V127: The Thought Leaders Issue With Janaya Future Khan

The activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter Canada on agency, collective action, and trans rights.

This article appears in V127’s Thought Leaders Issue, available for pre-order now.

“It is always so important to take every opportunity we have to punch up at unjust systems of power. The idea of voting as a singular effort at change doesn’t work. But is it a necessary one? Yes. We should always be fighting the consolidation of power, and especially when that power is corrupt. As a green card holder, I cannot vote in this country yet, but I am doing the work of ensuring that people are registering to vote and understanding the significance of this particular moment. We’re so powerful when we come together. it’s incredibly powerful when we tie our fate to one another. And in a way, when we are protesting on the streets together, it is because politicians have failed to protect [us]. So we protect each other, we become the light in the abyss. And when we shine together, my god—there’s no stopping us.

Janaya wears top Gucci

“To young people out there, and to anyone who feels like their voice won’t make a difference—our whole lives we are taught to shrink and that our voices are not enough. We’ve been told that we have to contort and make ourselves small to fit into a status quo. The question for us is, are we going to accept the story that we are born into or are we going to write the story that we deserve and rewrite ourselves into a narrative in this society that is more just? [Voting] means fighting for life, it means fighting for your life. The kind of life that you want to live, the kind of life that you deserve, the kind of life that you have been denied. A lot has been stolen from us on so many levels, but we have to fight back. The way to live a remarkable life is to fight for freedom, fight for justice, and to fight for liberation. Voting is one of the ways that we can do that.

“The rolling back of protection for the trans community [keeps me awake at night]. The language that is being used right now to roll back on trans rights is an attempt to keep trans people out of public spaces. It is the very same language that was used to keep Black people out of public spaces and restrooms in the ‘60s. So, really, what we’re seeing is recycling of awful, hideous, and discriminatory legislation in this country. ”


Discover More