To be a feminist activist means that when all of the signs seem to point to the fact that the whole world is against you, you keep going. To be a feminist activist means that even when you’re knocked down repeatedly, you get back up and try again. To be a feminist activist means that when your voice is silenced, you speak louder or find another way to get yourself heard.
You see, if feminists were all negative and pessimistic, if we were all buzzkills and killjoys, the movement would cease to exist. The feminist movement is made up of some of the most wonderfully optimistic people you’ll ever meet. While anger and injustice may be the catalysts for our beliefs, if we felt the fight was futile, we wouldn’t take it on day after day. What else but optimism would explain our resilience and our unmatched ability to keep fighting for things that will make the world better, safer, and more equal for everyone? What else but optimism would explain our ability to keep trying to make a difference even when our efforts seem to be in vain?
So when I say I’m a feminist, what I’m also saying is that I’m steadfastly optimistic that we can make the world a better place. I’d have given up long ago if I didn’t. And if that’s your idea of a killjoy, well then I guess that’s what I am. I’d rather be a feminist killjoy any day than someone who’s resigned to the fact that there’s nothing we can do to fight the injustices that we face on a daily basis.
It’s easy to look at something like Monáe’s mythos and see only the obvious metaphors. Her android’s struggle for the freedom to love after all paralells the struggle of American slave women to marry legally, to keep their children, to control their very bodies, in a system that cruelly commodified these activities. But it’s wrong only to apply an historical, and racial, lens to the work of any modern black woman. We have spent generations sharing the struggles of other opressed groups, collaborating with and occasionally being betrayed by them, and progressing nonetheless. We’re the ones who (literally) wrote the book on intersectionality. And it’s clear that Janelle Monáe feels no sense of threat from the others with whom our future will be shared. She welcomes, after all, with love and dancing.
And yet. When I watch her videos and listen to her lyrics I’m SHOCKED to see so much of myself in this ultra-technological future - despite my own writings, despite my own knowledge that black history and myth abounds with techies and innovators, despite my LIFE and my long-held desire to see this very thing. It’s not Monáe’s ability to imagine an inclusive future that’s remarkable, but my subconcious resistance. What the hell is wrong with me, that her vision feels so strange?
Too many years of ‘The Jetsons’, maybe. Too many white-supremacist Medieval Europes. I’ve spent years swallowing these bizarro world versions of humanity, and they have become a toxin poisoning my imagination. But Janelle Monáe is a tiny, fast-footed, pompadour’d antidote to all of that.
"How Long ‘Till Black Future Month?: The Toxins Of Speculative Fiction, and the Antidote that is Janelle Monáe", N.K. Jemisin, published in "Adventure Rocketship #1: Let’s All Go To The Science Fiction Disco" (via reifferschizzle)
N.K. Jemisin and Janelle Monáe are both so utterly amazing so this is really everything for me right now.(via mylifeistelevision)
Sarah Schulman (via odofemi)