I’m tired of resisting.
That’s probably not the first sentence you expected to read from Bitch Media’s Global Feminism Fellow, but it’s the truth. I have been an activist for the majority of my life. At the tender age of 11, I co-organized a middle-school–wide boycott against the revolting turkey burgers served in the cafeteria after watching the civil-rights documentary Eyes on the Prize in Social Studies class. Since then, I’ve been advocating, fighting, and resisting all over, from Guatemala to South Africa to Palestine. I have experienced a lot of joy, witnessed overwhelming devastation, and still somehow managed to hope. But 2017 broke me.
Yes, I was moved by the acts of solidarity and protests against white supremacy and rising tides of fascism and xenophobia. I celebrated when Merriam-Webster named “feminism” its Word of the Year. I embraced the greater awakening of consciousness among people who once sat on the political sidelines, and loved seeing them get up, out, and engaged. I relished all the small victories: progressives running in and winning local and national elections, communities gaining land rights, and marriage equality. Yet as I entered 2018, my overwhelming sense of urgency manifested as an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.
Working in social justice daily, the enormity of the current sociopolitical moment has taken its toll on me. In digital advocacy and communications, the first thing they teach you is how to discern what is a true crisis. But in 2017, everything felt like a crisis: every vote, every executive order, every rally and counter-rally, every tweet. I was constantly resisting—and sometimes winning, but at what cost? The cost, I believe, is that remaining in a cycle of resistance comes at the expense of creation.
This aha moment hit me recently while I was on the subway listening to Erica Williams Simon’s podcast, The Call. Her guest, Latham Thomas (aka the Glow Maven), is a wildly successful wellness guru who rose to fame after serving as the doula of the world’s most adorable baby mogul, Asahd Khaled, son of DJ Khaled. Latham’s calling (get it?) is to assist people in birthing new things into being, whether they are people or ideas. At first, I was passively listening to her words, busy avoiding strangers and their feet on the packed train. But then I heard Latham say “self-care rituals from thousands of years [ago] were developed as self-care practices born out of resistance, in areas and times of resistance.” Feeling soul-weary, these words were like a balm.
The episode only got better and more thought-provoking. Latham asked, what would it look like to create our own structures, ones centered in our ancestral rituals of gathering and communing using the modern technology and tools at our disposal? I began to ask myself the same question.
Feminists often quotes Audre Lorde’s words about caring for oneself not being an act of self-indulgence, but we often fail to quote the latter half of her assertion—that self care is as an act of political warfare. Oppression is meant to break us down—mind, body, and spirit. And the act of resisting 24/7 can distract us from doing the work to create more just, more inclusive, and equitable systems. We must realize that our self-care, our self-preservation, and resistance are bound together. Our acts of resistance should not stop, but instead be deepened by the creation of alternative systems.
Throughout time immemorial, people have devised their own systems and structures when governments and leaders failed them. The spirit of popular education that led to the French Revolution was revived in Latin America in the 1930s to organize and educate peasants and laborers in order to spur social transformation. This energy carries into the technological era as residents of Detroit build their own internet outside of telecom control to bridge the digital divide. Across time, oceans, languages, and cultures, we come from a rich lineage of resistors and creators.
So where do we begin? Hopefully, with more conversations and a new revolution. As the Global Feminism fellow, I want to amplify the actions of people creating a new world. I want to center the voices of women from the Global South, trans women, queer women, disabled women, and women who live at the intersections of these identities and communities. I want us to discuss how we care for ourselves and our world; I want us to reconnect our past to our present in the spirit of sankofa. I want us to explore emergent strategies and examine how complex systems and patterns are born from simple interactions. I want us to dream, to be futurists.
What I know is that our strategies for resistance are incomplete if they do not shift consciousness and replace the structures that oppress us. If we simply depose a leader, we are not dismantling the system; other leaders, vulnerable to the same corruption, will rise in their place. I believe that as a feminist movement we are at a juncture in which we say yes to growth and creation. We must move beyond resistance and take the words of Arundhati Roy into both head and heart: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”