Dilemmas of a Black Activist

I find myself walking a fine line between success and failure and I feel as though my own soul is having trouble defining it’s alegeinces.

On the one hand, I have personal self-interest; I am in school to earn a degree so that I can earn a living, and I just love learning. On the other hand, I have an interest and I believe an obligation to selfless action; fighting for the rights of other and justice. This is not an easy dilemma to reconcile and they frequently, if not always, compete with one another.

I also find myself caught between another rock and a hard place. This internal battle spills onto my perceptions of others. On the one hand, I see all of our brethren who are dying and being made slaves, having their liberty stolen from them and I do not see any change in sight. To me this is completely unacceptable,  it is humuliating, it is inhumane, and contradicts all of my values. So, for me the dilemma smashed and self-interest is of no consequence. However, on the other hand, I completely understand the need and desire to enjoy life; to have fun and to not be bogged down by the woes of the world. I want these things and I want others to have them, too. I think that is why I fight so hard and risk so much to make sure our people have the choice to live how they choose; that they get to live. Here is when my internal struggle spills onto others because I see them enjoying themselves and know that one of our people was just murdered and my head screams at me that a celebration is unwarranted,  and that we are privileged to not have suffered the same fate as so many others (yet).

The dilemma I have is that I desire others to feel the same sense of urgency that quakes my bones and feel the need to shake it into them, but at the same time they are exercising the very liberty I am fighting to protect. Furthermore,  I find that attacking those who do not share my sense of urgency only succeeds in pushing them further away from what I would hope they embrace. I cannot help but feel simultaneously like more can be done and as though I am also failing our people.

I am also conflicted with this incessant division within our own community. It feels as though, we are more interested in fighting amongst ourselves than maintaining our focus on our common problems. The very system that is killing and enslaving our people is responsible for this division, but it’s insidious infection has permeated so deeply into our society that it seems almost impossible to extract it from our identity. The system and it’s perpetrators have been so far out of reach for so long, and we have been so unable to gain retribution for the harms done that have robbed us of our dignity, that to maintain our own integrity we challenge those whom we can reach. This tends to be our own.

I have my eyes set on the perpetrators and the cause of these harms, but I also acknowledge the very real damage that our own people are visiting on each other. To focus the attention can seem like discrediting the very real pains that our people are feeling, I know this. I also know that if we continue fighting among ourselves that the enemy wins.

The struggles I am conflicted with are nothing new; Frederick Douglass,  Booker T. Washington,  W.E.B. DuBois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X; they all confronted the same things and fought to unify our people around a common set of objectives with a common and persistent sense of urgency. This is an old struggle and an old battle… and I am left quizzically puzzelled; if they couldn’t figure out how to do it, then what chance do I have?

All I know is that our people are dying and that #BlackLivesMatter

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