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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Effective today

"Tasha Jones is a rare and wonderful artist that strikes a balance in a world so often lopsided. She has the soul of a Nikki Giovanni draped in the Haute Couture fashions of a runway model. Jones is a student of life and a teacher of lessons. On stage, she tells the story of her life and, in doing so, tells the story of all women, a story of love, loss, and life. She offers a perspective, poignancy, and insight in her writing that allows men to see themselves through her work and women to see themselves in her work. She proves herself to be simultaneously what women are and what they aspire to be. Once you've experienced her for yourself, you will feel better, wiser, and are enriched for it." — Jon Goode

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What have you walked away from? Author Zora Neale Hurston once said, “I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions,” and it is with that audacity that I write this week’s piece; walking away to walk to. The opening question is reflective and purposed for you to take inventory of yourself, not of your neighbor. Consequently, I must first share how I got to this place by recalling an act of bravery shown by my neighbor, Marissa Miller, that opened my eyes to a subtle but nefarious act of control.

It was September 7, 2022, just a few months after my dad’s death. Marissa Miller had invited me to read/recite poetry at the Indianapolis Museum of Arts at Newsfields. Marissa Miller is the founder and CEO of Trans Solutions Research and Resource Center, and it was the annual fundraiser. Trans Solutions Research and Resource Center is a comprehensive health and holistic, community-based organization serving the Indiana Area; that focuses on helping Indiana’s Trans and Non-Binary communities of color. It is the only comprehensive community-based organization that concentrates on workforce development by addressing the social determinants of health through community programming (boast its website).

For weeks I had thought about which poem to recite and had decided to write a new work that kept dancing in my head, like a lyric. The poem’s heart asks, have you ever had to say goodbye? And on the surface, the theme of the poem and its makeup seemed out of place because I had been invited to a company fundraiser. At this point in my writing and life, I have learned to listen and move with my heart’s intention. So I went with my prepared poem, “Have you ever had to say goodbye?”

Upon arriving, the guest list was illustrious, with Indianapolis Who’s Who in full attendance. Marissa’s Converse collaboration and her star-studded hand-beaded motorcycle jacket made a fashion statement. Easily the night’s purpose and fashion could have been the story; a trans woman of color living with HIV, using her voice to advocate for the well-being of her community. Or deeper, how Marissa thought of and birthed the needed resource and research center to ensure trans women of color had a place. But still, there is something deeper.

Before being called to read, Miller takes the mic and unfurls what is necessary to ensure continual growth. In TED talk fashion, she is succinct, clear, and poignant. I was moved. It felt like church, and there were hearty amens around me. You will hear me and other audience members signifying when listening to this week’s podcast.

Miller boldly took the mic and resigned from her position and post (although it was what she dreamed of and worked hard to bring to fruition). It clicked for me, “Have you ever had to say goodbye.” I knew why it was written, but the deeper meaning was still being unfolded in front of me, and that was and is the story.

What the audience watched that night was the subtle act of paternalism that often makes women question their being, ideas, and place in the workspace. Miller, a trans woman, was now experiencing the bull malarkey that comes with being a woman.

She fanned the duality of knowing both sides of the coin and felt the disdain of being questioned regarding her worth and work. I relished in the fact that I, too, know the feeling and could equally express the heartache in the subtleties of paternalism and how the ideology is based and sometimes framed in racism, genderism, and many isms.

The dictionary definition of paternalism “is an action that limits a person’s or group’s liberty or autonomy and is intended to promote their own good.” So, on the surface, this act of control does not look like an infraction; it may parade itself as concern or even friendly advice, but really it is an ism; sometimes racism and other times genderism, but it is an ism. It is an ism that we the women will not fight, effective today.

To support Trans Solutions, click here.


Ain’t it funny how things change

He met me while I was on this stage

Yet being a writer was the equivalent to being unemployed

Unstable is how he worded it

childhood dreams taken a bit too far

now since we have children, cars,

picket fence front and backyard

He said quit

I said, I thought I wasn’t employed

He said be a mother

As if that was a duty I had ignored

But there it was on the table

My family or my artistry- choose

Never perplexed about what I had to do

Why would I bow down to a fool?

I will not fight with you about being myself.

For more news from the Indianapolis Recorder similar to LaTasha Boyd Jones’ ‘Effective Today,’ click here.

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