by Anne Desrosiers
When I read your article titled Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty I was compelled to write to you. I ask you to reconsider your approach to resilience, and invite you to seriously join those of us who feel as you do but use it to fuel the changes we create.
None of this will make sense without a brief introduction about my own experience. When I first learned of the nonprofit industry I had already graduated from college. Somehow I missed the fact that there was a sector dedicated to doing good things while exercising large quantities of resilience and behavioral changes to get said education. However when I realized my own vision of change I had more resilience to muster up and work to do.
While on the quest for experience, I internalized that no one saw the value in my infant corporate experience to take a chance and even interview me after over 50 applications. In the same manner in which you were “made a tourist to a world and a life that I already knew well ” – in a lot of ways I felt compelled to become enveloped in this world in theory and practice to get noticed. It was my own experiences quite similar to yours that dissipated my buoyant optimism into the realization that this sector is reflective of the same power structures that allow poverty o exist.
As you described your first day and being “handed a heap of papers that touted an ideology” and watching on as “a series of aggravating white liberals spouted the inherent value of this theory,” I immediately saw myself in the many spaces I occupied over the years. However I smirked too, because I know can speak that language too. It angered me that this assumed privilege led to your colleagues not “…believing in our value as organizers” that some of you “….became passive and stopped believing in the validity of our own experience.”
The regularity of these things is why I invite you to join me. Why translate and feed into presumed dominance when we have created our own language? Resilience is not futile, but essential to changing this. We are here, we KNOW and it is by these virtues that we can undertake the groundwork necessary – but only if we choose to. Selfishly, I want to be in good company as I entrench myself in this field, so I can ultimately be part of a tightly knit web of grassroots change. I am still building from the ground up and it takes resilience of a different kind, but dominance will only change if more of us commit to the construction.