Author: Yousuf Munir

The Democrats Will Not Save Us

There is a common misconception in liberal politics that racism is exclusive to one party: the evil Republicans who orchestrate systemic racism all by their lonesome. The truth, as with many things in the political scene, is infinitely worse. In reality, the majority of both Democratic and Republican politicians serve and protect the racist institutions upon which this country was built. It is, unfortunately, in their job description. We do not have to look further than our own city limits to see proof of this; we, as activists, cannot ignore the evils of our city council simply because they have that oh so magical “D” next to their names.

There is no question that Cincinnati suffers from intense racism: in all but one of our CPS schools, Black students are disproportionately punished; our city council refuses to listen to mass demands from its constituents to defund the police and instead insists on giving more funding to Cincinnati’s incredibly racist police force; members of the council have been routinely caught making racist comments about Black members of the city council, and the council continues to displace Black families so they can gentrify the city. The racist police budget that passed this summer wasn’t just passed by the two Republicans on city council, it was also passed by Democrats, all while they were smiling at us and kneeling with us and feeding us empty platitudes about how much they care about their constituents. And this is where the problem arises: the liberal politicians who claim to be on our side when they need our votes are the same politicians voting for and excitedly supporting racist institutions. And many of us on the left make the tragic mistake of believing them and trusting in the system over and over again.

This is not to say that electoralism is necessarily useless, but in Cincinnati, where Democrats have the ability to create any changes they wish, they still refuse to stand up for what is right. electoralism has proven to be a fruitless endeavor, and so we must stop pretending that the Democrats will save us.

But, as always, hope is never lost. While dismantling systems of oppression may be near impossible to do through the electoral arena in Cincinnati, change is still possible. We can always save ourselves. 

There are two main avenues in which movements have been successful in the past: direct action/disruptive protests, and mutual aid. Mutual aid is a lesser-known means of change than disruptive protests, but is a fairly simple concept; mutual aid seeks to meet the immediate needs of our community when the government fails to meet those needs. For example, in Cincinnati, when hundreds of protestors were wrongfully arrested over the summer, it was Cincinnati residents, not the government, who helped raise money for their bail, and it was Cincinnati lawyers who helped fight for them in court. A more historical example can be found through the study of the Black Panthers; they sought to provide for their community by providing food and other resources when the government was content to let them starve. Disruptive protests are significantly more well-known and understood than mutual aid, and can take any number of forms, but they must always disrupt the status quo. “Protests” that YAC has planned in the past, like the March for Our Lives in Cincinnati, cannot be considered disruptive or effective protests, as they received permits and actively worked with the police, thereby actively enforcing the status quo. It is important to note, however, that neither of these methods of change will ever be effective without sustained pressure, and escalation of the disruptive protests.

Cincinnati is filled to the brim with people that care about each other. Unfortunately, the left-wing of Cincinnati is so caught up in the game that our politicians play with us that we forget that we can take care of each other without the politicians and their racism. The Democrats cannot and will not save us, that responsibility is on us, and us alone.

Introducing The Fix Our Schools Campaign

Young Activists Coalition has been a powerful force in the organizing community of Cincinnati for the past four years. We have spent much of this time focusing on the big issues affecting our nation and state, including gun violence, the climate crisis, reproductive healthcare, income inequality, and more. We’ve done our best to ensure that young people have had a say in and the ability to stand up proudly for the things we believe in, but in doing so, we have inadvertently ignored some of the issues that affect young, high school students the most. We never tackled the issues that we face from 8 AM to 3 PM, 5 days a week. We never tackled the fact that cops with guns are in our schools. We never tackled the complete lack of mental health resources available in schools. And we most certainly never tackled the roles our schools play in enforcing the racist school-to-prison pipeline through the implementation of zero tolerance and punitive policies. We, the members of Young Activists Coalition, will never make the mistake of ignoring how broken our schools are ever again.

It is for these reasons that we are now officially launching the Fix Our Schools campaign. Through this campaign, we will organize and mobilize student bodies in high schools all over the Greater Cincinnati area to demand that our schools no longer serve as enforcers of the colonialist, white supremacist system, but rather serve as a model of what our world can look like. Fixing our schools can show us what a world without policing can look like, it can show us what a world without punitive responses to harm, and with transformative and restorative justice can look like, it can show us what a world that cares for and defends its most marginalized people can truly look like. 

The demands of this campaign are plentiful, and may vary from school to school, but can be summarized very succinctly: We demand that our schools become socially just places of learning that teach us to care for our most marginalized communities. We demand that our schools become a place of radical love built on transforming our world. 

If you are interested in reading through our full demands (which may vary from school to school) they are listed below:

  • Restorative/Transformative Justice in schools
  • Removing police officers from schools
  • Elected student representatives on school board
  • More just curriculum
    • Inclusive sex-ed
    • Climate justice
    • Anti-racist curriculum
    • Inclusive of LGBTQ+ community
  • Remove metal detectors
  • Increase teacher salaries
  • Create systems of accountability for teachers and administrators
  • More counselors and mental health resources in schools
  • Prevent overcrowded classrooms
  • Constructive and well-funded anti-discrimination policies:
  • Better protections for disabled students
  • Re-allocation of funds in a more equitable way
  • Open budgets
  • Trans-inclusive schools