I make a lot of people angry. All of the time. I shake a lot of people up, I make them uncomfortable, shock them and press them and debate them. This is because I am, above all, honest with them. The reason that I do this is simple; I believe that it is far too easy to get away with superficial and base level analyses of the oppression and marginalization that exists in our world is a disservice to social justice. I dislike the over simplification of our global history of oppression in our textbooks, media, museums and classrooms. In the context of this pilgrimage, it has to do with what the Civil Rights Movement really meant. I know that you know about who Martin Luther King, Jr. is. I am glad you have a picture of Rosa Parks in your dorm room. It is great that you left the movie theater with righteous indignation after seeing Django. But here is the problem. A lot of people are that way. But still, things are not changing. The Black community is still socially and institutionally oppressed, and I have the statistics on poverty, health, education and violence to prove it. So it appears as though, if you really want change, that “activism” you pride yourself on is not enough. That is also why the idea of “radicalism” is completely ridiculous. By pushing you to research Operation: COINTELPRO or consider the inherent sexism of the Civil Rights Movement, I am not being radical. I am being honest to the realities of social justice and I am pushing you to do the same because you are capable of doing that. And if you find it annoying, overly negative or unjustified, then you need to rethink your commitment to making things better. Being interested in social justice is not a Get Out of Jail Free card for critical analysis.
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am simply doing what I believe is right by questioning the things we consider to be the norm (i.e. the prison industrial system, slut shaming, the gender binary and xenophobia common in immigration legislation). Radical, you say? So was the questioning of segregation in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Not to mention the fight against the consistent lynching of Black men and women. Same goes for the thought that all people, regardless of race, should e considered human. These concepts and ideas made many people uncomfortable and “agitated them”. But that agitation led to the Civil Rights movements and its subsequent success in the legislative realm. It led to the right of Black men to vote and eat in restaurants and stay in hotels with their fellow countrymen. “Radical” thought of the past has led to the rights and freedoms we take for granted today. And there are many, many people that need “radicalism” to achieve social and institutional equality today. Women, trans* individuals, Muslims, people with disabilities, veterans, non neurotypical people. Name a minority group and they need “radicalism”. So please excuse me if I don’t appreciate it being synonymous with “annoying”, “depressing”, or “polarizing”. Try “necessary”, instead.