13 Tips for the Millennial Revolution
In the middle of inauguration day, in a dreary, drizzly Washington, D.C., I pop into a small cafÃ© across from McPherson Square to chat with Moumita Ahmed, the founder of Millennials for Revolution (previously Millennials for Bernie Sanders), about what revolution looks like going forward.
Ahmed is a shred of brightness, an injection of clear-eyed enthusiasm, on a day that outdoes the night of the election in post-apocalyptic vibes. Few people are in the city after more than 200 were arrested during that morning’s civil disobedience, and the 45th president's inauguration had record low attendance. Up the block, protesters are being tear-gased. Across the street at McPherson Square, Michael Moore’s voice booms, flooding the cafÃ© as he gives an impassioned speech to a small, dedicated crowd of activists.
Ahmed radiates energy, despite beginning her day at 5am when she joined Black Lives Matter to form a human blockade, successfully preventing attendees from entering the inauguration for four hours.
Here’s what she had to say about the Women’s March and the ways in which millennials are already resisting the Trump administration.
1. Civil Disobedience
"Today was amazing. I woke up at 5 in the morning and headed to the Black Lives Matter checkpoint on Indiana Avenue. There were people sitting down, in chains, to protest and block the checkpoint and block people from entering. I did witness some horrible scenes, like a Trump supporter stepping—literally stepping—on a protester to go over and because of that a semi-brawl broke out, but at the same time there was just so much beauty in everything that was happening there. We successfully blocked the entire checkpoint for four hours; people weren't able to enter the inauguration. Bikers for Trump couldn’t do their thing, because they needed to bike across. We were able to disrupt a good deal and it was done very peacefully.”
“It was just beautiful to see so much solidarity; all the movements, the different blocks, inspired by a movement, whether it was the climate movement or no NADPL or trade justice. They all came over, and every time a group came over with their banner, people cheered. And it was just so beautiful. The intersectionality, it was there. You know, we talk about it, but I was seeing it. It was so inspiring.
"It’s a sad day. This racist xenophobe is now our president. And it’s a day I will lament my entire life. But the amount of solidarity I saw today really just gives me hope. And seeing so many people around my age gives me a lot of hope. Of all ages, but the majority of people here are young people, like under 30, and that really does give me a lot of hope. This crowd is young. They're ready to fight—to do whatever it takes. They’re not afraid.”
3. Peaceful Protests in a Police State
“Even as I was walking to the blockade this morning, there were trucks and military. It was ominous and a little creepy for me. I was like, oh, we do live in a police state... you're seeing it... I watched Ferguson happen, and I thought this is horrible, but I’ve never seen it happen [first-hand]. This is my first time, and I don’t like it at all, because everyone is peaceful, as you can see.”
4. Build a Resistance That’s Accessible to Everyone
“I got involved because I felt very powerless. I was seeing the injustices and I felt like I needed to do something; I need to represent my community more; I needed to stand up; I needed to figure out how to get more people like me involved and come together and organize. I come from a working-class immigrant family and we don’t have a lot of money. My parents work so hard; they gave up so much. I understood from a very young age where we were in terms of class."
"I am interested in engaging more working-class people. For them it’s more like: How do I get involved? There's so much to do, but how do I really make an impact? And how do I manage my life as well? And I think the idea is to build a resistance that’s accessible to everyone; it also has to be a resistance that is a part of life and a part of who you are.”
“Revolution is doing something about the current system and taking a total revolutionary approach to change. And that can mean anything. In history we’ve had nonviolent revolutions. It’s a fact that nonviolent revolution/resistance is more effective than violent."
"We need to overturn the current system and replace it with something—I think our democracy exists. I think our Constitution does protect democracy, but there are certain aspects of the Constitution that we need to make sure don't allow people to exploit it and destroy our democracy.”
6. Organize on Digital Media
“Don’t underestimate the power of memes.”
7. Hold the President Accountable
“The District 13 House is inspired by The Hunger Games. We are creating a space for activist-organizers who are getting involved for the first time, might just want to do it for a short amount of time, and make an impact. I want to give people who are new to the movement and just getting involved a place to go, and also [for] veterans to meet. It’s a meeting spot for veterans and new people to meet, train, hold workshops, organize with the goal of holding President Trump accountable. We’re very close to securing a house. We already have an office on Capitol Hill. We just need to deck it out!”
“I’m still learning how to take care of myself. I’m new at this. This is my first time at something like this. I try to make time to care for myself, read and tune out a little bit.”
(President Obama recommends books for similar reasons.)
9. Women Organizers
“I’m so happy to get to support the Women's March platform and to bring a millennial contingent. I was really shocked at some of the policy proposals; these are older feminists who were like, okay, new feminists, if this is what you want! They didn’t object... I mean they talked about women in prison. I love that. We normally hear them talk about abortion and LGBT rights, but that was really interesting to me. I’m very happy.
"I had a mentor-organizer when I first started doing electoral work and they told me the best organizers and women are really good at working together too. I don’t want to generalize, but there are statistics that do sort of prove that women are better at organizing. Today [inauguration day] is the day for me to get my anger out there, to disrupt, to do whatever I can to take a stand against this man taking office—this predator, rapist—and then tomorrow celebrate with my sisters, celebrate who I am.”
10. Voting Rights
“One of the things I am really passionate about is voting rights. Millennials are the future of this country. We, en masse, can make a change, can win those seats [in the 2018 Senate election], even if they don’t seem winnable. But in order to do that, we really need better voting rights laws. I think one of the reasons that Trump won is because some of the states that he won had some of the worst voting rights laws. The worst records of voter disenfranchisement. If you let enough people vote, make it easier to vote, especially young people, even gerrymandering laws can’t stop us. Though, these are structures we need to get rid of—gerrymandering, electoral college, superdelegate[s]—these are things we need to get rid of. Perhaps we can pass ballot initiatives, similar to what California does. These are things we all need to think about.”
11. Stay Woke
“It’s good for people to stay awake, pay attention, and I really believe we can get stuff done.”
12. Create a Better Future for the Next Generation
“I think the generation after millennials are so—they’re going to be so amazing. I think they’re really engaged, and I have so much hope for them. But we need to make their fight a little bit easier. If we don’t do something now, they’re going to have a much tougher fight. My message would be get engaged. When you’re all 18, make sure you all go vote. But I want to tell my generation to start engaging in politics, so that they can vote, they can change things, even if we couldn’t. Part of that is making voting easier. Part of that is getting rid of these stupid institutions, like the electoral college.”
“One of the things I try to do is raise my self-awareness, and one of the things I do is take in my events and the surrounds and realize: Wow, what a beautiful moment.”