Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Alicia Garza on GOP’s Supreme Court Power Grab

Please Help ZNet

Source: Democracy Now!

As right-wing judge Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in as the ninth justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, just 30 days after President Trump announced her nomination and eight days ahead of the November 3 election, we speak with Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, who says the rushed confirmation shows that the Supreme Court “is not a neutral body — it is incredibly political.” Barrett’s confirmation to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks after her death seals the court’s 6-3 conservative majority potentially for decades to come and could have major consequences for reproductive rights, civil rights, environmental protections, the Affordable Care Act and the 2020 presidential election. “It is concerning that Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed yesterday, particularly given her complete lack of qualifications for the role, but also considering her extreme views on everything from reproductive justice and reproductive rights to civil rights and racism,” says Garza, the principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of Supermajority.

AMY GOODMAN: Conservative Judge Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as the ninth justice to the Supreme Court of the United States Monday night, just 30 days after President Trump announced her nomination and eight days ahead of the November 3rd Election Day, as tens of millions of people have already cast their ballots this election season. Barrett’s confirmation to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just six weeks after her death seals the court’s 6-to-3 conservative majority potentially for decades to come. She’s President Trump’s third appointment to the court. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed her by a 52-to-48 vote along party lines, with only Maine Senator Susan Collins the lone Republican voting against her. No Democrat supported her. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swore Barrett in on Monday night at a White House ceremony.

JUSTICE AMY CONEY BARRETT: The oath that I have solemnly taken tonight means at its core that I will do my job without any fear or favor, and that I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.

AMY GOODMAN: Barrett was sworn in just hours after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled Wisconsin could not extend its mail-in ballot deadline. She’ll join justices in deciding other key voting rights cases in the coming days, including Democratic efforts to extend the deadline for counting mail-in ballots in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Later this week, the Supreme Court will also consider whether to hear a key Mississippi abortion case that could challenge Roe v. Wade. And the court is set to hear arguments in a case that could scrap the Affordable Care Act on November 10th, one week after Election Day.

For more on the consequences of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation and much more, we go to the Bay Area in California, where we’re joined by Alicia Garza, the principal of Black Futures Lab, which she co-founded to make Black communities powerful in politics. She’s also co-founder of Supermajority along with Ai-jen Poo of the Domestic Workers Alliance and Cecile Richards, former head of Planned Parenthood. Alicia Garza is also co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Her new book is just out. It’s called The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart.

Alicia, welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s an honor to have you with us.

ALICIA GARZA: Thank you so much for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t we start off with what just happened last night? President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was buried. It was just eight days before the election that she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Eight months was the time period that the Republican majority in the Senate refused to even have a hearing on President Obama’s pick in 2016 for the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland, saying it was just too close to the election — eight days versus eight months. If you could comment, Alicia, on the significance of, well, now Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s views on everything from reproductive rights to LGBTQ issues and beyond?

ALICIA GARZA: Absolutely. Well, first and foremost, it’s so good to be here with you, Amy. Good morning.

You know, this confirmation does have serious consequences. And I think what we’re seeing is that the Supreme Court is actually not a neutral body — it is incredibly political. And the acceleration that you talked about by President Trump and Senate Republicans really has everything to do with the fact that they are moving an agenda that they’ve been building for more than 30 years now, but they’re also concerned that they won’t have an opportunity after this upcoming election to continue to wield power in the way that they have been. And so, certainly, I think you see both things colliding here.

It is concerning that Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed yesterday, particularly given her complete lack of qualifications for the role, but also considering her extreme views on everything from reproductive justice and reproductive rights to civil rights and racism. You know, she has declared, in front of Clarence Thomas, who we know has a long record of denying things that exist in this country, including racism — but she declared, in front of the country, that she was going to lead in a way that was impartial and in a way that was independent of both parties. But I think we shouldn’t be comforted by that in any way.

What we’re seeing here is a tip on the Supreme Court not just towards a conservative majority, but a conservative majority that has extreme views. And that is something that we should be concerned about, because the impact is, is that these are justices who are on this court for life. And so, no matter what the changes in the administration are, this extreme conservative majority will continue to exist on the Supreme Court, unless, of course, there is a favorable outcome in this upcoming election cycle. And really what that would look like is Democrats taking the Senate, Democrats keeping the House, and, of course, Democrats changing the balance of power in the White House. It’s a big hill to climb, but, you know, we’ll see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Alicia Garza, as you’ve mentioned, the extreme nature of the court now, no matter what happens in the election, there will still be that makeup afterward. As an organizer who’s spent now decades now organizing local communities, what do you see as your role past the election in terms of helping people organize in dealing with a hostile court?

