The Postponed: What is “The Work We Still Have to Do?”

Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats kneeling, draped with Kente Stoles

It’s time to cool it with the platitudes and develop an ideology.

The Postponed is a daily dispatch during the post-electoral purgatory between the result and the inauguration

Day 7:

We’re a week in. Congrats everyone, it’s great to be here. Let me know if I can top you up on champagne or perhaps you’d like tonight’s cocktail special: a Georgia peach margarita with a dash of white tears? From what I hear the waterworks do wonders for the skin especially in the winter months. It seems as if we’ve got an infinite supply of them but we try to filter them out by their emotional base. Tears of joy are on the sweeter side while their heartbroken flavor give more of a sour head kick. So can I put you down for a double? No? Ah I see, still got some work to do? Fair.

Ah yes, we’ve entered the tavern of hazy platitudes on this here trip through limbo and honestly I’m drunk off the virtue signaling. After a day full of defensive chatterings from Dems and liberals of “let us be happy,” now we’ve got to focus on “The Work.” When those words pipe up in news media or in regular conversation, what usually follows are a list of ills plaguing this country. Ill’s we’ve chronicled quite a bit in the seven days since the election kicked off. We know about the incarceration rates, the murder and poverty rates for Black and Brown trans people, we know of the violences against countries across the world collapsing under the weight of our exploitation and assaults. But what do we do? What is the work to be done now?

The fact that the question has to be asked speaks to the dearth of political imagination and the omnipresence of propaganda in the US. The Work, for Democrats, looks like kneeling with kente stoles on Capitol Hill. Sounds like Joe Biden calling a Plan for Black America that’s drowning in reformist language. To restitch our snipped imaginations we need a focus on building up strong ideology through struggle and education. America’s imperialist hold on us begins in the mind, through affixing our ideologies to strict but altogether narrow binaries. I wrote a little about this in a piece on LEVEL about the weaponization of ever-changing polling numbers and how they distract from the rigidity of our choices. But even more, they speak to the lack of solid ideology. The radical summer that spurred conversations around abolition and defunding the police has been quelled by the fervor of Trump’s ousting. It begs the question whether this show of “solidarity” was meant to be in service of the powers that be and not all that dismantling mumbo-jumbo we were causing a ruckus over just a few short months ago.

It’s hard to know what anyone actually believes anymore and that’s a dangerous concept when going into struggling with others. The stakes are high and being rendered vulnerable to unrooted people who exploit our energy could mean huge losses for the movement toward liberation. And this for me is one of the bigger betrayals of the year. The courageousness with which Black people moved in the streets, defying police, learning about alternative ways of being. We wrestled together with the idea that we might be able to protect ourselves as local communities, that redistributing the grotesquely excessive police budgets (and the services ostensibly provided therein) towards services that empower citizens to assist one another when life gets too fucking real. While it does seem clear that the calls for accountable politicians was heard during the campaign (with folks endlessly repeating that we must keep our foot on the gas pedal), these candidates made no bones about giving money to local police, continuing to frack across the world, denying universal healthcare, and doing nothing about America’s global prison and detention system; so being accountable to what exactly remains to be seen.

Right now it seems the most work mainstream heads are willing to do is ensure that the Democrats aren’t necessarily as mean as Trump. As obviously hateful as Trump. The DNC’s gameplan was likability over everything and they barely won the election because of it. If this worked for voters, what incentive do Biden and Harris have to acquiesce to our demands? The work still has to be done but we haven’t really figured out what that work is. Are we attempting to divorce America from it’s blood contract with anti-blackness and patriarchy? Are we attempting to edify the lives of the most marginalized? If we know that the Democrats are not going to do that work. Then who will?

African from Texas• Staff Writer at LEVEL • Black politics, Celebrity interviews, TV & Film Criticism • Previously: MTV News, San Francisco Chronicle