And so it begins…
Our nation is experiencing it’s 45th peaceful transfer of power from one Commander-in-Chief to another. But this time, for many of us, this presidential shift has been strikingly different.
We’ve gone from the height of exultation… witnessing the installation and later re-election of the nation’s first Black President. And though his presidency may have fallen short in some specific areas, the reality is, over the past eight years, we’ve seen him serve this nation honorably and effectively. We’ve watched as he’s shepherded us out of nothing short of economic calamity, while simultaneously facing down and overcoming an unprecedented level of vitriol, obstruction and disrespect.
To go from that experience, to a moment in history in which all of his work, and all of the progress that we’ve made as a nation over the years, be threatened by someone who could easily be described as his very antithesis, is jarring, to say the least.
Voting and hoping is not a strategy.
The nation now faces a new Commander-in-Chief whom through his own words and actions could easily be characterized as racist, sexist, Islamaphobic and dangerously narcissistic. What’s more, he’s shown himself to be consistently dishonest and unnecessarily petty and hateful.
The difference between the character of these two men is nothing short of astounding. But as we turn our gaze forward, we now find ourselves at a moment in which we can choose one of two paths. We can choose acceptance, and just go along to get along, waiting patiently over the next four years for our next chance at another bite at the apple. Or we can choose resistance.
We can choose to fight, each and every step of the way for our needs and for our specific interests as we plot a path forward to come back stronger and better than ever before.
Well, I don’t know about you, but as for me and my house…
We will resist.
And so if you too are ready to resist, here’s a three-part strategy that’s not just for resistance, but quite frankly, a strategy for Massive Resistance. Resistance at a depth and breadth that is absolutely essential for the Black community to mitigate the damage that is sure to come, while simultaneously positioning ourselves to reclaim a nation that was built, rose, and ultimately prospered by our hands.
The strategy is quite simple: (1) Know Your Enemy; (2) Counter-Attack; and (3) Reclaim Your House.
As to the task of knowing your enemy, it’s worth noting that the attacks against not only the Black community, but all of America have already begun. The very same people who spent eight long years doing as little as humanly possible in an attempt to thwart the Obama Administration’s agenda, have all of a sudden been involved in a flurry of activity.
They’ve already passed legislation meant to begin the process of eradicating the Affordable Care Act, not only an effort that would deny coverage to over 20 million people across the nation, but also a move that would threaten those who rely on employer-provided health-insurance.
Their actions take us back to the bad-old days of the possibility of being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, such that if your employer were to change insurance companies; or if for what ever reason, you were to loose your job or leave your job and seek employment elsewhere, you could also loose your health insurance in the process.
It also removes the ability of parents to provide healthcare for their older children. And puts back caps on coverage, such that if you were to suffer a catastrophic illness or injury, you might literally max out your health insurance coverage and not be able to afford the life-saving treatments that you desperately need to survive.
But that’s not all they’re doing.
They’ve voted to bring back the Holman rule, allowing them to reduce the salary of any federal employee down to just $1, setting themselves up to be able to effectively and swiftly fire those that work within the public sector without having to go through the process of officially firing them at all.
They’ve held largely simultaneous Hearings on Cabinet Nominees. Nominees, by the way, that have not gone through the normal vetting process that’s been used for decades to make sure there are no ethical problems or potential conflicts of interests by those who are being considered to head institutions that touch the lives of us all. Instead, these individuals are being rammed through in a way that minimizes focused media coverage in an effort to keep the public under-informed & confused.
They’re in the process as we speak of passing new tax rules that would sharply penalize imports while providing huge tax cuts to major American corporations. In essence, that means that consumers like you and me will pay significantly more for things we use everyday. Including everything from paying more at the gas pump, to paying more for the socks on our feet and the cell phones in our hands. All while major corporations stand to make billions in tax loopholes.
And worst of all, we know that this is just the beginning.
We know that the incoming President has named a white supremacist as his top policy advisor.
We know that he has specifically chosen members of his cabinet who either have absolutely no experience in the area of their agency’s focus (ala Ben Carson’s confounding appointment to HUD) or individuals who have spent their entire careers fighting the very agencies they are now poised to run.
That’s how you get someone who has spent years attacking public education now set to head the Department of Education. It’s how you get someone who’s against overtime pay, against increasing the minimum wage and even against allowing employees to have breaks at work, as the person to head the Department of Labor.
And it’s also how you get someone who has failed to protect the Voting Right Act and who espouses a “law and order” ideology in the age of Black Lives Matter as the proposed head of the Department of Justice.
All of these things and more, taking place right now, represent an all-out assault on the American people. And an assault on America is ultimately a war on Black America.
What’s particularly ironic about all of this, is that it emanates from a man that spent years attacking the legitimacy of President Obama based on absolutely nothing but lies and innuendo, but one whom we now see truly has multiple dangerous Russian entanglements that do indeed, as Congressman John Lewis bravely pointed out, consist of what could easily be interpreted as delegitimizing entanglements with a known enemy of the nation.