ALICIA GARZA: Well, it’s important for us to understand that the composition, or at least the size of this court, is not actually determined by any rules. And so, you know, as an organizer, what I like to say is there are always chess moves to make, but you have to build the level of power necessary in order to enact those moves. And that’s exactly what I would say to folks who are watching and listening today.

You know, we are just a week away from one of the most important election cycles in a generation. And I think it’s important for us to understand that elections are an opportunity to really demonstrate our power. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate who we have won over. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how we have won hearts and minds, what types of coalitions and alliances we have built, to build the widest possible movement.

However, voting and elections are not the end-all, be-all. The organizing is important before, during and after election cycles. And so, certainly, I know for my team at the Black to the Future Action Fund, we’ve been talking a ton about what happens in between election cycles, you know, what happens no matter what is going on in the White House. And what we do is we train local leaders to be able to change the rules in cities and states.

And I think that is actually democracy. It’s getting more power into the hands of more people. And in order for us to do that, not only do we have to organize, but we really have to close the gap between how government functions and how people participate in it and what they participate in. Frankly, we have an unprecedented opportunity to transform the direction of this country, but it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen on November 3rd. But it will happen with clear strategy and an orientation that our mandate from this moment forward is to add and multiply rather than subtract and divide.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and speaking about the upcoming election, apparently about 50 million people have already voted. That’s about 40% of what the total vote was back in 2016 have already cast ballots, and we’re still several days away from the main voting day on Election Day itself. I’m wondering your sense of the — everyone is predicting possibly historic turnouts, but the question is: Who will turn out? Will it be — because there are so few people that are undecided right now, the question is: Will each side — what will be the ability of each side to mobilize its base of voters? What’s your sense right now of the enthusiasm or lack of enthusiasm within the African American and Latino community in terms of this election when it comes to Biden or Trump?

ALICIA GARZA: Well, you know, I think it’s an important question, and I want to start off by saying that, absolutely, all predictions say that this will be the largest-turnout election in history in this country. And I do think that that does say some things.

What we’re seeing in Black communities and Latinx communities is that folks are being activated, and they’re being motivated. And it’s not because of what’s happening right in this minute. It’s because our communities have been being organized over the last four years or more, and our communities have been engaged over the last four years or more. These are lessons that I think are important for political parties to really invest in. And the trusted community-based organizations that are in our communities have really taken up the lion’s share of the work in making sure that our communities know what’s at stake, that our communities know how to protect their vote, and that our communities understand that the real work happens on November 4th.

With that being said, I also think it’s important to say that the outcome here is not assured. And it’s not assured because it’s not really just about turnout. It’s not just about people casting votes. It’s certainly also about making sure that this president performs a peaceful transfer of power and also upholds the integrity of the election itself. And we have already heard from this president that he does not plan to do that. So it is important also for everybody who is casting votes to make a plan to protect your vote and to make a plan to protect your right to vote.

I will say that who is turning out is Black folks, Latinx folks and women. Women are an incredible constituency that is turning out, I think, across the nation, particularly throughout communities in the South We are seeing lines of three, four, five and six hours. And I don’t know about you, Juan, but I don’t stand anywhere for six hours unless I really want to make sure that I get what I need. And so, I think what we’re seeing here is that because of these voter suppression efforts, where voting has not been protected and expanded — right? — we’re seeing these long lines, but I think, even within that, it’s important for us to understand that there is a real commitment that folks are showing to have their voices heard.

And lastly, I will just say that one of the things I feel is so, so important in this upcoming cycle is that we do start to think about what happens next. You know, honestly and truly, I think what happens on November 3rd is just the beginning of a cycle that we all have to continue to pay attention to. I’ve been saying to folks, you know, don’t expect to have the election results on Election Day, because of the influx in mail-in voting, but also because of some of the machinations that this administration in particular has been trying to enact and administer. It may be a couple of days or even a few weeks before we actually understand what’s happening here. And so it’s important for people to stay vigilant, to not turn away or disengage, but to make sure that we see this thing through all the way to the end.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Alicia Garza, about this latest news. Federal prosecutors have arrested a self-described leader of the far-right “boogaloo” movement in connection with the burning of a Minneapolis police precinct in May. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minnesota says 26-year-old Ivan Harrison Hunter fired 13 rounds from a semiautomatic assault rifle into the 3rd Precinct during protests against the police killing of George Floyd. The “boogaloo bois” promote violent acts aimed at sparking civil war in the United States, and they’ve been linked to more than two dozen arrests and five deaths this year.

