What We Want for 2018: The Biggest Movement Leaders Envision the Changes Ahead
From Alicia Garza to Annie Leonard, nine organizers share their hopes for the new year.
Across the globe, 2017 brought us to new lows. Yet, even as crisis after crisis shook us to the ground, they also inspired many to rise up and take to the streets and other venues of popular power. Donald Trump as president awakened millions, sparked new cross-sectoral coalitions, and galvanized people to creative and effective action.
Across the world, those who never had the luxury of complacency continued their struggles for participatory democracy; economic justice; an end to wars and violence; protection of the global commons; the rights and security of women, LGBTQ folk, and other excluded populations; and an end to theft and plunder of indigenous and small-farmer lands.
Here, nine movement leaders share their hopes for the new year. From the head of Greenpeace USA to an opponent of patriarchal capitalism in Zimbabwe, these thinkers, strategists, and organizers have made significant contributions to different sectors and continents. And cutting across all their aspirations is a common theme: that solutions to some of the most intractable challenges on the planet will come from people uniting and organizing into powerful movements.
Oakland, Calif.-based organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter
Executive director of Greenpeace USA
Closer to home, I hope that Greenpeace and allies win the lawsuit attempting to shut us up or shut us down. In 2017, Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the Dakota Access pipeline (the focus of the Standing Rock protest), filed a $900 million SLAPP suit against Greenpeace. This is an attempt to silence and intimidate critics of pipelines and defenders of indigenous rights. I hope 2018 brings a resounding dismissal of this lawsuit, sending a strong message to corporations everywhere that they can’t silence constitutionally protected advocacy. Dissent, nonviolent protest, and activism are crucial parts of our democracy, and are needed now more than ever.
Co-coordinator of Friends of the Earth Mexico/Otros Mundos; co-coordinator, Mesoamerican Movement against the Mining Extractive Model (M4)
If the criminalization of social movements has grown, it is because the resistance continues to grow too, more than ever. In Latin America, people organized into organizations, and movements are defending their human rights, territories, and life.
Palestinian American educator in the San Francisco Bay Area
My hope is that one day soon the American populace will catch up to the international community, which seems more aware of the growing violence and oppression against Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli government and military forces, and more willing to speak out about it. And when the streets of America are filled with people supporting Palestinians’ right to self-determination and liberation, this hope will be fulfilled.
Michelle L. Cook
Diné (Navajo) human rights lawyer focused on protecting indigenous rights and territories
There is no tidy ending to that tale. The safety and future of indigenous people, lands, and waters still hang in the balance, and still need the world’s full support.
At the same time, Standing Rock sparked a movement to stop international capital from flowing to the Dakota Access pipeline via banks, cities, and pension funds. In 2018 and beyond, indigenous people wielding the divestment tool—with women in the forefront—will be working to stop more financing of harmful projects and corporations.
This promises to be another year of indigenous mobilization to protect ancestral lands from plunder, such as Bears Ears in Utah from uranium mining and Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin from the Bayou Bridge oil pipeline.
We are hopefully at a turning point in human rights in America, for indigenous self-determination and treaty rights, and for remedy by state and non-state actors. Moving forward from Standing Rock, as after the 1965 civil rights activity in Selma, Alabama, we are in a societal shift that will continue to inspire more just alternatives.
Feminist activist and climate justice campaigner who was part of the Zimbabwean uprising that toppled Robert Mugabe
As an African feminist, I marched for something deeper, as well: for the liberation of women, for equality for people from all races, religions, genders, ethnic groups, and classes.
But from a feminist perspective, the real revolution has not yet happened. My dream for 2018 and beyond is for true change, not just for a changing of the guard, from Mugabe to his former henchman, the vicious Emmerson Mnangagwa. If we want to correct the political and economic system, then we should get rid of patriarchal capitalism. I feel trapped where every avenue to power is overwhelmingly male-dominated. A more cooperative and egalitarian economic system cannot be based on male supremacy.
In a world where women are viewed as mothers and caregivers before anything else, and have to overcome strong ideological and political resistance from men to participate in political and economic systems, my hope is that we start a real revolution against patriarchal capitalism.
Cofounder of the farmworker-driven human rights and economic justice group the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
If transformational, worker-led change can happen in Southern agriculture, it can happen anywhere. And that is my hope: that we come together in 2018 and start building the new day in the new year.
Erika Guevara Rosas
Americas director at Amnesty International
Inspiration in 2017 came from the massive social movement of Ni Una Menos, or Not One Fewer, denouncing femicide and other violence against women and girls across Latin America. The long struggle of Peruvian activist Maxima Acuña had stopped a mining company that wanted to take over her land; recently, the Peruvian Supreme Court ruled in her favor. The decriminalization of abortion in Chile was a testament to the work of millions of women across the continent. And these are just a few of last year’s stories of courage that have profoundly impacted people’s lives.
In spite of the repressive response from governments, massive mobilizations in every corner in the region demanding state accountability and respect for human dignity will continue this year to transform the paradigms of power.
Director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, a Nigerian eco-feminist organization battling oil companies
Beverly Bell wrote this article for YES! Magazine.
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