Every day we choose to be less united.
In 2010, I was fortunate enough to work with an organization that sent their community organizers to the US Social Forum in Detroit, Michigan. It was so beautiful to see so many folks who had dedicated their lives to improving life for all of us in the USA. We were there in mass force, to both learn from each other and see how capitalism unchecked (and maybe capitalism in general) can leave an entire city full of human beings incapacitated and at a loss. We got to see how the folks in Detroit were faring under the inhumanity allowed to thrive when large corporations are not governed by the people appropriately, when a company’s success does not belong to the people who created it.
We also got to see how even though so many people were giving their lives to fight inhumanity, inhumanity was flourishing. And, flourishing. And… flourishing.
While there, I became increasingly saddened. Where was the collective power of 100s and 1000s of non-profits formed to address greed? It didn’t really exist. And as long as we all separated our work, it wasn’t going to.
It’s now 2021 and the observation stands.
If you don’t stop nourishing the root of a problem, the problem never goes away and the life it feeds only grows stronger. We use capitalistic mentalities to fight capitalism. We use greedy mentalities to fight greed. We use inhuman strategies to fight inhumanity.
We don’t make sense.
Recently, a new term that could be used to describe me became popular: BIPOC. It’s POC with the B and I extrapolated and centered. I don’t know why. I guess the B and the I are supposed to be more important?
No, that can’t be it. All POC matter and are in the same frying pan, even if some are geographically closer to the center, the part directly above the flame. All POC are in the same oil, all burning to death in the same, hot grease.
But that’s what happens when inauthentic power becomes the lens through which everyone looks, including the blind. More divisions and less solidarity. More ways to center one group’s plight when everyone is dying from the same imbalance.
I think of this every time I discuss identity with someone. Why are we always searching for more identities to attach to? Who taught us this is wise and/or necessary? What is the use of identities outside of oppression dynamics and power plays?
I am a human being. That is my only true identity. We’ve discovered sexuality is a spectrum, so why keep dividing ourselves because of it? We’ve discovered gender and race are social constructs, so why keep dividing ourselves into groups accordingly?
How can we progress if we’re constantly dividing ourselves into smaller factions? Who has ever heard of a single individual wielding as much power as a collective? Who has ever heard of a single collective wielding as much power as a collection of collectives?
Oppressors understand this. That’s why they band together. They know that their shared value of suppressing you is more important than the various ways they might disagree over how to accomplish the task. They make room for a variety of harms and we divvy up responsibility for those harms while they laugh.
I await the day we collectively realize that we are only stronger together. And, not when we decide that we’ll give you the mantle for the day and hold it ourselves another day, but when we honestly say, “We are all dying together. Maybe we should stop concentrate on who is dying first or last or worst and focus upon living.”
A divided people are a conquered people. What’s the point of literacy if we never understand our history lessons?