Resistance should not be an identity.

sick of motherfuckers trying to front because they are “revolutionary”

It’s fun when, you end up in those after-class university-sponsored debates about non-violence and see white women wearing “Brother Malcolm” t-shirts (in the U.K. no less!). It’s fun when your former Women’s Studies classmates bash other people for being “cis,” or “straight” or “not feminist enough.” It’s fun when you are in Falasteen and the white internationals show hostility towards you for not being down to talk politics and Netanyahu all the damn time.

Here’s a newsflash for all y’all motherfuckers:

don’t nobody give a fuck about you or your politics –

I spent a decent portion of my youth being just like this; thinking that my resistance and political ideas made me special, that people should know exactly what I’m all about so that they can walk away thinking “Wow, that girl is really radical, man!” I spent a lot of time doing that, and I think its a normal step in the process towards decolonizing oneself … the point being of course, to move on from it. It is so easy to think that we are better than others, isn’t it? To think that our beliefs and our positionality make us superior to those who do not share the same ideas…

It is so easy to get caught up in the confusion of what is going on in the world and to brand our resistance to it all by feeling different, or unique, because what we have to say is not the “norm…” and then finding others who also share that same brand and building community out of it. There is nothing wrong with building community out of resistance, but when that community is about the identity of resistance, then things get a little more complicated.

Back when I called myself a feminist I wore that identity like a badge, a label to differentiate myself from others, to say: this is who I am! I felt that I was ahead of the curb, that I was unique because I was thinking about things that most of us don’t think about. I found myself in “feminist communities” of people who spoke the same language as me, who held the same viewpoints, who validated my identity because it was shared. But then it got to a point where I started to behave exclusively; where those who didn’t identify as such were looked upon with pity, pity that they hadn’t “found the light” of resistance or whatever the fuck.

Later, when I moved on from feminism and more deeply into radical black forms of resistance, the urge to do the same was strong. It is tempting to want to give ourselves wholly to an identity of resistance when resistance seems to be the only option in a situation of extreme futility and grief. I have been so consistently heartbroken along the trajectory of my own political consciousness that I have wanted to give myself fully to that pain, to the struggle — I have wanted to dedicate my life to the struggle because it is the “struggle” that grips me so completely.

But when we get too caught up in our resistance to the point that it is through that which we identify, we actually lose a lot of ourselves in the process. We must ask ourselves this: If we identify as revolutionaries then what happens when the revolution is over? Who do we become then? The temptation to let our resistance become our identity, to let it become who we are, actually distorts the very nature of our resistance. We should be resistant because it is our historical and ontological vocation to strive towards humanization. Once we begin to wear that as an identity then we become attached to it as we do all of our identities, and it becomes difficult to lose and easy to protect.

The point, though, is that we don’t want to protect resistance — we resist so that we can resist no more. Holding on to resistance as an identity makes it so that we have much to lose in losing it, and blinds us from the interactions and possibilities that can actually help us to move closer towards a reality where our struggle is but a historical phenomenon to be studied (idealistic, I know, but that’s besides the point). I am fully committed to resisting all forms of oppression of humanity, but I also know that I cannot give myself up to it; I also need to live outside of it, even if only in those moments of hopeful calm in the calamity; I cannot always be struggling or else I have lost to the struggle.

I know that many of us are tired. I know that many of us, like myself, resist for survival, out of necessity and not necessarily by choice. But we must be careful not to let it become who we are, because the whole point of our bravery is so that we may live fuller, and freer; and as much effort as it may take, we must live full and free now (in the ways in which we can). The revolution is not waiting for us, it is now, and it means living resistant, but not only through resistance. As much as it is a central part of us, it cannot be all that we are.

And for the rest — for those of us who can choose when to be resistant or not, whether through women’s marches or carefully curated outrage on facebook, ask yourselves: how do you choose to show your resistance to the world? What would it mean if no one saw you doing these things? If we are truly committed to the struggle, then we must not exploit the struggle for our own personal gain; that defeats the whole purpose, that distorts the whole point; it renders useless the vocation to be fully human.


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