Barack Obama On How We Can Use This Chaotic Moment To Drive Real Change
The voice of President Barack Obama, one which many disillusioned Americans have turned to as a source of wisdom and diplomacy in the last four years of Donald Trump's presidency, was always going to be an important one in these tumultuous times. A former political and current symbolic leader for movements of African-American equality, Obama has been vocal in his support of the protesters seeking racial injustice in America's institutions to be stamped out once and for all.
In solidarity with the peaceful protesters, Obama has penned a lengthy letter to those who may not have much hope that, when the protests are over and everyone has gone home, anything will really change. Instead, he's laid out a foundation to anyone wanting to turn themselves into an agent for positive change, or as he puts it, "channelling their energy into concrete action."
The former POTUS expressed empathy and support for the peaceful protesters still demonstrating in dozens of American cities and, increasingly, around the world. In the piece, posted on Medium and titled How to Make This Moment the Turning Point for Real Change, he said that the only way to enact institutional change is to campaign for an entirely new model of criminal justice in which fairness and equality are the top priorities. "If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves," Obama wrote.
Obama also admonished those who, in recent days, have come to embrace an ethos that protest and disruption are more effective ways to enact change than the democratic process of voting. "I couldn’t disagree more," he wrote. "The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities.
I wrote out some thoughts on how to make this moment a real turning point to bring about real change––and pulled together some resources to help young activists sustain the momentum by channeling their energy into concrete action. https://t.co/jEczrOeFdv— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 1, 2020
"But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands."
"If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals," he concludes. "Let’s get to work."