“To be willing to be transformed in the service of the work”

*This blog post’s title is from Mary Hooks and the Mandate for Black People in This Time

Hello, everyone! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who has subscribed to this newsletter or joined Resource Generation as a new member in the last couple of weeks. Not only have we’ve noticed an influx of young wealthy people getting involved in activism, so has the NYT, which in a recent article about the Black Lives Matter movement noted that, “the age group with the largest share of protestors was people under 35 and the income group with the largest share of protestors was those earning more than $150,000.” If that’s you, that means you’re in the top 10% of the U.S economy, and you’re in the right place! 

I’m so glad you’re here and that you’re getting involved so that you can be part of long-term organizing towards the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. 

As a non-Black person of color with class privilege, I’ve been moved by the many invitations from Black organizers and leaders of the Movement for Black Lives to “get in where you fit in” or as Maurice Mitchell, the National Director of the Working Families Party says, “this is an all hands, no elbows moment”. This means to contribute what we can to support the collective, without jostling for status or position. We as young people with wealth and class privilege are being welcomed into a movement for Black liberation with a transformative vision of cross-class, multi-racial solidarity. We also materially benefit from racial capitalism and anti-Black racism and may have seen our stock portfolios increase even as we were hitting the streets. 

What does it mean to contribute in a way that is right-sized and accountable for our privilege and complicity without taking up too much space and decentering poor and working class Black people? I don’t have all the answers but I am grateful to have Resource Generation as a political home that calls on me to constantly reflect on this question, take actions with others, and keep trying and practicing my way towards integrity. 

This is part of what we mean when we say “personal transformation.” It’s a recognition that part of the critical work of people with class privilege and wealth is to unlearn our own internalized supremacy and reconnect with a sense of shared humanity. This is what keeps us supporting racial and economic justice work for the long haul, beyond moments of uprising. It’s not easy or comfortable work – I know I’m doing it whenever I experience crushing self-doubt, fragility, insecurity, shame, and guilt as a person with class privilege.  

Guilt feels like a wake up call from my conscience. Guilt and feeling like I was not acting in alignment with my integrity and values was what first brought me to Resource Generation. Guilt can help lead to accountability. I joined RG because I needed to own up to my class privilege and how it’s connected to structures of white supremacy and capitalism. I knew that my class denial was part of the problem and was looking for a way to contribute to collective solutions. 

Shame feels like it’s at the root of all of the other things – the self-doubt, insecurity, and fragility. As a person who was raised as and socially conditioned to be a woman, I’m well-acquainted with shame, that feeling that something is fundamentally wrong with me, that I’m bad. Shame is why I seek  external validation of my goodness and want others to tell me I’m doing the right thing. It’s what makes me feel defensive when I’m being held accountable. It’s my internal sense of disposability – “I messed up, so I’m worthless.” Shame is a powerful weapon of all systems of oppression, and keeps me small and disconnected from my power. 

Simply naming guilt and shame does not relieve me of the personal healing work I need to do to address shame and act from a place of wholeness, or give me a pass from the accountability that guilt demands. For me, Resource Generation has been a web of authentic relationships and connections with people from similar class backgrounds and across class supporting me in personal transformation in service of collective transformation. It’s the place where I have been welcomed as my full complex, contradictory self, learned concrete skills, made commitments to wealth redistribution, been held accountable for mistakes and harm I’ve caused, and had my entire worldview shifted through political education. RG is where I keep coming back to when I feel fragile and full of doubt, to be reminded again and again that I am part of something much bigger than myself, that it is always an all hands, no elbows moment for my liberation and collective liberation. 

I know it will take dedication and diligence for the rest of my life when it comes to uprooting my internalized class and white supremacy. I’m grateful to not be doing this work alone. Thanks for joining me on this path. Can we help each other stay on it? Are you willing to be transformed in the service of the work?