Recently there has been this idea that if you fight for yourself, you’re selfish.
Real radicalism is about service, to others.
I don’t know how this happened.
I don’t know how people barely able to pay their rent and bills have come to think that it is selfish to fight for their survival.
And maybe it is by design.
Maybe this turning activism into charity is a way to separate who we think is “us” from who we think is “them.”
Possibly it feels good to believe that we have a choice in comparison to that other person, because really WE have freedom.
We’re not poor and unemployed.
Who is WE?
You know those with diplomas and jobs, but you know, activism is not supposed to be charity, you really do not have many more choices than that other person, not if you want to continue to have the little bit of freedom you have in this United States.
This activism that fights for the people to sleep on park benches and not be murdered by cops are symbols of how capitalism has lowered the bar of our standard of living and has gained control of the narrative of freedom.
I am not saying those things shouldn’t be worked on, but that’s the only work I see now.
The only work I see is work for those who have fallen to the lowest point you can fall.
There is no talk of universal healthcare, universal housing, or universal public higher education or changing economic policy. There isn’t talk about keeping people from falling, because those actions might actually be system changing. We wouldn’t want to be offensive to the most wealthy?
How are they going to fund our activism if they can’t get a tax break to pay even lower taxes, because the objective of our activism falls outside the criteria created by them, the most wealth in the community.
And stay out of politics, you might lose your 5013c status, talk around politics, because the average person who is working over 40 hours week totally has the time to decipher your coded language.
If you have a house you’re lucky. Not being thankful for your job, that you’re never be able to retire from is selfish. You should be thanking Jesus, God, or whatever religious deity that you worship that you have health care, even if a chronic illness for you, you child, or your partner would quickly show you that your health care is seriously lacking in the care part. But your radicalism and activism isn’t for you, it’s for others, because fighting for yourself is selfish and not fundable, you can’t even get your gofundme funded and now your cat is dead.
Who told you that wanting to live and thrive was selfish?
Who sold you that narrative?
It couldn’t have been Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman or Howard Zinn, because all of them fought for a quality of life that would uplift not only the lives of the poorest, but of everyone.
Why is your activism austerity flavored and means tested?
Who taught you to pick a cause and fund raise around it?
Who taught you to smile while developers wrote you checks, because it isn’t realistic to fight the system? Who taught you to be pleasant to oppression, because you need to keep your job?
Charity accepts the system can not be changed, so its objective is to give the poorest something to relieve their suffering and let us not make too many waves as we may become the poorest.
Activism accepts the system can be changed. 99% of us need a new system, not a park bench to sleep on.
L@rk Lo has presented at Left Forum NY, Occidental College, Anarchist Book Fair LA, MOCA, Montclair State, LACMA, Ruskin Art Club, and UCLA. Her collection of satirical poetry on capitalism, Queen of Inglewood, was released on Word Palace Press in 2017. She can also be found doing interviews on Black Kids In Outer Space.