LIVING FOR CHANGE
Why was Obama Shellacked?
By Grace Lee Boggs
Miichigan Citizen, Nov. 14-20, 2010
Two years ago, in the fall of 2008, over a million citizen activists of all ethnic groups, mostly young people, often accompanied by middle-aged or elderly independents, went door to door, urging voters to go to the polls and elect Barach Obama to the White House,
We/they did this because we believed and hoped that this charismatic black man could bring about the transformational changes we urgently need at this time on the clock of the world when the U.S. pursuit of unlimited economic growth has reached its social and ecological limits.
In 2010, despite the impassioned appeals of Barack, Michelle and Democratic Party stalwarts, many of us didn’t even go to the polls ourselves on November 2, let alone urge others to do so, Ralph Nader estimates there were 28 million NoShows.
We need to probe the lessons of this experience, shared by many millions directly or indirectly.
The main lesson, I believe, is that the tremendous changes we now need and yearn for in our daily lives and in the direction of our country cannot come from those in power or by putting pressure on those in power.
We ourselves have to foreshadow or prefigure them from the ground up.
Civil and Voting rights for blacks didn’t come from the White House or from masses demonstrating in front of the White House. They came after the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-6, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Mississippi Freedom Summer and Freedom Schools, and the 1964 Selma to Montgomery March.
In other words, they came only after hundreds of thousands of black Americans and their white supporters had accepted the challenge and risks of ourselves making or becoming the changes we/they want to see in the world.
Women’s leadership in the public sphere didn’t come from the White House or from CEOs. It came only after millions of women came together in small consciousness-raising groups to share stories of our “second sex” lives.
Today’s good news is that Americans in all walks of life have begun to create another America from the ground up in many unforeseen ways.
Tens of thousands of community gardens are being planted by urban farmers to provide a healthy alternative to the processed foods promoted by agribusiness and transported thousands of miles in gas-guzzling trucks,
Veterans of our illegal Mideast wars and mothers like Cindy Sheehan are joining long time peace activists in making clear that there are no military solutions to our complex foreign pollcy issues.
In communities all over the country concerned parents, teachers and schoolkids are reinventing education because they recognize that in order to solve both the schools and the urban crisis, we need the energies and imaginations of our young people. So we/they have been discovering ways to connect learning to place and community.
In crime and violence-torn cities residents are turning war zones into peace zones by bringing the neighbor back into the hood.
Last June more than 15,000 people came to the 2nd USSF because they recognized that “Another World is Necessary, Another World is Possible”. Arriving in Detroit they were surprised and delighted to discover that “Another world is actually happening” at the grassroots level.
If Obama had come to the 2nd USSF in June, he might have been respirited by these new grassroots energies and avoided his recent shellacking. ______
My USSF Conversation with Immanuel Wallerstein can be read at
Detroit City of Hope – www.dcoh.org