What is it Going to Take?

Ijeoma Oluo
Jun 27, 2018 · 4 min read

Justice Anthony Kennedy just announced his retirement and I’m gutted. I knew it was coming, this final “fuck you” to those of us who like having basic rights and protections, but I’m still just gutted. History books — if we are lucky enough to have them — will remember Kennedy as a piece of shit who helped lock in generations of conservative hate and bigotry into our highest offices.

And if we are lucky enough to have history books, they will remember the millions of white Americans who pretended that they voted for Trump for anything other than protecting their own shares in White Supremacy.

They will remember how when a man promised hatred, bigotry and violence — when a man courted half of the population with the promise of dominion over the other half — that the most powerful and privileged of this other half told the rest of us that we weren’t allowed to call that man and his followers “deplorable”. That it made us just as bad as those who were signing up for our destruction.

They will remember how in a week where unions were dismantled, where bans on entire religious groups were reinforced, where gerrymandered districts were upheld, where families were begging to get their children back that had been stolen by our government and locked away in cages — that our opposition leaders spent much of their time debating whether or not the mouthpiece for this administration should be served a hamburger with a smile, and shaming a black woman for not being nice enough to the people supporting these atrocities.

Our history books, if we are lucky enough to have them, will remember the millions of words our major newspapers and magazines spent dedicated to humanizing neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, to arguing for “reaching out” to those who want to see the most vulnerable of us dead.

Our history books, if we are lucky enough to have them, will have our children and grandchildren (if we are lucky enough to have them) looking at us with confusion and shame.

And all of this is the best case scenario. All of this is if we are lucky. Lucky enough to still have an independent press. Lucky enough to still have someone who remembers. Lucky enough to have a future generation to lament what we’ve done.

Those chapters are written even if we have doomed ourselves to a future where those books will never be read.

There are already people who will die because of our complacency. There are already people who will not be saved, no matter what we do. We cannot wash that blood away.

So are you ready now? Are you ready to no longer act like you don’t hold the pen? Like you aren’t the one helping to write some of the darkest chapters of our history?

Are you ready to end these chapters and fight for new ones? For better ones? Chapters where you are not the worst villain of all — the bystander?

Goddamnit if you are reading this and think I’m being overdramatic I NEED YOU TO PAY ATTENTION RIGHT FUCKING NOW because the groundwork for the destruction of our entire democracy has already been laid and the work has already started. Our constitutional protections have been undermined, our vote has been diminished, our press marginalized and delegitimized, our checks and balances have been removed.

If you are not outraged, you are a part of the problem.

If you are not terrified, you are a part of the problem.

If you are not calling bigotry, hatred and violence what it is, you are a part of the problem.

If you are not fighting back with everything you have, you are a part of the problem.

For decades we have gone up against an opponent that wants to destroy us. That wants to remove our rights, embed bigotry and injustice further into our systems, that wants the destruction of black and brown communities, LGBTQ people, and the disabled. That wants the poor and addicted to die in the streets. For 20 years we have gone up against them and met them with…compromise.

How shameful that we have not been nearly as committed to equality as they are to hate.

I have nothing else to give today. Nothing but exhaustion and rage — no silver lining. I’ve been writing and marching and speaking and yelling for years and there are only so many times I can say the same fucking things and today I have nothing more than a big “fuck you.”

The only advice I have is to stop fucking around.


Fight with your money. Fight with your vote. Fight with your protest. Fight with your words. Fight with your body.

Fight like your life depends on it. Fight like your soul depends on it.

Fight like you mean what you say. Fight like democracy matters. Fight like humanity matters. Fight like we matter.


Ijeoma Oluo

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Come for the feminist rants..stay for the selfies and kid quotes. Inclusive feminism here.