In-activism and the Financial Revolutionary

How has everyone been? I know, I know, it’s been two months. I’m slipping. But I didn’t have anything to say and the worst thing you can do is try to force the creativity. Besides that, I’ve leaned on writing so much in my life, given it so much weight and so much power that it’s become more of an obligation and less of an enjoyment. So I’ve been trying to get back into seeing writing as an option and not as the end-all of my emotions. So I’ve saved the writing for when I want to–and not when some imaginary deadline says I have to. Anyway… I’m back. And today I have something to say.

I’m sure you all know of the events going on in Ferguson, Missouri and other places in the country following a series of deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of the police. There’s also been more of a light shining on domestic/ intimate partner violence following a series of incidents involving some pretty prominent athletes. All of this has prompted protest of all kinds, from all sides, because people are sick of being marginalized and rightly so. All of this protest has me thinking. About my own activism, or lack thereof–and my own stake in society at large.

I believe in fairness–for everyone. The wrongs of the world piss me off daily. I avoid the news like the plague because the suffering makes me feel so much anger, sadness and helplessness. I just want it all to change. The flip side to this is that I’ve never been a front lines kind of girl. I never wanted to march in the streets, or carry signs, or even be the loudest person in the room. Sometimes I write about things that are going on, and I will retweet as often as you want me to and sign your petitions until my hand hurts (that’s a joke, by the way. Most petitions are online and you can sign just by clicking). I even write checks when I really believe in the cause. I don’t have a problem with that. But I’ve often shied away from the front lines of social justices, even when I believe in the cause. I don’t really know why. I follow a lot of people on Twitter who hopped the first bus to Ferguson as soon as they heard about the protests, they gathered in their own cities for moments of silence. I didn’t join in. I don’t know why. You know what I did? I wrote a letter to my congressman. I guess I get two points for knowing who he was, but still. How effective am I in the fight? And why don’t I feel the need to be a bigger presence?

In college, there were protests weekly, lol. I guess that’s the upside of going to an HBCU. There’s always something to fight about. I felt a connection there, a kinship. I felt like that cause was all around me. I didn’t have any hesitation about participating. But now, I just… I don’t feel the same urgency. And I know every little effort helps, but I can’t help but feel like I should be doing more, and I wonder why it’s so hard to motivate myself to do more. As I read about Darren Wilson not being indicted and the cop who killed Eric Garner not being indicted, I’m filled with so much fear. Maybe my fear is paralyzing me. Is this where we are? Where we’re going? We can’t walk down the street? Our humanity isn’t enough? Is this where we are? And the answer is yes. The answer is that this is where we are. Where we’ve been. I remember reading about Abner Louima, about Amadou Diallo, about Sean Bell. I remember being scared that it could happen to my dad, to my brothers. I remember wanting to go to sleep and wake up to something better. I think… that all this time I’ve been too afraid to be angry. And that’s why I’m feeling like I’m falling short in my activism. Because to stand on the front line of the revolution you have to be angry. PISSED OFF. FED UP. And I wasn’t. I was always just scared. I also realized that I was so ready to protest the injustices of life in college because I didn’t really have anything at stake. I didn’t have anything to lose. If anything can make you brave, it’s that. Now, not only am I afraid–of what this all means, of how the world will be, but I’m also afraid for everything I feel like I have to lose. I’m afraid because change, and revolution are uncomfortable and tough. Revolution is dangerous, most often violent. And terrifyingly real. I have to admit I don’t want that. Violence makes me sick to my stomach. I’ve never thought of giving my life for a revolution. But people have. Others will. I don’t want to. But isn’t that selfish of me?

I have friends, who fight for the rights of others on a daily basis. They dig right in and do what needs to be done. When my alma mater’s former president made inappropriate comments to young women concerning sexual assault, they jumped right into the fight, organizing and speaking and protesting. I signed their petition, and even sent an email to the Board of Trustees. I retweeted their tweets just like I was asked, but it didn’t go that much further. I just… didn’t have it in me. I couldn’t muster up the strength. And I don’t want it to be construed as not caring, because I do. I care so much. I want to cry sometimes when I think about raising a brown kid in this world. I don’t know what to do. But I know I have to do… something. Today, I read that Eric Garner’s killer would not be indicted. And my heart was so heavy. I. Can’t. Breathe. Those were his last words. And I can’t either. I can’t take this anymore. But I have no idea what to do. What I want to do. What I should do. Should I go to a die-in? Carry a sign? Write another check? Sigh. Maybe I should play “Fuck the Police” until I get angry. I make it a point not to police other people’s activism, because I’m barely raising the conscious bar myself. I don’t try to make people feel bad. Because I know some of us just want to make it through relatively unscathed. Some of us don’t want to rock the boat; some of us just want to survive the ride. Some of us… just want to survive. And maybe that was me. Maybe that is me. But something in me feels like that’s not enough. Not anymore. It could be guilt. Whatever it is, my soul is compelled to follow the feeling. The only question is… how?

4 thoughts on “In-activism and the Financial Revolutionary

  1. I agree with you. In college, for sure, I would have be laid out, chanting in an instant. It’s more of… I can’t drop all the responsibilities I have now in life. The only way I do that nowadays is for those closest to me. The struggle is close to me though, I mean we all live it in one way or the other! But I also don’t see a plan, real objectives. The news stopped protesters and asked them what they were angry about yesterday and they couldn’t even articulate it… I mean, we feel, Yes, but you have to have a plan… An objective! Now there is a planned gathering on Dec. 13th in nyc so I have planned to be there… It’s planned, the objective is justice and federal charges for Eric Garner even before the verdict was delivered. Through this I have learned of great organizations full of younger people. I have also learned that silence means acceptance in their eyes so we must find our way of displaying our pain. We are under attack, they are weakening us by taking away our men and boys… We have to fight back or at least let them know we care deeply and will NOT accept this way of life!! I love myself and I must stop trying to commit suicide and I will not live in fear in my own country!

  2. You’re right. I get so bogged down in trying to make it through the day that I haven’t been as engaged with the world at large. But this has my mind in a crazy place, and it’s making me think of how insulated I’ve been. I don’t want to do that anymore. I just have to figure out the best way to make an impact. Thanks for reading.

  3. What a wonderfully thoughtful post! My parents were activists when I was younger and I did a bit of that but that’s not really my way. But I had the same type of hunger to do something a few years back so I am doing what works for me: trying wherever possible to spend my money at Black or neighborhood retail establishments and NOT spending money at places that do not offer a living wage and appropriate working conditions (like Walmart, Starbucks, Whole Foods etc.) I contribute to my church which has an abundance of successful social programs that help prison parolees, battered women, people who need food and jobs etc. I try to volunteer when I can – like at the local food bank. And I do sign petitions, send letters or emails to my political representatives about issues that move me. And I speak about these issues to people I know well and people I don’t know well. Every little bit helps. Nice to see you back by the way – and I’m glad you’re not feeling pressured to write. When you do, we hear you!

  4. Thanks so much for reading. And for all your ideas. They all sound great and I will try to be more active in the things that work for me, like you suggested. It’s good to be back.

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