Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Such a daunting almost suffocating prospect to speak Truth to Power. Will my family be safe from retaliation? Will I be? If we need assistance from the authorities, will they respond? Being a community organizer to create change in a small town requires a constant review of safety, security and whether substantive change is even possible. #PowerUP01945 does not believe fear should be part of a democracy. None of us should be fearful to dissent, demand accountability or seek change. But many are.
When we submit petitions to town leadership denouncing hate, call out misappropriations of resources, identify missed opportunities to dismantle oppressive policies or ask "awkward" questions, three main reactions are anticipated. We will have those who agree, those who disagree, and those who do not have an opinion. We have since discovered a fourth group: those who agree with us, but - even though they did not identify with a marginalized group - fear retaliation if they offer support. This unintended consequence deepened our resolve. Marblehead needed a voice for the People.
Speaking Truth is a necessary step in effecting change. It is however a deeply personal decision, and has always come with inherent risks to one’s safety and reputation. This is especially true in a small town where power is centralized and all roads lead to an ally. Our most ardent challengers have been the patriarchy, voter apathy and white feminism*. Being vocal in the face of their public critique or “warnings” forces a reckoning: Do I speak up to the Powers which force my friends and neighbors to feel unwelcome/unsafe? Do I speak up and risk defamation? challenge the patronizing offers to help me understand how "divisive" the facts are? For me, the answer is and always will be a resounding “YES!" I am comfortable speaking up and recognize my privilege. PowerUP01945 is designed to serve as a platform for our collective imagination, for the underrepresented - come #UpForAir, Marblehead, the People have been silenced for too long.
History shows that those intimidated by Justice take great lengths to keep dissenters quiet, quashing any public discussion of new ideas. The preferred tactics range from violence to intentionally complex rules of engagement to gaslighting. Perhaps the most insidious tactic is normalizing overly defensive reactions to requests or questions from individuals. When we take highlighting systemic injustices or introducing new ideas as personal attacks, we frighten ourselves away from introspection and stagnate our collective work towards the Greater Good. When we weaponize the media or our positions of power to silence outspoken individuals, we exist in an alternate reality fraught with mistrust and toxic positivity. When these behaviors then become the norm - our standard - we have centered the ego, the "self", in a democracy thereby oppressing the will of the People.
The only way we break free from this cycle is to intentionally create space for individuals to Speak Truth to Power. We invite you to come #UpForAir. Join us - we will meet you where you are.. #PowerUP offers an alternative to the "either or" mindset - as we find it suffocating. We will be the platform to highlight that which stagnates AND the platform that celebrates potential:
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Thank you for reading our first Up For Air Blog. Next Topic: Connecting Our Complex History to Present Day Challenges.
*The goal of white feminism is not to alter the systems that oppress — patriarchy, capitalism — but to succeed within them. It is a strategy toward achieving gender equality that focuses more on accruing power without any redistribution of it.