Karla Monterroso #CloseTheCamps+ Your Authors @karlitaliliana CEO @CODE2040, Board Chair for @1Deg, @USC alum - Connected, passionate, heart-driven, wanderlust, change maker. #WiseLatina 🇬🇹🇲🇽 PN: she/her/ella May. 07, 2020 4 min read + Your Authors

"We are at the beginning of the Great Decimation. A decimation galvanized at the crosshairs of a pandemic, historic levels of inequality, and an erosion of investment in the public good."  https://link.medium.com/YFgICtLXi6 

It is important we treat this like decimation because a pandemic may have kicked over the final domino, but the complex web that allows all of them to come tumbling down has been building and building for decades.

We weren’t just unready, we were made unready. The loss of life we are seeing right now could have been prevented but few wanted to believe this was coming.

A week after the Presidential election I was on the phone with my cousin and he was insisting these four years would not be as bad as I imagined they would be. He was confident, as many were, that our systems would hold off major catastrophe.

Nothing made folks with resources move to prepare for this. In fact, many of us were told that our funding for the public good was contingent on not talking about it directly.

People of color were, as always, the canaries in the coal mine. It didn’t occur to anyone that we were an indicator of the conditions of the coal mine to come for everyone else.

From election night on I saw two common themes, one, folks desperately wanted to talk about how we possibly could have gotten here. That came in a couple of different ways.

Among predominantly white progressive groups both centrist and liberal I saw bewilderment and a desire to Monday morning quarterback each moment that led up to the 2016 election.

It showed up in 1,000 details over podcasts, think pieces, philanthropic lunch and learns in which many of us tried to explain the American politics of race to newly “willing to listen” middle-class to wealthy white folks.

The second way it manifested was a group, mostly people of color, expressing being disturbed but not surprised. We analyzed with each other and in public versions of “Let me tell you how White Supremacy has always overplayed its hand”

I saw a tremendous amount of leadership go out into the field and organize and prep. Those leaders went to get funding to prepare for what it meant to do our work in a hostile world. To prep for the disasters to come.

On the philanthropic side, I saw the event that launched a thousand strategic evaluations. And while many folks tried to plan for the future, we faced yet another round of people saying “We’re changing direction but would love to hear more as we flesh out our strategy”

The thing about both of these reactions is they don’t build for the future. On one end you have folks paralyzed looking at the past as if that will change the future. On the other end, you have folks so undercapitalized that the present is all they can build for.

We are given “hold the line” money for the encroachment of plutocracy and literal fascism.

As a society, we are proving to be terrible at believing that the situation we are in IS as terrible as it seems. We don’t want to admit that in a battle of good and evil, sometimes good losses. We don’t want to admit that we lost the current battle.

Many will interpret “we lost this battle in 2016” as yet another indictment of the election. But it isn’t. When I refer to losing this battle in 2016, I’m referring to how slow we all were to create the infrastructure needed to battle the moment we are in today.

What happens in this moment of catastrophe if instead of having spent the last 3 years denying how bad this could get, we vaccinated our public good space against the pandemic of inequality for the battles we were screaming were sure to come?

Our frontline public good workers — organizers, direct service providers, educators, community leaders — are navigating sometimes undiagnosed but surely astronomical amounts of anxiety and depression.

Holding the line is not enough. We need to fund and support not only the folks we need to stem the losses of the current fight but the folks that need to plan and build actual infrastructure for the battles to come.

We already have a map of what is coming. The 1918 Flu happened and spread in large part as a consequence of World War I and eleven years later we saw the 1929 stock market crash and subsequent Great Depression. It took four years from the Great Depression to New Deal politics

It took from 1933 to 1939 and then end of World War II to finish out the New Deal project. We need only to look at the pattern. Our stock market crash came first in 2008. Our pandemic came 12 years later. A second economic decimation is happening around us now.

What does that tell us about the battles we need to fight now. Why can’t we look into the future of worst-case possibilities, believe them possible, and then start waging the fight for those battles now?

We can spend this time doubting this will get worse and/or in a deep emotional depression that saps us of any desire for the next iteration of “the work” or we can grow. We can choose not to move with urgency but to move with clarity of purpose and intentionality.

You can follow @karlitaliliana.


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