In the midst of this global pandemic, many people have lost their jobs, are facing housing and food insecurity, and are being forced to work at great risk to their health. While the national conversation is geared towards protecting essential workers, Resist grantees know that justice is also essential and they're responding to this moment with urgency and care.
To get you closer to the frontlines of the radical community organizing that's happening across the country, we're bringing you the #JusticeIsEssential edition of our Amplify series. This series will highlight the work and members of one Resist grantee, up close and personal, who is responding to the needs of communities most impacted by COVID-19.
Today, we're amplifying the work of Heartspark Press. They nurture and publish books, anthologies, and short stories made by and for the (C)AMAB trans and non-binary community (young and old). Heartspark’s programming includes an online audio and video storytelling archive, workshops centered on trans writers of color, quarterly performances, and in the age of COVID-19, a collaborative mobile food pantry for trans and non-binary people in need.
Luna and Amy, Heartspark Press Co-Executive Directors
Luna Merbruja is the author of Heal Your Love, a board member of Mirror Memoirs, and a co-executive director of Heartspark Press.
Amy Eleanor Heart is a magical queer princess/storyteller from another dimension. She makes books for trans and non-binary children looking for roadmaps to liberation. Amy is co-executive director of Heartspark Press with Luna and resides in her chosen hometown of Olympia, Washington.
What impact does your work have on you?
Marsha P. Johnson (left) marching alongside Sylvia River (right)
AMY: When I was growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, there were no positive portrayals of trans and non-binary people in the media (i.e. print, film, television), and don’t get me started about how trans women were depicted. Everything around me made it very clear that, by living this life, by being a girl who was assigned-male-at-birth, I was “choosing” to never have any power in this world. I was “destined” to live a life where having access to basic needs was not a right that I would ever experience at any point in my existence.
But by working with Heartspark, I have been unlearning all of that. I am not saying it is easy peasy and that those old scripts don’t take over my life anymore (they do! All the time!). I am saying, though, that it is possible to make change, however small, for our sisters, for our children, for each other. When I am given the opportunity to collaborate with other trans and non-binary people, especially to take care of our community, it feels a whole lot like following in the footsteps of my transcestors. Trans women of color (like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson) have paved so many roadmaps for us to follow, to look after one another when nobody else might. If I am truly honest, about everything, I think this work and the family I’ve made along the way is what makes staying alive possible against all odds.
What narratives do you want to shift and why, especially in a moment like this?
Heartspark Press Team working on food pantry
LUNA: We have a national effort for the first time in living memory where we are urged to protect one another. We must not forget that organizing communities taught us how to care for one another long before COVID-19 became a pandemic. We have freed prisoners, released immigrant detainees, fed hungry children, and built homes for houseless people. Our creativity did not stop when the pandemic began; it simply evolved. For example, we’ve seen a huge spike of relief funds from individual donations weeks before Trump talked about a stimulus check. We have a network of people making masks for those at the front lines every day. Heartspark partnered with Thurston County Food Bank, UNITE Olmypia, and Gender Justice League to deliver groceries and toiletries to families in need. What’s most important is that it’s never too late to get involved and take action. You can start by finding local resources you can donate to (in our case, us, too!]. Let this pandemic be the wake-up call you need to see that acting in solidarity will outlive any crisis we face.