The following was a speech Regis University student Nicholas Aranda gave on Wednesday, during the University’s Unity March Against Hate. It’s being republished with his permission.
Rhetorical Politics has its limits — resting on the page, floating out the mouth the politics of rhetoric work not to abolish structures of hate and evil; rather, the politics of rhetoric works, primarily, as preparatory, not emancipatory. It holds, then, that words are not enough. Words are never enough. Make no mistake, words are powerful — were this not true the rhetoric of hate would not land on our bodies the way that arrows land on hearts, propagating pain. However, it must be noted that Rhetorical Politics is not the final part of justice praxis, simply the first.
Statements of denunciation and disavowal are not statements of observance, these statements are not descriptive, they are normative. This distinction is one of paramount importance; descriptive words say simply what is. Normative words speak of what ought to be. Our statements, then, are not only pronunciations of rebuke — they are, also, prescriptions for action. Our words are rallying cries. Our songs are calls to action. Our rhetoric is foundation laying, community organizing, battle preparing and soul nurturing. Words are but the first step, the step which — by its nature — says the thing that needs to be said so that the work that needs to be done can reach not only maturation but also fruition.
We, here and now, want to issue new words, different words, authentic words. Words that prepare us not for mourning but for action. Consider, then, these words as bread that will abet in the struggle of a long and potentially dangerous journey.
We tire of statements. We tire of descriptions of the current political climate. We tire of the rhetoric of complacency that masks itself as hope: issuing to us the same charges of “wait,” “hope,” and “stand.” We tire, and because we tire (not despite our fatigue) we will move, mobilize and march!
We know of the actions of hate. We shall not name them. This act of recognition they do not warrant nor do they earn. Our energy shall go elsewhere. Our energy shall go towards demands, demonstration and doings. Denunciation is not praxis — denunciation is recognition of the need for work.
What, then, shall our work consist of? Our work shall consist of a politics of rage. A politics that recognizes the rightful and dutiful place of anger. Many will characterize this as a fall into hate and a dismissal of love. This is as far from truth as linearly possible. Hate is a severing of love, a severing of duty to our sisters and brothers. The only hate that fills us is the hate that lands as arrows on our bodies of color and bodies of difference. Anger, though, is recognition of the importance of love. Anger is understanding that love is required and love is not being met. Anger is vowing to love the notion of love. And we, we are angry. And when we march you shall hear the anger in our footsteps — an anger born out of a recognition of the importance of love! But marching, too, is not yet praxis. Simply the first footsteps in a journey we are prepared to take. A journey for love.