This is the final post of a three-part series on the current racial equity and social justice landscape in California by John Kim, Executive Director of Advancement Project California. Read part one here and part two here.
In the last blog post, I wrote about both the promise and potential perils of California leading the resistance against the current administration. Since then, the rationale for all of us to get on the frontlines of this fight has grown exponentially. With the level of chaos emanating from this White House, it is tough to even keep up.
In the last couple weeks, we saw the House pass a “health care” bill that should be filed under tax relief for the wealthy. This bill is designed to hand out hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts to the rich, while throwing millions of Americans off their coverage. Then the Attorney General revised drug sentencing policies that seem designed to again fill up privately-run for-profit prisons rather than improve public safety. All throughout, we’ve seen the president continue to play fast and loose with the fundamental principles of checks and balances that are the underpinnings of our democracy. We’re just talking about what’s happened so far in May!
So yes, it’s imperative for us to all raise our voices in protest and not allow any of this behavior to be normalized.
But we know that we cannot win with just defense alone. We will not win by responding tweet for tweet or by howling at every manufactured crisis from this president. Instead, we need to step back and see how this particular moment is part and parcel of the much longer fight that stretches back to the very founding of this country and that goes beyond this particular administration. We need to see how this fight is best measured by generations, not presidencies, and is about the larger struggle for this country to realize its full promise of justice and opportunity for all.
But the question remains — how? How do we simultaneously push back against the constant drumbeat of attacks on our basic rights and continue to move California towards that more progressive, inclusive future that we know is possible?
For starters, we need to look to the right places for inspiration. We need to look beyond the politicians, or the media, or the political parties for answers. To properly ground us in this fight, we should look to everyday people — many with the most to lose — who are standing tall in this moment because they have no other choice but to stand and push forward. Those who, amid this political chaos and fear-mongering, are unapologetic in their boldness and ask that we stand with them.
From the Dreamers who refuse to stay quiet, to their parents who fear being separated from their kids but still get up every day to work and put food on the table. They are standing tall.
From the Black leaders who stay vigilant against the constant threat of police violence in their communities, to the transgender youth demanding that we to respect their journey to find and express their fullest selves. They are standing tall.
The Muslim American community reminds us that America’s greatness comes from an ever-expanding vision of who we are, and not the other way around. They are all standing tall at this moment.
They know from experience what this fight entails. They have struggled against countless “Trumps” in their lifetimes. They know that this fight is for the long haul and that what is required is for us all to be bold in our resistance and hold fast to our collective vision of a more equitable California — because that is how we lead.
And so, I say that we must all stand with them. I say we live into our power, live into our values, and leverage our strengths as a state to not only resist but also build a brighter future for all of us.
Let’s fight back against the hard-right conservatives in Washington and their American Health Care Act proposal, yes; but let’s also push our state and local governments to think boldly about true quality healthcare access for all Californians and push forward an agenda to fix the Affordable Care Act.
If they blow up our tax system in DC to benefit the few over the many — let’s create new ways to keep more of those tax dollars right here in California. Let’s use that money to fix our schools and our neighborhoods, and to prepare our economy for the next 100 years.
If they undermine the safety and quality of our neighborhoods and schools with their backwards attempts at “law and order,” we should build new institutional protections and supports to ensure we will all get through this together.
Because this is what it’ll take for us to truly beat this administration and its regressive agenda. We are required to both RESIST AND BUILD towards our collective future — at the same time.
And Advancement Project California stands ready for this fight.
Yes, we will RESIST but also expand our partnerships with and support for communities most impacted by this administration’s hate-filled rhetoric and destructive policies, including the undocumented, Muslim American, and transgender communities.
We will RESIST and develop new ways to lift the voices and power of communities most impacted by ineffective and unjust systems and policies.
We will RESIST and build innovative approaches to the most stubborn problems facing low-income communities of color and continue to re-engineer our public systems to work for all Californians.
Because in the end, it is not just about this one Administration or just this President. It is about the collective future we all deserve. And that requires us to fight back and push forward at the same time.
And that’s why I believe — I so firmly believe — that the best resistance is our collective success.
This is our moment to #ResistANDBuild.