Culture Is A Weapon. Join the Fight:

Don’t let fear stop you

We must take strength from the past to fight and survive under Trump

/ November 15, 2016

Now more than ever we need to share resources and become a force ungovernable by hate speech and scare tactics. It’s going to get really fucking rough, so be prepared to sacrifice, again. I know it’s not fair. When I find hope in nothing and I’m stuck at the head of helplessness, this is when I want to die, this is when I most want to cease to exist, when I find myself the least powerful. It’s the unforgiving fever I get when inquiring my deservedness. I am here to tell you we are deserving of so much and there is hope to be found in so much. I have never felt any allegiance to religion, but I admire the concept of faith. Faith or hope in something greater than constant sorrow is important. You can’t afford to question happiness, if you find it. It’s all we have at this point in late capitalism.

Lately I have been thinking about “the imaginary” in the minds of Black and Brown folks. It’s something special that most of us aren’t often allowed to experience. Don’t question the imaginary. Our minds are policed and we chase anxiety. You’ve never had access to the dream. You have access to shoes, a flatscreen and a night out with friends. But don’t question that, don’t question the imaginary.

I woke up after election day very panicked and didn’t feel like leaving the bed. I was thinking to myself how nothing I do will matter because I am disposable. I group texted my siblings and we all vented a bit and then my little brother offered to get coffee with me and talk. So he popped over and we talked and walked aimlessly for a couple of hours. When he left I got a text of similar feelings from my friend, Warren, and he asked to meet up on his porch where he was sipping jack and coke. I rode over and we sat under his stoop airing our concerns, assumptions and predictions all while talking shit and giving faith in the imaginary. In the hours I was there I talked on the phone with different friends. We asked how each other were doing. One friend even called and wanted to discuss starting the process of me being a donor for them to have a baby. I exercised to physically exhaust myself and then I saw another friend, Robbie. He was downtown setting up for his art show and we talked about things, just things, and it was nice to acknowledge the initial problem at hand and cast it aside when it came to our relationship to each other. It was a sign that we will live the best we can regardless of our conditions. All day we were receiving and sending texts to friends to just show support and remind people we care. I spent a large chunk of the day just recognizing my family and what they’ve endured for me to be here, and that gave me the most strength.

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If you come back to yourself for a moment you will see that your body is still your own. It resists in the ways that you feel most powerful. The shock of this election has really disembodied us. It is disappointing, but what on god’s American soil hasn’t been since they first spread the filth of whiteness? Have we not been surviving before this? The real life repercussions are a mystery right now and we are all giving in to dark fantasies. We Black and Brown people all have the tools inborn. Look how we have continued to survive. I look at old pictures of my family and I see smiles in all of them. I think about all the bullshit they waded through to get basic comforts and I find strength in how I’ma defend myself, my family and my community of marginalized folks. This feels like the dying breath of white supremacy, giving everything they got, because we are becoming less and less careful about working within systemic limitations. Most Black and Brown people here and worldwide were not particularly surprised by the outcome of the election, but we now worry what the real life repercussions will be in terms of life and death for marginalized folks. All we can do right now is prepare and fight.

Since election night, several well meaning white people on my Twitter feed have said things along the lines of “I am ashamed to be white today,” or “Trump is a product of white supremacy.” To well meaning white people just realizing this, I ask you to please use some restraint in how you react. Take a look around and know that none of this is new in “Trump’s America.” Don’t erase our history of oppression. It is shameful now? Only now that you are forced see a world outside of your own head? When Obama deported more people than any other president, you were quiet, when black bodies were lying beneath the police state you were indifferent, but now we need you to show up.

The Electoral College is a terrible system. This divorce between the raw total vote count and the election winner occurs because of a very old and very American system. Candidates win over states instead of actual votes. If Hillary was in there we’d be calmed and maybe the veil would stay for longer and Black bodies would still become hashtags.

I am scared, not even just like slightly nervous, but full scale shook. But I am continuing to write it and talk it, because we need it. We need people to know we are afraid, all while pushing past that discomfort and handling shit regardless and not allowing misfortune to extinguish our light. We will create, fight and struggle until it changes or we die protecting our shine. The youth who voted showed that they don’t want a Trump president. They don’t want a figurehead for the scared hateful dinosaurs swinging at the breeze in the face of extinction. High school students are walking out and engaging communities and empowering each other and they come next. We need to show them what strength looks like, the same way my family showed me and continue to show me with photos and stories. Start today with yesterday in your heart and fire in your chest.

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Remembering.

It is imperative that we document all of this so when we come out on the other side, the next link in the chain can look back on our photos, our videos, our writing, our art and our struggle and keep on having these conversations and keep praying to anything but the dollar. They recognize you by your posture so we will stand tall in direct defiance of scared white America and those who are lost in the monolithic definition of whiteness. It is important that we acknowledge that we – those who believe in the civil rights of the marginalized and the continual dismantling of the system that was built without us in mind – are the majority.

Look at Your Intentions.

When documenting, think about moderating the ego that plays into it. Is the purpose of your documentation for your personal gain or is it to empower a larger community? Will the attention it receives add more to a conversation or will it bring down others into feeling powerless? Let’s all try and make sure we are creating a climate where we can grow together: grow in power and grow in ways where we feel supported, loved and important.

Don’t be afraid to share your stories.

These situations are different for each person. Your experience could begin a conversation. External validation is helpful regardless, so don’t completely disregard it if it will keep your fire burning. If your intentions are true the endgame is to grow personally, and through that growth to help give others the connectedness we’re all looking for. We make memories to best fit our own truths, so when documenting them we need outside viewers to check us and stay accountable. We need not be sad about that, because it ultimately makes us better. Our own perspective is important, but we need to make sure to invite others, as long as it’s productive. Think And Die Thinking, a collective I am part of, recently held events surrounding self-documentation:

There are many reasons why self-documentation is important to us. Oftentimes marginalized voices are quieted, sometimes to the point of complete silence. Even the sounds of our names, a most basic representation, can be drowned out by all the dominant noises. It can be empowering to a person to record their own history. This agency that comes with controlling the ways in which your histories are remembered informs how we treat ourselves and our communities, with love, care, and value. We are storytellers and we have the power to change our own narratives and shape collective narratives. The documenting options are limitless and by creating on our own (DIY) we make accessibility a principle.

Rich Gutierrez' family, for Spark Mag

Be Prepared for the Fallout.

Be ready for conflict. Speaking out is powerful, and it’s scary to be powerful. It is fair to be afraid, but stopping it from crystallizing into fear is important and beautiful. Life is full of conflict and is mostly traumatic. If you have a heart, worrying about the fallout or the effect is unavoidable. In an interview James Baldwin was asked, “Do you have a reader in your mind when you write?” To which he responded, “No, you can’t have that.”

You need to keep in mind your responsibility to your art, which is hard as hell! I know sometimes I don’t write with a purpose in mind. I write to find the purpose and if I overthink it I will definitely leave certain doors closed throughout the process.

When Push Comes to Shove, Do Not Let Fear Stop You.

We must be prepared for whatever dark days may come. Here are resources that have been circulating since the election of Trump was announced. This guide gives information on how to prepare. Some of the issues covered are health care, ID/documentation, and self-defense. It is useful to have and share this information, even if you personally don’t need it.

Remember: the illusion of choice is our country’s greatest trick and you somewhat knew that. Let’s begin to take better care of each other and be ready for whatever comes.