A letter to the tired activist: We must ‘fight like hell’

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What do we do when the rainbow isn’t enough? Anyone who knows me knows that I do not frequently find myself without words, but I must admit, it has taken much effort, contemplation and prayer for me to even sit down to write this. When the opportunity presented itself to write about our choice as a nation to elect a white supremacist candidate to the office of the presidency, I jumped.

However, the words did not come easily. At first, I wanted to write a letter to white women, approximately 53 percent (among their voting population) of whom chose their whiteness over the safety of undocumented folks, black folks and other groups heavily shaken by Tuesday’s outcome. Then, I thought about writing a letter to white people who call themselves “progressive” but never addressed the racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic and transphobic reasons their family members chose to support our president-elect. After all these thoughts settled in my brain, I have elected to write a letter to my people — a letter to the tired activist — a letter to those struggling to see the rainbow of hope right now.

On Wednesday, I cried uncontrollably for hours. I did not cry because of some political election. I cried the tears of my ancestors. I cried because, like many of you, we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams, and yet, these past few days have felt more like 1877 than what the world should look like in 2016. I am writing to you today to say: feel it all. Cry if you need to. Feel black rage if you need to. Listen to Kendrick until your ears bleed. If you feel despair and hopelessness, feel that too. We are not the superhumans white supremacy often asks us to be. We are magic and real.

For those of you who are looking for an outlet to express your feelings know that I am here. We are all here. Go to BSA’s meetings. Go to St. Louis Action Council’s healing spaces. Hell, sit in the Cross Cultural Center, knowing that you will eventually see the face of someone who looks like you. For those who want to shut those feelings out, do that. Do not stay in a place of numbness, but take care of yourselves. Netflix has plenty of amazing children’s movies and TV shows that have brought me joy on days in which the world is terrible.

I am not going to tell you everything will be okay. I do not know that. I believe people when they say they want to deport my friends. I believe the vice president-elect when he says he wants to shock me out of queerness. I take seriously the more than 200 hate crimes that have been committed since Tuesday. I do not take lightly that KKK chapters around the country have celebrated our president-elect’s ascent to power. While I do not know everything will be okay, what I do know is that we as a people are gon’ be alright.

When things are dark and you cannot see your way out, take comfort in our rich history of resistance. You may not feel ready to resist just yet, but know that deep inside of us, the ancestors have provided all the tools we need for this. As we deal with the reality of Tuesday’s results at the local, state and federal levels, please understand that the struggle is universal. Queer folks, black folks, indigenous folks, folks with disabilities, practitioners of Islam, trans folks, etc. have been struggling and will continue to do so with this new administration. We must show up for one another. Now is not a time for “oppression olympics.”

Rest up, friends. The struggle is a marathon, not a sprint. Save up your energy because we will need you for the long haul. Before I leave you, I have one final piece of advice to share. Many years ago, as she faced criminal prosecution after becoming an enemy of the state, Assata Shakur wrote: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” We may never reach liberation. We may not be able to rid ourselves of the chains of oppression that tie us all down and prevent human connection. We may not reach that far-off ideal, but it is upon us to fight like hell as if we can.