNP?
Well, right now we're still trying to get a third house because we have a lot of folks in one place that we’re trying to get to another place, and then also some of the people who were at the older house haven’t really had a place to go in a minute. Longer-term I really want to try to figure out how to get some sort of property and have that be longer-term because renting is just throwing away a lot of money. Other than the housing stuff we’re still doing a lot of work around decriminalization now. We’ve been apart of this coalition to decriminalize sex work for the past two and a half years. We’re also hopefully going to be working with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute with decrim now that might be the next thing we work around. We definitely will still be trying to call out some of the bigger mainstream establishments within the LGBT movement who are still supporting the enemies that are trying to kill us. I think we’re also gonna start taking a different direction going after some of these rescue groups that have been mobilizing against Decrim now.
What’s life like for you outside of No Justice No Pride?
I end up doing a lot of support work, I'm also a sex worker, I like to ride bikes. I also DJ and make music. I find myself working a lot.
How can people help the trans community?
Give trans individuals money.
What scares you the most?
Landlords. Nothing will make me completely freeze up and not be able to do anything for hours.