Sexuality in Color: An Interview with Bianca Laureano, extended

Recently I had the privilege and the pleasure to chat with Bianca Laureano, otherwise known as the LatiNegra Sexologist, and co-founder of the Women of Color Sexual Health Network (WOCSHN). This is the full version of the interview — if you'd like to look at the main points summarized, look here!

AW: Bianca, thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview. I feel like I have so much to learn from you, but I can start with a really basic question. What inspired you to found WOCSHN?

BL: We started WOCSHN, wow, now it’s going to be nine years this year in June. We were all at the AASECT (American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) conference in Phoenix, and by “all of us,” and “we,” I mean 18 black women. We were at this 600- or 500-person conference in Phoenix. I was newly unemployed and had saved a little bit of money, and I was like: “I could totally try to get AASECT-certified as a Sex Educator. Let me see what this is about.” So, I spent much money, and I also was like: “Oh, it’s in Phoenix, how can they not have Chicano sexologists?” Like, duh.

So, I went, and I was like: “What is this Klan rally?! How did I end up here?” I paid thousands of dollars to come to the middle of the desert, to be at this ranch with all these white people. And we would see each other (other black women) and just acknowledge each other. And we went to each others’ [sessions], because we were the only ones talking about women of color, or communities of color. The conversations were really different almost a decade ago in the field; they were very preliminary, boring, and people were doing workshops like: “This is how I put together my syllabus for a Human Sexuality college class.” I thought: “I’ve been doing that already. How are we sitting in this session?”

By the end of that first day, I said, fuck this, I’m going to the pool. I ended up going, and Trina and Mariotta (the other two foundresses) were also at the pool, and we decided to get in at a similar time. And the pool was filled with other conference attendees that were all white. This part of the story I don’t remember — Trina and Mariotta remember this, and said: “Bianca, you don’t remember when we got in the pool, all the white people got out?” Maybe that was me blocking that shit out.

So, then we started talking shit, apparently, in the pool, which is totally like me, and after that we said, let’s rally all these other people of color, and that’s what ended up happening. We all ended up in the next black-woman-centered session, which I think was Mariotta’s. We were saying: “Why don’t we all just be friends? We’re the only ones here. Do we really want to be a part of this organization? What do we need, because this is the field that we’re in right now?” It was from that space, that dearth, but also that connection, that we were able to say: “Yo, we need to support each other.” And we had one white person come up to us, Judith Steinhart, and she said: “I see y’all plotting and scheming. How can I help you?” And we were like: “...Whatchu got?” She basically said: “Let me be your AASECT guide. Let me be your AASECT doula.” So she was the white women we had in our back pocket, who was always Team WOCSHN, and who was giving us the basic shit that we didn’t even know, like, how [AASECT] votes in their presidents, how long the presidencies last, and who really has power in the organization.

AW: Yeah, everyone needs a white woman like that.

BL: Yeah, a white whisperer. And so WOCSHN started there, as a Yahoo Listserv, and we eventually evolved to a Facebook private group, and that’s been around for maybe five years now. We’ve expanded from 18 women to over 500 women and femmes of color, so we’ve also expanded the way we’re including people who identify with any aspect of femme or femininity. It’s not a perfect organization, and it’s evolving as every other organization is evolving during this unpredictable moment.

We’re now international, so we have people in the Caribbean, we have people in Africa, we have people all over. That feels really good; if we talked eight years ago, I never would have imagined what WOCSHN would have become. So that’s really exciting for me, it’s also one of the ways I’ve tried to not fall into this Founder’s Syndrome situation, where I can’t let go, or I always need to be a part of it or whatever. I have been saying internally with WOCSHN: “Yo, I am not gonna be a decade doing this, that’s just not gonna happen.” I stepped down as an active Foundress December of last year, so it’s been four months since I’ve had any decision-making powers, which is fine, and it’s been great to be like: “Wow, look at all that responsibility I had for this non-paid work.” And look at how freeing it is, now I can write more, I can do a lot more mentoring, so that’s been great. It’s gonna be exciting to see how WOCSHN evolves through the decade. We created it primarily for solidarity, for support, for retention of people of color in the field, specifically women or femmes, and also to challenge the white supremacy in our field, because that just isn’t done enough.

AW: So this is kind of a basic question, but why is sex education centered on the experiences of people of color important to you?

