Black Queer Lives Matter
In both online and offline spaces, it has been more important than ever right now to elevate Black lives and Black queer lives. Many times when LGBTQIA+ issues are brought up, Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) are overlooked or excluded.
As part of the queer Black community, Seattle artist Jadzia Parker wanted to give a platform to these voices; as a Black artist, she wanted to design something to create meaningful dialogue about the importance of Black queer and trans lives. While she worked with previous clients such as the Seattle Symphony, she felt most inspired after taking on a Black Lives Matter project for a local school. With that inspiration and with her experience in hand-lettering, Jadzia created her design for ‘Black Queer Lives Matter’ and ‘Black Trans Lives Matter‘—and with that art, she set up fundraisers for both to directly give back to this community.
Says Jadzia, “I’m always eager to make a design that says, “Black Lives Matter” but I wanted to dive into Black identities a bit more. My goal is to elevate and focus on the Black people who also identify as queer and/or Trans.” Through her hand-lettered art displaying ‘Black Queer Lives Matter’ and ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ along with their respective pride colors on a t-shirt, she conveys the messages clearly and allows others to show solidarity. With her mission as an artist “…to create art that contributes to the dialogue, takes up space, and shows solidarity”, it was important to create a piece that would be eye-catching and draw people together.
With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting all things creative, many artists are having difficulty creating during these times. Jadzia struggled to work on art as well. “Being creative during the pandemic can be extremely challenging but I found lettering to be a great release from the long days. I feel that this project has encouraged me to create more and critique less.”
With the artwork complete for the Black Queer Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter shirts, the next step was creating a platform to showcase Jadzia’s designs and reach an audience. One of the advantages of setting up a dedicated page with Custom Ink’s Fundraising site is the ability to give back to the community with the money raised from the shirt sales. Jadzia chose not one, but two organizations that make an impact through the work they do for the LGBTQIA+ community: the Lavender Rights Project and the LGBTQ Freedom Fund.
The Lavender Rights Project works to advance “a more just and equitable society by providing low-cost civil legal services and community programming centered in values of social justice for trans and queer low-income people and other marginalized communities.” They have been serving this community across the country by creating resources such as the Washington Black Trans Task Force, Prisoner Name Change Clinics, and putting on legal clinics for attorneys to provide assistance with matters such as updating state IDs and passports for name and gender marker changes. They are “committed to providing comprehensive support for people at the intersections of LGBTQIA+ identity and: anti-blackness, xenophobia, and racism; disability; low-income economic status; and/or experience with incarceration and the legal system.”
The LGBTQ Freedom Fund pays bail for LGBTQIA+ and low-income individuals who face time in U.S. jails and immigration facilities. Currently, LGBTQIA+ people are jailed at a much higher rate in America due to poverty and discrimination, and the LGBTQ Freedom Fund not only helps these individuals but also raises awareness about this level of over-incarceration. Due to the link between HIV and the risks brought by time in jail, the LGBTQ Freedom Fund also provides HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention services to individuals in need.
The fundraisers and shirt designs struck a chord, and people were excited to donate to two important non-profits while supporting Jadzia. Additionally, the fundraisers also enabled people to leave comments and donate money beyond the cost of a shirt. For Jadzia, the fundraisers helped with her growth as an artist. “I believe this project has boosted my confidence as an artist and designer. I’ve learned about the importance of promotion and how enthusiastic people are to support a Black queer creator.”
While the ‘Black Queer Lives Matter’ and ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ t-shirt campaigns have ended, the messages continue. As Jadzia says, “You don’t have to wear your solidarity to show it. There are many ways to support Black communities. Google is a good start.”
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