The 2020 Ticket

Originally posted on Facebook on August 11, 2020

(quick) thoughts on kamala:

– having a woman of color on the national ticket is not nothing.

– it’s also not much. biden won the primary in part because of a belief that a straight white man still defines electability. but it is cool that his electability is seen to improve with a running mate who is a woman of color.

– electability is bullshit. electability is determined by the electorate. that’s us. us! we get to decide who we want! we can create new narratives about electability! as the response to kamala harris shows, we already have, just in the space between the primary and now!

– kamala harris is a cop. she was not beloved by the left as the da of san francisco.

– sometimes, women and people of color — and especially, women of color; and especially, black women — have to do a thing. have to make a kind of bargain; a patriarchal bargain one might say, or perhaps we could call it respectability politics. sometimes it means that the most accessible path to power is by being a cop, by proving one’s loyalty to the power structure as it already exists, because one’s identity is already such a threat to that structure.

– that’s also not an excuse. the same thing could be said of cop-loving jackie lacey, the da here in los angeles — and as years of blm protest have made clear, #jackielaceymustgo. her opponent in november is cop-skeptical george gascon, who succeeded kamala harris as da in san francisco. he’s also a white guy. it’s not an entirely unproblematic look for racial justice, but it’s what the choice is.

– this isn’t a new issue. james forman jr’s book ‘locking up our own’ is a great examination of this pattern through the history of policing in washington, dc. we want to make police violence and policing a purely black-and-white issue. it’s not. it’s driven mostly by race, by white supremacy and anti-blackness, but internalized oppression is a real thing and black collaborators exist. clarence thomas is a real human! kamala harris is very far from clarence thomas, but she’s still embedded in oppressive power hierarchies.

– we can’t simply rearrange the pieces on the board. we can’t just put new faces into the same oppressive power hierarchies. we have to actually… dismantle those hierarchies.

– doing that requires so much more than electoral politics. electoral politics is a starting place for building the world we want, not the limit of it. and that’s not starry-eyed idealism; that’s just *democracy*, and the fact that we mistake the latter for the former so easily shows how deeply impoverished we have allowed our civic imagination to become, how poorly we understand our responsibility to one another. ‘freedom’ is not simply some stunted adolescent indignation about having to wear a mask; it is the capacity to work together, to co-create our liberation through courage and imagination. violence and imperialism and fear — these things are neither courageous, nor imaginative. we can do so much more than police. we can be a polity.

– we don’t need to appeal to the founders to justify such liberatory co-creation. we don’t need their permission to find our freedom. in fact: we will never find our freedom so long as we continue to invest authority as its source. our liberation lives in ourselves, in each other, and in the kinship that we can build there.

– but it’s still super important to vote. a biden/harris administration makes a much better and much less harmful starting place than a second trump administration. we can’t just let our government lead us; we must lead our government — and voting is a key part of that. let’s not pretend that john lewis was naive. the civil rights generation sacrificed for something real, and voting isn’t enough, not by a long shot, but we’re also lost without it.

– and this announcement shows that courage and imagination have moved the needle; but even in representation, still not enough — as ericka hart pointed out, choosing kamala harris over stacy abrams involves some real shit about colorism and fatphobia, and if we can’t acknowledge that then we are only perpetuating those beliefs, and their harms.

– this is all also… ok. there is no ideal candidate. but we don’t need one. we have each other. we struggle together, and that’s where we find better solutions. because we can love each other, not the shallowness of ‘love and light’, but the deep solidarity of love in darkness. that love is greater than any hierarchy or oppression. that is our greatest power, and it is available, equally, to all of us.

– the history of white supremacy, of cisheteropatriarchy, of capitalism, of ableism — is a history of marginalizing that love, and our capacity for it; of obstructing it and distracting from it and punishing it. that history is written into our laws and our institutions and voting alone cannot undo all of it but voting can lessen the damage, can reduce the harm, can aid in the transformation.

– love rearranges us, if we can let it. real, reciprocal, non-transactional love binds us so fiercely in our interdependence that we can become stronger and more courageous than our imaginations ever even allowed. it does this on a personal level. it does this, too, on the level of society. the security we can find in love is so beautifully scalable. and that love can be bigger than all the shortcomings of a biden/harris ticket, than centrism and meekness and cops and representation as a substitute for liberation; it has to be. it already is.

– biden and harris will do important things. but we — we will do the most important work of all.

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