You’re Not As Important As You Think: on “Being Divisive”

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

Remember folks: If you don’t hold your oppressor’s hand while softly explaining to them things they could just as easily google and maybe make them some cocoa to help them feel comfortable learning about your lived struggles, you’re just a big ol’ meany who doesn’t deserve to be treated like a person.

“Like a fire
Don’t need water
Like a riot
Don’t need order

We don’t need them”

Red Flag, Billy Talent

If you’ve followed me since the beginning, you’ve probably noticed that the most common topic is allies I don’t want. I’ve said I don’t want allies who can say they care about Trump, allies who can be turned away by us not being nice, conditional allies, or performative allies.

A common accusation that people get is that people who have my particular tone including many of my friends are “being divisive”.

In the radical leftist side of Facebook (known as “Leftbook” by those of us involved in it), a popular accusation when minority activists speak out is “you’re dividing the Left”.

I find this accusation humorous because not only do I know I’m being divisive, it’s deliberate and a core of my activist practice.

As I touched on in By Our Side or Out of Our Way, I used to be nice in the old blog I was part of before Trump was elected.

I sought to reach out and change minds.

Nowadays, I have come to realize that in this burning world if what’s happening isn’t enough to make you steadfast against oppression, you’re not going to ever really change.  This regime is getting more and more oppressive and decent people will stand against it and by our side believing we deserve to live without investment of labor. I don’t have spoons to invest labor in presenting myself a certain way and nurture people, if the fact that people want to hurt people like myself just because of aspects of our humanity won’t move you to action I can’t trust that you will help me when I need it the most.

My goal now isn’t to reach out to people but to push people away. I need to know who I can trust, and that means seeing who can be moved from caring about my life.

There are a lot of people who tell us that we should be nicer if we want more allies…but my question is why would we want people who would require us to police our language around them, censor and watch our words when we’re in hell?

There are so many people who claim the title of ally and expect it to matter (to the point where we have created the term accomplice instead of ally to be more specific in what we want) to us that anyone who says they are one honestly makes me skeptical.

I need to know who is willing to help and stand by me and mine and who will ditch us when they don’t feel fulfilled. The only way to do that for me is to be hard and challenging in my words and actions so that people need to confront themselves and realize that they are doing wrong and this system is something that they need to be fighting or that I am the problem and they need to stop helping me.

I’m not creating division but exposing divisions of values and commitments. If these people can be turned from thinking I’m a human who deserves help, they never truly believed that. Believing that we deserve rights should be a matter of morality not comfort. My goal is to shake things up, expose who people truly are, and that ends up polarizing and angering people because they don’t like being called out on harmful behaviors or can’t handle me saying that their feelings aren’t actually the most important thing in the world. I’m not the one who is breaking people apart in their ideals, I’m exposing divisions that are already there.

I don’t need everyone and nobody is extremely important to have when the net result of them being here is going to be a drain on my sanity trying to make myself presentable enough to keep them around. People I know and love are suffering and I refuse to prioritize anybody else’s feelings over them. I’m not going to be nice all the time to people who have the luxury of being able to just ignore the reality of what is going on with the world because I frankly don’t trust anyone who is willing to look away from the horror that is happening and say that if they’re going to stand by my side against it I need to be nice to make them feel like there’s a reason to fight, who requires more than the fact that people are suffering and dying to do anything.

When people are suffering from oppression it’s a moral imperative to stand strong and say that is wrong. When the government is doing things that are going to kill innocents, you fight back. You tell yourself this is wrong, you do what you can, which if you’re one of the people who are suffering might just be existing and living, which is huge if a system wants you gone. But if you aren’t you should be doing what you can to help because you know in your heart that it is immoral that the system that makes it so you don’t have to worry about what is happening is making others suffer. We are fighting, rioting because it’s the only language that has ever been heard, rising on wings of fire and broken glass to burn this corrupt order to the ground, and if the way we are fighting, the way we have to fight, is too much for you, we don’t need you. Turn your nose and roll your eyes, complain about our tone and get offended by how we aren’t making sure to exclude you from our venting or following the rules of what you think is acceptable rebellion, I frankly care not, you aren’t important compared to the threats against us and my fellow strugglers. But if you know in your heart that this is wrong and will stand by our side unconditionally, use your voice to carry our own, I’m glad to have you by my side.

The choice is yours, the division between action and inaction not created by me but by your own morality.

Make the right one.

Whose freedom?: Ruminations on “Independence Day”

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.
-Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”

“State of the Union address
Reads war torn country still a mess
The words power death and distorted truth
Are read between the lines of the red white and blue”

State of the Union, Rise Against

I used to have a tradition of sharing a song with the bridge “I’m proud and ashamed every fourth of July, you’ve got to know the truth before you say that you’ve got pride.”

Today, I’m feeling like actually understanding the truth of the situation we’re in now and being proud are mutually exclusive.

I was reading ‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ by Frederick Douglass, and while obviously the current situation in the US for myself isn’t close to that horror, I can’t help but identify with this feeling that considering this as a day of great freedom is mockery.

I’m currently listening to people light fireworks for “Independence Day”, but I live in California which has the highest amount of prisoners in a country which has the most people in prison around the globe. They aren’t free.

I have friends who are broke and are worrying about homelessness because the system is set up to make it so people like them can’t get ahead no matter how hard they try. They aren’t free.

I know many people who can’t come out as who they really are for fear of being ostracized by their families and communities, possibly having their lives at risk. They aren’t free.

There are people who came from Mexico seeking a better life because US interference screwed with their country, who aren’t doing anything harmful to anyone just trying to survive, being likened to rapists and murderers and under threat of being sent home by ICE. They aren’t free.

There are trans people in multiple states which can’t go into bathrooms matching their gender, something which has actual harm. They aren’t free.

Black people know that the cops who are supposedly there to serve and protect us are quite likely to kill or unfairly target them based simply on skin color. They aren’t free.

There are many people including myself who see this recent failure of the AHCA simply a stay in execution because the last time it failed it came back even worse and we know that when it does pass many of us are going to die. That’s not freedom.

Who’s truly free? Well, I do feel that the Founding Fathers did succeed in gaining independence for their people…meaning fellow rich white men, because they are still in full control.

So…how the hell can we celebrate independence when so many of us are in chains from systemic threats to our lives simply because of our existence?

How is it right to be upset with people who don’t respond to your saying “Happy 4th of July” with similar joy when their lives or the lives of their loved ones are in some way controlled?

The reality is that many of us never have been and are sure as hell not right now free. We are trapped in situations beyond our control not because of our actions but for how we dared to be born.

I’m not going to condemn you for your cookouts or family gatherings, Gods know we barely get enough of those.

But I am going to say this:

If freedom is so important to you that you’re going to devote a day to celebrating it, remember that there are so many who don’t have it…and fight so that they do.

If that’s the ideal that you think America is all about, then get active to make it so others have it.

Make it more than just a cookout that rubs our reality in our faces, try to make it mean something.

Because we live a constant battle, and if you don’t and you have told someone happy Independence Day, want to believe in freedom, then you shouldn’t be content with the country chaining so many of us, and should fight to make this world different.

When we fight until more people are free maybe then it will be fine to celebrate a day of independence, until then let’s work to make it so.