The struggle is real and happening now. It’s about demilitarizing the police, raising the minimum wage, ensuring that women, trans women of color in particular, are free to walk down the street with fearing for their lives and bodies, it’s about truly ending colonialism throughout the world. It’s about confronting past injustices and genocides and the intergenerational trauma that’s bleeds out from them.
Up until recently, I thought that me living my truth as a queer, black, non-male in America was radical and political enough, thanks. Which isn’t to say that I’ve done nothing. I’ve cold called hundreds of Asian and Muslim Americans to remind and encourage them to vote, I’ve gone door to door in conservative subdivisions and trailer parks on behalf of an openly gay candidate, I marched in Orlando pride years ago in support of a black politician running for Florida senate. I’ve sat across from former drug dealers, pimps, rapist, and people who have killed people (intentionally and not) and provided help with navigating a post incarceration life.
The problem is, at the time when I was doing these things, I considered my engagement and activism to be extras like little donations you give to feel better about yourself. I did not see that this work and other work like acts of civil disobedience are critical to my continued existence and the quality of life of future generations of people like me, people who are marginalized in their societies due their race, class, gender, religion, sex or ability.
I no longer have delusions about activism being optional for me. Not when so many in this country, including those in power think people in my community deserve to die for stealing candy or “talking back”, not when I have to do safety checks on those I love because one of the few safe spaces we have was attacked, not when there’s hundreds if not thousands of women and girls of color going missing without any media notice, not when the bodies of young children are washing ashore of some of the wealthiest countries in the world. It’s not a world I want to live in and it’s not a world I can mentally or physically survive in.
I recently attended a direct action training that was put on by the East Bay Meditation Center and taught by Buddhist Peace Fellows. An older black woman shared that it’s time for white people to grow up and deal with what she’s been dealing with since she was 4. It struck me because I realized yes they need to grow up and also -it’s time for me to step up.