THE WORKING FAMILIES PARTY ‘BET ON US’ IN 2020
March 30, 2020
Britney Whaley from the Working Families Party is leading the new platform Bet on Us which focuses on empowering and engaging Black women and non-binary folks to be more active in the political process, have more voice and visibility, and create the change we all need now. Whaley spoke to AFROPUNK on why the Working Families Party Bet on Us.
What was the intention of creating Bet on Us platform?
Our intention was to create a political home and maroon space for Black women and non-binary people to build power, grow consciousness, organize their communities and run for office. Black women are the backbone of our democracy, but their political labor is often exploited. Non-binary people are often rendered invisible leaving them with few places for expansive thinking around building power outside of a gender binary. We wanted to create a program that invests in the leadership of people who have consistently done the work to move our communities to action and center those who don’t traditionally have access to power.
Our intention is to have a politically educated and activated community of Black women and non-binary people who share a political analysis and will organize communities to demand more from our government institutions and elected officials.
Why did the Working Families Party decide to create this platform specifically to empower, inform and engage Black women and non-binary people?
Self-determined Black people have always been instrumental in our political and social movements. Black women and non-binary people have been erased from our history but are on the frontlines of moving our communities to action. They have risked their bodies and lives to be seen in their full humanity. Even as they experience interlocking systems of oppression, they continue to be bold in the face of racism, sexism, and patriarchy.
Political institutions, particularly during elections, are transactional. The Working Families Party (WFP) created Bet on Us to change this reality. Counting on Black women to turnout our communities on Election Day, educate voters and save our democracy is not enough. Through this program, WFP is playing an active role in moving political relationships with Black women and non-binary people from a transactional place (count on us) to one that focuses on deep investment that can be transformative (Bet on Us). We will actively train and support Bet on Us leaders on their journey to becoming WFP leaders, candidates, and community organizers. We will empower them to hold significant roles across the progressive movement.
Black womxn and non-binary people have historically been the backbone of our political struggles and community organizing, how will Bet On Us support them in being more visible and having more of a voice in the political system?
Bet on Us was created because Black women and non-binary people are often erased and must fight to be heard. The purpose of the program is to elevate the voices of Bet on Us leaders and grow the capacity of the progressive movement by investing in the leadership of people often on the frontlines. We train and prepare Bet on Us leaders to take up space in the Working Families Party and throughout the progressive movement.
We also move in a direction that feels connected to the community we are building. When we launched, we called for people who are ready to disrupt every part of political, electoral and economic systems that do not serve us, value us or bet on us. Our first step was gathering around kitchen tables, living rooms and other intimate spaces to do collective visioning around what it means to Bet on Us and fight together for the world we want to create. We asked our participants to share their vision for electoral justice, people-powered democracy, and co-governance. We urged them to dream big and be expansive in the world we are creating. This is not a prescriptive program where we tell our leaders how they should show up in the world and how visible they should be. This is Bet on Us providing a vehicle for leaders to envision the world they want to create and supporting them as they take on active leadership roles in moving our communities forward.
What are some specific examples of how Bet On Us has supported and informed political action and engagement for Black women and non-binary folks?
We have three offerings in 2020:
1. Sankofa Co-Learning Sessions:
Bet on Us has partnered with re:power to create an interactive online co-learning space that teaches organizing skills, tools, and tactics. We know our current political climate has brought a significant number of people into organizing. We view this as an opportunity for new and more seasoned leaders to reflect on lessons by freedom fighters who preceded us and build on those lessons with skills that will help propel us forward in our current struggles. The co-learning sessions are an opportunity to deepen our shared analysis while learning new skills. Our official kickoff will be on April 7, 2020, and we will continue with monthly sessions on the second Tuesday of every month. We invite anyone who identifies as a progressive Black woman or Black non-binary person to join us to learn and share.
2. Bet on Us Organizing Hubs:
Our 2019 house parties sparked an interest in creating local Bet on Us squads that work together to influence electoral outcomes in 2020. We want our leaders to be in deep relationship with one another and are providing support as they take collective action. Our staff is currently working with leaders in Georgia and South Carolina to create Bet on Us organizing hubs that will do civic and political education, direct voter contact and community engagement. We are exploring additional locations for Bet on Us hubs based on the interest of our leaders.
3. Bet on Us House Parties
Bet on Us house parties presents an opportunity to bring Black women and non-binary people together for collective visioning and community building. Our house parties meet people where they naturally convene – around dinner tables and in intimate spaces that are safe for real talk. It gives people an opportunity to break bread, share their stories and brainstorm opportunities to build independent political power. Information gathered at our house parties helps inform our program activities, training, and support to leaders. We provide toolkits and support to people who want to host a house party in their neighborhood.
As we move through the 2020 political process, what is the most important thing Black people can do to support our communities and get more equality and equity in the United States?
Educate. Organize. Find a political home.
Educate our communities. We are in the age of misinformation, interference in our electoral process and rampant voter suppression. It is a struggle for our communities to access our democracy and this is uncharted territory for organizers. We must continue to fight to protect our democracy while educating our communities on how to access it in 2020.
Organize our communities around a set of demands that will lead to structural change and policy outcomes that change the material conditions of our people. Organizing people is the only way we fight organized capital.
Find a political home that connects you with others who are aligned with your values and ready to throw down together in a common struggle.
What does WE SEE YOU mean to you?
It means we see you in your full humanity. We see you in your brilliance, your beauty, your fragility. You are inherently valuable and worthy of love, dignity, and respect. We love you and we see you.