Can you talk a bit about working in the tradition of African-American artists who are also activists for social justice and how those two things feed each other in your work?
Most definitely. This is my testimony. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I’m from the South side of Chicago. You know from a lower-middle-class family. I’m dark skinned. I’m plus-sized. I’m afro-centric and therefore I’m marginalized even within the margins. There aren’t many transgender women like myself. So for me I can’t separate the two [art and activism]. Before I knew I was transgender I knew I was an artist. Before puberty hit and before everyone was telling me, “You’re a boy.” I wanted to be Whitney Houston. I wanted to be Brandy. Then I found out I was trans and people told me I couldn’t be a musician. I had this period of adjustment, this period of not understanding, this period of giving up on my dream. That’s when the activism came in. I am an artist and I feel like my contribution is just as important as anybody else’s. Therefore, me being transgender shouldn’t stop that. That’s why as an artist, as an activist I believe in creating space through my company Kokumomedia Inc. for trans, gender non-conforming and intersex people to create media the way they see fit. That’s why I can’t separate the two. That’s why they have to go hand in hand. Because I’m a trans person, I don’t have the social privilege. I have to educate as well as create my art. And it’s necessary for me to educate via my art.
CLICK THROUGH FOR FULL ARTICLE
You can download Kokumo’s EP at http://kokumomedia.com/kokumo-music-2/
Kokumo is hosting the Trans 100 Launch March 31 in Chicago https://www.facebook.com/Trans100?fref=ts
For more information on T.G.I.F. go to: http://kokumomedia.com/kokumo-philanthropy-2/