Friday, March 4, 2011

You Can't Inspire, Sustain, or Spell Revolution Without LOVE

photo of James Baldwin is from here

photo of Audre Lorde is from here

photo of Andrea Dworkin is from here

What follows is written with gratitude and love to James Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987), Audre Lorde (February 18, 1934 – November 17, 1992), Andrea Dworkin (September 26, 1946 – April 9, 2005), and Chrystos (born November 7, 1946), whose photo appears below.

And to She who speaks wisdom, whether I listen to Her or not.

One my deepest frustrations about white and male people--including myself--is our inability or unwillingness to ground our political actions in radical love. Radical politics must have a root spiritual base, because the struggles will always been more challenging than we can endure. And so we need forces beyond our individual selves to access when we are feeling or are beaten down.

photo of Malalai Joya is from here
photo of Yanar Mohammed is from here
photo of Vandana Shiva is from here
I've seen revolutionary activists who act with love. Malalai Joya and Yanar Mohammed are among them. So too is Vandana Shiva. I call upon the love found in the work of James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Audrea Dworkin; I keep their spirits and their work in my heart. They transformed rage into a deep loving regard for humanity. It was still rageful, at times, but not without love as its base. I'm not saying they didn't hurt, exploit, or abuse anyone. I know better. But in their life-long radical political practice, they made sure to keep a profound respect and deep regard for humanity as a foundational revolutionary value.

Sometimes I wonder if part of the pact whites and men make in order to maintain their whiteness and manhood (or whatever I, as intergender, hold in myself) is that we give up our capacity to love, deeply, radically, and in ways that will support and sustain revolutionary action. Because what I see is that we whites, for example, too often use disagreement as a way to disconnect. And there's too little love to be found in the oppressive institutions we passively and actively support.

There will always be compelling reasons to part company. And we will always have reasons to turn away from one another, in hurt, in anger, while triggered, when too tired to speak what needs to be said to move forward towards healing. But we cannot afford to not move forward, more deeply into ourselves, in community, if we are to create a movement that can resist the forces of the white Master. When we are using  and holding tight to all the most anti-humane tools of the white Master, we can be sure he will continue to rule our lives and destroy the lives of those of us with fewer privileges and dominant social visibility.

In North and Central America, African American, Caribbean, Latina, Asian, and Indigenous women are systematically disappearing without regard or notice from whites and men. This gross human destruction is due, often enough, to men's and whites' violence and our refusal to join forces with Black and Brown women globally to intervene and stop the atrocities which appear in many forms.

Girls and women across ethnicity are incested, battered, raped, trafficked, and enslaved by men--of all races. Why do men, collectively, care so little about this? Is it really because men need some women to be tortured and terrorised, exploited and violated, in order to have a good life as men define it?

This is not to say that people of color have some God/dess-given ability to love. To survive being oppressed and abused, we often absorb society's messages about us, too often open- or close-hand delivered by our alleged loved ones--family members and people in our communities. This lack of love may be delivered with looks and tones of voice that lack compassion, care, regard, and respect. And internalised oppression and self-hatred are viciously successful means through which the oppressor maintains his rule.

But class and race privileged do make disconnection into a kind of sign of righteousness, I find. I see that in the white blogosphere, and offline also. If you're REALLY radical, you'll shut up, shut down, or shut out those who disagree with you. You'll cut people out of your life so swiftly because, well, you can afford to do so.

I know from some of the women of color in my life that this "deleting" of people is a luxury many women of color cannot afford. To cut people out is, often enough, to be entirely without support--however uneven that support is. And with no friends there is also no institutional support. In a society that is founded on your invisibility or that requires your slavery, imprisonment, destruction, or death, without human contact there isn't much else. There's no summer home with a room of one's own in which to write and gaze out at the sea. There's no police force that isn't terroristic. There's no court system that wants to see you and justice meet. Every white-man-made institution is designed to make women of color do the hardest work of all people for the benefit of the very few who do not ever have to work so hard, collectively. Exhaustion and exasperation doesn't make love easy.

So why is it that whites and men are so versed in uncompassionate action when we are disproportionately cared for and about by other people? When we have more social resources with which to take care of ourselves? When we make all kinds of pacts to stick together when challenged by women of color but not so much when we challenge each other?

Watching the news, seeing the revolutionary struggles that have been occurring with amazing bravery and compassion for one's citizens being oppressed, I am reminded of how much love is missing from the more privileged classes of people who might join forces with the most disenfranchised among us.

I'll pray to the Goddess that somehow, She will lead us to each other across difference, across disagreement, and across the divides that become chasms and mass graves most often for those of us who are neither white nor male.
photo of Chrystos is from here

Chrystos once said to me, after an embrace, "Make beautiful things."

Disrespect and disharmony aren't all that beautiful, are they? While honesty requires telling truths that can be unintentionally hurtful, it ought not require any willfully harmful action. Goddess help me understand the difference, with what I do and what I receive that others do.

Goddess be with me and help me through my triggered states of being. Goddess bless me, and those working for a better, more beautiful world. Goddess inform my choices about how to act towards my enemies, my friends, and all our relations.


Dark Daughta said...

"Disrespect and disharmony aren't all that beautiful, are they?" they're not. but these are also difficult to quantify as they are most often defined by those who hold power. when someone speaks out of turn because no other space has been offered them, they are defined as disrespectful if they do not stop and wait for a turn that never comes. when someone speaks truths that are difficult and that fall harshly on the ears of those who hold power, whether that power is in the larger world or inside communities of resistance where class, shade, popularity, post secondary education, heterosexuality, monogamy, when they speak truths that no one around them wants to hear, they are defined as disrespectul. when unity of our causes are defined as completely hinged on the health of the group and that group is unhealthy and unable to ground in a consciousness of what needs to be done, anyone who speaks to this is defined as contributing to disharmony. i am often defined as not beautiful, as out of order, as out of my mind because i ask questions that apply to the state of revolutionary spaces and communities. i am defined as disrespectful. i am defined as contributing to lack of harmony. i am defined as having no loving energy. i think that when people speak/write about there being ways to pose challenges, this is the speak of those with privilege, especially middle-class privilege where the idea of knowing how to play the game, how to not burn bridges, meaning how to not be too overt in your challenges so as not to upset your allies, abounds. anytime someone asks difficult questions close to home and those questions challenge segments of the group's foundation that are rotted, there will be those who react with upset and scream about not feeling the love. difficult, sometimes it has to destroy before it creates something beautiful. creating something beautiful built on the roots of a cancer or of multiple interlocking cancerous root systems makes no sense. first we burn and cauterize, shed tears of pain and suffering because doing the work of making profound change is horrific. then, we rejoice and make beautiful things. only then.

Dark Daughta said...

oh, and anytime you actually encounter a woman of color who has cut ties and left whole communities behind, i'd say that you might want to pay close attention. if someone who already has no safety leaves what little there is available, chances are, there was a very, very good reason why she'd do something seemingly so stupid. perhaps what she's leaving behind seemed as awful, in its own way, as what lies in wait outside. just sayin'.