You have been lied to, because they were lied to
They told you that you are intelligent
That you are capable
That you are virtuous
They told you that you are most deserving
That you are passionate
That you are kind
That you are owed
You believed them- why wouldn’t you?
They told you that you have the answers
That your voice matters, most
And that achieving justice is one-dimensional and self-centered
Your guardians told you
Your parents *traditioned it to you
Your MENtors massaged it into you
And society cradled you
You are told that you can change the world, but I’m sorry to break it to you- you cannot. You have not been equipped to engage such a task. Instead, you have been taught that you have all the right answers and it is your responsibility to save us from ourselves. Therefore, you engage the world as your project and assume your position as the messiah. And anxiously await cookies for your good work.
Sadly enough, you were only taught how to be well-intentioned and unhelpful. You respond defensively to intersectional conversations. You refuse to critically examine the things you hold dear to you. You spend your time advocating and creating for the oppressed without ever having an authentic conversation with them. You cry hard tears when your privilege is poked. You threaten to stop using your voice when confronted on your counterproductive actions. You do a little good and you are rewarded for it- absolutely, no connection to systemic change. You take home six figures and boast about how hard you’ve worked for it. You spend a lifetime doing unhelpful things and retire in bliss. Your name is written on a plaque made of a classic oak. A scholarship is named after you at your alma mater. And you may even win that lifetime achievement award you have worked so hard for in this made up world. Your life has been a dream, nowhere close to reality.
You demand attention and feel entitled to the spotlight. You do just enough to not upset status quo. You refuse to take any risk with your voice. You think that all aspects of your work is the “game-changer.” You gain experience by being allowed to play and make mistakes. You go abroad for a semester and then claim to understand inequity. You step out of your privilege when it suits you, only to return when the temperature is raised. You do Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corp, and work for non-profits to feel like you are making a noteworthy contribution. You show up to a forum on race, a symposium on advocacy, and cheer at a probate to be experienced as kind and “one of the good ones.”
You perform helpful. Though I think you truly believe yourself to be
But you have been lied to, because they were lied to
And you are living proof of the lie
Challenge the lie.
This is the work of Cody Charles; claiming my work does not make me selfish or ego-driven, instead radical and in solidarity with the folk who came before me and have been betrayed by history books and storytellers. Historically, their words have been stolen and reworked without consent. This is the work of Cody Charles. Please discuss, share, and cite properly.
Cody Charles went deep undercover to study Hotepology at the University of Distinguished Hoteps, where he successfully slayed numerous colonies of Hoteps on nippy Saturday evenings- accompanied by the occasional libation and a Popeyes two piece and a biscuit combo. He is the author of The Radical Friendship Contract: 10 Expectations for Loving People Fully, 10 Common Things Well-Intentioned Allies Do That Are Actually Counterproductive, Ten Counterproductive Behaviors of Social Justice Educators, I Will Burn My Name Onto It, and Simple but not Easy: 25 Steps to Justice. Join him for more conversation on Twitter (@_codykeith_) and Facebook (Follow Cody Charles). Please visit www.consultcody.com to learn more about Cody.