Saturday, November 12, 2011

What's My Movement?

I recently read a blog post written by my friend Charles Cole (I highly suggest you read his post here) about how he chose which movement he would dedicate himself to when there are so many choices out there. His post really hit home for me, because at this point in my life I feel sort of overwhelmed and unfocused when it comes to my own work dealing with social issues.  It's all so interesting and relevant. Should I focus on environmental sustainability, women's rights, prisoners reform, civil rights for Asian Americans, Muslims Americans, African Americans, Latinos, immigrant rights, youth organizing? yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes YES!!!


It's exhausting and frustrating to care about EVERYTHING, but here I am caring about EVERYTHING all the time. Seriously...all..the...time.

And it became much more difficult after moving to the West Coast. In New Jersey I thought I had it down...women's rights! That was my thing. I had lots of 'things' before, but after working at a anti-violence women's org for South Asian women I thought I had it all figured out. I was going to save women, stop violence and work towards equality and women's empowerment!

Gooo women's empowerment...or girls empowerment, whichever
But then I moved here; law school didn't work our and I couldn't get a job with any domestic violence organizations in this distressed economy. So I stumbled into work with refugees. So that's what I am working on now blogging, taking pictures and collecting narratives from these communities in Oakland. It's interesting work and I'm learning so much, and yes I am VERY busy.

Still I can't help wonder...what is my thing? Like my main thing. Women? refugees? what? I'd like to think that 'human' rights' is my 'thing', but that's so damn broad. Also, should the work I get paid to do match up with the work I volunteer for and the meetings I attend after hours?

I care about the South Asian community, because I'm South Asian. I care about women's empowerment, from literacy and development all the way to working to help women run for office and ensure their civic involvement. I care about domestic violence because I personally know of the terrible, traumatic and long lasting effects that violence has on individuals, families and communities.

And I care about the politics and policies that are behind these issues. I would ideally want to impact these policies or even contribute to the drafting of these policies.

My interest in politics has led me to spend this weekend in Lake Tahoe (where I am currently writing this blog entry) on a retreat with the East Bay Young Democrats, an organization under the California Young Democrats. I've been involved with progressive politics before in NJ, but have been disappointed by the Democratic party for awhile now. Mainly because I don't understand why Democrat leaders are so damn scared to do anything or take a real stand on anything. Maybe the recent Occupy movements are forcing them to get off their butts and push forth real change on behalf of the American people, I can only hope.

this was also an excuse to go to Tahoe....
How does all of this relate to 'my' movement, my personal hope to have a positive impact on the world? I am still (still!) figuring this out, but I can't help but feel that politics are about people and because of that politics will be something I will always be engaged in. The problem I really have is about where to put my time without burning out or being all over the place (me, all over the place? what a concept). This schizophrenic, twenty movements at once is probably causing me to be less effective. Having a handle on many different issues is interesting but maddening. Being in the Bay Area with opportunities galore only makes a decision to specialize harder.

What do I dooooooo??!
I want to make a difference, I want to be effective and genuine. I think it's time to start to figuring out what how to directly connect my core interests to the work I do. I am currently reading the classic "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan and have recently re-joined the production of the South Asian Vagina Monologues this year. My heart has and is connecting me to empower and support women and girls on various levels, so that they may empower and improve their own communities. Choosing a movement isn't easy, but I'd rather be an activist that works hard on an issue rather than flutter all over the place while going nowhere. I'm learning a lot, and maturing (hopefully) so I hope that my dreams and passion to work with women will come out to be a big part of my life work. It already has, and I look towards a future where my efforts can become one of many steps on humanity's path towards improvement and progress.

One day day