For Our 2013 New Year’s Resolutions, the Personal Is Political

Wrestling with systemic problems means also making personal changes, big and small. Here's a few of our own efforts for 2013.

By Jamilah King Dec 28, 2012

We all know the routine. As one year winds down, we make big plans for all that we’ll do right in the New Year. Some of us recommit ourselves to long-neglected gym memberships or promise to put away more money each month. Whatever the goal, the act of making it is a symbol of the hope we have to build a better future. For our team, that future is a collective one. This year we’ve rounded up own New Year’s resolutions, connecting our own personal agendas with our broader political ambitions. Add your own in the comments section or, better yet, share them with our Facebook or Twitter communities.

Seth Freed Wessler: I’m going to do a better job of being in touch with my far away friends and family because city, state and national lines should not determine the boundaries of our community. We’re living in times of intense line drawing, where borders are cast in steel and cement and the country is regularly described as more divided than ever. This year, I’m going to take little swipes at this division by staying in better touch with my people, wherever they are.

Akiba Solomon: I’d like to create the space and resources for scheduled breaks. I haven’t been on a vacation since 2009. That can’t continue.

Hatty Lee: Get inspired. Take time away from the computer. Find new creative inspiration in the world and people around me. Make a conscious effort to take time away from the computer and instead go back to the hands-on basics of art and design. Create a space to further develop a visual voice that represents my perspective on the social climate around me.

Jamilah King: Bring people together. Working for justice can be demanding and, at times, isolating. In 2013 I’d like to be more intentional about finding and creating spaces on and offline where people can come together to have fun. Some of that hope is pretty ambitious — I’d like to join a basketball team, for instance. But I’d also like to host more dinner parties and do random fun things that are near me. After all, the movement that plays together stays together.

Channing Kennedy: Talk about myself more. Yes, this is a a setup for some easy (and true) jokes about me, but hear me out. We’re all familiar with the myth that oppression is individual and that it only affects people directly. The truth, of course, is that injustice is a system; structural racism hurts everyone, as the redlining-fueled economic crisis has illustrated. But how can we delete the easy-to-internalize idea that our privilege keeps us separate from that system? Well, I’m going to try to talk about myself when I talk about injustice (and I definitely don’t mean "men’s rights" here). If I can present myself as a fully vested member of our unjust society, rather than as an observer or steward (or victim) of it, then I can model a way for my fellow friends-with-privilege how to talk about the injustice they see — I can show them a cognitive alternative to the usual false dichotomies. And in addition to all that talking, I’ll be continuing to work on my listening, of course.

Brentin Mock: Expand discussions around domestic violence, abuse, and citizenship. It’s been real easy for me to speak about ending abuse within relationships when among like-minded people. But I have whole subset of friends, people I’ve known since we were toddlers, with whom these discussions are a little more difficult to have, especially when the music and other settings around us seem to reinforce poor or indifferent attitudes on the subject. Same with citizenship: I can build with the best progressive minds around immigration issues, but have failed to impress upon my loved ones who are disenfranchised due to felonies that they are in same boat as our immigrant neighbors, not in competition with them. It’s necessary that I no longer find comfort in any setting to be silent on these issues, especially among those I love.