learnings from darkness

walking in the shadows, purposefully out of focus, it was uncustomary for me to be illuminated. in dark places was where i found solace and safety, it was where i could not be found. it was where i could not be outcasted either, manhandled into the corner, into the margins. instead i was casting myself out, gently sliding into the crevices where i could not be seen, heard or bothered.

i don’t understand the term “leader” from my lived experience, to put myself so far into the light would blind me, it seems. but to be revolutionary is to be leader in some way or twist, perhaps not like how the so-called-revolutionaries-but-really-murderous-colonizers are characterized or even the watered-down-so-they’re-easier-to-swallow MLKs, Mandelas and Gandhis that our hystory books have taught us about. to be a revolutionary leader is to notice the reality of where we are- time, place and people. it is to listen to and recognize the hystorical moment as such and to act and adapt according to the need of it, the need to move it forward under the propellant of revolutionary intention, strategy and most importantly, the propellant of the many many beating hearts harmonizing liberation all at once.

to be in the light sometimes but not casting shadows, to speak loudly but never over, to inspire the people but to know that they already know, they just need to be reminded, is leadership that i’ve borne witness to but the light, the light is something my eyes are still adjustin’ to.

my strengths as a leader, the strengths that i’ve been cultivating since the days of hiding in the colors of midnight lie in listening deeply to those who i speak to and who speak back, to the time that tells me where we are at, to our people’s hystory when i will myself to know.

my strengths as a leader, the strengths that i’ve been cultivating since the days of hiding in the colors of midnight lie in thinking deeply about what i see and what i’ve been told, about learning new ways and old, about the fantastic and creative places our movement of liberation will soon go.

my strengths as a leader, the strengths that i’ve been cultivating since the days of hiding in the colors of midnight lie in going deeply into the experience of how we sense the world, into the context of why capitalism is designed to hurt us and into the strategy of how we can hurt it back so we can heal.

my strengths as a leader, the strengths that i’ve been cultivating since the days of hiding in the colors of midnight lie in supporting, in loving, in guiding the moment, the person, the people, the comrades, myself.

my strengths as a leader lie in the many many beating hearts harmonizing liberation all at once.

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written for a revolutionary study group in Oakland, CA.

prompt for this meeting’s readings- STORM; Tyranny of Structurelessness and Capitalism Destroys Us, Movement Heals Us: what does leadership look like to you, ideally, in political organizing and struggle? do you see yourself being / becoming a leader, politically?  what kind of leader?  what are your strengths or weaknesses according to your own ideas of what good leadership is? if you don’t believe leadership is positive, what other roles or arrangements, do you prefer, politically?

facebook thread: is the term “destruction” when calling upon the necessity to “destroy capitalism” antithetical to buddhism?

i can see why the word “destruction” can connotate something negative because particularly in the west, the duality of “bad” and “good” exists so heavily. to me, though, destruction, as well as, creation is just change. when change happens in our lives, personally, interpersonally, collectively, systemically, we have the ability to see and feel both loss and gain, both destruction and creation. and i think to see and feel both is to notice the reality of what is, that life encompasses both and all. i think when capitalism is destroyed, when our hystory moves from this economic system to another, as it has done in the past, we will in its place have to create another way of relating to each other. i see capitalism as a hystorical necessity but not as a necessity of happiness- it is not built that way. and its my hope that our way of relating will be something more whole, empowered and supportive than capitalism has served for us because really, in all this “good” we see in capitalism, we need to ask ourselves, what are we really seeing? who is it really good for? who is really benefitting? and what has benefitting actually been defined as? do we want to benefit on the backs of poor, brown and marginalized? if so, i will be one of those that capitalism exploits and thrives off of and so will my communities. and i’m not ok with that. i’m not ok that behind the glittered veil of commodities, of more of everything, of the delusion of more, we have an assembly line of suffering- of our bodies and of our land. i fully support and will continuously engage in destroying capitalism, as will i fully support and will continuously engage in the creation of something else, a something else that centers itself on our connection rather than our alienation. to me destruction can be a beautiful thing.

