The Interplay and Interchangeability of Activism
1. There are different levels of activism for a human being to physically live healthily, productively and authentically.
2. First of all, one must remember that we are a collective. There are many bodies to activate ideals in various areas, from various heights and in various ways through various mediums.
3. There is this phrase going around called “performative activism”. We cannot assume who is doing it, but I trust that your intuition will allow you to see who is.
4. Performative activism cannot apply to a person who is affected by the oppression. Let me tell you why.
5. They are suppressing a part of them that wants to scream because they have been the victim of racism at some point in their life. Whether it was being told to change their appearance to become more european presenting i.e. straightening their hair, or being the victim of micro-aggressions, or silencing the self to not appear “problematic” when receiving or witnessing racism. This has led them to become an inauthentic, self-hating, masking version of themselves and this is no way to live. I hope that they are able to face themselves and realise that they have submitted to fear and are allowing racism to perpetuate in their circles of influence. I wouldn’t call them performative however. I would call them deeply unhappy and enslaved both spiritually and mentally.
6. As a non-negotiable, all people should speak up when injustice presents itself. So, anyone who has remained silent, whether publicly or privately, is at fault. Only the individual knows if this is them.
7. Next, expecting someone who is not of the oppressed group to feel exactly what someone of the oppressed group is feeling, is not possible. Therefore, their activism may present differently. Someone of the oppressed group may be angrier in their activism. This makes sense. It is threatening their families, livelihood, children… their very existence and everything that brings them love and meaning. Someone of the oppressed group may shout louder to be heard, as this is why they are the oppressed group: they are not listened to.
8. Someone who is not of the oppressed group may not feel the urgency as it does not threaten their day to day livelihood. I do not expect them to be enraged, but I expect them to say something or do something which helps as a non-negotiable and a minimum. Anything more heightened or them feeling more pain than expected on behalf of the oppressed group is much appreciated.
9. Some people are saying “once you are an activist, you have to be an activist forever now”. In context, this is referring to not only speaking about Black Lives Matter when a Black life is taken. This is where we must not have a “News Flash” mentality, but a “Community” mentality. Keeping up with the good news of the oppressed group, keeping up with their initiatives, keeping up with their fundraisers, keeping up with their talks and products of interest: that is how you make it a part of your lifestyle. This is called community responsibility. You do this at your workplace every time you have a meeting and check in with each other, or are making questionnaires for feedback from customers, or partaking in CPD (Continued Professional Development). But you only do it because your boss says so, right? This is where we must have personal responsibility as citizens. This is a non-negotiable as a human being, but many of us believe it to be performative. Well then, let us call it “Performance Management of being a Human Being.” Pick a cause and keep up to date with it. Attend. Hand out flyers. Recruit people. Support with fundraising. Teach others about their teachings. Provide resources. Pick something.
10. And finally, disputes over how to incite change for and within the Black community most effectively are causing a rift within the Black community, and even directing energy away from where it should be going. We are strong enough as a people to incite change from the grassroots, Bottom-up and Top-down. Whether that’s an initiative that encouraged more Black teachers in the classroom, or intervening (in groups) when you hear racism in the streets (this would mean quick assembling together and nobody hanging back), Black people creating communities where they are self-sufficient like group economics/homes… all the way to supporting Black Lives Matter, Protests, signing petitions, speaking to the Government through various mediums. However, somebody who chooses to ACTIVATE change will do so in a way that is in alignment with their personality and skill set. But, one warning:
11. As an individual, are you healed? Are your choices of how to ACTIVATE change coming from a place of fear? This requires you understanding that you didn’t come to this earth as a Black Being by accident. You feel pain when you see your Black brother or sister murdered before your eyes, especially when there is no justice done. You were supposed to ACTIVATE. If you didn’t, then you are not healed. Are you afraid of being deemed undesirable? Are you afraid to lose your job? Are you afraid of losing friends? Are you afraid of losing your life? I am not here to tell you what is a reasonable fear and what is an unreasonable fear, because humans shouldn’t have to experience this. If anything, this shows that if we work as a Collective, less people will be the victims of the worst fears. Healing your individual fears (accumulated throughout your life) will get you closer to your true essence of LIFE FORCE energy and strength. This is beaten out of you (metaphorically, in today’s world) by making you work 12 hr days in soulless environments, silenced by micro-aggressions and given meaningless tasks. You are exhausted at the end of the day from your work because it wasn’t as effective as 12 hrs of work should be. And 12hrs of continuous work is never conducive to anything. This is why students (before they begin working life) have so much life within them. Learn from this younger generation, and the younger generation must take heed of elders’ wisdom. Filter and balance what you hear. You will realise this once you begin healing your fears. Heal your fears by doing the following:
12. (a)Root chakra work: balance it. (b)Removing all labels of the self each night and before bed. (c)Doing good work. (d)Practicing speaking up. (e)Working in like-minded groups. “Together we conquer; Divided we fall” is a very true statement. If we all work Bottom-Up and Top-Down approaches to dismantle racism, it will be more effective. Root chakra work is individual trauma healing as the effects from slavery and neo-colonialism have led to self-hate, fear-activation, limited thinking, survival mode, and the oppression of every other oppressed group within the Black community such as women, the “disabled” and LGBTQ+.
13. Removing all of your labels each night, or every other night as well as before bed, or even having entire days like this is important for spiritual recuperation. First, remove the label of your race which was given to you. That was a name given to you to create “us” and “them”. Next, remove your gender. It helps to remove biological expectations and behavioural inclinations. Finally, remove everything you have ever done and everything you want to become. Now you are a soul for and of the Divine Universe. This moment has happened before. Tomorrow, when you awake, you will be filled with joy, gratitude and boundless energy to eradicate injustice while loving everyone should you encounter, because you will see that we are all ONE outside of the Matrix.
14. And finally, when this is all understood, you will see more clearly than ever that you were truly stronger than you have ever been told, and braver than you realise.
I remember seeing @janellemonae perform at @afropunk back when the festival was free and was held outside of BAM (I’m totally aging myself 😬). She has evolved from the strictly black-and-white clad musician to the music/film/fashion/beauty megastar she is today. Primetime (feat. @miguel who performed at Afropunk on Saturday) is one of my favorite Janelle Monáe songs. You can here the Prince influences throughout, which I appreciated, given my belief that he (his music, style, activism and overall unapologetic blackness) is “Afropunk” personified. Indeed, the landscape of Afropunk has changed over the years; it gets bigger every year. And even in spite of the complaints that Afropunk has gotten “too big,” “too commercial/corporate,” “not punk enough,” I’ll always be grateful for the community and the space to feel safe in one’s blackness that Afropunk has brought to neighborhoods the world over...🤟🏿 . . . #afropunk2018 #afropunkbrooklyn #afropunkfest #janellemonae #miguel #primetime #punk #blackrock #alternativernb #blackcommunity #blackactivism #blackexcellence #blackisbeautiful https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm_Al3LHIPH/?utm_source=ig_tumblr_share&igshid=1ux5d78zoeewh