What is resistance?


Photo credit: Naasha Dotiwala

Marisa Clogher

What I initially conceived of resistance was something that was formulated, concretely constructed, a capital T thing that you did, performed physically and in the streets. Resistance was physical action, a way to use a body to intercept violent oppression at the hands of, in our case, state-sponsored institutions.

This is one form of resistance. The people who put their bodies on the front lines are constantly risking their own physical well-being in order to keep themselves and other marginalized people safe. Those who fight with their bodies are taking risks some of us won’t or can’t.

However, this physical resistance is not required of everyone.

As my ideas surrounding resistance blossomed, I began thinking of the ways I could lend myself, both physically and not, to the fight against structural oppression. The easiest way was sharing the information that I am privileged enough to know. My education and my research skills are something that not everybody has access to, and it’s a form of labor I can provide for those who either don’t have the time or resources to complete on their own.

The next form of resistance, a more tangible form that, I’ll admit, leaves me feeling the most productive, is monetary resistance. I am still a college student working two jobs, so money is not something I can donate abundantly and freely, but here and there, when I have some left over, my money goes to researched causes doing important work. In this vein, I have felt hopeful and inspired watching people my age donate their very limited income to fight structural oppression. It has given me hope knowing that these same people will be leading the country one day.

A third form of resistance, my favorite form of resistance, is art.

This form of resistance is least tangible, but it is what keeps me alive. This is the form that helps me prove to myself, and to understand, that we’ve been here before and somehow here we still are. The art replies formally, emotionally, inherently to the trauma we experience both personally and communally, and it serves to act as reprieve for the marginalized and as a weapon against the oppressor. The art we make and consume in response to political and social turmoil allows us to find comfort in those who have come before us and those who will inevitably come after us.

This form of resistance should not be written off; it is what sustains us emotionally when the tangible world is too heavy. This art proves that our very existence and the outward expression of our existence is resistance, and it is dangerous to the oppressor.

None of these forms of resistance can exist singularly; they all depend on each other because we must resist on all fronts. Resistance is not just important; it is necessary. We resist because we must.