Incarcerated transgender activist CeCe McDonald is currently serving a 41-month prison term for the stabbing death of a man who attacked her and friends in Minneapolis. Recently, McDonald wrote a moving indictment of racial profiling and the criminal justice system. In it, she references everything from George Zimmerman’s acquittal to the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act as proof that “the injustice system has failed us again.”
But perhaps one of the most poignant point in the letter comes when McDonald talks about her own survivor’s guilt as one of many high-profile people of color who have essentially been prosecuted for being targets of racist and/or homophobic attacks:
I know that people have been comparing my case to Zimmerman’s, and yes it’s obvious that laws are biased. But even I can say I came out blessed knowing that (a) the system was against me to begin with, and that (b) looking at other cases similar to mines, I didn’t have to spent extensive time-even decades-in prison. People don’t understand that I actually feel a guilt for that. I know that nothing beyond the incident and getting arrested was in my control, as it is for anyone who is a victim of the system. But for me it hurts-a lot. My heart aches for the Patreese Johnsons, the Marissa Alexanders, and the Chrishaun McDonalds. But no pain can bring back the Trayvon Martins, the Oscar Grants, the Matthew Shepards, the James Birds, the Gwen Araujos, and all of our brothers and sisters who were victims of hate in this world. I can say that survivor’s guilt is real. That I’m still, to this day, dealing with the fear and sadness of my experience with hate and discrimination. How blessed am I to have so much love and support from my family, and I say family which extends to all my friends and supporters around the world.
Further down in the letter, McDonald implores her supporters to think about how they can organize across race, class, and gender boundaries. Again, it’s a moving call to action and you should make your way through the entire letter on her Support CeCe McDonald website.