Looking at the President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris win, and President Donald J. Trump’s defiant denial that he suffered a loss, massaged euphoria aside, city grassroots activists are encouraging the community to analyze, strategize and organize.
An exhausted USA is emerging from a COVID-era presidential campaign. Policy, not politicians—charismatic or otherwise—should be the motivation.
“Today we celebrate, tomorrow we organize,” was a popular social media and real world refrain on Saturday when the announcement permeated these city streets and this nation as well as worldwide.
Relief and what seemed to be joy had horns honking, strangers hugging, news anchors not concealing the release of pent-up anxiety.
Ej Lee for example exemplified a much repeated sentiment, “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone recognize Biden as their savior,” he wrote on Facebook, “… it’s amazing how many ppl are coming to that conclusion…when ppl are just genuinely happy to see trump out of office…we aren’t IGNORANT to the facts about Biden…but you can’t invalidate what ppl have experienced with trump in office…STOP MAKING IT MORE THAN THAT.”
“We are behaving like fans at a ball game, not independent and informed thinkers,” native New Yorker Kodjoe O. said. “We are rewarding a political party and these two individuals who have given us nothing. This will be Barack on steroids. Obama 3.0. He gets to rule from behind the curtain. He can pull all the strings.”
From critiquing Harris’ perceived opportunistic identity politics (South East Asian mom and Jamaican father), her record as a harsh prosecutor in California, and even her white husband, observers are not easily swayed by the optics, say like in the Obama era. Much was made of the “first Black president,” and much mileage was gained by opposing sides because of it. Not so fast this time, astute critics predicted. Of course social media’s citizen journalists and analysts went to town.
Facebook poster Angi Lampkin took offense over the meme that had the grey silhouette of a stoic Ruby Bridges as the shadow of a striding Kamala Harris. “This one annoyed me…this is not the same…her history with putting BLK women in jail is a slap in the face to what Ruby Bridges integrating school means.”
Dancing in the the streets notwithstanding, the reality is often times perception, and here is a nation with a sitting, but defeated current president refusing to concede, and two electeds waiting in the wings who may have rode in on an “anything-but-Trump bandwagon,” while still hitched to a truck that includes the controversial Biden crime bill and Harris’ oversight as AG of the mass incarceration of Black people.
“More than ever before this is the time to organize for power with grassroots Black radical politics on a local level,” said Assemblyman Charles Barron. “We must not forget that 75 million people voted for Biden, but 71 million voted for Trump, which means that America is united on the question of the parasitic, racist and capitalistic oppression of us as Black people.
“Lest we forget that Biden and Harris are the king and queen of mass incarceration of Black people. Trump may be gone, but the racist system still exists, as do our issues. We must resist.”
In 1994 as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Biden created the devastating crime bill known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
In the midst of her 27 years as a law enforcer, then San Francisco District Attorney, and California State Attorney General Kamala Harris was creating a tough reputation. It is much repeated that thousands of Black folk were incarcerated “at five times their share of California’s population.”
While she herself passed none of the laws which created this harsh racial disparity, the actuality of thousands of Black people being disproportionately incarcerated plagued Harris during her prosecutorial career in general, and throughout her campaign for president and vice president. In the California courts she strove to maintain the death penalty, and was harangued for threatening to jail parents of habitually truant school students.
During her time campaigning, she acknowledged the flaws in the criminal justice system and has since pledged to address the biased imbalance.
Activist Anthony Beckford stated, “I congratulate them both on their success and win, but…we will hold them to task to focus and deliver the agenda of the people. Which means the End of Mass Incarceration, Medicare For All, Housing For All, Education Loans Forgiven, Criminal Justice Reform, Legalization of Marijuana, Climate Justice and many other issues.”
The Movement for Black Lives’ National Field Director Karissa Lewis said, “The majority of Americans voted against fascism and hatred, and demanded an end to the reign of an administration that did everything in its power to destroy our communities…As President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris prepare to take office, they must remember that Black people won this election…
“M4BL will be watching and organizing to hold the Biden-Harris administration accountable to pursue transformative policies for Black communities…starting with the passage of the BREATHE Act, our movement’s visionary bill to divest taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invest in a new vision of public safety. We will continue harnessing the largest social movement in U.S. history by supporting local organizing around the nation and building powerful multiracial coalitions of people who believe that until Black people are free, none of us are free.”