Pride Month has become more of a celebration of LGBT progress than a protest against the inequalities that remain, say protesters who have taken the streets in New York to call for more support for black transgender Americans.
Looking out at a sea of protesters dressed in all white, Raquel Willis led the crowd in a chant of “I believe in black trans power.”
Nearly 15,000 people echoed her words in response.
While Covid-19 cancelled the city’s 50th Pride Month parade, and put most smaller commemorations on hold, the large crowd at Brooklyn Liberation shows that the race reckoning that continues in the US has also extended to the LGBT community.
“We have been told to be silent for too long,” said Willis, a black trans activist and writer, as the crowd cheered back in approval.
“Let today be the last day that you ever doubt black trans power.”
Brooklyn Liberation took place in lieu of Brooklyn Pride this year, and for Fran Tirado, a writer and co-organiser of the demonstration, Pride needs to be dismantled.
Tirado, who is gender non-conforming, says minority trans people do not have their voices heard within the LGBT rights movement.
While George Floyd’s death at the hands of the Minneapolis police, catalysed a series of community actions that spread through the world with unprecedented velocity, the names of the black trans people who have been shot or fatally injured by the police or civilians have not galvanised movements or garnered the same attention from the public.
For many black LGBT activists, the death of Tony McDade, 38, a black trans man shot by police in Tallahassee, Florida, has been woefully under investigated. “We need to interrogate who we deem a worthy victim,” Willis tells BBC News.
And McDade is not the only one being mourned.
The unsolved killings of Nina Pop, 28, in Missouri, Dominque “Rem’mie” Fells, 27, in Philadelphia, and Riah Milton, 25, in Cincinnati over the past month, adds up to least 12 trans women murdered in 2020 alone. Last year, the American Medical Association declared the killings of 26 transgender and gender non-conforming people (the majority of whom were trans women of colour) an “epidemic”.
“I don’t know if we are served by the notion that Pride is a party,” says Willis.
“It’s not just about public displays of affection and fabulousness.”
Trans activists of colour like Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were at the forefront of the LGBT movement in its early days, since the Stonewall Riots of 1969. But their roles as organisers were quickly erased, says Michael Bronski, a professor of media and activism at Harvard University. “It became a predominantly white, middle class cisgender movement,” he says.
The movement shifted its focus from grassroots, protest activism to anti-discrimination legislation, with the struggle ultimately culminating in landmark rulings ranging from the repeal of Anti-Sodomy Laws (2003) to Marriage Equality (2015).
But this reformist agenda, Bronski notes, is at odds with the original aims of LGBT activists. Their original fight “wasn’t about assimilation, it was about resistance”, he tells the BBC.
Subsequently, modern day Pride is now seen by many LGBT activists of colour as a whitewashed celebration of pivotal events.
Its current manifestation has come under intense scrutiny in recent years for being both too commercialised and overly reliant on police presence. It has ultimately shifted from a protest for change, to a celebration of LGBT progress, and in doing so it has sidelined the most marginalised within the community, say its critics.
For Asanni York, 25, this sentiment is now more pertinent than ever. York is the founder of For The Gworls – a black trans collective that raises money for gender-affirming surgery and living costs – and recalls how myopic Pride has felt in years past.
“You throw a bunch of rainbows, and drunk people at a parade and you think that’s celebrating progress,” York says. “But somewhere a black trans woman is being murdered.”
Is is easy to get distracted by legislation, and to ignore the work that still needs to be done within the queer community, says York. “White people will be getting married, and black and brown folks will be getting killed.”
For York, this means not simply celebrating how far the movement has come, but instead examining how far it has to go. Black trans people in particular are navigating the ever present threat of assault or harassment by simply “taking a cab, or going to a restaurant… Particularly if they are not cis passing.”
And this discrimination also extends to transphobic preferences in the dating world: from cisgender gay men not wanting to date trans men, to the routine fetishisation of trans women.
Although Pride Month in 2020 has seen legislative victories like the Supreme Court protecting LGBT workers from job discrimination, these milestones are overshadowed by the fear of legislation yet to come.
Just prior to the Supreme Court ruling, President Trump announced plans to remove discrimination protections for transgender people with regard to healthcare and health insurance.
“We can’t just be reactive,” York says. “The momentum needs to go beyond one month.”
This year, For The Gworls was a beneficiary of Brooklyn Liberation, and will also be supported through a series of virtual Pride concerts throughout the month.
As the the LGBT community leans into this moment of introspection, activists like York and Willis have highlighted the need to centre black trans and gender non-conforming voices going forward – both financially and in the leadership of LGBT non-profit organisations.
For the organisers of Brooklyn Liberation – the majority of whom are trans women of colour – the June rally served as a template for what future Prides might look like.