Meanwhile, your name has come up in connection with, well, being a target. You recently tweeted that you were approached by the FBI after agents found your name on a list in the home of a white supremacist in Idaho who was arrested on weapons charges. You tweeted, “This is why this President is so dangerous. He is stoking fires he has no intention of controlling.” Can you tell us what happened? I mean, this is just this past week.

ALICIA GARZA: Yes. I mean, I want to start off by saying that, you know, this is not atypical for this president. And, in fact, it is only the result, the likely result and the inevitable result, of the racist flames that this president is stoking and has been stoking, not just for this last four years but for a very long time. We all remember what happened with the Exonerated 5, where this president actually used his resources to encourage the death penalty for five innocent people.

I will say that, you know, one of the things that feels important to me to keep lifting up here is that this conversation about racial terror doesn’t necessarily go far enough. And we saw similar incidents in Oakland during the George Floyd protests. You know, there’s so much rhetoric that this president uses about Black Lives Matter and riots and violence, but in each case what we are finding is that these are white militias, these are white nationalist groups, these are white supremacist groups, that are going to protests to cause chaos, to start violence and to create disturbances. And who gets blamed for that — right? — is people who are protesting to raise the issues of justice, to raise the issues of dignity and to fight back against police violence in our communities. And there’s not enough conversation about this.

You know, the FBI has said, unequivocally, that white nationalism is the greatest threat to American democracy. And that was just recently. And yet, over and over again, too many people continue to advance these narratives that just aren’t true. Even Vice News did a story recently that said that 97% of protests for Black Lives Matter have been peaceful, but that in the 3% where they were not, it was not an issue of protesters becoming violent, it was an issue of people with guns showing up at protests and creating chaos and starting violence. And so I want to make sure that everybody understands the consequences and implications.

Certainly, I’m not the first person, and I won’t be the last person, to be found on a list in the home of a white supremacist. We saw this, of course, just a year or two ago, when there was a guy, I believe in Florida, who had planned to send mail bombs to several activists and several reporters at CNN. And yet this administration continues to ignore and also, frankly, to give a platform to these dangerous, dangerous groups.

For people who are not paying attention, racial terror has always been used as a form of control, particularly during periods of people fighting for social change, all the way from the voting rights fight of the 1950s, where the Klan certainly would be weaponized to terrorize activists, show up at people’s houses and burn crosses and shoot guns through their windows, all the way up until today. Those scourges on our country are not gone.

And now we have a president that is giving them a platform and essentially saying, “Operate how you need to.” That is dangerous not just for people like me, but for everybody who’s watching here this morning.

AMY GOODMAN: And you have not only this guy who’s been arrested, charged with setting fires, taking advantage of the George Floyd peaceful protests after he was killed by police officers, but, back in July, Minneapolis police arrested a man known as the “Umbrella Man,” who was filmed smashing the windows of an auto parts dealership on May 27, two days after the police killing of Floyd. Investigators say the man is a white supremacist who sought to provoke violence against protesters. A Minneapolis arson investigator wrote in an affidavit, “This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city.”

And then I want to go to Vice President Mike Pence at the Republican convention echoing Trump’s vow to enforce law and order, and mentioning the killing of a security officer during a Black Lives Matter protest in Oakland. This is what he said.

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: People like Dave Patrick Underwood, an officer in the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, who was shot and killed during the riots in Oakland, California. Dave’s heroism is emblematic of the heroes that serve in blue every day. And we’re privileged tonight to be joined by his sister Angela.

AMY GOODMAN: What the vice president left out was a key part of the story: The man charged with Underwood’s death was not a Black Lives Matter protester, but a man with ties to the far-right “boogaloo” movement, which has used these protests against police brutality as cover to carry out violence. And this took place in Oakland.

