A Kentucky Strategy

Breonna Taylor trial

It was very easy for Black people to feel depressed and demoralized today. A predictable, but still very disappointing Louisville, KY grand jury decision left many still stunned to either discover or be reminded that society continues to inflict terror on and devalue Black life. This was, tragically, a replay of other horrific injustices we’ve seen played out over time since any of us or those before us can remember. Adding insult to injury is a Black man, current Attorney General of Kentucky Daniel Cameron, making no attempt to pursue justice on behalf of a Black woman unjustly murdered. Black Republicans, much like their White conservative counterparts, clearlyprioritize party and Trumpism over country – but, like Cameron, they are under the assumption that somehow being Republican empowers them to exercise blatant disregard for their own community, even when a wrong has clearly occurred.

What will be important, however, in a moment like this is for people not to feel powerless. Black communities must formulate smart strategic response despite a feeling that there is no such thing available. That can be difficult, of course. However, outrage and protest alone – whether it’s on a street in Louisville or riding the digital wave of a hashtag on Twitter – are fairly easy and relatively low-impact exercises when there is no follow-up. As hard as this statement is for some to digest, another protest might make headlines or cause a viral social media sensation, but it won’t really scare those in power, particularly GOP elected officials who are creating and instigating the current unsustainable racial mess. They are not afraid of protests, but they are terrified of watching those same protesters ending up at polling places or mailing-in ballots and, in effect, removing them from power.

Activists must decide that it’s time to do the exact opposite of what the enemy expects. Political and policymaking recourse in the aftermath of the Breonna Taylor decision is not that hard to find. There are short term, near term and long term strategies that can be easily deployed. Organizers in downtown Louisville, for example, should consider something dramatically different by simply having clipboards ready or tables set up and register hundreds or thousands more Kentuckians to vote. With less than a week of the 2020 Census left, set up more tables, invite Census enumerators, and make people take the Census. A longer term strategy will also involve a new movement the explores and find ways to stop the armed gentrification and real estate displacement schemes that not only killed Taylor, but terrorize Black communities living in the wrong zip codes every day in every major city.

The aggrieved don’t have to wait till Cameron’s re-election bid for Attorney General in 2023. Go straight for the political jugular and mobilize voters in Kentucky to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as vengence – someone will need to poke his challenger, Democrat Amy McGrath, to start acting like she’s running. Meanwhile, Breonna Taylor’s name should not be used for performative Blackness dance moves on the digital screen. She must be honored as the banner for a mass voter mobilization movement to ensure that not only Ketuckians are turning out in droves when early voting there starts October 13th, but that everyone else nationwide is doing the exact same thing. Voting is not complicated. It’s free. But, for Black people, it is a mandatory and non-negotiable exercise. For a nation in crisis, it is an absolute must. It is absolutely appropriate to use her story to help finally defeat the current monster in the White House (who’s unchecked racist white nationalism is one of the reasons Taylor’s murderers go free) and usher in a new Biden-Harris administration that begins putting us on a path of recovery in earnest.

Democrats and activists should also be teamed up to attempt to unseat as many Republicans state legislators as possible since Kentucky is holding both state House and state Senate elections this year. If the spirit is there, anything is possible. Perhaps that will spark a needed political fire raging across the country where Republicans lose as many state seats as possible, particularly in major battlegrounds.

At this stage, all Republican elected officials are nothing more than the new Confederate statues. Hence, they must be removed. That’s one necessary strategy. That’s one immediate plan with a visible goal. Let’s go do the work.

Charles Ellison
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CHARLES D. ELLISON is an award-winning thought leader, political strategist, commentator and advocacy expert with nearly two decades of applied expertise in the arena of politics, public policy, campaigns and elections, crisis management and emerging/digital media strategy.

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