The Year Ahead Message -
from Reece Chenault- USLAW National Coordinator
Having a two-year old means you are often thinking about the future. Not just in a lofty, idealistic way ripe with fulfilled dreams and expectations … that’s the fun part. The harder part is strategizing around him as he grows into a thinking person. He’s faster than me, his metabolism is much better than mine, and he’s incredibly smart for someone who has only been in the outside world for two years. I am often amazed at how quickly I must lean on my organizing experience to stay ahead of him.
Lately, I’ve found myself laughing as I watch the proverbial gears turn as he learns, knowing that the next time I’m going to need to have a new way to outwit him. These next years will go quickly but will be fun, I’m thinking.
Looking ahead to 2017, I’m actually a little excited. I know it will be tough and I am definitely expecting the unexpected, but US Labor Against the War is rising to the challenge by:
- Resisting the new regime. Members and leadership involved in US Labor Against the War will be involved at all levels of the fight to push back against the incoming administration from the moment they take power. I will be in DC for nearly twelve days, participating in actions and working with allies on the fight to come around everything from anti-militarism to climate change.
- Fearlessly engaging a climate rife with Islamophobia. After our National Assembly, Nancy Wohlforth (a longtime leader in USLAW who is currently a Co-Convener) approached me with praise for the involvement of Darakshan Raja from the Washington Peace Center and her presentation on Islamophobia. “You two should go on the road,” she said, and I just went on my way as we still had some time left in the agenda with plenty to do. Nancy was not the last person to make the comment and, after some follow-up, we developed a plan for 2017 where Darakshan and I travel around the country talking about what we can do as members of the labor movement to confront Islamophobia in our workplaces and world, and relate that to our ongoing struggle against racism and xenophobia. This plan includes putting forward resolutions around Islamophobia in labor organizations with the ultimate goal of putting the resolution in front of the AFL-CIO National Convention.
- Listening to understand. We’ve done well in the past year by striving to be better at this. Our Solidarity Ploughshares project, an effort to build better relationships with union members who are in the military-industrial complex, has been centered around listening. This year we’ll need to expand this program not just because the issue is getting larger, but because it works. We will make an effort to continue to listen, but also reflect about what is working (and what needs to change.) USLAW is uniquely suited to engage in this listening and we are honored that we’re allowed the opportunity. Our growth as an organization, as a movement, and as people is made that much stronger by this work. Looking at the results of our election, this effort will be more critical than ever.
The next year will be full of challenges. We’re going to need each other to face them and we’re not going to win every battle. We might be facing down a foe unlike any we’ve ever seen in the White House, Congress might be stacked against us, and we are indeed reeling from a loss we weren’t prepared to take… all these things might be true and they hurt like Hell. But our movements were forged in the fires of challenges so much worse than what lies ahead. We’ve stopped wars and held strike lines together. We’ve pushed back dark political forces and pulled the best from one another. To borrow from former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, we won’t allow this country to be destroyed by petty politics and bad government.My son’s future, and the future of so many others, is at stake.
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