Celebrating Black History Month: Sean Saifa Wall

In honor of Black History Month, we celebrate African-American artist and activist Sean Saifa Wall, whose groundbreaking work we have featured here in the past. Wall is a well-published speaker, researcher, and long-time intersex human rights activist whose intersectional perspective and voice as a queer intersex person of color is much needed and appreciated!

In 2004, Wall testified, along with our E.D., at the first human rights hearing for intersex people in history, before the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, and also appeared with our E.D. in the early, award-winning intersex documentary One in 2000 in 2007. He discusses his journey as an intersex activist, the San Francisco hearing, his relationship to being a queer intersex man of color and more in his fantastic interview for the web based project Gender Talents (see link below).

Sean Saifa M. Wall, San Francisco from Carlos Motta on Vimeo.

In 2012, Wall also appeared in the interesex documentary Intersexion, directed by Cannes Film Festival award winner Grant LaHood (available on YouTube with his permission), with Viloria and other leaders in intersex activism. In 2013, Wall participated in the 3rd International Intersex Forum in Malta in 2013, co-organized by our own Hida Viloria, on behalf of the U.S., as then Board president of the intersex youth advocacy organization InterACT.

Most notably, as seen in the quote below, he has spoken frequently on the parallels between the medical violence which intersex people face and the state violence which black people face.

Wall’s keen intersectional analysis is one we applaud and support. We agree that intersex oppression and racism are fueled and upheld by the same capitalist forces which seek to maintain economic supremacy. Members of our team have been speaking out about and publishing on the intersectionality between racism and inter-phobia since 2002— when a doctor appearing on ABC’s “20/20” with our E.D. justified Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) by stating that, “Society can’t accept people of different colors, and now we’re supposed to accept somebody with genitalia that don’t match what their gender is? I do not believe this society is ready for it.”—but we cannot do it alone.

As captured vividly in some of his latest work below, the powerful mixed media, “And Now They Know,” Wall encourages us to recognize and confront the forces in power which harm all but the most privileged members of society. We believe that encouraging these forces to end intersex oppression while turning a blind eye to racist oppression is unethical, as doing so sends the message that their racism is acceptable and positions intersex people of color’s human rights as secondary to white intersex people’s.

We thank and commend Wall for his groundbreaking work, for his much needed voice in intersex activism, and for bravely calling out the very core of oppression!

ATLANTA FOLKS: You can catch Wall there this Sunday speaking bout his latest film project, Letters to an Unborn Son!