What Power Do The People Have To Make Change?

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o What power do the people have to make change?

o We know we’re facing the full weight of white supremacy & intersecting oppressions lined up against us. How can we make it better for ourselves & those who come after us?

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o Many of us have been fighting for change at Cal Poly and in the Central Coast for a long time.

o Others are just coming into the movement and just coming into an understanding of our own power.

o Because the phrase “people power” is not an exaggeration. We the people really do have the power.

o They will tell you to make the best of this hard life, to grit your teeth & bear it, to “lean in.” But we are here to tell you: we don’t have to accept these conditions.

o We really do have the power to change them.

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o ALL the improvements in our daily lives that have come about in the law, ** from Civil Rights legislation to the 40-hour workweek, **have been because the people demanded them. Not because the ones in power decided to be merciful.

o That is change through direct action: we believe in direct action for social justice, which is different from other forms of protest & advocacy. It’s one of the core components of who our group is, in fact.

o We take the long body of work, thought, & organizing of feminists of color – particularly Black feminists – as our inspiration. And we have eagerly observed the victories the people have won with direct action this year as well, from closing jails to defunding police to winning city-provided affordable housing. There have been victories all over the country from San Francisco to Austin this year.

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o These victories came about from stopping business as usual.

o Direct action means making people uncomfortable. It means shutting down the normal life of the city / campus / housing complex / etc. It means forcing the ones in power to listen to us by making it impossible to continue with the status quo without addressing our demands.

o Their power comes from systems of domination based on racism, sexism, classism, etc. But ours is based on people.

o When we come together in numbers and shut shit down, as a community / campus / CSU system / state, we can make it impossible for the ones in power to ignore us.

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o As Mariame Kaba reminds us, direct action is not asking for permission.

o Direct action is not permitted marches. Direct action is not rallies that don’t cause any tension. Direct action is not asking people to show up day-in, day-out, with no broader plans or concrete goals.

o Direct action is disruptive. Direct action makes people late. Direct action can take many forms, but it always involves challenging power on our terms, not within the bounds of civility or respectability.

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o Direct action is dangerous because it challenges the state. It takes a lot of work & preparation behind the scenes to keep each other as safe as we possibly can.

o But the smoke from the police precinct the people burned down in Minneapolis is clear : when we make it impossible to ignore us, the politicians are forced to act.

o The Jeff Armstrongs, Dan Dows, and Gavin Newsoms of the world want you to believe your only power is in appealing to their decency. That’s not true. We can make __ them act together.

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o Direct action is how the people project our will into the streets. Direct action is the way we make change.

o There are many components & parts to successful direct actions. Both showing up in person and staying behind is valuable - f or every person on the front lines, we need five more working behind the scenes.

o So we hope you, the reader, will believe in your power.

o And we hope you will band together with us and fight for a better world.