Why I joined YDSA (a.k.a. a comrade’s journey)
by Desmond Polk
Looking back on it all, I would say that me joining YDSA was the end result of my passion for social justice and my political journey to the left. When I was a teenager, basically a few months ago, there was a lot going on that pushed me out of the safe zone of liberalism and into left politics and frankly, I’m glad that happened.
First, the Black Lives Matter movement impacted me personally as a black man. To watch the same story play out over and over again, where a black person is killed or harmed by an officer and right-wingers cheer while liberals wag their fingers at protesters and activists, is, in lack of a better term, a mindfu*k. At the same time, I was coming to terms with being gay, which was bittersweet, as I was forced to come to terms with the homophobia of my environment while at the same time discovering a community and culture that I didn’t know I had. Finally, there were certain things going on in gaming and comic book communities (which I will not name), that made me rethink these “geek” spaces I was interacting with and how a lot of people in them are only a few steps away from the alt-right *side-eyes certain youtubers.*
While all these events and movements were happening, I was a passive participant. It’s not that I didn’t want to do activism and march in the streets, but I didn’t know anybody to work with and most importantly, I didn’t want to piss off my family. I had this scenario in my head that I’d go out and do some activist work just to come home and get fussed at or put out. So instead, I learned, I read over activist writings and learned concepts and theories like intersectionality, internalized bigotry, and how capitalism ties into our problems and makes them worse.
The passiveness faded away during my first year in college. I had grown restless in only interacting with other leftists through the internet and knew I wanted to join a student organization. In my ambition I joined the student Marxist group but they never had any meetings, so I joined YDSA of Oakland University. My journey doesn’t stop there, though. Although I joined YDSA and felt like I was finally with my peers, I was still playing the passive position. I came to meetings, watched Powerpoints andremained a fly on the wall as the other members talked foreign policy. It was fine but I wanted more!
Then came two things, e-board elections and working with Michigan Student Power Network (MSPN). Just as the first semester was coming to an end, YDSA of OU had an e-board election and I threw my hat into the ring to be secretary. Then I was bumped up to vice president a few months ago. Between the end of my first year and the beginning of my second year, I got in contact and trained with Michigan Student Power Network. The previous president of YDSA of OU, Kiera, put me in touch with them. With them I learned about non-hierarchical organizing and the type of socialism I’m practicing: co-liberatory socialism. Through MSPN I was encouraged not just to be active in organizing but also to help rebuild my organization to be stronger and more active.
So now here we are. I’m the current vice president of YDSA of OU and even though the semester just started, I’m feeling very optimistic about our future. One could even say, it’s the start of a new journey.