BL: So this question — my answer changes from day to day. I think today it’s important to me because I don’t wanna have babies. I’m gonna be 40 this year, and I’m one of a few people that I know who graduated from my high school who had that choice and had that kind of bodily autonomy. That’s important to me — we never really hear about the intentionally child-free, single, polyamorous people, right? Especially the people of color, especially if they’re women or femmes. That’s important representation for us to acknowledge — what’s possible when we have quality sex ed that really nurtures an individual and all aspects of who we are and really allows us to be human beings in the world. I’m choosing not to have children, I’m choosing to really take advantage of what this Constitution claims I should have. So for me, it’s also a form of resistance. The Puerto Ricans — we’re so colonized, my homeland is so colonized, and we are seeing that actively as we speak. So that’s a form of resistance for me as well, to choose to resist the white supremacy, and the colonization.

Another usual response to your question that I often give is because this is our birthright. So pleasure, sex, it’s ours to do with as we wish, and as we want. Deciding what we want to do and have done to our bodies is a human right, and everybody has it. Including babies. And people with disabilities. And people who don’t speak the language you speak. People who are incarcerated. Everybody has bodily autonomy.

This field is also our birthright. The field of sexuality in U.S. was specifically built upon the bodies of enslaved African people. And for us to have curricula or programs that completely erase the people whose ancestors were enslaved in this country is really an incredible example of white supremacy in funding, how it’s embedded in the structure of this country. And I don’t think that’s the one right answer, because there’s multiple answers, but there’s that piece for me.

But then I also think about how sex ed, as Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General, said, sex ed saves lives, and abstinence-only education is a form of child abuse. It’s because you get vital information not only about your body, and mechanics, and biology and all that shit, but when you have a quality curriculum that centers the entire person, you also have an opportunity to figure out: “What the fuck does consent really mean to me?”

It’s complicating the ways that we’re moving through the world. And as we’ve known, youth are the ones who are creating the change — it’s not adults. So if we withhold the knowledge and information from young people, that, to me, is a tool of control and manipulation and coercion. And that’s not liberation in my book.

AW: Okay, so another question for ya. How does your identity or identities influence the work that you do every day, and vice versa?

BL: I love my identities. I think the ones that mainly stand out for me in this field, that I’ve chosen in this work would be: a) being a child of immigrants, and even though we are Puerto Rican, people say “You’re not immigrants!” but we have immigrant experiences.

AW: Hold on, back up. Who is telling you that you’re not immigrants?

BL: I mean, people who wanna have this existential immigrant experience. It’s like, listen — we too have to get on a plane and cross a border. And you’re right, we don’t have to pull out a passport but we don’t know the language, we don’t know the culture. Yeah, we get the currency, but we don’t know the neighborhoods or the public transportation systems. It’s a similar experience. Whatever. It’s the same people who think that Maryland is not the South. And I’m like, really? The Mason-Dixon line is in Delaware, but whatever. It’s borders either way, and it’s dumb.

So the [identities] that impact me the most would be being a child of immigrants, being a femme, being a person of color, particularly Puerto Rican, being a Black Puerto Rican, being fat, being disabled; so all of those have always been with me. Then I have other identities that just evolved as I’ve grown, like the fact that I’m going to be a femme over 40, that means something. Also the fact that there are younger queers who are like: “You’re an elder!” and I’m like: “Bitch, no I’m not.” And also what does that do to our elders that really have survived, and are really here as sexagenarians? Let’s not erase those 60 years.

But also I hear them saying: “You’re alive.” And I didn’t think that I would be alive at 40. (I’m 18 years old saying this to you.) So I think those identities manifest always, and I always bring 14-year-old Suicidal Ideation Bianca with me everywhere I go. When I write lesson plans and facilitate conversations, I’m at the point where I’m doing a lot more Train-the-Trainers. I always try to go back to: “What did Bianca at 14 need? What did Bianca at 13 need? What were the messages that Bianca needed to hear about this, this, and this?”

I try to remember that, I also try to think about what it would feel like for me to be the facilitator in this classroom, and what would it be like for me to have a conversation about violence in our communities, or gun violence, if it were current events. I think in that way. I don’t know what to call that, but that, to me, is also using a social-emotional learning approach to really try to be empathetic, and creating something where a facilitator and a participant can really have a useful conversation and learn something about themselves, and each other. So that’s really important to me.

