ABOUT MARSHA P. JOHNSON
Marsha P. Johnson was an activist, self-identified drag queen, performer, and survivor. She was a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969. Marsha went by “BLACK Marsha” before settling on Marsha P. Johnson. The “P” stood for “Pay It No Mind,” which is what Marsha would say in response to questions about her gender. It is the consideration of who “BLACK Marsha” was that inspired The Marsha P. Johnson Institute.
So much of our understanding of Marsha came from the accounts of people who did not look like or come from the same place as her. As transness is now more accessible to the world, introducing the Institute to BLACK trans people who are resisting, grappling with survival, and looking for community has become a clear need.
Thank you to artist extraordinaire Kendrick Daye for creating and offering this collage of an image taken by Hank O’ Neal of Mother Marsha at NYC’s Pride march in 1977. You can find more of Kendrick’s work on Instagram at @kendrickdaye
The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of BLACK transgender people. We do this by organizing, advocating, creating an intentional community to heal, developing transformative leadership, and promoting our collective power.
We intend to reclaim Marsha P. Johnson and our relationship as BLACK trans people to her life and legacy. It is in our reclaiming of Marsha that we give ourselves permission to reclaim autonomy to our minds, to our bodies, and to our futures. We were founded both as a response to the murders of BLACK trans women and women of color and how that is connected to our exclusion from social justice issues, namely racial, gender, and reproductive justice, as well as gun violence.
We invite members to learn about who Marsha P. Johnson was while exploring themselves as well. MPJI seeks to eradicate systemic, community, and physical violence that silences our community from actualizing freedom, joy, and safety.
We were created to elevate, support, and nourish the voices of BLACK trans people.
Our community is made up of BLACK trans people and those committed to undoing white supremacy in all of its forms. Our space is intended for the sole purpose of bettering the BLACK trans community across the diaspora.
These values are fundamental to who we are and to our success. If we adhere to them, we believe liberation is possible. These values serve as a roadmap for how and why we make our decisions.
1. BLACK Trans-led
We believe that BLACK people are the future. We are committed to this organization always being led by the most radical BLACK trans people whose imaginations exist beyond the confines of the state.
We value the fullness of human experience. Perfection isn’t the goal. We use our spirit to encourage growth for ourselves and others while maintaining restoration for our communities. Who we are is enough.
We will always strive to be clear about our capacities to support a cause practically and to be able to say yes or no.
This is a human right that belongs to those not on the binary of political systems, states, or governments. People have the right to determine their destiny politically, culturally, and socially.
We develop our skills, show up to practice, take risks, and dare to be different. It is in our DNA to innovate, strengthen our knowledge, reach beyond insecurities, and experiment. It will drive our culture and create our own standard of success. We are our own possibility models and we must hold ourselves accountable for our own results.
We believe in the freedom of BLACK trans people, oppressed people, and oppressed nations. We support quality education, employment opportunities, and a world free of war, police brutality, and political corruption. The senseless killing of trans women and the suicides of trans men are a result of state violence and intercommunity strife. The circumstances that invoke these tragedies must be abolished in order for liberation to be actualized.
We are open, humble, and honest about our triumphs and struggles. We can make money without doing evil and we don’t have to compromise to get what we want. We want our ancestors to smile back on us.
8. Community Knowledge
We value the lived experiences of BLACK trans people. Qualifiers are not required for us to be taken seriously or acknowledged as people who are brilliant and worthy of contributing to our community and society.
We celebrate our successes, demonstrate our rage, encourage joy for ourselves and with each other, explore our desires, think big, and have fun.