Some advice is good. Some advice is weak. Some advice is both. As young scholar I often hear the latter two. I am told to be critical and hold my tongue until my life is less precarious. Lately, I've come to realize that good plus weak equals bad and outdated. Let me explain.
Good weak advice is rooted on the idea that work is all in ones life and losing it would mean one is condemned to missery. I get it. It is good advice. For many being an academic is the only thing they can imagine themselves doing. And historically rocking the boat led to dismissal.
However good, it is weak advice as it is just a tool of the capitalist patriarchy to keep us in place, quiet and avoiding change. It is a truce that keeps us on our knees long enough for most of us to loose any chance of moving at a latter stage.
I cannot wait. I cannot wait while the my parents and grandparents generation destroy my world and sexism the minds of our children.
I feel shame when a teenage girl needs to sail over the Atlantic Ocean to speak on behalf of all of us who would like to move but choose to wait. I cannot imagine waiting 15+ years until I become a full professor before I can speak as loudly as Greta could at 15.
By then I might have a teenager at home. With which eyes could I look at them and say that I am too worried that my full professorship might not arrive? "Sorry honey, I don't really care for the future of your children. No snow for you. Go play upstairs in the beach".
I am restless not because I want to take risks. I am completely certain that I am a coward. I am restless because I do not believe in the risks anymore. It is as Obama recalls in "A Promised Land"
"Every generation is limited by what it knows, those of us who were part of the movement, giants like Martin [Luther King Jr.], lieutenants and foot soldiers like me…we are the Moses generation. We marched, we sat in, we went to jail, sometimes in defiance of our elders, but we were in fact building on what they had done. We got us out of Egypt, you could say. But we could only travel so far. You, Barack, are part of the Joshua generation. You and others like you are responsible for the next leg of the journey. Folks like me can offer the wisdom of our experience. Perhaps you can learn from some of our mistakes. But ultimately it will be up to you, with God’s help, to build on what we’ve done, and lead our people and this country out of the wilderness.”
For climate change, gender, and queer equality, we are the Joshua generation. It might be that our elders went to jail, were fired and failed to get promotion. But I don't think we will. At least, I am willing to risk my skin to avoid denying my children and grandchildren the chance for seeing snow and having a just life independent of who they want to be, the country they want to live and the gender they want to express.
I won't wait. You should not either. And if you are older, please do not stop us. We are grateful for your steps. But it's time for me to move. Marvel as we leave you behind. Help us when we fall. And please if you are a full professor do not ask us to be weak. Have some trust on our strength.