Revolutions, like any worthwhile movement, requires a collective to come together and fight for what’s right. From the beginning of the Sanders campaign last year there’s been a constant call for a “political revolution”; a resurgence of Americans who identify themselves as socialists and communists.
But what does your revolution actually look like? Who is your revolution for? If your revolution isn’t intersectional and just raises the same voices that we already hear (hint: white, cisgender heterosexual voices, male or female.) then it’s not really revolutionary is it?
For an idea or a movement, it has to be accessible to all. We can’t stand around and call ourselves leftists if we aren’t there for ALL of our comrades. When I listen to the discourse (catch us on soundcloud.com/expandthediscourse) coming from the Left many of the voices that I see outside of my feed are coming from voices that are already given a priority. That is they are white cis-het voices by and large.
Now, I can already hear many of you saying “well you just need to find more people to listen to” but guess what? Most of the people I listen to are People of Color of varying intersections. However, that’s just a small fraction of the voices in this movement. And sadly, they oftentimes are not the voices that are elevated.
When talk of revolution comes, how many of us are thinking: “How do we make it accessible to the disabled? How do we make it equitable? How does it attack and dismantle white supremacy? How does this attack the patriarchy? How does this fight heteronormativity? If these aren’t the questions your revolution seeks to answer in addition to seizing the means of production, then I have some news for you. You and your faux revolution are shit. You don’t want revolution, you want an economic system that benefits you while enabling you to keep all your privilege. You’re not a revolutionary, you’re a f*ckin problem. That’s just the reality of the situation.
The revolution will be intersectional, because otherwise it’s simply equal-opportunity imperialism. We would have changed nothing but the way in which we distribute that imperialist wealth.
That said, these are not easy questions to answer. I certainly don’t have all the answers. That’s why it’s important to remember to shut the f*ck up and listen to people who do have answers to those questions. To those of us who do belong to these marginalized groups, remember the space that you occupy. I’m a cis-het Man of Color. I occupy a space of relative privilege simply because I’m a cis-het man. That means when it comes to talking about the revolution, giving answers to the above questions, I need to remember to sit down and shut the fuck up myself. There will be a time and place for me to speak but I don’t need to dominate the mic. We need to listen to people who have disabilities, listen to women generally and Women of Color, in particular, and listen to to the LGBTIA+ community. We must listen to the experiences of marginalized people. In order for us to be successful, we have to build these bridges. In order for us to make any lasting and meaningful change the voices, we uplift the people who are the most beaten down by the system in which we live. We must look to marginalized people for guidance. Not in the sense that they’re some type of magic teacher there to make us all less sh*tty;. In the sense that when they say these are the issues that we’re facing as a community and even as communities within these communities, we focus our collective efforts on solving those issues. Not because it’ll make our lives better (which it invariably will) but because it’s morally the right the thing.
If we don’t take steps to purposefully include marginalized communities in these movement spaces, we’re betraying our movement to the core. It’s time, Comrades. Time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, are we willing to do this work? If your answer to that question is no and you’re unwilling to examine that and overcome that then go ahead and exit stage right. For all my Comrades who answered yes, let’s start doing this work. And that starts by listening to those who are marginalized and not those who would co-opt our movement.
Solidarity today, tomorrow and forever.