Last night was demoralizing. Watching election results was crushing. For those who hadn’t totally come off the hopium of 2008, this was quite a crash. Though the pundits opined that it reflected more an attitutude than an ideology, the shift toward budget-cutting and immigrant-bashing conservatives sure felt that way.
In Illinois, Obama’s old Senate seat went to a Republican Senator for the first time in nearly 20 years. The Senate lost its most progressive member from Wisconsin. And let’s not even talk about Florida. The Republicans taking control of the House means that the co-authors of the Sensennbrenner bill of 2006 will now chair the immigration sub-committee.
The blank stares, hunched shoulders, shuffling steps show that we all know the same thing; things are about to get worse.
It’s times like these that call us to fight stronger and harder than ever before. But if we do it from a place of despair, a place of hopelessness, the work will only become another form of punishment that the world is already too ready to mete out to us.
Today’s fight is for our morale. Tomorrow’s for our future. Their claiming seats of power should not also lay claim to our spirits. Because to be honest, there is a lot to make us optimistic. Change is coming from the Global South and within the US, poor people and people of color led movements are getting stronger and tighter and more ready to greet it. Maybe to keep our heads up, we need to find different measures of progress.
The DREAM Act students, the movement in Arizona, and those Taking Back the Land have shown all of us that bold action is not only possible but sparks a movement when taken. The linkage between indigenous people within North America and the global South and the call for the rights of mother earth demonstrate that in the face of corporate globalization, we can internationalize our communities and our struggles at the grassroots.
Taking a long look at history, understanding ourselves as one small link in a long chain of struggle, can help to keep us going. To know that those that came before us have faced worse, kept fighting, and earned us the ground we stand on today can be humbling and heartening. In our hardest moments, there are still reasons to celebrate life. The Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto still made love. Sam Cooke and Tupac both still found reasons to sing. Like Mamie Till-Mobley, standing over the coffin of her son Emmet, can we say, “I don’t have a minute to hate. I’ll pursue justice for the rest of my life.” Like those before us, can we answer history’s call?
We are living in defining times. As Davey D points out, we might just be going through the Re-Birth of a Nation. Let us take up the mantle. To do so, we’ll have to take care of ourselves and each other. And we must organize, organize, organize. As Fanon says, “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, realize its mission, fulfill it or betray it.” For my generation, I truly believe tomorrow is ours.