Sunday, November 20, 2016

The November 20 Womens' Rally in Salem

A few of us turned out for the womens' rally in Salem tonight. The rally was organized through social media and by word-of-mouth and drew a few hundred people, mostly women. We gathered at the Courthouse and marched to the State Capitol. For many people who attended it was probably the first march or demo they had done since the election.

On the positive side, it's great that someone with no prior organizing experience can put this together so well and that needed resources were provided without cost. The first speaker, a trans woman, gave a great speech that moved you if you listened. Most of the other speakers---and especially Shelaswau Crier--who we heard had something important to say. People were disciplined and eager to demonstrate.

On the negative side, there was a "love is the answer" theme to the rally and it was an explicitly non-political event with political messaging. An African American musician gave a speech putting responsibility for social change on white people and talking about smoking dope, no one we heard connected people to any organization struggling for change, Hilary Clinton got props and praise which she does not deserve, much was said about the power of individuals and small groups but little was said about movement building and the person who was speaking as I left was telling people to get some sleep. I have never been to a rally where a speaker told us to go to sleep.

With hundreds of people in motion, then, an opportunity was lost to build a movement, build leadership and take action.

It's great to talk about the need for a sanctuary movement, but if you don't connect that with a group then you're demobilizing people.

It's great to talk about womens' power, which is real. The Chinese saying that "women hold up half the sky," popularized by Mao, just begins an exploration of that power. But if we do not address the fact that a majority of voting white women voted for Trump---without blame, but with analysis---then we're not dealing from a place of honesty and accountability.

Telling people to get some sleep, eat well and love demobilizes people.

Putting the responsibility for social change on white people empowers white people to do nothing; that is not a way of building multiracial, multinational and multigender leadership that we need right now, today..

Smoking dope demobilizes people and takes them out of the struggle. Remember that the vote to make pot legal in Oregon came with a no vote on drivers' licenses for immigrants without papers, a liberal betrayal of people of color that should not be soon forgotten.

A positive message would be to take certain actions: come hear Jo Ann Hardesty when she speaks in Salem on January 9, join a progressive organization and push that organization to join a united front against racism and sexism and exploitation, come to the Standing Rock benefit on December 10, get familiar with the platform of the Movement for Black Lives and start living that out, push the Democratic party to be a real opposition with progressive leadership, get ready for civil disobedience and start building a sanctuary movement. These are positive steps.



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