Humanity’s New Normal
It feels like the world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. The wellbeing of the world and the people who inhabit it is at stake and has been for awhile. During this time, we are facing an international humanitarian crisis. These are issues of the collective vs individual, and human rights vs politics. Despite recent light being shed on these movements, these issues have BEEN happening and have reached a tipping point.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of movements and human rights issues currently happening:
- Black Lives Matter and police brutality
- Yemen Crisis
- Indigenous communities and COVID19
- Racism: environmental, medical, etc.
- ICE: detention centers and international students
- China’s concentration camps
- Voter suppression
- Philippines Junk Terror Bill
- Prison labor
- Bangladeshi garment workers #payup
- Birth control legislation
- Palestine and erasure of history
- LGBTQIA+ rights
- Climate change and the Arctic Circle fires
I have been feeling overwhelmed with information recently. As a privileged woman of color, I recognize this privilege, in being able to only have to encounter feeling overwhelmed. I’ve shifted my mindset from “I need to focus on education and action-items only” to “It is critical for sustainable and long-term change to have a balance of education, action-items and integration, celebration & amplification of BIPOC work in all spaces, most, if not all, of which have been dominated and curated for the white gaze.”
Although I’ve been doing the work since I became more aware of and invested in matters of human rights issues when I was around 14–15 years old, specifically for the past few months, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been running on a treadmill at 100 mph, constantly reposting important human rights issues on my social media to spread the word, help inform, donating, get more petition signatures, donations, etc.
I was (and actively still am) signing petitions nonstop, donating as much as I can to as many verified organizations for support, making calls and writing personally crafted emails to legislative representatives, and educating myself more with resources directly recommended by BIPOC activists and educators.
However, by running on this hamster wheel 24/7, I was starting to burnout. I started to feel myself grow desensitized, grow angry that all of this shouldn’t be happening in the first place if systems and governments served their original purpose of being there for the people, instead of harming them. Were they not created to serve the people? To help them? Like isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of government? The original intentions of many systems have crumbled, leaving little that is salvageable, both in a good and bad way. Good that systemic oppression is being unearthed slowly, but bad that the government is doing more to harm progress than help. Humankind needs to be there for one another, as corruption and oppression runs rampant and seeps through every aspect of life, including bureaucracy and government. It feels like a lot to take on. I felt drained of energy. I felt sad that there wasn’t more I could do. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. Black lives need justice, Yemen needs relief, Bangladeshi garment workers should be paid, human rights shouldn’t be politicized. There is so much happening all at once. I recognize my privilege in my feelings and am actively working on using my privilege to help.
Recently, I took a break from social media and the news for a couple days, just to recharge and remind myself of why this work is important. Corruption, systemic oppression, white savior complex, societal norms curated for the white male and white gaze, and human rights violations run so deep that it perpetuates nearly every aspect of life and has become normalized.
I reminded myself that it is okay to not be going 100% all the time. As long as my foot is on the gas pedal, change will follow. Every action matters. So for you reading this, please keep your foot on the gas pedal. Reserve time every day to take action. For example, utilize an hour every day to sign petitions, alone or even with your friends in a COVID-safe way (through video call or something while streaming a video that will donate all ad revenue like Zoe Amira’s on YouTube). Post information on social media, whether to amplify BIPOC’s messages or do a specific action-item. Call your representatives. Write personal emails to them, so they won’t filter out like templated ones will. Stay educating yourself and reevaluating your own personal biases. Put your money where your mouth is and donate. (resources listed below) Call out racist and homophobic statements, using productive discussion to move the conversation forward.
