This weekend, Justin Drwencke, the Institute's executive director, and R.B. Brooks, director of operations, welcomed students and community members from across the Midwest to Kalamazoo for the twenty-eighth annual MBLGTACC. Below is a transcript of their remarks.
BOTH: Introductions (hi, we’re ancient & have been coming to this conference for/just shy of a decade =) )
RB: In the whimsical words of adrienne maree brown & Walidah Imarisha, editors of the visionary fiction anthology Octavia’s Brood, “all organizing is science fiction.” Whenever we look toward the future & imagine things differently, we are investing our time, energy, labour & love into aspirations for a more just & equitable eventuality.
JUSTIN: Our present moment was once a work of fiction, with elements of both fantasy and horror. On one hand, white supremacists disillusioned a future built around the mission of actualizing their self-proclaimed divine right to owning the earth. On the other hand, our ancestors fantasized & mobilized around the undeniable truth that conquest & colonization would not be the main event, and certainly not the end, of their own stories. These contradictory imaginings are dually present in our current moment, and must be acknowledged in all their complex, brutal, violent & vibrant realities to radically change what comes next.
RB: In her keynote address at the Creating Change 2020 Racial Justice Institute last month, Alexis Pauline Gumbs opened by challenging attendees to remain humble… because no one… not a single one of us…. Is an expert on racial justice… or any form of justice for that matter…. because we have never lived in a time where justice has existed. This call to remain humble is an invaluable reminder to us that as we embark on the collective project of envisioning a future together that we cannot depend on individual, idolized people to carry us all to our liberation.
JUSTIN: As we look to the near future, in a few short months our communities will be faced with another significant ripple in our ongoing movement work: a presidential election. While we are wise to pay attention & prepare for this shift, it is also important to find solace & seek guidance from the deeply rooted, under-acknowledged work taking place in our communities every single day. Pandering to electoral politics & placing our reliance on solitary figureheads will not deliver the revolution we are ready for. Any actions that propel us into the next day, and the day after that, that’s the movement.
RB: And as we jettison ourselves forward one day at a time, we maintain the power to map out new ways of being, new ways of making meaning out of our lives, new worlds that are expansive & fully embrace the groundwork that’s been laid by the very ancestors that envisioned futures that have become our today. It is our turn to not only envision, but act in ways that ensure a world we are already dreaming of:
JUSTIN: A world where we celebrate, uplift & honor Black history, Black present, Black lives, and Black futures.
RB: A world where we aren’t harassed, fondled, or villainized by TSA.
JUSTIN: A world where our queer & trans youth aren’t threatened with denial of life affirming opportunties.
RB: A world without prisons, without systems of policing, & without borders.
JUSTIN: A world that concedes to & takes accountability for its genocidal violence, that honors existing treaties established with Indigenous peoples & embraces its relationship with both human & other-than-human life.
RB: A world that forbids itself from sitting idly by while this currently inhabitable planet deteriorates in favour of corporate & military projects.
JUSTIN: A world that leaves colonialism, imperialism, capitalism & fascism in the distant past & never repeats these egregious errors again.
RB: We cannot predict the future, we don’t know what’s next. But what we do know is that our communities have every intention to be there when the future arrives. The future is queer, let’s make it a damn good one.
Learn more about MBLGTACC's history, the 2020 conference, and the Midwest Institute for Sexuality and Gender Diversity.