my cheap apartment, my ‘pretty damn good for someone with no college degree’ salary, regular paycheck, almost-middle-class privilege, second-hand laptop, clearance-purchased & sweatshop-manufactured clothes, hand-made jewelry, ‘nice black lady’ appearance… i am comfortable. i have the advantage of being perceived as heterosexual, as christian (is it just me or are black folks really into assuming that you’re a worshiper of jesus?), as all those things that the dominant society is/ reflects/ seems to value.
it’s starting to make me really annoyed, though. because i’m not really, like, all the way straight. because i’m nowhere near christian, muslim or jewish . . . because my mom was on public assistance when i was a kid so i know all sides of that fucked up ‘welfare’ system, because i don’t think my vote counts but i do it anyway & hope to change shit from the inside out . . .
it’s so hard biting my tongue sometimes when ppl assume that my silence is the same as agreement. i mean, in a lot of ways it can be — but the fact that i don’t say anything could mean that i don’t wanna waste my time digging into your ass & laying all your shit bare. it might mean that i don’t believe you’ll understand me if i tell you precisely what’s wrong w/ making declarations that all white ppl are inherently corrupt, that all men are terrible human beings, that your moontime is a bad thing . . . man, i don’t motherfuckin know. i’m just . . . not okay w/ a lot of this shit but i’m having this problem. the problem is knowing when opening my mouth is worth it, & furthermore knowing that the person to whom i’m speaking is gonna really get it. example: i think i ranted myself into the beginnings of an asthma attack at work some weeks ago when i told the clerical assistant that making racist jokes isn’t the way to get me to laugh — just b/c you’re black doesn’t mean you get a pass to say nasty shit about other groups of colonized ppl. he didn’t understand shit i was saying until i told him to stop talking to me for the rest of the day. that’s a bit extra, probably very unprofessional, but so is cracking jokes about puerto ricans & then saying it’s okay cuz you’re ‘part rican’ w/ your not-really-kinky hair as validation of such information. fuckwad.
anyway, yeah, so… i’m less comfortable. i don’t believe in letting my position of comfort be a reason not to get involved, or at the very least to give a damn. i’m trying to return to the idea of being an activist. someone once told me that he makes signs for protesters because he doesn’t have the energy or time to attend these events. i nodded & thought to myself, “is that really the same as direct involvement in making shit happen?” of course there’s a lot of noise made at protests, not necessarily a lot of change . . . & these shits are definitely like activist cotillions sometimes. i mean, yay signs. is it even that serious? to feel like part of the bigger ‘movement’ you have to make brown bag lunches for the attendees? i don’t know. but to me, activism isn’t about switching your vigilance on or off. in my head, i’m standing up for folks (myself included) at given opportunities, when i know i’m gonna make the biggest impact. maybe being super opportunistic isn’t ‘correct’ activism but i’ll be damned if i interrupt someone running his mouth in the supermarket about some evil jew empire or whatever the fuck. i don’t care what he thinks while i’m tryna buy some toilet tissue. i’m not yet on my constant watch for bullshit. i may never be. sometimes, a sista just wants to get her tazo tea from starfucks or whole foods & just go the hell home (or to old navy).
this is a complicated thing, this being socially responsible. this being an active activist. but when you’re uncomfortable, you do things to make yourself comfortable. being used to something is not the same as being comfortable. also, it’s impossibly fuckin easy to be an angry blogger, a pissed off ACLU member who doesn’t think they have to help send out all that fucking campaign mail* & it’s impossibly simple to say you don’t want ludacris showing up at your university because he said something fucked up about quote-unquote hoes/ hates on oprah/ hasn’t spoken against darfur enough or at all or whatever the hell y’all are mad at this month. like . . . some of this shit is so small potatoes. or, let’s pick our battles wisely enough that we can create change across the board. so many of the bullshit situations we suffer through are related to one another. maybe that’s what it is. maybe the bigger picture isn’t seen. saving the whales is important because nobody’s looking at what’s behind the danger to them — it’s the same danger that oppressed/ hunted ppl suffer. don’t you think? i guess that the balance must be found before we can really put things into motion. at least, i think so.
it’s 3 in the morning, i shouldn’t even be messin w/ this blog right now.
i’ll write something coherent at another time. not having steady internet is probably gonna cause me to write the most insanely lengthy diatribes & then posting them here. so get ready. i might have a book in me yet.
* i used to work for the ACLU. i had ppl call our offices and demand to know why we ask them to volunteer. “aren’t my donations enough to, like, hire someone?” armchair philanthropist wannabe activist assholes. ugh.