The Black Column: Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter

BLACK

Story By: Taylor Lamb

Recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Nigerian author and feminist, said some pretty off base things about transgender women. I thought about addressing these comments, but I don’t think we need to give her any more attention. Besides, black trans women have already addressed them better than I ever could. Instead, I’d rather take the time to focus on the people who deserve it. Trans women. Specifically, black trans women, and the seven of them who were murdered in just the first three months of this year.

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Mesha Caldwell was a 41-year-old makeup artist living in Mississippi, beloved by her community. 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with 26
known transgender people (the majority of them women of color) murdered. So when Mesha Caldwell was found after being shot to death onScreen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.42.51 PM only the third day of the year, it was a very sad reminder of the terrible burdens trans women are forced to bear. Very well known in her community, Mesha “never met
a stranger” according to her neighbors. She was also known for her beauty and style. Community members admired that no matter what she put on, “It looked good on her.” Commenters on her Facebook page hope that she will “Rest in peace and power.” Mesha Caldwell was the first transgender woman to be murdered in 2017.

Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell.

Say her name.


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A Journey Through Meditation, by Pinky Hossain

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Story By: Pinky Hossain

There are four of us in the room including our meditation guide. He sits straight, a relaxed gleam in his eye. It’s not my first time meditating, but already I can tell that the session will be different. Not bad or good – just different. Earlier that day, we have a conversation about silence in one of my classes. We talk about silence as transcendence, silence as a reprieve, silence as a tool to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Before we begin the session, I can feel the silence pressing down on my ears, and I wonder if the silence is so outstandingly present that the Sufi masters had to look toward a greater being to escape such oppressiveness. Thankfully, the air conditioner whirs softly in the background. My heart thumps two beats faster than it had before, and I don’t know why.


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Sister, by Madeline Baker

My junior prom was pretty run of the mill: I wore an atrocious dress and put on way more makeup than necessary for any 17-year-old girl. Twelve hours before that night I didn’t even have a dress, and in my mind it might as well have been the apocalypse. My sister, Julia, home from college, drove me to the mall at 10am the morning of prom and helped me pick out the only dress I could find given I had to be ready in 6 hours. I hated that dress. It was salmon pink with a one-shoulder strap and white beads that looked like it could be worn by a beauty pageant participant. Once I had finished my makeup and gotten my hair done, I slipped on the dress and started to cry. Julia looked at me and, without a shred of sympathy in her expression, told me to wipe my tears because my date would be picking me up at any minute. I told her that I didn’t feel pretty at all and that this wasn’t how I pictured my first prom. Julia raised her eyebrows and said, “Junior prom might be the most insignificant part of high school, and there is absolutely no reason to be crying over a dance. Besides, it’s not the dress, it’s the person in the dress.”

Although these words were perhaps cliché, it was exactly what I needed to hear in the moment. My sister wasn’t going to feign understanding or sadness for my situation; I was being a brat and needed to hear it. That’s how Julia has always been: honest and never willing to take my shit. Julia has been my sister for all my life, but we joke that we have only been friends for about 5 years. We rarely got along when we were growing up, and we couldn’t go more that 2 hours before finding ourselves in a screaming match about whose clothes were whose, or what board game we were going to spend the afternoon playing. It wasn’t until she had left for college when I was a sophomore in high school that we really started to become close. The distance between us made me realize how I had taken for granted having an older sister who was way smarter than I could ever be.  She was there for me throughout high school, always listening when I had to rant about our mother, my friends, or boys. I listened to her as well, and I found her to be the only person whose opinion I really valued and took to heart. I had friends in high school, but they weren’t crazy about listening to what I had to say, and that was ok because at the end of the day I would just vent to Julia about it.


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Right Now

Story By: Pinky Hossain

Right now, being a Muslim woman is hard. Right now, Muslim women have every right to be angry. Right now, Muslim women are tired of white people telling them it’s going to be okay. Right now, Muslim women are completely and utterly over people telling them that they were overreacting about the election when they said they felt that their safety in America was compromised, especially when this:

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this:

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and this:

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is happening, among so many other hateful actions.


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Social Drinking: What’s so social about it?

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Story By: Madeline Baker

We all know UVA’s unofficial motto: Work Hard, Play Hard. I applaud anyone who can balance a rigorous academic and extracurricular schedule with an impressive social calendar. I struggled with this balance my first year at UVA. My first semester wasn’t much different from any typical college freshman’s: I was free to do whatever I wanted on the weekends and I took full advantage of my social independence. Taking shots of cheap vodka in my dorm room before hitting the Corner was a staple of my Friday night. After several weekends filled with random frat parties and nights spent on the Trin dance floor, I came to the realization that I wasn’t actually having fun, I was just pretty drunk and doing what everyone else was doing.

I hated feeling like I didn’t belong in my environment. I drank to feel normal and part of the culture, but this only made me feel burnt out and alone. The motivation I had at the beginning of the semester quickly dwindled. I had lost interest in my schoolwork, as it seemed the only reward for a stressful week of tests and papers was another night spent drinking.  I thought this was what my college experience was supposed to be about: staying out late and drinking with friends. It was what I considered to be social. It was how I fit in with everybody else and how I “bonded” with my hallmates from my dorm. I wasn’t sure if I was the only one feeling this way, but it seemed like everyone else was having a great time. I couldn’t understand why everyone looked so natural in this part-hard environment, and I felt so completely out of touch. I drank in high school, but not to the extent I was drinking in college. First year was my first experience with head-pounding hangovers and gut- wrenching nausea. I didn’t know if I could keep this up every weekend, but so long as my friends were doing it, I sucked it up and continued to drink.


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