We each have been tasked with writing love letters to our stolen queer and trans family of color.
So many lost to violence that we begin to lose track - our hearts break with each loss and we ask ourselves, "another one?" Because we hear about their murders long before we hear about the beauty of their stories; long before they have been able to live - TRULY live - in the fullness of who they are.
Penny Proud, proud Penny. 21 years old. Stolen from us on February 10, 2015, at 1:30AM, from multiple gunshot wounds.
Proud Penny, beautiful Penny, brave Penny...
Penny, Proud and brave enough to live in a world you knew would treat you with the same indifference and disregard as one-cent copper currency - tossed into a jar, forgotten.
Penny, Proud enough to draw breath each and every day in atmosphere poisonous enough to suffocate you.
Penny, Proud and brave enough to be, just be, in a world so capable of breeding hatred.
But oh, Penny, we are full of so much love for you tonight - the same love you've shown to us in every breath you drew on earth and every breath you take beyond our reach.
Proud Penny, brown skin, full lips, full heart - I see you, girl!
And I speak to you - we speak to you - with so much love and admiration.
We are because you were.
We breathe because you breathed - dared to be fierce and beautiful and unapologetically Black and trans and PROUD.
Lourdes says, "Every breath a Black trans woman takes is an act of revolution." Every breath a Black trans woman takes is an act of revolution.
Yes, and also an act of love - where would our revolution be without our capacity to love and accept ourselves? You remind us to do that, Penny.
You remind us to love and cherish ourselves, our bodies, our spirits, each other.
You remind us to shine bright like the fucking diamonds we truly are!
You remind us that love still grows in the most infertile of soil.
You were taken from us too soon.
Tonight, tomorrow, forever - we cherish and love you, sister.
We remember you in the round, heart-shaped faces of every young Black and Brown trans* woman coming into herself against all odds.
We remember you among the iridescent, bright stars of Marsha, and Lamia, and Ty, and Islan, and Goddesses that light our way through the long shadows cast by hate.
We are because you were, Penny.
Proud, and in Love with ourselves.
Blessings, peace, love, Ashe.