And then the disability piece was something that I wasn’t too familiar with growing up — my disability was mainly mental health, and so when I became sexually active and my parents found out, they immediately pathologized me and put me into therapy. So I’ve been talking about sex in a therapeutic way since I was fourteen. You know, my parents were hippies, and they had Our Bodies, Ourselves, first edition, in our home. But also, I was the first child, and they didn’t know what the fuck to do with me, and I didn’t look like them, and all the things. So I think that the disability part has been evolving for me, and I’ve been doing a lot better, and I can feel it, because if I take a lesson plan that I wrote ten years ago, and then take a lesson plan that I wrote yesterday, I can see how I was missing a disability justice framework ten years ago. And how I am just in the word choice, just in the way that I create activities, where I help the facilitator figure out if people in the group can take a deep breath, because not everyone can take a deep breath! So that also requires the facilitator to be more aware, and more present as well. And so it’s a guide, though, it’s not expected. It’s ideal. People get to do whatever they want. For me that’s also liberation — where you get to decide what you want to do with the group that you’re with, and you trust the group flow and what’s best for them. So I think the disability piece has really helped me, and it’s also helped me understand how my brain works, and how other people’s brains work, and how not everybody’s brains work in the same way.

AW: So in that way, the work is changing how you think about yourself?

BL: Exactly. I’m totally embodied in the curriculum that I create. For me, it’s not just a job — this is me being of service to the community. This is me dreaming in a way that I never had the opportunity to dream about before. And this is me also being in community with other friends and other people who can push me, which I think is really powerful, because right now I wake up and I’m like: “Oh the world’s still on fire. I’m not getting out of bed.” And it’s like: “Bianca, you’re getting out of bed because somebody needs these three self-care lesson plans. Somebody wants that worksheet that you’re piloting, and you gotta make it better.” Stuff like that.

AW: Do you have any advice for queer and trans youth of color who are sort of beginning to navigate the intersections of sexuality and gender, and stuff like that? It doesn’t have to be advice exactly, is there something that you would you say to 14-year-old Bianca?

BL: Yeah. I would say that your existence is worthy. That the times where you feel like you’re crying, and the times you feel like you want to hurt yourself, those are the times when you’re feeling most human. You can’t be a human being without feeling the good, the bad, the ugly, the brilliant, the beautiful. It all is being human. You gotta take it — if you want the good, you gotta take the other stuff too. And that it’s not forever, even though it feels like it. That’s just you being a big ole dramatic Leo. Time is not as linear as you think it is, and that your body remembers things that the rest of you doesn’t. That’s okay too.

I don’t know, it feels like it’s all this ethereal stuff, and I’m like: “Will Bianca at 14 know what that means?” Probably not, I’d probably have to put it in a hip-hop song and have somebody else sing it to her.

I asked a bunch of my homegirls when I moved to New Orleans: “What the fuck did we do to get here? How were we able to get here? Where we’re able to be here, and do this work, and figure out that this is where we need to be right now, even though all signs are pointing to Doom, and we all know roads which end in Death.” You know, what keeps us going? Every single one of them are black femmes, and they were like: “I dreamed. When shit got bad, I would imagine having a castle, and looking out the window, and seeing all the other femmes at the top of their castles.” Another friend said: “I had a dream where we had our own home, and we could eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and that was enough to sustain me to stick around longer.”

There are going to be people who have [killed themselves] because they were in so much pain that they couldn’t take it anymore. There are also going to be people who tried it, and it was the best decision for them, because it made them want to live. And there are gonna be people who think about it all the time, who don’t have a plan, but who constantly ask themselves, “When is this agony going to subside?” And then they keep on moving, because it does subside in some way. That’s what it feels like to be a human being, we’re not robots. As much as we try to be, that’s how we are.

AW: Ugh, same. Saaaaame. Thinking about talking with a younger version of myself, and how she’d say to me: “Oh, do you not want to die anymore? Are you happy to be alive?” And present me would say: “Fuck no. I don’t fuckin’ know. But at least for the foreseeable future I’m gonna stick around. I got some shit to do.”

Okay, okay, okay — here’s another good question about the work that we do. Who or what helps you to prevent burnout?

BL: So there’s a bunch of different ways for me. I think when I was in my twenties, burnout looked like just being exhausted, not being able to get enough sleep, not knowing what foods I should be eating, not understanding why my body was responding with acne, or why my periods were late, or whatever. And so now that I’m in my late 30s, going on 40, I think about how so much has changed. Now, it’s not so much burnout as it is isolation. As I’ve gotten older, as I’ve gone from being very extroverted to becoming a lot more introverted. So knowing that, I do education, I teach, I’m “on” in front of other people for nine hours a day. I need to not do that the entire day — I need to spend time alone, by myself, and do what I like to do even if I have company or not. Preventing burnout for me, as I’ve gotten older, has turned into saying no, more often. I know that’s a really popular method, but for me, that means not answering the phone, not responding to that text, telling myself no.

