December 2020 Funded ArtZine Project
A Note From Lilith
Black sex workers, black queer and trans workers are some of the most marginalised within society and due to this marginalisation we live and work in fear; a lot of the times due to the systemic pressures and specific stigma faced. We remain, for the most part, isolated. Isolated from other workers, because of the fear/consequences of being visible as a sex worker. Isolated from the wider contemporary sex worker movement, due to our histories and realities being erased.
A large number of us are survival workers and we do not have the luxury to get involved in direct action or performance.
We do not have the guaranteed safety to even affirm what we are – sex workers.
We are focused on survival. Paying our rent, making sure our children are fed, bills are paid and our mental health is in check.
A lot of black sex workers are in positions where they fall as the sole provider for their immediate and extended families.
The burden and weight we carry is one that can be overwhelming.
FemmeDaemonium is made up of womxn from around the globe, but at present we are majority white. As a black queer sex working woman within the project, we want to see a project led by black sex workers FOR black sex workers (facilitated by all of us in FD), which in turn takes into account the privileges that lay within that spectrum:
Incorporating voices that wish to stay anonymous into the project
This becomes a radical act of reclaiming power and highlighting new ways of producing knowledge which comes from the source, educates from the source and IS the source
The production of a zine, which has the potential to be the basis of a larger scale production for us as a platform memorialises and immortalises the experience of black sex workers + black queer and trans workers workers, who have been continuously rendered invisible and have had their histories erased.
Black sex workers and black queer and trans sex workers have been at the forefront of liberation movements for decades and continuously have had our stories erased. Within our everyday life (in and outside of sex work) we are expected to give countless amounts of emotional labour - we are not rewarded, we are not thanked, we are not acknowledged for this.
We are spoken FOR and spoken OVER We are represented via statistics and never in the flesh. We are usually the ones that fall victim to the whorerachy within sex work by other privileged workers, who fail to understand and analyse their privileges within the industry. We are deprived of community, because we are more focused on navigating capitalism and staying safe. We are dying within an industry that pretends we do not exist and we hold no value.
Racism has been continuously overlooked within the sex industry for sex workers. It is this racism that hinders black sex workers, black queer and trans workers from being able to indulge within aspects of sex work that are deemed “empowering” or even being able to position themselves within an “empowered” lens, as this is a framework largely embedded within privileges and hierarchical structures within the industry. Marginalised sex workers, especially black queer sex workers and trans workers are largely more concerned with safety, (which has a direct link to the police force and how black bodies are policed outside and even more so within sex work) As Black sex workers, we spend a large portion of our time navigating the racism within the industry, to try and ensure we’re paid as much as our cis and/or white counterparts. This is a labour and trauma that is consistently rendered invisible.
The difficulty of navigating and surviving through the psychological trauma from being consistently fetishized and hypersexualised within the work place from clients is burdening. The dehumanisation from the current contemporary sex work movement, which routinely leaves out the voices of black queer and trans sex workers, or speaks over and for us is burdening. The representation of black sex workers and black queer/ trans sex workers is usually via statistics, statistics as a mode of representation has its own levels of violence embedded within it, Statistics are used in proximity to blackness as a way to superficially bring issues to light, whilst silencing a lot of micro and interpersonal issues that we face as workers. It’s important to understand that producing knowledge like this in regards to black sex workers, that is highly statistical is embedded within a white Eurocentric way of understanding and producing knowledge.
This becomes a radical act of reclaiming power and highlighting new ways of producing knowledge which comes from the source, is about the source and is the source.
Helps to further the understanding that black history, queer histories and trans histories of sex workers is one that is embedded within oral histories and knowledge, by incorporating
this into the performance, this will in turn actively decolonise the way we look at knowledge production and the telling of realities and stories.
Further the understanding the relationship of visibility for black sex workers and queer workers is a matter of safety and survival and finding ways through the performance to incorporate the voices of those that don’t have the privilege of being seen and staying safe, but can still be heard (via soundscapes, sound-art, poetry, costume designing) and through guiding and curating the progression of the final production of the show, so they can also find empowerment.