the philosophactivist

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Origins of My Activism

So, today I had this realization. I had a really great conversation with one of my close friends and I was thinking about organizing and writing this bio for an event that I will be a feature at and the wheels in my head started turning. I got to thinking about what I'm doing and where it came from. When did I become an activist? Was it Sarah Lawrence? Was it AmeriCorps? Was it unemployment? The law firm? Pre-Med? Community Service? My mother? And it hit me really hard. I studied Latin American History. I was talking to my close friend and we were talking about Mubarak and I asked who was going to take his place and we talked about the military taking his place until real elections could be held and then I compared this to Peron...and she knows a lot about Peron and Argentina and...and...and. Then I was like, how do I know this? OH yeeeeah that was my major in undergrad! That was my passion. Studying about the opressed and the uprisings that happened all over Mexico, Central America, South America and Cuba. I loved those classes. Ate, slept and would breathe those classes. It was the only thing that kept me going when I became jaded with pre-med. I connected with the oppressed. I understood what it was like to be voiceless and to need a revolution, albeit on a much smaller scale. (Maybe one day I'll post about my childhood).

It was like a lightning bolt struck me. I am so passionate because I studied this before in my "former academic life." How could I have forgotten all those books and papers and videos? How could I have forgotten my one true love- Latin American History? I mean I mention it maybe every couple of months to people who ask me what I studied and it's just this fleeting moment that I don't really connect to but today was different. Today there was a massive connection and a realization that this has been a long time coming. This is my path. I was swayed from it from 6 years in some kind of corporate interlude but once I had a shift in ideology and did AmeriCorps - I was ba-aaaack.

Wow. This has really got to be my path. It feels so right every time I organize. I've got my rheumatologist/immunologist concerned for my health because I just---I keep organizing. I keep activisting because it makes me feel alive. It is more than a passion. It is me. I am of the People. When I am doing this work I forget about my own physical pain and trivial worries and remember that I am working for the greater good. I am speaking or channeling the voice of the voiceless. It is humbling.

But then I think about the classroom at SLC. I think about who those students think I am. I think about the comment that a woman in class made the other day when my computer beeped really loud and she said "Your computer is louder than you. You're so quiet." And I thought- if you only knew the revolution bubbling in these veins or the closeted radical that you are sitting next to, shrouded in silence. In that classroom for almost 2 years I have been voiceless due to the priorities of the privileged. I have been voiceless because they are not interested in what is at the core of me. Because they don't understand that I see the intersectionality of race, class, sexuality and health care disparities in a way that they probably haven't had to deal with. This makes me an outsider. I felt utterly alone for that first semester until a few professors who were organizers took me under their wing. I owe my sanity (for the lack of a better word) to them (and my best friend and true ally- Shout out to Josh aka Schattsneider!). I owe nothing to the repression felt in that classroom. Speaking out is alienating --but I kept on. Is it the oppressed's job to educate the oppressor? Maybe. I've done what I can...but I have better things to do in the larger scheme of things. I cannot single-handedly change the minds of a privileged people who are not willing or ready to take that step. I've got to devote my time to people who are ready. That is not to say that I will just give up on the others (are they really "Others?" we're all connected)'s just that I can't spend the majority of my time educating them. I will do what I can but my outreach belongs to people who are ready for the revolution...

that is all.


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