You’re Not as Radical as You Think

By Danielle Kulp 

Your Facebook says you believe Black Lives Matter, and of course you’re a feminist. Maybe you’re an intellectual tm and know the definition of intersectional feminism. You believe in equity and making resources accessible to everyone. This is fantastic! 

You pat yourself on the back and share a post about centering Black queer femme voices, then hop on a zoom for your local anarchist organization chapter, comfortable in your growth. The alt right would seethe if they saw you now. You’re doing great!

You are not as radical as you think. Check out all the squares on you’re next zoom meeting. How many people of color fill those squares? How many queers, diasabled people, women/femmes? Is anyone checking all those boxes? Have you questioned why you have a scant handful of marginalized folks in your organization? “I can’t control who joins and who doesn’t” you scoff and wonder what I’m even getting at. I sound a little too combative and aggressive for your taste, but it’s got you reading doesn’t it?

You’re doing good work, you’re fighting for the revolution, smashing the heteronormative patriarchy, but in your organizations and activist groups you’re failing marginalized people. The left has a big problem and it is reproducing toxic environments for its small membership of marginalized people. Your marginalized members are drowning in microaggressions and in some cases outright aggression, and it’s driving them to silence and scaring away new prospective members. 

You, my dear white anarchist, dream of leading the revolution, breaking down structures of oppression and creating something better. But your eyes glaze over, ignoring the misogyny and racism right in your local group. 

Some of you will swear up and down that it doesn’t exist in your organization, and demand solid proof, while your nose is pressed up against it. Some of you see it, see the thin webs of these structures, but don’t speak up when the only woman in your group gets silenced, when someone seems to have a problem with all of the proposals your Black queer comrade sends out. How can you dream of revolution and uphold these violent structures in your organizations? 

We need you! We need you to wake up right now! We need you to shake the white supremacy out of your eyes and shut down the white toxic masculine behaviors of your comrades. Members of oppressed minorities have strong proud voices-  but in our groups, we have to demand that our comrades respect all voices, and start to notice when cis white men are doing all the talking, and no one else is.

When you go to your next anarchist meeting, I need you to look at those squares, and start thinking about what you could be doing to create an environment that stops repelling the blpoc disabled queer from joining; I want you to question why the only woman in your group is barely speaking. I want you to bring up proposals that encourage your group to partner with more diverse organizations and do outreach with marginalized communities.

If your anarchist membership is so white and male that it could pass for a snapshot of Congress, I need you to go out of your way to ask why that is, and how you’re contributing. I need you to go out of your way to make your minority members feel comfortable and heard, and go further out of your way to seek more diverse membership. 

Check in with your minority members and believe them when they say they’re uncomfortable. If one indigenous comrade says something is racist and the other says they’re ok with it, don’t just take the path of least resistance and assume racism didn’t occur because one of the only two indigenous members said they were ok. Make that effort. No matter how small the infraction seems to you, everytime you call attention to it, you are training your fellow anarchists to see the structures that make your organization toxic. 

Being a radical isn’t just a title, it’s a muscle that has to be worked, and the moment you start feeling comfortable in your gains, it atrophies.

You’re not as radical as you think, until you topple the racist misogynist ableist structures in your own groups, and create in your small corner of the left, the revolution you dream of for the world. It is hard work, but you didn’t become an anarchist because it was easy. If you were looking for easy, you would have just become a liberal and put out a “hate has no home here” sign on your front lawn and called it a day. You’re not as radical as you think, but I believe you will be, because we can’t do this without you.

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