by Deepa Kunapuli and Arianna Genis
Communications team at re:power
This weekend, movement leaders from across the country will be convening at RootsCamp in Baltimore, Maryland to reflect on lessons learned from the midterms, dialogue about power building, and strategize around what comes next.
We’re so excited to see you, and to introduce our new name and brand:
When we thought about our name, we thought about what we do best: training and building with communities on the frontlines of grassroots, electoral, and issue organizing who are fighting for social change.
And we heard from our partners and co-conspirators that they were eager for an updated analysis around power and justice.
re:power offers an expansion of what justice looks like for our people in a framework of inclusive politics. We’re transforming how we think about power, who holds it, and how we wield it in our communities — we’re looking at power in every context and speaking truth to it.
We offer a different narrative of who is a leader, who participates in politics, and what outcomes we are fighting for— and it’s all happening against the backdrop of our current political climate, and what we’re gearing up for in 2019.
Today’s political ecosystem is very different from when we opened our doors fifteen years ago as Wellstone Action, so we thought about how we could transform into who we were already becoming.
We are inspired by how movements have shape-shifted to make more space for communities at the margins who are organizing to gain power. Our communities — people of color, LGBTQ folks, women, the working class, immigrants and others — are breaking into mainstream politics and institutions and demanding the structures adapt to meet their needs. This shift requires us to be more explicit about our values, about what progressivism represents, and about who we are referencing when we say “ our people.”
How Did We Get Here?
2018 was an unprecedented year where a historic number of women ran for office, with women of color leading the charge for an unapologetic vision of justice.
The Movement for Black Lives, which continues to change conversations and influence our organizing around anti-blackness, race, police brutality, and the intersections of all forms of oppression.
These leaders organized and developed black leadership across the country, resulting in outcomes that improved the lives of black communities and communities of color. The Movement for Black Lives created the conditions for the organizing work that happened in 2018.
The #MeToo movement, founded by Tarana Burke, exposed the pervasive commonality of sexual assault and violence in the lives of women.
Students from Chicago, Parkland, and beyond refused to accept deaths from gun violence as an inevitable reality and instead forced a larger conversation around American gun culture.
Brown and black undocumented immigrants continue to face surveillance and imprisonment for the simple act of walking across the street, or going to the grocery store.
Each of these moments forced us to ask the question:
Where is the space for our leadership, our vision for this country, and the needs of our people?
First, we had to think about the political contexts that our people exist in, and the complex legacies and stories they carry with them.
We thought about the the Women’s Suffrage movement that gave women the right to vote, but pitted Black and White leaders against each other for that right. The Native and Indigenous women who have been protecting their ancestral lands for centuries against settlers, colonizers, and industrialists, yet have almost no representation in our local, state, and national government. The Immigrant Rights movements that began after exclusionary laws passed by the U.S. Government to codify segregation and decades-long xenophobia, where specific communities are targeted while others remain completely unseen, existing at the margins in our national conversations.
We thought about the Black women leaders, organizers, social scientists, and writers like Ida B. Wells, Angela Davis, and Michelle Alexander, who wrote or continue to write the blueprint for the civil rights movement, and other social movements. We thought about the founders of Black Lives Matter — Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza. These are all women whose spirits are evoked when we say "Trust Black Women" -- in the same conversation that exists in a capitalist country, an economic model derived from our history as a slave-owning society.
We thought about the bravery of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, transgender women of color, who ignited our modern-day LGBTQ movement during the June 1969 Stonewall riots. And about our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who have to define and defend their existence when our government is systematically erasing the years of progress on equality.
We thought about how the Filipino manongs in California worked with Mexican farmworkers to create the United Farm Workers of America. There is no Labor movement without these two communities — and there is no farmworkers clap, created as a way to bridge the language gap between the two communities. We thought about the legacy of Latinx leadership — mujeres fuertes like Dolores Huerta and Luisa Moreno — who brought women to the forefront of the labor movement, and whose spirit is echoed in every cry of “Si, se puede!” in the continued fight for just labor laws.
In complexity, there is clarity. These interconnected stories for liberation are pushing us to build our vision in a framework that allows for our people’s struggles and histories to be reflected in our hopeful future.
The Work Ahead
It means that our work doesn’t change — we just have a sharper analysis and focus. In 2019, we’ll be traveling across the country delivering public and partner trainings in our key focus areas of Managing Elections (Candidate, Campaign Management, and Governance Training), Building Movements (Organizing and Mobilizing, Strategic Planning, and Capacity Building) and Movement Technology (Skills Training and Coaching for Tech Leaders). Join us for one of our open trainings, or contact us to build a customized training for your organization.
Questions? Email us at email@example.com, and find us on social media @repowerorg and share your thoughts!