The World According to Humphrey

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The deep patriots.

Posted by humphreysworld on June 20, 2011

I saw Van Jones* speak this past weekend at Net Roots for the first time. For those of you who don’t know Van Jones, there are many words to describe them. But if I could sum it up into one description, I would have to use his description and call him a deep patriot. Mr. Jones spoke to a crowd of 2000 progressives in MN this past weekend about the need to take our country back. He spoke about how, while we as progressives have a cause, without coming together under one value system for one common goal, we will never win.

In other words progressives, get it the fuck together.**

Our country is in trouble. The attack on women, people of color, young people, poor people, workers, the environment, gay people, Muslim people– I could go on– is stronger than I have seen it in my time as an adult. Hate has taken hold of this country. It is a fear of the other (everyone listed above and then some), combined with ignorance and frustration that has led us to this place. For the past two decades, the right wing has chipped away everything America has worked so hard to build while they have collected millions. They have rigged our halls of government with corruption; most members of Congress won’t take a shit unless BP, Wells Fargo or some other corporation gives them the toilet paper. They have systematically eroded the rights of women by stacking everything from the school board to local governments, board of directors to government agencies with people who will not support sex ed, don’t support the right to choose, don’t support welfare or government assistance programs and deny children the right to a good meal or quality education. They have stood by, while the prison industrial complex has taken a hold of our neighborhoods and locked up my African American and Latino brothers in jail to make them profit. They’ve turned a blind eye while companies continue to spew toxics into the air for children to breathe and drink, came to their aid while polluters killed our oceans and purposefully ignored the law to side on their behalf. This is not America. This is not the America that you or I believe in.This is their America and we can’t afford to stand by while they flush it down the toilet to keep their pockets fat.

But if this isn’t what America is about, why is it that we can’t move a progressive agenda forward? I know our shared values extend well beyond the Minnesota Convention Center. Progressive values are American values. And yet, we have so much trouble communicating it. Each movement wears its hat; global warming, LGBT, women’s rights, etc, but we have never come together, truly come together to talk about our values. It’s not because they aren’t shared. I have yet to find a progressive who wants to end climate change but doesn’t believe women should get fair pay or someone who wants to put an end to the death penalty, yet supports the war on drugs. We have a shared value system. And more importantly, a shared purpose of creating a world that is just. We came together in 2008 under one umbrella, the same umbrella that has allowed the right to galvanize their movement. Let’s be clear, the tea party and much of this hatred stems from racism. They can bring out all the tokens they want, but the only people it’s convincing is themselves. No, we know what it’s about. And frankly, not everyone on the left is happy with Barack Obama right now. And while the politics piece of this is critical, it’s not the way we take our country back.

So what is the key? I think it’s pretty simple. We come together under a new umbrella. We come together, develop shared language and create a movement that has a place for all of us, one that can communicate our values clearly. The world is not full of ignorance and hatred the likes of Glenn Beck. I refuse to believe it. But if we continue to operate in a fractured way, divided and working against one movement so that the other will get ahead, we will never win. And our children will lose.

I was in a panel called ‘ask a sista, black women muse on politics, policy, pop culture scholarship’, which was an engaging conversation with some of today’s most influential black women who are doing their part to change the world and preserve our culture. At the same time, a panel entitled, ‘left out, women, politics and the progressive movement’ was going on in another room at the exact same time. While undoubtedly not on purpose, yet again we have created this dichotomy of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Without question each of us in both rooms could have benefited tremendously from participating in both conversations. Particularly as we try to figure out how we can bridge gaps, one of which has always been race.

America, we are at a crossroads.

I hope someday to be blessed with being a parent. I don’t take that decision lightly, and I want to know that, should that day come, I am giving her or him the best of what this country has to give. I want them to grow up in a world free of hate and fear, with clean air to breathe and the ability to work and prosper. I want that for all children born and not yet born. But we won’t get there if we don’t act now.

*Van Jones’ speech is a must watch, but I didn’t want you to get distracted with his awesomeness from this awesome post:-) This is just a snippet, but please watch, you will be moved.
** Rebuild the Dream kicked off their campaign to take back our country. Will you be there? Visit their website, host a house party or join one near you.


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