Lockout Lessons

The #liulockout has so far meant many things, and many of those have to do with affect, something I might write about in a theoretical way if I was currently being paid to be a scholar and a teacher, but instead am experiencing acutely right now. This is terrifying. We talk a lot about privilege in my circles, and the way that privilege insulates people like me from encounters with raw, brutal power, how terrifying and total it is, how people in power can make the difference between living and dying in instants. This is one of those encounters with brute power and its capacity to overwhelm and kill you on a whim. I live a pretty privileged life, I walk about the world as someone who really belongs in it. The police really do want to protect my well-being and my property, and with each passing year of accumulated middle class wealth, the entire economic system seems invested in ensuring my leisure class pursuits of marathoning and working toward medallion status on my preferred commercial airline. Until it doesn’t. It’s a different thing to know in your body what that means. I am learning a lot this weekend.

I am also learning a lot about organizing. I love my job, I need my paycheck, I want to get back to work. Our power is collective power, and we build collective power by organizing. That turns out to mean sending a lot of email, calling people on the phone, making lists of people willing to send a lot of email and call a lot of people on the phone. It’s pretty social work, I feel like I’m making a lot of new friends and connections, and it has been amazing to realize how many friends and connections I already have. The librarians have come through the way librarians always do, sending cash for donuts, spreading the word, calling and texting to make sure I know they have my back. I am not alone. Our members are not alone. Management has power, but so do we.

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