The Ups and Downs of Radical Thought

Being awakened to the injustices of the world is a burden, but it is one that you can never give up once your eyes are open, no matter how hard you want to when you are faced by rejection, dismissal, and straight up hate.

This week has been full of both highs and lows for my psyche. I have gone from blissful optimism to the point of nearly breaking because the deadly combination of my passion and social media can go from being my best friend to my worst enemy with the click of a button.

After making a successful connection with someone who I believe will be able to help me on my journey to achieving some of my life goals, I became charged with energy and my hunger for change only grew stronger, causing me to “angrily” call out anything I found problematic. Unfortunately, when a person calls out a problem, they become the problem, and things can get messy. I understand that it is difficult to decipher a person’s tone through text, especially abbreviated Internet communication, but if anything I ever posted online seemed “angry” that completely underestimates the range of my emotions. I may have a thick skin, but it only goes so far. Eventually the wound hurts. In the end, I am thankful for the friends I can count on to support me through these points and reassure me that I have a right to my own voice, opinions, and feelings. Following the examples of some of my activist role models, instead of retaliate, I ignored and took a break. I have gone almost two days without reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds, only occasionally checking for anyone trying to contact me for something important. I hope to keep it up for the time being because I am starting to be dependent on the instant gratification I get from knee-jerk reactions and I am beginning to be consumed in my online activism instead of focusing on my schoolwork.

But just as I was starting to become discouraged and wanting to give up (even though it is now impossible for me to go through my day without pointing out at least one gender, racial, or culturally insensitive thing) I was so fortunate to be able to attend a Black history month event at my university featuring the legendary entertainer and activist, Harry Belafonte. His messages to fight for justice, think radically, and never give up in the face of fear and rejection has recharged me to continue doing what I do. Because if it’s not me questioning the system, who else would it be? I’ve written and said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m looking for leaders within my own peers and I’m not seeing any that I like, so I have to be my own leader. But that also brings up the point that others should not look to me for all the answers. Just as they are trying to figure out how to solve society’s problems, so am I. Despite my lack of formal academic learning in these areas, I strive to build off of what others have built in the past, adapting to the technology and culture of our times and being open to new ideas and perspectives (emphasis on the new). So even if I may seem too “out there” at first, if others join my cause, together we can start a movement.

Something I also want to mention is that most of the time my criticisms are not about individuals, but about the system as a whole and how we, as individuals, are complicit. I don’t mean to hurt any feelings or make people feel bad about themselves or their privilege. As Harry Belafonte said to our university community last night: “I only seek to provoke.”

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2 thoughts on “The Ups and Downs of Radical Thought

  1. You go, girl! There was a news story on our local radio today – big controversy about the menu at a black history celebration dinner. You can imagine what the menu was – start with fried chicken, end with watermelon. And it made me really think, in this very white state in which I live, the fact that someone tried to have a black history month event is good, but what a missed opportunity when they serve such a sterotypical meal. Now the message is a racial mess, not a chance to educate and break down barriers. So we need more voices, more leaders, young and old. I am prouod of you.

    PS I got your email, and I will be answering you, I wanted to wait until I had time to give you well thought out information, not just a quick resonse.

    • Thank you so much. This really means a lot to me. I sometimes question my involvement in the online community and as a kid I’ve always been told “don’t talk to strangers online” but it is connecting with people like you that is worth it. I also just got off the phone with my dad, who is just as idealistic as me, but has given up in the face of reality and experience. He advised me to not get too involved in my thinking because it hurts in the end, but I believe that if I work hard enough I can truly do something. Yes, young people like me can dream too hard, but it is young people like me that can truly bring about change.

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