Unlike the multitudes of people who besides attending a demonstration here and there and voting, do absolutely nothing to organize against oppression, my daily life consists of sacrificing everything I can to fight against oppression. The approach I commit my life to has nothing to do with the institutions of power that oppress us and because of that, most people who pass ignorant judgement against the work people like I do have no idea what our work looks like. Or, how much our work empowers even the bourgeoisie efforts they’re making. My work has to do with working with the masses of people so that they can build capacity to seize control of the forces that are oppressing humanity. This work is hands on and people oriented and has nothing to do with the nonsense beamed at us everyday by people who couldn’t identify what the lives of oppressed people looks like if you placed a gun to their head.
That’s why I don’t expect many people outside of revolutionary organizing work to understand or relate to my particular experiences from four years ago, yet this is my forum so I’m going to share them because doing so helps me process my emotional trauma which is a healthy and necessary thing for me to do. You see, my personal experiences of note started four years ago while living in the state of Oregon. I work for a labor union and as is the case come every election, a lot of the work consists of engaging around election issues. That all by itself is traumatic enough for me, but fortunately, there is usually at least a semi-people oriented ballot measure that I can mobilize my required participation around which I always do because this prevents me from having to do work for any of these bourgeoisie political parties. In 2016, there was a corporate taxing measure on the ballot and I was knocking on doors to talk to people about supporting that measure.
As the race became tighter, towards this last weekend of campaigning, we were forced to canvass in even more rural areas of the state. For most places, especially colorless Oregon, this automatically means areas where there are absolutely no Africans and potential open hostility to our presence. Often, these people would never open their doors for me. I remember one time in particular when a young white woman, standing frozen in plain view in front of the picture window, stayed statue like until I laughingly left. Well, at one house with a winding stairway in Southwest Portland, Oregon, U.S., that citadel of liberalism, a white man about 50 something opened his door and once he blankly listened to my short initial salvo, asked me to hold on a moment. He came back immediately and raised his right hand from behind the door to reveal a 1911 semi-automatic pistol. I remember eyeing the pistol and thinking “again?” as this was by far not the first time someone had pointed a gun at me for no reason. The man then said “get your black a --…” That was as much as he got out before I pushed hard against his door, knocking him backward. I bolted down the stairway and away from there. I pushed hard enough against his door that I know he lost his balance and fell, hopefully breaking some bones in the process as far as I’m concerned.
This is the very first time I’ve talked about this incident although I did make a Facebook post on our canvass page about white supemacists after this happened, but I didn’t go into detail. I was too angry. Too traumatized. Angry that I was even out there in the first place and angry that I didn’t take that pistol from that man and shove it down his throat. Angry and sick of being disrespected just for being a human being on this earth.
I didn’t have time to ponder much on that incident because within a day of that a call came out from a wonderful activist in rural Oregon who’s house had been besieged and threatened by white supremacist militia groups. These groups are much more in the national consciousness now then they were four years ago, but while they mostly exist in pictures, television, or across the street at protests to most people, my organizing experiences in Oregon gave me close and personal exposure to them. When I say close I mean having physical confrontation on multiple occasions with them. Being shot at and threatened multiple times. So, when this activist, who sustains regular threats from these people, made that call, several of us didn’t hesitate to respond.
After participating in a rain drenched debrief of the defeat of that ballot measure, I hopped in the car with others and we drove the couple of hours to this activist’s house in rural Oregon to stand guard against the numerous threats to “come and burn you out once Trump wins!” There was no calling the police for this person since at best, the police must likely had sympathies for these terrorists and at worse, they belonged to those militia groups themselves. So, while most people spent election night watching television and rehashing the results, I spent that night parked combat style across this long rural road, ready to aggressively confront anyone who was foolish enough to follow through on the threats that were issued against these peaceful people.
I’ve had multiple instances where the line between continuing a life of love and hope was blurry. Where the difference between life and death could be a moment or two. That night was yet another one. And, staying there for a few days to ensure nothing inappropriate happened, getting virtually no sleep, enjoying the presence of good comrades and wonderful animals. All of this is how I process to balance out the underlining terror.
So, the next day it was confirmed that Trump had won. For me this represented nothing more than what should have been expected all along. The beast known as the united snakes had been exposed for what it has always been. This isn’t to say that people shouldn’t wish to do something to stop people like Trump, of course we should. In fact, we should be willing to go much farther than just that. If we truly care about justice for the majority of people on earth, which I do, then our consciousness has to expand much farther beyond just replacing one rabid demon for another less rabid demon. That strategy is ok even as a short term approach, but for the most part, that’s the endgame for most of you. There is absolutely no plan on your part beyond that except extorting and shaming the rest of us to go along with the scam you are participating in. I wonder, wonder, wonder, why its asking so much for people to just open our minds to the possibility that we can do so much better than living like roaches, just seeking enough to survive for a few hours. No one in their right mind would disagree that we deserve much better. The breakdown comes when we start talking about the work required for us to do a higher level of organizing work. Most apparently want the short fix. They want to feel like they are doing something worthwhile when the truth is we aren’t. Its this reality that fuels my emotional trauma. Trump and everyone who agrees with him is nothing more than what the united snakes has been revealing to me since the day I was born in 1962. No surprises there. I am bewildered by how many of us are unwilling to push ourselves beyond this roach – crumb – to mouth approach. I’m not going to ever give up though. I’ll use these memories of four years ago to propel me to do more work to wake people up so that we can get out of this terror maze that people keep trying to tell us is freedom and democracy.