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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Katie Horvath, Judy Rohrer and Naghmana Sherazi: We the People are powerful

By Katie Horvath, Judy Rohrer and Naghmana Sherazi

Since early this fall, each of us found ourselves increasingly concerned about escalating political pandemonium in this national election. Specifically, we were worried about the election aftermath. Then we reminded ourselves, this is not our first Trumpian election rodeo, and we have built community strength and resolve in the last four years.

We know that one of the Trump administration’s key strategies has been to try to divide us and create chaos to keep us on our heels, off balance, and reactive. That is why we, and so many others across the country, started organizing and creating proactive and responsive strategies. We the people are powerful, we know this, and we are harnessing our power.

Along with 52 other community partners we set three priorities in planning for post-election outcomes: community safety; planning a coordinated post-election response, and setting the tone by developing a simple 5-point message: We reject white nationalism. We choose and will protect inclusive democracy. We keep each other safe. We will do our part to ensure everyone’s vote is counted. We demand the results be respected. With our community partners, we delivered a letter to our elected officials calling on them to make public commitments to protecting our vote and democracy.

In direct response to our actions, the City Council approved a resolution on November 1 asking city and county law enforcement to stop armed paramilitary groups from parading in the city. We continue to press our local officials to publicly reject white nationalism, white supremacy, and vigilante patrols.

Spectrum LGBTQ+ Center is an intersectional, intergenerational LGBTQIA2S+ community organization advocating for equity in all spaces. We know that none of us are safe unless all of us are safe; COVID has only underscored this truism. Our contribution to this community effort has been to work on planning for post-election community safety and rumor control. PJALS is an organization propelled by its members. When our members feel compelled to act collectively, we act together as an entity. We decided to create a short video ( to share on social media.

In addition to this organizing around the election, in June, Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR) released its Platform for Change to spell out the actions we need to take for racial justice in our local criminal justice system, housing, and schools. Twenty-four organizations, including those led by people of color, signed the Platform for Change, and we have been gaining community support. Our communities have spoken loud and clear, but our elected officials have failed to act. We need more to join us to hold our elected officials accountable.

Whatever ultimately happens with the presidential election results, we know that white supremacy has played an enormous role in the 2020 election with certain politicians scapegoating Black people and new immigrants, stoking fear, and fomenting division. The record number of Black and Brown voters who exercised their right, in face of all of the above and of voter suppression, are the reason why there was no clear victory for Trump. Exit polls suggest that white voters, on the other hand, voted in higher percentages for Trump this election than last. Let that sink in.

We know that this period between election day and inauguration is going to continue to be volatile and that work to dismantle systemic racism must be a shared top priority as we move forward. This is why in GWSS we decided to take advantage of our current virtual environment and the institutional resources at EWU.

We have organized three post-election webinars that will be spaces for students, faculty, staff, community members, organizers and activists across the region: White Supremacy, the 2020 Election, & the Pacific Northwest. In these sessions we are coming together, analyzing what has happened, and thinking about how to move forward in anti-racist, decolonial solidarity. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but through these webinars, we are seizing back the narrative and holding on to the power of the people.

Everyone in Spokane and the region is welcomed to participate in these activities and/or to find other COVID-safe ways to protect our democratic process, foster community safety, and build solidarity. This is an historic election and we knew it wasn’t going to be over on November 3.

Spokane, we have so much work to do in housing justice, decarceration, public health, immigrant justice, Indigenous rights and climate justice. We must continue to build solidarity and act together. We the people are powerful, we know this, and we are harnessing our power.

Katie Horvath is executive director of the Spectrum LGBTQ+ Center. Judy Rohrer is director of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies at Eastern Washington University. Naghmana Sherazi is a board member of the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane.

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