2018 Congress Day 3: Thomas

On February 15, 16, and 17, LeftRoots is holding its first national congress. Members from across the country are gathering to identify, discuss, and debate the key features of the current moment, the strategic implications of those conditions, and how LeftRoots and its members can continue to develop and grow to make decisive interventions to push the moment closer to 21st century socialism.

After each day of the congress, a few LeftRoots cadres will blog about their experiences that day in hopes of giving those interested a peek at what we’re doing in California and why we’re so excited about it.

Thomas, New York City:

The theme today: “Ready to struggle, ready to learn.” I’m deeply and wholly full, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and physically. One of my commitments during this congress is to build and deepen camaraderie with my comrades in LeftRoots. That commitment transpired in many ways, one of which was to chop it up, break bread, and party it up!! As much as I felt physically exhausted on the morning of our last day, after a night of dancing and deep building with comrades over good old Jameson, processing the past two days, I was determined to bring my whole self (with the aide of lots and lots of caffeine) into day 3, our final day together. I’d be lying if I convey that I was not in physical pain from the previous night, but the conversations, the brilliance that comrades brought, and the energy of day 3 gave me lots of sustenance that kept me going.

The love that went into the nourishing breakfast, prepared by comrades with some revolutionary cooking skills, elevated my capacity to be fully present and set up me and all of us to bring our best selves forward. We had the fuel to engage powerfully in the next steps process for the Strategy Get Down – the process my comrades and I are protagonizing around to develop strategy for the liberation of our people and planet. A huge part of this protagonism is the LeftRoots Labs—on-the-ground experiments, grounded in praxis, that test our strategy and can propel us forward. After being guided through the number of labs (at least 10!!), I initially navigated to the narrative strategy experiment. This one is looking at doing a rigorous analysis of the current hegemony that can help us develop a counter-hegemomic frame that can strengthen our forces and weaken the opposition’s in the struggle for a world beyond capitalism, heteropatriarchy and white supremacy. Narrative strategy work prepares us to enter the battle of ideas in the US, a terrain our movements have ceded to the Right. This is no small intervention and contribution we can make in the coming decades. I am in awe!

Given my personal and mass-based work-related commitment to electoral work, and especially given the political moment we are in, I then navigated to the electoral lab that a number of our comrades have been putting a ton of intentional thought into. This particular set of comrades shared their proposal for possible ways to engage electorally, with an eye towards our long term vision. There is so much brilliance among these comrades! We discussed some key criteria for how to engage and protagonize in the electoral terrain to not only advance projects to defeat Trumpism and the reactionary forces this represents in the upcoming elections, but to cohere the seeds for a political instrument. Stay tuned is all I gotta say!!

After having space and time for each branch to deepen with one another and process our experiences of the congress, after each of us extending appreciations to at least one other comrade through a LeftRoots love letter, we closed out the day in a powerful, powerful song coming out of the South African anti-apartheid movement – “Why I Am Socialist”. Even though we may not be about church, we took it to church on this song. There was laughter, there was joy, there was crying, there was love, there was a whole range of emotions that held us all.

As I reflect at the end of this historic congress, and as I get ready to commit in my protagonism in a unique and critical way to advance our vision and strategy for liberation, I feel affirmed, really affirmed that as an immigrant from Ethiopia, I’ve made the right decision to stay in the US and have my longing and vision for moving back to Africa on hold. This is huge for me. It’s transformative to know that I’m in deep relationship with other revolutionaries who are committed and ready to advance a vision for another world grounded in love and rigor. This is our responsibility; not only do our movement family in the US depend on us, but my people in Africa and elsewhere are also counting on us to be successful. The world needs us to win.

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