This blog focuses on how race has been used to divide us and how effective activism should be informed by both race and class. Links are provided to essays by Ian Haney-López, Robert Reich, and Bill Ayers and a model for how a City can stand against the looming threats to democracy.
A few brief notices before a discussion of how an understanding of race and class can inform both our individual and our collective path forward:
Action Team Planning Meetings & Leadership Opportunities. We have Action Team meetings scheduled the first two weeks of January for Outreach/Canvassing, Research, Social-Traditional Media, Citizen Advocacy at the Roundhouse, and Non-Violent Direct Action. If you want to become active, click here for information, dates and times. In January we will begin offering training for individuals who want to play leadership roles within Retake Our Democracy. You must commit to at least 5-10 hours a week, but the reward will be playing an important role in creating a framework for sustained community activism. Just reply to this blog and let me know you are interested.
Verde Transmission Line. Reminder that it is critical to provide public comment by Jan 4 by email to the Bureau of Land Management in opposition to the proposed Verde Transmission Line. Click here for details and how to raise your voice.
Santa Fe Sanctuary City. It is also time to let the Mayor and our city council members know that we want to protect our immigrant neighbors by strengthening sanctuary policies as the city level. Click here for details. And if you want to read an inspiring example of how a City can stand up to Trump on many levels, click here to read the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ resolution standing up against Trump’s promised policies across the board.
More events in January are listed at the bottom of this blog.
Raising your voice against the Verde Transmission Line and in support of our immigrant neighbors will take you ten minutes, and sharing this link with five others will take five minutes. If you don’t do this, who will? I know it seems extreme, but it is simply true that making activism part of the rhythm of your daily life is imperative. And failure to do so is really and truly being complicit with Trump and the bigotry and hate that informs his strategy.
I will leave most of the work to Ian Haney-Lopez, Robert Reich, and Bill Ayers as they have described well how for fifty years race has been used to divide and distract us. Haney-Lopez and Reich in The Nation put this in historical context.
“Trump’s election must be placed in historical context. In the 1960s, the Republican Party spied a possible advantage in the rising racial resentment among whites generated by the civil-rights movement and quickly sought to harness and then foment this seething sense of insecurity. From Richard Nixon’s invocations of “law and order” and “the silent majority” to Trump’s resurrection of those loaded terms, the GOP has made racial grievance a core organizing principle.”
They also point to the purpose of this strategic bigotry:
“By pandering to racial anxiety and enflaming hatred against government, powerful elites distracted voters from recognizing the threat posed to whites as well as people of color by increasing concentrations of wealth and power.”
Haney-Lopez and Reich go on to point out that while initiated by the GOP, the wholesale disregard for the needs of people of color and the pitting of low-moderate income whites against these communities became a Democratic Party theme in the 1980s with the unraveling of the welfare system, the War on Crime and mass incarceration decimating communities of color across the country. They conclude with a suggestion as to the path forward.
“We must articulate a renewed sense of solidarity in America—a shared identity as part of a multiracial social movement of people coming together to retake the country from the rising plutocrats. A sense of belonging across the lines of race, ethnicity, and gender is a necessary precondition for a new politics and a new political coalition. Only by recognizing the totality of what we share can we form a coalition sufficiently powerful to wrest government from the hands of the corporations.”
Bill Ayers is an educator and activist who became involved with the Students for a Democratic Society(SDS) and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. He and several others founded the Weather Underground, believing the anti-war movement needed to use violence, if necessary, to achieve its goals. During Obama’s 2008 campaign, Sen. McCain claimed that Ayers, “a terrorist,” was a close advisor to Obama, a claim that was widely disputed although Obama acknowledged having known Ayers for years.
In an article for Truthout, Ayers reiterates the importance of the kind of coalition referenced in the article by Haney-Lopez and Reich. But he also points to the challenges faced by white progressives who more often seek to diversify their movement by recruiting people of color instead of joining with organizations led by people of color. “Men have to listen to women. Straight people have to listen to queer people. You know, white people have to listen to black people.” Ayers points to Standing Rock as a model for how whites can support movements. “Suddenly we’re looking at a movement which involves environmental justice, indigenous rights, anti-racism, anti-imperialism. And did white people get involved? They did. Did they lead it? They did not. They listened. They learned. They participated.” Over the coming months, Retake Our Democracy will seek ways to embrace and support other movements and organizations and in so doing learn more about their struggles and for some of us, about our privilege.
