I Am Not An Activist - Please Stop Calling Me One
I'm not an activist, advocate, anti-racism educator, anti-oppression educator, etc.
I don't know how many times I gotta tell y'all this politely.
So let me tell you bluntly, so maybe this will stop, and maybe people will stop sliding into my DMs with white guilt screeds and shit because people tokenise and assign a singular dimension to me as a writer and to my writing.
When you call me those things or tell people to read my work purely for the purpose of "learning" about how to not be a pile of shit, you are:
>> Being racist, because you're speaking over me after I have REPEATEDLY and AT LENGTH said that I do not identify this way, and that my work only encompasses these things because I *live* them.
>> Being tokenizing, because you're turning me into a prop and one-dimensionalising me as a person and as a writer.
>> Consuming me rather than engaging with me, because you're not actually paying close attention to who I am and how that informs any lens I write or commentate from.
I realise this has turned into a hip branding thing for some of y'all in the last 5 years, but activism is not a brand, activism is a collection of very specific community advocacy and organizational skills + action-taking. In my humble and individual opinion, activism is something done *with* and *in* community: when someone is being an activist, the point is to melt into the community, *not* to be a 'star'. Stars are how COINTELPRO fucked the shit out of the Panthers. Stars are how the state implodes movements. Stars are distractions. Stars can be easily manipulated into greedy choices, be they for money, for power, or for adulation. Activism is not for people who want to be stars in the doing of that work: call that what it is, attention-seeking bullshit. Activists who get work done and get good people elected don't give a fuck about having a brand or a profile, because it's actually not good for them, it's not healthy for the communities they serve, and it distracts from the focus: THE WORK. It is about THE WORK - of getting resources to the marginalised, of dismantling violent institutions, serving the practical, bodies-on-the-ground needs of engaging politicians and communities through protests, demonstrations, and local government testimony. Or cutting the tires of police vehicles.
All of which is work I do not do, and work I cannot do because it is not my talent or zone of genius. I don't have the skills, I don't need them, that is not my calling. It would be insulting the people who do that work to continue to let people abuse my narrative without firm rebuke, and thus in turn letting myself be made into a star whose social platform and capital could potentially be used as a weapon to get in their way by bad actors. As a writer, my job is simply to open minds and sound the call through being honest about how I live and what I see, metaphorically and literally, and proposing alternate visions. My job is inspiration. Inspiration feeds movement, but it is not movement itself. That is not activism, or advocacy, that is good writing. That is what I concern myself with.
Every time you call some random person who is a creative and doesn't actually engage in that work within community, or have those skills, an activist, you are misleading people and putting responsibility and obligation onto others that they did not ask for. Further, you are only making space for them to show up in ways that fit your narrow box of comfort - because the assumption becomes, because X is a member of a marginalised community/communities, therefore X must be responsible for bearing the cross of Black/etc. suffering for your white/able-bodied/etc. info-fucking-tainment. They do not. Even if they are an activist, advocate, or educator, they don't. That's just simply not true. That's also dehumanising, diminishing, and disrespectful of people's professional achievements, talents, and whole personhood.
Stop. Doing. This. To. Me.
I am NOT an activist.
I am a writer who writes about my life, and thus the oppressions that impact my life, and therefore through my work I center my humanity & examine that which tries to pick at it because you (dysfunctional, oppression society) force me to because I cannot opt out. For MYSELF. I write about those things to remind *MYSELF* that I am human, and worthy, and I am full and multi-dimensional, and life does not revolve around the oppressions people attempt to put on my back, my hands, my feet, or my neck.
It is not for YOU.
I am not here to have my pain feasted on by YOU.
I am here for ME. I create for ME. I write for ME.
I don't always want to talk about oppressions or socio-political & economic violence, because that's not all there is to me, my writing, or my life. My life is not solely a silo of misery. My life is joyful, too, and bittersweetness comes both from being mortal and also from dealing with the machines of suffering that wish to make me less than, and destroy the planet, too.
You will listen to my voice, and honor my narrative AS I ARTICULATE IT, and respect me, or you will get a virtual shoe thrown at you.
Are we all clear now?
Please do not do this ever again.
Thank you in advance for respecting my boundaries.