I ignored Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum initially like everyone else. It’s easy to dismiss tragic news, and that’s what the ending of their story was, tragedy. In the eyes of everyone, including myself, they didn’t matter because … reasons. I shrugged it off, and no there was nothing wrong with them being labeled as sex workers, no there was nothing wrong with their deaths being ignored. It happened all the time. I felt apathy, not complacency. Exhausted and apathetic by the constant struggle for any poor or black (or both) person (especially a woman) to make news when she suffers a tragic end. There is either no out rage, or very little.
Co-Admin of @Whorephobia (a Sex Work Advocacy Organization I Co-Admin as well) @_Peech had RT’d the few articles there were out there about them: Ebony’s Jamilah Lemieux wrote a smashing piece on both women and the tragedy of the constant ignoring of SWs murdered. While I and some others found some of her delivery problematic or maybe hurtful, through discussion we learned why it was so, and how her efforts to relate the information to non-SWs sometimes required a different learning curve and vocabulary. @TheTrudz wrote another article for the girls for Gradient Lair which was also amazing. But for the two articles that came out when this all came to pass (the girls were found in the wee hours of Thursday the 18th) there have been articles like the damning, public persecution in The New York Daily News which decided to use the girls mug shots from previous sins of their young lives as the lead image. They rolled it out, almost twice the size of the image above… their puffy eyes and sad/angry faces. The same faces most young people who’ve ever committed an offense have made when fingerprinted and photographed. I say most because how many of us reading this now have committed something we’ve looked back on as adults and regretted, or learned from? How does their past some how mean they are unworthy of mention in the future? The back and forth and the persecution left me exhausted and distraught about how to move forward. It compounded the apathy. NYDN wasn’t the only news source to do this, Florida local news followed in the foot steps of its larger media siblings and the ruining of their name and life justified the palpable silence of major media.
@_Peech lit a fire through her relentless posting and updating (and I mean this in the best way) of the news that was out about Tjhisha and Angelia. She contacted family, she contacted Jacksonville Sheriff’s Dept. She did the work no journalists had done yet. She inspired me to not only give a shit but to get upset about it… I had to think what was I going to do? She prompted me “We have to do something.” Within an hour we did.
I opened up a fundraiser on YouCaring.com found here: Help Angelia and Tjhisha’s Families. And within a week we reached over $7000.00 which fills me with so much happiness in the midst of all the fighting, critiquing and ignoring of sex workers. Some of the messages we’ve received from donors have amazed. And we’ve been fortunate enough to have other SWs and Porn performers with massive followings/platforms RT our links to even more people, so a huge thanks to @belle_knox , @Stoya, @JoannaAngel, @BuckAngel among many others.
It was after about 24 or 48 hours that we started to get notice. EJ a journalist for Daily Dot was one of the bigger news outlets (outside of Ebony) to pick up the story and actually write about it, following up with myself and Peech to get more information and taking notice that the only people rallying for these two girls were the local members of their community and the sex workers and some sex worker allies on twitter. Twitter (as it’s shown in the past) has become the powerhouse for getting the word out to people. With just the click of your thumb on your phone you are viewing the adventures, experiences, and revolutions of people all across the globe. I thank EJ for her work on the Daily Dot articles and helping this get notice. It picked up a bit of traction from there with Ian Blair’s rather problematic Salon piece, which was only edited after a 15 minute rant by myself in which he was directly addressed or @’d, and others, and then voraciously RT’d into the universe. Edited to correct his statements, and to include important information like fundraising efforts by people in the sex work community and outside of it, to do the right thing and give these girls a proper burial.
Some might say, “But don’t you want them to write about the girls and what happened?” An emphatic “Hell yes!” But I want it to be right, I want you to care enough when you write about someone who has lost their lives to do the work and to do good work. I have high standards, but I don’t think them unrealistic. Moving on…
My happiest moment was when @BlasianBytch invited Peech and I to be guest callers on TWiB After Dark and awesome sex-positive body-positive black-centric podcast hosted by N’jaila (@BlasianBytch) and guest hosted this week by @PiaGlenn who has a voice like velvet. They gave us a good twenty-thirty minutes to talk about Whorephobia, Tjhisha and Angelia and the fundraiser. Truly a fantastic experience.
I noticed that outside of Jamilah, Trudy and N’jaila, there was still silence among black feminists who I considered influential on Twitter. Women who had started hashtag movements that broke major news, women with platforms and powerful stances. Women who remained silent in the face of the death of two black girls who were murdered and who happened to be exotic dancers for their occupations. The stench of bullshit was thick in the air about that one, and I ranted… I tried to keep up some form of diplomatic respect, but this fire had indeed turned into anger. How dare you claim solidarity and ignore the very thing that happens to too many SWs to count, too many black women to count…
@AyadeLeon wrote a piece for Bitch Media. That received the following criticism I agree with: “The problem with this article is the author doesn’t actually use this space to talk about the two young girls who were murdered (as exploited in the headline and photo), but eventually to talk about the lack of attention her fictional characters receive from agents. Maybe that perpetuates the societal problem regarding compassion toward sex workers? They are easily forgotten and not considered real.” #cosign
Unlike a lot of people who ignore criticism, she actually reached out to me and we had an awesome and impassioned discussion about the critique and why I agreed. Exploring what exactly my standards are for articles about SWs. I am no authority, but if you are going to speak about something you have not lived, it’s best to speak to the people living that life today and use their words. But best of all it is best to let the article be about them, and not as a way to weave in your own agenda. Aya was receptive and understood the outrage. This was a definite win.
Monday morning Whorephobia’s own Peech released her won article on titsandsass.com a long piece but worth every minute to really dig into. Do yourself a favor, pause here and read that article.
At the time I am writing this the fund is almost to the half way point, and we’re making a huge push to reach it. We’ve spoken to CFH (the funeral home in charge of the arrangements) and have found out how urgent it is they receive any amount we have to give. Because of the urgency we’ve decided to withdraw whatever is available so far and send it to them. We will have photos documenting deposits, withdrawal, written check, and post office shipping costs and time frame of receipt.
We will document all transactions and post them to the fundraising page, as well as to the Whorephobia twitter page so donors will know when the available funds reach the funeral home. The fundraiser funds are going directly to the funeral home once we reach the goal and all additional funds will be sent directly to the parents of Tjhisha and Angelia.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has RT’d and tweeted. Please share the fundraiser page and give if you can. We’re taking ideas for anyone not able to give financially to be able to help in other ways.
Thank you to everyone who’s contributed. Please keep your eyes out for more updates on the status of the fund, how to help, and information on Tjhisha and Angelia’s case when we have it.
To Donate: http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/help-angelia-and-tjhisha-s-family/238511
Organizer: Everyday Whorephobia Beneficiary: Help cover funeral costs of Angelia Mangum & Tjhisha Ball
This is an effort to help offset the funeral cost of Tjhisha Ball and Angelia Mangum. Two young women slain in Tampa, FL who’s deaths have gone unnoticed by the media.