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That is a quote from my “conversation” with a white-haired Leftist yesterday. It represents the main thing I learned from my Spring Break of conferences– first NCOR in DC, and then Left Forum in NYC. I had been disappointed at NCOR and pissed as hell at Left Forum.

My disappointments with NCOR can I think be attributed mostly to my hopes with the APOC folks. There are certain older individuals within the network that pushed me away– they felt this need to say everything they thought. At a rate worse than even the worst younger activists I interact with. They criticized elements of my generation of activists for strategies that taking into consideration emotions, or even just camaraderie. I can’t help but detect a corporate mentality.

Left Forum was much worse. NCOR is full of young leftists, the Forum is full of old folks. I was excited to maybe learn some new perspectives– but I wasn’t impressed after a few sessions. Everyone was reciting the same shit, that I have read people saying for years. Their theory and praxis is is so much older than I am. It hasn’t evolved, and it hasn’t changed. If it didn’t bring the Revolution in the 60s, how is it going to be any better now.

But it wasn’t their theoretics that upset me the most– oh no, it was their reactions to me. The stares, the constant reminders that I was one of the few people of color, and even fewer young people of color around. The worst was this old man when I was smoking a cigarette:

Me: Blah blah– laughing with friends. Cigarette in hand. 

Him: “Excuse me. Did you attend Left Forum today?”

Me: “Yeah”

Him: “You know tobacco was directly tied to the slave trade.”


Me: “Yeah”

Him: “Doesn’t that bother you. Don’t you want to get free?”

“What the fuck? He did not just say that.”

Me: Everything we consume is linked to systems of oppression and violence.

Him: “But cigarettes take ten years off your life.”

And on it went. I was much too polite. I let him exert some white privilege on me, and I was pissed.

I am always afraid of being ageist in my interactions, but I think my conditioning to respect what my elders have to say has made me worry to much about being ageist. I have learned in the past week or so, to truly critically listen to my elders, because often they are full of more outdated and/or offensive ideas than wisdom, at least when it comes to politics.

One Comment

  1. You shoulda floored that white bitch. Muthafuckas like that got some nerve popping off with some bullshit.

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