Family separation. Anti-Muslim policy. Right to work. Racist gerrymandering. Corporate handouts. Environmental mismanagement.
You’d be lucky not to know about all the many ways the US Government is not only failing to protect marginalized communities, but actively attacking rights we’ve defended and won over centuries. Many on OPAL’s staff and Board, personally, have felt a great deal of suffering on behalf of our families and others in our community and world this past few months. Pain we never imagined. Fear we can’t control. It’s exhausting.
We are tired, yes. But we are resolute. The strategy of the white nationalist movement is to advance anti-democratic policies as quickly as they can. They wish to distract us with their callousness, shame our rightful outrage, insult our beauty, and malign our resistance. To enclose wealth and power for themselves, they want to wear down our endurance through ongoing, multi-prong assaults on the rights of our communities.
It won’t work. No matter how hard they try, they can never destroy the revolutionary optimism we must bring to the long-game of building power for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights in our communities. Most of us have been in this fight for decades. And our movement is winning across the country, despite the reactionary backlash at the Federal level. This morning’s TriMet Board meeting was the first with the new, diverse TriMet Board Members, seats we fought to overturn for years. Downtown Portland has a new encampment of brave locals determined to shut down the building where ICE organizes state sanctioned attacks on innocent people. Local direct action camping at ICE has inspired people in every corner of the country to take similar steps to protect immigrant and refugee families. Springfield, Oregon just ended its contract with ICE after a massive public backlash. Oregon as a state is a laboratory of inclusive democracy: the first state to pass vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration. We are a world leader in sustainable land use, and we handle conservation and climate policy like adults. Portland is building bike lanes and car-free bridges, expanding transit service, and bonding out money and requiring private developers to build affordable housing. Teachers across the country – in right to work states – are winning pay increases through strikes. Last night, a 28-year-old Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx took the first step to becoming the youngest person ever elected to the US House of Representatives.
None of us believes our local situation is perfect, but we think (and we hope you’ll agree) that Portland, cities and counties across our state, and Oregon are all well-positioned to demonstrate what thoughtful, compassionate, and forward-thinking leadership looks like. There’s always more to do. We must resist the white nationalist movement at every turn – from stopping IP22’s attempt to take away Oregon’s sanctuary status, to opposing unjust deportations, standing up to bullies in our streets, stopping the school to prison pipeline, ending fossil fuel investments, and demilitarizing public spaces. But we must also continue to envision what this state and region can look like when we’re not on the defensive, but actively advancing our communities’ priorities. Local elected officials will make mistakes, as they often do, and we will hold them accountable every time. We are in this fight not just for one presidency, or one legislative session, but for our people. If we don’t give up, if we continue to organize as long as we still have a breath left, that’s why we will win.
What can you do today? Here are a few things:
Demonstrate to oppose the Janus decision – Today, 5:30pm, City Hall
Donate to the Portland Clean Energy Fund campaign.
Rally this weekend with the OneOregon coalition to protect Oregon’s immigrants – join actions in Albany, Astoria, Bend, Coo
Join the Oregon Just Transition Alliance email list – we’re building the new Oregon.
Celebrate OPAL’s successes at Voices of a People’s history 2018 – tickets are still available!
Visit, call, or text someone you know and make sure they’re doing okay.
Don’t lose hope.