A Reflection on Love and Liberation
From the Archive - Originally Published on 01.01.20 on Medium
The perennial question at the end of any decade is always the same— what was it about? The New Republic offers a credible autopsy:
The 2010s were the most wildly successful decade for mass protest since the 1960s — an era of astonishing victories that suggest direct action today not only works but may also be among the most effective vehicles for change moving forward, as our nation’s political institutions continue to decline.
To say that a decade is about permanent protest is to say that a decade is about war. To say that a decade is about war is to say that a decade is about good and evil, at least in the minds of those waging it. While pundits spoke in the sanitized terms of political partisanship and polarization, people in the suburbs and on the countrysides and in the streets were engaged in battles between scarcity and self-preservation on one hand and more expansive understandings of humanity and human needs on the other. Even as those insisting on scarcity and self-preservation relished in the cultures and cultural products of those whose humanity they denied, confined to projects and cages, and killed. As it turns out, this is what decades and centuries and millennia are always about — exploitation and emancipation, righteousness and unrighteousness.
Discussing the historical pressures of the post-Reconstruction era, Toni Morrison wrote about the importance of formerly enslaved people reclaiming themselves and reconstructing their identities through the pursuit of romantic love. The reciprocation of affection wasn’t (entirely) the point. The point was that the lover had achieved something in the act of being in love. She had asserted agency over her mind, body and soul. She had not only claimed love for herself, but claimed another, whom she had no blood relationship or clear right, as beloved. In so doing, she desired to not only liberate herself but her beloved as well. The self-determination that came with deciding to fall in love had economic and political consequences even though it could not be grasped in economic and political terms. This was a free choice in defiance of a world that only offered her varying degrees of unfreedom.
In the next decade, people will continue to choose which sides they’re on. It will require more of the same from those of us who cast our lots with the dispossessed — that we decide to liberate ourselves and everyone around us. That we decide to fall in love. Like Angela Davis said to George Jackson, “My love, your love reinforces my fighting instincts. It tells me to go to war.”
absolutely loved reading this. needed and timely reminder 🧡