With the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests comes an urgent need for me to become involved in more than armchair activism. I have wanted to do so for a long time, but the question remained, how?
There aren’t any major organizations here and even if there are I am not sure what my strengths are in organizing, or what kind of activism I could do. Sure, I can donate, I can repost, I can sign petitions, but I felt like there was a deeper way I could support the struggle for liberation.
My friend and fellow activist, Kaylamay posted about an awesome tool to help you find your role. While you’re here, check out Kaylamay’s Instagram where she is posting a ton of resources. She is also producing a podcast, which you can take a listen to here.
The tool is made by Deepa Iyer, and you can find out more here. There are also weekly talks in June so be sure to check them out.
Alright, let’s get to the tool
Mapping Your Role in a Social Change Ecosystem
Alright, let’s get to it. The map above is of some of the roles people can play in their “ecosystem” – which Iyer uses to refer to one’s space of action, whether that is a town, organization, or greater movement.
There is an awesome reflection guide that can be found in the link above, and I’ll share some of my answers here. Doing this kind of reflective work is important to give a clear path of action. I always want to do twenty things at once, so taking time to regroup and focus my fire is essential.
What values do you connect with?
Of the ones present in the center circle, I connect most with Liberation, on all levels. Economic liberation for sure, but also spiritual and physical liberation. Equity, justice, and solidarity each go hand in hand with liberation, but I feel like I most understand and am empowered by liberation.
This does reveal to me that I don’t know much about how equity, justice, and solidarity are best implemented or the theoretical frameworks that are needed to create a more equitable, just society that is one of interconnectedness.
The question also encourages one to choose a particular issue that calls one to take action.
For me, that is queer rights, and more specifically, queer culture. I love being queer because it connects me to all the people in the world. The artistic question I want to grapple with is what does it mean to be queer in the world? How do we embrace all parts of our being, warts included?
Locate yourself on the map
I think I am definitely a storyteller. I think I can also play the role of visionary and guide. Both of those I feel very uncomfortable stepping fully into because that little voice in the back of my head tells me that I am not enough for those.
Screw that, I did therapy, I am enough. Let’s embrace those parts of me!
I can also see myself becoming a weaver, connecting people and organizations together, building links in my community to create a stronger web of being. Society is fragmented by capitalism, so building connections is an important part of any anti-capitalist struggle.
What is the impact of playing those roles?
Being a storyteller sustains me. Being a visionary drains me because of the needed outward projection of energy, but I am a Leo so I do get energized off of that. More like a caffeine kick then a good night’s rest.
Being a guide helps keep me grounded and keeps me connected to people. It does require that I fight through more mental tapes of worthiness, especially because I feel like I am tremendously under-educated when it comes to leftist thought and theory. That I can improve and grow in.
How does your role connect to your privilege and power?
There is a definite danger of me taking too much space with storytelling and being a visionary. I need to make room for BIPOC and Trans visionaries, but that’s where weaving comes in! I can amplify their voices with my platform, and put their stories before my audience. Learn and share what they have to offer.
But at the moment, I need to show up more. I need to speak up more, especially against racism locally. I need to be willing to take a risk to make a difference in the world instead of being afraid that people will reject me for who I am. That is my lifelong struggle.
My Ecosystem & Aspirations
Truth is, I don’t have much of one. I have a lot of friends who are interested and active in the struggle for a better world, but I don’t have anything really formalized.
Therefore, here are my two goals:
- Become involved in DSA more.
- Find a mentor to guide me.
I learned a lot about myself from this, and a lot about what is important to me to do in the struggle. I am feeling a little scared, a little nervous, but a whole lot of power to help out. It’s up to me to give what I can.