Tuesday, July 14, 2009
You Wanna Know Why ACT UP! Has Been On My Mind Lately?
Many moons ago I took a marketing class for creatives where we were told to find our character in mythology. The key was to get to the core of who we were as individuals and find a way to reach a mass market that cut across nationality and various cultures. Every group has certain archetypes they can easily relate to. They may not share the specific character but they're similar. This was an intense 6-week process where we set out in groups of five and we needed a large population to approach in person to get an assessment. The person being assessed couldn't make direct contact. Long story short my character is the goddess that fights injustice.
Now I have to be honest I hesitantly agreed with the assessment because I wondered if this was part of the black woman as matriarch savior (to her detriment). I also wondered about the conditioning within the "black community" lie and if that in turn influenced me. At least I can articulate that now, but back then I wasn't sure why I felt reluctant about adopting it. Since we had to get a sample pool of 20 people per person and complete a complicated process involving Jung and lots of mythology books I finally accepted this. Injustice does bother me as I'm sure it does many people. I wasn't exactly gunning for Mother Theresa's position though, but I always figured I'd do my part to try to give back to the world on some level.
So I've volunteered. One of the first organizations I went to was ACT UP! I know living in NYC in the early 90's had something to do with. Also some of my neighbors were very involved so it was easy. All I had to do was walk upstairs to their apartment, make some calls, go to marches and pass out flyers. It felt good to do something.
Since reading the post Portraits in Activism: Larry Kramer at Muslim Bushido blog I''ve been thinking about those days again. Another blogger mentioned the group in the comment section yesterday. All which inspired my post from this morning. My friends were very radical. They got into police clashes and put themselves in some precarious situations at times. Of course they were mostly male and white. I was young and idealistic but I wasn't getting arrested or beat on by cops voluntarily. So I decided flyer duty and speaking at neighborhood meetings was probably more conducive to my health and well-being. What I remember was the passion and the focus.
I wondered if this was what it had been like during Civil Rights. Of course I knew that was a LOT more dangerous and to compare the two would be inaccurate. I remember wondering what had happened to the passion from other people for things. I think complacency is too easy a fall-back for many. I think people like talking around issues instead of doing anything about them. I've been one of those people as well. We also get bogged down when we have to struggle to meet our needs. Especially if we don't have help. Which comes from doing too much alone. Which brings me back to the "black community" lie.
Last year's election was important to many but where are a lot of them today? There should be just as many people pushing for health care and for a Main Street bailout. We have to be strategic, numerically formidable and persistent. We have to stop waiting for somebody else to step forward. If it is safe to do so we have to - of course using wisdom to assess the situation.
As a non-white person living in a dominant white culture there is much I could find fault with. There are other abuses and misuses of power going on that have a big impact. I have to talk about all of them, not just the things that may immediately affect me. We have to try to right the cosmic imbalance and get it as balanced as possible. Of course I know things will never be equal, but many people seem stuck on railing against that. We have to move things in increments. So this is how I am doing my part. This may not be your "issue". Find a cause and put out some effort towards the light. One pebble and one ripple becomes many and we can turn the tide.