I am a Black AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) non-binary person who was born and raised in the South and still lives in the region. Nearly three years ago, I created Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective, an online organizing initiative dedicated to economic justice and political self-determination for Black LGBTQIA people in the Southern United States. LKSC’s work focuses on critical economic issues that impact the lives of Black LGBTQIA people in the South: housing, employment, disability rights, food access, and gender justice advocacy. LKSC’s advocacy work includes speaking, writing, focused workshops, and hosting community discussion events. A holistic program like LKSC’s that centers the experiences of Black LGBTQ people in the South is essential, since over half of the Black American population lives in the South, and over one-third of all LGBTQIA people live in the region.
The catalyst for LKSC’s founding was deeply personal. I dealt with racist and cissexist employment discrimination from the time I first entered the workforce two decades ago. For much of those two decades, I identified myself to the world as a cisgender woman. On the very rare occasions that I was called in for job interviews, I presented myself in the femme grooming and wardrobe standards expected of women in the workforce. However, I could not conceal my androgynous-to-masculine gender expression, which often triggered cissexist reactions from hiring managers. Coupled with the unexamined racism of these same employers, I was frequently passed over for employment. Millions of transgender and gender-nonconforming people in this country experience similar discrimination every single day.
Creating this initiative was more than simply a desire to support other Black LGBTQIA people, but a way for me to save my own life. I was tired of dealing with a workforce that seemed to reject me at every turn, and I was tired of not having a stable place to live for years on end. By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I knew that I could not rely on either the work force, my college degrees, nor the victim-blaming charity industrial complex as avenues out of my lifelong poverty. With LKSC, I wanted to tackle the entire chain of systemic forces that harm Black LGBTQIA people, not just racism and cissexism but economic violence, criminalization, underemployment, and lack of access to necessities like housing, health care, and food.
The central goals of LKSC are simple: guaranteed housing, a guaranteed basic income, universal healthcare, and gender self-determination. The basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter should be free to all regardless of gender, (dis)ability, occupation, or social status. Right now, our society operates from a deeply ableist idea that only those who work outside the home should have access to basic resources. In addition, the legacy of colonialism and slavery creates a racialized labor hierarchy that still condemns Black people to some of the lowest-paid, most arduous jobs. For Black workers who are trans and gender-nonconforming, the economic circumstances are even more dire. That’s why Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective is here to help.
You can support the work of Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective by bringing us to your campus or event. You can also donate directly to LKSC by visiting www.lavenderkitchensink.com/support-lksc. Thank you.[Headline image: The photograph features people of various races and genders, sitting down and listening to someone speak. They are in a large hall with a brown door, a large archway, and brown windowpanes. Photograph copyright Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective.]
YM Carrington is the creator of Lavender Kitchen Sink Collective, an organizing project dedicated to economic justice and self-determination for Black LGBTQ communities in the Southern United States. YMC is a writer, public speaker, former union organizer, and occasional web designer. A lifelong Southerner, YMC’s desire is to help build a model for Black LGBTQ community and economic sustainability throughout the South.