… If you take away anything from this…
Remember to also reserve time every day away from social media and the news. Practice self-care in a way that allows you to feel joy in a way that isn’t burdened. This is something I personally struggled with and am still working on. There is so much happening, and I constantly felt like if I experienced any joy in small moments and pleasures, it should be brushed off. My mentality was: I’m not allowed to experience unburdened happiness when many cannot afford the same luxury, especially right now. But I soon recognized the toxic mentality this enabled. It created a world of two realities, one being activism and one being indulgent. It implied that just because I feel joy or am being indulgent means, I’m not being an active ally. But, I’ve been working on replacing and proceeding with this mentality instead: Maybe spend some time online shopping, if that’s your thing, from Black-owned businesses. Find realistic and sustainable ways to replace products and services that have been created using prison labor/unethical practices. Celebrate, enjoy and share BIPOC joy, art, stories, authors, creativity, services and products, etc. This is also self-care and sustainable. It is easy to grow desensitized to human rights violations, police brutality etc. when that is all you see and spread information about. The end goal is to do what you can for these movements sustainably. Listen and learn from activists who have been doing this work but just as importantly: Amplify, integrate and celebrate BIPOC in your daily life! Remove the narrative that you need to separate BIPOC work from your personal life. It is important and critical to recognize that BIPOC are not limited to being antiracist educators and activists. BIPOC have amazing businesses, creative platforms, and more. Know that systemic oppression is a not something that can be solved overnight or within a few months. You can’t be actively antiracist without also celebrating, supporting and following BIPOC in your daily life.
Here as some websites that cover what is happening in succinct and informational ways. I do not want to take up space on this post to compile educational resources and action-items when these platforms have already put in tremendous energy and time. Please remember that this necessary process of unlearning and learning is difficult. It is not supposed to be easy. You will need to openly work through your own biases and be able to take criticism from BIPOC individuals. It is important to amplify the BIPOC voices of those who have been doing this nuanced work, not take up their space to center your own voice.
CURRENT INFO CARRD LINKS
A list of carrds regarding info on current global events
Here is a non-exhaustive list and starting point of some amazing accounts to follow and amplify the voices of on Instagram. As a huge platform that many of us can spend hours on, make your time useful and intentional. You’ll find a mix of BIPOC environmentalists, educators, activists, artists, creatives, and more.
@lilnativeboy @black.party @cocoalizzy @nycxclothes @theaphrodite @oghalealex @justseconds @itstarekali @nowhitesaviors @decolonizemyself @indigenousrising @riseindigenous @dineaesthetics @canoecanoa @crutches_and_spice @melaninmvskoke @digdeepwater @themitakuyefoundation @ndncollective @seukteomaaa @kumeyaaydefenseagainstthewall @indigenousclimateaction @malaya.texas @rachel.cargle @chasinggarza @ijeomaoluo @moemotivate @tamikadmallory @trustmeimasocialworker @mspackyetti @austinchanning @notyourmommashistory @slavedwellingproject @kimberlymjenkins @fashionandracedatabase @blackcraftspeopleda @blackarchives.co @ablackhistoryofart @magthehistorian @blackhistory @wetheurban @uyghurprojectig @blklivesmatter @blackvisionscollective @ashleemariepreston @raquel_willis @indyamoore @colorofchange @shityoushouldcareabout @redfishstream @np.illustrates @offgridincolor @weactforej @theblackfeministproject @urbancreators @greenworkercooperatives @agirlhasnopresident @theslowfactory @shop.thoughtful @whomade.yourclothes @privtoprog @munroebergdorf @theconsciouskid @darkest.hue @fridacashflow @arthoecollective @angryasianfeminist @yemenifeministmovement @yemenialliancecommittee @yemenpeaceproject @yemenaidus @soyouwanttotalkabout @queerbrownvegan @wearethepeace @civilrightsorg @thedreamdefenders @aclu_nationwide @zinneducationproject @wastefreemarie @accordingtoweeze
I have learned more from the direct work of BIPOC and through their social media than the history books I read in school. I’ve learned more about the historical truth of events that were intended to be concealed. I’ve learned more about what you should and can actively do to be more than performative. And this is just the beginning.
Originally published at https://thesonusunroom.com on July 11, 2020.