A Fight on All Fronts
Just six months ago, before relocating to Dallas, Texas, I wouldn't have predicted the spiral of events that took place. Or how just a few encounters would broaden my perspective surrounding domestic violence in the black community, police brutality, and the LGBQT community. It’s not that I was totally oblivious. No, I don’t live under a rock and like most, it was easy for me to identify the need for solutions to sexual assault and violent attacks against women of color when it’s on an episode of Wendy Williams featuring a celebrity like R. Kelly, attached to a catchy social media hashtag such as BlackLivesMatter, or in a viral facebook video. Historically, women of color have been given little to no space to speak on trauma safely, especially with in the media. However, taking a closer look beyond the social media hype and a world of clap-backs, I found survivors and tangible solutions that deserve more attention. One of my most impactful experiences was meeting with the founder of Black Women’s Defense League, Revolution Cafe, and Queer AF.
On a rainy day in Dallas, Texas, I had the opportunity to huddle up inside a local Deep Ellum spot with the revolutionary activist herself, Nieece X and boy did the conversation get deep. Her Image initially met the activist at the 2nd annual Buy Black Sip and Shop where her vending table sold out of her tasty but highly affordable vegan meals from her mobile restaurant Revolution Cafe. Additionally she shut the venue down with a powerful and intense spoken word. Within that first encounter we knew that we had to feature her and this Womanist newsletter couldn't be more fitting for the occasion.
Womanism identifies and analyzes sexism, anti-black racism, and their intersection. Womanism recognizes the beauty and strength of embodied black womanhood, and seeks connections and solidarity. Womanism identifies and criticizes sexism in the African American community and racism amongst feminist and marginalized people.
From surviving domestic violence to operating a business with a mission of sustaining a safe space for the oppressed and unrepresented, her journey is a reflection of what it takes to truly liberate. Everything that she has been through has contributed to the consciously liberated vibe that she exudes so effortlessly. Her brand persona is highly addictive but she’s not just a social media activist and she isn't new to this activism thing. Way before it was 'kewl' on IG, she put in work with many organizations such as the Black Nationalist, and The Indigenous People. Her experience publicly and personally makes her a voice that must be heard in today's social climate.
It's no secret that Texas is historically a racist state and runs off privilege and power. It is important that we learn to overcome the challenges that comes with the territory and that's what Niecee is all about. More often than not, we hear of sexual abuse and violence that takes place bi-racially. However, we very well know that it consistently occurs in the black community again and again and we rarely hear about it considering how taboo it is which is why the Black Women's Defense League is so essential. You could presume how challenging it could be when you are the one enduring this.
Enduring physical abuse at the hands of a black man in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement was a pivotal part in her awakening. However, being exposed to the backlash, criticism, and shaming that many victims endure didn’t break Niecee. Instead, she was strong enough to look within herself and within her community to pinpoint various blindspots within the realm of liberation as a whole. Her experience of undergoing personal trauma allowed her to get a clear view of what Malcom X meant when he stated,
She didn’t just stop there and sulk in her sorrow, but like any other liberated being she did something about it. She used her trauma as a tool and from that The Black Women's defense league ignited. The Black Women's Defense League was established to create a safe space that advocates for women of color seeking the ultimate form of liberation. Buckle up for the ride as I give you a recap that will leave you not only informed but inspired to take a second look at the role you play within your community and what it is you can do about it.
My biggest take away from our conversation was how essential accountability is during our journey to liberation. True liberation will require accountability no matter how uncomfortable it may be for those around us. Niecee state’s “It is easy for people to be against violence against women when it’s R.Kelly or a known racist in Deep Ellum but not so much when it’s our brothers. It’s unacceptable for us to uphold the hypocrisy if we expect to give our children a better environment than we had.”
She went on to stress the fact that accountability is not a one way street and must be applied at all levels and at every avenue if we expect to liberate, heal, and elevate ourselves. Listening to her perspective on double standards made it clear that women of color shouldn’t have to choose between which oppressor to confront. She explains “You can not be pro-black but also pro-police. They do not stand in the same space. If we recognize that the system itself is white supremacy, and the police work for the system, the laws that they uphold are racist then the police themselves are racist. You may find a nice police officer but even then it depends on who they are talking to.”
In recent interview, Niecee dived deeper into her personal ideals regarding activism and its significance.
Tell us more about your journey into the LGBTQ community and how it has impacted the way that you advocate?
“I think I’ve always been apart of the community. I may have been a B before an L and an L before I became a Q but I think that experience [in a binary relationship] just showed me that there is more to it than just our eternal battle. You can’t live in a country, be colonized by capitalism and white supremacy without have gathered scars, lesions, misconceptions, or wrongful ideas from that. I think that there are a lot of things that are instilled into us as a community that are problematic and keep us from achieving our liberation. Revolution cafe has been [intentionally] centered in the LGBTQ community and my reasoning for that is because I believe that it is important to start with the most marginalized. However, we are working to expand to a broader audience such as non traditional families. I believe that we miss out on a lot of our community because of what we don’t know and who we don’t know. Too often we only have this unilateral political idea. We’ve found that addressing the needs of the most marginalized to be more productive than the traditional top down approach to liberation. I’m on a journey to figure out exactly what those ideas are so that our children don’t have to suffer."
What is the most effective way that we can address these issues?
"Building community. To me, progression looks like tangible solutions and safe spaces that allow people to communicate their needs. It’s also about meeting people at their level of perspective which is what we provide with our events. I realized that people know more than they think that they know; it’s just about creatively encouraging the dialogue. Building community also looks like having access to resources which is a major goal of Revolution Cafe. We strive to provide healthy food that is affordable and accessible.
We must also own land and space in our own community. Ultimately, Revolution Cafe is a sustainability project that we are working to make a self sufficient business so that the profit from food, art, and merchandise can be a resource to the community. I’ve put a lot of my own money into it but it’s also about finding others who believe in your vision. It’s challenging to receive a substantial amount of money that doesn’t have an agenda attached."
What are your thoughts on social media activism? Does the current state of social media help or hinder the movement? With all the back and forth that we see online within the black community do you feel as if it is counterproductive to unifying the community?
"Social media can be both helpful and a hindrance. It can be a problematic tool. There are people who can care less about finding a solution but are more focused on having the best clap-back. And yes there is a lot of fake care but when they are asked to participate IRL they are unmoved. I try to ensure that the majority of the organizing work that I do is not online because we are living in a time where action is required."
Our current reality is that we live in a world of exposure and what comes with that is fabrication. This is why it is up to us to be proactive both online and offline because that too, is our reality. Ask yourself, do you feel liberated and if that alone is enough or must we do our parts to ensure all who seek liberation within our community has the same resources.