In Response to the State of the Union

George Orwell once said that the future is a boot stomping on a human face forever.

What we forget is that the man wearing the boot will be telling you to like it. He will be telling you that this stomping makes you great. That this bloodletting is necessary for the vaguely defined greatness of the past to return. That the pain you feel is because of the immigrant taking your job, the bad policies of America’s first Black president, or the furtive terrorist always creeping around the corner. If you close your eyes and focus on your anger, on your despair, on your loneliness, you might be able to forget about the boot.

This is how Trump’s proto-fascism has become normalized. No matter the laws the presidents breaks, no matter the communities or countries he insults, no matter the catastrophes he creates, the President has been allowed to pretend that the social peace is intact. To pretend—despite the slow-creeping insecurity that all Americans can feel—that everything is normal. This means every politician who refuses to disrupt Trump’s agenda is also pretending that the boot stomping on your spirit is merely fake news.

Yet the truth—degraded and unvalued as it is—is that this is not normal.

Even those of us who understand the reality of what American Empire has always meant to the oppressed must recognize that we are living in a time not only of crisis but of the weaponization of crisis. For Trump, the truth is not objective or even a matter of perspective. For Trump, the truth is a weapon. Spoken bodly and unapologetically, it is a threat to his regime. Fabricated and shouted over and over, drilled into our eardrums like the heel of a boot, it is merely a tool to be molded to his own purposes.

Trump’s first year in office has been marked by instability and policies reflective of its leader. Like a Nazi trying to hide a neck tatoo, Trump shows his true colors whenever he shifts aimlessly from empty platitude to veiled threat. From the beginning, Trump’s speeches made half-hearted nods to hope and inspiration but quickly turned to crisis, to hurricanes, to shootings—to fear and anxiety. Trump shows, again and again, that he is fundamentally not interested in bringing safety or even security, but only in exploiting crisis. To Trump, these crises are not signs that we need to build systems of support, increase public investment in critical infrastructure, or develop mutual aid. Rather, they are calls for heroes. For toughness. For exceptional measures. For deregulation, strength, and “American grit.”

For Trump, a crisis is not a time for deep reflection on the true cause of the crisis or innovation, but for aggressive deregulation and attacks on immigrants. Global instability created by decades of exploitative U.S foreign policy demonstrates the need for police, for the military, and for “unity” that comes at the cost of freedom. Support for the military is never taken to mean ensuring that military families aren’t on welfare or aren’t sent to die or to kill other poor people for the economic interests of a few. Rather, the “unwavering support” that the military “deserves” is circular in its logic. America is great because our military is great. Our military is great because America is great.

Trump hopes to unite isolated, economically depressed and often ridiculed white people in middle America  against an endless series of fictive opponents. Trump seeks to obscure the structural nature of our economic, ecological and political problems in favor of our more easily identifiable scapegoat: the other. Like all fascist he believes that unity can only be achieved through violence. America can only be great by winning the war on terror, the war on opioids, or the war on immigration and demographic change.

In his State of the Union address, Trump made the new moral calculus of this country clear. Unaccompanied minors escaping civil strife caused by the drug war = vicious drug dealers. Black communities = areas hobbled by welfare and crime, that should be grateful for stagnant wages and tentative work in the gig economy. ICE agents who raid homes, drag families apart, and destroy communities = American heroes. Strength = security, security = safety, safety = freedom, and therefore, strength = freedom. Peace and global cooperation are merely magical idealism.

This calculus is not mathematical or logical or even reasonable. Rather, it is emotional. It is the logic of lonely, resource-deprived, and hopeless people wishing for something exceptional to claim. It is what must be true in order to forget the boot constantly stomping on our faces.

Yet, the Black Lives Matter Network and Black America in general cannot forget this boot on our faces. In fact, every Black American knows the sole of that boot all too well. We see it when we see brown water spurting out of our faucets. We sense it every time we see urban police use the same tactics in our neighborhood that the IDF uses in Gaza. We know it’s there when we remember that Black women are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Mostly, we know it when we realize that the nature of our people, of any people, is to be free, vibrant, joyful, and community-centered but we find ourselves imprisoned, disenchanted, depressed, and isolated.  

Therefore: We will not accept Trump’s lies.

We will no longer accept a boot stomping on a human face.

Instead, we will plant our feet firmly in the truth of who we are.

We are beautiful Black people born to be vibrant, joyful, and free.

We deserve and thus we demand clean water, safe schools, and communities conducive to life. We deserve and thus we demand policies that recognize we exist as both individuals who need opportunities and members of beloved communities who need reparations. We deserve and thus we demand reproductive justice that gives us autonomy over our bodies and our identities while ensuring that our children and families are supported, safe, and able to thrive. We deserve and thus we demand particpatory democracy that encompasess political, econonmic, cultural, spiritual, and sexual self-determination.

As an African-descended people forged in the fires of the American South, we are accustomed to fascism on a regional level and thus don’t expect it to be any more accommodating on the federal scale. We know that there will be no justice in this world beyond the justice we create together through love and solidarity. We know that we must BLOCK the agenda of the Trump administration so that we have the space to BUILD the world we want—a world where are free to BE beautiful, vibrant, and Black.

We are not engaged in a fight against fascism or the Trump administration. Such binary thinking reflects Trump’s own and assumes that, like him, our goal is merely to win. Rather, we are engaged in a project of human emancipation rooted in Black liberation. We are building a better world in the here and now where we can be loved, supported, and free. We are working towards social transformation within ourselves, in our relationships, throughout our communities, and in the systems that run the world. We are dancing, hand in hand, towards a better possible future on the horizon with determination, unity, and love.

We invite all oppressed people who can feel themselves being written out of the American dream to join us in this project. We invite all who seek freedom, love, and abundance to join us on our march, not merely against hate, but towards freedom. We invite all you who value liberty to unite with us under the banner of “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Solidarity, dignity, and power now and forever.