courage is a heart word

i’m in the thick of moving, yet have been intending to write a end/beginning of year post for the past week or so, so here i am.

“You cannot, you cannot use someone else’s fire. You can only use your own. And in order to do that, you must first be willing to believe that you have it.”

— I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde

i was inspired by my friend marion to write a political accountability journal. marion writes: “every single one of us needs to enter 2017 as an activist. YES, YOU. ESPECIALLY YOU. IT IS NOT GUARANTEED THAT ANYONE ELSE WILL DO THIS WORK INSTEAD OF YOU SO IT IS UP TO YOU. and me. Please do this ESPECIALLY if you are a person with privilege and you’ve been feeling helpless hopeless sad complacent pessimistic. Consider choosing the same date each month to reflect back on what you’ve done and what your goals for the next month will be!” she posed some questions:

  • what do i believe in? what do i want to fight for?
  • what will my resistance look like?
  • what valuable skills do i have to offer?
  • how will i consistently go outside my comfort zone (because staying in it clearly isn’t working)? what sorts of activism make me uncomfortable, and why? how can I step into that discomfort?
  • which organizations will i join?
  • what will i initiate? how will i bring my people together with purpose? what community do i want to build?
  • what books will i read? how will i keep myself on track with my reading (internet articles do not count)?
  • where will i put my money?
  • how will i encounter feelings of helplessness or burnout? how will i resist slipping back to my comfort zone?
  • what privileges do i have? am i white? cis? male? able-bodied? educated? straight? employed? socially well-connected? etc? how will i acknowledge and check these privileges and simultaneously use them to weaken systems of unearned advantage?
  • how will I hold myself accountable?
  • who else will hold me accountable?
  • what is my plan to take care of myself so I can keep doing this work?

trump’s inauguration is imminent, and extremely basic rights and safety of muslims, immigrants, black folks, people of color, disabled folks, and queers is at risk more than ever. when he was elected, a conversation i was already having with myself was boosted to the forefront. if i am not a capital-O organizer, where do i fit into the movement? and what about all my friends and family, for whom it would be a big deal to even just show up to a meeting or a march? and what about my people for whom showing up is not accessible, most of whom’s rights and wellbeing are directly threatened by a right-wing government?

it feels true to me that it’s important we are all involved in the resistance against a fascist government and against neo-nazis who are growing more comfortable showing their stripes in the alt-right movement. what does this look like for me and for you? personally, i am embarking on a more intentional path of support. i intend to build budding skills like housekeeping, cooking, first aid and CPR, and navigating bureaucracy, to become a homecare worker for disabled folks, chronically ill folks, elders, and others who need help around the home. while this path will not likely impact any systemic change, building strong relationships with people isolated by systems of oppression has always felt powerful and meaningful to me. whatever is left of the optimist within my cynical and somewhat broken heart still believes that the change we inspire and the support we provide for each other can make waves that extend beyond our individual selves and relationships.

capitalism and near-constant microaggressions make it so easy to hunker down and get into survival mode. to avoid meaningful engagement with people who i could potentially build supportive community relationships with, or at least have interactions that challenge white supremacy, misogyny, and other systems of oppressions that impact us all.

my therapist will, who i deeply trust and value, recently shared the origins of the word courage with me. it’s from old french and latin and essentially means heart-ful, or from the heart. for me, hearing that affirms that it’s okay to be scared when pushing toward being the person i want to be, and fighting for what i believe is right. that while communication is important, i don’t have to be able to form an extremely articulate or academic argument to know what’s right. i want to approach challenges and relationships with courage, full of heart. it’s lofty, but it feels like the right place to start from in a moment where it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel incapable of impacting anything at all.

i’m apprehensive about what’s to come (both in my personal life and on a global scale) but i am committed to being present and courageous with myself and my people.

i think that’s all for now. thanks for reading. ’til next time.

xo freddie

ace hotel in portland, oregon, in the final days of 2016.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s