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7 Steps to Resist the Termination of TPS and All Other Political Adversities

Written by The Wary Womxnist Writer & Edited by Folks at The Lazy Black Femme Collective & Detroit REPRESENT! Collective


*Content warning for mentions of sexual violence

“A state of shock is not just what happens to us when something bad happens; [it’s] what happens to us when we lose our narrative, when we lose our story, when we become disoriented. What keeps us oriented and alert and out of shock is our [herstory]. So a period of crisis like the one we are in is a very good time to think about [herstory], to think about continuities, to think about roots. It’s a good time to place ourselves in the longer [humin] story of struggle. ”
— Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism Documentary”

In response to legitimate demands for quick, progressive, and structural change, Democrats have constantly told the lie that “change takes time” in order to “pacify” mass movements. Now we are witnessing an unprecedented, escalated erosion of human rights in such little time that many of us may be wondering why we did not heed the words of Beyoncé when she urged us not to put our trust in or lose our principles “for (beautiful liars).”

Although we feel afraid or worried (and justly so), I encourage us to not allow fear to overwhelm, pacify, or immobilize us. It is in our best interest to use any energy we have to continue in our journey to build the future that we need. As Prof. Maya Angelou (Peace and Blessings to Her) [1] reminds [2] us, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter defeat so we can know [who we] are [and] what [we can] overcome.”

Recently, there has been an organized attempt to flood progressives on the left with dire and defeatist news. From headlines of the termination of progressive policies like TPS [3] and DACA [4]  to devastations of vulnerable communities as a result of detrimental climate decline and hate crimes, we are bombarded by psychological and physical trauma in order to deter our resolve for liberation.

This year, I have allowed myself to cry more frequently than I have in recent years. I have allowed myself to feel hurt and feel loss. Nevertheless, I have also allowed myself to maintain hope for a better future for my chosen family, my community, Mother Earth, and myself. In keeping with that hope, I have allowed myself to maintain my determination for our communal win. I have allowed myself not to waver in my expectation for more from accomplices, and I have pledged to myself that fear and shock will not completely immobilize me. As Prof. Martin Luther King II (Peace and Blessings to Him) [5] said, “If you can't fly then run; if you can't run then walk; if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Although I experience moments where I feel powerless, I fiercely and firmly meditate on the affirmation that I still have my words and within my words resides power. I meditate on affirmations from scripture like “A Litany For Survival,” where Prof. Audre Lorde (Peace and Blessings to Her) says, “When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.”

In her words I find strength. With that strength, I am using my words to join the many voices putting together tangible next steps for resisting the political adversities that we currently experience.

This is one list of many lists, as my voice is one voice of many voices. I am because we are. I appreciate the many people, communities, and movements doing the work of getting us information on ways we can be in solidarity with communities most affected by inequity.

Without further ado, here are some steps that we can take to resist the termination of TPS and all other political adversities (as recommended by grassroots organizers and community members):

Organizers and community members have recommended that we:

1. Assist in planting or growing our local Sanctuary for All movement:

“Protesters in Los Angeles on Feb. 18, 2017,” Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP, 2017

As activists have chanted “No Ban No Wall On Stolen Land,” [6] we must ensure that there truly is no ban or wall on stolen land by providing sanctuaries (blessed and co-led by our indigenous elders and community members) to all in the struggle. This sanctuary for all movement should not be limited: We need accessible and sustainable sanctuary for undocumented folk, homeless folk, folk at risk of incarceration or deportation, folks who are survivors of incarceration and deportation, folk at risk of death, folks experiencing violence, and folks who are trauma survivors. These sanctuary safe spaces should not be limited by borders. These sanctuary brave spaces must be inclusive, proportional to population, accessible, communal, egalitarian, and wholly just. If our sanctuary is not addressing the intersectionality of homelessness, incarceration, reparations, rights to access land resources, and indigenous sovereignty, we need to reevaluate our analysis and implementations of strategy.

