My friends, why so much vitriol toward each other?
Have we lost sight of the size and scale of our enemy? We have only our lifetimes on the planet, many years if we're lucky, to face down the monstrous forces of global white supremacy, militarism, patriarchy and capitalism in their specific and tangible forms. Forms that have risen and fallen hundreds of times since the 1500's in this country. And many of us are not lucky. I know this, intimately.
Have we forgotten that it will take many tactics, it will take unlikely alliances, it will take giants we hate and voices we've never heard before to confront an enemy that does not care if we live or die? Many in our fold are already living in countries embroiled in armed conflict -- dying under rubble and bombs and bullets. White American militias alongside the police and military are pushing us toward a new level of armed conflict that will hunt our hope down.
Have we forgotten the comrades assassinated by vigilante and state actors? Or those who put hits out on other comrades, as was done to my mother, on misinformation, on rumor and gossip and political disagreement turned into personal beef? The comrades who rotted away in prisons for 20, 30, 40 years... lifetimes... for crimes they did not commit and crimes they did in defense of their lives and communities? So many of these comrades were forgotten, dying in prisons of hepatitis C, like my uncle. Like Mumia. While we out here acting brand new.
Have we forgotten the terrible things we have each done? The ways we fight for our dignity on a daily?The choices we regret that only hindsight can reveal? That we are all imperfect making imperfect decisions in a world where we are pressed between rocks and hard places, between trauma and triumph, between power and powerlessness? How has that shaped you? My life is spent becoming someone I can be proud of, and is less and less about pointing a finger at anyone else.
Have we forgotten that there are grandmothers and young kids and sex workers and people working at Walmart and folks crossing borders and dying in boats and living in small towns and off dirt roads and working in mines and emerging from prisons who aren't particularly political and don't have an explicitly Left analysis who still need to be organized and find a way to be part of this movement we claim to be building? Do you really believe we can possibly win without them? Do you really believe the Left in the U.S. and beyond can continue to remain narrow, focused on reifying itself, in constant internal critique mode -- and not be defeated ideologically, militarily and economically by the global Right?
To those who say nothing has changed: Do you think the rising numbers of dead by the hands of law enforcement agree with that assessment? The masses of people under surveillance, the ever expanding numbers of people who cannot find sanctuary in this land? Power is always shifting, it's always changing, it never stays exactly the same -- only those with no interest in winning ignore those shifts, when understanding those nuances could save lives. There are new conditions afoot. Can we be new, too?
I will not participate in political attacks against my comrades, no matter how "correct" one believes that attack to be. I will not throw my comrades under the bus, there is no "them", there is only "us". If I have a critique of you -- I will make it to you. If you write publicly and I disagree with what you wrote, I will respond publicly about your writing but never about you. I will never decide I am better, smarter, more deserving than you. Because I am not. You are gorgeous, brilliant and trying to do what is right. Contradiction and struggle is good and right and fair and we must do it with principle no matter how frustrating it feels. I love when I see that happen. I love you for trying. For demanding to be heard.
But if we sink to shade and tea in place of principled struggle -- our enemies win. I do not know how long I have for this world. My heart is soft and constantly on my sleeve. My mother, who used to make me furious the way she would take comrades to her heart that I believed should be cast out entirely, died of sickle cell with few people by her side. My wife is braving stage IV cancer -- a battle of the body and spirit that makes me tremble. I fight for them - for my sister, brother in law, nieces, and god babies and you who do not know me yet -- all of us products of an imperfect movement that loves us dearly.
My imperfect love is my sword and shield, and I offer it to you, along with my hands, to do good work together.
-Malkia Cyril | July 11, 2017