That’s something that we never really talk about — when you’re a cis woman, we talk a lot about changes in the body, and menopause, and pregnancy, and birth control, but we don’t ever talk about getting to know ourselves more. For me, that happened early. My mom died two years ago. It wasn’t sudden, but it was not happy. When I lost my first relationship on the planet, it was like a cellular loss. I almost lost myself in this numbness and grief, and learning process. And I was like: “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life? Who am I? What am I doing? I don’t have any boundaries. What do I need?” And I made bad decisions, and I’m probably going to make more decisions, but I also made really dope, life-changing decisions. And I made new friends, ended old friendships, and was able to piece myself back together and learn a lot about the erotic power of grief. I was really able to tap back into Audre Lorde’s work in Uses of the Erotic, the erotic is power. I had to be like: “Alright Bianca, you don’t have any lovers right now, who knows why, cowards, what are you gonna do? Your skin is on fire, you haven’t gotten any touch or affection — what are you going to do with yourself?”

The fact that babies die if they aren’t touched or hugged — it tells us about human beings. Human beings can die with a lack of touch too. So that got me thinking about the ways that I like to take care of myself. Like prioritizing getting my nails done, not just for the aesthetic, or my femme identity, but also because I’m paying another woman of color to touch me and care for me. So, I will put $25 aside each month to get that done. (And look fly, and have a lil talk, and a lil champagne or whatever.)

It looks like getting a massage once a month from the Black queer healer in our community, and that looks a particular way. It looks a lot different than I thought it did two years ago, even five years ago. It also right now looks to me like a more collaborative effort. That means that I ask for help all the time. I would ask for help, usually, but I would wait until shit got really bad, but now I’m at the point where I can say: “I’m having a hard day and I feel worthless. Tell me what you love about me.” So, I’ll post that on Facebook, and I’ll get some work done, and five hours later, I have like 40 notes, and that’s a collective form of healing for me. It also reminds me that safety is a community responsibility, and that my community cares about my safety. If I saw them, and I’m not feeling safe because I’m feeling worthless, they will take care of me in ways that I never could have imagined. So, asking for help is a gift. I’m actually shifting our perspectives so that I can say “Bianca, you’re offering people the opportunity to help you,” and that’s a gift to those people.

This has made me more astute with how I treat other people; recognizing that I don’t treat myself that way. Why is that? Some of that has to do with some of the ways that I lie to myself about misogyny or colorism, and so that’s work that I still have to do. That’s a process though — if you look at my Tumblr posts from five years ago, I said some fucked-up shit. And people called me out for it, and I was like: “Thank you. I’m gonna leave this here as an archive so I can remember that I fuck up, and so does everybody else. I don’t have to be ashamed of that.” I can be thankful that someone loved this topic, or me, or this space enough that they corrected me. That’s the way that I come to those types of processes in the field, to also deal with burnout. I don’t wanna die because I feel I’m a failure. I don’t want to die because that’s a depressive space that I’m in, so I have to reframe the way that I’m thinking about it.

AW: What issues do you see as most pressing when it comes to the field of sex and relationships education, especially within communities of color?

BL: I think some really important topics are pleasure — not just because pleasure is devoid in everything that we’ve ever seen centering bodies of color — because everything we see that targets bodies of color is really from a pathologizing framework. Every time I see people of color kissing, it’s either in a jewelry ad or an ad for PrEP or HIV meds. Everything that we’ve ever created for bodies of color in this country has been reactionary and has been an attempt to limit the type of 1) skin-to-skin contact 2) pleasure and intimacy, and 3) relationships. Since all of our relationships have been created in systems, our families have been created in systems, we’re all in the fucking Matrix, and it has a lot of glitches.