Ayers also lays out four steps for becoming an effective activist, the first being to pay attention. “That can be excruciating because the world is difficult sometimes to look at. But you have to open your eyes, not once and you’ve got it all figured out, but every day.” The second step is to be continuously astonished, and he cites as an example how we can become accustomed to and subtly accept horrors like homeless children or police violence against unarmed black men. It is important that we remain offended by these injustices and take care against being numbed by them. The third step is to act, and the fourth is to doubt and rethink your certainties. “That to me is what activists have to do. That means you’re always in the posture of being a learner and you’re always in the posture of trying to live your values — not just have them in the secrecy of your own apartment, but display them in the public square.”
Ayers insistence that our activism be conducted publicly is important as it points to the insufficiency of just donating money to causes so that others can act for you or in signing anonymous online petitions. And Ayers points to the necessity that our activism must be part of a daily habit and not be comprised of attending a march every other week or going to a Town Hall meeting.
Thank you Bill Ayers for bringing me to my point to today’s blog. Each of you, by virtue of signing up for this blog, is by definition taking the first step to open your eyes and be informed. And most, I suspect are often astonished. But it is steps three and four that make all the difference. The simple truth is this: If you fail to incorporate some form of activism into your ongoing routine, you are effectively complicit with Trump and his racist, sexist agenda. Retake Our Democracy is designed to make it easier to make activism part of your daily life. So, first click here to find an Action Team planning meeting in an area where you would like to be involved, put it in your calendar, and then call two friends and ask them to join you. You are more likely to sustain involvement with peers supporting and working with you. Second, click here and write an email to the BLM opposing the Verde Transmission Line. Third, click here and write to our Mayor and your City Council representative and voice your support for Somos Un Pueblo Unido and their Sanctuary initiative. Three clicks and two or three calls later and you will be on the road to being Bill Ayers’ kind of activist.
Other Opportunities for Being Active this Month
Defend Our Neighbors is a non-partisan grassroots effort lead by concerned citizens to ensure that we, as a community, actively support the rights of the New Mexico undocumented immigrant children & their families to live without fear, without oppression, and with a right to due process regarding their ability to remain in the United States. Click the link to find out how you can add your name to the list of supporters for this work. don-support-agreement-12-5-16 to read a copy of their
January 7, Progress NowNM Progressive Action Summit. For tickets and information, click here.
Sat, January 7, 2017, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM MST
Central New Mexico Community College Workforce Training Center, 5600 Eagle Rock Avenue Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87113.
Lunch provided, free parking.
An Alternative to Trump’s Inauguration, Jan 20. This inauguration day a modern telethon is being planned, in the vein of Jerry Lewis and Live Aid, to raise money to protect our civil liberties. This Facebook live event will reach an expected 10 million people right when they’re looking for something to do as antidote to the Trump inauguration. The event will go live at 3pm EST and broadcast opposite our new cheeto-in-chief for 3 hours with a roster of actors, musicians, chefs, comedians and thinkers. The event’s goal is to raise $1 million to help the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and EarthJustice fight back against our new president’s proposed policies. Find out more at www.telethon.online or shoot a note to firstname.lastname@example.org
January 21, Women’s March on Washington, Santa Fe
March to the Roundhouse: 11:00am – 12:00pm
Starting Location: North side of the Bataan Building on W. De Vargas St., between Galisteo St. and Don Gaspar Ave. (Please gather on the grassy areas and sidewalks starting at 10:30am; keep parking areas clear.)
Rally at the Roundhouse: 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Location: New Mexico State Capitol – 490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87501
(south-east side of the Capitol Building)
For a list of speakers at the Roundhouse click here.
January 21, Albuquerque Womens’ March on Washington
11am-1pm: Albuquerque Civic Plaza. This is an inclusive event, open to ANYONE who supports women’s rights. For information, click here.