November 8, 2016 was a turning point for MAG and for many of our clients and partners. A legacy of structural racism and economic injustice along with Citizens United, the loss of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, and the rise of “fake news” entertainment foreshadowed this loss. Moving forward, we may see ourselves, our friends and families, and communities hurt directly by the domino effect of other systemic changes: the criminalization of immigrants and increased deportations, militarization of police that leads to more murders of black people, privatization of health care and education, increased conservatism on the Supreme Court which could overturn Roe v. Wade, increased access to guns and more mass shootings, acceleration of climate change, increased hate crimes and state-sanctioned violence against Muslims, Jews, trans people, and others, and so much more.
The path we are on is more fully revealed and harder to walk. But it follows a long tradition of struggle and our end goal is still the same: love, dignity, and justice. At Management Assistance Group, we have been walking this path for 36 years and we will continue to walk it with you.
We are stepping more fully into love and resistance, while working with you to step back, draw on different ways to understand what is happening, and think about how to build collective power in these times. We are doubling down on movement networks that influence systems from a place of shared values and long-term vision. We are working collaboratively to cultivate flexible leadership, advance deep equity, and build the inner capacity to navigate the ricocheting emotions, tensions, and barriers that emerge.
We are inspired by the courage, hope, resilience, and wisdom of people who have spent generations living in hostile climates and facing oppression. Right now, there are a number of actions that we and our clients and partners are taking that we would like to share with you:
1) Attending to inner work
At MAG, our staff have come together a few times to share how we feel and how we are affected by the impending Trump administration. We talked about how hard it is to focus and work. We shared concerns about our families and friends – and the challenges of being in relationship with those who support the new administration. We shared our emotions that in constant flux from stoicism and anger to pain and fear. Over the next few months, we are creating more space to tend to the emotional and physical needs of our team so that we can sustain our energy and momentum in the face of crushing blows. Our clients and partners are similarly nurturing staff as whole people and creating cultures of mutual support. This blog on inner work may be helpful as you think about what could work best for your organization.
2) Revisiting strategy
At MAG we paused to ask these questions: How relevant is our strategy post-election? How should we adjust our strategy? How does this moment call on us to show up differently as leaders? We are also working with many organizations and networks to reassess their landscapes and scenarios for the future. The questions they are exploring include: What is the immediate need to safeguard our people? What is the long-term balance between defensive battles and proactive approaches? How do we link inside and outside strategies more closely? What do we need to do over the next two years and four years and beyond to build political power at the state and federal level? How do we make decisions when we may no longer have access to key information and people; when future governmental decisions and actions are unpredictable; and when our traditional strategies are less effective? How do we prepare for changes in staffing, resources, and partnerships? If you are asking similar questions, these blogs for organizations or for networks on strategy in complexity may be helpful.
3) Having courageous conversations
Our work with movement networks is built on overcoming historical and contextual divisions and forging work rooted in shared values. We have been building a larger beloved community. And this election has exposed fundamental differences in values regarding who is seen as worthy and valuable and what should be the roles of government, corporations, and individuals in our society. These divisions exist in each of our communities, neighborhoods and families as much as they exist across rural-urban and state lines. It is clear that we cannot be successful until we shift the hearts and minds of more people in more places so that we can all act out of love instead of hate and we can redefine what is equitable and just. Here are just a few of the resources that MAG is drawing on to help facilitate these conversations:
- SURJ’s Thanksgiving Toolkit
- Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Responding to Everyday Bigotry”
- The New York Times’ Discussion Guide
- MAG’s blog on courageous conversations
Most importantly, we want to applaud and thank you – for your work and contribution to this path; for your commitment to intersectional movement building; for finding an inner well of passion, fire, and compassion. Together we will create a world of love, dignity, and justice for all.
We are with you,
– Management Assistance Group Board and Staff
Banner photo credit: Elissa Sloan Perry