This year millions worldwide simply wonder if they will ever work again; it has been a hellacious decade.
This is the week of reflection on the gasping 00’s, a ten year stretch that cannot end soon enough. The decade-long litany of socioeconomic and political disasters is filling chattering class columns ad nauseum, reminding us why, once again, most Americans believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The bloom is off the rose of the new Administration, and the grim reality of a very long-term recovery is settling in on the body politic.
In spite of that grim reality, we really ought to be looking forward, toward the coming decade, and considering what must be done to rekindle an audacious vision that once drove peoples to dream dreams, and to give their lives to making those dreams real not simply for themselves, but for others as well. Social movements for the greater good are but distant memory, fading in the frenzied, August-like heat of white, middle class anger over threats to long-standing entitlements. Progressives have become sated and satisfied, quenched by the kool-aid of perceived Potomac power won at last. And all the while, desperate and destitute families struggle, as always, to stay afloat. An audacious vision? Where, exactly?
On the ground. Where it has always been. Among the people. With the people. By the people. At kitchen tables. At coffee shop conversations. In meeting halls and basements. In welfare and unemployment offices. At food pantries. In workplaces. On the streets. In the neighborhoods. On the campuses. Listening. Hearing. And always, organizing, bringing people together to act effectively to address the most pressing, shared issues and concerns.
Not the organizing of the past, out of the past. Organizing for a new day, a new decade, a nation ahead that will be majority peoples of color. Organizing with and among those who have always been “left behind” as the white, metropolitan majority advanced itself at virtually any cost to “others,” or who sought to effect “change” only in the annals of policy reform or public office. Organizing that is rooted in and builds on a fundamental, foundational, and operational understanding of the framework of race and racism that has shaped and driven this country, and that must ever be confronted if we are to become a truly democratic and equitable nation.
The coming decade is going to be difficult, to put it mildly. Hardship is likely to spread, and a core of the disillusioned, restless, entitlement-driven, dominant population is likely to become even more strident and dangerous. Peoples historically left behind will be put at even more risk. Racism will—as always—be the ace card played by those of the dominant population most fearful of the emerging majority of color.
They cannot, will not triumph. 2020 vision can and must trump all—audacious vision, that is. 2020 vision grounded in, with, and among those on the margins, the peripheries, the edges. 2020 vision grounded in the distant memory of new possibilities and in the sightline of new community. 2020 vision grounded in courageous, nation-building, justice-seeking, life-giving acts of imaginative action, undaunted by obstacles and relentlessly pulled forward by unquenchable hope.
Make such a vision real. Make it happen.