Diversity

Fear of a Black Queer Planet

We are living now inside the imagination of people who thought economic disparity and environmental destruction were acceptable costs for their power. It is our right and responsibility to write ourselves into the future. All organizing is science fiction. If you are shaping the future, you are a futurist. A visionary fiction is a way to practice the future in our minds, alone and together. -Adrienne Maree Brown.

 

Dallas Diaz read Jaye and Raina that quote when they met up with them back in July. They were reading from a book titled, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds which can sum up the amazing work Dallas has done thus far in their young life.

 

“I’m just a little 22 year old out of college with my first career trying to figure things out and how to flip the politics of this state that is very corrupt,” they said. “I’m looking for a place where I can be black and queer and be trusted and not tokenized for that, but empowered by that.”

 

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(Click here to listen to the amazing episode! But also keep reading, please! They say a lot of cool things that didn’t make it into the final cut of the episode!)

 

Dallas grew up going to public school and learning to play many instruments including guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums (among others). When it came to joining bands, though, they were always asked to play bass and keyboard instead of lead guitar. As if that could stop them from getting out into the spotlight.

 

When a friend asked them to join a band as the drummer, they knew it was their time to get out from the background and into the spotlight.

 

“I’ve been playing music since I was 5 years old, but this is my first time actually being in a group with anybody playing music and playing shows and things like that, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, but had my friend not asked me and trusted me and someone else showed that type of confidence in me, I wouldn’t have done it,” they said.

 

Of course, being behind the drumset had its challenges both on and off the stage. People weren’t expecting to see a young black person in that role. Dallas was in charge of the rhythm on stage, and off stage they were trying to make their way in the world untokenized.

 

“I think there’s a vacuum and I think a lot of marginalized artists, and artists who have been healing their trauma through art, are gonna find a lot more validation,” they said. “There are spaces to start having these critical conversations that we’ve been missing out on.”

 

On top of finding their own voice in music, Dallas is a passionate activist. In a world that doesn’t want to change, Dallas has decided to speak louder and give a voice that wasn’t always there for them.

 

“I was having a lot of trouble negotiating [anti-blackness within communities of color in Arizona organizations] as well as being queer, being a nonbinary person,” they said. “I was in a lot of spaces, the first non binary person to be around, so it was really tasked onto me to teach people how to treat me right.”

 

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Finding the space to be yourself and to advocate for those you don’t see or hear is exactly what makes Dallas a trailblazer in our community.

 

Like Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Dallas writes their own story. When they didn’t see themselves being represented in the community or in music, they stepped in.

 

“Validating myself through watching what other artists are doing and watching other people through their processes, that’s what art is,” they said. “I think I had such a self-consciousness that comes with perfectionism. I didn’t want to put anything out if it didn’t have like good melodic sense or anything.”

 

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Making their music heard in the community they live in is just one way we can see the importance of self-publishing. Maybe not everyone will understand your voice or your story at first, but getting it out there is the first step.

 

“I’ve been spending some time trying to really be grateful for right now, and what I was so grateful for yesterday, it kind of overwhelmed me: I was realizing how many young emerging artists and changemakers I’ve met in the middle of the desert already in my young 20s and what that’s going to look like as I cultivate it as I get older,” Dallas said.

 

You can follow Dallas and all of the amazing stuff they are doing on Instagram.

 

Still want to hear more about Dallas and their work? Click here to listen to the full episode!

 

Thank you so much for reading and for supporting us!

 

The Shameless Women in Comedy

As a young female comedian, Trejon Dunkley has had to step out of her boundaries to pursue her passions. This fierce lady has overcome many pressures and excuses from others to seek opportunities in the Phoenix area. She is now a regular star, coordinator and host in the local comedy scene but it hasn’t been easy for her to break through and join the “boy’s club” we know as stand-up comedy.

Meet Trejon Dunkley, a badass female comedian, actress, writer, editr, etc.

