Columns / Discourse / May 1, 2019

The F-Word: Support QTPOCC fully. It is special

Queer and Trans People of Color Collective or QTPOCC — pronounced “cutie-pock” — is groundbreaking for Knox. It is our voice and we want you to hear it.

QTPOCC is beginning its operation with a Pizza and Game Party on May 3, 6 to 9 p.m. at the Wilson House. Next on the agenda are weekly community meetings starting on Saturday May 11 and May 18, 5 to 7 p.m. in the Trustees Room.

As we are taking our first steps as an important force on campus, I want to highlight what makes QTPOCC special and why it needs unwavering support from every single student, faculty and staff member at Knox.


We know it works

We are not the first group of students to come up with the concept of QTPOCC. This model has been successfully implemented in many other schools, including but not limited to Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and Los Angeles City College.

These collectives have been long-standing and have created a positive college experience for their members. The collectives allow for students to share their experiences as queer people of color on their campuses and create communities that understand them and support them.

This model will work because it has worked time and time again. This has been and will be a safe space of healing for the marginalized.


This is for us, by us

As long as marginalized communities operate within larger oppressive systems, freedom and healing stay out of reach. QTPOCC addresses this problem by placing queer students of color at the top. Because there is value in a space that is created by the people who understand the needs of the group.

This space is coming from people who have an understanding of what it is like being queer and of color, specifically on the Knox campus. No one can understand our needs better than ourselves. No one can advocate for us and our rights better than ourselves. Thanks to the students who have envisioned the collective and brought that vision to life, we no longer need to rely on others to make space for us. This is reclamation for us, by us.


It takes a lot of planning

Behind every poster, event, email and organization is a lot of planning. The students in charge of this mission have spent hours, days and weeks organizing every detail. We have done everything from designing a logo to recruiting allies. We have not spared one ounce of effort. In fact, we have given it all we have. The hope is that the campus treats the collective as seriously as we take its image and message.


It takes many resources and allies

While any student can form an organization or informal group on campus, there is no thriving without the right resources and allies. For QTPOCC to succeed, we have to trust that our allies will metaphorically show up and bring resources with them.

QTPOCC operates not as a club, but as a collective. There is no hierarchy except a couple of representatives whose responsibility is to act as liaisons between the collective and its allies in administration, faculty and staff and to plan any future events. Therefore, QTPOCC does not have financial support from the Student Senate and is not granted the same considerations an “official” organization would be. This means that without the help of the HOPE Center, QTPOCC would not be able to operate.

We try to find people who want to support us and our cause regardless of their inclusion in the organization. We need people who see our potential. So far, we have seen and benefited from unwavering support and we are grateful for it.


There is nothing like it on campus

To the best of my knowledge and memory, Knox has never had a space curated for queer and trans people of color, specifically. Although the college has made massive strides in the fight for justice for queer people and people of color separately, the two realms have never met for students who have both marginalized identities.

There is a long way to go and many more strides to make for both social identities and QTPOCC is a major step in the right direction. It allows for students to interact with their identities in a complex, intersectional manner. Everyone deserves the proper space to do that for themselves and their community.


It sets a good example

QTPOCC sends a message to queer students of color that they have a seat at the table. It also sends a message to every student that change is possible. We saw the need for something specially for us so we created it.

Unfortunately, due to the way systems of oppression operate, I know that QTPOCC is bound to run into some problems or pushback from the outer community. Already, we have had students who are not queer and trans people of color specifically trying to infiltrate the space and attend our events. But justice does not come easy. I have complete faith that QTPOCC will thrive and set an example of what happens when students are heard.


I truly hope that the students on this campus will fully embrace and support QTPOCC even if they are not queer students of color. This collective is set to benefit its members, as well as the entire campus. We know we want this, we know we deserve it. I hope that our efforts encourage and empower all queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) within and without Knox and Galesburg.


Eden Sarkisian, Discourse Editor
Eden Sarkisian ‘19 was Discourse Editor for The Knox Student from May 2017 to June 2019.


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