Fortunately there are community owned and democratically controlled organizations and collectives that are currently doing the work of creating sanctuaries by providing housing, food, education and stipends to formerly incarcerated folks, deportees, asylum seekers, homeless People of Color, displaced people, and undocumented refugees with a final deportation order. These are just few of many revolutionary sanctuary structures that we need to consistently invest in as we divest from investments in war, mass incarceration, militarization, colonization and exploitation. [7]

2. Engage in civil disobedience.

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
― Prof. Martin Luther King II (Peace and Blessings to Him)

“Take Back the Land Moves Struggling Families into Vacant Homes,” Democracy Now, 2008. 

It is no secret that the current federal administration, like earlier administrations, is illegitimate. It is also no secret that the state constantly engages in illegal and unethical home foreclosures, searches and seizures, voter suppression efforts, and incarceration of vulnerable people.

Despite the state’s illegitimacy and its enforcers’ heinous disregard for its own laws, they are known to enforce those same laws harshly when it comes to marginalized people. Organizers have recommended disregarding oppressive laws in many forms. Some recommended forms include: either threatening to or actively withholding taxes, protesting drug tests, heckling politicians, paying undocumented workers living wages, creating new forms of city and state IDs, refusing to work for anything below a living wage, breaking curfew, housing homeless people in abandoned homes, not evacuating a home when an illegal foreclosure is occurring, not cooperating with law enforcement, preventing a deportation or arrest, leaking information, showing up late to work at an unjust organization, whistle-blowing, and helping refugees cross the border safely, to name a few. 

3. Let society be aware of your opposition to the dominant status-quo of injustice.

Showing any form of opposition to the current system is important, whether it be through graffiti, street art, posters on bus stops, in buses or anywhere; daily protest; playing protest chants loudly in buses, moving cars or bicycles, frequent class action and general lawsuits for clear civil and human rights violations; frequent direct actions at law enforcement or government buildings, corporation buildings or anywhere; wearing t-shirts; or hanging banners over bridges. Since participating in daily, large-scale opposition can lead to burnout, even small-scale acts are necessary and impactful.

4. Reclaim your power to name and rename.

“Oakland Stands United Against Hate,” The Wary Womxnist Writer, 2017. 

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. ”

– Professor. Audre Lorde (Peace and Blessings To Her)

One terrible thing we can do is allow dominant groups to control our narrative. They will never represent our humanity accurately. Do not allow people to tell you that language and words are not important. They are. It is our birthright to name and rename our reality. So when they say we are living in dark times, remind them that we are living in white capitalist times. Name gentrification as it happens. Gentrification is not revitalization; gentrification is theft, displacement, and a symptom of colonialism. Name colonialism. 

The United States was not founded by immigrants—it was founded by settler colonialists. Enslaved Black/Indigenous African people were not immigrants. They were enslaved property and deportees. Name racism. Undocumented immigrants are not just immigrants, they are refugees, asylees, and trauma survivors. Trans women are women. Some people are even suggesting that we name hurricanes after the corporations that contribute to detrimental climate decline. I applaud this suggestion. 

It’s not history, it is herstory and ourstory. Black Lives Matter. Their pronouns are they and them. We want affordable, sustainable, egalitarian, safe health care, not for-profit, corporate controlled, and exploitable health care. It is not the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill. It is for-profit, corporate controlled, exploitable health care. Gmail and Facebook messenger algorithms reading our emails and suggesting possible responses are not technological advancements or acceptable—it’s a gross invasion of privacy. Africa is not a poor continent. She is a continent exploited by the West (now in collaboration with the capitalist interests within the Chinese federal government). Republicans who are pro-deportation, pro-mass incarceration, pro-sexual assault, pro-homelessness, pro-genocide in “third world countries,” and pro-detention of refugees are not pro-life. The U.S Constitution’s 13th Amendment didn’t abolish slavery—it simply allowed for enslavement in new forms. The war on drugs is the unjust and illegal war on drugs because it is a cover for further ostracization of People of Color and a cover for extraction of more unpaid labor from People of Color through the penal system. 

“These are white times,” Huda Hassan, 2017. 

5) Redistribute financial and labor resources into transparent entities.

“How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars and Built Six Homes,” Laura Sullivan/ProPublica, 2015. 

