A Black Trans Woman Interrupted CNN's Equality Town Hall But It Was Not a Protest

Screenshot: CNN

I do not want to die. I do not want my son to die. Or my daughter. Or my nieces or nephews. Or anyone. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and admit that I am staunchly anti-murder.

If there were a serial killer hunting people like me, knowing that no one would stand in his way, I would not go quietly. I would fight. I would scream. And if the people around me pretended not to see my assassin, I would point the killer out and plead for help. If anyone pretended not to hear me, I would holler at the top of my voice. I would not let the world rest until everyone understood the danger. I would do anything possible to remain alive.

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That is not a “protest.”

On Thursday, CNN hosted an Equality Town Hall featuring the Democratic candidates for president. During the program, Lizette Trujillo, the mother of a transgender son, stood up to ask what appeared to be an authorized question when Blossom Brown, a black transgender woman, interrupted.

“I’m so sorry. I don’t want to take this away from you,” said Brown. “But let me tell you something, black trans women are being killed in this country and CNN, you have erased black trans women for the last time. Let me tell you something, black trans women are dying, our lives matter! I am an extraordinary black trans woman, and I deserve to be here.

“I am tired. I am so tired...It’s not just my black trans women, it’s my black trans brothers, too. And I’m going to say what I’m going to say,” Brown added.

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Don Lemon, who was moderating the town hall, asked for Brown’s name, and asked her to come to the stage and hand him the mic.

“Blossom, let me tell you something. The reason that we’re here is to validate people like you,” Lemon said.

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“Not one black trans woman has taken the mic tonight. Not one black trans man has taken the mic tonight,” Brown replied

“We’re proud and happy that you’re here,” said Lemon.

While some media outlets have referred to Brown and others as “protesters,” I imagine those headline writers are not a part of a small group of victims who continue to be hunted while no one seems to notice. According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 19 trans women have been killed in 2019 alone. Nearly all of them were black.

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I do not know what it is like to be a trans woman of color but I now know what it looks like. I know how it sounds. That look in Blossom Brown’s eyes was not anger nor did the sound in her voice come from frustration. It was the desperation that comes with the furious struggle to convince the entire world to see that you, too, are human. That you are alive. The wretched simplicity of having to tell the world that her life matters is a condemnation that we must all share. How terrible it must be to die in silence. To drown in apathy. To be scorned in life and ignored in death.

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I’m sure that there are some people who believe Brown should have acted with more civility and respect. I’m sure someone told Rosa Parks that she should have just sat quietly in the back of that Montgomery, Ala., bus. I bet someone even told the people marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that they should stay on the sidewalk. Civility and respect have never ever worked…

Unless one’s goal is to die silently.

But not Blossom Brown.

Right now, there is someone—or someones—hunting women like Blossom Brown, knowing that no one will stand in their way. But Blossom will not go quietly. She is kicking and screaming. She is pointing out the killer out and pleading for our help. She is doing any and everything possible to remain alive.

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That is not a protest.

We see you, Blossom Brown.

We hear you.

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About the author

Michael Harriot

World-renowned wypipologist. Getter and doer of "it." Never reneged, never will. Last real negus alive.