And, just as quickly, come the moments of despair. In just over two weeks, the fire seems to be dimming, the strength of the well-oiled, deeply-rooted narrative of the American “democratic” machine rearing its head to constrain resistance into the known and accepted categories. The moment of unity, of united struggle, seems diminished. Each pre-existing group – the Socialists, the Colorado People’s Action, Showing Up for Racial Justice – emboldened by the sudden increase in attendance at their regular meetings – seeks to position themselves as central to the resistance, while resting on their pre-established agendas. The Community for Unity, positioning itself as the new “movement” to confront this new era – initially seemingly organically grown from the moment of rupture, when 5000 people came to the streets – responds to the outpouring of support and desire to engage and develop solutions, holds a “planning meeting” which reveals not an engaged place for new thinking and action, but the perpetuation of one activists vision. The “planning” turns into the implementation of hidden power, through the formation committees around pre-established categories, asked to plan immediate, short-term “projects” – while the vision of the initiator who has been, in her own words, looking for “followers” to her vision, is left at the center. While words such as “revolution” are thrown around as I have never experienced within American activist groups, the answers that follow are far from revolutionary – prepare for the mid-term elections, sign petitions asking for legal investigations, call Congressional officials, teach people how to challenge micro-aggressions, hold community potlucks, protest in the streets daily, or riot and demonstrate anger (without purpose, numbers or widespread clear support). And, while each of these may have an essential place, the lack of a multi-faceted and coordinated picture which links these together into some new vision of broader change, is critically missing.
I think often of my Egyptian friends in these days. Of the frustration, despair and hopelessness I heard from them 5 years after Tahrir Square. Of the ways that individual interests overtook, each vying for their position of power and following rather than joining for a communal interest in a vision of a more just establishment. The depths of hidden power as each movement sets its agenda separate from the people; the hold of invisible power that limits people’s vision or ability to think beyond the given strategies – and the ways in which both of these play into the visible power of a new administration being normalized, even when the rupture has revealed the deep-seeded chasms of injustice which exist within our boundaries and which we extend into nearly every corner of the globe.
Side by side with my hope, sits this despair and fear. Fear that we will not take this opportunity. That the oppressed communities, too accustomed to this oppression, already see this as normalized and not as a point of awakening for change. That the communities of privilege, outraged in spirit, will resume their place of privilege where they are able to box the rupturous knowledge back to the “other” and continue to exist in the place where their privilege shields them from experiencing this reality.
It is the early days, I know this. I have not given up on the continued potential as actions full of bigotry and oppression begin to emerge. I continue to seek others to collaborate with in this vision of creating participatory, revolutionary, multi-faceted strategies that may allow us to materialize the potential of the Event in this moment of rupture; to look at the picture in its entirety rather than piecemeal, to be willing to seek a new vision and level of resistance towards something new and greater, in a way that an . But sometimes, I wish I didn’t see so much, didn’t understand so much, could return to the optimistic (and maybe shallow) vision of my 20s.
I do not wish to monopolize this page, and hope that others will join the conversation (or I will just stop posting). But in these times, I am finding strength in writing through the experience and struggle. I am finding strength in knowing that this community exists across the globe. And I hope to continue to turn to and rely on this community who also see, recognize and feel the depth of both the complexity of the world as it is and the vision of something else.