something about learning from the margins

there have been many headlines written about this dumpster presidency, but one of them keeps flashing through my mind; it is an article about how in this moment, we can learn from organizers resisting ICE in maricopa county, phoenix, arizona, the site of this country’s most racist and extreme laws against undocumented immigrants. we learn from the people who have been through hell, not the people who live in paradise.

somewhere between my last two trips to los angeles i felt a great comfort descend upon me with living on the margins. not that i consider living in a big city managing a high profile project to be in any way a marginal situation. i am referring more to the well documented spatial marginality of the south and the midwest relative to the coastal areas, from its access to culture, to its voting records.

another form of marginality i’ve been considering is the marginality of countries considered less developed in terms of late capitalism and representative democracy relative to the united states. is this true anymore? as the united states gets downgraded to a flawed democracy and we are shown to be the puppets, not the puppeteers, of international electoral manipulation,  what is the cold comfort that accompanies no longer being at the center of the world?

in migrant words, did i leave my homeland for this?

i’ve been asking myself these questions about a regional and global loss of centrality that was perhaps never mine to begin with. i have no answers because perhaps i too, retain a glimmer of a dream that somewhere is better than here. but i am learning to love the margin. i am learning to love the way it gives me critical distance with which to view the center, i am learning the value of the occasional slip into anonymity, i am learning hyperlocal contradictions that give bloom to the complexity in humanity; i am learning the bitter beauty of forging survival.

my artist community has been fretting about the loss of the national endowment of the arts, and while i by no means want it to go, living on the pseudo-margins has taught me that we don’t need anything, but ourselves, for the revolution.

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on love as a critical resistance practice

white people love to say we need to fill our hearts with more love in this post-trump world. this upsets me (and many others) greatly, as a denial of our right to anger and resistance. but it also upsets me because it perverts and appropriates what has always been, to me, a critical resistance practice.

when white people say we need to fill our hearts with more love, they most likely do not mean the following. but i do:

  • love black people. love blackness. unlearn all the anti blackness in you that has been passed down through your own culture, that has perhaps caused you to not love yourself. understand loving blackness as a key underpinning of how to become free.
  • love people of the same sex. love trans folx. love your friends. love your friends’ children. resist the idea that love only exists in a nuclear family formation between a man and a woman and their biological children. love your friends.
  • love the earth as if it were another being to be honored rather than another resource to be pillaged. resist the commodification of life in the form of restricted access to clean air and clean water. love the people who are fighting for the love of this earth.
  • love with humility. know that love means learning and undoing your own ignorance and complicity. love through listening.
  • love because love is balm against violences perpetuated by the state. recognize this violence in your most loving moments. love not only through feeling, but through actions that dismantle oppression.
  • love because the emotional and supportive labor of women, queers, and people of color have always been cast aside as unimportant. love because emotional labor is and has always been central, not ancillary, to the building of our movements and communities.

happy holidays, i love you.