Open Letter to well-meaning fxlks who just wanna laugh.
Thank you for your direct messages. Your name. A real good joke would be if I were addressing the MAN, nah?
As a poc organizer the tone of your tweet felt hostile. It’s precisely the “to be honest” that made me feel called out. Given what you responded with, then, in your series of subsequent dms, if sincere (because that’s how tough it is for me to trust people who speak to me like this), you can understand how difficult it is to craft economic theory and feel confident about it in midst of a domineering one done up by a line of crocodile priests not only upholding death dealing values some of us might affectionately call cis hetero patriarchal capitalism but also doing so in a manner that is designed to make every day people driving the economy feel absolutely worthless even as they toil in the labor not ever fully compensated day after day. How can we not absorb this toxic culture? How can we not embody the worthlessness and self loathing that are taught with it? Salt on wounds. Please think about your approach. The out of the blue nature of your comment made me feel singled out and flash backing to childhood bullying – much of the jeering and on the same tonal nature – all presumably innocent of course. And bullying continued through my academic life (grade school and university) where much of what I thought was suspect. I now understand very deeply what I have to say is incredibly powerful and therefore disruptive. It’s taken me 30 years in this country to reconnect with my loud kid voice. I now have a lot of love for myself: I’m carrying what I’m understanding to be lifelong struggle against hostility towards a compassionate nature seen as weak – a struggle I am able to engage because so many many many people did this work before me and do this work close enough to me. I am fortunate to understand with my ears to the ground that the only reason I am still fighting now is because of epic battles both small and large happening millenia before and about to be fought in a moment of breath. Hiding behind (what I could take to be patronizing) niceties in your subsequent dms feels like the same kind of deescalation people have used on the playground and various Dean’s offices to handle me but are just tools for silencing. If you can take a joke, here was the response I bit back last night in order to give you the benefit of doubt (the spirit of conferences is to increase understanding. I hope you eventually see that by doing so I’m modeling a way to communicate not valued: Directly and honestly, if not cheekily. (You’re at this conference so you’re one of the “good” ones.) I’m also doing this emotional work as a nonblack poc so you don’t put this on other poc particularly on indigenous and black leaders at this conference. (I need them more than they need me).) here it is: “Just make sure everybody has access to or might even want to be on an aircraft with you”
On laughing. Apparently, I struggle with comedy which has been devastating to a possible career in stand up because I’m busy earnestly putting out culture fires and therefore don’t know how to take a joke [deadpan]
Looking forward to meeting you. Do make yourself known to me in person. Enough of this anonymous business.
I entreat you to walk with me further and consider lifting up this response publicly. I can anticipate it will not feel good for you. By doing so however you will be doing the necessary work so critical to actual liberation: you will be acknowledging the toxins in you.
If you are indeed sincere come to my workshop Sunday and help us do this work. I don’t have answers but (when treated with esteem) I do know how to have fun.
In Divine Company,
Dancer and founder