Care And Who I Am
So what’s next?
As I think about this question, I also realize that there’s nothing radical about being me. My transness or the brown that drips with every turn of my accent does not make me any more incredible than you. There is nothing special about wanting universal access to healthcare, affordable housing and safety from violence, amongst other simple yet hard to achieve outcomes. There is nothing ground-breaking about being a loud-mouthed feminist.
The most painful of all of my experiences however that has led me to be as “woke” as I am is dealing with the pain of waking up. Learning about the systems, institutions, ideologies and the history that oppresses people who are marginalized across various intersections in this world has taken a long time, and I have only scratched the surface. There is always more to learn. But the learning has inspired unlearning which has led to the pain of needing to decolonize.
All of these terminologies that I have used above are quite heavy words. And to be honest, I still don’t entirely know or understand what radicalization and decolonization even means. Well, not properly. But I started using them initially because every one of my tech-savvy social-justice activist peers were using them and then I too began seeing some truth within these concepts.
The pandemic – whether it be white supremacy, capitalism, disease, poverty, the patriarchy – has been a part of our collective humanities for centuries. Colonization has ensured that we struggle, fight wars, lose genocides worth of people and exploit our earth, waters and the rest of nature for our own selfish means and continue to do so. Whilst every single one of us is facing the consequences of these calamities, it is the most marginalized of us all that suffer. Moreover, these systems that ensure exploitation and misery continue to cause damage whilst profiting the rich and the privileged.
There is a global shift, however, in the way in which we’re engaging with the systems especially due to the climate change activism, Black Lives Matter movement and the Covid-19 pandemic, across the world. Now that especially privileged people are experiencing and are being victimized by the crises themselves, there’s a more general agreement for change, freedom, equity and liberation to occur.
But I do also think that we cannot just make reparations happen unless we acknowledge the damage that has occurred. We just can’t fix it without taking into consideration what has happened and think about why it is that we have let these atrocities to occur. Change, health and nourishment of people and the planet cannot happen unless we learn to deal with the ugly truth of human greed which was designed to eradicate and marginalize certain groups of people and potentially work on making sure we don’t repeat those errors.
I often get told that I only care about these issues because I am transgender, bisexual and a brown migrant from India in Australia. And to be fair, there is some honesty in that. My lived experiences and my peers have certainly informed my reflections and continue to do so. But lived experience does not equal capacity to educate oneself. The world around me is constructed only for a certain kind of people – often for men who are white, able bodied and of certain age groups – and the popular media that we consume has a lot of only such demographics predominantly represented. To add, there are also other intersections and identities that I don’t belong to that are also marginalized in different ways than mine. For example, I am not disabled, or bla(c)k or someone with a uterus.
The reality is, you aren’t required to belong to these intersections to realize that life is extremely challenging and often tragic for people within these intersections; that the systems in our governments are typically not built to support these people and often instead perpetuate a great deal of harm. You don’t need to know these groups of people personally to see the reality of their humanity.
Am I really ‘radical’ for writing about eradicating poverty, and liberation of queer people and the caring for the planet? The truth here is that I simply care. And this abundance of care that I embody doesn’t make me rare, I don’t think. It just drives me more towards questioning people who don’t possess the same care for others and the planet.
I get it though ~ we have all lived incredibly busy and challenging lives. And that often it is really hard to even make time to care for certain causes when there is always something new and disastrous happening either for you or to someone else.
But I also believe that our systems (like employment, education healthcare, police systems, etc.) are constructed to keep us intensely pre-occupied so that we refuse to question these systems and see outside our own suffering and trauma.
We are expected to stay busy, work hard so that we can someday become successful. But with the amount of resources we’re left with currently in this planet, we’re more likely to become homeless than millionaires. We’re all part of this imaginary competition with each other that promises us the paradise of peace and riches when really we’re all in a system that is designed (and often makes profits) from us failing.
It’s true. Look it up.
So, when you ask yourself what’s next, I encourage you to turn to your neighbour with kindness and care. I recommend compassion that is beyond you. I request for you to spend time educating yourself with empathy for others. We are all in this messy ocean together, although in differently built ships created for different outcomes and sailing, really, in different directions. But it’s time we realize that the lives we experience, cannot be lived selfishly anymore.
It’s okay if you don’t’ get it all. It’s okay if you aren’t as woke as you’d like to be. Your slow progress is better than no progress because, really, our humanity depends on it. Everyone starts somewhere. Let’s get going.