Tongues

*Please* click through to read my review of Tongues, edited by Taylor Le Melle and Rehana Zaman (PSS, 2018), published by SPAMZine.

It feels like one of the most important things I’ve read and written in a long time. It’s sobering that my post about it has had the lowest engagement on my instagram feed in over a year. Lots of reasons for that, I’m sure. Instagram is noisy and overwhelming right now, for good and ill. But it triggers worries — does the algorithm ‘know’ that my review is angry and polemical? Is it ‘hiding’ it from people? Do people not click through? Should I have done more to make it visible? Have I misunderstood all this all along? Did I post in the wrong way? How does this work? What should I be doing? What can I do to help? I only have about 20 minutes a day to engage with this, and that is in 3 minute bursts. [cry.]

All this draws my attention to the complexities of online writing, thinking, activism, art. To all the worries about credentials, worth, visibility… To the fact that political critique and collective action *cannot* be understood through an individual’s instagram feed. To all the weirdnesses of its simultaneity between total individualism and the spectre of community. I need to think carefully and calmly about how I live.

What I wanted to say is, this zine made clear to me that we, as in UK society, needs to reckon with working class identity. To be clear about what working in Britain looks like; to recognise that the working class is Black and Brown and migrant, is hidden, obscured, engaged in tactile labour, bodily and often caring. It is not groups of angry white men ‘defending’ statues. Distortion of the optics of working-class life by Tories (and other right-wing, populist movements across the world, they are all in the same alliance) is a violence we must recognise for what it is, cutting into the flesh of communities and perpetually shoring up power. Crap for most people of all races. Spat out by people who have *no idea* what it means to work hard for long days and nights.

Resistance is recognising labour for what it is, seeing where it happens and how, and gathering in solidarity as workers. Surprise, surprise: it’s a slog.

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