This week the despicable Mr. Trump re-opened his campaign against immigrants like the duplicitous salesman he is: re-selling something he previously sold but now at a higher price. This time he wants a deal to preserve DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama policy offering some relief for 800,000 young immigrants) while funding his wall. His actions remind us why Presente.org’s Matt Nelson describes this kind of politics as “power with a denial of love”. In his contribution to Charlie Derber’s Welcome to the Revolution. In resisting Trump, Matt recognize’s what the president represents: “the convergence of white supremacy and corporate domination… fueled by racist culture and by the proﬁt imperatives of our larger militarized capitalist system.”
But Matt goes on to demonstrate how we can resist. He uses Presente.org’s Mothers Day campaign as an example of values-based organizing that fosters movement building and culture shifts by tapping into deeply-rooted emotions and values. Resistors are challenged to emulate these lessons in their own work. Please see below for Matt’s essay. You can order copies of Welcome to the Revolution from our website. For bulk orders or deep discounts including some free copies for organizations and activists, please reach out to Timeka or Suren directly by emailing us at email@example.com. Please look out for more from Liberty Tree on responding to Trump and building the broad democracy agenda.
Suren & Timeka, Liberty Tree Foundation
Read: A Love Supreme – Matt Nelson
– an interlude from Welcome to the Revolution: Universalizing Resistance for Social Justice and Democracy in Perilous Times by Charles Derber
“The concepts of love and power have usually been contrasted as opposites, polar opposites, so that love is identiﬁed with a resignation of power, and power with a denial of love… What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and that love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
-Martin Luther King (“Where Do We Go from Here?” 1967)
Mothers are among the 34,000 immigrants required to be detained on any given day, per Congressional mandate in the Department of Homeland Security’s Appropriations Act. In 2009, the Women’s Refugee Commission reported that women represented 10% of those in detention. That was prior to the “border crisis”, which saw thousands of Central American women come to the United States seeking asylum.
“These mothers—our mothers and our families—deserve love, not imprisonment.” This was the rallying call from thousands of loving, compassionate Presente.org activists and our partners who asked the nation a question: how would you feel if your mother were locked up just because she did everything she could to make a better life for herself and her family? As one can imagine, Mother’s Day can be a difﬁcult time for those who are not able to be with loved ones. So, on Mother’s Day 2016, Presente.org hoped to inspire the much needed persistence, compassion, and resilience necessary to end mass incarceration and the horrible private prison industry that separates families, through a powerful show of love for mothers.
Presente.org partnered with Forward Together, Culture Strike, Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) Resistance, and other organizations. Activists and artists across the country collaborated to create cards of hope, love, solidarity, and resistance through the “Strong Families Mama’s Day” e-card campaign.
The result was an amazing action in which activists delivered hard copies of more than 5,000 cards to mothers into more than a dozen detention centers across the country, including the Berks Family Residential Center in Berks County, Pennsylvania—an ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] detention center that lost its operating license in February 2016 due to its unlawful practice of imprisoning immigrant families, including children. At the time of this writing, many of the mothers in this facility are on hunger strike protesting their detention and the conditions at the detention facility.
We leveraged Mother’s Day to support the growing numbers detained, and to shine a light on the devastation caused by private detention centers. Presente.org and our partners were able to harness the universal, supreme love for mothers into a campaign against the inhumane practice of detaining mothers and separating families.
The Mother’s Day action, equal parts organizing and love offering, highlighted a critical dichotomy: the policies of those in power are driven by a racist culture and the proﬁt imperatives of the larger militarized capitalist system, without regard to the humanity of that policy’s victims. In other words, the policies of those in power lack love. By contrast, those protesting are replete with love, but often lack the power to implement policies reﬂective of that love. One side has all the power and none of the love, while the other side has love to spare, but little power.
In a real, tangible, and fundamental way, our work must put some power behind our love in order to put some love inside of power