I spent my eighth week at Equality Ohio doing a lot of self-reflection as the program begins to close. In the office, I’ve been working on a lot of data management and fundraising planning. It’s been really fun being able to plan an event exactly as I want it to be with hopes of raising support for House Bill 160 (Ohio Fairness Act).
With all of these things coming together, I continue to wonder if my future career will be in the non-profit world. Lately, I have been reading The Revolution will Not Be Funded which gives an interesting perspective into the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC). If you don’t know, this is the idea that enables those of us doing work to feel good about what we do – which is important. It also means that we need to make sure as activists that we are not straying too far from our mission by getting caught up in the demands of work and disconnected from the political struggles that our work originally grew out of.
We often forget that many social justice movements were organized from the outside. There weren’t donors, supporter cards, power-points, or surveys. These victories were achieved by the people, and they can still be achieved by the people. This is important to remember because all the work I have ever done is non-profit and there have been many times where I felt like what I was doing wasn’t making a difference. In this current political climate, it is easy to feel that way and get lost in the work.
One of the biggest disadvantages to getting lost in the struggle is that we forget that while we can always be teachers, we will never finish being learners. There will never be a training or a memo that will be fully informative of every oppression, experience or ultimate solution. There will never be a seminar that will fully scope the lives of trans women of color, a database that captures how homeless LGBTQ+ youth feel, or a conference that tells me what it feels like when you find out you’re being fired from your job because of your sexual orientation. If we want to make social change, we need to keep learning and listening from the outside.
That is what I want to do after this fellowship is over.