Why I Will Be Green

Why I became a registered Green Party member in New Orleans, Louisiana — and why I will stay Green

The political consciousness of America has been riled and the question that must be asked is what will become of it? The Green Party has activated grassroots action across the country and given citizens a mechanism for political expression. The Green Party has inspired coalition building. 

I became a Green Party of Louisiana state delegate this year and then elector. I have participated in politics this presidential election more than I ever have previously. I came to the Green Party of Louisiana because I have spent much of the last five years advocating against corporatism and the corporate takeover of the education system. I am also an entrepreneur when investment in companies founded by black women is at an all time low — even as black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the country. It was the platform the Green Party put forth this election that really drew me initially. But then there was my local Greens, they have made my choice to go Green stick. 

After some contention at the state convention I became a Louisiana state delegate. Louisiana has a historical struggle with race, gender, class and politics. That struggle has brought forth progressive social change and resistance with that history. My first interaction with the Green Party of Louisiana embodied that Louisiana history. At the national convention in Houston I was met with the same striving experiences at once: the struggle for progressive change and the human factor that race, class, and gender will impact politics — even when the people are espousing the same political theory. What shaped how it was resolved was the 10 Key Values of the Green Party, both at the state and national conventions. The Keys are what I believe will be the real foundation of our progress as an effective political party: community-based economics, decentralization, ecological wisdom, feminism [I am, however, a womanist], future focus, global responsibility, grassroots democracy, nonviolence, respect for diversity (anti-racism), and social justice. 

The Green Party of Louisiana is the minority party, just like it is everywhere in the United States. New Orleans is unique in Louisiana in that it is a democratic stronghold in a very red state. While Trump won handily in the suburbs, Clinton won New Orleans by 80%. New Orleans is also a majority black resident city. In the 2014 mayoral race black voter turnout was just 34%. While one city council incumbent theorized low voter turnout was because of constituent satisfaction, the challenger aptly attributed the apathy to disenfranchisement. The challenger won in the runoff. Political disenfranchisement, regardless the party, is rife with history in Louisiana. After all, it is the place where Reconstruction was defeated. New Orleans specifically has been a hotbed of progressive action. From Marcus Garvey to Homey Plessy and the Freedom Riders, the city and state lend itself to grassroots democracy impacting national politics and policy. This time is no different.

What is the future of the Green Party in New Orleans? In Louisiana? In the US? It is us! We are the future of the Green Party because the 10 Keys called on us to act, coordinate and mobilize. Most importantly- VOTE! What we struggle with now are the same monied interests that require oppression in order to succeed. The 10 Keys represent a more perfect union which the United States professes to aspire to become. Political agendas and candidates held to the standards of the 10 Keys would produce a political party to represent the interests of the disenfranchised with ballot access. The party has spent most of the year growing with new politically active Americans at different levels. Jill Stein doubled her votes to over 1 million. While I did live in my progressive bubble thinking other Americans were learning about Jill Stein and the Green Party, just last week a young black woman told me she did not know she was running. Just a few days before that a young white woman said she voted for Jill and heard me speak about the campaign at an event.

Our next step is to mobilize the disenfranchised to effectively use their votes for progressive social change while we support and develop grassroots candidates that are not beholden to the corporate influence that dominates our current politics. In 2013, 60% of Americans said they wanted a third party. Yet in this election 40% of eligible voters did not vote. The vehement smear campaign that Julian Assange warned Green Party US was to come at the convention in August was ultimately true, even as he spoke the words the signal was being interfered with in transmission. This most certainly contributed to voters feeling hostage to the two party system and cast a disenfranchised vote for one of the two parties though truly wanting to vote third party.

One thing the Green Party cannot afford is to disenfranchise new active Greens. We have to continue our organizing in our cities and keep connected with what other Green party members are doing across states and the country. In the Green Party after registering I gained several identities within the party and I connected with a global movement at the same time that hold these 10 Key Values as the foundation of their political efforts. Politically progressive minded people will need to find a vehicle to mobilize the masses of disenfranchised people and I believe move us forward from the corporate hold once we have a strong third party to oppose the two party system.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quote and meet you in the progressive grassroots revolution!

We must become bigger than we have been: more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We must become members of a new race, overcoming our petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to nations but to our fellow man within the human community. — Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia 

Below are links to the national Green Party page and you can find out about caucuses, committees, job openings and how to connect with an active Green Party in your state and city.

Sincerely Green-

Anika Ofori


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