Temporary solutions—an addendum Feb 27, 2017
by Imana Gunawan
Who needs sci-fi and horror movies when the dystopia is happening right before your very eyes?
I keep thinking this throughout Awaiting Oblivion. I don’t need to say how apt the show is given the current political climate in this country. I’ve been seeing a lot of folks making the comparison between this new hunger for resistance movements and fictitious entities like Dumbledore’s Army in Harry Potter or the folks in The Hunger Games.
How funny. Sure, it’s a valid comparison, but how funny it is that folks need a fictional, whitewashed Hollywood representation of resistance as opposed to looking at the messy history and seeing actual resistance movements led by marginalized communities.
“Resistance” is a loaded word, one chock full of nuances and inequities. For people left outside society’s margins (i.e., those not of the straight, white, cis, able-bodied, male, economically stable variety), surviving is resistance. Making rent is resistance (in a world that denies you equal pay or access to mortgage loans because your name sounds black or brown). Waking up in the morning and getting out of bed is resistance (in a world that tells you you’re sinful and not worthy of living for reclaiming your gender). Having a bed is resistance (in a world that thinks it’s OK to have so-called protectors shoot your brown body and laid you to rest on your grave instead).
When we talk about resistance, who are we actually talking about?
Who is surviving whom or what?
Are we surviving a system?
Aren’t we also benefitting from the system?
Aren’t we all implicated?
Is there really a utopia?
Should that stop us from resisting?
After watching Awaiting Oblivion, I was moved to create my own list of temporary solutions and things to remember for surviving the dystopian future we find ourselves within at present.
1. The first act of resistance:
Don’t kill yourself.
Don’t achieve yourself to death.
2.“Don’t rely on angels.” “Create your own angels and heroines.”
(Black and brown and queer and disabled and poor folks have been doing that for centuries. Yet that doesn’t make white America not explode with sheer joy and awe when rich white people “save” The Blacks™ or The Gays™ or The Crippled™ or The Other™. Remember that.)
3. Ask yourselves:
Who needs a witness for resistance?
Who needs to Instagram their pussy hat?
Who furiously types “but I’m your ALLY and woke af!!!!!1!1!!!” when marginalized communities call you out on Facebook?
Who needs to wear a safety pin?
Who holds an #IamMuslimToo sign at a rally but not know actual Muslim people?
Who rehearses solidarity for prime time?
The revolution may be televised and Snapchatted, but they better come with a time stamp—we’ll need those receipts.
4. Listen to the people you claim to be helping.
Just getting along shouldn’t be an ambition.
5. Recite the poem “I Want a Dyke For President” at least 5 times a day.
6. Celebrate sissies. Fight for them. Say their names.
7. We may think the enemy is clear, but they’re just pawns.
Give name to the war(s) beneath your feet.
Sometimes that means crying for hours
Sometimes that means cutting toxic things out of your life
Sometimes that means you don’t fight people
but fight the ghosts that whisper “divide. conquer. repeat”
to the men in suits with pens that cut lives in half, the way swords do
Sometimes this means you give up
Often it means you’ll find ways to try again
8. There’s thousands of shades of gray because nothing is black and white.
Remember that survival is despair
but survival is also joy.
9. Understand that complacency kills.
10. The water may be deeper than it’s ever been