Webinar Part Two: Understanding this Political Moment

In Part Two of our Webinar Series, we take stock of some of the big themes emerging under this right wing populist administration, and learn from past movements to better navigate the future. We look at two models for understanding and locating social movement responses: the Building Power model from Project South, and the 8 Stages of Movement Building model. Below are readings, recording, and resources.

Step One!

Prior to viewing the second webinar, we recommend checking out our first webinar if you haven't already.

Step Two!

Here are a few recommended readings to help you reflect and deepend your understanding of the current political moment:

1. Left scholar and author Max Elbaum assesses the patterns and trends emerging under the new administration and within our social movements.

"The Women's March set the tone. It was very important that women of color moved central and established anti-racism and intersectionality as a cornerstone of anti-Trump feminism. Also crucial: the experience of people from different issues/sectors, from labor to trans rights to Palestine solidarity and Black Lives Matter, all marching together. This was a huge cultural-psychological push toward mutual solidarity and a holistic spirit permeating the resistance in general."

2. Co-founder and Director of Mijente Marisa Franco shares advice on organizing and winning on the right’s terrain.

“Some of us have already been living in Trump’s America,” she told The Washington Post in November. “There is a bright spot in Maricopa County, and I think there are significant lessons to be learned: We don’t make excuses for bigotry, and we don’t normalize the abuse.”

3. Bonus Points! (if you have extra time): Natascha Uhlmann interviews Bill Fletcher Jr, long haul radical labor organizer and scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, on the nature of right wing populism

"Right-wing populism, in all of its manifestations, is highly misogynist and seeks the return to a world that never existed, except in myth. Central to that world is the subordination of women to the authoritarian domination of men. This is one of the reasons that the misogynist attacks by Trump on Clinton needed an active response. The issue was not Clinton; the issue was that she was a woman and Trump was, in effect, asserting that a woman could not and should not lead. But you cannot stop there, which is why both anti-racism and anti-sexism are insufficient in order to stop right-wing populism. One must have a critique of capitalism and be prepared to offer radical solutions that resonate with masses of people. Simply suggesting that the status quo is better than the dystopia envisioned by the right-wing populists is insufficient."

Step Three!

The webinar is recorded in two segments. If you'd like to follow along with the participant dialogue in the chat box, you can download the transcript here

Click here for segment one.

Click here for segment two.

Click to download the slide deck of our presentation.

The two main resources that we reference during the webinar are the Movement Moment Chart created by Project South and the Eight Stages of Movement Building from the book Doing Democracy by Bill Moyer. Deep gratitude to Project South and Bill Moyer for making these resources available to our movements!

Step Four!

Review our uplifting post-webinar resources (stay tuned for additions!):

1. In Protest and Persist: Why Giving Up Hope is Not an Option, Rebecca Solnit discusses how to sustain hope for the long haul (available in podcast and text versions).

“The most important effects are often the most indirect. I sometimes wonder when I’m at a mass march like the Women’s March a month ago whether the reason it matters is because some unknown young person is going to find her purpose in life that will only be evident to the rest of us when she changes the world in 20 years, when she becomes a great liberator.”  

2. Left scholar Robin Kelley shares some on-point ideas about what our resistance can and does look like in Trump Says Go Back, We Say Fight Back*

"So where do we go from here? If we really care about the world, our country, and our future, we have no choice but to resist. We need to reject a thoroughly bankrupt Democratic Party leadership that is calling for conciliation and, in Obama’s words, “rooting for [Trump’s] success.” Pay attention: Trump’s success means mass deportation; massive military spending; the continuation and escalation of global war; a conservative Supreme Court poised to roll back Roe v. Wade, marriage equality, and too many rights to name here; a justice department and FBI dedicated to growing the Bush/Obama-era surveillance state and waging COINTELPRO-style war on activists; fiscal policies that will accelerate income inequality; massive cuts in social spending; the weakening or elimination of the Affordable Care Act; and the partial dismantling and corporatization of government."

*We recognize that the reading is long, so if you can't read the whole thing, we recommend scrolling to Kelley's overview of (at least) five things we have to do right now:

  1. Build up the sanctuary movement
  2. Defend all of our targeted communities
  3. Stop referring to the South as a political backwater, a distinctive site of racist right-wing reaction.
  4. Support and deepen the anti-Klan and anti-fascist movement.
  5. Rebuild the labor movement.

3. A poem by Assata Shakur:


I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.

I believe in sunshine 
in windmills and waterfalls,
 tricycles and rocking chairs.

And I believe that seeds grow into sprouts,

And sprouts grow into trees.

I believe in the magic of the hands.

And in the wisdom of the eyes.

I believe in rain and tears.

And in the blood of infinity.

I believe in life.

And I have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.

I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
 and seen the bloodthirsty maggots 
prayed to and saluted.

I have seen the kind become the blind

and the blind become the bind 
in one easy lesson.

I have walked on cut glass.

I have eaten crow and blunder bread
 and breathed the stench of indifference.

I have been locked by the lawless.

Handcuffed by the haters.

Gagged by the greedy.

And, if I know anything at all, 
it's that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.

It can be broken down.

I believe in living.

I believe in birth.

I believe in the sweat of love 
and in the fire of truth.

And I believe that a lost ship,

steered by tired, seasick sailors,

can still be guided home

to port.

-Assata Shakur-