On Aug. 22, community members gathered on Catalpa Avenue between Clark Street and Ashland Avenue in Andersonville to check out the new mural that stretches across the street reading "Black Trans Lives Matter." Speakers included many local Black trans residents from the community and members of the Chicago Therapy Collective (CTC).
Performance artist and CTC member KJ Whitehead hosted the event alongside Angel Nordstrum, the president of the LGBTQ Workers Center.
"I think it is definitely important that this fight does not stop for our rights and for others like us," said Whitehead. "Black trans lives matter and Black lives matter, and we need to make that very clear. It's also important to celebrate our little victories we have here today and this mural is definitely one of our little victories."
"Black lives absolutely under no circumstances cannot matter until Black trans lives matterergo, all Black lives matter," said Nordstrum.
Speakers condemned a nearby Walgreens for accusing two of the artists of stealing while working on the mural, which sparked conversation about holding businesses accountable for their racist actions.
The next speaker was Laura Austin, the associate director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce. She spoke about shifting the chamber's agenda to be more anti-racist and why Black trans individals are a necessity to the community. "If BIPOC trans and gender nonconforming individuals don't live in our neighborhood, we lose," said Austin. "If these folks don't feel safe here, we are not doing our job."
Joycelyn Wynter, one of the 22 artists of the mural encouraged the crowd to look at the names bordering the mural, honoring the lives of Black trans individuals who died.
Iggy Ladden, local therapist and CTC Founder, had the crowd collectively take a deep breath and check-in with themselves. They spoke about the problem with how white people sometimes respond to racism by talking over Black voices instead of listening to them.
"In our society, where so many are marginalized, it is Black trans folks and trans women in particular who are among the most marginalized," said 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez. "They're harassed, brutalized, attacked, killed and their murders go unsolved by Chicago police."
Local therapist Bonn Wade spoke about the six steps of an apology on both individual and structural levels.
CTC member and #HireTransNOW lead Elise Malary made a point in saying, "Capitalism was never designed to benefit Black people and it especially wasn't designed for Black trans people."
Among the last few speakers were Parker Haines, a CTC member and local performance artist; Candace Gingrich, an LGBTQ+-rights activist; Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris; and Sean Connelly, from the Helix Cafe.
Haines left the crowd with a John Lewis quote: "When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to say something; you have to do something."
Credit to the artists of the mural with their instagram tags include:
B — Bailey @baileys.funky; L — Molly Costello @mollyccostello; A — Joycelyn Wynter @beautyonthabeatz_; C — Grae Rosa @grae.rosa and Monica Trinidad @itsmonicatrinidad; K — Chi N. @itschinwosu & Yo Y.; T — Jes Scheinpflug (they/them) @jshine1224; R — Mary Fedorowski @overbitestudio; A — Adam Polak @braverspaces; N — Tiffany Favers @epiphsfromtiff; S — Ivan Vazquez @thechicagolago; L — Laura Kaucher @laurakaucher; I — Daniel @heronhilldesigns; V — Chi N. @itschinwosu & Yo Y.; E — Owen Karcher @owenkarch; S — Melisa @peacecosour & Elisa @e_roar; M — Alex Mendez @always_make_art; A — Touly Phiachantharath @uptowndesignstudio; T — Sam Kirk @iamsamkirk; T — Tattianna Howard @tattigram; E — soon to be art from Shala @followshala; and R — Renisha James @reneweddesigns.