“Are you going to wait here for a sign to let you know now?
Are you going to sit there paralyzed by what you’ve seen?
Or are you going to finally grip the wheel?
(I think you know how)
Is this more than you expected it to be?
Don’t wait for a miracle to tumble from the sky
To part the seas around you or turn water into wine
Don’t wait for a miracle, the world is passing by
The walls that all surround you are only in your mind”
Revolution is a word I see a lot recently as I get more involved with the leftist side of Facebook.
People talk about the various systems they’d replace the current system with after we overthrow it, hearkening to successful rebellions of other places and eras.
That being said, our fight is different, and in the interest of better fighting this system, I think it’s time we redefine what we consider a revolution.
One of the greatest problems I have with how we perceive revolutions is that we view it as solely a violent battle. Of course my issue isn’t with the violent aspect, right after the #DisruptJ20 protests I wrote On wings of fire and broken glass we shall rise as a war call.
My issue is that the reality is that, especially if you’re marginalized, this isn’t the only form of rebellion, and that focus is both harmful and counterproductive.
It’s harmful because it leads to a prioritization of tactics that many people, especially disabled people, can’t do (check out my article on the ableist notion of slacktivism for more talk of this issue). While I can write articles telling others that other tactics should matter, it doesn’t change that my internalized ableism makes me, and others, feel utterly useless when we look at things like Charlottesville (which was the center of my most recent article Why aren’t you upset?). In reality as a marginalized person, in the face of a system that hates you, Audre Lorde in the picture I chose is completely right, taking care of oneself, living, being happy, is in itself an act of revolution. It also ignores the fact that, especially with Cville, being obviously of a minority might be more likely to get you targeted (it shouldn’t be too hard to connect the dots that it would be much more dangerous to be a black person protesting a KKK rally than if you’re white…a good rule is to not criticize how a different minority does activism especially against their oppressors, there is almost definitely context you are missing that makes their fight different).
It’s counterproductive because there’s a lot more to a revolution than fighting especially in this era, and usually the physical war happens after a lot of work in other avenues, all of which are just as important when brought into a united whole. People decry Facebook activism but used well the internet is the best way to spread information and call people worldwide to action (I do agree it’s an issue when those who can do more choose not to, the ones who do token activism to make themselves feel good like an online equivalent of the safety pin [so glad those are gone], that being said the internet has been the way the autistic community exists, how I’m reaching you, and has been a key component in other activist movements such as the Arab Spring). Outreach, organizing rallies of our own, having social programs to help people so they can see who we are and will hopefully join our cause, even just tactically directed conversations around the dinner table urging discussion into radicalizing people are all important methods for fighting the system.
The other issue is that we depict the revolution as this mythical future event. People say the revolution will be intersectional for instance (intersectionality is an important activist principle which I wrote about here). A particular brand of leftist that I hate, class reductionists, say that the only fight that matters is class war and after the revolution they’ll care about the concerns of minorities (sure, we’ll be dying until then but it’s great to know that eventually our lives will matter).
The revolution won’t be anything because our fight is now, the constant struggle against the oppressive forces that are controlling us is the revolution, the fight against the system of oppression that has always existed
The system is something that we need to fight now. We need to move not wait for some sign to let us know now is the time to fight. Get active, get involved, speak out. There’s never going to be a sign that let’s us know that the revolution against the forces controlling us has started because the long war with its wins and losses, alliances and enemies, has never stopped.
The revolution shouldn’t be considered a future bloody battle but the multifaceted war against oppression that has been a background in our nation’s history. It’s the combination of tactics and ideologies that we’ve had moving us forward through history, fought not by soldiers but by MLK and the trans women of color who threw bricks at Stonewall and the disability rights movement and anyone who has said that this system is wrong and we need to do something about it. It’s not something to be solely fought with guns but also speeches and blogs and thrown bricks and counterprotests and food drives and any action done in the spirit of seeking to bring change to the many intersecting injustices that have harmed people for so long.
The time is now to participate in this fight, to learn from our victories and losses and move forward despite the rising forces that are paralyzing us.
The fight is ours to take part in. Will you rise to the battle?