ALICIA GARZA: That’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, if you could further talk about this and your concerns about what could happen in the post-election period — I mean, it’s very clear that November 3rd may not be the end of the count, that there is a lot of, millions of people who legally their votes can be counted in the days to come, that may be received by Election Day — and what this could mean in the streets as President Trump stokes concern that if the vote is not in that night, that it is a fraudulent election?

ALICIA GARZA: Well, this president has been trafficking in lies, misinformation and disinformation even before he took office, and so it’s no surprise that that would be his stance right now. It is really — it’s egregious, actually, that the vice president and the president don’t tell the America people the truth, and, in fact, that instead of telling the American people the truth, they’re using Black Lives Matter as a scapegoat for their own lack of will to protect every American citizen in this nation, their own lack of will and purpose in terms of addressing the challenges that are facing this country right now, from the pandemic to an economic recession to the climate crisis. I mean, again, this president and this vice president traffic in lies as a way to distract from the fact that they are not actually leading in this country. And I think [inaudible]. It is important to be able to trust the information that comes from the leader of your country. And we’ve found, time and time again, that you cannot do that. We’ve also found that both of these leaders lack a level of integrity. There has been plenty of time to correct these stories and these lies that they have told, and yet they’ve continued to double down. It’s a weird feeling to be watching television and watching the president telling lies about you and the things that you’ve done in this movement.

And so, I want people to really understand the implications of this. This president has been stoking fears about the illegitimacy of an election for months now. And that has been, of course, for the purposes of trying to consolidate his power. If President Trump does not recognize the legitimacy of the election, I think that the implications here are that there may not be full and fair and free elections moving forward. And so, you know, Juan was right: There’s not a lot of people out here who are undecided. But I think it’s possible that there are folks who are watching who think that, you know, we’re going back to these four-year cycles. And I think we should be very concerned that this president and his administration seem bent on changing the structure of government. And that has been an agenda item for the conservative movement for the last 30 years, and it’s only now that they’re actually able to try and deliver on those promises. So there is a lot at stake this time, and it’s not just which party takes power. It’s also very much about the structure and the process of government.

Lastly, I think that we should be concerned that this president has shown no moral leadership to try and bring people together during very turbulent times. And, in fact, again, he is stoking violence. And he’s doing so in a way that is relatively flippant, but I think that he also understands that there are a small group of people who will take violence to the extreme. And who suffers from that is the American people. Who suffers from that are people who are fighting for justice and fighting to actually make this country great. And that should concern us all. We are in the year 2020, not the year 1956, not the year 1965, not even the year 1972. What we should have learned by now — right? — is that racial terror and racial violence has no place in this country, and yet now we have a leader in the White House who is stoking it and resurrecting it, when, frankly, it belongs in history books and not in our present, and certainly not in our future.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The Quarantine Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

We’re spending the hour with Alicia Garza, the principal of Black Futures Lab, co-founder of Supermajority, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Her new book is just out. It’s called The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart. Juan?

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Alicia, I’d like to begin on your book. Could you talk about the title, How We Come Together When We Fall Apart? Explain to our listeners and our audience what you mean to say in the book.

ALICIA GARZA: Well, this book really does a few things. It is about how we build the kinds of movements that last, the kinds of movements that are able to win the changes that we seek, and, really, how it is that we transform the way that our lives are organized. And “how we come together when we fall apart” is a pithy way of talking about movement building. You know, one of the things that I like to remind people is that movements are not just about protests. Movements are absolutely about how we get more power into the hands of more people.

And frankly, what I’m offering here in this book is a reflection, not from an outside perspective, but certainly as somebody who has been building movements and has been organizing, campaigning all throughout this country for the last 20 years. And I place myself and my experiences inside of a historical context, and I talk about the powerful movements that have shaped my life. And I talk about how those movements have actually inspired me to build different movements, that are actually bent towards justice, not away from it.

But I also talk in the book about what it actually takes for us to come together. So often when we talk about building movements — right? — we try to reduce ourselves to the most common denominator and wash away all of the things that make us who we are. And, in fact, I make a different argument in this book. I say that we have to pay attention not just to dignity and survival, but we have to pay attention to the ways that race and class and gender and so many other ways of organizing us have impacted our ability to get more power into the hands of more people.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the things that struck me most in the book, I think it was in chapter 10, where you try to make a distinction between the rise and development or the evolution of the Occupy Wall Street movement and of the Black Lives Matter movement, and you say that Occupy Wall Street was a decentralized, leaderless movement, whereas Black Lives Matter saw itself as a decentralized, leader-full movement. Could you explain that?

