“One day you will become an ancestor.” -Elle Manifestin
We’re in this world of activism, and yes it has been going on from the time of day. From the time where we HAD to stand up, show up and speak up, but with recent movements the world is realizing how to do so within modern means.
Let’s talk Standing Rock.
Many eyes were present…around the world. It’s been interesting to see the extent at which people decided to take witness. Mainstream media lagged, but huge outlets did report a lot of truth about this important rise. It was a time that people of all avenues seemed to come together, to be in solidarity with one another.
This lead to people feeling a urgent sense to be physically present, and we (in camp) experienced as many as 50,000 protectors at one time. And while that’s beautiful and powerful, it also became extremely difficult to ground in. To realize fully what it means to come correctly to a movement. To come without having any predispositions about what the solution looks like.
“Whatever you do, do NOT be detrimental to a movement.” -Aunty Pua Case
A gathering is what Standing Rock was referred to, a gathering that reached all parts of the world, all parts of social media and all parts of our hearts and minds. It slowed us down to realizing what has always been present in America, and what needs to be changed. But it was also very serious, when showing physical solidarity on the front lines.
Police brutality was real, IS REAL, and it continues to be real.
So really let that sink in. Breathe with it. Eat with it. Drink with it. Sleep on it. Because when movements escalate to physical danger, coming correctly is not a matter of why, but a matter of necessity.
When youʻre present on the front lines, you do not do anything that would provoke the police into pepper spraying, macing, flash banging, rubber bulleting, sound cannoning, concussion grenading, baton beating, tasering or anything of that matter. Because youʻre not just putting yourself in harms way, youʻre putting your brothers, sisters, grandmas, grandpas, elders who are bravely standing beside you, in front of you and behind you at risk.
“Know where your weapons are and who’s holding them. You see their hand flinch even a little, you turn and duck and grab your friend beside you. Move with intention.”
You come fully geared up, meaning, you come with your bandanna, your goggles and whatever else you need to protect yourself and others. You come not relying on the supply of others, but allowing your comrades to be able to rely on you, if need be.
Front line correctness comes first because more often than not thats where most of us want to be. Yet, thatʻs not where most of us should be or need to be. Being on the front lines takes recognizing what triggers you and how to alleviate that with the blink of an eye. It takes courage and confidence in knowing who you are and what has led you to be in that position. It takes staying quiet and listening and internalizing all emotions and thoughts before even plotting out a single step. You do not react emotionally, you act intentionally. You move with your group as a unit.
“We gotta fix self before we can fix ourselves.” -Uncle Leon
Listen to what the host community needs and sees. Listen to the history of the people and their land. Listen to the stories being told and the emotions that come with it. Listen to the hearts of the children, parents and elders. Listen to the actions of the quiet. Listen, because its one of the biggest most important gifts you can ever present. Listen to your heart. To your gut feeling. Itʻs there for a reason and itʻs salient to your being.
presence is solidarity
When youʻre being shared knowledge from a culture not of your own, donʻt just take it and run. Take it and dig deeper. There are reasons why such knowledge is being shared and itʻs tied to other stories. Understand how that culture views the world. Their perspective, because cultures are direct representations of the environment theyʻre born from. Honor your teachings. Honor the ones teaching. Honor the history. The songs and rhythms.
You were born of great stories. Of great people. You were born of great knowledge and itʻs all beautiful. Our ancestors did not pass down these teachings for no reason. They did so because they knew that it would help us realize who we are in this world, at this time. They did so because they know it would help us be confident and proud in the blood that runs through our veins. So take a minute to get to know your culture(s). Theyʻre beautiful and very similar in a lot of ways. But the differences that make each unique will be the tethers that keep us knowing ourselves.
“Remember the Seven Generations, because without them we would not be able to do what we do in this time. Remember the Seven Generations because we must perpetuate and act for the next to come.” – Uncel Doug Pineda
Have a lot of fun, and laugh and play and rejoice in the beauty of what life is. There are so many things around us and in us to be grateful for. So within dark times just remember that our ancestors were not unlike us. They made mistakes, they joked around, they loved and laughed and experienced, just as we do today. Activism leads with intensity and seriousness, but the tails of it can slap us down to the ground if we let it. So let your heart experience fully, and let your mind internalize truly. Don’t forget to breathe. To take time of solitude. To understand what you’re feeling because your emotions are valid.
“You got thousands and thousands of ancestors watching you…so get busy.” -Uncle Leon
See you correctly in the world of movements!