From One Survivor to Another

March 19, 2012

i’m always skeptical when i see “grassroots organizing” anything

Because in my entire life, as a broke-ass, genderqueer person of color, I have never, not even once, had some “grassroots organizer” (a real one— not the representatives with ridiculous names like “ben jealous” in those Moveon.org emails) come up to me, or call me on the phone, or send me a postcard, or give me a survey on the street, or email me, with some kind of call to action that actually mattered to my existence.

Like apparently all of this “grassroots organizing” is happening everywhere these days, but it has somehow passed over me every single time. So either I’m doing something wrong or a lot of important people think that I don’t have any political potential. Maybe it’s that I’m lazy— I struggle with multiple disabilities and school and family and just trying to survive every day. But uh, isn’t this kind of organizing supposed to reach people like me? Maybe I need someone in charge to guarantee for me that if I go to X rally or participate in X fundraiser, then I will not have to worry about being triggered by creepy people, or about social anxiety, or about getting sick because I am allergic to everything. It may be a lot, but damn if dealing with all of this shit hasn’t given me some great analytical and writing skills. I can give back if needed.

I am sure that there are other people out there with similar issues. We want to do tangible, physical activism, but the fancy “grassroots” folk are just not there. I have literally never seen anyone take any political interest in my extremely marginalized voice. So what are people like me supposed to do when we can barely make it through the day?

And then there’s the problem with the issues rarely ever being directly relevant to my life. Why would I care about demanding a retraction and an apology from X middle class company when I can’t even afford bread and milk at the store? And so on. It’s so clear to me that there’s a bunch of people running the show who don’t have much interest in actually helping me out.  If I am going to do something political, it needs to be about something I really really care about— because if I don’t care about it, I’m not going to give that extra push to get out of my often precarious existence. It’s about risk vs. reward, and helping out privileged, heterosexual, middle class, cis gender, able-bodied white folks is not very high in terms of reward.

Just letting everyone know— it’s not that people of color and people of other groups don’t care about the world around them. It’s just very hard to find people that care about us.

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    When I was in college, I did a lot of activism and thought that I wouldn’t make a good organizer for X reasons (I’m not...
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    I think a huge part of the problem is that the vast majority of the ‘grassroots organizing’ I see happening (and have...
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