What do we mean by power?

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“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” -Frederick Douglass
Today most of us will look around and may think about our current society while wondering why it is so messed up or why we are so blessed to be living in this country. Most folks who look at society from the first perspective usually put blame on the government. This is an accurate but an incomplete analysis of said malfunction because we forget about the concept known as power.  Power to me is defined as the ability to create/enforce change, usually through violence. It comes to fruition in many forms institutionalized, community, economic, legal and endowed just to name a few. When we think about our government, that is institutionalized power and it is then comprised of economic and legal power. So what then is Student Power with that being said?
Education is a right

Education is a right

“Students must have initiative; they should not be mere imitators. They must learn to think and act for themselves – and be free.” – Cesar Chavez
Students around the state, country and world are one big community, we are the future. Therefore we have  that one commonality.  Students everywhere make up the University through “body counts” but also financially (for the most part). Yet almost all academic decisions are made without the input of the students.  So when we say “Student Power”  it is a generalized term for where we are and where we hope to be. Now we hope that eventually that all students are unionized in order to become apart of the governing processes of how our universities are run. However, student power to me means shifting the paradigm of education as a privilege to a RIGHT therefore we take our universities back and make education free, like it is meant to be.

“Power never changed on its own you gotta’ make it” -Brother Ali.

Now what do we have to do to make education free? We the students must build community, because it is activating, rejuvenating and most importantly it is emPOWERing.  Community, is the pillar for building power, because it is power in and of itself, but we also need collective love. Love is a stupid, selfish yet a beautiful and dreamy word.  When people say “I love you” it is a big deal especially in intimate relationships but to me it is an even bigger deal when I can look into my comrades eye, without any fear, with all the trust and just say those three magic words. It freakin’ rocks. No kind of love has ever been built as well as maintained without trust, so trust and love are inextricable because without one another they cannot exist. And that is what community is built upon, love and trust, collectively. If we can’t trust each other than we can’t love each other, if we can’t love each other than we can’t build communities together and when there are no communities, we are rendered powerless and are left getting “F’ed in the A.”

“Hasta la Victoria Siempre” -Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Move over Huey and Stokely because there is a new power in town and it is here to stay.

 

Problems with Privilege

Categories, Revolutionary Perspectives

Today, I sat in my Women and Gender studies class and we discussed the “first wave” of feminism led by figures such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.  After our lecture we had a discussion around “how do we relate to these struggles?” The conversation was energized yet ordinary. Until one of my class mates said “We are all hyper inflicted by the institutionalized ‘isms’ of today and I fight to dismantle these but along the way I make sure I keep checking my privilege.” At first a pretty powerful statement. After reflecting I disagreed with her, she is a self-described white woman.  Privilege is one of the most misconstrued and problematic buzz words of our movement.

            Our “activiPrivilege Sucks sm” is much different than days of the Eyes on the Prize movement. We are a new animal, a rambunctious bulldog with a bark that disparages the “man.” We like capital A’s with circle around them, Karl Marx is our homie and we don’t take kindly to saying “you guys.”  That being said what actually is the problem with privilege? Privilege is the concept that capitalism especially US capitalism “privileges” a select few, based on unearned qualities. You know the white hetero-normative men.  Do I believe privilege is real, yes. So, what is the problem then? Simple, today folks like to play privilege Olympics while feeling a sense of entitlement to the movement while making the truly committed, white activists feel bad.  I have also heard playing the privilege card as an excuse to further enrich culturally, socially or academically. But the biggest issue with privilege actually is that it is too personal. When privileged folks have that “ah ha” moment of realization it becomes a race to become a part of the oppressed group. Humans in order to engender a sense of belonging, we must fit in with the status quo of the day. So when we sit in our conscious circles and disparage the privileged, who wants to be a part of that?

In our movement we do not realize that privilege needs to be evaluated on an individual basis. We do not allow privileged people to be entrenched but instead we oppress them to uplift marginalized groups. All without thinking of what consequences alienation can bring to certain intrinsic pieces of our “world changing” team!

            I think educating about privilege is very important and in the movement necessary to say the least but incredibly hazardous. So the least we can do is not oppress the privileged but instead co-opt them to make the movement stronger. We can change the world but when we suppress one group we render ourselves to a disadvantage.  So yes check privilege, teach about systems of oppression but do not ever make anyone feel the need to become oppressed, cuz’ why in the world would anyone want that?