J Mase III: A Black Trans Icon for LGBTQIA2S+ History Month
October 24, 2023
By: Mo Viviane (they/them/theirs), Associate Director of Workplace Equity & Inclusion
This LGBTQIA2S+ History Month, I want to highlight an individual who has made an impact in my community, as well as in my life. J Mase III is a poet, educator, and advocate. He has left an indelible mark on the Trans and Queer community, challenging norms and amplifying Black and Brown folks.
J Mase III captures various forms of artistic expression, from poetry to photography, capturing the essence of his lived experiences and the stories of those who often go unheard. In his poetry, he delves into themes of identity, gender, race, and Queerness. His words create a powerful and introspective journey, inviting readers and listeners to explore their own perspectives and challenge societal constructs.
J Mase III has used his platforms to educate about the experiences and struggles of the Trans community, specifically Black and Brown Trans folks. Through workshops, performances, and public speaking engagements, he has fostered conversations that promote understanding, empathy, and acceptance. He is the author of White Folks Be Trippin’: An Ethnography Through Poetry & Prose. These pieces are inspired by Langston Hughes’s The Ways of White Folks and guide us into accepting what we already know: White Folks Be Trippin’.
As the Co-Director of The Black Trans Prayer Book, an interfaith, multidimensional, artistic, and theological work that collects stories, poems, prayers, meditation, spells, and incantations of Black Trans & Non-binary folks, he has highlighted the intersections of race, gender, and faith. In this, a space of healing and connection within the community is prominent. In 2019, when 25 anti-Trans bills had been introduced in the United States, he created the campaign #TransphobiaIsASin. That number has since increased to 593 bills. This campaign is ongoing, especially since anti-Trans rhetoric and its connection to religious violence have not stopped
His book And Then I Got Fired: A Transqueer’s Reflections on Grief, Unemployment & Inappropriate Jokes About Death has helped me navigate being a Black Non-binary Queer person who left a pretty messed up workspace, while I was also navigating my grief and the complexities of life as a Transqueer person. J Mase III provides a unique perspective on resilience and growth.
Back when I was a student at Northern Kentucky University, I had the opportunity to meet with J Mase III. His presence left a profound impact as he shared an immersive experience through poetry and thought leadership. He also led a writing workshop, where he fostered an environment of learning, empathy, and understanding. J Mase III is my Black Trans icon, deserving of so much recognition and admiration. He has inspired me to embrace myself, especially in a world that continues to erase folks like me.
For more information on J Mase III and to purchase his books, visit his website at https://jmaseiii.com