in our quest to merge our spiritual with our political, we must let reality, as it continues to change, permeate how we see ourselves in the world. it is important to remain dialectical, to collide the past with our present in order to form the questions that will inspire creation, that will inspire us to look at what is without dogma, attachment or romanticism.

questions in preparation for the first radical poc fuckin’ sangha (meditation in community) at the makerspace-LOL:

  • what does individual liberation look like without collective liberation? how does privilege play into that?
  • what about nonviolence vs. armed resistance? what about the violence enacted on us everyday by capitalism, by colonialism?
  • and how about stealing? what is theft really when land, resources and community have been and are perpetually stolen from us?

my pedagogy has been out of wack.

i’ve been in the i-don’t-really-want-to-talk-to-you-i-just-need-you-to-know-that-i’m-right state of mind. reactive. and feeling alone. this tends to happen when i’m in close proximity to family. it’s probably because i’m quite unacceptable to them. my anti-capitalist, meditation sitting, brown community loving, resistance marching, womyn holding, vegetarian eating, sloppy boigirl wearing ways confound them. i’m unlike anyone they have the confusion of knowing.

i am how they understand the word “strange”.

perhaps it is my strangeness that makes them think that i will not survive. this makes some sense because lonely strange creatures do not survive evolution. i guess then it’s no wonder why this lonely strange creature in an environment unaccepting would defend hard, strong, and frankly, stubbornly, their right to survive.

maybe that’s why i have recently approached every question of me and my walk through the world as a match i must win.

i listen only for their weakness and stumble.

i stalk their contradictions.

i let out steam and roar to cue my beginning.

i shred each limb that stretch into my borders,

silence every screech that penetrate my comfort.

but every time i can’t look into their eyes without attacking, every instance that i refuse to listen to their strengths and guide their stumbles (and let them guide mine), every moment i remove support from where they are, is every bit closer i come to the demise of the collective, every bit further i move away from radical pedagogy based on curiosity, listening and love.

because we aren’t always gonna like what others have to say about the world, how they perceive us in it and whether or not they accept us fully. but none of us are there yet, we can’t be, we still got a system to take down and a beautiful story to create-a story full of magnificently strange revolutionaries building life communally. and we ain’t gonna  do that without each other.

so what can we do to distance ourselves from reaction and connect us to our community (whether with one that’s formed or forming):

  • notice our bodies internal physical reactions, they tell us that external reactions may be on their way.
  • breathe before speaking or doing to create space between evolving self and reaction. this can dull reaction or even bring forth a response.¹
  • ask questions with curiosity rather than give answers for this will deepen our connection and sharpen our understanding of why people’s feelings, experiences and opinions are what they are. we need this to grow empathy between one another and to know how to proceed intentionally into challenging and transformative relationships. it is a necessary component of pedagogy with a revolutionary base. this will also create space between our ego, our reaction and our evolving self because, really, we don’t always have it right and the sometimes that we do, people don’t often learn from rude awakenings.
  • express how we feel or what we think under the framework of relating to the other person or people, so barriers against understanding each other break down. for example, using shared language or relating similar experiences. this will serve to also break down the barriers that reactiveness puts up: we are alone, no one understands us, these other people are sucky, ignorant and ridiculous.
  • take physical space from people when we feel our triggers are bordering on trauma. retraumatizing ourselves only takes us away from connection and our own power. we need to be kind to ourselves to maintain our kindness towards others.
  • remember those that we’re in loving, accepting community with, including our own accepting selves. those with whom our weirdness is reciprocated. those who fiercely get us and find our strangeness absolutely delightful because we need to remind ourselves when we feel alone and alienated that we aren’t and people are there, we are there.

it is true lonely strange creatures will not survive…

but we don’t have to be alone.

¹ a reaction is similar to a response but without choice or agency over how, what, when and to what degree our emotions, thoughts and actions will be exchanged.