Green Party ANM 2017: Race and Green Politics

I decided it best to share my experience at the Green Party US Annual National Meeting in Newark, NJ as close to getting home as possible. There are four reasons why I remain a member despite the events that took place this past weekend. 1) My Black Caucus. 2) My local New Orleans Greens. 3) the Green Party platform and the political compass test. 4) SOME of the Greens that I met online and offline across the county.

The relationships I’ve built and continue to build with the people have been my strongest reason. I’ve met all different types of people who care so strongly about justice and people that they joined this party to change the world in so many positive ways. This remains especially true after my experience this weekend.

Already there is so much misinformation about what happened, with so many people unaware of what has even transpired, including those of us who were there. What I want to set straight is the main thing that has happened is SOLIDARITY among Green Party members that demand the Green Party act like its platform states it believes.

What is true is that not one of the Black Caucus members, including the founding member of the Black Caucus, was elected to the Steering Committee. Not ONE. His vote in the election has yet to be counted. Lack of leadership by people of color specifically in this case, black leadership, not only plagues the larger society but right here in the Green Party US.

A large group of people met and discussed the election results including ALL of the Black Caucus members in attendance at the ANM, members of the Latinx Caucus (one of which has been elected to the Steering Committee), members of the newly forming Indigenous Caucus, members of the Women’s Caucus and members of  the Youth Caucus. Through Self-Determination it was decided that action was necessary immediately. As election results spread so too spread the reports that delegates couldn’t vote and other voter irregularities. Other reports of misuse of influence happening prior to the election, steering votes to candidates. It was decided that a coalition of us would march from our dormitory to where the fundraiser was being held in a local bar/restaurant. There is video online of much of what happened inside.

The Green Party of the United States at its core is a party that calls out elections with voter irregularities, especially within our own party. But the profounder issue of deep-seated unresolved racial discrimination was the impetus of our emotion. Leaving the ANM on Sunday I had already heard rumors that someone has “co-opted” the Black Caucus, that this was not our own self-determining. I resent that! I came as a member of the New Orleans Green Party and the Green Party of Louisiana. The city that, despite racial intimidation against supporting the emancipation of the historical legacy of freed slaves, removed monuments to white supremacy. I personally stood in solidarity with black and white people at two of the monument removals in resistance to the New Confederates that invaded our spaces with confederate flags and machine guns. When the Robert E. Lee monument came down the people of THIS city, that stood in vigil 40+ hours, gave shouts out to the Heavens. I cannot describe what that felt like, but I shouted too! I suppose that was a part of my emotionality of this past weekend, along with my other life experiences.

Last month my local Green Party had a Bylaws Convention. Many of the issues that came up at the ANM are issues these Bylaws had to address. Because I am in the room I bring the “race” issue with me. But race is inescapable in New Orleans. Every year my community marches a MAAFA remembrance past the Slave Exchange that to this day still stands and the tavern where slaveowners waited is still in business. I could leave this about race, but more than race or gender or any identity, the most egregious wrong has been done against the respect of my humanity. This violation of this fundamental principle of our Green values is what grieves me most. My humanity grieved and many were there to bear witness to that.

The ANM had many highlights. Among them for me personally were seeing the Greens across the country that I have been organizing with since August of last year when I became a Green Party of The United States member. The Green Party of New Jersey and the GPNJ Black Caucus did a wonderful job hosting us and making us feel at home! Our accommodations at NJIT in Newark were beautiful! The ANMC also did a great job at organizing. Our sessions were powerful and productive and growth of our party and members was evident on Saturday and Sunday. Meeting some of the Green Party candidates running across the country was another inspiring and exhilarating experience. All across the country we have gifted and brave leaders that are working to change our communities and our government!

But the dark side of the party hit the boiling point on Saturday with the election. Soon a resolution will be coming from the national party about what the events have demanded be addressed. However, there will be no resolution about what happened to me on Saturday after I left the event. An altercation occurred between myself and two other party members with two longtime party leaders who had heard of the consensus among the Green Party members that were at the fundraiser. They came after the event to have a confrontation with, it seemed, a targeted member of the GP Black Caucus, and I and another GPUS member were witness and victims of his angry verbal tirade upon eventually all three of us in the lobby of the dormitory. After I stated this was not an appropriate place for the conversation I was hit violently with the heavy metal dorm door by the GP member that came to have the confrontation. I have struggled with this happening because for almost a year I have admired their work. I told them this on the opening of the ANM when I actually met them for the first time. I have struggled so much I cannot even name them here. While the party has yet to say as a whole that we will not allow intimidation within our own party, individually some of my fellow Green Party members that heard what happened to me have been overwhelmingly supportive, including my local party leaders. A coalition of concerned Green Party members is currently forming that will suggest measures to Green Party US that in the future will protect ALL PARTY MEMBERS from intimidation, whether it be racial or otherwise. I also will not have my voice be silenced! I am grateful for my local support that has never once tried to silence my voice or the perspective I bring to the party.

I also call for more transparency from the national party to the states, not just at the ANM.

This is far from over or settled. Until we as a party come together to respect one another in our humanity it will continue to take root and kill the party. In fact it has been a festering disease that has caused the Green Party US to lose brilliant party leaders and marginalizes the very people the Green Party states it organizes for as a political party. For sake of intersectionality I close with these three quotes.

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” ~Zora Neale Hurston
“The New Negro in politics, then, will appeal to his own and to such friends of other races in his locality as believe in social justice.” ~Carter G. Woodson
“When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breathe.” ~Franz Fanon

In Solidarity & Humanity
anika ofori