ALICIA GARZA: Sure. Well, first and foremost, I do talk in the book a lot about how it’s hard to compare movements. But yet, every time we talk about Black Lives Matter, I think Occupy Wall Street tends to be a reference point that people use, and they will say things like, “Oh, well, Black Lives Matter is decentralized.” And I think that that’s not necessarily a term that we’ve used to describe ourselves.

But what I do here is I talk about the importance and the role of leadership. I talk about the fact that, you know, it’s important that we recognize that leadership is happening everywhere, and that while there are some forms of leadership that can be predatory or corrosive, leadership, in and of itself, doesn’t hold those tendencies. And so, one of the things that we try to interrogate in this chapter is, you know, what does leadership look like, and what are the kind of functions and roles that we need to play in movements for them to be successful, and, again, how do we put more power into the hands of more people.

I also talk in that chapter about the utility — right? — of not consolidating leadership inside of one, two or five people, that actually one of the lessons that we can learn from movements that predated us are that when movements have been consolidated inside of one person, when people have been thrust to the front and told to represent the movement, those leaders have often been the subject of attacks and assassinations. And it meant that it sent those movements reeling, and it took them a long time to rebuild. Rebuild they did, but it took a long time to restabilize. You know, with Black Lives Matter, we have an emphasis — right? — on developing many leaders. And that has proven to be successful. I think it is one of the core factors to how this movement has been able to spread globally.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering if you can talk about the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, talk — go back to 2013, 2012, the murder of Trayvon Martin, the acquittal of the white vigilante, George Zimmerman, and how you and Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors came together. Now, that happened in Sanford. I also couldn’t help but notice: When President Trump resumed his campaigning, what was the first place he went to? It reminded me of Reagan in Philadelphia, Mississippi. He went to Sanford, in Florida, to have that first campaign rally after he was sick. But can you talk about those — that coming together of the three of you and how you coined that term, “Black Lives Matter”?

ALICIA GARZA: Sure. Well, we’ve told this story a million times, and so I want to actually talk about, you know, what are the implications of this movement that we have been so honored to be the smallest component of.

You know, number one, here we are, seven years later, and we’re seeing a second eruption all across the globe of Black Lives Matter. But what we’re seeing this time, which I think is different than the first time around, is a couple of things. Number one, we are still seeing the presence of vigilantes, in addition to police, enacting violence in our communities. But I think what we’re seeing is a spreading of this movement, not just amongst people of color or Black folks — right? — but really across demographics. And, you know, that has meant that actually Black Lives Matter has really become a part of the muscle memory of this nation and also of the globe. It’s inspiring people to fight back, from Nigeria — right? — all the way to the U.K., to Germany — right? — to Australia. This truly is a global movement. And so, I think that’s something for us to feel proud of.

I think the thing for us to also feel proud of is that this movement is maturing. You know, I say in the book that, initially, I thought that this was going to be the story of Black Lives Matter, about how we’ve come together and what we’ve been able to impact. I thought it would be a book doing a lot of myths and facts. But, in fact, that’s not what this book became. And I’m really glad it didn’t. Actually, Black Lives Matter, our story is still being written. It’s being written by the hundreds and thousands of activists across the country who are working hard on a piece of legislation called the BREATHE Act, which I think can be considered our generation’s version of the Civil Rights Act. We are working hard to mobilize and activate our communities to be able to impact the decisions that are impacting our lives every single day. And we are reaching out beyond the normal circle of folks who I think we can always count on to show up, right? This is a moment that is calling us to grow our movement besides and outside of the usual choir. And I’m so, so proud that this movement is doing that.

At the same time, this book is an opportunity for people to figure out what is your role in this upcoming period in history. And, number one, how were you shaped? How did you get here? What influences have helped you see the world the way that you do? And given that and given your experiences, what is the role that you can play in helping to move this movement forward?

