Posters were part of an art campaign called We the People by Ernesto Yerena Montajana Jessica Sabogal and Shepard Fairey Nov. 2016
Indigenous Peoples' Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, in opposition to the celebration of Columbus Day.
By Ana Cecilia Perez
We, time travelers, shapeshifters, protectors of human dignity, and faithful warriors, birthing a new world that centers respect for all living beings on the planet: we must not get distracted by the noise and dust that 45 is stirring up. While the US democratic experiment needs some fixing, the unrealized ideals of the pursuit of justice, of a government of the people by the people, the system of checks and balances, a free press, and the right to peaceful protest, are tools/openings that we have used to win justice. And we have been turning the tide, we have been winning!
Evidence that our collective power is changing the narratives that have held us back are everywhere – Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry of multiracial masses in cities large and small in our country and internationally. We even won, with a conservative-majority Supreme Court, when they recognized that the eastern portion of the state of Oklahoma remains Native American land. More women of color have been elected to government at the local, state, and national levels than ever. And our beloved Squad continues to turn up the fire and plant seeds that, when mature, will get us closer to full transformation – the proposed Green New Deal and Ayanna Pressley’s clarity about “We don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice” are two good examples.
In the next 30 days, we will face an onslaught of attacks aimed at taking away our power by paralyzing us with fear. Let’s not be fooled. What they are after is taking our spirit and eroding our deep faith and belief that our best days are ahead of us! Let’s not give them that. Now is the time to ground into our spiritual practices and to remember the medicine we learned from our grandmothers. We need to drop into our relationships and build intentional communities of care – expanding the unnatural and oppressive idea of the nuclear family and creating ever expanding circles of community. We need to organize!
It is also time to believe and invest in the structures of our imperfect democracy. We must understand and pressure those responsible for securing the vehicles that feed our democratic process and make sure they are doing their jobs. For example, pressure the debate commission to shut the microphones off or to grant a full hour to the candidate that honors the debate rules. Get involved to assure the electorates from your state are not tampered with. Use your power and privilege to provide safety for vulnerable voters.
But most importantly, we need to remember that we are the descendants of people who have lived through the worst moments. We are resilient and we will not give away our faith in a better tomorrow. We need to remember all that we have won and what we stand to win - a just, sustainable and compassionate country. So as we prepare to care for ourselves and our loved ones with clarity about the threats we face, we must continue to feed ourselves with hope and inspire others with hope. We cannot let them defeat us, by letting them drive us back into hiding and silence. We must speak of the world we have been building with excitement. We need to make the vision for our future irresistible!
As one of our patron saints, Harriet Tubman, said, “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there is shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
Ana Cecilia Perez is the former Executive Director of the Central American Resource Center in San Francisco and is currently an independent consultant. She has long been involved in struggles for human and immigrant rights and economic justice in Latin America and the United States. Upon completing her graduate work at UC Berkeley, She led the Cuba and Latin America Program at Global Exchange. She is on the steering committee of National Alliance for Latin American and Caribbean Communities and the Salvadoran American National Network. These are her opinions and may not reflect VISIONS' positions.