BY ELIJAH NICHOLS, STAFF WRITER
For too long, I’ve seen a rise to power by those who’ve had the voice for a rally, but truly lack the stamina to strategically and empathetically organize both with and for their community. This lackluster approach of simply empowering yourself, rather than the community as a whole, within modern day activism has left me with a sense of disdain for those who rise to power easily. I’ve met organizers who utilize their anger and pain to dive deep into the endless hours of work that the job requires, but I’ve also met organizers that speak on a stage yet lack the willingness to effectively lobby, phone bank or engage in plain civil disobedience and discourse.
With some level of fairness in mind, I believe a modern day sense of photo-op activism has truly driven this subpar leadership style. As organizers begin to notice those within our own circles who seem to care more about their resume than the livelihoods of their peers, we need to remind ourselves to keep acting on our own convictions, and ensure everything we do is for the good of the community and the movement as a whole.
When organizers face those who come in to a community and may wish to do more harm than good, I fundamentally believe that we need to move forward and put in what seems to be an innumerable amount of hours while continuing to fight for what we know is right. With this, we can begin to find others who live by bold positions and detailed plans and uplift their work.
As one effective organizer lifts up another, we can create a cycle of showcasing the many faces of a movement and a community. With this, we can truly show the good work being done and begin to approach a more sustainable way of organizing. When leaders understand the power of community, of work, as well as stepping down to pass the megaphone, a movement can only benefit.
This style of leadership—one where the megaphone is passed out of kindness and necessity, where the face of the movement is of the many, not the few—helps to understand the power of not only community, but grassroots organizing itself. It paves the path for future leaders to walk on, and this is something not one leader should forget.
The representation within a movement also ensures heavenly justice for a wide range of communities. In my childhood, where I saw little representation of queer activists, Lady Gaga stepped up on to the stage and made her political beliefs known, uplifting the voices of other queer young people while doing so. This representation, which some may not view as valuable, truly helps build a coalition of communities for a movement. This brings heavenly justice close to grasp, as if one can almost feel the sense of inclusive and equity.
This “heavenly justice” actively shows where an organizer’s heart and mind is. The heart should always be near those who you are fighting for and those who are in need of their liberation. If you do not have your heart and mind with the oppressed in your community, you forget that someone, somewhere, is hurting. That is why we uplift our peers and try our best to ensure the longevity of a movement. Without a new take, a new face, are those within a movement able to hold each other accountable? Is it not just an elitist organization for only liberation of a few? You see, when we organize for our communities, we should be doing it to provide hope and change for our brothers and sisters.
To all the leaders out there: step back, check yourself and ensure your priorities are straight.