Saturday’s blog “I Get Angry Sometimes…” was basically a long rant. A good rant if I do say so myself.
But the anger displayed in that blog will get you nowhere when it comes to activism.
We’re all angry at something. Everyone working in a social justice field has some level of anger about something. Anger is a normal reaction. Who wouldn’t be angry if they heard an 11-year old was gang-raped and later blamed for the assault. There comes a point, however, in which anger becomes detrimental. Detrimental to the individual personally and detrimental to them professionally.
When I wrote the blog on Saturday, I was expressing what was going on in my head hearing this news and reading some of the articles around the incident. I gave a presentation on Wednesday and used what happened, and the NY Times article, to facilitate a discussion about victim blaming. I am, and will always be angry about what happened and the response, and all prior and future instances where victims are blamed. My anger exists on two levels really. One level is what you (hopefully) read on Saturday. The other is the level on which I move on and I use the event to facilitate a discussion; I use it for educational purposes.
Anger is key to social justice movements. If we aren’t angry we likely do not have the intense passion necessary for success. Burnout also becomes an issue; our anger can consume us (because we hear about these kinds of things daily, and sometimes from the victims themselves) and so we become ineffective and eventually we must quit (at least for a while). When anger crosses the plane, the line, between normal or healthy anger to a consuming force that takes over someones life, it has become detrimental. Practice in dealing with one’s anger is helpful in diffusing and reducing the harmful impact of anger; taking a deep breath, counting to ten, whatever works for an individual.