Social Justice & Organizing Work

Not Your Martyr, Not Your Idealization

I once was told that being an organizer is a hopeful act. “Trying to change the world we live in just seems so impossible” he told me, “so when you dedicate your life to it you seem like a person who believes in the future.” This idea of organizing being hopeful, although I understand why someone could perceive this work as such, just seems to me like such a privileged statement. “Hopeful,” coming out of the mouth of a cynical asshole, is riddled with so much condescending implications, as if I’m simply a naive college student who’s trying to save everyone.

But I’m not. I don’t organize to add a few bullet points to my resume, I organize to survive. I organize because living under this system is unbearable. I organize to protect my family, friends, and myself. I organize because the weight of my peoples’ suppression is something I refuse to comply to. Most people haven’t sat in on any kind of organizing meeting before, nor studied theory in a collective setting. Organizing is not glamorous, it’s painstaking and slow. It requires a deep understanding of self, and your political beliefs, while still understanding that many folks at the table are unorganized and haven’t picked up Marx in their entire lives. It takes a level of resilience and endurance that is driven by the love for the masses.

On a difference face of the same coin, organizers themselves shouldn’t be idealized. I found this hurdle in my own dating life, which is put on a very long pause as I work through my own shit, where cis men in particular put me on some kind of pedestal for doing this work. I’m a multifaceted human being. I’m strong in many ways, from my militancy to my vulnerability. I fall apart, I cry. I like to drink and party, but I also like to stay cooped up in the library and work on my writing. I’m not anyone’s martyr, I’m myself. I am bigger than my organizing and my identities.



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