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The Justice Fleet's TransFuturism debuts at Black Love Convergence Festival

by Bridjes O'Neil on 06/04/2021
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The Justice Fleet will kick off the 2021 Black Love Convergence Festival with the debut of TJF’s third exhibit, “TransFuturism: Gender Euphoria as Peak Blackness."

“People say, ‘Black Lives Matter’ but not ‘Black Trans Lives Matter,’” said Amber Johnson, Ph.D., (A&S ’01, Grad A&S ’03) associate professor of communication and social justice at Saint Louis University (SLU). “We can’t celebrate all of who we are as Black people unless we celebrate the nuance that comes with being Black.”

Amber Johnson, Ph.D.
Amber Johnson, Ph.D. SLU file photo. 

Johnson defines “Gender Euphoria as Peak Blackness” as the exultation of living your truth and choosing to show up whole, unapologetic, and free. 

“The goals of this exhibit are to humanize transgender and gender-nonconforming populations and inspire healing in communities that are transphobic and exclusive,” Johnson said. 

ACORN Center for Restoration and Freedom, an Atlanta-based retreat center founded by Emanuel Brown, hosts the annual festival that celebrates Black healing, pleasure, and joy. The festival features virtual and in-person exhibits that run June 12-20, 2021. The virtual “TransFuturism” exhibit will be held on June 12, from 12 to 5 p.m., in partnership with ACORN, The Justice Fleet, and SLU’s Institute for Healing Justice and Equity (IHJE). Johnson has collaborated with Brown to host webinars on healing justice for the IHJE. 

“TransFuturism” combines photography, oral history, and Afrofuturistic art by Wripley M. Bennet. Johnson photographs and records the narratives and lived experiences of transgender and gender-nonconforming people to illustrate how transgressing gender affords liberation but also leads to new forms of identity challenges. Johnson worked with Bennet, an “artivist” dedicated to increasing the visibility of transgender women of color, to create digital artwork that transformed the participants into superheroes. 

Other highlights include a gallery walk, artist talk with Johnson, and Q&A with keynote speaker Hope Giselle, a national transgender activist, author, and motivational speaker. There will also be an auction with a chance to win the entire “TransFuturism” collection. The winning bidder will receive 25 canvases to keep, plus an additional set to donate to a trans-led organization or transgender person of their choice. The opening bid starts at $1,000.

Johnson reflects on how “TransFuturism” embodies SLU’s and the IHJE’s mission. 

“It fulfills the mission by using resources to uplift ostracized communities,” Johnson said. “It’s the creation of equitable spaces where transgender artists are visible and celebrated in the public realm not just in queer communities.”

Click here to register for “TransFuturism: Gender Euphoria as Peak Blackness." The event is free and open to all. Donations are accepted with proceeds benefiting The Black Trans Prayer Book, Trans Justice Funding Project, and ACORN Center for Restoration and Freedom. Visit the website for more information about Black Love Convergence. 

Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers more than 12,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.

Institute for Healing Justice and Equity

 A multidisciplinary group of faculty formed the Institute for Healing Justice and Equity at Saint Louis University, an initiative that has the potential to transform SLU into the epicenter of equitable community building and knowledge curation related to healing from social injustice, trauma, and oppression.