White Supremacy is America’s Greatest Threat: A Letter from BISC’s Executive Director
A week ago, we witnessed an attempted coup d’etat in the United States. The January 6, 2021 insurrection on our Capitol was an attack on our country’s fundamental democratic values, perpetrated by right-wing, white supremacist militants. It was another chapter in our country’s legacy of white supremacist violence. It was a reminder to us that white supremacy is our single greatest threat.
While alarming, the events of last week are neither surprising, nor unexpected. As a Venezuelan-American and student of history and movements, what has been building in this country for years, feels all too familiar. White nationalists have always been here, living and growing among us. January 6th was not the “awakening” of the white power movement – it was simply the most visual representation of a movement, that has been deeply emboldened and directed by a president and complicit Republicans who refused to honor the will of the people. This is the biggest imminent threat to American democracy, if we can keep it.
It was again not surprising but deeply disappointing to witness people who swore to serve and protect us, enable these militants who threaten our democracy and have worked tirelessly to destroy it. They will cling to power, no matter what. Yet, in contrast, we’ve seen time and time again, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people being targeted, detained, and killed simply for protesting for the equal justice that is their right.
I truly believe in the promise of our country. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. The words of Shirley Chisholm remain on my mind: “I love America not for what she is, but what she can become.” We can make this a nation of liberty and justice for all, but we must first confront the stranglehold white supremacy has on our country and hold those who betrayed our democracy to account. And we must do all of this, while harnessing, supporting, funding, and sustaining the energy of our progressive and social justice activists and movement leaders who are doing the brave, complex, grueling work of keeping our democracy and values alive.
So what is BISC’s role in this moment? If racial equity is our North Star then we play an important role in ensuring that ballot measures, the people’s tool, confront and dismantle white supremacy. Without this, we will be unable to build the equitable and just world we deserve. At this moment, ballot measures offer us an opportunity to co-govern with our representatives at every level of government.
Just like we must listen to the will of the people and transfer power in the highest office in our country on January 20, we must listen to the will of the people in our state legislatures and city councils. The people demanded at the ballot, bold solutions to address systemic racism and ensure that we don’t just survive, but thrive. We the People are radically reimagining what it means to build a democracy free from white supremacy. I remain committed to ensuring America becomes a place where all people are fully liberated and live with dignity, and I will not stop until we get there.
Chris Melody Fields Figueredo
Executive Director, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center