the ability to the explain and contextualize pain is a powerful one.
you (black, mestiço, immigrant, lgbt) already knew how the world functioned. you could feel it on your body, wordlessly yet painfully, unknown whips striking red welts on your brown skin, leaving behind thick scars.
navigating the world, the one thing you felt most of all was an intense loneliness and alienation from others.
you know that from an early age you were not like your classmates. they had pale faces, rosy cheeks, almost colorless straight hair. nearly all your features were brown like fresh spring dirt, hair like fuzzy coils. most of their eyes were blue, or green, or maybe their eyes changed colors when they were angry or sad. you looked into the mirror and saw nothing special. two small eyes as dark as coffee beans squinting back. nothing special.
you asked your mother when your skin would become white like your classmates. you dont remember the answer. you were nine.
the next year, more immigrants showed up to town. there were more people like you! still, those early years haunted you and left you with another lingering, baffling question: why? why was i not like them? and why did they make a point of reminding me that i was different?
when you grew older, you felt the tug of puberty on your body. from tall, lanky boyish creature you morphed into a womanesque figure overnight. and suddenly all eyes were on you. again you asked why. why boys and men could not keep their hands to themselves. why they resorted to trickery to touch you. why you had a body at all.
and for years and decades, you couldnt explain this, couldnt explain the why, couldnt explain what it wasnt. these events just happened. you were told to deal with it. the world was a cruel place, you were told, and this is how it worked. you were born with a certain hand and if you were dealt a poor hand there was very little you could really do.
for all the rhetoric of the american dream, most people do not believe the world could (or should) change much at all.
things changed when you discovered marx and lenin. then you discovered intersectionality, influenced in part by angela davis but developed by kimberlé williams crenshaw. crenshaw follows a long, beautiful history of powerful black woman thinkers like patricia hill collins and audre lorde. and even more exciting than the theory was the history of socialist experiments, including some going on at this very moment!
watching all these ideas and theories work together in books and in history and in the real world awakened something within you. it was possible then. history could be changed and you were not merely a passive victim of circumstance.
at last, you had the right words, the right ideas, the right framework. but most importantly, you gained the knowledge that you were one of billions of people who saw injustice and, indeed, trembled with indignation.
with that, you moved forward.
but the world of activism is unfortunately not as idealistic as you believed. the fear of leftist tyranny weighs heavily on peoples minds, even among leftists. it would be a crime if black people enslaved whites or if women oppressed men. and surely, it is the responsibility of all leftists to not duplicate those systems of oppression, is it not? so we mustnt fall into that trap of becoming extremists and doing something silly like abolishing white supremacy or patriarchal rule!
as a person of color, you must choose between the marxist identity and your racial one. either you betray your race or your comrades — some books are ‘racialist’ and thus anti communist for being too mean to the white man, so you must pick from the approved list of authors of color who are just kind enough to white people. in order to remain among the left you must not make whites uncomfortable (how about post nation of islam malcolm x?).
and if it ever happens, you must choose between ruining a good mans life or ruining your own. youre guilty either way. because the patriarchy is definitely terrible but no leftist man is capable of perpetuating misogyny/abuse — in fact all leftist men, you included, are gentle, sweet things.
we only slide into DMs as friends, send unsolicited nudes as friends, sexually harass women as friends, drop slurs as friends, commit sex crimes as friends, and of course, cover for our rapist friends as friends. we will do anything for the left if theres an attack against our favorite podcasters in the daily mail or the new yorker but women are our lads — surely, theyll understand?
and of course, if they dont then theyre fucking harpies who will kill those poor rapists among us.
you watch scandal after scandal go down in organization after organization, conflict after conflict arise from simple misunderstandings clearly stemming from the fact that one party dislikes another because they view the other as The Other. and you feel your heart squeeze and you ask yourself once again: why?
among the left, The Other is always the same Other as in anywhere else.
The Other is the survivor no one believes because it was their friend and their friend is such a nice guy so clearly they must be lying.
The Other is the trans woman who everyone just tolerates because of course they do, its part of what theyre Supposed To Do but god help her if she so much as steps out of line.
The Other is the black woman you whine about in DMs with white friends for being too aggressive about racists constantly attacking her.
The Other is a gay man asking people to please stop using the word nonce only to get blocked by half a dozen people he thought was his friend.
The Other is a mentally ill person too afraid to ask their ‘friends’ to stop dropping slurs.
because their friends are good leftists, they would never be racists. they would never be ableists. they would never be transmisogynists, racists, predators.
unfortunately for these people, they gravely misunderstand what the left stands for.
you know what the left means. you know who the left is for.
when you look down at your brown skin, now covered in real scars instead of metaphorical ones, painted by decades of trauma, you remember what drove you to lenin in the first place. when you looked into the mirror the night it happened, you vowed, never again, and swore it would never happen to anyone else either.
and yet it does, and thats why you fight, and thats why you continue, and thats why you havent ended it all yet.
because the left is yours, because this world is yours, because all that the worker produces belongs to the working class, because you are the working class, because the trans woman is the working class, because the black woman is the working class, because the survivor is the working class, because the third world is the working class.
and you stare back into the mirror at your coffee bean eyes and know that ideological purity is the only way to ensure that this world becomes truly yours. never again will anyone deny you the right to your humanity. not on the left, not on this earth.