And I hope what people get from this book is two things. Number one, that it’s deeply important for us to not be ravaged by cynicism, that I talk about how, in this book, you know, hope is not the absence of despair. I feel hopeful and devastated at the same time. But part of how I am able to generate that hope over and over again is by coming back to my purpose. And my purpose is to build power for my communities. And I want to help activate and inspire other people to do the same.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’m wondering, in terms of reaching other sectors that previously had not been reached, when you see things like the National Basketball Association printing “Black Lives Matter” on the hardwood floor of the NBA championship game, or when you see other corporations at the same time adopting “Black Lives Matter” as a slogan, do you have any concerns about the possible cooptation of capitalist America of this movement that only a few years ago was regarded by most of the establishment as a fringe movement?

ALICIA GARZA: You know, I think it’s important for us to remember that change is not linear. And one of the things that I’ve been privy to over this last year is that there are real reckonings happening in every sector across this nation and throughout the globe.

Of course, when this movement breaks into the mainstream, it absolutely has the potential to be symbolized and in some ways coopted by corporations who want to use the language of Black Lives Matter but don’t actually want to make Black lives matter.

But I think we’ve also seen ways in which people have pushed it a lot farther. In the case of the NBA and the WNBA, these players used their platform to educate millions and millions of people, who watch them for entertainment, on the politics that were happening around them. That is significant. These players have organized themselves to turn arenas into voting areas for people to go, knowing that in their communities — right? — that the places where people can access their vote are shrinking, so they have expanded that. That is important.

And so I think we’ve got both sides to this, right? There’s the symbolism and the substance. And what I’m seeing more and more of is people with large platforms, that they’re usually using for products, use those platforms for politics. And that, I think, represents a concrete shift that we should be celebrating and applauding.

AMY GOODMAN: Alicia, we are speaking to you one week before Election Day. The election actually is a whole season, as we’ve heard something like 63 million people have voted, maybe the — to say the least, smash every record in terms of voter participation, in every different group. And I’m wondering, in these last minutes we have, if you can talk about the significance of people voting, participating, at a time where people may have in the past chosen not to. They don’t feel that candidates represent all of their views. But also, what happens next, when you have, if Joe Biden wins — continually saying he won’t end fracking, he hasn’t endorsed the Green New Deal, putting down defunding the police — what role movements play there, and if President Trump continues in office, whether he wins or not?

ALICIA GARZA: It’s an important question. And I’ll add here that I think a few things are necessary. So, number one, I get it. I mean, for people who are disappointed in the way that this democracy is failing us and has failed us, you’re absolutely right. You know, coming from Black communities, what I know is that, frankly, even though Black people are the strongest base of the Democratic Party, that time and time again Black people’s concerns and needs have not been addressed.

But the only way that that shifts is by Black people and other communities — right? — getting organized and using their vote as a form of protest, using their vote as a form of being able to exercise power. And my friend Rashad Robinson from Color of Change always says that, you know, you know you have power if people are afraid to disappoint you. Well, right now people are not afraid to disappoint us. But I think that could actually shift in this election cycle. With a massive turnout, it really shows what the mandates are for the future of this nation.

And certainly, our work doesn’t end there. We have to work to transform how this system functions. We are seeing the impacts of a clear and strong and focused movement who has been focused on building power for the last three decades. Now here they are, and they are fighting for the House, they’re fighting for the Senate, they’re fighting for the last one-third of statehouses throughout the country, and they are also fighting for the Supreme Court, and they’re fighting for the White House. They are not all aligned on everything. Not all of their elected officials represent everything that they care about. But because they have come together with a clear goal, we are now seeing the impacts of their level of organization. We’re seeing the impacts of their ability to build the kind of infrastructure that is needed to take the power that they want.

And so, I think, for us, moving forward, there are some questions laying in front of us. Certainly, I’ve been disappointed by positions that Joe Biden has taken on. And he was not my first choice, my second choice, my third choice, and not even really my eighth choice. But here we are. The contest is now between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and Donald Trump and Mike Pence. But much bigger than that, the contest is about whether or not we are able to have free and fair elections in this country. And this contest is about what is going to be the future of this country. And frankly, that doesn’t just play out at the ballot box.

AMY GOODMAN: Ten seconds.

ALICIA GARZA: That is going to be played out by movements. And so, that is why this book is so important. It helps give us tips and tools about how to build the kinds of movements that can last and that can win.

AMY GOODMAN: Alicia Garza, we want to thank you so much for being with us, principal of Black Futures Lab, co-founder of Supermajority and Black Lives Matter Global Network. Her new book, The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

Leave a comment