Amira Aro (they/them)
Amira is a Black, Queer, Disabled, Exogender, Femme person who is constantly musing over what “Queer” and “Femme” truly mean. In September 2020, they took a chance applying to be a facilitator for Black Healing October, and it opened doors more magical than they could ever imagine. With Vanessa’s contagious vision and some divine timing, Amira officially joined the Reclaim UGLY team for the long haul and loves every minute of it. While the journey started with many hats, hours, and late nights, their role now includes Vanessa-wrangling, developing systems that are steeped in abundance and accessibility, healing facilitation, and writing when they can swing it.
Amira was born and raised in Louisville, KY, then moved to Philly in 2019. They have a history of working with Black trans people to secure housing and reparations with emergent deadlines. Their focus for a long time was crisis-based work, but now looking forward with Reclaim UGLY, they are leaning in to sustainable and long-term organizing for their community and themselves. Their dream is to one day create a safe house and commune for Black trans people where they can rest without worry, and to thrive instead of survive through life. House of Liberosis is slowly, but surely, on its way to becoming a reality one day.
When I think of uglification I’ve experienced, I remember instances where fatphobia and homophobia caused violent words and actions to be thrown my way. I remember instances of being the one Black girl in the class and what types of bullying that would bring. I think it’s important though as a light skinned, cis assumed, mainstream sized person that even if I’m Black, fat, and trans, the way my body is perceived is protected more often than targeted. I experience uglification, and I also benefit from it. It would be a disservice to only mention the ways I’ve faced it without naming that if I’m not actively building a better, safer world (through active anti-colorism, active anti-fatphobia, active anti-Blackness)- then even as a marginalized person I benefit from uglification. We can’t just be against these things, we have to actively choose to fight back and say it with our whole chest to anybody who will listen.
The ways I’m reclaiming my UGLY are: long baths, celebrating that my body has no sharp edges anywhere, eating what feels good when it feels good, being with people who are delighted by me, being with people who delight and inspire me, and leaning into spaciousness and abundance in the ways I historically haven’t given to my chronically disabled body.
Writers and Artists who help me love myself and expand my radical imagination include: Maya Angelou, Be Steadwell (be our keynote next year?), Noor Ibn Najam, Venus Selenite, Jayy Dodd, Angel Ky, Vanessa Rochelle Lewis, Nolwazi Monique Larue Powell- I’m so fortunate to know such amazing, wonderful people in my own life that are also doing such amazing, beautiful things for a world that doesn’t deserve us.