Solidarity or Bust!

By Tim Wolcott

Raising your arm in a fist at a rally is not enough. We have internal work to do.

Solidarity for the common good is an aspiration too often thwarted by ego, white fragility and apathy. Nonetheless, it offers great hope in these tumultuous times. Most often, it is blocked by an individual’s resistance to question their world view, by corporate economic interests and/or by regressive governmental policies. The window for breaking down the silos and joining like and unlike minded people for justice, peace and a habitable biosphere is quickly narrowing. Let’s determine what moral values we share and join together to build solidarity. We have the power of numbers. Let’s combine forces now!

The struggle for solidarity has an ally in the understanding that many disparate progressive organizations have common threads connecting them through intersectionality. In essence, intersectionality attempts to explain how a person’s social and political identities (e.g. gender, race, class, religion, disability, physical appearance, etc.) can combine to create discrimination or privilege in their lives. Too often, a narrow focus on the environment or racial injustice or militarism can preclude the necessary joining together of activists that must occur for effective change to begin / to take place. In the interest of solidarity, we must reconsider our personal assumptions and intentionally practice humility while listening deeply to leaders of marginalized people articulate their grievances and goals. Looking carefully for what values (mission) another organization has that overlap (intersect) with your own facilitates that process. After which we should then support each other (as needed and requested) while we all resist, step up and/or speak out.

The Poor People’s Campaign is an example of a multi-racial, young / old, male / female, able / disabled, cis and queer, coalition of poor / low income people and their allies that has created an organization that now functions in 40 states. Its leader, Rev. Dr. William Barber, encapsulates the mission of PPC – “We are committed to lifting up and deepening the leadership of the most affected by systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation and to building unity across lines of division.” It exposes voter suppression policies as it helps fund candidates. The PPC works to build up the power of the people through state-based actions that coalesce into a moral movement. (Full disclosure – I am a member of the PPC and have participated in a PPC-organized civil disobedience action in Albany, NY.)

The Rising Majority is another intersectionally-focused coalition. It now includes 53 individual organizations. The Movement of Black Lives and allied organizations formed the “The Rising Majority” in 2017. The coalition includes some of my favorites such as The Black Lives Matter Network, Jewish Voices for Peace, Indigenous Environmental Network and Highlander Research & Education Center. US Labor Against the War, Grassroots Global Justice, Fight for $15 and even About Face: Veterans Against the War are in the coalition. *

I believe in their mission. The Rising Majority is “committed to cohering movements and engaging organizations and individuals in strategies that are crucial to deepening solidarity and building power”. They offer ways for us to de-silo, like organizing around shared targets in our campaigns, like promoting narratives, ideas and “cultural interventions that influence popular consciousness to uproot the fundamental systems of racialized capitalism and patriarchy.” Furthermore, this coalition coordinates and shares leadership to guide organizations “to practice the anti-racist, radical democracy we are fighting for”.

The Rising Majority “through convening spaces, such as think tanks, teach-ins and conferences” facilitate collective thinking and information sharing that creates “viable strategies for change, taking lessons from history and applying a transnational, anti-racist anti-imperialist perspective”. Their focus is from the bottom up. They “believe it’s important to fortify the leadership and organizing of Black people and people of color, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ people, youth and students”. A primary objective of The Rising Majority is “to develop a collective strategy and shared practice that will involve labor, youth, abolition, immigrant rights, climate change, feminist, anti-war/anti-imperialist and economic justice forces in order to amplify our collective power and to build alignment across our movements”.

I am a member of The Rising Majority and hope you consider becoming one. My greater hope is that more of us redouble our efforts to look more inside ourselves to find shared values with others, and then redouble those efforts to trust others in solidarity.

* (An aside – why isn’t national Peace Action or national Veterans for Peace in the coalition? I’ll find out, and I intend to comment later on that as need arises.)

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