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Broke Activists

Is it okay to talk about the confidence it takes to hold our heads high in the clothes we purchased at the twenty five cent sale at Treasure City Thrift? The perspective it takes not to cry when we can’t afford gifts for our kids, for our siblings, for our lovers during the holidays and on birthdays? Are any of us talking about the looks our landlords give us when we’ve paid rent twenty days late for the sixth month in a row? I’ll admit it. I don’t want to set foot in a club ...with women wearing Louboutins and BCBG when I haven’t had an eyebrow waxing in a year. I confess that my pride in my work falters slightly when I tell someone what I do and they ask “What’s your real job?” or “Oh, does that pay?” Does anyone else feel completely out of place at the birthday dinner for their good friend? You know, the girlfriend who continued pursuing her career and whose other comrades are all young professionals buying their first homes and driving cars made after 2006? Just wondering.

When did showing up for your people begin to mean never seeing your family? Are you wrong for not cutting off the guy you’ve been stringing along for six months, rescheduling date after date, even though you’ll never have time for him? And if you do finally stumble into a relationship, who are you going to put first? Your partner or your people? Just wondering.

Can I be real about the loneliness? Is it acceptable for me to disclose that the silence in my living room, my office, or the coffee shop at 4 a.m., when I’m the only one still up developing direct action strategy, designing program flyers, or researching the issues on city council’s agenda is unbearable? Am I weak for feeling like a reject and a failure when my team throws up their hands and says they’re sorry, but it’s too much or that they have other priorities? Just wondering.

Now, I’ll say what we all do because it’s true. My heart is in this is. My soul belongs to the struggle and of that I’m proud. Will I be defined by all that I choose to give or by all that I’ll never manage to be? Just wondering.

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