We are in a telling moment where the racism and white supremacy so many of our systems are built on and serve are being reflected back to us.
With the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin, and, in the same state, Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in jail for firing warning shots at her estranged abusive husband resulting in zero injures or deaths, it is clear how race determines your experience with the U.S. legal system.
Like many of you, I am angry and I am grieving. It is daunting to think about dismantling these systems, or even at times envisioning what we need our world to look like. But we must, because it isn’t good enough to just be angry.
Take a few minutes to read the article below entitled “The Verdict Is In: We Must Organize To Get Justice” by ROP’s long time friend Chris Crass. It spoke to my temporarily paralyzed organizing heart, and I hope it speaks to yours, too.
The Verdict Is In: We Must Organize To Get Justice
10 Steps You Can Take to Build the Movement We Need
We are enraged, we are in tears, we are fearful for our kids, we are trying to make sense of what this all means through our own grassroots intellectual culture facilitated by Facebook and Twitter, we are taking to the streets and we are tired of watching the murder of Black boys and men sanctioned by the fundamentally racist U.S. legal system.
1. Demonstrate. Participate in the demonstrations taking place in towns, rural areas and cities in every region of the country. Tens of thousands of people are gathering to express our collective outrage and demand justice for Trayvon Martin and an end to criminalization of communities of color. Recruit people in your life to join you, get people out into the streets.
2. Grieve and Love. Connect to the pain of this moment and be with the pain that is all around us in our families and communities. Often we skip grieving and go to action, but grieving can connect us to a deeper power within us, and connect us to each other. Capitalism wants us to detach from our emotions, to detach from ourselves and the impacts we have on each other and the world. Liberation is a process of attachment to our humanity and the humanity of others. Love others as they grieve, be present, be supportive, and find strength in our relationships with one another.
3. Conversion. This is a moment of profound injustice that shines a light on white supremacy and the everyday racism of our society. This is a moment when people are searching to make sense of what has happened and what it means for their lives and their children. This is a moment when we can work for mass conversion, to raise consciousness, to awaken people in our lives and networks to the reality of injustice, as well as the possibilities of working for systemic equality. Do not be afraid of speaking truth with courage, take small steps, celebrate subtle victories, build your confidence.
4. Study. Take time to read and study those who have gone before us, learn the lessons from their efforts. Root yourself in the history of people’s movements for justice and equality. Read analysis to help make sense of the economic and political system and how white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia and ableism are pillars to our unequal system. Learn about the visionary change others envision and develop your own vision.
5. Get Connected. Join with others working for economic, racial, gender and social justice. Join and support organizations working for change you believe in.
6. Throw down. Work on and support campaigns nationally and locally. Get involved in struggles to win changes and use those campaigns to get more and more of the people in your life involved. Get involved in whatever works for your life, all of what we do matters, when we do it together, with a goal and vision of where we are going.
7. Bridges Not Divisions. The divisions of race, class and gender play out in society and in our work for change. But anti-racism, feminism, class consciousness, disability justice, can all help us create powerful communities and movements.
8. Build Culture. Help create cultures of solidarity and love between our communities and different struggles. Everyday, in profound and subtle ways we are town apart from each other and told we are powerless. This self-defeating narrative in the minds of everyday people is critical for rulers to maintain power. We must create narratives of mutuality, empowerment, and liberation.
9. Set goals. Goals for your work for justice, for your personal growth, and for your efforts to create cultures of solidarity and love. Find what motivates to take action, and remember that we are in this for the long haul.
10. Be Powerful. Develop your abilities through personal and collective efforts to be as powerful, effective, healthy, and whole as you can be. We need people who are fully alive to win and create the liberation we need. Remember that we grow in powerful ways through collective action for justice. Our trust in ourselves and in each other grows as we challenge illegitimate authority and realize the power we have together in creating a democratic society with equality and justice, truly, for all people. We are more brilliant, strategic, visionary, and effective then we know, when we believe in each other and ourselves, and take action together.
For Trayvon Martin and his family. For all the Black boys and men who are murdered in our society with impunity. For all of us who know that a better world is possible. Let us be courageous and let us see that we are the source from which powerful positive change comes.
Chris Crass is a longtime social justice organizer and author of Towards Collective Liberation: anti-racist organizing, feminist praxis, and movement building strategy.