Statement on the “Free Bambi campaign”

After finding out the “#Free Bambi” campaign was not legit, in that there was no actual Bambi but rather someone (or someones) else posing as this person to raise money, there is anger, hurt, confusion and distrust. These feelings are very understandable.

We want to say however that our collective does not support any targeted harassment or bullying of fellow sex workers, regardless of their actions in this incident.

Attacks like these create a climate that will not allow for actual accountability or responsibility to be taken in a healthy and unhostile way. If we want to actually grow as a community we should hold each other accountable and not replicate the punishment oriented “solutions,” the likes of which the state leaves us with.

If one of our community feels so isolated, and desperate as to pose as someone else to obtain money for legal trouble, rent, spending, whatever, it is, under normal circumstances, cause for us to reflect on what sort of community we have. Where was the real help for this person? Why did they not think we would support them as them? Doing something like that is not an easy task. We are, most of us, all used to posing as others. It’s our work, our brand. Someone was in crisis and used this tool and it impacted our community adversely. Lucky for us, we are hustlers and someone recognized this hustle early on.  We need to work hard to build community that feels accountable, supportive, inclusive more now than ever.

That said, we must acknowledge that the actions of Lily Fury go beyond simply creating an alternate identity in order to get a quick payday. The character of Bambi, created as she was by a white woman, was essentially internet blackface. Long before the character was used to drum up monetized sympathy, Lily-as-Bambi participated in a Tits and Sass roundtable (that has since been removed) about police violence against sex workers of color, taking space from actual women of color. As Bambi, she worked her way into groups created exclusively by and for sex workers of color, pushing into spaces she had no business being in. In doing this, she has done most harm to the women of color in the sex work community, several of whom considered “Bambi” a friend, only to learn that she was nothing but yet another opportunity for a white woman to profit off of blackness when it’s convenient. In using an actual black femme’s image, she has directly endangered an uninvolved person. This is bigger than a basic scam to get money, and the fact that our community has no paradigm or precedent for restorative justice on such a large scale means that we have to work much harder to find solutions and listen more closely to the comrades who have been injured by this scam.

As you do the wagon-circling that’s necessary in a time like this, remember how vulnerable this community is but also remember how venomous it can be online. While it’s important to keep in mind that things are not always as they seem, it’s equally important to have the the difficult and necessary conversations about trust, security, vetting, and next steps in-person with your local organizations, collectives, and comrades. We’re trying to protect our own from the abuses of the police. Let’s not become “cops” ourselves.

It’s easy to launch attacks online, and just as easy to let instances of massive injury such as this cast a jaundiced perspective on everything, but if we want actual trust and accountability we’ve got to build that. The harm that Lily caused was real and serious, and while it is necessary to allow ourselves to feel our feelings, it is as important to move forward when we can. Move forward by continuing to support our incarcerated family. Support Alisha Walker, Support GiGi Thomas, Support Janet Duran–and the list goes on because so many of our own are locked up, entrapped or punished for survival.

Perhaps most importantly, we cannot let this hurtful and upsetting incident change the way we respond when our comrades call for help. Like Ugly Mugs Ireland/UK said online this morning, “…rather get fooled occasionally, than turn away folk looking for help, the vast majority of whom are genuine.”

-SxHx Chicago collective

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