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What Do We Mean by Complicating Narratives?

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Audre Lorde

The narratives of many targeted communities have been stolen and re-written to fit a white supremacist agenda. The narratives have been embedded into the fabric of our society, forcing us to internalize and normalize their toxicity. They have created laws, policies, and standards that privilege some bodies over others. Targeted bodies are active battlefields of resistance, resiliently surviving these narratives. Resisting such narratives requires skills we have only begun to quantify, including code-switching, being fluent in multiple cultures and languages, understanding the implications of unspoken laws, and navigating the physical landscape in a way that allows each of us to thrive. Complicating Narratives involves us looking at the systematic ways in which these toxic narratives permeate our world, as well as the ways in which we all internalize these narratives, creating different realities depending on where our intersecting identities lie within systems of power and oppression. We are choosing to complicate the narrative of nonviolence by telling our stories. With the reclamation of our stories, our histories, our art, our languages, and our songs we are continuing the legacy of our ancestors will to survive and resist.

This is why, during the 2018 Seabeck FOR NW Regional Conference, thanks to the dedication and tireless work of the youth of color activists, we are complicating the privileged commentary that have been intentionally created and both intentionally and unintentionally reproduced to maintain power for a certain few. For generations targeted communities have been passing down history, articulating culture, and resisting the status quo by telling our stories. This year, we are going to follow in the paths of our ancestors. This year we reclaim our narratives. This year, we are acknowledging that there are multiple layers of identity that compound our trauma, our lives, and our stories. This year, those of us that rest at the intersections of multiple targeted identities deserve the right to be the authors of our own stories. This year, we are demanding a recentering of the nonviolent movement, which has historically been lead by targeted communities. We are demanding the complicating of the narrative of nonviolent struggle. Welcome to Complicating Narratives, 2018.