The recent unlawful killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African-Americans and 40+ emails since that I’ve received from different nonprofits stating solidarity for Black Lives led me to write this.
Many organizations are now claiming to support Black people (because it’s currently convenient) and believe they are standing in solidarity with us (even as they obtain more funding and media attention since it’s currently convenient).
Yet Queer writers of color have been overlooked and under-funded for decades, especially Trans writers of color (i.e. transgender writers of color).
When it’s come time to cut checks, much of our literature hasn’t been worth bothering for. Many manuscripts, submissions, and more have been left on the curb without hope. In my own work, focusing my subject matter on social justice, economic inequality and police brutality is my form of protest.
Last December, I submitted chapter four of my unpublished memoir Shooting Range, titled “This is for Rodney King,” into a literary competition. I did not expect to win, nor did I expect to lose. I just went for it.
Over the years, in addition to my writing, I’ve also served as panelist for various arts organizations and awards and have been shocked at the absence of a relevant narrative examining police brutality in general and honoring people like Rodney Glen King. Police brutality has been an ongoing issue for years that’s only gotten worse, and Mr. George Floyd’s and Ms. Breonna Taylor’s deaths are only the latest proof. This is what made my submission to the contest, which was dedicated to honoring Rodney Glen King, important for more publications to support. But the piece was rejected.
I was going to remain quiet about not receiving the award for my submission. But when not long afterwards I received an email from the same organization behind the contest about its newly awakened principles and commitment to Black Lives, I was left shaking my head, tired of reading the same bullshit.
However, there are organizations out there committed to walking the walk. To name one example, Shade Literary Arts, a literary organization focused on the empowerment and expansion of literature by queer writers of color, is holding an excellent fundraiser that still needs help reaching its goal of $100,000 to support queer and trans lives.
Do you mind digging in your purse to support Shade Literary Arts, or do you need my help?
Moving forward, I hope nonprofits and arts organizations across the U.S. are sincere in their newfound solidarity statements, even if I know they’re only manufacturing them based on current events, which by the way all read as if they were written by the same person(s).
I also hope that future grant awards reflect diversity instead of it being just another “trendy” bandwagon. This change is long, long, long, long overdue.
N.D.A. aka K.I.N.A.
Nahshon Dion is a multi-talented, award-winning creative nonfiction writer, teaching artist, creative director, event producer, and arts patron from Pasadena, California. In June 1996, she met rapper Tupac Shakur and interned at his film production company, Look Hear Sound & Vision. Nahshon’s literature speaks to discrimination and violence many Black and Brown youth face. She has been published in several anthologies and literary journals. Since 2013, she’s received dozens of grants, fellowships, artist residencies, honors, and awards, from across the nation monetarily, totaling over $210,000 that provided ammunition and support for developing her forthcoming untitled memoir. Nahshon’s existence and resilience show how marginalized youth can reach their full potential and shine with dignity when their rainbow is blurred.
In 2020, Nahshon was interviewed by writer Sheldon Pearce for Changes: An Oral History of Tupac (Simon & Schuster). In 2021, Nahshon and talent manager Leila Steinberg hosted Tupac Shakur’s 50th birthday celebration and a 25th-anniversary death tribute. As a grant writer for over a decade, Nahshon has paid it forward by voluntarily assisting dozens of artists and entrepreneurs across the nation with obtaining tens of thousands of dollars in grants and funding. She also produces and hosts a weekly hour entertaining chat titled TRANSBRATIONS on Youtube. “It’s such a good transbration! It’s such a sweet sensation!”