Image description: Photo collage of Jameelah Jones in the passenger seat of a car on a sunny day. Her afro, Jackie, is in a short, curly 4c style. Shes wearing pink lipstick and showing off her new glasses. She is living.

This Fauxtivist dumpster fire just wants to live or:

How to survive in the margins when the coin doesn’t come

I wrote a letter to myself that I plan to read on days like today. On days when Im made to feel like… like my work doesn’t matter. When I feel like as long as there is someone to tell white folks that Black people like me are doing it wrong… I might not survive.

Hello you dear, remarkable, peculiar, anxious, out of control, divine being:

About Digital Space

Always hold digital space in the esteem it deserves. Specifically, the people who work in digital spaces. For most, closed doors, glass ceilings, and all the other metaphors for inaccessible space are made just a bit more manageable by a Facebook post, a Twitter thread, or a body positive Instagram account. You will NEVER forget the digital space that you needed (and still need). This is more than the white corporate “watch what you post or you won’t get hired” speech. No, my dear. This is your reminder that to some, digital space is sacred space, is community space, is healing space. And the real people who occupy it are never to be discounted. Retweets have saved TV shows and found endangered children, and helped oppressors unlearn. Digital activism has fundamentally changed the way we ‘do the work”.

ALSO- It’s wildly ableist and classist to discount digital activism in any way. To do so is to claim that there is a hierarchy to what work is and what isn’t.

About Labor

Know that although you are incredible, valuable and MORE than enough, value is rarely yours to assign. Specifically, it is never your place to decide whose labor deserves to be compensated. Remember when you had to crowdfund your dreams. Remember the miracle 40 dollars that appeared when you were on your last bag of brown rice and your mom had no more savings to give you. Remember that crowdfunding, specifically funding for one-on-one educational work, is the grassroots activism many are afraid to do. It is the “improper” activism that exposes a person’s true desire to meet the needs of the people. It is to say that poverty is not a punishment for poverty. It is to push the boundaries of the capitalist, corporate, business model definition of labor. It is to say that the community is fragile when just ONE of us lacks absolutely anything.

ALSO- Always remember that all Black folk DESERVE to be paid for their labor. And the folks who use Paypal are often the Black queer, trans, and poor women we all claim to care about. Don’t tell women to get their coin, but only in the way you approve. That’s not support- that classim rooted in the narrative of African American women as lazy welfare queens who abuse decent peoples’s hard earned money.

About anger

Never cease to be angry. Never cease to be moved to tears, to cursing, to teeth grinding, to a Facebook drag. Always be moved to seemingly useless anger at the cyclical nature of oppression. There is more than enough contempt for the angry to go around. If you ever want to know how you feel about Black people, track your reaction when you are angry at us. Don’t get angry with Black folks and then remember that it’s okay to call us niggers. When you are angry, own your anger. But do not succumb to the aggression that whiteness has taught you.

ALSO- It’s easy to condemn angry folk when you don’t have a lot to be mad about. If you’re ever more pressed by the anger than the oppression that causes it-quit calling yourself an activist. You’re a popular Black person who chooses to be helpful at their leisure-nothing more.

About Decisions

Sometimes, you will have to decide what life you want to live. You’ll have to decide, in a moment, who you are going to be. You have made the wrong decision before. You’ve chosen to be the one who gossiped, who lied, who ran away. You defended and hid in the blanket of your popularity. But hopefully, the folks, YOUR folks that are so confidently discounted will teach you differently. Your folks will help you create a new family. A new dynamic. A new way to walk through the world that is complicated and humbling. Hold your folks close and hear them when they say you’re on some bullshit. And fix it. Heal in the way you once needed and will need again.

ALSO- Be human. Snatch your humanity from the jaws of those who seek to eat you alive. Live the clichés that people clap for.

And if the applause stops, if the checks never clear, if agents don’t come knocking…If the coin never comes because this is the path you chose, let that be okay.

Jameelah does work. She has a degree in African and African American studies and a degree in English. She writes poetry. Shes a misfit Christian who keeps her anxiety in check with family, poetry, planning, pageants, and writing.