author – activist – faculty – mom
This weekend I had my scream-cry of terror and despair that the inauguration is looming. No one came to rescue us. No brave hero. No electoral college. No Barack Obama. No Joe Biden. No Elizabeth Warren. No one came to rescue us from this monstrous situation, and I feel scared for my people, my family and myself. So I needed to scream cry it out. Every ancestral memory of slavery and genocide. Every early experience of terror where my family was dysfunctional. Every panicky warning sign of fascism. Every dystopic future nightmare. I lay in my bed and sobbed and reached my hand toward a force beyond the powers of this world and screamed that I and my family and my people would survive this.
What stands between this man being inaugurated and disaster are God and the power of the people. And so I commit myself to being more deeply connected to both of those forces.
When I say the power of the people, that includes protests, and community organizing, and that includes voting, and voter mobilization. That includes shaking up the Democratic Party. They have a great deal of power and claim to be the party for everyone. Let’s make them accountable to those claims. If we want to create a more human nation, that puts people and the environment before profits, we need to be able to challenge entrenched oppression and corporate power at every turn. We need to win elections. We also need to be in theses streets, and organizing at every level: grassroots community organizations, artists, schools, unions, religious institutions, social clubs, everybody.
In a recent meeting, one woman shared the words of a veteran organizer: this man is a sign that we are winning. He is a sign of massive backlash because our movements for social justice have gained that much ground.
Part of what is so triggering about this situation is that the president of the United States holds the most political, economic, and military power of any individual on the planet. But it’s critical to understand that these are not the only types of power. And I believe that spiritual forces of love and justice are more powerful than this office and that they can, do, and will intervene to protect our people and our planet. Those of us who pray, let’s pray for that. But whether we pray or not, we have to do the legwork, and that’s where the power of the people comes in.
Many of us are preparing to march. Our protest will be a wonderful juxtaposition to the celebration of this inauguration. But it’s vital to understand that protesting isn’t enough. We don’t simply want to imitate the historical March on Washington for Civil Rights, we want to replicate the successes of the Civil Rights Movement in gaining those rights. The movement had clear goals and strategies. It mobilized huge numbers of people for effective actions and sustained that mobilization. And through it all, the leadership duked it out to figure out and agree on campaigns that put effective pressure on powerful institutions until they got the policy changes they sought. Their unity was far from perfect, but they created effective organizations that could meet their goals.
One of their goals was voting rights. And they won. At least legally. But the forces that wanted to suppress black people didn’t stop their fight. Which is why there’s a Movement for Black Lives today. In addition to ending the continued state-sanctioned violence against black people, protecting black voting rights and enfranchisement continues to be a battle that we need to stay in. And of course, now that so many people have the right to vote, we need inspiring, diverse candidates to vote for. We also need a progressive movement that integrates our long-term vision of radical social justice with electoral strategies that will help create the conditions in which we can get there over time. And we need to engage in the struggle to create the coalitions to make this mass coalition movement which is effective at both the ballot box and at the street level.
Brown Is the New White and the Democracy in Color movement have incredible potential to integrate our grassroots organizing with a winning electoral strategy that will unite people of color and progressive whites to create a permanent New American Majority that can win national elections. Keith Ellison is a candidate for DNC chair who can lead the Democratic party to win with this kind of strategy.
So we need to start now, not only protesting this inauguration, but also building that broad coalition movement that will turn things around as quickly as possible:
So that’s my advice, in a nutshell:
And may God bless and protect us in the meantime.