Maybe This Isn’t So Bad

I’m not quite sure where to start this post, except that at the moment everything seems like a black pit of ignorance, hate, bigotry and complete and utter bullshit. Everywhere I look there is some post about the election, some story that propagates a phenomenal level of ignorance and hate, and then in the midst of it all so easy to miss are stories of people still trying, still working and refusing to give in to this overwhelming existential panic and inertia. People who are tired, who are scared, but are still there, still making their voices heard and resting when they need to. That’s amazing, and that’s something to hold onto when you feel like you’re alone in this cesspit we call 2016. At least that’s what I hold onto.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

So I guess I’ll start with thoughts about power, inspiration and hope. One of the amazing things about this election season has been watching people who felt powerless feel like their voice mattered, and then followed the heart break of seemingly being told that it didn’t. Sometimes you fight so hard, you work for a change you want desperately to see and it falls short. That doesn’t mean it’s failed, that doesn’t mean you give up and have a strop and totally lose faith in everything and everyone. Just because the change hasn’t manifested in the radical way you wanted, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t manifested at all. It’s easy to forget that when you thought you were so close to something radical and then watched it crumble. It’s easy to feel like every little battle you fought meant nothing and those hours you slaved away were just washed down the drain, but they weren’t. Maybe your dream doesn’t look like it used to, maybe it more closely resembles a nightmare, but the point is it has shifted. There has been a change, and you did that. Your voice mattered and still does, and it’s up to you to use it. Mass systemic change doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t our job to sit and wake everyone up. There are some battles you just have to walk away from and there are some things you have to let other people do instead. Celebrate the little victories but don’t just be content to emulate progression. We can always be better we can always push and we can always expect to be treated like people. Sometimes it sucks to be that person at a party talking about social injustice and the kyriarchy and systemic disenfranchisement, but tell you what, I’ll stop talking about it when it stops being a problem, and then yes we can talk about the weather if that’s what you want.

I have to believe that there has to be some good found in the mass outpouring of hate and ignorance. So for me, the harder you push back, the more threatened you are of that change which means that yes, I do have a say, I do matter and fuck you, I will challenge you. Everyone always says things have to get worse before they get better, I don’t buy it. The crappy things just have to be more apparent because when people are being openly racist and bigoted it’s much easier to at least start a dialogue, even if it feels like you are smashing your skull into a brick wall, sometimes those things shift. We are so good at ignoring things right in front of us that occasionally it takes an ice bucket being dumped over our head to wake up. Everyone will wake up at different paces, and everyone is coming into this at different levels. I’m lucky, I’ve been educated, I have friends and family who will encourage and help me continue to educate myself and change. It’s about learning to be patient, and remembering that we were all at that stage once too. We didn’t just spring up Woke. We worked at it.

I was terrified (still am) of joining dialogue on social justice in case I said the wrong thing and was somehow just brushed off as one of those people. It’s intimidating coming in, trying to learn the unspoken rules of communication and portrayal, and that is a problem that is universal. It’s hard to break out of our bubbles, to somehow balance the necessity for very specific safe spaces with more inclusive safe spaces. To admit that just because we’re all minorities doesn’t mean that we get along or have the same end goal or even the same methods. I don’t know how we begin to try and navigate the minefield of inclusivity without accidental exclusivity; I guess it’s being allowed to fuck up and learn from that fuck up. It’s about patience and compromise. Nothing is ever going to work for everyone, but I guess what I’m saying is that needs to be just as much a part of this discussion as anything else.

I’m not perfect and I still get caught up in the same bullshit constructs, but I’m trying and that shift isn’t going to happen in an instant. It’s years and years of enforced bullshit that I’m being forced to deal with while simultaneously trying to point out that it is all bullshit. It’s a start, and if anything that’s what’s come out of the mass of crap that’s 2016.

People are willing to speak out. They’re willing to start, and that’s something to be so proud of. So go out, fuck up and make the changes.

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