Reflections of Self, Politics and Consumerism
Many times we debate and get into discussions in which our views reflect our demands of an ideal world. The places that pain us. The power structures that we want to see shifting. The exploitative, inhumane systems that we want to see deleted; like a laptop with a virus which is unable to retrieve files. The histories we wished hadn't taken place to be written. The civilisations we wish had been shared by mainstream institutions to empower those to be born centuries later. But with so many images of war, of bloodshed, of families being removed from their homes and made settlers in their own land, we question- why? Is it for Europeans to commence digging where they feel is convenient for them? Is the privacy and livelihood for the indigenous community just an inconvenience? Why should they be bullied with eviction letters from corporations and bulldozers in front of their homes? We can either become disheartened or a fire grows within us. I'm not just talking about Palestine. I'm talking about the evils of neo-colonialism that are ignored day in, day out, as though a man's struggle is insignificant or less pressing for not having an ak47 held to their furious temple or a drone hovering above their head. The countries that were thought to be formally colonised still undergo a colonisation process, with big businesses darting their beady eyes back and forth greedily over how much money they can make off their livelihood and resources after dehumanising them.
We can sit and get angry at all we know or bear witness to. We can shout at the top of our lungs about how ugly capitalism is and how we live in a consumerist society where some may frown at our ideals when scanning us by seeing our reality. "Why does she have make-up on her face?"; "Why does he wear Uncle Tom clothes?"; "I've seen her in outfits which show off her assets, she keeps speaking about how men sexualise her but she's wearing a tight dress, she's just an attention seeker". Maybe all these things hold some truth. Maybe our frustration is a projection of what we witness in others but are unable to yet face ourselves by looking within us and recognising our own hiccups. Maybe we are fully aware of where we contradict ourselves when we point fingers at those we feel we recognise to be hypocrites. Maybe we failed to overstand their speech to be demands to make an ideal world a reality or after being inspired by what other communities who boldly resisted have achieved. Many feel passionately about news which reaches our ears but failed to make headlines due to non-European identities lack of significance. Where white men murdering in uniform walk free after claiming 'collateral damage' and planting guns, attempting to justify murdering innocent men. Maybe we failed to understand another man's passion for all that which rages him, recognising contradictions.
Sometimes I wonder if we're just another subculture claiming 'consciousness' with accusations held against us of possessing self-righteous ideals, when we often reflect contradictions which are inevitable when cogs continue to move clockwise, when we're trying with our might, art and words to move it anti-clockwise. To hear less bad news. To witness less oppression. To make those who have the audacity to question your empathy invisible when everything around us is unsure of itself, making many of the struggling feel unsure of themselves. At times, anyway, before reaching a comfortable vibration of recognising ones power when moving needles out of haystacks as a collective.
"We don't strive for an ideal world, neither nature nor humans within its > sphere are 'ideal' but we're mad for another world outside of Capital's > > paradigm of exploitation and white supremacy." Kevin Bismark Cobham
It can become overwhelming the more we learn and the more knowledge we gain. It can keep you up at night going round and round in your head like a merry go round. We can be upset by all we see around us and reflect on whether we are active agents of what we claim to oppose and whether our criticism is based on projection or anger after being furious with our past experiences and actions. We can also question whether the young woman in Bangladesh for whom one donated money to get her off the streets, whether the top we paraded around after being proud of purchasing, was the same top she made in a factory. A factory that failed to pay her enough to feed herself and her siblings. Would that then make her ungrateful to return to sex work when neo-colonial, capitalist structures placed on her doorstep fail to treat her justly or fulfil her needs to survive? Should she just be grateful for 'at least' having a job and for being given the opportunity to be further exploited for her time by a corporate employer, rather than a local labourer looking to escape after a long week of hard labour, choosing to turn to sex and paying her enough Bangladeshi Takas to get her to school, but not enough for her journey home?
Though, in all our contradictions, we mustn't be put off by refusing to resist what we feel is distressingly wrong in this world we live in. That we should be bold in opposing neo-colonialism, liberalism and white supremacy, collectively. Where we challenge structures in place, not to numb a hungry stomach but for communities to be given their right to self-determination and dignity and to also support the movements on the ground in the global south.
This world we will one day leave and pass on to the generations after us. We sew seeds and try to create change around us, with patience. Bob Brown, a member of the Black Panther Party and former political prisoner said something during his visit to London in 2013 which rings in my ears, along the lines of "we are unlikely to witness change during our lifetimes and change should be steered which may happen a hundred years from now. You can be a radical, but being radical doesn't make you a revolutionary."
In times of frustration and despair at the lack of accountability from those who oil the clogs of oppression, I remember the words a great elder once told me; "There's more than a little truth, Shareefa, there are ideals and hope and a vast store of beauty and possibility." -Sanjay Kak
Stay inspired. Hopeful. Reflect on self. Engage with new and old ideas. Believe and build.
Writer, Poet, Youth and Community Activist