— Noam Chomsky, Imperial Ambitions, p. 39-40 (via goleyaas)
I find that the more that I engage in activism, the more men seem to think that my time belongs to them. There seems to be this idea that if I’ve set myself up as an educator about feminism and gender and women’s rights (and I know that I have, and by and large I enjoy that role), then it’s somehow part of my job to take the time out of my busy day to explain basic feminist concepts to them. If I don’t, then I’m accused of all kinds of things – not properly backing up what I say with facts (though the facts are easily accessible to those who want them), not caring enough about “converting” men who might be on the fence (though they could convert themselves if they really wanted to), not being strong or smart enough to engage in a discussion (which we both know isn’t going to go anywhere). I used to burn myself out by patiently laying out my talking points over and over, directing people towards resources, never walking away from an arguments be it big or small. But I’m not doing that to myself anymore. This is my space; I get to decide what happens here. If I don’t want to reply to comments, then I won’t. If I don’t want to engage someone, then I’ll ignore them. Yes, I am here to educate and to explain, but I am not under any obligation to do anything that I don’t want to. That is not my job. If you want to learn more, then that’s your job.
I’m going to call on all the men out there who consider themselves to be allies and ask them to step up to the plate and walk their own talk. When you see a woman being mansplained, you be the one to step in and call him out. When you see a bunch of men making misogynistic jokes, you be the one to tell them to fuck off. When someone asks for “proof,” don’t wait for a woman to provide it – you be the one to offer resources. Show us what a good ally you are by standing in the line of fire for once, and when you do, don’t immediately turn around and ask us for praise.
— Nelson Mandela, "An ideal for which I am prepared to die". Mandela made this statement from the dock at the opening of his trial on charges of sabotage, Supreme court of South Africa, Pretoria, April 20 1964 (via thepeoplesrecord)
Passive Resistance Training, SNCC, Atlanta, GA, 1960, by James Karales, courtesy Duke University Library
people had to be trained to deal wit the evil of white people
I hope this makes it clear to folks that non-violence as expressed during the Civil Rights Movement was not simply a moral or political choice. It was a tactical application as well.
Do y’all think SNCC, SCLC, CORE, MLK, Jr. or anyone else wanted to witness their people being beaten, that they wanted to stay their fists and guns when their CHILDREN were being murdered? If you do, I suggest you go back to history class, because MLK, Medgar Evers, Bayard Rustin, almost any person you can think of who advocated non-violence had armed guards and personnel in place for their and their people’s safety.
Non-violence as a resistance strategy was an attempt at provocation. Recognize that. Recognize that’s why these folks are training. Because they’re performing provocation through passive resistance. By not striking back they were illustrating the madness and vitriol of white supremacy. They were exposing in the most dramatic manner possible the denial of their humanity.
Understand: This was not turn the other cheek, this was looking into the eyes of the Devil and not backing down.
this is a damn good point to counter all the nonviolence moralistic liberal bullshit going on continuously in activist spaces.
Bolded some things.
Somebody asked me somewhere down the archive the other day something along the lines of “what can I do?” It’s gotten buried to the point where I can’t find it, or the person who asked, but I’ll try to explain by giving my own and other examples.
The first step I took was the revolutionaize my mind and unlearn the poisons the society has built into me. This is a criminal society (what some call a crimogenic society), that can corrupt you and turn you into a criminal unless you are careful. When you have a situation today where racial and other violence runs rampant and with impunity, it encourages others to commit these acts because they feel they can get away with it.
Education, or self-education, was the first and most important step for me. Books were the begining. I walked into a library and looked into a random aisle and bay. The first book I saw and grabbed was the autobiography of Malcolm X. After reading that, I was never the same. I looked more into who he was, and soon enough, I learned about the Panthers and began reading about others such as Huey Newton, Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, George Jackson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers, H. Rap Brown (Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin), Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), and Robert F. Williams. Reading about them led to other people such as Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, and Thomas Sankara. From there, I would look up books and get my hands on any I could find on them. Because I was unemployed and not going to school at the time, I spent a whole year dedicating myself to this. At the same time, I used social networks and other means to communicate with my friends and share with them what I was learning. The essential point here is that we have to start by engaging in serious study. Youtube and other video websites can help you watch speeches and see the anger and passion these people had and what some still have. Watching them speak gave me confidence and inspiration.
Through Malcolm X and the others, I learned to be careful with the institutions of this country and how they share information. The best information is in that that is hard to get or not well known.
