Things are not getting worse, they are just getting uncovered.  We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil. -Adrienne Maree Brown

America is in crisis, and more visibly so than it has been in at least a generation.

In the wake of the election, first we must sit with our fear, sadness, and anger; lovingly collect ourselves with our communities; and begin planning a new resistance.

As we sit and reflect on the path forward for our communities, city, and country, let us not forget how this country has historically responded to anti-racist movements. The backlash we are witnessing post-election fits into a historical narrative of suppression of progress in movements fighting for the liberation of the most marginalized.

Dramatic shifts like the one we just witnessed with this election show that our movements have polarized society enough to inspire a backlash. It also took opportunity from those who believe in solidarity and justice, and handed it to those who plot to divide us and conquer us.

While the Democratic Party failed, and will likely continue to fail in the near future, our grassroots movements demanding justice and liberation must continue to push forward. When crises befall us and our communities, we must have answers better than those offered by the systems that seek to oppress us.

In this pivotal moment, we cannot afford to remain sullen or complacent, or to allow normalization of bigotry and authoritarianism to set in. The conditions we find ourselves organizing in have shifted, and so our strategies and tactics–what we do, and how we do it–must also shift.

The following principles are coming into focus for us as community organizers at Bread for the City:

Center self-care and healing from trauma. We know the coming socio-political, economic, and physical attacks will land hardest on those already suffering the most. We must pay close attention to the pain and fear that may befall us and our community, and center healing in our work. Even when our attention is pulled in many directions, we must continue to practice self-care as a non-negotiable part of surviving, thriving, and resisting.

Strengthen our relationships and communities as we continue to build our base. As conditions rapidly change over the next three months, it is vital that all people who want to fight for justice and liberation join and create political organizations where we learn, struggle, organize, and fight together. Bread for the City serves as that organization for many of the people we serve, but it is absolutely imperative that we increase our numbers and grow our base. Too many still struggle without community or collective strategy. The boldest and most effective organizing comes from people who are in genuine, trusting, and accountable relationship with each other. In this time of fear and instability, we will only be able to find the consistency and courage needed to fulfill our goals by starting from a foundation based in these powerful relationships. We must build a large, powerful, and politicized base in order to bring to bear our mandate of dignity and justice for all people in our city.

Center the most marginalized among us, while building solidarity among groups of differently marginalized people. Immigrants, refugees, Muslims, low-income people, people of color, women, LGBTQ people, Jewish people, and people with disabilities will face threats that are different but at times overlapping, and always originating from an increasingly unapologetic white supremacist power structure. These are our communities, and it will be imperative that each of us – many of whom live at the intersection of these communities – stand together. As our struggles all intersect, so must our strategies against our common oppressors, if we are to truly transform this country. Our liberations are tied up together – none of us is free until all of us are free.

This is a call to action. These fights will take all of us, and there are many ways to get involved, including:

  • Talk to a Bread for the City community organizer about how you can get involved in our fight against the elimination of low-income folks in DC by emailing us at organizers@breadforthecity.org or calling us at 202-791-3997.
  • Do anything, anything, ANYTHING but nothing.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass reminds us that: “Power concedes nothing without a demand–it never has, and it never will.” We cannot afford to do nothing. The time to demand justice is now!

BFC’s advocacy program is funded in part by the Open Society Foundation.