Davis made it clear that despite having serious problems with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton—and the electoral political system as it currently exists—she would be going to the polls next month to stop Republican nominee Donald Trump from darkening the doors of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
AD wants new political party that’s feminist, led by POC, represents working class and LGBTQI, fights for animals… #BlackMatters2016
— IUPRA (@IUPRA_UT) September 30, 2016
— IUPRA (@IUPRA_UT) September 30, 2016
“I have serious problems with other candidate, but I am not so narcissistic to say I cannot bring myself to vote for her” #BlackMatters2016
— IUPRA (@IUPRA_UT) September 30, 2016
According to a report from the Atlanta Black Star, during the Many Rivers to Cross festival that took place just outside Atlanta this past weekend, Davis again made plain her commitment to helping build a political “party that is feminist; a party that is anti-racist; a party that is opposed to the occupation of Palestine by the state of Israel; a party that will represent the true needs of the people, not only of this country but the people of the world.”
To that end, Davis also reiterated her position that the stakes in this election are too high not to go to the polls and vote against Trump, who would “reverse gains that [marginalized and oppressed people] have made over decades and generations.”
“I have problems with the other candidate. I have problems with Hillary Clinton; I’m sorry,” Davis said. “Because I have problems with the Democratic Party that is just as linked to the corporate capitalist structure as the Republican Party.
“There is one river that we have to cross next month,” Davis concluded. “And let’s cross that river so that we will be able to begin the process of building a movement that will transform in a revolutionary manner the entire society of the United States of America.”
Despite her making these similar statements recently in two different venues, the difficult questions that Davis’ position conjures are not new: Can revolutionary strategy be repackaged in a “better of two evils” argument that W.E.B. Du Bois warned us about as far back as 1956? What does political bargaining from a radical position look like—and is that even possible without becoming complicit in replicating or sustaining systems of oppression?
This is an important, if uncomfortable, conversation to have.
Many Rivers to Cross, a festival dedicated to centering and amplifying music, art and the continuous fight for justice, was organized by Sankofa.org, a social-justice organization founded by the legendary Harry Belafonte.
As previously reported on The Root by Ronda Racha Penrice, “the two-day inaugural music and arts festival brought together like-minded celebrities and activists—including Davis, Jesse Williams, John Legend, Common and Public Enemy—to highlight issues important to the disenfranchised.”
The portion of Davis’ talk that pertained to politics—which can be seen below—was captured by Atlanta Black Star. The Root has transcribed it below.
A vast number of people in this country, largely white people, who do not recognize that their pain and their suffering is linked to the pain and suffering of black people, of Latinos, [and] Native Americans. They do not realize that they are suffering the consequences of global capitalism. And so you have a capitalist … like Donald Trump, who represents himself as their savior.
[Someone in the crowd screams, “[F—k] Donald Trump!”]
Yeah, we can do that [crowd laughter] but we also have to figure out how to prevent Donald Trump from being elected next month. Now as a person who has been involved in radical politics all of my life, I have never seen the electoral arena as the place where I can express my radical revolutionary politics.
And it’s kind of hard to imagine being revolutionary within the existing electoral system. Am I right?
So I think we need a new party. I think we have to start imagining and building a political party that is not linked to the capitalist corporations; a party that is feminist; a party that is anti-racist; a party that is opposed to the occupation of Palestine by the state of Israel; a party that will represent the true needs of the people not only of this country but the people of the world.
And I can also talk about a party that stands for food sovereignty; a party that recognizes that when capitalist corporations are involved in the production of food that human beings need to nourish themselves, they’re involved for the purposes of generating as much profit as possible. And therefore they destroy the earth. They create untold pain for the animals that they raise in order to provide food for human beings.
So, I want a radically different kind of political party.
But, unfortunately, it’s not going to be possible to build that party between now and Election Day.
[A few in the crowd scream, “Jill Stein!”]
So, as much as I will argue that the electoral arena is not a space where we can exercise our radical politics. I will not tell you not to vote. We all have to exercise the right to vote. We have struggled too long and too hard to give up that right today.
[Someone in the crowd says, “Vote Gary Johnson!”]
I don’t know about that.
So I want to ask you to think about the best reason for going to the polls next month. The best reason, in my opinion, is to create the space that will allow us to begin to build our movements, to create flourishing movements, and to build that political party that I was talking about a moment ago.
And you know what will happen if Donald Trump is elected. You know about the consequences for generations to come. The fact alone that it would be possible to stack the Supreme Court in a way that will reverse so many of the gains for which we struggled over decades and over generations.
So what does that mean?
[A few in the crowd scream, “Stein!” “Vote Green!”]
You know, if you go to the polls … and you … if you … I have problems with the other candidate. I have problems with Hillary Clinton—I’m sorry.
Because I have problems with the Democratic Party that is just as linked to the corporate capitalist structure as the Republican Party. But I know that if I vote for Donald Trump or if I don’t vote for anyone, that I will perhaps be contributing to the possibility of increasing repression over the next decades and let me tell you I know what repression is all about. Early in my career as a political activist, I was charged with murder, kidnapping and conspiracy, and faced the death penalty three times. And it was only because of the development of a mass movement all over the world that my life was saved and that I can be with you this afternoon reflecting on the possibilities of building a movement that is going to safeguard our future.
And, so, let me say that we cannot take where we are for granted. It is wonderful that young people are rising up, not only all [over] this country, but let’s remember that our movements are connected with what is going in Brazil, with what is going on in Colombia, with what is happening in Palestine, with what is going on at this very moment in South Africa because they are struggling again to be able to imagine a future that is a future of freedom.
And so let me conclude by saying that there is one river that we have to cross next month. And let’s cross that river so that we will be able to begin the process of building a movement that will transform in a revolutionary manner the entire society of the United States of America.
Make sure you protect your vote in this critical election for America. Learn more about how to register and protect your vote here.