I can't tell you what it was like standing on stage with Persephone SJ Smith (Green Party candidate for City Council District 37) and Frank Francois (Green Party City Council candidate for District 27), together representing the Green Party at the Union Square Mayday event. We stood as strong passionate black activists taking on THE system, THE system that perpetuates slavery and violence against black and brown bodies. As Persephone stated, “We deserve better. We deserve more.” Frank aptly summed up the main issue facing us as “corrupt corporate Democrats and Republicans,” who ensure that “the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” and urged us to “keep fighting, keep marching.” I added something that has become almost a mantra for me these days, “Join the party.” I mean that both figuratively (out of your homes and into the streets and out of the streets into the voting booths) and literally (running for office). Our current elected officials “DO NOT represent us, DO NOT look like us, DO NOT talk like us, and definitely DO NOT know what we go through every day.”
Change doesn't come easy. Many of what we consider core workers' rights, like the 8-hour work day, the 40-hour work week, and a livable minimum wage, cost lives, activists' lives. That's not something the people in power want us to remember. With the inception of Labor Day, they have tried to co-opt the legacy of the labor movement and separate labor from activism (and the lives lost to the state in fighting for basic workers' rights) in much the same way as they have tried to co-opt Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy and separate his civil rights work from his fight to end the Vietnam War and to end poverty. Why? To put it simply, so that corporations can continue to exploit workers. Corporations shamelessly seek out “welfare” while people work two and three jobs trying to avoid it because the stigma is so heavy for them. Who are we as a country that we prioritize the life and health of corporations above, way above, that of human beings? We need to take a page out of the book of our racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic oppressors … our corporate overlords: co-opt, tear down, and rebuild. Run for office en masse, repeal toothless, worthless legislation, and replace that with legislation that will effect REAL change, not to better the lot of corporations and their government enablers, but that of everyone else. Because, as Persephone shouted so passionately, “We deserve better. We deserve more.”
That better, that more, is what Frank, Persephone, and I will go to the mat fighting for.