This will offend some of you, but here we go . . .
We have reached a point in America where if you are not white, not male, or not straight, that you should be thinking deeply about your immediate and long-term future. Even if you are all of those things, you should still be skeptical about the future of our country.
Clearly, there is more than a healthy amount of fear and anger coming from the majority of the population who did not vote for President-Elect Donald Trump, either because they voted for his opponent, Secretary Hillary Clinton—who won the popular vote—or because they did not vote at all—which is an entirely different and sad topic to be discussed at another time. Last night, all across America, people protested the election results insisting that Trump is not their President.
I agree, Trump is not your President, but on January 20, 2017 at 12:01 PM, he will be! There is no amount of walking around outside in anger that is going to change that, nor should it. Likewise, had Secretary Clinton won the election and Trump supporters protested, the election results would not have been changed, nor should they. Marching and chanting and singing has the potential to make one feel good for awhile maybe, but has not been effective in creating change since the 1950s and ’60s.
- Occupy Wall Street participants lived outside, marched, and chanted for a year . . . the banks are still open and the 1% is still thriving.
- Black Lives Matters participants march every time there is a high profile unjustified police shooting that results in the murder of a black life . . . but if this was working, then they would not keep having to march and blacks would not keep dying at the hands of the police.
- Several celebrities and community leaders lead marches to the polls in support of Clinton . . . and she still lost.
Marching/1960s style protesting is not a plan, it is an action that accomplishes little (at best). After you march around singing songs, shouting, burning things, and getting arrested, 1) your feet will ache, 2) your throat will be sore, 3) you will have risked your credibility and freedom, and 4) Trump will still be your President. Yes, YOUR President . . . or at the very least, the President of the country that you love and that you are worried to see him lead or else you would not be out there in the first place.
Some of you think that because of your actions Trump will not take office come January. This is false. Some of you have gone as far as to wish death on the President-Elect. Not only is this “deplorable,” but it is unlikely, dangerous, and hypocritical for someone who thinks that Trump and (many of) his supporters are mean-spirited and sinister.
My position is as follows:
- We must figure out how to get and maintain the attention of those who have influence. This will likely look differently in every community. Not only is each community different in terms of its power structure, but each demographic may need to appeal to a different influential person or group; all people cannot champion all causes or nothing will actually get done (see Occupy Wall Street).
- We must resist the temptation to walk around outside and shout (unless this is part of a larger plan). Protests like these happen frequently because they require very little commitment or strategy and anyone can participate; they are often the result of an emotional response. People leave these protests feeling accomplished, yet the work remains undone.
- We must avoid shutting out those who can help us because of our own racism and stereotyping. This includes not presenting the worst among us to the media. Just like we present our best selves at a job interview for instance, we need to present the best among us to the general public from whom we are asking for aid (see the Black Panther Party). The success of the civil rights movement was in leadership’s understanding of presenting only those characters who would be seen as sympathetic to potential supporters as well as to those who opposed them. One never can tell who may be a key contributor in reaching one’s objectives.
- We must attract people from a multitude of professions with a multitude of abilities. A successful and sustainable movement needs to look like an inclusive and well-developed community.
- There needs to be leadership. Leaderless movements have proven themselves to be ineffective in producing desired outcomes.
The other points are more targeted towards specific communities. Please feel free to use me as a resource, even if you do not agree with me. Good plans usually require some give and take.
There are steps that need to be taken NOW in order to protect those who are likely to lose a great deal under a Trump Administration. We need to be thinking about what happens from 2017 until, well, who knows?! His presidency could last up to eight years, and his policies and SCOTUS selections could leave our communities decimated for decades.
Let’s not just talk about what needs to be done, let’s work!
Dr. Kenneth A. Pierce