Saturday, April 5, 2008

a personal/political rant

so i went to this meeting today. it was a group of young people talking about organizing.

it was cool, it was great to hear people that were articulate about inequality and oppression, and hear what they want to see in organizing. people talked about race, class, gentrification, everything you wanna be able to talk about, but rarely have the space-physical or social- to do so. it was at a white liberal arts school, but the room was all people of color. it was great to see that there was a space like that at this school.

after the formal meeting ended. it got a little more intimate, we talked about our respective lives. so and so does youth organizing, so and so does this. so dude asks me "so kirk what do you do?"...."well i go to school with her (my friend who i had brought" and then we talked about that, and then he asked me "so where do you work?"...."i actually work at an arts and cultural center, they have concerts and art related shows and stuff... its not exactly my ideal job, not as progressive as i would hope... but I'm not destroying communities and gentrifying" and tried to laugh...i seemed to get cut off and he basically ignored me after that. i was like WOW, SHADE. i continuted to talk to some other real cool people after that, who we were and what we were pasisonate about.

so as we were leaving, he said to me, "alright kirk, nice to meet you... and you keep doing that good work you are doing."

excuse me? i wanted to say "you dont know me, dont give me too much" and come for him, but i am respectful and i didnt want to make people uncomfortable.

i shouldnt of explained myself about the job, id definately rather be working somewhere where i am effecting change, and i wanted people to know that. but i said it, so what. theres nothing wrong with my job, i think its a great place to work. the people are positive and want to create something beautiful, and that is beautiful.

this is the elitism and bullshit that turns people off from the "left" and "progressive" movements. i work so i can be in school and take care of my own, i work so i can pay my bills and save money that an organizing or non profit job would not allow me to do. i work where i do because I NEED A JOB, SO I DO NOT HAVE TO DEPEND ON OTHERS TO PROVIDE FOR ME. i have had jobs since i was 14, granted i have taken breaks, but during that time, the majority of my money came from credit, not from my parents. they have always insured i had a roof over my head and payed for school, but i have contributed to that roof since i was legally able to do so. if i could pay down my debt, pay my rent, all my bills, and try and give back to my parents what they have given me, WHILE working at an organization that allowed me organize and do outreach and empower communities i would.

in reality, we are living in a country where there are millions of people looking for work who cant find jobs. people have P.H.D's who cant find work. we are in a recession. to get a good job, working on good, progressive, and liberating politics you often have to have a few degrees, great connections, and if it the pay is bad -which it most likely will- you will not have to worry about finances. i don't have that privilege. I'm trying to get my degree so i can further my education and get a proffesional degree so i can effect some real legitamate change in the world and my communities.

i have spent a great amount of time interning and working for great organizations for free, when i had extra time outside school or work. i didn't do this out of pity or guilt, or a desire to "give back." i did it because its something i identify with, and believe in. and its something i will continue to do, and make a career out of. but until i am able to do that, i will not apologize for doing me, and trying to make my life better.


goc said...

Its sad that a lot people I have met involved in a lot of non-profit work cannot see that being able to reject financial stability for doing work that matches with ones politics is a privilege in its own right

Jay said...

i'm feelin' you. it's especially hard not to get caught up in the whole elitism of the non profit world. i was admittedly caught up in that whole line of thought for a while, then i thought to myself: what does that mean about the work my mother does? she drove a bus for 15 years, does that not make her part of 'the movement'? why am i tryin' to front like i'm better than anyone? i

it's disgusting how separatist "social justice work" (what does that mean, anyway?) has become, how people flaunt their job and their social justice lingo lingo like it's a members-only VIP card. hella small minded and immature, and we're leaving so many good folks out because of inability to accept difference.

alright, i think i'm done ranting. but yeah, boo -- keep doing you, and if your path takes you into the non profit industrial complex, so be it. if it takes you to a penthouse somewhere on a beautiful beach, that's cool too. just remember to save space for me :)