Monday, October 6, 2014

Are you gonna go my way?

Like most activists, I do what I do because I love it. It's a core part of who I am. It isn't for accolades, it isn't for attention, it isn't for financial or personal gain, it isn't for fame. Although it is rewarding, it is also very much a sacrifice; often demanding time, effort, money, and emotional/cognitive/physical energy - all things that for many of us are in short supply.  And a great deal of the time, we will hear many more "No" answers than "Yes." Yet we do - and will - keep going.

We will encounter more opposition than we will support; will face more rejection than inclusion; will plant seeds that we know we will never reap in hopes others after us will benefit from our work; will expend money, time, and "spoons" knowing that even more will be required and that we will have to replenish them on our own while still finding a way to give.

And yet we don't stop, and won't. This is who we are. This is who I am.

I don't need pay. I don't need a pat on the back. I don't need to be well-known. I don't need kudos, media coverage, or recognition. I don't need thanks. I don't need friendships. I'm not opposed to nor will I refuse any of these things should they happen to be given to me along my journey - indeed I have made some strong friendships that I treasure through the years and have found that attention can assist the cause. And as someone who's far from wealthy, money helps advance what one is able to do as well, as it provides a mechanism to reach more people and to help others. I don't see any of those things as "bad" things. They're just not a need. I can, have, and will continue without any of them - without being given a dime for my travel or my contribution, without being featured in any story or show, without a "following" of any type. Like most of us, while those can be helpful "extras" if available, that isn't what I'm here for, and I don't "need" any of that.

But what I do need is this.

Don't effin' sabotage me and mine. By "mine" I mean my brothers and sisters in the struggle. Don't set us up. Don't appear to be an ally and then stab us in the back. Don't make promises and then renege on them. Don't play "devil's advocate." Don't play games with what we're doing - we're fighting for our, and other people's lives here. Don't hurt us and don't play us. If you're not going to be "for" us, I can understand. Just please don't stand in the way.

I'm going to be all right. My family is too. I am an advocate through and through and that will never cease, but my initial responsibility is to my family. They are my top priority - first, last, and always. I will always seek to make certain that no matter the social, political, or economic climate and/or no matter my struggles and shortcomings, I will provide for their needs in order to ensure to the best of my abilities that they have happy, healthy, fulfilling lives.

But it's not about me and my family. I don't do any of this out of need. I do it because there's a world of people out there like me. There's a world of people out there like my daughters. There's a world of people out there like my sons. And like one of my idols, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Until all of us are free, none of us are free."

It's not good enough that MY family has access to HAART and PrEP. It's not good enough that MY family receives an inclusive education.  It's not good enough that MY family lives stigma free, that we are a proud HIV affected, Autistic, adoptive, neurodiverse multicultural family, that we do not hide from nor feel limited in any way by who we've been made by God to be.  These victories weren't given to us; we fought for them. But the fighting doesn't end just because we've had some successes in my little circle of the world.

As long as even one person is unable to have similar access, similar acceptance, similar resources, similar options, how can I be content? How can I rest? I can't.

But when I have to contend with soul-crushers and those who sabotage those of us who've put ourselves out there by choice as advocates, it takes away from my ability to effectively "do" for others. It robs me of valuable time and energy that could have been better utilized in others ways to help others. It drains me and makes me less capable. It makes me less willing. It makes me tired and makes me less focused and less able to summon what I need to give my all to fight for others who need me.

And believe me, people need me. Not because I'm anything special - I'm just Morénike. I'm ordinary.  But ALL hands on deck are needed. The Bible states, "The work is plenty, but the workers are few." Every last one of us that is helping in our own individual and collective ways is needed out here. We cannot afford to lose ANY one of us.

We need the self-advocates, we need family advocates, we need allies, we need caring professionals, we need concerned family and community members, we need researchers, we need providers, we need bloggers, we need educators, we need allies in the media, we need activists, we need social media warriors, we need lawmakers and politicians, we need policy experts and decision makers, we need benefactors, we need philanthropists, we need visionaries. We need you. We need me. We need everyone.

There's a lot at stake and a lot that we already need to overcome. We should not have to worry about being taken out by our own. Please don't hurt us. Don't work against us. Don't sabotage us.

Work with us. Stand with us. Amplify our voices and add your own. Fight for us.  Fight with us. Please.

And if you won't?

Then please, for the love of God, don't fight against us. If you aren't going to actively help us, we will survive. Not everyone can help. That doesn't make us enemies. You don't have to help us. But please just step aside. Be real with yourself, and with us - if you're not on our side, step aside.  We can handle it if you're not here to help. But we don't need you to hurt, sabotage, and sideline us.

You don't have to be our enemy if you don't help us. But you DO become our enemy when you choose to hurt us.

You can't have it both ways. Choose you this day what it will be.

I need to know.


(Photo credit: clubtone dot net)