It isn’t right when citizens are gunned down in the streets by those charged with protecting them. It isn’t right when offended communities respond by rioting and destroying the very community that serves them. When groups feel like there are no other options to create change, they take the law into their own hands. But, there are other options.
Riots aren’t working. Die-in’s aren’t working. Hashtags aren’t working.
Our strategies to create change have to reflect the business of change.
The major motion picture portrayal of Martin Luther King’s protest in Selma told two stories. One of a demonstrative march that captured the hearts of Americans, and second of a man who could lobby D.C. to change laws on Washington’s terms. As Americans facing social issues, we are missing the second part. We have every right to be upset about real or perceived injustice, but we have to make the right appeal, in the right way, to the right people to get a different result.
To see the future we all dream of, modern-day activism must include:
1 – A coordinated long-term effort – Short bursts of underfunded disconnected protests won’t get it. Communities that want change have to get together, focus on a couple of specific agenda items, and work together to get it done. The results won’t come overnight, but a long-term strategy focused on short-term wins gives any movement progress and the ability to create results.
2 – Money – Let’s be real. Money affects the amount of power and influence any group has. Raise money for your cause. Get good at it, and have the backing to create the results you need at a moments notice.
3 – Access to Power – Grassroots movements attract attention, but they don’t necessarily create permanent change. We have to lobby those in power to pass laws that reflect the pressing interests of the community. Who are the official advocates for the African-American community on the state and federal level? Which organizations are spending money like those in agriculture, or labor, or education, or pharma to have black interests heard? Can’t think of them? Neither can I.
4 – Hoards of People Singing from the Same Hymn Sheet – Once we have a strategy in place, similar organizations aligned to work together, money in the bank, and an effective lobbying strategy, then we can begin to protest and make our demands known.
A grassroots and grasstops movement like this can truly get the ball rolling, and stop the incidents that are breaking America’s heart.