sorry everyone, another homestuck post. this time with my art
so i was thinking about drawing something yesterday when i realized the only homestuck character i’d ever drawn before was kanaya so i elected to do headshots of the four people who’re most important to her this time instead
[Raquel]Nelson, 30 and African-American, was convicted on the charge this week by six jurors who were not her peers: All were middle-class whites, and none had ever taken a bus in metro Atlanta. In other words, none had ever been in Nelson’s shoes:
They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in order to get home at last.
And they had never lost control of an over-eager four-year-old as they waited on a three-foot median for a car to pass. Nor had they watched helplessly as a driver who had had “three or four” beers and two painkillers barreled toward their child.
That’s right: Because Nelson did not lug her exhausted little ones three-tenths of a mile from the bus stop to a traffic signal in order to cross five lanes of traffic, she is guilty of vehicular homicide. Because she did as her fellow bus riders, who crossed at the same time and place, and because she did what pedestrians will do every time – take the shortest reasonable path – she is guilty of vehicular homicide.
As someone who has struggled with life-long depression, and other problems that cause a depletion of spoons, one of the ways that I’ve shamed myself most is with this idea of productivity: feeling low when I believe I haven’t been productive enough. And I hear this a lot from other people too, especially people with disabilities.
The notion of productivity is rooted in capitalist (and, it follows, ableist) ideas about an individual’s value. It is important that we be “productive”, not only when we are at work, but at all times. And what does it mean to be productive? When we are hard on ourselves for not being productive enough, what do we mean? We can try to define what productivity means for ourselves on an individual level, but I don’t believe we can separate it from the aforementioned capitalist and ableist ideas. Especially for those of us struggling with disabilities, I think this is one of the biggest, most common, and frequently unchallenged ways of internalizing ableism and perpetuating it on ourselves and others.
Defining what productivity means might be easier if we look at what it isn’t. Sitting online all day, playing games, watching television, watching movies, sleeping, relaxing, doing anything passive – I’ve seen all of these things frequently branded as “unproductive” when people criticize themselves (or others) for how they use their non-working/unstructured time. Things that don’t have a clearly defined goal. Do you have a huge to-do list that doesn’t include taking time out of the day and being kind to yourself? Do you typically not cross off most of the things on that list, and then feel upset over it, like you’ve wasted your day?
Productivity, for you, might mean engaging in active hobbies or running errands. It might mean working non-stop at multiple jobs, constant research, having several projects on the go, organizing and initiating rallies, or conducting one workshop after another. Being “productive” never includes self care. I see many creative people who are hard on themselves for not producing enough, especially if their reason for not doing so involves mental health struggles. As if we are mini assembly lines. Subconsciously comparing ourselves to mass production factories, which we will never be able to imitate because of the limitations of being a single person.
Capitalism has seeped into our lives so deeply that we don’t even realize what we’re doing when we talk about wanting to be more productive or shame ourselves for not being productive enough. We forget to take time to relax and take care of ourselves because we are so concerned with meeting quotas in our heads for productivity. Do your self-care rituals stand in opposition to your ideas of what productivity looks like? Why isn’t it productive to take care of ourselves?
Let’s stop pushing ourselves beyond our limits. Let’s fight back against this notion of productivity, against the idea that our value lies in what we “get done” every day. Let’s start working on loving ourselves as we are and giving ourselves some breathing room.