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Communities under attack fight back

January 20th, 2017

The Shovel, The Picket Sign and The Muse

Donald Trump gets inaugurated today.

And as Trump puts his hand on the bible, millions put their feet on the streets to pledge resistance. What is done today in resistance, we can only hope it is a rev up and not a final gasp in reaction to the 2016 election. Because, though we cannot, particularly with Trump, predict what is coming, it is safe to say it will be a terrible on so many fronts at perhaps unprecedented levels.

For many millions of people, the cold hard truth is that things are going to get much worse before they have a chance of getting better. We are lying to ourselves and each other if we don’t hold that reality. Because of this, we cannot sulk, we cannot shutter ourselves into ourselves. You, I, We are here, we are of this time for a reason.As tired as we may be, we have work to do. As unsure of what to do, we have work to do. We pledge to protect and defend, we pledge to fight and we understand that we must adapt and respond to the moment. This is no longer the Obama Administration.

As we brace ourselves for impact, we will reach for the shovel, the picket sign and the muse.

When I reflect on the last eight years, our work was to sharpen the debate and challenge the political plans politicians drew to keep themselves safe rather than our communities safe. And we did this with what we called, the Team of the Willing. Think small nimble teams taking very specific direct action and non violent civil disobedience actions. This didn’t look like mass marches or tactics that involved large amounts of people. The task was to impact the frame on issues, challenge to expand the proposed solutions and storm the political stage to create space for the unlikely and unsought voices of people to speak for themselves. We still need the Team of the Willing, we also need to pick up the shovel and build. Base-building needs to get back in style. We will challenge ourselves to spend time and resources to engage new people, expand the circle and create multiple entry points for participation.

At the same time, we cannot let go of the Picket Sign.

Our experience has shown that direct action, whether large or small remains as a key way to engage everyday people and communicate with a wider audience. And while some things will remain the same, we are called to mobilize and take action with real consideration of how the political scenario at the federal level has dramatically changed. We can’t let go of the Picket Sign, however we can’t simply keep repeating the same chant.

And finally, we need our Muse. In such gloomy despairing times, when we are under attack, the most precious victim that falls is imagination. Possibility manifested and spoken is hope that has moved from wishful thinking to something that is inevitable. The contributions of cultural workers and creatives will be so important in this time. The Muse in all of us may grow quieter in this time, so we must listen more closely.

Some of us, we always hold the shovel. Others of us, roll with the Muse. Others have no choice or simply can’t choose (!) and take all three. Our imagination cannot be stolen from us. The task for those of us who in this moment have targets on our backs, have been or will be othered, exiled and exploited — [we must not only resist, and oppose, we must construct an Alternative.] I hope our imagination helps us remember that our ability to act also, cannot be taken away. When we tap into those things, magic is known to happen. We need that right about now.

2015 Marisa Franco Headshot

Marisa Franco is the director of Mijente. She lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Paid for in part by Mijente PAC, 734 W Polk St., Phoenix, AZ 85007, not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.