“You know, he only grabs pussies sometimes. Is that what really happened? Come on, you know you liked it when that happened to you! I mean, 12 women saying he did something, doesn’t mean he did, or actually meant it. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe you. Prove it to me. I don’t believe you.”
I can only imagine how Muslim, immigrant, Black, and dis/differently abled folks felt and what they feared as repercussions for the things Trump has done, said he would do, and the hatred fomented on the campaign trail and now manifesting in the mere days since his election.
For me, this ultimately wasn’t just about the election, it’s not about Trump or Clinton. Or even that I was surprised that there were people who were so vested in their own economic survival or comfort, that they were willing to put aside the well-being of whole swaths of people to get it. What’s devastating is that white supremacy, demonization, the fear and hatred of “other,” stripping of rights for more people, could now be (not just implicitly) but explicitly codified into law and exercised by two branches of the government. And more insidiously, that these views are so deeply embedded that they are threatening to create a “new normal” in American culture.
There is power in imagining and it takes imagination to build power.
Here at CSS, core to our work is how imagination and power interact, how one can build the other, and how they are inherent in each other: there is power in imagining and it takes imagination to build power. How do we challenge and undermine this attempted “new normal,” the dominant narratives that uphold oppression and dehumanize people? How do we insert our own “new normal,” not just tell a good story about what is possible and where we can go, but build the power to make that happen so people can live, experience, and BELIEVE there is a different solution that can exist for them than what is now before us?
This election signaled a structural and cultural resurgence of status quo power, a cry against change that is here and coming – a country that is browner and younger; the gains in rights and representation for people of color, women, and LGBTQI people; the reassertion of memory, rights and dignity by indigenous and black folks, and the loss of opportunity, jobs, and dignity in an economy that isn’t working for the vast majority of people in this country.
Change is inevitable. Justice is not.
Change is inevitable. Justice is not. This moment has highlighted and made sharper the edges of battles many of us have been waging for years and decades. At the base of it is an economy that is not working. But it is broader than just Wall Street and money markets or even jobs and wages. We have an economy made up of policy and laws, culture and norms, jobs and labor that are all about “take, take, take,” domination and control, profits over people, and separation— from the consequences of our choices, from each other, and from the natural resources upon which our very survival depends. And about a quarter of the American population just elected a leader who not only believes in this exploitive, soul-crushing economy, but glorifies it.
This immobilization, this grief and alienation, this “new normal” is not just about one election, as horrific as it was. It’s part of how this current economy functions. The stifling of political imagination and repression of visions for change is not merely a by-product of oppression and domination, it is a requirement to uphold the system. This stifling of imagination and visions for change manifested in this election in many dominant narratives:
The stifling of political imagination and repression of visions for change is not merely a by-product of oppression and domination, it is a requirement to uphold the system.
My body and mind are in conflict with the new normal that is being forced upon us by this election. What I know is that there is a small minority of people that reap the benefits of a system that isn’t working for the majority of people. There are people who want to keep things as they are. And part of how they win is get us to accept, be paralyzed by, and believe what they deem the cultural baseline is for an “acceptable” reality.
Now is the time to exert what we know and believe. What memory and knowledge do we reclaim? What future can we imagine? What are you hearing? Saying? Doing? This is the moment for dreamer-doers, imaginative engineers for justice and love. Especially now we can remember and reclaim the power of who we have been, the power to create and envision what is possible, who we are, and who we can be.
There is a tiny whisper building into a roar:
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