After the election: Grassroots surgeliz-head-shot

By Liz Moore, PJALS Director

Hello to new members of PJALS holding our newsletter in their hands for the first time! We need you and welcome you as activists and leaders in our intergenerational grassroots movement.

With the electoral college victory of President-Elect Trump, many of us woke up on November 9 with reactions including fear, worry, astonishment, grim realism, and outrage for ourselves and those we love and stand with. Though all the fault-lines and fractures of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, manipulation, and big money have been present since the origin of our country, I have felt the need to map the new landscape, which retains very familiar landmarks as well as new terrain formations after this earthquake.

We are seeing a grassroots surge now. Every day since the election, we are seeing new members donating and new activists signing up on our email list and on Facebook. Over 80 people gathered for a discussion on 8 hours’ notice the day after the election. Young people moved to action have organized large community mobilizations with hundreds turning out. Our PJALS post-election discussion “Coming Together, Gathering Hope” bulged at the seams with over 200 people – 3/4 of them new to PJALS!

People Power Must Be Visible. We need to keep mobilizing, connecting, and growing! Our commitment is deep and unwavering: We will stand up against hate. We will speak up! We will challenge our own fears. We will be true to our values! We will act with courage, passion, and strategy!

We reject fear, hate, apathy, white supremacy, homophobia, patriarchy, militarism, narcissism, Christian supremacy, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, violence, apathy, and despair.

We are rooted in and moving toward love, respect, community, peace, justice, youth, intersectionality, compassion, equity, dignity, equality, safety, empathy, understanding, graceful defiance, collective action, and liberation.

Every time in our country’s history when we have succeeded in our struggles for racial justice, gender justice, economic justice, or peace, forces of corporate domination & exploitation, white supremacy, male supremacy, and militarism have pushed back, and pushed back hard! After the civil war and the end of slavery came Jim Crow. After the civil rights movement moved Johnson and Congress to pass key Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation, Nixon won the presidency by inventing the Southern Strategy, appealing to white male conservative voters.

It helps a little to know this is not totally unprecedented – grassroots movements have been here before, and we can learn from their successes and their mistakes.

Frederick Douglass, in 1857, wrote this in the midst of struggle:

“Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

How can we best struggle together now?

  1. Connect with each other! Please invite your friends, family, faith community, and/or book club to come with you to PJALS events and actions! PJALS has a 40-year track record of engaging everyday people for peace & justice.
  2. Make our circles bigger! Let’s build our movement with strategic engagement beyond our current circles. As an organizer I was trained that an early (and repeated) step in engagement is assessment. We often use a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 assessment system. 5’s are like Trump and other leaders of our opposition. 4’s are mobilized by the 5’s. On our end, PJALS leaders and our partners are 1’s. 2’s mobilize with us. 3’s are undecided or sometimes move in one direction and sometimes in the other. So we don’t need to spend time with 5’s or 4’s except to learn to improve our strategies. We need to talk with and support the 2’s so that together we can listen to, connect with, and move and engage the 3’s. Most of our energy should go into mobilizing 2’s and engaging 3’s. Sometimes that means responding to 4’s so that 3’s hear what we are saying.
  3. Commit right now to long term action. We’re not going to move toward LOVE and EQUALITY and SAFETY enough today, or next week, or in year 1 of the Trump presidency. We’ve got to commit NOW to keeping our eyes open, our ears open, and our hearts & bodies in motion permanently.
  4. Choose a few points of focus. Our PJALS commitment is to stand with Muslims and the undocumented as people under immediate assault, as well as standing with all immigrants, refugees, Black people and other people of color, LGBT people, and minoritized religious communities; we will stand against Trump’s promise to re-institute torture and speak out against escalated or expanded wars.
    • Do you want to work with PJALS and Showing Up for Racial Justice to mobilize white people as part of a multi-racial majority for racial justice? Do you want to work with PJALS for local criminal justice reform and police accountability? Do you want to work with PJALS and our partners in No Discrimination Spokane to defeat anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry and racism? Do you want to join the teams to plan the People’s Inauguration on January 21 or our Peace & Justice Action Conference on February 24-25?
  5. Work with a PLAN – A goal without a plan is just a wish. Learn who is already working on what you want to tackle. Listen with respect and accountability to folks who are directly affected by the problem you want to work on. Identify who can say yes to what targeted folks want. Decide how you will influence that person to the point where it’s in their self-interest to say yes. “Some policy makers need to see the light, and some need to feel the heat,” as the saying goes! Time spent planning is good cultivation and fertilizer to bring fruitful efforts.
    • PJALS’ Steering Committee is welcoming four energetic and committed new members, and now we’ll have 5 graduates of our Young Activist Leaders Program co-leading our organization. Our shared investment in supporting young people as leaders and in creating our 2016-2017 Intersectional Racial Equity Workplan to operationalize using this lens in all our work mean we are so strongly positioned to move forward as powerfully as possible.
  6. Systematize your self-care! Support others taking care of themselves too. You can’t pour from an empty cup!

Say it loud, say it clear,

No hate, no fear!

Say it loud, say it clear

Muslims are welcome here!

Say it loud, say it clear,

immigrants are welcome here!

Say it loud, say it clear,

trans folks are welcome here!

Say it loud, say it clear

queer folks are welcome here!

Say it loud, say it clear

Black lives matter here!

Say it loud, say it clear

Women are respected here!

You take one of us on, you take all of us on!