Disasters for “Them” vs. “Us”

What is the general difficulty with interracial activism across socioeconomic classes? Is it the internal bias that we all carry from the dominant narrative? Is it the racial and socioeconomic segregation that keeps people from interacting across racial and class lines? Is it the professional advantages that some groups get over others when working to address the difficulties and challenges within this nation? The answer to all three of those questions is the same: the stakes. There is no greater barrier of crossing boundaries between marginalized groups higher than the stakes for said groups.

First, the variation in vulnerability leads to a lack of trust. Black people are generally the most obvious marginalized group, but then consider that there are queer Black groups that remain separate from “just” the Black issues. Homophobia can lead to death, but so can Blackness, and the friction can result in the splintering of groups that are willing to take either side of the issue, but not both. Throw in an immigration conversation, and the issues form different hierarchies in the minds of all. Therefore, when approaching the dominant narrative, there is already a divided front that those in power utilize to diminish their concessions so that friction remains. Consequently, that wound remains from all perspectives, and can only be healed through shared and united vulnerability which few are willing to risk.

In contrast, some people have never been vulnerable, and the notion of gaining disadvantage while advocating is a very real threat. Sure, there are citizens who are interested in all neighborhoods remaining intact, but they are unwilling to see their own communities under the wrecking ball. No parents are willing to forego money used in their schools to go towards the students in other areas, so schools close and students lose opportunities because of a fear of being unprotected. Parks remain only if they are not seen as places where luxury development should be built, and waste should only be stored and processed far away from those with political capital. Those who have rarely been susceptible to unfavorable circumstances are more willing to accept incremental change, a weapon the dominant narrative has used to great success.

Finally, what does the new vision look like? Everyone is struggling with the definition of justice. Losing the protection and/or promise of class mobility has driven firm wedges within the working class, while the upper echelons are well-guarded in their castles. If standardized tests are eliminated, then the testing industry is destroyed. If the demand for higher education evaporates, then there is no need for student loans, no enticement to be drawn into heavy debt, and no entrapment by low-wage positions. If people move away from demanding that technology be the answer to all the hard questions, then what advantages do software companies get from demanding subscriptions? Nationalized internet means everyone can share experiences and disrupt lobbying propaganda. Fear of the unknown stands in the way of real change, because if the tribal nations, cities, states, and countries no longer operate the way people in the United States understand, how does that world work?

There are no easy answers, and there is a lot of tension among current activists. Some have burned out, unwilling to continue negotiating with so little support. Others have just come out of the fog, and are noticing how much effort is required to avoid depression and cynicism. Policymakers on all levels can smell the desperation and are using comfort to pulverize the connections that were built through hurricanes, riots, and concentration camps. Trust is usually hard-won, but it remains the only way to combat the firestorm from the dominant narrative.

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