On Wednesday morning after Donald Trump won the presidency, the staff and long term strategy team of the Divestment Student Network came together to meet. As person after person cried and spoke about their heartbreak and fear, what rose to the top was how grateful we all are to have this community. We didn’t see this moment coming, but as campaign coach and racial justice coordinator Jong Chin said, we have been preparing for this. Our four years of training, organizing and relationship building have allowed the divestment movement to win incredible victories, and they have made us ready for this moment. The networks of young people that exist across this country are powerful, and we are ready to support each other to grieve and to rise.
I grew up in Wisconsin, with state politics coursing through my veins. Republican Scott Walker was elected Governor just as I was leaving for college, drawing on the anger and disillusionment of the white, working class. His hallmark legislation has been gutting the unions by ending their ability to bargain collectively.
Over the past few years, I’ve seen people in Wisconsin take beautiful, creative action defending the things they love. But I have also seen how fear and scarcity have divided people who should be fighting together. I’ve seen how easy it is to back into our corners, and to be stuck on defense. This election has shown me again that when we don’t put forward a vision, we keep losing.
Donald Trump won this election because people believed he would make their lives better. After years of politics as usual failing them, many Americans refused to vote for the status quo. Donald Trump found effective scapegoats, and he told a powerful story. If we want to start winning, we need to tell a better story. We need a vision for a future worth fighting for. And to do that, our movement needs to level up.
It will take everything we have not to back into our corners in the years to come. To not be defensive, or powerless. We don’t know exactly what this moment means for our movement, but we do know that fighting for a just and livable planet is more important than ever. We know that the fossil fuel industry helps hold up Trump’s presidency, that he will give them the green light to continue destroying communities, and that our climate can’t afford to wait four years. That makes stigmatizing the fossil fuel industry, and supporting resilience and solutions work at the local level critical in this time.
The DSN is committed to supporting young people to build something better. We’ve just completed our long term strategy process and are excited to share the plans we’ve made to ramp up the fight for a just transition away from fossil fuels. We’ll send out a full update soon.
In the meantime, reach out to one another and to us. Step into leadership, and call on your people to come together. We will send out information about a webinar to connect with fellow organizers next week. Let’s support each other, as people and as a movement, to rise.
P.S. There is a national day of NoDAPL actions on Tuesday, November 15th, to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock and fight for our collective future. Find out more information about how to join here.