Black Activists Discuss Next Steps for Progressives in Trump's America

Complex talked with DeRay McKesson, Zellie Imani, and Tiq Milan to find out how they plan to move progressive politics forward under a President Trump.

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Donald Trump was declared the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election. Many Americans are frustrated with those results but for organizers who work every day to push our democracy forward, a Trump presidency represents but the latest challenge.

Ahead of the election results, Complex talked with several organizers to find out how they plan to move progressive politics forward after Election Day.

“We will need to be organized on November 9. And that’s when the work will start. Making sure that the next administration prioritizes things that are important to our lives,” said DeRay McKesson, a prominent activist within the Black Lives Matter movement. “I feel confident that we’ll be able to ensure that we press for this work not to slow down.”

There’s good reason to think that Americans will take McKesson up on his call to action. Throughout the campaign, Trump was an incredibly unpopular figure and spurred countless protests and direct action across the country. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, 60 percent of likely voters viewed Trump unfavorably going into Election Day, 50 percent strongly so.

According to McKesson, organizing against Trump will start with holding him accountable, even to the Americans who didn’t vote for him, and thinking local.

“Start where you are. So many issues that impact people’s day-to-day lives are local issues,” McKesson added. “People don’t have to wait to join an existing organization or group. People can start in their living room or the dinner table with their friends. Start to build coalitions and to build groups that put pressure on systems and structures and they can link up with existing organizations.”

Zellie Imani, lead organizer of the Black Liberation Collective, a network of black college activists, agrees that the most important way to hold an elected official like Trump accountable is to join with other like-minded individuals and organize around the issues.

“What happens in America and so many other nations around the world is that their only voice or only political tool gets reduced to going to the polling booth in November or every two years,” Imani told Complex. "Me and so many other organizers in the movement realize that this is a marathon and not a sprint, so I don't set things in year milestones. We will continue to organize after November 8 just like it was September 8 and continue to organize for power and to build these channels and these platforms for people so they can really feel empowered, beyond voting every two or four years.”

Still, with the prospect of Trump's inauguration just months away, it might be time for progressive activists, organizers and voters to rest and regroup.

“It just is so emotionally draining, being a part of the conversation and these dialogs. You know, it’s been mentally draining,” said writer and activist Tiq Milan. “This election has felt like an insult to my intelligence. I think it’s been an insult to our collective intelligence, especially with all this rhetoric around Donald Trump and people giving it so much air time and giving it so much analysis when, basically, what it comes down to is that he’s just a rabid racist…. So, [today], I just want to take a breath.”

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