I have to constantly remind myself that people are at different stages in their political/social identity building. I often catch myself being overly critical of peers for not having entirely on point politics when, in reality, their heart is in the right place and they’ve just not had the space/experience/exposure/time/resources to refine/develop their views.
I remind myself of what it took for me to become aware in the way I am now, of the journey it took. For so many of us, it took excessive hardship to become aware - whether it be financial hardship, exposure to racism, sexual violence, abuse, illness, etc… for a majority of us, it took something that heavy to catapult us into out concerns with social justice. And this is valid. What I’m saying is that not everyone goes through that, not everyone experiences life on the same trajectory or even faces the hardships that brought us literacy in this the hard way. So they have to learn through other ways, and those take time. Our ways do, too, for that matter. I’ve said incredibly problematic things just one or two years ago and I continue to mess up. It is the patience of fellow activists, organizers, concerned social justice advocates, friends and loved ones that keeps me growing and learning. And yes, of course, it’s also the justified, righteous rage that teaches.
I remind myself, if I were to draw out the trajectory of my identity formation and of how I got to all the labels I take on today, it’d be a long, convoluted mess. For others, it’s very straight forward - “born to Afghan parents in America -> Afghan-American,” for example. It’s important for me to remember that others haven’t had the place/need to develop in this way and that that isn’t a bad thing; after all, I wouldn’t wish on anyone to go through what some of us did in order to be where some of us are.
I’m not saying that we owe those around us education; it’s a micro-aggression to demand that. I’m telling myself that on the long run, it’ll take a less heavy toll on the heart if I learn to not write people off immediately, to see in them what those who taught me saw in me. I can’t keep writing people off and wonder why no one’s down with the cause. People come from different places and learn in different ways and while it may not be on me to teach everyone everything, it is on me to be patient with at least some, as they take time to learn, grow and understand.