In the summer of 2022—at the same time that Dominique Morgan accepted the position of Program Director at Borealis Philanthropy’s Fund for Trans Generations (FTG)–she was also named a Grand Marshal at NYC Pride! Deeply committed to building and supporting trans legacies, not only through the grantmaking and capacity-building work of the FTG but also by leveraging its name and network to create partnership opportunities for trans leaders, Dominique is now passing the baton to two talented storytellers. We spoke to one of these leaders, Grand Marshal Eshe Ukweli, to learn more about her community-building work and her hopes for trans legacies. We invite you to dig in below, check out our interview with Grand Marshal Baddie Brooks, and tune into our Instagram page on Sunday, June 30th at 12:00 pm for a Live featuring Eshe, Baddie, and Dominique!  

In your own words, who is Eshe Ukweli?

Eshe is creative. Eshe is a writer. Eshe is a young person who believes in inspiring other young people to be their best selves and to pursue all of their creative interests, pursue everything that makes them them. I try to embody that in my own work creatively and professionally.

What inspired your career as a storyteller, and more specifically, what inspired you to write for and about queer and trans communities?

Coming into journalism, you sort of see that there is a lack of Black stories, women’s stories, trans stories, queer stories, and young stories. I was like, why not [write about them], if there’s already a lack here? And I love these communities so much. 

Now, I think I’ve shifted away from just solely focusing on my own communities to thinking about the throughlines that connect us all. I’m always going to write about and for Black women and Black trans women and Black queer folks and young folks — inclusively for us all. I just think there are so many common threads that connect us with people who are inside and outside of our community. I’ve taken up this role now because there’s so much value in those stories, and we can learn so much from one another.

You’ve been writing professionally at orgs like GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, and The 19th for over three years now. In this time, we’ve seen so many shifts in queer and trans communities—in safety, rights, visibility, access. What stands out to you about the state of the community?

It’s definitely a little bit bleak and a damper, especially as a young person coming into society. The more you learn about rights for women, for Black folk, and for queer folks, you realize that a lot of these are very recent. Maybe as early as 2000—the year I was born. Now you’re seeing them so rapidly stripped away and stigmatized through policy. It’s a downer, but what I am most hopeful about is the power of young people and our ability to really be our own changemakers, advocates, and community members. Young people really continue to inspire me, so I like to invest in them, in our community. 

FTG resources a national network of movement work for trans futures. What are your dreams for that future? What trans movement work is most inspiring to you? 

What I want for trans generations is abundance. Trans folks, especially Black trans women, we’re often stigmatized and really boxed in. So, I want us to be abundantly loved, abundantly in the community and to have an abundance of resources to achieve our own dreams at their own unique intersections. I want us to continue to be seen as multifaceted and for us to be able to embody all that we are, because while we are a part of the Black trans legacy or just trans legacies as a whole, we are more than our transness. I would hope for future generations of trans folks that funds like the FTG are no longer needed because people already have so much in resources. 

How do you envision the role of philanthropic support in advancing the visibility and empowerment of queer and transgender work?

Give the people the resources they need. I grew up low-income, and I’m a first-generation college graduate. Having a fully-funded education at Howard University allowed me to live the life that I would like to live and to have access to the things that I would like to do. Not only in building a platform but [allowed me to] live in the house that I would like to live in. So, I see the role of philanthropy in the future as resourcing and putting money into education so that people can get a good job or adequately explore their other interests. Philanthropy needs to give the people physical resources like housing and food. But also the long-term resources and tools needed to have longevity in their lives.

Who are other queer and trans storytellers we should be reading?

Asia Alexander. She’s a young journalist at Howard University. She’s incredible, the work that she does. Ayanna Ishmael. She’s like an editor at Teen Vogue. Her work is really inspiring. I think about folks like Blake Newby and Elaine Welteroth, who are a bit more established in their career and paved this way for young Black girls to get into the media. There are so many people.

What current projects would you like to plug, and what can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on a podcast called All Things Growing that will be out soon. Young people need a space to learn from one another and to be able to share our stories that’s fun. I’m also a young person looking for a job. I currently have a fellowship with the 19th News, which is an amazing platform. We focus on giving women and LGBTQ folks resources and the information that they need to be involved in our politics and policy, especially in an election year. But I’m excited to fill out this next chapter of my life and go into more of a strategic communications and digital marketing perspective. I’m currently job hunting, so we’ll see where I land. Regardless, I’ll continue to be a creative person and continue to show what a successful and fun life can be as a young Black trans woman.