This is what we face. This is our new reality. These are the fights that lay ahead of us. And so now is not the time to cower in a corner somewhere waiting for the inevitable to occur. Now is the time to straighten our spines, dig in our heels deep into the soil of justice while vowing NEVER to move.
Here’s what we do next.
When it comes to mounting a counter-attack against the forces that have aligned against our interests, we must focus our efforts over the next few years in the engagement of a divestment and investment strategy; and in the task of grooming, running, and supporting our own candidates for office at each and every level of government.
In short, developing and implementing a divestment and investment strategy means we have to be more strategic about how & with whom we spend our money. Don’t buy into the lie that as a community, we don’t have substantial cashflow, because we do. The problem has been that the cash has flown out of our community as quickly as it’s flown in.
According to Neilson, as of 2017 it’s estimated that the Black community has a collective buying power of $1.3 trillion. Imagine if we focused that buying power, away from specific corporations that have actively fought against our interests and instead, focused them towards organizations that advance our interests.
Imagine if we moved our money from those major financial institutions that just a few years ago were at the center of the economic calamity that was the foreclosure crisis, and instead, invested that money in Black-owned banking institutions.
Imagine if we supported organizations that we know are fighting for us every single day, organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Collective PAC, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and others with the same degree of loyalty and consistency to which we fund the Black church?
Imagine if we went out of our way, on a regular basis to support Black businesses rather than just making the easy, quick and convenient trip to major mega stores that so underpay its workers that many have to rely on food stamps merely to survive.
Imagine, what could and would happen, if we were more strategic and focused as a collective around how and with whom we spent $1.3 trillion dollars this year alone?
In and of itself, this singular act could lead to revolutionary change.
But beyond this economic focus, equally important is a shift in our political strategy.
We have fought so hard, for so long, for voting rights. And truth be told we’re still caught in a cycle (and rightfully so) of protecting and fighting to preserve this most basic right which most Americans take for granted. But the unfortunate outcome of this laser-like focus is that it’s put the mere act of voting at the center of our political strategy.
We vote and then we hope and pray that those we elect to office will not take us for granted on the one hand, or totally ignore us on the other.
But voting and hoping is not a strategy.
While voting is important, critically important, it’s not enough. It’s merely the beginning of political engagement, it’s not the end.
It’s now time for us to shift our strategy to include a much more sophisticated and stronger focus on recruiting, grooming, supporting, and running the next generation of political candidates.
Moving forward, we need to become the architects of our own future, rather than largely sitting on the outside of the political sphere hoping to steer a ship that by and large fails to have our hands on the sail.
Quite frankly, we’ve come to a time in which it makes sense to take a page out of the Tea Party’s book. In other words, don’t hate. Emulate.
When President Obama won in 2008, for a minute the Tea Party engaged in a series of protests across the country, but behind the scenes, they were moving forward with a political strategy to infiltrate the government.
They ran candidates, at every level of office. And in the process they infused themselves at the local level, at the state level, and even within the Halls of Congress.
They didn’t just complain about who was in power.
They became power.
And that’s precisely the model that we must put in place today.
Each and every one of us needs to do two things. We need to either consider running for office ourselves or think of at least three people we know who should run for office and then encourage them to do so.
The power to truly take OUR country back, is in our hands.
We can RECLAIM THIS HOUSE. And if we focus, like a laser in these two areas, amassing political power, and concentrating our economic power in a way that strengthens our institutions, starves those who work against us, and builds wealth within our own communities by circulating the Black dollar internally over and over and over again, we will have no choice but to change the dynamic moving forward and position ourselves for an unprecedented level of power in the days ahead.
Of course in the interim, we will engage in the fights that we have always fought. We will do the work that is necessary to mitigate that damage that is sure to come. But we can not be so caught up in a cycle of defense, that we forget to amass a strong offense.
In fact, I would say that the old saying is indeed true, the best defense is a good offense. And that, in my estimation, should be the center of our political and economic focus in the days ahead:
How to position ourselves for true political power;
How to position ourselves for true economic power; and
How to position ourselves for true Black power.
That now needs to be our focus.
We need not be distracted by the unhinged musing of a deeply flawed political novice whose days as Commander-in-Chief are numbered from the moment he takes that oath. Instead, focus your attention on the fact that in spite of all that they have thrown at us for centuries, we are still here.
So yes, while we will survive this, it’s now time to elevate our aspirations beyond mere survival. It’s time to bloom into our greatest possibilities.
It’s time. In fact, it’s past time to not only resist. Now is the moment to build a new future, stronger, better, bolder, brighter than ever before.
Now is our time to take our future in our own hands.
Now is our time to lead.
Dr. Avis is Media Commentator, International Speaker, and Author of the Award-Winning Book, How Exceptional Black Women Lead.