Friday, November 28, 2014

Fight the power.

Today I am thankful.

Photo by Daniel Schaefer
Thankful that my brothers and sisters are still with me. Thankful that during the past years, we have engaged in - admittedly at times, - heated debate, but mostly thoughtful discussion, ardent advocacy, and lifelong learning. Thankful that we have found each other in this journey, and managed to stay connected.
Today I am thankful they were not taken from me by a rogue with government authority and a gun, a rookie, or a racist. When George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, the danger of a non-indictment is ‘...not more Trayvon Martins, but more George Zimmermans'. The day after the Ferguson Decision, the same sentence pattern emerged in social media; ‘the danger of a non-indictment is not more Mike Browns, but more Darren Wilsons.’

After the decision of Ferguson’s Grand Jury not to indict, analysis of the documents and the long reaching implications erupted across the internet. Statements and nationwide actions continue in direct conjunction with heartfelt pleas for non-violence.  However, shooting deaths, economic segregation, educational manipulation, brutality against the community, and prisoners of the not war already happening?

There are a number of periods in human history when oppressors were able to act this way towards an entire race. The Crusades, Colonization, Slavery, the Westward Expansion, Genocide, killing of Civil Rights Leaders, killing of Black Community Leaders, killing of young Black men...this seems a repetitive pattern.

Tearing apart cities, however, will prove nothing. Flashes of anger are to be expected, but it is not a means to the necessary end. Only a very generalized reaction in an extremely directed and organized fashion will break the pattern. Black Out Black Friday is a great opening to the 'national dialogue' for which our great thinkers have begun to call. But oppression is systemic and systematic, overt and inter-generational. Descendants of the era of the Conquistadors have been having 'a national dialogue' for more than 500 years. Once the border crossed them it became an international dialogue.

Ask an immigrant from anywhere in the Western Hemisphere that lies South of the political borders of the United States how that dialogue is going. Ask the Native Americans.

Ask Mike Brown's parents. Or Trayvon's, or Kimani's, or Akai's, or Sean's, or Amadou's, or Ramarley's.

Now is an actionable moment and we are, in fact, perfectly positioned as a collective of communities, Black, Latino, Asian, all of us. We manage large swaths of the business sector that are cornerstones of the (inter)national economy. We are professors, we are military, we are elected officials and the staff of elected officials, we are workers, we are men and women, and we matter. We are even in the police force - not in the necessary amounts, but there nonetheless. We need an African American parallel to Univision or Telemundo, with news shows that discuss themes with gravitas and objectivity by educated, well spoken individuals from the community. We have the power and resources to furnish, staff and fund our own candidates, and ensure that sufficient votes carry them into office. We have to take our anger with us through to 2016 and usher in that new wave. Politics is not a spectator sport.

We are no longer the minority. We are the majority, and it is high time we started acting like it. As long as there is unity between our communities, and we have a well codified plan for success we will reach that goal. Amongst the requirements: a newly formed national political party banner under which to march is crucial. Yes, more than a rallying cry to the side of an unresponsive party, but an entirely unique party, not subject to the hegemony of dynastic families and politics as usual traditions. A party that is inclusive, and that will stand primarily to stop the killing and imprisonment of our young people. We have had multiple watershed moments, we have had our Tianamen Square moment. Now we must throw off the colonized mentality, and move boldly forward.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Turn out for what?

Photo by Rock The Vote, via Addicting Info
Two weeks after the election cycle we have seen a tremendous amount of public shaming of Democratic loyalists' scapegoats. Candidates hewed too far from the president, campaigners didn't focus enough on the ground game, we were outspent...Perhaps at some point, when more time has passed for closer inspection instead of rank, reactionary, response that can all get sorted out.

There is one particularly super-salient strategy remaining, however, that seems ripe for discussion; that is the party's heavy reliance on the Millenial generation to turn out and overwhelm whatever outsized influence dark money could have bought with sheer force of numbers.

Hashtags and memes flourished, Little Jon parodied himself, and OFA deployed its resources across the US of A with the express purpose of attracting the new key demographic. All for naught, though, since, as with the 2010 midterms, this key demographic's lion's share stayed home, knowing full well that these were equally, and arguably more important than the presidential.

In this sense, Democrats appear identical to dieters: in the early 21st Century, Latinos were the crucial, key demographic to engage (we still are). Before us it was the African American community (just as important now if not more so). After this century's first decade passed, the Millenials became the Democratic darling demographic. Looking at all of this, the Blue Team has the appearance of a multiple identity in crisis.

Meanwhile, each of the key demographics that became a respective elections cycle's cause celebre decisively distanced themselves from this debacle. Turnout overall was anemic at best, and was prematurely touted as 'a referendum', 'a condemnation of a broken system'. The American electorate, clearly, forgets how the system came to be broken in the first place.

Exercise science and weight loss studies tell us in no uncertain terms that fad diets quite simply don't work. This year's has already failed us spectacularly twice in a row. If you want to reach your overall fitness goals, a singular focus of mind, and dedication to the process is imperative. So too in this arena. The Blue Team never stayed on message: clean air-drinkable water, economic repair and recovery, expiration of Bush era tax cuts, energy alternatives, storm recovery, stay on message. Also, stay on target; don't pull us into another conflict in the Middle East. Follow New York's example and prosecute the bankers that crashed the economy, divestiture from fossil fuels, marriage equality, healthcare... THAT is what attracted all stripes and persuasions of voters to Obama, and those are the concepts that create brand loyalty. Now is the time to return to the hedgehog concept.

So, allow me to recapitulate: we no longer want to be entertained. We want our platform to be spoken about with gravitas. Overpopulating media streams with young hip faces who speak directly to and in the same modalities with the last fad diet that failed us twice does not inspire the voting bloc. If fitness is your goal, you know what you need to do: stop eating so much sugar and bread. Get in the gym and train train train! Train, fund, and resource your candidates, and don't hand out leadership positions to those lacking in experience that outsource their memory and logic skills to the latest iPhone. Leadership demands life experience, it demands years of training and exercise, and it demands laser-like focus and adherence to ideals.

Leadership demands maturity.

Two years Democrats! 2016 is already knocking on our door. Put down the donuts, time to get back in the gym. Otherwise, for what will they turn out?