From Des Spicer-Orak (she/they), BSW Student, Author, Trauma Informed Oregon Intern
As an organizer working primarily within my own community, I often stumble upon the question, in what space do all of our voices ring? In what space do we begin to value each other not as economic encounters, but as individual people, with unique experiences and equivalent value? The chains of capitalism often exchange these questions for hierarchies, further enforcing the myth that our labor is the only thing that makes us valuable.
With the understanding of capitalism as a drive for inequality, we can begin to develop more specific questions. Who is being left out of the conversation? What factors could be causing these inconsistencies? How do I (passively and consciously) contribute to it?
In the work of deconstructing capitalist structures, there are far more questions than there are answers. What is power, and who has access to it?
Power is defined by many things – class standing, occupation, level of education, marital status, sexuality, gender, the neighborhood you live in, the color of your skin. Relationships are defined by these spheres of power.
I think of power like a spider’s web, brilliant and fragile. Power is easily broken. Whether it be by exploitation or ignorance, it has the potential to crumble, its strands withering away piece by piece until only the elite are left.
When nurtured and attended to, it is intricate and respected, supported and sustained by each individual strand of silk, none more significant than the other.
Power is what binds us together.
Although we are subject to its strains, we are not excluded from power’s healthier strands. Capitalism’s definition of power does not have to be the one we inherit. The work of unlearning what we have been taught demands rigorous reflection, exploration of identity, forgiveness, and accountability. The intersections of identity, power, and healing bridge beautifully when we start to understand how we as individuals affect others. Beyond making space, we must invest in learning about ourselves – our positionality, our privileges, our insecurities – learning to collaborate, to be gentle, and build despite the boundaries of the systems that surround us.
After all, how do we heal when we are still missing silk?