In November of 2005, a small group of powerful organizers gathered in a house, in the Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans. The street lights were still not working and National Guard tanks roamed the near-empty streets alongside the vehicles of a terrifyingly violent and unaccountable police department. Hundreds of thousands of people – Black people – were missing from the city. There was no functioning hospital, no court system, no protection. And it had finally sunk in that the movement was not coming to flank us. “The cavalry” was not coming, as my friend and co-organizer kept repeating, shocked and devastated. My optimism had hit its limit. The human storm of racism, greed, and apathy was too big. We were too small. We were losing. We were dying.
And then one of the organizers, New Orleans born and raised Norris Henderson, who now runs V.O.T.E spoke up. Incredulous at our lack of vision, he said simply, “what are you talking about? We’re winning. In fact, we’ve already won. You know why? Because we’re here fighting. And we will fight one day longer than them.”
11 years later, our communities are at another crossroads. Though the storms have been building, hitting us from multiple directions, though we have seen unprecedented murders and deportations of our people this year, we have also seen unprecedented resistance from a gorgeous and ever-growing movement. A movement that has roots in that post-Katrina moment, has blossomed and exploded, has evolved. So that even in the face of a fascist president-elect, we are, in fact, winning.
As Black trans and queer people, as formerly incarcerated people, as poor people of color, as gender-oppressed people, as immigrants, as elders and youth, as people living with HIV, as disabled people, as justice-loving visionaries, as outcasts and outliers, our movements across the nation have gained incredible strength and power this year. Many of our people have woken up – and will not go back to sleep. Our communities, including here in Atlanta, have come together to wage powerful local battles and have witnessed unprecedented change. It’s not over and there’s a great deal of work between here and there. But we are winning.
Because when we fight, we win.
We aren’t naïve – we don’t win every battle – clearly we don’t. We know the tremendous repression behind and ahead of us. We mean that every day that we wake up and choose to fight – every day that we, who were not meant to survive, open our eyes, stretch our limbs, take a deep breath in, and get up to spend another day organizing our people out of love and toward power, we have already won. Every day that we don’t let them deport us, imprison us, beat us with impunity, we have won.
Because the thing we know is that we will fight one day longer than them. Because in the end our love has endured the test of time and will end up victorious. Because our aliveness and interdependence is more compelling and more powerful than their alienation and domination.
Solutions Not Punishment is not an organization. It’s not even really a coalition. It’s a community. We, the people who are lucky enough to come to the Blue House every day and work, know that we are but trusted servants of a vision and a spirit far greater that we are. Together – with each and every person who has blessed SNaP Co. with your energy, vision, hope, presence, work throughout the years – WE WILL WIN.
So come join us! In love. In rage. In grief. In spirit. In resistance. In power. Come as you are. We love you and appreciate you exactly as you are. Your whole self is welcome here.
Location: Phillip Rush Center, 1530 Dekalb Avenue NE., Atlanta, GA 30307
Time: 7:00 PM – Until