Solidarity is an Act, not a Speech

A photo of the first night of the Amherst Uprising

Solidarity is a myth. There, I’ve said it. ~Solidarity~ between two or more different groups of minorities is a fucking myth. You want proof? The Orlando shooting victims were gay. And Latinx/black. And yet what do other groups do? Some whitewash the victims. Others neglect to mention that they weren’t straight. But still they mourn and ~send prayers~ and still they pretend that this ~solidarity~ is a thing that exists in the world and is good.

Still don’t believe me? When Akai Gurley was murdered by Chinese American policeman Peter Liang and Liang got less than the sentence he deserved, what did Chinese Americans all over America do? They rallied, not against police brutality as Black Lives Matter does, but against “selective justice” and the belief that Chinese Americans were privy to white privilege.

Humans may be social creatures but as long as we retain these strict hierarchies between demographics we are no better than the beasts we claim to dominate. The same people who claim to “pray” for Orlando will mostly “pray the gay away” from their children. The same people who say that we must respond with love in a time of hatred will refuse to reciprocate the love they have been shown.

That doesn’t mean that we are completely incapable of moving towards showing solidarity for our fellow humans. There have been multiple instances throughout history where in times of strife and fear people have come together to protect, create, and protest alongside those who have been wronged. We as a community showed that we could come together and bring about change through solidarity during the Amherst Uprising. It’s true that the instances of alienation and hatred far outnumber the instances of solidarity and support, but the moments are there. We aren’t totally incapable of doing it.

So why do we choose not to?

For one, it takes effort. It takes more than just talking about being ~supportive~ and ~showing love~; it takes people actually getting up off their asses and proactively BEING THERE for others. For another, even with “shows” of solidarity, there are often ulterior motives. Celebrities express their support and “solidarity” with a mainstream minority movement for good PR ratings, students pretend to show “solidarity” in a campus protest to avoid what they perceive to be the possibility of a mob attack, and creators side with movements to exploit the suffering they see.

That said, even with my acute skepticism regarding humans and their ability or lack thereof to show any kindness, I’d still like to believe that steps can be taken. I don’t believe that everyone at the Amherst Uprising had ulterior motives, and I certainly don’t believe that every individual who donates blood for Orlando has ulterior motives or personal stories or experience.

“But I’m just one person! What am I supposed to do?” You could start by hearing me out. Solidarity as it is doesn’t exist outside of extreme tragedies or intra-community struggles, and we need to be conscious of that. We need to realize first on a more cognitive level and then on a more intuitive one that we’re all on this earth and we all have lives and value, even if the choices we make and the privileges or problems we’re born with make us feel like we or other people have less worth.

It’s not enough to just think, though. It’s not enough to talk. We as a society have a bad habit of talking much more than acting. Now is a time for action, no matter how small that action may seem. Start with the people around you, whom you may not necessarily know all that well. Check in with people, be there for them if they need a friend, and don’t be self-congratulatory about showing your support.

And then maybe we can go from there.