Thursday, November 09, 2006

Disaster Fatigue

Disaster fatigue: A sense of hopelessness and frustration from dealing with the stress of multiple disasters. Includes signs of apathy, numbness, and denial.

I was in my Sociology of Gender class today and the phenomenon of disaster fatigue was brought up. We were discussing our responsibility, or lack thereof, to those individuals who are oppressed and exploited for us to live the privileged lives that we live. The actual question asked was:

What responsibility (if any) do we as consumers have for the conditions under which the workers (mainly women) manufacture our clothing, shoes, other items?

One of my classmates (Caucasian, lesbian, woman) stated that she suffered from disaster fatigue. She felt that there were so many disasters occurring that she felt overwhelmed. She felt that her not buying from the Gap or her not giving her few dollars to institutions that support capitalist, racist and/or sexist ideologies would NOT make a difference. Her view was that she did not feel that she alone could make a difference.

Okay, people....this is me...PISSED OFF!!!!!!!!!!!
What kind of foolishness is that?!?!?! I was rendered speechless when she said this! At first, I couldn't believe that a WOMAN would allow that to come out of her mouth! As a member of a marginalized group of individuals who has been "otherized" by masculinist, heterosexual, capitalist, hegemony and discourse, it is our duty to challenge oppression in any way that we can. I think it is totally irresponsible and unacceptable for a member of an "other" group to think that acts of resistance or revolution on ANY level isn't making a difference! What if the women or the Afrikan descendent people living in America of our past had thought that way? Would you even be able to sit your privileged self in an institution sharing your thoughts or your disturbing view of agency among other intellectuals? RESISTANCE IS RESISTANCE! RESISTANCE BRINGS CHANGE! I have to believe this! It may not bring change on a structural level in a large and noticeable way while we're breathing, but it can start to make way for a space where our seeds can live this life we dream about, this world dripping with equality across race lines, gender lines, sexuality lines, religious lines, etc.

It sickens me to think that people are here taking up space and energy without living their lives resisting in any way that they can! Why are you here? I've seen and heard of honorable and revolutionary soldiers dying, who would have given anything to be here and still fighting for us, and here YOU go! Given life and breath to make a change and wasting your opportunity to play a part in improving the world we live in. Now granted, sometimes it's difficult to do so because you aren't aware of how you CAN resist AND if you really want to be a part of the solution, FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN! I'm not saying you have to not buy your children's clothes, but I AM saying that if you know the GAP is paying women and children $.10 an hour to make clothing, DON'T spend your dollars there! If you know that fireworks manufacturers are blowing off the hands and arms of women, men, and children, DON'T buy frickin' fireworks for crying out loud! Instead, spend the money that you would spend there on something supporting the debunking of these money-making monsters that support unequal power relations! Just don't sit there and say that your "little" act of resistance won't matter and then continue to do nothing! Just a suggestion...


I thought about it some more and had to think about where she was coming from...She was speaking from a position of privilege. In the U.S., her skin color has afforded her the option of having the type of ideology that will not result in the destruction of her race's way of general of course. Me, on the other hand, I don't have that as an option! That type of ideology will kill us...point-blank. My race cannot survive with that type of thinking. That type of ideology threatens to destroy all that I love. Because my people were involuntarily immigrated to this country, or living in colonized conditions, or being targeted by the masculinist, heterosexual, capitalist, hegemony and discourse that plagues Afrikan descendant people living in America or even in Afrika...because of all of this and reasons unmentioned, I CANNOT ADOPT DISASTER FATIGUE. I WILL NOT ADOPT DISASTER FATIGUE. I don't know what that looks like for people who look like me. My life never afforded me that view. My mama never showed me how to do that because as an Afrikan woman who loves her people, she couldn't have disaster fatigue. My dad never presented that framework. My brother never told me to give up because it doesn't matter what I do. They taught me that my life is a fight for our lives. I was taught that my fight begins with this masculinist, heterosexual, capitalist system and ends with the liberation of the minds and the bodies of my fellow Afrikans...With that said, I stopped being so upset with her and I began to pray that my people never adopt disaster fatigue as popular discourse...our lives, our seeds lives, their seeds lives depend on it...they depend on us to keep any way we can...




At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Mom had said was, uh...

Rap on Sistah, rap on. Next to the word "Warrior" in any dictionary has to be a picture of you. I can't believe I gave birth to someone with your intellect, your passion and your conviction. We don't have the luxury to sit by idly and wait for someone to make this a better and more just world. I believe it is each person's responsibility to do all he or she can do to make this world the kind of world we want to live in. One's destiny should not be left to chance or handed over to someone else to shape. In my opinion, inaction is equivalent to voluntary paralysis and a personal affront to the Creator. Baby Girl, all Mama has to say is "Rap on, Rap on" and continue to question, agitate, and fight for inalienable rights for all humanity.

Love ya


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