Complacency is Complicity

It’s easy to justify not caring, or at least not sacrificing your own time, energy, and effort into organizing and building structures that resist power structures. The labor of attending and facilitating weekly meetings, social media and press blasts, and emailing and calling various people in power can be a very time consuming endeavor, all this on top of your schoolwork, internships, jobs, and other responsibilities.

While I perpetually feel like the “this is fine” meme, I find that the alternative is far far worse. When you’re powerless, or even worse, reactionary, the pessimism creeps in and invites apathy along. When you’re powerless,  consumerism distracts you from paying attention to what’s happening around you. Even when you’re powerless, you’re more than capable of doing harm, either directly or through the structures you support.

Organizing around these structures prepares us for the inevitable failings of a system built on exploitation, stolen land, and violence. As we’re constantly reminded that this system was never meant for us, building resilient alternatives that can respond to, or even get ahead of crises can not only help us collectively, but give meaning to our individual lives as we resist the ways that our lives are overdetermined by capitalism, racism, and sexism. The mundanity of the work sometimes is at odds with the urgency we feel about the violence we see regularly, but sometimes evil is mundane. The machine we’re going up against is massive, ideologically and materially shaping every facet of our lives.

I take solace from the history of revolutionary organizing, communities coming together and meeting each other’s needs, a force so powerful yet so simple that it’s been met with extreme backlash from the state apparatus every time. Although we know the risks, the power of a radical imaginary allow us to also know the possibilities of liberation are worth it.

Celine Wei is a second-year student from Colleyville, Texas, planning on majoring in Literature and minoring in Sociology. She is involved with the Asian American Studies Working Group and Asian Students Association, as well as an opinion columnist for the Chronicle and a Huang Fellow. In addition, she works with Durham Beyond Policing and is passionate about abolitionist and anti-imperialist organizing.

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