As someone who use to sell belonging and believed I was creating something universally magical, I now have fresh eyes on the harm that I once caused. I understand what can (and was) incredibly healing and impactful for some, was at the same time excluding, marginalizing and undervaluing others.
First, to anyone who ever felt like they did not belong to anything I created because they were unable to afford it or felt like they did not have the social capitol to join - I am sincerely sorry for not seeing you sooner.
To our entire creative community as a whole, I urge us all to think about belonging in new and equitable ways, and to do the work of dismantling these hierarchical structures that leave so many people out of the circle. We all deserve to have access to creativity and belonging, and I'd go so far as to say both are fundamental basic human needs and rights.
Selling belonging can look like...
- Creating spaces and experiences that can only be accessed by buying in at one, often exorbitant, price.
- Using images and stories of "togetherness" to leverage other's longing for connection, to sell anything.
- Paid exclusivity of any kind; private groups, memberships, gatherings, clubs, where entry is branded and coveted are all commodified belonging.
- Use of the appropriated word "tribe" in any marketing or promotion.
- Curating and building communities, especially its leadership, based on popularity, followers, or any kind of social capitol.
These are just a few examples I am thinking about. Can you think of others?
What I know as someone who has spent the better part of my life striving to belong - which I now fully understand as a false construct of belonging created by systems of oppression - what it ended up costing me was my Truth, which I am still in the process of reclaiming.
This is a price I am no longer willing to pay, and will never charge others again.
I want to learn better ways of operating, creating, gathering, and working together. Are you with me? Stay with me in the inquiry. Ask the hard questions. Sit with the uncomfortable answers. Begin to imagine what could be, and who else might then be included.