Meet Trejon Dunkley, a badass female comedian, actress, writer, editr, etc.

 

(Check out/listen to the full podcast here! Or just keep reading as well, I didn’t write this thing for nothing)

 

Looking at Trejon now, you wouldn’t imagine her journey to the stage to be met with so much doubt. She is a fearless, unapologetically funny and bright girl when she is in front of a crowd but she has had to overcome both racist and sexist interactions along the way.

 

Trejon came from a troubled home and had many instances growing up where she was bullied for the way she looked and acted. She speaks to how she didn’t fit in with the “cool black girl” mold and how her peers treated her.

 

“I got teased a lot because I wasn’t very good looking,” she says. “And I was very dark with kinky hair, so I got bullied a lot. I was just like a weird kid and I wasn’t cool, and you gotta be cool if you’re a black girl or you will be torn apart, and I just was not. I liked emo music and history.”

 

It wasn’t until she watched the 1997 movie of Cinderella with Brandy as the star, that she changed her outlook on what she could be. Trejon decided to pursue a degree in acting at Northern Arizona University after high school, but left quickly when she was met with the racist tones of her classmates.

 

“[They] were trying to tell me to ‘keep my expectations low’ because girls of your complexion don’t get leads. Another student just cornered me in the hallway and said ‘listen, you’re too black to get roles. I know. I’m dating a light-skinned black girl and she’ll probably get leads, but not if they find out she’s black.’”

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Even though she had some good professors and friends at NAU, she realized she didn’t want to stay there. Who would?

 

So she moved to Arizona State University and joined the screenwriting program.

 

“I thought, if they’re not gonna give me roles, I’ll just write my own. That’s the mindset that I kind of went in with.”

 

It was there at ASU she took her first comedy class which was taught by a black woman, the only woman in the film and media faculty, in fact. Trejon speaks to how having her as a mentor allowed her the courage and community she needed to feel she wasn’t going into everything blindly.

 

“I think it’s so important to be able to see people who look like you and have come from similar backgrounds as you in those positions of power, as directors and as actors or as professors. Seeing someone in your field makes you feel like you actually can do it because they did it before and they did it 30 years before me when things were tougher. I would really like to be that voice for someone one day.”

 

Despite all she has faced in school, theatre, comedy (among other areas of her life) Trejon is now thriving within the Phoenix comedy scene.

 

She is the host for Maiden Phx, a monthly all-female comedy show, a co host for the Great Exposure comedy show in Phoenix and she is the coordinator for a weekly open mic.

 

In her roles, she works to support diversity and opportunities for women of all shapes, sizes and color. She makes sure she is cultivating young women to pursue their dreams and chances of comedy.

 

“Hire women. Trust women. Just give them the same benefit of the doubt that you would give any other recommendation. And if she sucks, it’s probably not cause she’s a woman. It’s cause she sucks. Same with writers or creators of color. Don’t just hire them on to be the ‘urban flava’ or like the diversity casting.”

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She continues to push for women to join comedy and to give them the space they need to succeed.

 

Trejon said she knows the comedy scene is still very much a “boy’s club”, but the women in comedy aren’t to be fucked with. Rather, they should be treated with the same respect and patience as male comedians.

 

“There’s still not enough women getting booked. There’s still not enough women who have the confidence to take the chance and ask the booker because they’re afraid. I think we need to get past that and have that same kind of lack of shame that a lot of male comedians do.”

 

You can follow Trejon and all of the cool shit she does on her Instagram or her Twitter.

AND go check out Maiden Phx. It’s every 1st Thursday of the month at the Plazma Bar in Phoenix. You can also catch Trejon co hosting the Great Exposure comedy show at Plazma. And, every tuesday, she runs an open mic at Grand Avenue Pizza in Downtown Phoenix.

You can listen to the full episode here!

Thank to everyone for their support and ears so far! We here at We Must Ignite appreciate everything!