“It felt so grounded in what the early organisers [of Stonewall] had envisaged,” said Ianne Fields-Stewart, a co-organiser, actress and founder of The Okra Project – an initiative which works to combat food insecurity among the black trans and gender-non conforming community.
Those present at Brooklyn Liberation were encouraged to wear all white – a nod to the NAACP 1917 Silent Protest Parade. Organisers did not consult with the police, and there was no corporate sponsorship. It was an attempt to “throw away a lot of what Pride has become,” Tirado says.
This year, police presence has been re-evaluated in other cities for Pride month. In Toronto, organisers announced in January, that they would ban police in uniform from marching.
In many ways the Covid-19 pandemic has fostered activism from the comfort of people’s homes, according to Fields-Stewart. “This moment provides us with more access to each other,” she says.
While protests across the country have kick-started overdue conversations, Fields-Stewart is aware that while there is currently energy for the cause [for trans rights], it can easily wane. It is now the job of allies to stoke the fire of resistance before it dwindles to embers.
“I am trans, and therefore I didn’t create transphobia,” she says. “It is the responsibility of people to be angry enough and feel complicit enough to want to do something about it in the world around them.”
It is clear the process for buying a non-fungible token (NFT) still has its imperfections. Or so a BBC reporter revealed in a recent article, in which she lambasted the purchase as “a nightmare.”
BBC Technology Reporter Cristina Criddle recently shared her experiences buying a CryptoKitty NFT on OpenSea. Beginning with the excitement about purchasing and owning the digital artwork. But then slowly developing into a process the journalist found stressful and demoralizing.
Tangling with gas prices, the fluctuating price of the Ether (ETH) she used for the transaction, and being left waiting for the sale to be approved. As she put it, “The whole experience sucked all the fun out of my fluffy pink friend.”
Criddle’s article then revealed that she was not the only one reeling from their NFT purchase experience. Complaints of transactions getting stuck or delayed, and losing money while their tokens value decline or gas prices rise. It leads to the question, are these teething problems? Or can mass adoption even happen for NFTs? While some believe that they are wildly misunderstood, others opine that NFTs should become more user-friendly for mass adoption.
NFTs making their mark
Whether the opinions about mass adoption are true or not, there is definitely a continually increasing enthusiasm and awareness for NFTs. Not least within their presence in the sport world.
The Hong Kong-based trading platform and app Crypto.com has unleashed a number of NFT collections in 2021 alone. Tied directly to its expanding portfolio of sporting partnerships.
Long before Crypto.com’s foray into sport and NFTs, the NBA introduced Top Shot. An NFT phenomenon that, in Jan. 2021, surpassed CryptoKitties as the best-selling digital collectible by volume. A month later, they recorded daily NFT sales nearing $34 million. Hitting a 24-hour all-time high for trading volume at the same time.
All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.
Dale Hurst is a journalist, presenter, and novelist. Before joining the Be In Crypto team, he was an editor and senior journalist at a news, lifestyle and human-interest magazine in the UK. Cryptocurrency was one of the first subjects he specialized in when first going freelance in 2018, reviewing exchanges and analysing lawsuits.
We’ll make a valid point about Bitcoin mining using this story, we promise. This one would be hilarious if there wasn’t a crime involved. So, don’t laugh. We’re serious. In the United Kingdom, the West Midlands Police received a tip about a warehouse. Ventilation ducts and wiring were visible and multiple people visited the facilities […]
We’ll make a valid point about Bitcoin mining using this story, we promise. This one would be hilarious if there wasn’t a crime involved. So, don’t laugh. We’re serious.
In the United Kingdom, the West Midlands Police received a tip about a warehouse. Ventilation ducts and wiring were visible and multiple people visited the facilities at various times of the day. According to the Birmingham Mail, “A police drone also picked up a major heat source when it flew overhead.”
So, naturally, they assumed it was a clandestine Cannabis farm. These are all “classic cannabis factory signs,” according to the police department in question. To their surprise, there was no living being in there. To announce what they found, let’s give the mic to the BBC:
Officers had been tipped off about the site on the Great Bridge Industrial Estate, Sandwell, and raided it on 18 May, West Midlands Police said.
Instead of cannabis plants they found a bank of about 100 computer units.
Those “computer units” were ASIC miners. So, it’s safe to assume this was a Bitcoin mining operation. That’s funny, we know, but don’t laugh because here comes the crime. The West Midlands Police informs:
The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.
You Either Find Cheap Energy Or You Steal It And Go To Jail
Reading this story, it’s easy to use it to demonize Bitcoin mining. Nevertheless, let’s be honest: there are criminals in every field of life. In every business, there are people who try to get ahead by skipping steps, cutting corners, and even breaking the law. And, as this story shows, those people seldom make it. One way or another, they end up falling.
