Yesterday history was made in Georgia and around the country when organizers changed the electoral landscape in ways people didn’t think possible.
As a result of grassroots electoral justice organizing, led by many visionary community members, including Dignity and Power Now’s very own powerful community organizer, Helen Jones, and our partners at the Black Futures Lab, Senator Raphael Warnock became the first Black senator from Georgia. He is also the first Black Democrat to represent a southern state in the Senate, and the 11th Black Senator to serve in the US Senate in history. What’s more: newly-elected Senator Osoff is Georgia’s first Jewish Senator.
While we keep our hopes in peoples’ movements, rather than letting them rest in political institutions, we know that it is essential to claim these electoral justice victories as movement victories, since on-the-ground organizers mobilized massive amounts of voters in Georgia to co-create this win.
We also know that the composition of the US Senate has a material impact on everyone, and that with these new political conditions at the Federal level, we are better situated to win needed policies for our people, like COVID 19 relief, transformation of the criminal legal system, and equitable funding for education and other vital social services.
As the country celebrates mass mobilization in GA, we are painfully aware of the flip side of these victories– the white supremacist violence that sprang forth at the US Capitol yesterday. Leading racial justice activists and thinkers have often used the term ‘whitelash’ to describe the displays of white supremacist violence and rage that white people muster in droves after political advancements towards racial justice and other social progress.
White supremacy is a part of the daily fabric of our society that we must uproot. And, we also see a pattern of massive displays of violent public whitelash throughout history, and in recent memory. In the last decade alone, we saw mass whitelash in 2012 and 2016 when Senator Barack Obama was elected to be the first Black president of the United States, we saw it throughout 2015/2016 and 2020, in response to mass #BlackLivesMatter mobilization and visionary Movement for Black Lives organizing, and we saw it in 2017, in Charlottesville. Now, we see white supremacist violence — whitelash — on full display at the US Capitol in response to movement gains made by progressive organizers in 2021. These violent display’s are white supremacy’s dying breath — white people politically out of step with social and racial justice throwing the very serious, very dangerous equivalent of a political temper tantrum.
While we are enraged and disgusted by this pattern of white supremacist harm, we will not let these bursts of violence weaken our community. Displays of racial threats and intimidation will never eclipse the victories of movement organizers and the collective power of our people. 2020 was a year of collective struggle, and backlash to our shared victories is expected. Yet, we will not let it weaken us as we continue to push forward in the name of justice.
We know that days like these land hard on our hearts and rest heavy on our spirits.
Dignity and Power Now stands with you, and we share in the difficult task of witnessing this disturbing moment in our work. Check on your loved ones today, and reach out for support. We are stronger together.
We are ready to move forward with you, not forgetting the power of our victories even as we witness other peoples’ dangerous response to their own defeats.
In solidarity and in power,
Dignity and Power Now
Originally published by Dignity and Power Now: Source