I think that relationships is definitely up there [as a topic] as well. For me it was really important to get that skin hunger assuaged when I had it (and I still have it to this day), and realizing that, a lot of my friends who are like 5’7” are like: “Let me hug you, you’re grieving,” but I’m 6 feet tall, and my chin’s gonna be on top of your head, your face is gonna be nestled in my breasts. That’s not comforting to me — can we lay in bed instead? That way you can cover me and hold me. And they’re like: “Bed! Yes!” So we have these ideas that intimacy looks a particular way for only certain types of relationships. What I want is a community and experience where people recognize that we all need touch, and that we can desexualize intimacy in a way that we haven’t done. How great would I have felt if I could receive the intimacy of their hug in the space that they wanted to give it? How beautiful would it be if they were able to just hold my hand while I cry? These are very basic things that people don’t think about, or at worst, they think is some sort of ploy to get their partner. It’s just gravity, physiology, and alignment. I don’t know. It was an interesting revelation for me around how other people still don’t have relationships with their bodies the same way I have a relationship with mine. So I think conversations about bodies are definitely going to be the next frontier, if you will.

AW: Okay, this is a fun one — what three songs, if you had an essential “Sexy Times” playlist, would it have to include?

BL: Well, it depends on what kind of sex we’re having..

I really love Big K.R.I.T.’s latest album — there’s this one song, “Get Away,” that’s like my anthem. The hook is basically: “I gotta get away from the bullshit that they’re on,” and “everybody, everybody getcha glow up.” I love that song, and I love the idea that Bianca is gonna be better at choosing partners and lovers, so that when this song comes on, you can think to yourself, yeah, I did ANTE UP!, and I do have a better lover, and I’m happier.

Again, it depends on the type of sex — if we’re just gonna make out and drink some rose or something, I love Omar Sosa. He does a lot of syncopated Afro-Cuban jazz — he just does it all. He has this really beautiful Yoruba spiritual component — it’s sounds of seashells, cowrie shells, piano, and chanting. I love that because it’s the kind of song where you always hear something new. And it’s also a very meditative thing, so even if you’re gonna get into a particular activity, it can help not feel so rushed. It keeps your blood pressure down and grounds you.

I think for the third song, it’s gotta be something by Prince. Our Patron Saint. Prince taught me everything. I love “Scandalous.” The Crystal Ball album was great. I have all 37 albums, so I could name pretty much all of them right now. It kind of depends on the mood, but — really anything by Prince.

AW: Shifting gears a little, would you mind taking a second to talk about your new curriculum?

BL: Sure! So, we created a curriculum called Communication Mixtapes: Speak On It, Volume 1, and it’s a curriculum where we had seven different educators (including myself) who got together in New Orleans. We trained people how to write lesson plans, create measurable outcomes, how to write learning objectives, what the Fair Use Act in education is. All the little logistical things that you need to know about doing this work. Then we did one-on-one peer review in the space together, and when I went home with it, I did peer review on a Google Doc with all the writers. In eight weeks we created a beautiful curriculum in which every writer has their own publication credit. I’m technically the editor, but I chose to share the publication credit with all the authors, with the goal that people can find the other writers by first going through the credit for one individual writer. So we’re not doing this in a singular way, and it’s really beautiful.

We were all Black and Latinx femmes, and we had a trans femme, a genderqueer femme, and we had lesson plans about so much diverse content. Things like how your belief systems inform your sexuality, propaganda about gender and sex that we are exposed to, and a series of three lessons about self-care. We wanted to saturate the field with our knowledge and our presence, because there are some gatekeepers that don’t want to let that happen. We did the guerrilla, self-publishing approach so that we’d keep it accessible and we’d be able to keep 100% of the profits. It was also a way to imagine surviving this field, being published, and making money.

It’s been really well-received, and it’s been really exciting. We did a second curriculum lab in Chicago in January. We have some really innovative ideas from that curriculum, so we’ve given ourselves a lot more time to work with it. It should be out sometime around the summer of this year. I’m really excited about it, and about the idea that we’re going to have two publications in a year by Black and Latinx people.

I’m also doing SAR [a Sexual Attitude Reassessment, a tool that helps sex educators address their own bias and perspectives in their work] that centers people of color. I went to one that was wack — it was very white, and the only time I saw bodies of color was when we talked about pygmies.

AW: Yikes.

BL: Yeah, it was really bad. I’m creating this SAR in which all the examples of bodies are people of color, and we look at white supremacy as a fetish, a kink, a kind of oppression, a structure, and in all the ways that it manifests in our lives. We don’t run away from it, which is what most other SARs do. The first one was in April in Brooklyn, and the second one will be in early August, two days before the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I’m trying to get my hands all over the place and be all up in whatever.