Second was to begin educating the community. Any chance I get, I spread the message with friends, with co-workers, family, and strangers on the street. We have to do this because the more you talk about an issue, the better you get at articulating and debating it. Of course, there were tensions, and some so-called friends, especially my rich so-called friends, branded me as some kind of racist demagogue. When you try to act sane in an insane society, the society will look at you as if you are insane.
Third is the question of finding out your skills. What are you good at? Are you good at writing? investigating? Drawing? Public speaking? In organization, everyone has a role to play, but it’s up to you to see what role suits you best.
Fourth is discipline. You can’t get involved with struggle if you aren’t disciplined. Video games, Television, movies, being out with friends; it’s all good once and a while, but if you are serious, you’ll have to dramatically cut the time you spend on these, sometimes all of it, to get involved. This includes being on this website and using it as an effective resource; not something you use for 8 hours every day where you joke around 90 percent of the time. You’re activism has to go beyond a blog. Organization is more than a job; it’s a day by day lifetime committment.
You have to remember that there is something more important than you; that is the movement. Don’t get involved thinking you are going to become some kind of popular celebrity where you’ll eventually get the “good life.” Struggle is what it is: you have to struggle. No such thing as easy struggle. Just a side note: realizing that this is what I want to do, it has given me a sense of belonging and a purpose. This give me a sort of high that makes me confident and never discouraged with myself and the people.
Fear is another obstacle and has to be overcome. It’s obvious that this country has a counter intelligence program set up to neutralize freedom fighters and revolutionary organizations. We know what the NSA, the police, the CIA, the FBI, and all those other gangs are doing, but we can never be afraid. Don’t censor yourself. Be cautious, but don’t let that turn you into a coward.
Fifth is organization. You have to join and organization or create one that’s fighting for the people. You have to attend local rallies and organizational meetings. Check out what local colleges are doing, as well as cultural centers and whatever else you hear from here on from other people.
There’s much more to cover, but I’ll stop here. Any longer and no one will read this.
What we see through social media is a generation of ignorant social activists. Young men and women all too willing to care about and defend something they don’t truly understand and refuse to educate themselves further on because they assume the limited information they receive has been vetted by someone more knowledgeable than themselves. This happens on both sides of the fence, with both conservatives and liberals.
I’ve seen arguably intelligent young men and women stand up at banquets and rallies, demanding answers about things like healthcare, DOMA, federal military actions. Asking questions about things they’ve seen on Facebook, on twitter, things that they’ve taken little to no time to research for themselves, and they look like fools. No matter their age, they paint themselves with a red mark that announces ‘I’m not mature enough to be here, to discuss these issues’.
But even so, it isn’t truly about age. It’s about social awareness. You are not discounted until you make a mistake. Say the wrong thing or quote the wrong statistic. Until then, your legitimacy remains intact.
Tumblr is like this.
I’ve seen people furious over gay rights legislation that doesn’t actually exist. Wars that haven’t happened. Most recently text posts with tens of thousands of notes alleging that China and Russia are going to go to war with the US over Syria.
Blogs relaying damaging misinformation written by individuals who can’t seem to be bothered to read a newspaper or use google properly. This is a crippling trend, and no one sees it.
These people get untold attention and affirmation until one person with a large enough follower count points out the flaw in their argument. Corrects the mistake, and shifts the tide. But this doesn’t fix the thousands of people who liked and reblogged the original post. The damage is done.
If there is one thing I’ve learned from working on political campaigns, very little is more damaging than an activist who argues only one side of the story without recognizing the existence of the other; because your opinion, no matter how solid and seemingly factually based, is invalid the second your audience realizes they know more than you.
And the result of all of this is a generation of young activists who don’t understand why they aren’t being taken seriously.
a recent conversation with a colleague regarding social media (via onawingandaswear)
"A generation of young activists who don’t understand why they aren’t being taken seriously” fuck I want to make that the title of my blog
i do not understand this liberal obsession with nonviolent resistance, but neither do i understand this leftist glorification of armed resistance. we do not bear arms in struggle because we’re too hot headed to give peace a chance as liberals think, but neither do we bear arms because it is cool to do so. armed resistance isn’t fun, it is not sexy like deeq says, it’s about survival. there is nothing glamorous about violent struggle when you and the people you love are in danger and the country you are from is on fire.
“Sylvia Rivera kicking ass on stage after some radfems & transphobes tried to refuse her the right to speak at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Day rally. Said radfems then had their own march in part protesting trans participation in Pride. A precursor to today’s Dyke March.”
It is women like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson who started the Stonewall riots and queer liberation. 43 years later, trans women of color, the people who started the movement, are the people maligned and left behind by it.
