Sometimes I am asked, if I could say anything to my younger self, or to an aspiring organizer just starting out, what would I say?
This is the answer I give. This is what I wish I had known. This is what so many of us need(ed) to have said to us:
People in power will say anything to silence you.
They will play to your emotions and guilt you. They will make you question whether anyone you love truly supports or understands you. They will tell you that you'll never get anywhere with whatever tactics or tone you're using.
They will tell you that what you want is unrealistic or impossible. They will tell you that you don't really know what you're talking about. They'll hit you with numbers. They'll hit you with condescension. They'll hit you with deeply invasive personal attacks.
They'll water down everything you demand and try to co-opt your movement. They'll even hit you with flattery and try to win you over.
And, just as important, as scary, as necessary to know:
People in community with you will hurt you.
They will question your values. They will make you doubt your own politics and faith. They will try to turn your friends and fellow activists against you. They will take the language of social justice and twist it to their own ends.
They will attack you with bitterness and rage for even the smallest mistakes. They will make it all about them instead of about the community or the movement.
They'll come down on you for falling in love with theory. They'll come down on you for not understanding theoryspeak.
They'll shame you for every action you don't or can't participate in. They'll tell you to get out of the movement, that you never belonged in the first place.