Over the weekend, I was a guest speaker for the Asian American Resource Workshop’s (AARW) panel about youth organizing, community activism and efforts in social change (Yes, you see a lot of my paintings and poems but sometimes the most important work goes unseen–which is the case for many of my community organizer homies). Anyways, I talked about my involvement as a youth organizer in high school and political education being a catalyst for my journey to the west coast, reaping up bundles of knowledge in ethnic studies, racial theories, community building, grassroots organizing and all that good stuff. They asked me the following question, to which I was stumped. I stumbled in the moment and gave a shitty, unfulfilled answer. I said something cliche like the red or blue pill in the Matrix. Lame. Now, I wish to redeem myself and say what I really meant to say:
Question: What is your motivation for continuing activism and pushing for social change?
My motivation is knowing that I will die. The way everybody will die, unless they create a pill for immortality. I don’t know when I’ll die, which is why time can’t be wasted. I ask myself, “If you only have ONE life to live, what do you want to do with it?” 50 cent says Get Rich or Die Tryin’, it sends the message that the ultimate goal in life is to become filthy rich, but how fulfilling is that? You can’t take all the money, cars, clothes and expensive shit you bought with you when you die. I think about how fucked up the world can be these days–madd corruption, poverty, bank conspiracies, institutionalized racism and the list goes on. It really makes me sad. Even after I die, my kids and their kids will still have to live in this world. So if I had one life to live, it would be to do everything I can to leave this world a better place than when I first entered. I want my kids and their kids and other kids to live in a better world than what I lived in. Whether it is through creating art to inspire new generations, publishing research on social theories, implementing just policies within institutions or more, I want to live a purposeful life and make a lasting impact on the world. It is definitely a more difficult route, to accept the burden of social responsibility. But after a consciousness is cracked open, it’s hard to be happy with just material things anymore. It doesn’t even matter if no one remembers me. There are a lot of social justice fighters throughout history whose names we will never know–martyrs like Malcolm or Martin are great figures, but they didn’t do it all on their own. Remembrance or not, the world will never be the same.
For more information about AARW and how to get involved, click the image below:
The mission of the Asian American Resource Workshop is to work for the empowerment of the Asian Pacific American community to achieve its full participation in U.S. society.
We are a member-based organization that seeks to document the diverse Asian Pacific American histories, experiences, and social conditions. Our resources and activities are used to respond to current Asian Pacific American issues and to promote Asian Pacific American identity.