This movement is a cycle. We uplift our voices to speak to the injustices and war on Black, Indigenous, and Brown people of the world. Leaders arise from these masses of people to help “guide” us, educate and organize us against the oppressive systems we’ve identified as responsible for our suffering. These leaders, individuals growing, healing, and unlearning the biases and socialization of a white patriarchal imperialist power are now responsible for the lives, growth, healing and unlearning of an entire community. They rise to fame and popularity, become envied and desired by many, hated by more, and targeted by the few. They either die, go to prison, sell out, disappear, kill themselves, exile, or continue the work. This has been the cycle of our movements. Our organizers work themselves to death if not physically, emotionally and mentally from carrying their communities on their back. They take on the responsibility of so much with very little in return, and all of this is understood when taking on this lifestyle. But this lifestyle is no longer sustainable for a movement that can influence the change that is needed.
Responsibility on all levels is the foundation to this movement. We, as individuals, must take responsibility for our lives, and we must act as such. There is no one who revives the organizer after burnout. The organizer revives themselves. In theory, community is meant to be there, but in this movement today, that’s not the case. After the organized infiltration and destruction of the Black Power Movement, War on Drugs, our community has been left in shambles. We are broken and far more splintered than ever before. Movement work must start on the most basic and yet most difficult level-self. We must learn the art to care for oneself. What does it mean to be responsible for your life? Your whole life and the actions you make in this life. Building a sense of self-awareness that begins to inform your actions in your daily interactions with yourself and others. We call this intentionality. Sure, organizers are critical in this step because they are the people to be the safeguards and to help “guide” you towards living a life of intentional actions that lead to a personal revolution and collective liberation; but there is a thin line. Organizers show you the need to even adopt such a life perspective, but the organizer cannot be the hero and leader we used to know in this movement. You, the self, the individual, are the only hero you have. Place your freedom, wellbeing, and future in the hands of someone else, and you are bound to remain a slave or at the feet of someone else.
We fear responsibility. The government we have today has taught us this. The government makes decisions for us, creates a reality for us to live in, and allows us to have enough power and enough say, but assumes we do not have the capacity to make informed decisions on things concerning our basic necessities like housing, food, and healthcare. We give up our agency to control things in our lives like housing, food, and healthcare under the guise of citizenship, not sustaining life or humanity. Our consent is coerced through the promises of “justice for all” and “equal opportunity.” We have also allowed this; it is how we’ve gotten to this point. These big systems that are in place mock our intelligence and our capabilities for seeing the world the way it is and how we have experienced it. Moreover it is clearer that the experiences of specific populations are never to be considered as points of intelligence and information that can inform how these institutions can and should function in our lives.
So how do we take back our lives? How do we take responsibility for our lives personally and communally? The only way for this to be a foundational building block within a movement is to start with the self. One can only define the act of responsibility by doing it. Take responsibility for what you ingest and consume on a daily basis. Take responsibility for the people you entertain in your life. Take responsibility for your skills and capabilities. Take responsibility of the agency and power you do have in this reality despite whatever intersections you reside at. You may have no agency and power within these systems, but you do have power over your actions and how you decide to navigate.
We need to build movements built on responsibility for the self and quit the idol worship. I am human filled with many flaws, pains, and trauma. I cannot be what you need to feel free or be liberated. I cannot and will define your worth. I cannot believe in your worth for you. When all oppressed people can realize their power and strength and their right to determine their future for themselves informed by a perspective best for them, then we can have a true movement that goes beyond the cycle of false idols and burnt out organizers. We need something sustainable, and from where I’m standing this is the path we must explore to reach any kind of freedom or liberation.