AW: So it seems like from the very beginning, you haven’t seen your work and your experiences represented and acknowledged, and that your labor isn’t getting recognized or compensated, so you’ve turned to the guerilla tactics. Have you seen a change over the years, that it’s getting easier for marginalized folks to get their voices heard?

BL: Yeah, I think that this has everything to do with the internet. This is the biggest issue for your generation — we need people to understand that we can’t allow it to become less accessible than it already has. The fact that we have to pay for this service, to use this spaceship/essential communication tool in our hands, that’s already a barrier. The internet has changed the game for sex education and has made it possible to achieve independent publishing that’s more accessible to people who have different vision or accessibility needs. It’s post-modernism — more money more problems, more options, more issues. For me, the more options, more issues thing means that there’s new ways to plagiarize people, violate people, and experience harm, as well as new ways to experience care and community. The Internet allows for so much creativity and connection, so it’s a really great tool.

AW: It’s such a game of adapting. It’s always been that way in sex education — we’re constantly trying to figure out how to learn about new trends, gain information, and adapt the way that we teach and talk about things to make it relevant. It’s always a process.

So just to sort of sum things up, Sexuality in Color is supposed to be an exploration of primarily the experiences of queer and trans youth of color, and the racialized experiences of sex, gender, and sexuality. It’s got a lot of my own personal experiences in there of things, and the world, and growing up, and fourteen-year-old-Al, and all that stuff. Is there anything else that you would want to share with youth of color? Or even people who are interested in going into the field of sex education?

BL: There’s a couple of things that I might want to share. One would be that I never came out to my parents. No matter where you’re at, you don’t have to come out in the ways that everyone else seems to. I say I never came out to my parents, because I never sat my dad down and said: “I fuck who I wanna fuck,” because he already knows that about me. I never came out to my mom, because she had Alzheimer’s and would constantly forget, and at that time, I wanted to be closer to her, not moving myself farther away from her. My sister came out, though, and she came out in the very Western way that we imagine, where you say: “I am a lesbian.” That’s fine, that worked for her, and that’s what she needed to do. You get to choose your own path, and you don’t have to do it the way that everyone else is doing it. I know plenty of people who are queer and living at home in their 30s, whose idea of “family” is very different than that of those who are not people of color. So, some of us are living at home with our families, we’re queer, we’re single or dating, and when we get partnered, that’s when we move out of the house. Let it be what it is if it works for you — you don’t have to change it.

I also think it’s really important to have a good friend. You gotta find somebody who is down for you, who has your front, back, and all your sides. I don’t care if you see them in person or they’re online, but you gotta find someone who will hold you down and care for you in a way that you deserve. One of my top three questions on a first date is: “Tell me about your best friend.” If you don’t have a best friend, that’s a red flag to me — that means you don’t have anyone that has your back that you trust. You probably have no stories of people who have gently corrected you or loved you in a way where you felt full. So you gotta find somebody who you can connect with, somebody to be a friend to, and don’t be afraid of trying. I bet you lots and lots of money that I don’t have that everyone else out there is lonely too.

And again, your body and your pleasure are your own. Only you know what brings you pleasure and joy, just as you’re the one that knows your body through and through. I know that might sound hard for people who grew up in hospitals, where doctors were touching them without their consent, and in other violent situations. Even though that happened to you, your body and your pleasure are still your own. It can be scary but it makes you powerful. Take the time to get to know that power, because it’s important to have a relationship with that power.

Also, that we need more people of color in sex ed, we need white people in sex ed who are ready and willing to strategically use their whiteness to make sure that we have inclusive, equitable education. I think white people are really important to the work that we’re doing, because they can stand up and get out of the way to purposefully make way for women of color whose voices haven’t been heard. There’s enough room at the table — share the wealth. I wouldn’t have gotten here if it weren’t for people in privilege who said: “Bianca belongs here.”

AW: Honestly, I don’t really consider myself a youth anymore, but all the advice that you’re giving to the youth right now is getting me all over. I’m gonna cry everywhere. Thanks so much for sharing what you have, and everything that you’ve done, not just to uplift yourself, put yourself together, and hold on enough for you to be here (that’s incredible in itself), but also lifting up other women of color and sex educators, and changing the game, and creating things that didn’t exist before. I just have so much appreciation for all the foundations that have been laid, and the difficult questions that got asked. For all y’all that jumped in the pool and said: “I don’t give a shit! You’ve had enough time. It’s time for us now.” That’s an incredible thing, and I hope that in the work that you do, you receive gratitude and appreciation from everyone. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.

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