Friday, February 4, 2011

Preaching to the Choir

I was sitting in a room yesterday, actually the same room I sat in for most of yesterday, at a day-long summit run by the folks at NYAC. I looked around the room and saw about 50 faces all looking back at me. There was an innate connection we all had because of our age, all between 17 and 24, our experience as students and activists, and our passion for making a difference in this world whether it's in our communities, on our college campuses, or just in our own lives. I met people with similar stories to my own and stories that are completely unique. And with this group of people I spent hours and hours talking and working through the issues of intersectionality, or rather reaching intersectionality.

As activists, whether experienced or newly exposed because of programs like pfp, a lot of us often acknowledged feeling that pull to DO EVERYTHING. The pressure is on to be part of any social justice issue that needs more power. So when do we come to the point of standing in solidarity and proclaiming that as human beings, we can only accomplish so much in 24 hours, and balancing that with the notion that we have to support the movements that we may think don't affect us if we really want to make a change?

We started with identifying those movements. Most of us in the room work in queer and/or youth organizing in some capacity. We were asked to move to one side of the room or the other depending on whether or not we felt that certain issues (accessible housing, issues facing communities of color, the fight for marriage equality, etc...) were part of our own movements. That led to conversations about when and how we own and check our privilege, and how often we call people out on theirs.

To sum up a the reflection, yesterday was a reminder that change of mind starts from the inside and moves outward. If we want to achieve intersectionality, it has to move beyond a room of activists privileged enough to be in a room together at Creating Change. On the flip side, if we want to survive as young people and the future of this movement, we have to recognize that we have boundaries. There are issues that make me uncomfortable. I have triggers. I have weak spots. I have limitations. And sometimes it's beneficial to acknowledge the discomfort and then sit in it, but sometimes it's ok to not. To put it aside, pass it off, or run away in the name of sanity.

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