Hello everyone! Sorry that it has been so long. The activist inside me has been feeling quite uninspired lately and I haven’t really had the urge to write anything. I am tired I guess… not in the physical sense but in the mental and emotional sense. I just got back from a trip home and while I was there I tried to refrain from having any ‘woke’ conversations with anyone on politics, gender, sexuality, race etc. And let me tell you, it was the most peaceful trip home I have ever had.
Mind you, I do feel guilty for purposely not brining up these topic which I usually preach about. I heard people say sexist, racist and homophobic things (without realising it) and as opposed to how I usually respond, I did not say anything back. Although people tried to broach conversations with me that they know I get passionate about, I was unintentionally disengaged. I kept asking myself why… why do I seem to care a little less about the social issues I was so passionately fighting about. But I realised that it is not that I care any less, it is simply that I am tired. I am tired of always being the person in the room getting intensely invested in a conversation and trying to convince people of the reality that they do not see – the reality that I also did not see not too long ago. This goes with all of these topics; I also had (and in some cases still have) narrow minded views but I am making it a point to look beyond my own life and really look at the world. Even though I have educated myself on certain topics, it exhausting to engage in a conversation where it may seem like I have the moral high ground – because I do not. So these conversations were taking a lot out of me because I was constantly defending positions that I was too emotional about.
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”Mahatma Gandhi
Because I care about these topics so deeply, a conversation for me never really is just a conversation. When I hear very bigoted opinions on gender, race, sexuality and money and see that people really believe what they are saying, I am left perplexed and emotional. It then really makes sense to me why the world is the way it is. I am usually left in quite a sombre state after these coversations, so that is why I decided to take a political/activist sabbatical. Aside from getting emotionally invested in these topics, sometimes it is hard to have them because I simply do not know the answer. I have been wanting to talk about this for a while actually, – when you are from a minority group, you are suddenly supposed to know every single thing about your group and its’s history when conversations like this come up. For example, I am a mixed-race, Zimbabwean woman and it baffles me that people expect me to know everything about being a woman…or being mixed-race… or being Zimbabwean. Suddenly, I have to justify and explain my lived experiences with facts that simply would be impossible for me to accumulate.
With this, I actually want to address you all in understanding this point. Just because your friend is black, does not mean that they know everything about being black or slavery or colonialism and just because your friend is not heterosexual does not mean they know everything about the LGBTQ+ community. And they do not have to. Google exists. What people fail to understand is that while in most cases we want to discuss our lived experiences, we do not have to. We do not owe anyone a history lesson on slavery, the diaspora, being a woman… or anything else. In instances where you may think you are asking investigative questions (in order to understand a situation), you need to stop and consider whether or not you are encroaching on a very personal part of someone’s life. They do not have to talk to you about any of this so if they do, appreciate it, listen wholeheartedly and respect the boundaries of the conversation. And to the ones who are constantly defending the minority position: you can take a break every now and again, it is exhausting, I know.
Social justice burnout or activism fatigue are terms coined to describe “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in situations that are emotionally demanding.” When I started to experience it, I felt nothing but guilt. As a self proclaimed activist for not one but three causes, am I allowed to get tired? Am I allowed to be silent in derogatory conversations? Am I allowed to have no opinion at all? The answer to all of these is actually no. Looking at the picture above, what I am saying might sound extremely contradictory. But by saying you cannot give up the flight, I am not saying that you should not take care of yourself. Take breaks in between all the fights you are fighting, enjoy other parts of yourself and the world but never forget the reasons you began to speak up in the first place. You will 100% go back to speaking up naturally when you have to continue to live in a world that is not changing. It is up to us to fight the good flight and continue to try our best to build a world that we can be more proud of.
“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don’t give up the fight.”Bob Marley