By Anne Price, President

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Originally posted in Insight Center’s January 2017 Newsletter.

We have seen it time and again: women, people of color, LGBTQ, and multi-ethnic/racial coalitions fighting for our undeniable rights found in the U.S. Constitution. But record shattering numbers of participants in women’s marches across the country and globe, and several airport protests following President Trump’s ban on immigration have fostered an intense debate and looming questions; Can marches and protests bring about lasting change? Can anger and frustration translate into an enduring political movement?

There are a number of critical ways that would facilitate a lasting political movement. Engaging and sustaining an inclusive base of Americans is essential to successful, lasting change. We will need to advance policies that mobilize Americans, starting at the local level. We must address the role that voter suppression methods and restrictions play on the outcomes of elections, and replace voter organizing around each election cycle with a continuous watchful eye.

We also can’t turn back our fight for racial justice. We are witnessing the resurfacing of old racial stereotypes and racially charged rhetoric — affecting how politicians make decisions that intend to harm, to marginalize communities of color, and to erect barriers for the next generation. But this is no time to turn away our focus on racial equity because of a fear of alienating white working class voters. Quite the contrary. Our ability to address economic exclusion for whites and communities of color is inextricably tied to our ability to address racial resentment. We must acknowledge that we have never adequately addressed structural racism and disinvestment in communities of color and as a result, race and racism continue to undergird our political circumstance.

It has been an uphill battle to advance progressive policies and it will continue to be the case for years to come. As dreadful and threatening as the political climate is, we have to both embrace the urgency of now — an urgency that requires us to push forward, further and faster than we have dared in the past — and the urgency of our future — one that reimagines a vision of prosperity for America. What we are seeing now is a failure of old approaches. If we are going to achieve greater prosperity and equity, we have to disrupt old models and strategies that maintain the status quo. We can’t just repackage lists of familiar ideas, but rather, look ahead, past the next four years to promote new narratives and advance bold, longer term policies and models.

We know that in the days and months ahead we will need to shine further light on the cold, hard facts that give weight to the living proof of economic injustice that we know, see, and feel in our communities all across America. We at the Insight Center see our research, analysis, and advocacy as a critical part to shaping and informing on-the-ground organizations and grass-root campaigns that will challenge current harms and offer a vision of the America we can be.

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development’s mission is to help people and communities become, and remain, economically secure.

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