Within these institutions, change is not possible.


by Gloria Oladipo

I watch the moment’s protests through bitter tears of joy. I hate that change is paved with the blood of Black sisters, brothers, and siblings. I hate how freedom never seems to be found when we’re alive. I hate cops. I hate oppression and injustice and anything that keeps Black and Brown people down.

But this moment is also exciting. I feel the revolutionary energy around me, the camel’s back broken—very broken—as people around the world say, “Fuck you. Enough is enough.” I’m twenty years old and get to participate in shaping a new world order, one built with Black love. 

However, I see moderates creeping into conversations like greasy rattlesnakes. They slither into our (under construction) Garden of Eden, begging for reform, begging us to vote, begging us to “choose the lesser of two evils.” Those sick motherfuckers.

There are those who have settled for less than the bare minimum. They had made themselves ok with voting for Joe Biden, a rapist, antiBlack pick, and his transphobic, cop sidekick, Kamala Harris. They shame people for not voting, using common phrases like: “It’s not my preferred choice, but it’s better than Trump.” They falsely believe that either progress can be made under this new regime or that a Biden-Harris ticket is more progressive. Unfortunately, both concepts are a gross misunderstanding of how power operates, believing that institutions will change based on who you put in power.

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Institutional change is an oxymoron, intended to damper radical moments. Institutions are not in favor of yielding their stolen power to the people. They aren’t interested in abolition or imagination or creating something new on the ashes of inequity. Institutions like stillness. They like archaic systems that insulate their power, their money, and their control. They want us to wait, to be patient, to keep pink-pussy hat marching while they recreate oppression and make permanent our subjugation. 

Calvin Warren, an Associate Professor at Emory University, spoke about the treadmill of progress in his book Ontological Terror: Blackness, Nihilism, and Emancipation. Warren argues that anti-Blackness is a permanent fixture in our current world. People are told to vote, write letters to their senators, speak out at town halls, and participate in different forms of government to be heard. However, the state is an anti-Black instrument. State-sponsored progress is purposely meant to reshape and disguise anti-Blackness. As Warren puts it:

¨The form of antiblackness might alter, but antiblackness itself will remain a constant—despite the power of our imagination and political yearnings.¨ 

Within these institutions, change is not possible. The abolition of slavery turned into share cropping which then became the prison industrial complex. Slaves being prohibited from reading became segregated, underfunded schools, later transforming into the school-to-prison pipeline. These institutions are permanently anti-Black. These institutions gave us Trump. These institutions gave us Jim Crow and sharecropping. These institutions gave us slavery. Why would we then rely on these same systems to bring real change? Comparatively, we must use our imaginative, radical energy to create a new world, one where Black oppression ceases. 

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Moderates are asking us to concede our fight when our demands have not been met. They tell us to “calm down” and “wait” for institutions to inch forward, all while Black people are massacred by the state. They try and distract us with cheap concessions (who in the fight for racial equity asked for a street to be named “Black Lives Matter”?).

While it would be much more comfortable to accept these concessions and allow our revolutionary fire to fade into the present moment, now is not the time to be complacent. The fight is not over. It’s just beginning. 

With an election on the horizon, it is time to get clear about what we as Black liberation fighters want and deserve. There are those among us preaching moderacy, endorsing Joe Biden, a rapist who coded and helped perfect Black death and captivity. However, why should abolitionists and others invested in freedom sell our values to vote for the same bullshit? We have the imagination and the drive to do so much better. 

We have worked so hard to get to this moment. So much life has been lost in this fight. Compromising got us to this place. Let’s fight to win.


Gloria Oladipo is a Black woman who is a sophomore at Cornell University and a permanent resident of Chicago, IL. She enjoys reading and writing on all things race, gender, mental health, and more. Follow her on Instagram at @glorels.