Forming an inclusive movement

Josefine Brons from the Global Justice Now youth network writes about the kind of movement we need to build 

Recent weeks have witnessed mass uprisings of people protesting the current political climate of division and hatred. In response to Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s Marches that took place around the world denounced his sexist and misogynist rhetoric and policies. Following the ‘Muslim Ban’, thousands took their demands for solidarity with migrants and refugees onto the streets. The parliamentary debate about Trump’s state visit served as an opportunity for the Stop Trump coalition to mobilise against the divisive actions of the US President. The conventional understanding of politics is in crisis. All across the global north right-wing extremists are gaining power and redefining what is socially acceptable in liberal societies. We live in a time that will impact the future of how we organise politically. It is, therefore, crucial that we debate what we fight for and how.

Trump’s administration might have been the immediate cause of the current wave of protests, but the underlying problems are systemic. Patriarchy imposing strict gender boundaries and structurally oppressing women, Islamophobia and racist migration policies, international trade deals that put profits before workers’ rights and the environment – these are a few examples of the structural inequalities that govern our societies. As young people, we seem to be left out of decisions made by political elites that are concerned with profitable short-term solutions rather than sustainable and fair policies. Our time to rise is now.

But what sort of movement should we seek to create? To ensure our movement is fully inclusive, we need to build an intersectional movement that acts in solidarity with experienced activists and marginalised communities. Intersectionality was famously described by Audre Lorde who said that we can never fight a “single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives”. We face different forms of discrimination and privilege throughout our lives that relate to our skin colour, the gender we are assigned, the money we have, and so on. Therefore, our movement has to incorporate all these different people with different experiences. Intersecting political challenges are inherent in the lives of young people: we inherit a future of threatening climate change and increasing economic inequalities that are unprecedented in modern capitalism. We do not agree with a governmental system that benefits the few while exploiting and discriminating against all of us.

The positive part is, we do not even need to get started. As an activist from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants recently told me: “People have already started and they have been organising for decades.” What we have to do now is to combine the current political climate of public dissent, elite confusion and activist experience to make sure that marginalised perspectives – which constitute the majority of experiences under an oppressive political system – are put at the centre of our politics. We need to welcome everyone who feels left behind. As long as we stand united and respect each other’s experiences, we can contribute to envisioning the society we want to live in and fight for that future.

Join our debates and discussion, share your experiences, voice your ideas, come and build our youth-led movement at We Rise - the national gathering of the Global Justice Now youth network on 1 April at Goldsmiths University.