Thoughts on Power

Thoughts on Power

“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

— Lilla Watson

What if we embraced our power?

Donald Trump won North Carolina by 173,315 votes.

Roy Cooper won North Carolina by 10,277 votes.

The Trump campaign, and the Berger/Tillis/McCrory/Moore axis before them, campaigned and won through division. They put forward a politics that had the majority of the people at the bottom looking at each other like we were the problem, rather than the folks at the top who were stealing our money, our health care, our political rights, the health of our environment, and our future. We’ve been living under the nightmare of their rule since 2010, and the whole country has joined us since the Trump used race and gender to divide us up enough to win in 2016.

But now, because we also elected Roy Cooper and a state Supreme Court that is willing to stand up to this racist gerrymandering coup, we are in a unique position: the current budget stalemate is a VICTORY. The privatizers have put forward their proposals, but they can’t pass them at midnight without giving anyone a chance to even read them. They had turned that nasty little anti-democratic behavior into a habit. They can’t do that anymore. The Governor we elected (BY 10,277 VOTES) and our state legislators are holding the line with a proposal that speaks to every demand that educators shut down the state over twice in the last year and a half. They’re not going to budge. This is a win. It isn’t THE win, but it is A win.

When we take action together, like voting or shutting down our schools and marching together to demand respect in Raleigh, we win. We don’t win everything at once. That’s not how power works. We have shifted the balance of power ENORMOUSLY. And we did it through the grinding work of organizing our school communities, and connecting with one another across geography, generation, and race. They used to be able to do whatever they wanted. Now they can’t. And we’re closing the gap.

173,315 votes is not that many. And neither is 10,277.

There are over 100,000 public school educators in North Carolina. There are over 1,500,000 students in our schools. Each of them has an adult who loves them. Public schools are the #1, 2, or 3 employer in 97 out of the state’s 100 counties. What if we just dug in, built relationships across our divides, and built ourselves a union that could mobilize THE ENTIRE STATE?

That’s what NCAE is. That’s why Tamika and I are running for NCAE leadership.

We’re a proud part of a pretty remarkable team of leaders who have spent the last 6 years hustling to figure out how to find each other, how to keep each other afloat, how to be courageous in the face of daunting odds and so much suffering, how to fight, and finally, how to win.

There were the November 2013 Walk-Ins, the Decline 2 Sign campaign, the We ❤ Public Schools campaign, the Schools Our Students Deserve Campaign, the Bring Wildin Home campaign, the march and civil disobedience in Raleigh in 2016, 5/16/2018, 5/17/2019, and all sorts of victories from our classrooms to our school boards and county commissions. Each of those efforts put a significant dent in the privatizers’ power. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ve figured some things out, and we’ve got a team that can figure out pretty much anything.

Our students, from the mountains to the coast, deserve the chance to fulfill their limitless potential. It is our job to teach them to read, write, compute, analyze, experiment, act, sing, create, etc. It is our duty to fight for their future. It is common sense to fight for ourselves and our families.

We cannot “fight the good fight” while our people suffer and we/our co-workers flee the profession that we love so dearly. We have to win.

If you’re excited to figure out how to use all of this power we have, sign up here and help us build our union and reclaim our North Carolina.

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