I didn't decide early on in life that politics was a career I'd pursue or even a path I'd cross. I didn't care as deeply as some and I admit, even today, I feel out of place in the progressive world. My peers often make me feel like I haven't lost enough, haven't fought enough, haven't spoken out enough. Plainly, just haven't done enough to understand the burden of a struggle. That sensation has always loomed over my head and steadily becomes a tension point when building relationships with others - a constant battle over the credibility and validity of my character. Even some of the most progressive organizations I've worked with hold that sentiment. And quite frankly, it's disgusting.
If I could go back in time I would have been a singer. I express myself through music and song. But someone deterred me a while ago, telling me that music leads to broken dreams. It's ironic now, ten years later. I'm constantly wondering why I chose the road less traveled by. (Oh, damn you, Robert Frost.)
Oh, politics. When did the progressive movement decide that someone who is an immigrant, has to prove they're in fact an immigrant? When did we decide that someone who is a person of color, has to prove how colored they are? When did we decide that someone who is LGBTI needed to prove so? Our own experiences will vary against the experiences of others. Just as no human being is alike, our experiences will be unique and different. BUT collectively, individuals, their experiences, and their passions will provide our movement with a vibrant story. It's crazy; we tell each other that this is true, but in practice we're far from it.
Somewhere down the line, someone or someones (not a word, I know) decided that there should be certain benchmarks to obtaining a classification title. Whether that classification title is Latino, Asian American, African American, Native American, LGBTI, immigrant, Millennial, Feminist, pro-Labor, civil rights' activist, etc. Well, I'm here to tell you those sociologically imposed benchmarks are bullshit. No one should judge you on how black you are, or how feminist you are. No one should question how "immigrant" you are or how much of a "child of the civil rights movement" you are.
What we should judge a person on is how much passion and drive he or she has within this movement. What we should judge a person on is how well they get the job done. What we should judge a person on is how willing they are to help the movement. And when I say the movement, I mean all of us in it. I'm tired of hearing people think I'm not Asian enough. I'm tired of hearing people think I'm not immigrant enough. I'm tired of hearing people think I'm not an activist. To all those nay-sayers, screw you. I hustle each and every day towards a theory of change that I believe in. If that's not enough for you, then get out of my way.
For all of us, it's time to "put your money where your mouth is". It's time to drop being exclusive and start being inclusive like we say we are.
'Til the next time.