In Sylvia’s words, “What the FUCK is wrong with you all?”
[[Trigger warning: suicide]]
Sylvia went home that night and attempted suicide.
Marsha Johnson came home and found her in time to save her life.
Sylvia left the movement after that day and didn’t come back for twenty years.
this is incredible, she is incredible, I highly recommend watching it
but I think the addendum re: the effect of this day on sylvia is really important
so often we valorise decontextualised moments of tough, articulate resistance and rage
and the suffering of the people who embodied them is not acknowledged, it’s uncomfortable, it’s not inspiring, we want them to stay tough and cool and stylish forever
which is particularly terrible when I think about how sylvia felt like that because of women like me — women who are now watching this video and feeling inspired and impressed and maybe a bit pleased with ourselves for finally having watched a speech by the famous and really cool to name-drop sylvia rivera
rebloggin for the true as fuck commentary (bolding mine)
n like, on one hand this moment is decontextualized as fuck, but on the other hand a lot of ppl try to hyper-contextualize it to make it “history” and a very specific historical moment, so we (cis women) can be like “oh so sad that’s how it was in the 1970s, radfems were so awful, but it was only the whole second-wave scene that was the problem, glad that’s over.”
Like have we forgotten the fact that Sylvia only died in 2002? And she died young, if she were still alive she wouldn’t even be 65 yet. I know hella older ppl in NYC who knew her personally, and hella “leaders” of the NYC queer scene pulled horrific shit on her constantly in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, like literally until the day she died (ppl from Empire State Pride agenda literally went to St. Vincents to beef with her on her death bed) Where are the video tapes/memorializing of that shit?
N now the Manhattan LGBT center on 13th st has a room dedicated to her memory, despite the fact that very center permanently banned her in 1995 for daring to suggest they should let homeless QTPOC sleep there in sub-zero weather.
N now there’s a whole homeless trans youth shelter on 36th st named after her, Sylvia’s Place, that kicked my TWOC friend out on the streets for testing positive for marijuana; failing to recognize how fucked up that is in a shelter named after a woman who struggled with addiction all her life, and was very vocal about the relationship between drug use and the stress of living under constant threats of violence.
N from the late 90s onward rich gays and lesbians openly fought against Sylvia to try to shut down 24/7 access to the piers that she n hella other QTPOC cruised and lived on bc they were bringing down the property values of their multi-million west village apartments.
N like 90% of the individual people who perpetuated fucked up violence against Sylvia are still alive and high-profile leaders in the NYC LGBT “community” today.
So like yes, good, remember the oppressive weight of our history of transmisogyny…but also remember that this shit specifically ain’t even history, it’s the current reality of the NYC queer/trans hierarchy today—like not even figuratively, literally the same people who pulled shit like this on Sylvia are still alive n well n all over NYC cutting the ribbons to the newest Sylvia Rivera memorial n eulogizing her like they never tried to fucking kill her themselves.
Incredible commentary all over this post
i know i reblogged this before, but check out all this on point commentary
"N now there’s a whole homeless trans youth shelter on 36th st named after her, Sylvia’s Place, that kicked my TWOC friend out on the streets for testing positive for marijuana; failing to recognize how fucked up that is in a shelter named after a woman who struggled with addiction all her life, and was very vocal about the relationship between drug use and the stress of living under constant threats of violence."
I lived at Sylvia’s place for two years. Two years. And many of the people who work and lived there are friends of mine to this day. I want to make it extremely clear that my own first person knowledge of the way the shelter operated ends in 2008, but I also worked there as a volunteer throughout last winter. However I want to make something else very clear. Sylvia’s Place, located on the ground floor of Metropolitan Community Church where Sylvia was a member of the clergy, does not and has not ever had the money to afford to drug test their clients. The shelter is not funded by the city/state/gov’t in any way and all funds that are used by the shelter are donated by private donors. Why does it not receive any gov’t funding? Several reasons, the most important being that Sylvia’s is a shelter for homeless and at-risk Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender youth between the ages of 18-24. This would classify the housing arrangements as co-ed. Now you probably feel like that shouldn’t matter since programs like The Covenant House, The Ali Forney Center, and Street Works also offer co-ed housing. Here’s the reason, Sylvia’s place is one room. The ground floor of MCC is just one large space with a kitchen area, two bathrooms, a three stall shower room, and a food pantry. Their is an open space of about 15x20 or so feet (not an expert on the measurements, but it is not that big) and that is where the youth sleep. That is where I slept. On the floor. Why don’t they have better facilities? Because they don’t have the money. And if they did file for government funding, they’d have to decide which side of the LGBT community to house, AMAB or AFAB and they won’t do that because that is just FUBAR.
