I never use Tumblr for this, but I have something to say, and this seems like as good a place as any. I don’t really blog a lot, I’m more of an academic writer, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, let’s get into it.
This is my own (probably very) unpopular opinion.
I want the Dream Defenders to grow up. When I say that, I don’t mean I want individual members of the Dream Defenders to grow up, even though, to some extent, I mean that as well, but I want their strategy to grow up. I want their vision to grow up. I want their outlook to grow up. I want their methodology to grow up. I want their focus to grow up. I want their organization to grow up. I want them to grow up.
When I think back to the Civil Rights Movement and what it accomplished, I know that nothing happened overnight. I know that it probably wasn’t as organized as my rose-colored glasses lead me to believe it was, but there was strategy. It’s strategy I don’t see with this new iteration of freedom fighters. I see a lot of yelling, a lot of tweeting, a lot of retweeting, but I don’t see strategy. Strategy was what was missing from Occupy Wall Street, and strategy is missing here as well.
As a Floridian, and a FAMU Rattler, I’ve seen activism at work before. I’ve seen injustice, and I’ve seen people stand up in the face of injustice, sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully. Sometimes maturely and sometimes immaturely, but what I did in undergrad to fight injustice, surely, cannot be the same methods I use as a 30-year-old in the movement. I’m no longer going to sit down in the middle of a busy street. I’m going to write an article and send it to journals to be published. That’s what my current form of activism looks like, though I’m not against attending a march or a rally to mobilize committed citizens.
Back to my original point here: When I attended the 2013 March on Washington, which was organized by elder Black Americans, not a new generation, I came across the Dream Defenders as they’d made their way to the front of the crowd to watch their leader deliver his 2-minute remarks. I’m not sure if they heard anything during his speech because they screamed, jumped around, and waved signs the entire time. Honestly, I even found myself jumping around with them, but as soon as he finished speaking, they left. I’m not sure where they went or what they had to do, but they left. I was a little disheartened to see them clear out as quickly as they’d come in. I wondered what could have been more important to them, and maybe I’ll never know.
When the Dream Defenders sat in at the Capitol, I watched them. I watched from afar, but I watched. I changed all of my profile pictures to black screens to silently protest the verdict, and I wondered what more I could do. As they sat in, I prayed for them, and wished them my best. They didn’t win. They eventually left the Capitol having not gotten a special session called or even an audience for Trayvon’s law. I believed that they would win. I wanted to believe it, but they didn’t. We didn’t. So what’s next?
I’m not sure of the next phase of the movement, but I hope it’s more than tweets. Changing institutions happens from inside of institutions. If you act like a bunch of college students, you’ll be treated as such. You want people to take you seriously, be serious. Believing that you will win isn’t enough. You have to make it so that you can’t lose. Run for office. Become like the Tea Party (not in reality, but in theory). The Tea Party didn’t like Washington, so they ran for office, won, and changed the conversation.
In the coming days and weeks and months, I hope to see a shift in the way the modern rights movement progresses, and I want to see young leaders at the forefront of the movement. I hope it looks much different from the movement in 1956, but I hope that’s because it looks better.
I hope hearts that read this knit their hearts with mine. Because, at the end of the day, I still believe that we will win.