It’s been a rough week and a bit for the world: so much tragedy and anger and hurt and senselessness. Even Mandela Day couldn’t usher in enough hope for all of us.
A lot of it has hit close to home: one. two. and it feels like a personal blow. You worry about your movements and the struggles, you worry about your friends, you worry about how to continue struggling when it all feels so bereft of point, of hope, of purpose. The HIV/AIDS communities, the LGBTQI communities, the feminist movements… none of us are strangers to loss, to the shock of losing loved ones, the knowledge of death- dying young, unexpectedly, unfairly, too soon, brutally, violently, alone, forgotten. None of us are strangers to impotent governments or intra-governmental processes. None of us are strangers to the politics of death, the ‘how does one make sense of this?’.
The refrain in our movements is to ‘continue the struggle’ so we can honour their memories, their lives; so we can say ‘never again’; ‘one more is too many’. I too am guilty of this- too many e-mails and posts that end in ‘A luta continua‘. I do not mean it cynically- I doubt that any of us do- or as a way to say something when words are hard to find. I think we all genuinely believe this, that it is a way to channel grief and rage into something concrete, into something positive, into something transformative.
But increasingly, I’m worried about what this means and what this says. I worry that we do not create space to grieve, that we do not make space to mourn all that we have lost personally and what a loss it is for our movements. I have learnt that grief changes us, that it shifts how we understand and interact with the world. How loss can sometimes create a hole and we cannot just ignore it, pretend it is not there; but that we must work with it, we must give it the space to be for a while, and we must accept it. It is the last that is the most cruel, because acceptance is difficult; acceptance demands a part of you; acceptance requires time and patience and care. Acceptance is a small, quiet room. We are short on time in our movements, we have begun to treat ‘care’ as a luxury, and small; quiet rooms are hard to come by.
I worry that we are not really acknowledging how this shifts our movements, that it is a larger issue of not taking the time/not having the time to reassess our movements. We have become depoliticised, we have been coopted, our focus has been subverted, we are now multifractioned; and when tragedy like this strikes, when our false silos are revealed to us, and our grief stretches across and wraps itself around the world; it is clear the larger geopolitics that are at play are creating these lines, are fracturing our movements and are shifting our focus. It is this depoliticisation we need to tackle, we cannot continue to pretend that the larger politics have somehow been shut out, that they are not swirling amongst us even now.
I cannot deal with more posts from so-called human rights activists who do not question the role of the Israeli state, but throw around ‘Hamas’ as though it is a justification for Gaza, for the display of Israeli might, for the continued oppression of people, for an apartheid state; and pretend that it has no impact on what we say our struggles are. Madiba knew that all our struggles are interlinked, that we cannot be free while another languishes; that our humanity is tied to each other; that without one we cannot be complete.
No doubt, it is difficult to politicise. It is rejecting what has become the norm, it is denying what is all to easy to take, and it is remaining vigilant to one’s own culpability; one’s own quiet betrayals; to one’s own unthinkingness. It is uncomfortable and it is a conscious decision to challenge, to disturb, to disrupt; and it can get exhausting, tiring, awkward, unsafe. It is asking the question that causes discomfort, it is the refusing to sit down to obey to stop being hysterical to give in to might to just take a joke. But this is what solidarity is. This is the work of allyship.
And this is the struggle.
A luta continua.