(Photo by Joshua Galloway)

On Movement Heartbreak

Clarissa Brooks
7 min readDec 29, 2020

In the next world over, I want to be able to feel my left elbow, I want to be able to taste the rind of a lemon and be in my bones so that my lover knows where to find me. On the days where the grief, loss, and subjugation keep me tied to this earthly realm I think about that feeling of embodiment and whether the price for entry for that golden tomorrow requires this type of longing.

In this year that has changed my DNA, I think back on my younger self who was full of passion, who saw every moment of uprising as a means to help move our people closer to freedom. I think about the instances where I would meet movement leaders and try to ask them how they survived and got kind politically correct answers of self-care and rest even as I knew the world never stopped for those of us living on the edge of time.

I know nostalgia to be a trap that tastes best when rooted somewhere intangible. Every time I used to see the mariame kaba quote “hope is a discipline” questions would follow, what is the discipline? Where do we find hope after immense grief? What can bring us back after loss? Most of my wonderings came from lived experiences of when the underside of movement wasn’t always kind or welcoming and I could remember how often people's worst traumas were jokes at organizing convenings, how organizations exercised membership that built their bones and saw frequently how money and proximity to power shattered trust. Could never reckon with how often I lost hope in seeing how those willing to lean into their fullness were by treated others, how I looked away and felt pity for those swept to the sidelines of movement work, and how the standard for conduct in movement is taught through the fear of being seen as imperfect or unrefined. It made me hungry to ask our elders how they really survived this thing, how they truly made it to the other side of this world and back with their bodies intact.

I don’t know what day it was or even if it was that specific of a decision but I know it happened. Some would call it a commitment but many of us call it something deeper. It was the day that I was at my first direct action surrounded by loved ones screaming out for a future I can’t always grasp but giving my last breath to knock down every system in the way of what we call freedom. That moment is what has kept me and I am realizing now that it is not…

Clarissa Brooks

a freedomways movement journalist fellow. writer. community organizer. A lover of all the complicated bits of this world. https://clarissambrooks.contently.com/