Another read of this particular incident is this one: Energy is the main expense for Bitcoin miners. In big cities, said energy is expensive. So much so, that a mining operation might not be profitable. There are two options for those entrepreneurs: You either find cheap energy or you steal it and go to jail.
Inquiring minds might ask, where is this cheap energy? Everywhere where there’s a surplus of energy, that’s where. In some areas, there’s even wasted energy. The economic incentive for Bitcoin mining entrepreneurs to move to those areas is so immense, that they have to do it. It will happen because it’s inevitable.
You don’t have to believe us. Let’s quote the West Midlands Police with their first-hand information:
Sandwell Police Sergeant Jennifer Griffin, said: “It’s certainly not what we were expecting! It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it’s only the second such crypto mine we’ve encountered in the West Midlands.
“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.
No one was inside the facility at the moment of the raid, so there are no arrests so far. The police seized the equipment and are still making inquiries.
Plans by Southern Water to build a £600 million desalination plant in the New Forest have come under fire from conservationists and other local groups.
The proposed plant is to be built on land near the utility’s wastewater treatment works at Ashlett Creek, near Fawley in Hampshire. If completed, it will extract salt water from the Solent and discharge brine back into the sea. Around 75 million litres of sea water per day will be processed, according to the utility, and the resultant drinking water will be pumped 25km underground to water supply works at Testwood.
Intended to supply residents in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the plan is presented as part of the utility’s response to climate change and population growth. Alternative sources need to be found to the Test and Itchen rivers, “two of the fines chalk streams in the world” as the firm’s Toby Wilson put it, in comments made to the BBC.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT) has expressed concern that the plant could threaten wildlife habitats in the area. In a letter to Southern Water, the group’s Dr Tim Ferrero said: “The increased salinity of the brine could cause changes to the chemical composition of the surrounding water, impacting a wide range of marine species and potentially impacting the passage of migratory fish species into nearby river catchments.” He also raised the issue of potential algae build-ups.
A local petition had received over 1,800 signatures in early May, which expressed the view that it would be better to invest in improvements to the collection and storage of rainwater.
Opponents also criticised the energy-hungry nature of the technology, as well as the huge cost. Desalination remains a more familiar fixture in parts of the world where water is scarce, such as Saudi Arabia, although Thames Water constructed a plant in East London in 2010.
The plans also received a formal objection from The New Forest National Park Authority, which complained that it had not been consulted sooner – the proposal was selected as part of the utility’s Water Resources Management Plan in 2019.
The firm told the local Hampshire newspaper the Daily Echo: “We are working with our environmental regulators to understand any environmental impact of the proposals and ways we can mitigate them.”
NFTs were arguably already taking off when Beeple sold his NFT artwork for $69m. But another crypto project attracted attention when it bought an original Banksy artwork for $95,000.
The group literally burnt the artwork and sold its NFT on the OpenSea platform for $400,000. Although the stunt was covered by CBS News, BBC News, The Guardian, and others, it did actually make a significant point.
By removing the physical piece, the group – calling itself “Burnt Banksy” – proved that the value of the piece wasn’t affected by being destroyed, given that the NFT went up so much in value.
Now that project is turning that stunt into an actual blockchain platform for art auctions.
Burnt Finance says it has raised $3 Million for a decentralized auction protocol built on the Solana blockchain.
The project is being incubated by Injective Protocol (which recently raised $10 from investors and Mark Cuban, as well as Multicoin, DeFiance, Alameda, Mechanism, Vessel Capital, Hashkey, Spartan, Do Kwon (CEO of Terra), Sandeep (COO of Polygon), and others.
The reason why it’s worth mentioning all this is that in trying to auction the painting, the Burnt Banksy group stumbled on an increasing problem in the world of NFTs: the rising congestion on the Ethereum network is leading to larger and larger gas fees. This is making both the creation and bidding on NFTs increasingly expensive, just from a baseline.
As a result, team decided to build the Burnt Finance NFT auction platform away from Etherum and hit upon the Solana blockchain, which has comparatively good speed, performance, and lower transaction costs. It will use ‘Solana Wormhole’ which connects ETH and ERC20 tokens to SPL Tokens.
A spokesperson for Burnt Finance, ‘Burnt Banksy’ told me: “Most auctions are Ethereum based, and currently the Ethereum gas fees are extremely high. It can cost you up to $70 to make an artwork, which doesn’t work if you’re selling an NFT for $50. We chose Solana mainly because of the ecosystem. It’s fast-growing, in addition to the technical aspect of it.”
There’s another reason why we may see other Crypto projects move away from Ethereum as ETH rises in price and as gas fees increase: the potential for bad faith actors in NFT auctions.
If a bad actor tries to leverage the congestion on Ethereum and manipulate the transaction fee, they might sway the results of an auction. This would be quite something, if the auction was for, say, $69 million…