On Intention & Confrontation: An Open Letter to Ms. Majora Carter

Society calls my generation arm chair activists because we use qwerty keyboards and the share button to express our discontent with the world. They call us cowards because we don't define confrontation in the ways our grandparents did.

No, we don't walk up to soldiers and put flowers in barrels of rifles or string blue bags and aluminum around our necks anymore. We employ snark and tag, our way of staging protest, because we know walls get more traffic and we need the world to see what we see.

Mine is the generation of watchers, commenters, and sharers. This is how we have chosen to protest & thus to change the world. In a world where data is Ngr, we collect and distribute it en masse to disrupt the things we believe need to be disrupted. We are double tapping amoled revolutionaries.

Maybe it's because we know that the captured and shared image/text has become more powerful than the unseen meeting. We have seen people, who would have otherwise remained cloaked in anonymity, rise to meteoric notoriety in the time it takes to click a button.

Ultimately, our protest is more peaceful in practice than ever before. Why break windows, when you can break the internet?

What was my intention? Protest. Just like you chose to comment on Trump and his use of Archaic language in a 2016 blog post for Scientific American in which you address his use of the word “inner city.” To be frank, you have might have been more successful confronting him via Twitter.

You have a longer history with community work than I do, you have a more established career than I do, you have a greater network and net worth than I do, but that doesn't exempt you from being confronted about your own use of language. How could you admonish someone for something you participate in yourself?

Why should some people be forced to consider the implications of their words but not you? What do we call people who criticize others for things they do themselves? What does it mean to be a self- gentrifier, anyway?

Ngugi Wa Thiong'o, an African philosopher amd former political prisoner tells us in Decolonising the Mind that "language carries culture, and culture carries...the entire body of values by which we come to perceive ourselves and our place in the world. How people perceive themselves affects how they look at their culture."

Gentrification according to Wikipedia is the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. Why should a people seek to conform themselves to a middle class taste or culture? Why should they be forced to continue to view themselves against the cultural lens of another?

When you pander concepts like 'self-gentrification' to an already disenfranchised community, you continue a legacy begun in times of colonization. You give them a lens covered in the dust of self-hatred.

For centuries, we have been told that our hair is bad, that our bodies are bad, that our food is bad. We have been told that beautiful always bears resemblance to that which mirrors an aesthetic imposed on us from the moment our ancestors were moved from the bottoms of boats to the markets where they would later be sold. Later, we would be told that our music and fashion were distasteful only to have them ‘gentrified’ and appropriated by those who once turned noses up.

"Marx recogni[z]ed that economic exploitation was not the only driver behind capitalism, and that the system was reinforced by a dominance of ruling class ideas and values" (Gramsci and Hegemony); the longer we hold on to false consciousness, the longer we perpetuate our own oppression. You stated in one of your interviews that the community needed to become involved in it's own environmental care-taking, but how can you expect a community, constantly alienated, be moved to action?