By Chandlor Henderson
My mother was born in FL, where my grandfather lives now. For most of my childhood I spent summers in FL. I never gained a southern accent because I didn’t grow up there, but my grandmother had a lovely southern drawl that I miss dearly. The town where most of my family lives is called Havana FL, which is just outside Tallahassee. It’s a tiny town and I haven’t been back in 20 years. I remember mostly dirt roads and mosquitos. Also my family. I remember having to shell peas from what felt like dusk till dawn, with the normal amount of breaks kids take. I remember laughter and fun. People down there were — and seem to still be — happy and successful, smart loving people who cared about each other and their kids. The media might portray these communities in a different way, but I’ve always seen them as home. FL was a refuge from the Northern Virginia suburban hell where I grew up.
But the South is steeped in systematic racism. I remember being told I couldn’t go to the pool. I remember my friends complaining about a white man who owned a bunch of the houses coming and harassing them. I always thought that was weird cause I’d never seen a single white person in Havana FL, but I didn’t live there all the time so I suppose that makes sense. In any case, that’s something I never forgot. I remember going to an event in Calvary GA called Mule Day. That was the first time I saw an interracial couple. I remember being scared for them. Like… aren’t you afraid of getting shot? I was probably 9 when I went to Mule Day, but I still remember what that couple looked like.
On May 27th, 2 days after the police murdered George Floyd, the Tallahassee police killed a trans man named Tony McDade. They claimed that he was an armed suspect in a local stabbing. Whatever the “reason” happens to be, I worry that trans people are being excluded from our efforts. We need to stand up for all of our people, CIS and Trans. The time to pick and choose has passed. We can’t cry about racism and then discriminate on our own brothers and sisters, or anyone else for that matter. They are still someone’s kid. Say their name too… Tony McDade.