Despite receiving more than seventy million votes, Donald Trump went down in defeat in November, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are preparing to take over the White House. At this moment, we think it is important for scholars and activists to think about the potential consequences of a Trump defeat for the causes that have brought activists into the streets over the past four years. Since his inauguration in January of 2017, Trump represented an existential threat to social justice for people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants, and poor and working class people. At the same time, he emboldened activists and hate group members on the extreme right. We would like to publish essays that give us tools for imagining how activism will change with Trump’s departure, and how activist organizations can repair the damage that Trump has caused while also advancing beyond a return to the pre-Trump status quo.
This month, we have seven outstanding contributors. Many thanks for their contributions on this topic:
Editors in Chief,
Rory McVeigh, David Ortiz, Grace Yukich and Daisy Verduzco Reyes
It is hard to overstate the importance of the recent election results to campaigns for social justice. The defeat of President Donald Trump by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—plus the Democratic control of Congress—flips the script. Activists who would be hoping at best to delay further negative action from the Trump administration by way of protest may now expect real advances to their causes and missions through governmental action.
It is already very clear that the forces Trump unleashed will not go away just because he lost the 2020 election. Furthermore, the deeply entrenched social problems that Trump exploited and exacerbated are also not going away. Extreme inequality, racism, climate change, and the coronavirus pandemic continue to drive social instability and political violence.
Honestly, I am not sure where to begin writing about organizing in a post-Trump world. The appalling spectacle of armed white rage loosed on the Capitol on January 6th makes one hard-pressed to claim that “Trumpism” is going away any time soon. Also, I find that I never moved beyond the brutality of Attorney Jeff Session’s “Zero Tolerance Policy,” a policy that directed government agents to rip screaming immigrant children, toddlers, and babies from the arms of their parents. To this day, there are over 600 such children whom we have not reunited with their parents. The reality of inflicting that kind of brutality – along with an accompanying callous indifference – on other human beings is the stuff of nightmares.
Suggested further reading:
Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos. 2014. Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America. Oxford University Press.
The chaos of the past four years culminated in an insurrection inspired by outgoing President Donald Trump in an attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. The Capitol police, compared to the show of force they presented to peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors just months earlier, made comparably little effort to block the mostly white insurrectionists. As the invaders entered the Capitol, congressional representatives and senators were forced to don gas masks, barricade the doors of their chambers, and flee to a secret location as Trump supporters banged on the doors of terrified Congressional members and staffers and some called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence. As a result of the attempted coup, six people died, including one officer who died by suicide just days later. The coup attempt came as no surprise to those in the gun violence prevention (GVP) movement who have long worked to end both armed intimidation and racism in policing.
Joe Biden’s inauguration, in conjunction with the Democratic Party’s very narrow majority in the Senate, dramatically changes the prospects for advocates and activists for all sorts of causes. Students of social movements should be able to make a few guesses at how, and what’s coming. The events of the pre-post-Trump era suggest, emphatically, that President Biden, despite his avowed intent to promote national healing and unity, will face vigorous and volatile social movements from both the left and right.
As I write this article at the end of August, 2020, socially defined “minority” communities across the country are protesting yet another police shooting of an African American, that of 29-year old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Earlier in the year, there were weeks of activism over the strangulation of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man in Minneapolis, Minnesota; the shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American female emergency medical technician in Louisville, Kentucky; the killing of Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old African American man, in Atlanta, Georgia; the strangulation of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old African American massage therapist in Aurora, Colorado; and the death of other many others at the hands the police.
This is an excerpt from a forthcoming article in the Journal of Critical Animal Studies.
Despite an avowed commitment to reject human ways of being and doing and knowing in favor of Other life-sustaining hermeneutics, even the most exciting scholarship to emerge from Critical Animal Studies (CAS) does not address animality as a humanist construct that is also or especially a race/ist and un/gendering cut. As Zakiyyah Iman Jackson argues of CAS and of similar moves to think the nonhuman,
Given that appositional and homologous (even co-constitutive) challenges pertaining to animality…have long been established in thought examining the existential predicament of modern racial blackness[,] the resounding silence…with respect to race is remarkable, persisting even despite the reach of antiblackness into the nonhuman—as blackness conditions and constitutes [every] nonhuman disruption and/or displacement they invite. …According to Man’s needlessly racially delimited terms, the matter of racial being purportedly does the work of arbitrating epistemological questions about the meaning and significance of the (non)human in its diverse forms, including animals, machines, plants, and objects …Whether machine, plant, animal, or object, the nonhuman’s figuration and mattering is shaped by the gendered racialization of the field of metaphysics. …Thus, terrestrial movement toward the nonhuman is simultaneously movement towards blackness, whether blackness is embraced or not, as blackness constitutes the very matter at hand (216, original emphasis).
In 2019, I released “Veganism of Color: Decentering Whiteness in Human and Nonhuman Liberation” as a conversation specifically meant between Vegans of Color and other People of Color. It was always meant to be a resource for us, by us in an effort to undo the damage that the mainstream vegan movement continues to do to Nonhuman Animal Rights/Liberation in a time when the movement still does not seem to acknowledge that centering nonhumans means to address the oppressive hierarchies also tied to otherized humans. Plainly stated, nonhuman animals have been a tool of whiteness, and whiteness is something that remains invisible to most white and other non-Black vegans and non-vegans.