The Voting Happened, Now What?
It is our duty as people who exist on land that was brutally taken and brutally exploited, to make time to be informed and active political beings.
It’s a huge relief that the midterm elections are over. Everything leading up to Nov. 6 felt like having a cystic pimple being squeezed by your pre-teen sister who secretly hates you. For Black, Indigenous and people of color, especially those of us who lean left to far-left, the constant and consistent “vote you lil’ fuckers, or you’ll DIE” from liberals of all colors felt like being pelted by dirty, newborn baby diapers. It didn’t matter if we wrote about and organized against voter disenfranchisement, white violence, systemic racism and the need to focus on the ways in which white people vote. It didn’t matter if our lives revolved around grassroots organizing and various means of protest. It certainly didn’t matter if we were well-informed human beings who understood that change doesn’t come entirely from the ballot box, but rather that, as Lucy Parsons put so perfectly in The Principles of Anarchism, “Governments never lead; they follow progress.”
So, here we are. The Democrats and their “blue wave” (or rather their tepid, little splash in an inflatable child’s-sized pool) took the House of Representatives, while alleged serial killer Ted Cruz kept his Senate seat thanks to the massive amounts of white people who fear a brown planet, while other key seats remained under Republican control. This morning blue voters can pat themselves on the back for ushering in more women than ever into office, as well was a few other notable wins which ought to not be firsts, but who are we kidding in Amerikkka? Another day under another imperialist, capitalist, white supremacist, misogynistic, queerphobic, colonialist government continues and we’re here to remind you that your vote is not enough because centrism won’t ever defeat fascism.
For many people, their participation in politics begins and ends with voting every two or four years. Part of this is because the United States government and capitalist entities have worked tirelessly to ensure that the working class has little time, energy or interest in participating in political matters, but for many other people, our existence is so heavily political and influenced by various oppressions, that we don’t have a choice but to pay close attention to what elected officials are up to the few days that they actually do work for the people, and we don’t have a choice but to organize against the ruling class aka, the bourgeoisie, the 1% and the people who uphold and protect them: police forces, judicial officials, politicians, etc.. It is easier to maintain a system of oppression that seems like it is either so terrible that we can’t do shit about it, or that it is so insidious that we wouldn’t know what to do about it because we know that the cuts hurt, but we cannot see the blade that sliced us open. But the truths are there and it is our duty as people who exist on land that was brutally taken and brutally exploited, to make time to be informed and active political beings.
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What can we all do moving forward? Well, as I tell everyone frequently: read. There will never be a time when you are done learning, there will never be a time when you know everything. It is fundamental to explore the works that place people over wealth and it is fundamental to explore anti-fascist and anti-colonial writings and speeches. Think of the lengths at which our oppressors have attempted to suppress anti-capitalist thinkers and anarcha-feminists. Think of the lengths at which they attempted to erase the lives and legacies of Black and brown revolutionaries. It is crucial for us to read about how they resisted and fought against fascism because we’re not done with that battle yet. If you need some guidance you can start by joining a book club, looking through selections of books at Haymarket Books and other radical publishers, you can check out some of our articles covering the basics of what white supremacy is and what different leftist politics look like, and we recommend reading sites like Black Youth Project, RaceBaitr, amongst others—supporting independent websites offers readers perspectives that you will not see amongst corporate-owned press.
Another crucial step you can take is community organizing. There are many large and small efforts led by seasoned organizers all over the country. Whether they focus on racial equity, criminal justice reform, anti-gentrification, education, decarceration and abolition and more, just know that there is something that you can be a part of. If you have a particular skill, like canvassing, cooking, fundraising, writing, graphic design and/or more, it is of great value. Solidarity, unity, compassion and righteous anger need to be focused into the liberation work that we do. There is strength in numbers, but a gentle reminder: some spaces are for and by Q/T Black, Indigenous and people of color, and we need those spaces to remain our own. Being a part of a group which organizes alongside Black and brown activists and communities in support of, and by using your privilege if you’re white, cisgender and heterosexual can be a great show of solidarity without causing any erasure or centering your whiteness.
It would be irresponsible of me not to mention that you have power if you are white, your whiteness means that you are paid more than your Black and brown co-workers (if you have any), your whiteness means that you can move through this world without being policed as heavily as BIPoC. It means that you aren’t an automatic target of hate. There are ways that you can help as an accomplice in the fight against white supremacy. A lot of that requires a deep level of introspection on an almost constant basis, it also meant that you have the ability to engage in discussions with other white people about their complicity in white supremacy. It means that you can use the color of your skin as a first line of defense during protests. Using your white privilege to defend BIPoC is a baseline in fighting against fascism. Demand better of your families, friends and beyond. Demand better of yourselves.
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Voting for a democrat every few years doesn’t dismantle oppression, it’s a band-aid on a broken arm. Incremental amounts of change are useful for harm-reduction, but it isn’t enough. Harm reduction still means that harm is happening and we cannot afford to let that happen. Families, communities, entire populations of people depend on the swift actions of people who are courageous enough to understand that governments built upon capitalism, white supremacy and misogyny are not going to ever be reformed into a force of compassion or liberation—we must demand liberation, we must take it, because there is not ballot to freedom.
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