On Everyday Democracy
November 4th, 2020 -- Over the spring and summer, our communities responded to continued oppression and modern-day lynchings with righteous indignation. Whether on the streets or at their screens, our people resisted state-sanctioned violence, police brutality, economic uncertainty, the looming threat of eviction, political exclusion, and unemployment.
Yesterday, this resistance continued as enfranchised citizens cast their ballots for federal and state officials as well as other democratic initiatives on the last day to do so. In a record turnout more than 100 million Americans voted early by mail and millions more at the ballot box. The implications that drove such high numbers have been ever present for marginalized communities. This has never been an election where the results didn’t matter.
We don’t know what is going to happen. As we wait for millions more votes to be counted, we turn towards the road ahead of us.
Toni Morrison once wrote, “Conservative, moderate, liberal; right, left, hard left, far right; religious, secular, socialist — we must not be blindsided by these Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola labels because the genius of fascism is that any political structure can host the virus and virtually any developed country can become a suitable home.”
We will continue our work to dismantle the harmful systems of the white supremacist order, and in its place we will uplift and support Black- and Indigenous movements as well as center grassroots groups. We will continue to create new possibilities through direct action, cultural organizing, creative consumer campaigns, scholarship, policy, advocacy, owning the electoral field, and practicing joy. We will write ourselves into the future for everyone who dreamed of our existence, and loved the thought of our survival.
Our path forward is clear: to practice democracy in our everyday and remain active in our communities to resist the violence of state power.
While we recognize that this is merely a continuation for some, for others, here and in communities that we are connected to by blood or love, this is a beginning. For some time, many of our friends and family members have felt powerless as those imbued with power continued to act in bad faith and with self-interest. We want to offer a step to excavate and develop our individual and collective power.
Find a Black or Indigenous-led organization, creating new possibilities, wherever you are. Here are some examples:
In Boston, City Life / Vida Urbana is working to pass the Act to Guarantee Housing Stability, to prevent a massive surge of unjust evictions and foreclosures due to COVID-related debt, prevent rent hikes and no-fault evictions as we recover from COVID-19, and help establish a Housing Stability & Recovery Fund to relieve small owners.
Statewide in Massachusetts, the Black Mass. Coalition — a collection of Black- and Indigenous-led organizations — developed a blueprint to achieve a more equitable Massachusetts.
Nationally, The Movement for Black Lives is working to pass the Breathe Act.
Once you find that organization, go to a meeting.
At that meeting, listen.
Also at that meeting, notice, then address, the ways internalized white supremacy shows up in your interactions.
Ask the organization for other ways you can be supportive.
Stay engaged with that organization. This is a long game.
If you can, commit to that organization by joining as a member, volunteering or directing resources their way.
This sequence is just one of the ways we can practice everyday democracy.
No matter who is elected to represent us — in city or town halls, state houses, Congress, or the White House — every administration demands our full attention and our concerted efforts. As we continue to strengthen and deepen collaboration with our families, communities, and in the workplace, we build mutual power to not only substantively hold our representatives accountable, but to also establish economic democracy — a practice where decisions about the development that impacts our streets and our families are made by us — and invest in our collective future.
If this is a beginning for you, open up to the possibility that the power to build our communities according to our visions is not solely the province of elected leaders or individuals with high profiles or wealth. We borrow from a Robin D.G. Kelley quote to assert that power and change are “not a series of clever maneuvers or tactics but a process that can and must transform us.” If this is continuing work for you, help us expand our networks of collaboration and support by working to bring more of our communities in. Invite them to practice everyday democracy with us, where they are.
Share the message: the day is here.