Lexus Walker is a native Ashevillian, a truth teller, an artist, and an activist, whose life speaks to the power of living as our full selves. Whether DJing or digitally organizing, Lexus centers Black, queer, trans, and gender non-conforming people in her work and her world. Here she talks about relationship building, the beauty of Black Asheville, and the transformative power of love…
Heather: Lexus, when I sat down to craft these questions, I was stunned to reflect on the wide-ranging work you’ve accomplished this year. You’ve worked as the Mission Advancement Fellow at the YWCA of Asheville, crafting grants and securing essential funds. You’ve produced events that focus on advancing the YWCA’s equity mission, including workshops focused on racial justice. You’ve lead Asheville’s latest Black Mama’s Bailout efforts in collaboration with Southerners on New Ground. You completed digital organizer school. And you’ve DJed some amazing parties. What are your big learnings from this year? How have you grown as an activist and an organizer?
Lexus: This year has been one of deep exploration and transformation for me. Some of my biggest learnings are: it’s okay for my understanding of myself and the way I show up in the world to change completely, and I must always speak my truth – whether people around me are ready to hear it or not.
Transformation has been a theme in my life this year, and I’m setting intentions to make that a constant. In social justice work, in movement work we’re always talking about being transformed; I want to embody this, to dedicate myself to transformation. My experience is just ONE experience. If I’m not transforming every day then I’m not doing this work right. My single experience can’t be the only one informing my work towards liberation. I have to be intentional about seeking to learn more about the experiences of other Black folx, queer folx, of trans folx and gender non-conforming folx – our collective experiences are what must inform our work towards collective liberation.
I’ve learned so much about my identities this year. Navigating the world as a biracial person is really confusing sometimes. Another constant theme throughout all of my learning this year is that I am standing in contradiction, I am holding identities that are privileged, and others that are “marginalized”. This matters. This defines my place in the world. I have to understand that I benefit from white supremacy, and acknowledge that my proximity to whiteness, the way I look, the way I’m perceived by the world offers me privileges that other Black folx are not afforded. Coming into a deeper understanding of this has transformed the way I organize.
All of these lessons have added a fierceness to my activism and organizing. I’m doing this work for my own personal liberation and also for the collective liberation of my people; liberation from the white supremacy that has shaped our histories, and the white supremacy that we won’t allow to shape our futures. Through all of the newness this year I must constantly remind myself that I can will anything that I need or want into existence. Everything I’ve done this year, all that I’ve accomplished, all of the changes I’ve made didn’t happen by chance – it all happened because I made it happen. We can’t sleep on our power.
Heather: Recently, you wrote a piece for the YWCA of Asheville’s blog entitled, Where Are All the Black People? You explore the relationship between the erasure of Black communities, internalized oppression, and the lies that are told about this place. Asheville is infamous as a place of white progressives. What other lies are alive and well in Asheville that need to be challenged head on to make this place a more just city?
Lexus: The folx I’ve had the fortune of sharing this year with really brought to light the harm that’s been done to my spirit by the lie that there are no Black people in Asheville. I’ve internalized the lie so much that I missed out on connection with the beauty that is Black Asheville. This year I’ve had the opportunity to be in community – rich, loving, gorgeous community – with some of Black Asheville. It has completely changed my life.
Asheville is painted as a progressive city, when in reality we continue to do worse and worse in terms of racial disparities across the board – in healthcare, housing, education, etc. The lies that Asheville tells – that there are no Black folx, that we’re a progressive city that’s inclusive and accessible to all – keep us from reaching collective liberation here.
Heather: One way you build and support community is by DJing for local dance parties. In my life, queer dance parties have been medicine. Why does music and dancing fortify us? What role do parties play in sustaining movements?
Lexus: The status quo teaches us that only certain bodies can take up space. I DJ to challenge the status quo and to make space and freedom for those bodies that have been told they can’t take up space. I DJ so that Black, queer, trans, GNC folks can take up the space that we deserve and so that we can express joy loudly and unapologetically.
In Asheville there aren’t spaces made for Black, queer, trans, GNC people. There are queer spaces, there are few Black spaces, and these spaces still aren’t all-inclusive. My hope is to bring visibility to a group of people who are often rendered invisible. I want us to feel seen, loved, celebrated, and safe.
I personally hold so much fear around my body, moving it, and it being seen. I started DJing because music and dancing are one way I work through those fears and heal from the trauma that has caused them. I want to share this healing with other people like me, people I love, so we can get free together.
Heather: What are you listening to now that we should be checking out?
Lexus: It was recently the one year anniversary of the release of SZA’s debut album Ctrl. That album CHANGED my life and I probably include a song from it in almost every mix I make. Junglepussy also just released a new album that I am LOVING. It’s called Jp3. Some other artists I love are Bbymutha, Le1f, OSHUN, Brent Faiyaz, IAMDDB, Seinabo Sey, Honey Dijon, Kaytranada, Rico Nasty, Frank Ocean, Moses Sumney, iLoveMakonnen, Syd, THEESatisfaction, SiR, and the list goes on.
Heather: You’ve shared that this year has been one of deep personal reflection. You’ve done deep work to understand your identities, revision your dreams, and boldly claim new goals. What relationships, tools, texts, practices, or experiences have been indispensable in this process? What advice would you give to others who are beginning their own deep process of personal reflection, reconciliation, and revolution?
Lexus: So many books I’ve fallen in love with this year! I’ve been reading Octavia Butler to imagine what different worlds can look like. Emergent Strategy by Adrienne Maree Brown (still reading this) is just beautiful! bell hooks’ All About Love was huge for me this year. So much of my transformation this year has to do with me learning and realizing a whole new way of love. Learning that love is abundant in so many forms made space for me to change myself and change the shape of my life.
While All About Love gave me the words to understand abundance, my relationships this year allowed me to experience it. Tzedek brought me to two people who I consider great loves of my life, Maya and Joie. Being in relationships with these two has brought me so much love and light. Not only have they taught me so much about the world, but they’ve allowed me to see myself in a way I never have before. They’ve been here for some of the biggest changes in my life and they’ve held me through it all while modeling grace, fierceness, softness, abundance, and so much more. Being in relationship with these two has brought me so much love and light. This Black love moves mountains. Sharing space with all of the Tzedek Fellows was so transformative and beautiful, and I’m so grateful for what each of them taught me.
Something I repeatedly told myself this year is that it’s more than okay (necessary, even) to completely change your life to be what you need it to be, and to be the life you maybe never even imagined in your wildest dreams. Working to find liberation means seeking a world that’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. So, of course, we must be able and willing to completely transform along the way. That’s what I’m doing.
To keep up with Lexus, follow her on Instagram @lexonloud.