Moment of Clarity: Revolution
Why the Revolution Won’t be Televised
Do you care? Are there any other options? Are you fed up? This semester has been movement crazy, yet where are we moving to, who is going and why are we moving? From student government to concerned student, we all need to leave Howard with the knowledge of how to turn complaints and dissent into a productive force for change. Based on the initiatives that have been attempted this semester, I have developed a few points of improvement that need to be taken into consideration.
First of all, if you can’t answer the “for what?” question, your movement will be unsuccessful and move merely toward mediocrity. The goal needs to be clearly defined and explicitly articulated throughout every aspect of the campaign. Imagine a group of people walking without anywhere to go. The impressiveness of getting people to move is negated by the lack of destination. The goal should be specific; general goals such as ‘raising awareness’ can be accomplished by referring everyone to Wikipedia.
Another issue often found with goals is that they are not strategic or feasible in a lot of cases. Protests and rallies are effective ways of exciting the masses and generating slight press coverage, but I guarantee those clever chants do not reverberate in the halls of power. Lobbying, phone banking, and mailing campaigns are all proven ways of generating elected officials’ attention. There are 535 legislators in the Federal government; get at them. Invite some to campus to speak on these topics at programs. Senator Schumer championed the first Assault Weapons Ban, sit down with his staff. Senator Baucus sponsored the most current version of the healthcare bill, have 200 students call his office. The Congressional Black Caucus is this week, when is the last time some of those members spoke on the issues that you are passionate about? Congressman Conyers represents Detroit, arguably the city needing the most help, yet the panel he will be hosting focuses on Jazz issues. Movements need to be strategic and take advantage of the political system instead of working independently of it.
The next issue is leadership; leaders with no vision need not be dignified with the title. If you attach your name to a movement, you should exude the movement in everything you do. If you don’t take it seriously, who will? Some of the campaigns this semester are for highly noble causes, but the leadership is lacking. Furthermore, leaders have to do more mobilization. Announcing the time and place of your rally, sending facebook messages, and posting Hilltopics are not effective mobilization tactics. Get into the dorms, classrooms, cafeterias, and everywhere else to speak to students on an individual basis.
I have been proud of these movements so far, and I hope they continue to inspire and motivate students. However, if we want them to result in actual change, its time to get serious, strategic, and specific. Otherwise we will continue to let MSNBC and CNN frame the debate for us.