Allowing your opposition to be known is a great step, but it must be backed by financial and labor solidarity in order for it to have a measurable impact. Currently, billions of state and corporate tax dollars are going towards war, genocide, land thefts, deportation, authoritarianism, incarceration, environmental degradation, and other abhorrent attacks on our humanity, so no one can claim neutrality or lack of funds when asked to invest in our communities [8]. It is time for the consumer class to wake up and become more conscious of what entities we are financing. Why pay state taxes to fund wars when we can directly make a tax-deductible donation to public, nonprofit, and collective organizations as a form of tax boycotts [9]? Why pay corporate taxes to fund environmental degradation when we can directly invest in tax-deductible social safety nets for all of us (again, as a form of tax boycotts)? We need to immediately and consistently divest from toxic organizations and invest in more entities that are community owned and democratically controlled.

Organizers recommend we support these ethical and transparent entities with financial resources and/or labor: Black-owned businesses, nonprofits, unions and collectives; Brown-owned businesses, nonprofits, unions and collectives; credit unions; co-ops; urban gardens; public media; progressive media; technology organizations and collectives that protect the human right to privacy; queer-owned businesses, non-profit collectives, and unions; undocumented-owned businesses, non-profit collectives, and unions; social enterprises; public education [10]; freedom schools, green/renewable energy businesses, and nonprofit collectives; personal fundraisers; organizations that house homeless, undocumented, or deported folks; and organizations that feed displaced people. Give your money directly to the people most impacted. Do not ask marginalized people to speak at your conference, lecture, or news organization without compensation on their terms. Do research on the organizations to which you are acting in financial or labor solidarity with to verify that they are not corrupt, hegemonic, or self-serving.

6. Prioritize local and regional politics and sovereignty.

“Detroit ID,” DetroitMI.Gov, 2017. 

We need all tax-paying residents [11] of local zones and regional zones to have access to safe, sustainable, and egalitarian: education, housing, identification documents, driver’s licenses, jobs and means of migration and transportation. We need regional and local communities and representatives to pledge to prioritize and uphold international human rights law over local, regional, and national laws that are violent and dehumanizing. We need to put more pressure on local representatives to do better to combat gerrymandering, illegal, and undemocratic emergency city managers, and all other entities that disenfranchise residents who pay sales taxes and give labor in their local region.

7) Celebrate and widely share victories and successful tactics.

We are losing some battles, but we are also winning some. Whether short-term or long-term, victories are important and we have made important gains. Celebrate our wins, share them widely, and learn from them in order to create new sustainable tactics and even more progress. 

“More Wins,” FightFor15, 2015. 

Thank you for reading this article. Best wishes to you! And together, we will overcome.

Notes

  1. Prof. could symbolize professor and/or prophet. I write this word in addition to (Peace and Blessings) in line with my spiritual beliefs.
  2.  I write with the present tense in line with my spiritual beliefs. 
  3. Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a law passed by congress in 1990 to grant temporary documented status to immigrants in the country unable to return safely to their birth country because of extraordinarily dire situations. 
  4. Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an executive action implemented by The Obama Administration in 2012 to protect undocumented immigrant youth from deportation and provide them with work authorization.
  5.  I write II in line with my spiritual beliefs. 
  6.  For additional information, please read “'No ban on stolen land,' say Indigenous activists in U.S.” by Lenard Monkman
  7.  I believe since sales, income, and property tax is consistently, annually given to fund the above, these taxes could be seen as an investment. 
  8. Although it should be noted that paying taxes is not a voluntary investment for low-income and working class People of Color. For marginalized people failing to pay taxes results in heavy fines, jail time and/or deportation. 
  9.  If your local collective, co-op, or grassroots group is not a 501c3 organization, still support them (they need financial solidarity more than 501c3s most times) but also consistently ask your local 501c3s to be fiscal sponsors of more collectives, co-ops and grassroots groups. 
  10. One can support public education while boycotting taxes by giving their taxes directly to public schools, not the IRS, during tax day. Since tax boycotts by marginalized people results in cruel and unusual punishments by the federal government, it is better to organize a collective mass tax boycott as opposed to engaging in an isolated, individual tax boycott. It is important to note that we cannot eliminate taxes in general as of now, we can only have more choice in how funds are distributed. Ultimately if the current tax (and political) structure is not progressively transformed, individuals will continue to have little to no choice on how taxes are distributed. 
  11. Which means all residents because everyone (except corporations) contributes to some form of sales, property or income tax. 

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