GA Voice - - Activist In Action -

No, no one in my fam­ily is an or­ga­nizer. I come from a fam­ily of work­ing class black folks. In the sum­mers my mom would work in the fields to help the fam­ily. I learned about or­ga­niz­ing through my own lived ex­pe­ri­ence, about liv­ing as a black queer woman in the South.

I think it’s dif­fer­ent when you’re just try­ing to sur­vive. My fam­ily was teach­ing me sur­vival skills. My mother calls me ev­ery day and is al­ways ask­ing me when I’m go­ing to visit. Now when I visit, I go see my mother and im­me­di­ate fam­ily, and my mom al­ways re­minds me to visit the other el­ders. I know I will prob­a­bly never move back—it doesn’t feel like home. It was the home I was brought up in.

Learn­ing the history of re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice [es­pe­cially the roles of women of color and black women.] And the queer anal­y­sis SPARK gives it, know­ing the history and that queer and trans folks’ bod­ies are also on the front lines. The laws be­ing re­stric­tive to us, health care not be­ing ac­ces­si­ble to us.

What about the dif­fer­ent move­ments you are in­volved in, like Black Lives Mat­ter and Black Trans Lives Mat­ter?

Other move­ments? For me they are all con­nected to­gether. It’s hard for me to say I’m a part of dif­fer­ent move­ments. With re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice, you can’t just talk about black folks and not talk about black

Oc­to­ber 16, 2015

What at­tracts you to work for SPARK?

queer and trans folks. It’s all tied to­gether. But I do think a lot of peo­ple do see them as sep­a­rate. But trans­gen­der rights are part of re­pro­duc­tive jus­tice. Black lives, black folks, are on the front lines of be­ing at­tacked by the state. This is all-in­clu­sive of queer lib­er­a­tion.

What does ac­tivism mean to you?

Ac­tivism to me means po­lit­i­cal mo­ti­va­tion in what­ever av­enue works for you. There is a lot of crit­i­cism of ac­tivism on so­cial media and on the in­ter­net, but, no, that is ac­tivism. Or­ga­niz­ing ral­lies and get­ting peo­ple to ral­lies with a tweet is ac­tivism.

I’m my mother’s only child and my mother had me when she was 38. When I was grow­ing up I didn’t grow up around a lot of young folks, so I took a lot of wis­dom at a young age. But I also have learned so much from young folks and my peers and folks younger than me. Com­ing to SPARK, I learned I can be an ac­tivist and at 25 what I say and think mat­ters. I’m al­ways em­pow­er­ing folks, to let them know you have a voice, you have a story, you need to have con­fi­dence. What was the first rally you went to? The first rally I went to was last year— the CNN rally for Mike Brown. [Some 5,000 peo­ple marched to the CNN Cen­ter to protest the shoot­ing of Mike Brown, an un­armed black man, by a white po­lice of­fi­cer, in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri. The rally was or­ga­nized via Twit­ter by black queer ac­tivist Aurielle Lucier, founder of #its­big­gerthanyou.]

I’m an in­tro­vert and have a hard time be­ing in big crowds. But also, be­ing a black per­son and know­ing how in a po­lit­i­cal rally you can be ar­rested kept me away. But last year a group of other friends and queer folks in At­lanta got to­gether and I said this is the one I want to go to. It was very pow­er­ful. Com­ing to the rally with other queer, trans folks of color—my anx­i­ety was less­ened, and also be­ing with my part­ner helped.

I re­mem­ber see­ing Con­gress­man John Lewis march­ing in a three-piece suit in the pour­ing rain and I knew I was where I was sup­posed to be. This is the right time, the right mo­ment for me to be do­ing this.

Quita Tins­ley, 25, is the youth ac­tivist net­work or­ga­nizer for SPARK Re­pro­duc­tive Jus­tice Now. (Cour­tesy photo)

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