Shakina Nayfack

Dear Fellow Revolutionaries,

I write to you as a dusty-kneed soldier of the great unfolding rebellion that is America.

I write from the heart, in a pivotal moment in which each of us must decide whether to lead with love or fear. I urge you to remember: Only love is real.

Some of us have been fighting all of our lives. Some of us carry generations of fighters’ blood in our veins. Some of us are new to the struggle, awakening only now to the harsh reality of injustice. Those of us arriving fresh to the battlefield must embrace the added challenge of learning strategy when thrust into the fight. Keep your eyes and ears open. Listen to your elders and those who have walked the path of resistance before you.

All of us must identify our strengths by testing our skills, in action, every day. Do not be afraid to start now. You have something valuable to contribute.

I offer here a few points to consider as together we lay the groundwork for a perseverant majority counterculture:

Learn to read and write poetry, because as Audre Lorde told us decades ago, poetry Is not a luxury. Strive to communicate your truth and elevate your form of expression. There is nothing more disruptive than an artful command of language.

If you aren’t already, learn to have conversations about racism and rape, as these two make up the unfortunate bedrock of our nation. If you’re new to these discussions, begin by listening. Silence is a rewarding challenge and the only way to receive another’s wisdom. If you’re a survivor, begin by allowing yourself to heal. Don’t permit anyone, including yourself, to undermine your quest for emotional integration. Heal yourself and you heal the world. Heal one another, and you change the course of history.

A commitment to nonviolence is not the same as passivity or niceness. Get over being nice. Rather, focus on developing more consciousness around the ways you give and receive energy. Be decisive. People will demand of you, but some demands may not merit the quantity or quality of attention you feel compelled to give. Portion your life-force accordingly. Always act with integrity and compassion; offer your best but save your strength for your fiercest foes.

Look for the places where battles are being fought on multiple fronts at once. All movements for justice are connected.

Be forever conscious of your privilege and whether in any given moment you are using it for self-gain or the collective good. Radical change comes when those in positions of power use their status to dismantle systems of oppression from which they stand to benefit. So do that, if you can.

Resist the temptation to divide the personal and political, the sacred from the profane. Your whole self is required to jumpstart the evolution of democracy. But do not let the beauty of spiritual truths blind you to the earthbound atrocities being waged against your sisters and brothers in the name of so-called righteousness. Instead, be prepared to call out hypocrisy at all times and in all forms, beginning with your own.

Remember that faith and hope are only subversive when coupled with agency.

Develop a personal philosophy of political economy. How and where you spend your time, money, and talent matters more than you might suspect.

Be critical of any mechanism by which human beings attempt to exert dominance over each other and the earth. This is about your home, your neighborhood, and your workplace. This is about your city and state. This is about your country and continent, your hemisphere and planet. Take time to envision the ripple effect of your actions and generate goodness.

Seek out community but don’t shy away from solitude. Being alone without loneliness is essential for moments of respite from battle.

Cherish intimacy. So too joy. So too laughter. So too tears.

Be counted.

Co-create.

And lastly, should you carry it concealed or otherwise, find your shame and annihilate it. Dead weight will not serve you in the struggle ahead.

Forward into the light, with love and solidarity,

Shakina