labor It is Trump-ism That Must Be Defeated
Congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Their victory in this election is not only transformative for our country, but for the Black and Brown voters in Chicago – and in cities like Chicago – who took to polls and used their most powerful lever of change to help restore our country to normalcy.
It was Black enslaved laborers and indigenous peoples who rebuilt the United States following the Revolutionary War, and it is those same individuals who are rebuilding our country following four years of Donald Trump’s war on democracy.
Transformation comes with a strong commitment to organizing and coalition work, and we owe Black and Brown grassroots organizers – in every city and state that went overwhelmingly blue – a great debt. Thank you for seeing what is often unseen by operatives, pundits and party leadership. Thank you for acknowledging the complexity of choosing survival.
Thank you to Black voters, in particular, in cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, and to Brown voters in Arizona and Nevada. You are formidable, and once again, you have demonstrated a commitment to a vision of America that your ancestors have died for, and that we have still not yet realized.
Thank you to the Black voters and voices in our own city who supported President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris – more than 82 per cent of whom also voted yes to Fair Tax and progressive revenue. There is overwhelming support in Chicago for city, county and state budgets that tax wealthy individuals and corporations instead of laying off public workers or imposing more fees and fines on working people. Service cuts, layoffs and punitive fines are the agenda of the white supremacists and billionaires like Ken Griffin, who happily watch poor Black and Brown people suffer, and whom we unequivocally oppose.
Communities of color are the backbone of the Illinois Democratic Party, and they deserve more for their loyalty and investment. The new legislative map must assure better representation, particularly for Black Chicagoans, who have endured school closings, the loss of public housing and scant neighborhood investment at the hands of Democrats, but nonetheless, steadfastly kept Illinois blue.
Democrat leaders in our state must end their bickering over control of the party, and instead, stay focused on putting forth policies will secure the future for their most loyal constituents – the Black residents of our state.
As a union of educators, we look forward to President-elect Biden fulfilling the promises made in his education platform, which include increased funding for low-income special education students, a reduction in standardized testing and an end to charter school expansion. Our communities, which continue to be ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, also need major relief immediately.
The Black and Brown communities that rescued our country from Donald Trump are the same communities where people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19, and suffering under the economic effects of this pandemic. Their recovery will require cash payments, rental and mortgage relief, extended unemployment, and medical debt forgiveness.
Our union’s focus remains upholding the values that our educators and the communities they serve hold high and true – anti-racism, fighting for progressive revenue, criminal justice reform and strengthening public education and the public sector. Donald Trump will go, but Donald Trump-ism will remain, because that is rooted in white supremacy and discrimination, which are as old as our country itself. This is what fuels hate, fuels division and fuels big money forces like Griffin who want to close our schools and defund public education.
Unity doesn’t come because we ignore this hate; unity comes because we do the work to confront it and move our city and our country forward. Today we reflect, but tomorrow we get back to work and continue to push our leaders in fighting for the schools our students deserve. •
The Chicago Teachers Union is an organization of educators dedicated to advancing and promoting quality public education, improving teaching and learning conditions, and protecting members’ rights.