Also, trans women are the priority at Sylvia’s. Always have been, always will be. TWOC especially. The staff there are two WOC and a TWOC who also runs the HIV Testing clinic they have and also runs their drop in time. These three women are dedicated to making sure that poc, especially twoc, are safe and housed, not left on the streets of NYC. And when it comes to drugs, Sylvia’s has always practiced a policy of Harm Reduction. The only time a client would be denied entry while intoxicated would be when they could no longer control themselves and had become a danger to the other clients. Translation? If you are stoned off your ass, you will not be kicked out because most likely you are going to be vegging the fuck out chowing down on canned veggies (because thats usually the best thing they have unless LaDedra has used her own money/foodstamps to do groceries and then cooked dinner and then you are in for the best fucking food you’ve ever tasted in your life). However if you are drunk as fuck, and an angry drunk, and you start swinging at folks, you’re going to be booted out because you are now making what should be a safe space into a place where people are feeling like they could be in danger.
So this claim that a twoc was booted out after testing positive for marijuana strikes me as extremely false. Even the drug tests you can buy ffor $30 at duane reade have a $150+ processing fee, and Sylvia’s can’t afford that. They can’t afford new cots for the youth. They can barely afford what they currently provide, so how are they going to add extra shit?
Word to the wise, do a little research on a place before you condemn it off the words of a friend. Sylvia’s Place is a valuable resource for twoc in NYC who need a place to stay and have nowhere else to go. Spreading rumors like the one quoted above is not only sloppy, it’s dangerous and can be seen as an act of violence against twoc who need a safe place to be because they will then feel like the one place they thought they could go was taken away from them. Don’t you dare take one more place away from twoc. Especially if it’s the last place we have.
btw, Sylvia’s place has been around since 2006, so it’s not something “brand new” like the quoted commenter tried to make it seem.
reblogging for the added commentary
There’s nowhere near enough of a support system for activists dealing with anxiety and depression that actually focuses on the reasons for that and not just within a general mental health context. Especially for those just starting to read articles and pick up books who are having to take in all this new information, much of it bloody and horrific, and then being expected to just get on with it as if it’s the same as watching the 10 o’clock news every night. I know no one should get special credits for educating themselves, but I can’t even imagine how many good activists have been lost through the damage to their mental health simply because of a lack of solidarity that could otherwise have reached out and offered them a hand. Actually making that distinction between simply keeping up with ‘current events’ and trying to understand them and deal with them on a personal level.
Something I’d like to get involved in I think.
Agreed, this is a real ‘elephant in the room’ when it comes to mental health here, especially when ‘the norm’ in the Western world is a harsh distraction from a lot of brutal realities that people in other parts of the world face daily. I’m always surprised how few NGOs there are to support activists as activists (impartial to cause), but then I realize that only activists would start such an organization and they’re either in the same place themselves or so deeply committed to another cause already.
There’s people who do this work: they’re the people who would (and do) dedicate energy in empowering their communit(ies) rather than arguing (fighting?) people with privilege. Both work is hard, both work is honorable. But there’s definitely this image of activism being work that is out on the battlefields, fighting. There isn’t much said about the healers. Or when there is, it’s on a level of appreciation, but just appreciation doesn’t open this bigger: into larger, perhaps professional?? fields that dedicate energy SPECIFICALLY healing and dealing with mental health issues and providing support around that.
There’s a guy I know who confessed that he fell out of activist work after his best friend died: they’d been protesting class inequalities and here in Philly that’s very racialized too, but throw in police brutality, gentrification, etc. And healing that comes from grief of a loved one has its support (and you’re sent back to college, you’re pushed to get a job), but there is no support given for going back and working in a space that was not only exhausting to begin with, but is now PAINFUL too, on a very, very personal note.
So when you don’t happen to be lucky enough to have a support system that will help buffer the pain, or at least give support through the daily ins and outs, and the mental breakdowns that come with working in something so emotionally exhausting— it’s hard. It’s ridiculously hard. And it pushes people away.
all im sayin is in any radical community, whether leftist or sjw or whatever the fuck, the main functioning of the community are typically the maintenance of power thru the control of discourse and the policing of expression, which is no different than any other manifestation of capital/social relations, just a different method of approaching it.
but yea, discourse/ways of speaking/false principles of radicalism are what is used to maintain power structures that already exist in all avenues of capital, and its no different because those false principles APPEAR to be “good” ones.