Today, I had the grand opportunity of going to the 40th anniversary of the Young Lords Party at the Hispanic Methodist Church on 111th and Lexington St. (NYC). Just coming within a block of the small church gave me goosebumps. The sheer number of people swaying back and forth, trying to wedge into the lines, rocking their nicest Sunday clothes or some simple rev gear (like yours truly) set a scene for the merriment inside. Once in, the walls held media from stations and outlets all across the city and nation, burgeoning revolutionaries, people who just wanted to know what the hype is about, and of course, the Young Lords themselves.
A big part of me wants to go into major detail about the lovely procession, the speeches and descriptions, the poems and the reflections, the prayers, and the sheer electricity and vibrancy of a people struggling to find a collective voice while they saw in those 30-40 people in front tell their tale of the history and legacy of revolution in this country. As each Young Lord came up, the crowd grew more inspired; from the very beginning, the cacophonous clapping became a united rhythmic applause while waiting for the guests of honor. Each moment where a person provided a poignant thought or a uniting memory, the glow of the people enveloped every word with nothing but love. Needless to say, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt anything like this.
I kept reminiscing about some of the revolutionaries I’ve was so privileged to hear and read, plus some of my own formulations about social justice and how we as the “next” generation approach these ideas. Unfortunately, too many of us (myself included) have waited either too long or look to too many other people to make these ideas happen for us so we can “join.” Some people confuse, for instance, scoring points in a slam or making comments on TV as the end-all-be-all for what we deem as revolution. Yet, many studies have proven that people’s thoughts and actions are pretty independent of each other.
In other words, just because people say something or believe something doesn’t mean their work is in that “thing.” For all we know, they could be working towards against their own people in their destructive behaviors and professions (or, G-d forbid, their own self-serving agendas). For true activists in my observations, they’re either working directly in the service of the people or using their influence to provide for the people. We need people in the front lines and we need people behind the scenes. More importantly, we need people. Active and invested people.
Personally, it also means that I’ve gotta learn how to speak up. And so do all the people that went to that event. While many of the younger revolutionaries in that room really want to find inspiration from our predecessors, they’re looking at us like, “What you gonna do?” It’s our task to respond. It’s our time. Let’s move.
Jose, who wants a little less conversation, and a little more action, please …