Young Voices: Through Our Resistance, We Must Celebrate Our Existence

Storm Ervin / December 16, 2016

During times of unrest, it is important that marginalized people seek love and affirmation from each other. Love is a form of resistance against the systemic evil that we call racism. For the past four centuries, it has plagued the lives of black people. It seems this evil is reemerging to the once blatant figure it was in the lives of our ancestors. Although racism has been alive and well since the arrival of the first Pilgrim in this land, we can never let it be stronger than our love for each other.

When we lose sight of the reasons why we love who we are, we give way for racism to grow larger and destroy the love we desire. One reason we fight racism is to replace it with a system built on love, but tunnel vision focused on oppression and not on our community blinds us from our strengths. While we endure and fight racism, we must remember to care for ourselves and for our community through unapologetic and genuine love.

As a black millennial liberator, I am more than aware of the painful reality of being black in America. Since our inception in this stolen land, racism has been a principle ideology for white elites. All men were created equal, unless you were black: then, you were property, far from equal. The social foundation is constructed with white supremacy and black inferiority as an American standard and black people have resisted in nearly every way possible.

This hate is no stranger to college campuses. As a college student from Saint Louis, MO, I spent countless hours protesting in Ferguson and organized demonstrations that challenged blatant structural problems on college universities with #ConcernedStudent1950. Our struggle proved that money, power, greed, and racism, which are all interconnected, are prioritized over black life.

Organizers at Mizzou would not have fared well in our movement or our personal lives without the support of those who joined in our fight against oppression. Community love and support bolstered us during our struggle.

For black millennial activists, resisting centuries-old systems of oppressions makes you and breaks you. On one hand, you are fulfilled by fighting for what’s right for your people. On the other hand, every time a video of a black life executed at the hands of law enforcement is circulated on social media, every time students of color are targets of hate crime on their campus, or every time a killer cop is not charged with murder, the agony of experiencing the oppression that you fight forces you to question your very existence.

The recent election of a white supremacist-endorsed presidential candidate and the release of Walter Scott’s killer without any murder charge added to the worries and fears of being black in America. We want to fight back against this hate. But fighting racism impacts our mental, emotional, and physical health.

The frightful experience of living among racist institutions while fighting against them claimed the life of a renowned Ohio activist earlier this year. This tragedy haunts many black activists. I cannot pretend the thought has never haunted me. It has, and I know I am not alone.

I do not recall this to encourage us to take the similar action, but to emphasize that racism hurts and that those of us fighting it are not isolated in our pain. Our pain may not manifest through the same channels, but our collective suffering stems from white supremacy and anti-black racism. It hurts and in order to survive we must depend on our community in the struggle.

We know how powerful racism is, but oppressed people must find refuge in communal love so that we are not defeated by this evil. To anyone who feels marginalized, I urge you to love yourselves more than systems of oppression hate you.

As black people, we must love on each other more than racism seeks to destroy us. Continue to host healing spaces so that we can build together. Continue to embrace our creativity and find joy in creating catchy songs from Shirley Caeser sermons. People of color, celebrate our diverse cultures more than racism seeks to vilify it.
Peers and allies of the LGBTQIA community, reaffirm that you are great more than those who fear your strength to go against the grain. Efforts to make mental health care more accessible are imperative and have to continue. In the meantime, we must remind ourselves that our lives matter even though systems of oppression want to convince us otherwise.

In times of structural and unconcealed hate, it is important that marginalized persons lean on each other. Racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, you name it, will find every way to defeat us, but if we unite through the power of love, we will never be defeated. Yes, self-care is essential, but community care is essential as well.

Our communities must open our hearts and minds to accept all marginalized identities so we can make love stronger than hate. This, alone, is a form of resistance. To come together, celebrate what makes us unique, or simply affirm each of us creates an atmosphere that can lift our spirits.

The gains of activist work may not be realized in our lifetime, but no matter what, we must love each other more than oppression hates us. As the great Assata Shakur said, “we must love each other and support each other.”