Roles in the Revolution

3:33 pm

"where do you fit in?"

For those of you who are unaware, we are in the midst of a revolution. As per Kanye's orders, the time for arrogant old people in power, apathy and colonialism is drawing to a close. A new era of kids is rising and revolting and challenging the social constructs that have been normalized for too long. There have been protests, disruptions and shutdowns, exams are postponed. I'll say it again. It is the revolution. right now. And the youth is on a fast track towards fucking shit up, like forever. It's quite scary, but very necessary if we really and truly want black bodies in our country/on our continent to be free. I'm thus here to kinda dissect the different type of revolutionaries that I have been exposed to over the past few days. I've yet to decide where I wanna be, and how I specifically want to contribute, so a lot of floating between some of these roles has taken place as I decide how the history books will portray me... 

Anyway. in the meantime, while I decide, this is what I'm seeing- my critical review of the revolutionaries.

The hyper-masculine front liners- These people are scary af. They're fearless af. Partially because they have 'less' to lose in this battle, and thus nothing holding them back from fully opposing any position of authority. Partially because their narrative has been suppressed for so long thus resulting in an explosion of anger and pain. They're the 'violent' ones- the 'hooligans'. The ones with the deepest voices and largest stature. Their sometimes abusive use of power and strength is criticized by people as an exercise of patriarchy and intimidation as it sometimes silences other voices.  

Female Front liners- Imbokodo. Determined not to have women again erased from the history books, these people put their bodies on the line (and make sure everyone knows they did) as they lead many of the protests. They get arrested and harassed by the police (and make sure everyone knows they did). They have beeen conscious of the movement. They have beeen part of it. Their level of commitment and willingness to sacrifice is commendable. Some work as providers, others protest leaders, some at a strategic level, all physically and emotionally v invested. There are few of them in comparison to their male counterparts so it's frustrating for them (ito shaky solidarity from other women) and for people who follow them (when they are not always seen at the front line). *see 'unfriendly black hotties' for commentary on their dress sense.

The 'privileged' few-  They're for it, sure. They'll fight, cool. But as soon as this fight begins to infringe on their sense of 'privilege' or creature comforts, they shy away. They are very conscientized, v smart (everyone on social media knows), but they are also under the impression that their social position in society, essentially alienates them from the struggle. This is false. This is a struggle against an experience of pain. This pain, this experience, is felt at all levels of society and should thus be fought against from all levels of society. Perhaps an adaptation of what the 'fearless white allies' do can be applied, instead of passive hibernation upon realization that the specific fight (not the war) does not directly affect this revolutionary.

Fearless white allies- Perhaps engaged in a bigger battle against the police instead of against colonialism? Very active in the struggle nonetheless, as they too put their bodies on the line for the cause, facing arrest while creating human shields against the police who respect their bodies more than those of people of colour. Their rents are lawyer-ed up. They use their privilege to contribute towards the fight in the form of providing cars and purchasing supplies. Their minds are well atuned to the nature of their purpose as allies in the struggle. 

Newbies- Very Passionate. Slightly ignorant. But for the cause nonetheless. They basically perform the triple task of front lining, very quickly becoming conscientized and spreading that knowledge to their peers. Focus must be maintained by this revolutionary, as the "thrill of it all" sometimes seems more appealing than the actual work behind the revolution. They continuously learn and fight at the same time, as they try to navigate their ultimate contribution to the revolution.  

Providers- We don't know them. (well at least I don't). They dip in with stacks of supplies for the masses. Then dip out.

The (loud) Ignorant Ones- Coming out with guns blazing in the form of misinformation, extremely long winded facebook essays and a lot of condescension of the black experience and expression of that experience. Be wary of spending too much time fighting with them in an attempt to educate. This essentially is the job of the 'fearless white allies' or anyone else who has the energy.

Scaredy Cats- Unlike the 'the privileged few' (they don't know much or want to know), or the 'ignorant (loud) ones' (they don't say much unless it's about other stuff like school), they are the first to flee the scene, or continue with the normalcy of life in the midst of the revolution. They are in a perpetual state of passive neutrality. Only appearing once in a while to celebrate the victories of the revolution or comment on the inconvenience it has caused them. 

Semi- Visible Leaders- They are not officially appointed. They choose not to appoint themselves or stick their faces on the posters. But they lead. They work extremely hard behind the scenes. They mobilize the masses, give hope and direction to them, educate, provide a plan of action. Then disappear for a bit as another leader takes their place. A v v lowkey rotation, emphasizing the power of the collective people. Also kinda problematic coz the disappearing bit causes anxiety for the masses. The spontaneity and almost directionless nature of the revolution makes people feel uneasy.

Unfriendly black Hotties- The 'woke' cliques have already been formed. v v difficult to gain their trust. If you do though, an entire dam of knowledge will be open for your mind's consumption. Their neo-ethnic dress sense is characterized by head wraps, bralessness, African beads and patterns and other cool things, as fashion too becomes decolonized. 

Unsilenceable Voices- Previously silenced leaders and members of groups that seek to ensure that the revolution is a revolution for everyone. They are v v important, as they continuously remind us to be conscious of the fact that the revolutionaries are a diverse people with a shared sense of pain, thus each pain will be fought against in order to ensure that this is a true revolution.

Fearless Creatives- Art is their weapon. They also are kinda like the "newbies" as they work on the ground and put their bodies on the line while simultaneously learning v fast about the revolution. While it may have started as (and may still sometimes veer into) a "for the thrill" act or even a "for the fans" act, their contribution is growing as they realize the importance of such a contribution. 

Passive Creatives- Taking amazing pictures/ writing poems as the masses of protesters pass by. Posting on social media. Being v involved... 

Opportunists- Usually adults. Usually members/leaders of political parties. Their concern with putting a face on the revolution ranks higher than partaking in the actual revolution itself. 

White Allies who don't sing but just stand-  They have cars. They add numbers. They wear cool/weird clothes. In terms of active participation in disruption, idk. Wonderful intentions, but almost voyeuristic actions.

photography by Imraan Christian (he is mad talented and featured on I D magazine)
Imraan (the dude who took these photos) once said that this revolution is bigger than us and we don't know where it's gonna go and how it's gonna get there. Everyone just needs to add their bit, contribute in their way, to make it what they want it to be. 

So yeah.

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