In a rush to crap on the rising star Our Revolution, Politico put out a lame hit piece. Attempting to not only undermine the organization’s work but discredit the current President Nina Turner, Politico’s Chief political correspondent drones on about issues and alleged concerns without context, or even understanding, for the space allegedly being critiqued.
Three years ago, the progressive digital sphere exploded with new organizers and grassroots volunteers. Our Revolution emerged as a vehicle for building on the energy and support that arose from Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2016 campaign for President. First as a board member, now as President, Nina Turner has helped the organization expand to over 600 Our Revolution local chapters and affiliates.
Since the end of the 2016 primary, Senator Turner has been a force to behold speaking at progressive gatherings all across the country. Whether a small intimate convening of progressives in Ohio or a larger conference setting, Senator Turner has brought the same energy and fire.
As much as I love and respect Senator Turner, I have never shied away from critiquing Our Revolution. I have been both supportive and critical of both Our Revolution Georgia as well as Our Revolution nationally. There is no person, not even Senator Sanders himself, who is above critique or reproach. Yet, such real critique (not the nonsense cobbled together by Politico) should be within the scope of the work being done and taking into consideration the process for getting from where we are now to where we are trying to go.
You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. – Shirley Chisholm
One such criticism for me has been wanting to see Our Revolution engage more in local electoral organizing. Providing resources for chapters and affiliates to be able to grow and expand their political capacity. This has been slowly coming together over time, with the organization even seeking to hire a southern organizer preferring someone actually based in the south. Building a progressive movement focused on supporting good candidates outside of establishment enclaves is not an easy fix to an old problem. The beauty of Our Revolution is that it is an evolving, relatively young organization, that is engaging with people in the field across the country.
From my personal experience, Senator Turner will not intentionally impede progressive action, even if she herself did not agree. There are times when she has taken a position or made a comment with which I disagreed. But this didn’t mean I dismissed her or stopped supporting her work. If we broke ties with every person for every single little disagreement, we would have no one left with whom we could work. We all bring different understanding and experiences to this work, so it is natural that we will have different priorities and strategies. What I have appreciated the most, since my first interview with her in Atlanta during the DNC Winter Meeting, is that she is always focused on moving forward.
In “Whose Revolution is it Anyway” I wrote “Grassroots organizing and collective community-driven action are essential to supporting progressive candidates and policies. If this movement is to help usher in a new way of engaging and supporting good people doing good work, those who position themselves as leaders must lead by example and not ego-driven dogma.” Senator Turner consistently leads by example. In addition to showing up for endorsed candidates, Senator Turner has taken the time to build with community-based organizations such as Journey for Justice Alliance, a national education equity collective. Through these efforts, Senator Turner recognizes that we cannot move progressive action on faith and moral positioning alone. We need the buy-in of people and communities who are most directly affected by the issues and policies we seek to advance.
Again, there is nothing wrong with critique and criticism of those who purport to lead in movement spaces and organizations. But what Politico and others continue to do is exploit the way political spaces and media undermine the value and work of Black women who dare work outside the purview of status quo. A double standard seeps through the words. Managing the expectations of her as a leader, of her as a Black woman, and someone charged with ushering a new wave of progressive organizers and elected officials, Nina Turner has a huge load to bear. She does so with grace and a frank acknowledgment of the work to be done.
We are not on the establishment’s value scale, as we have our own. From fixtures within Democratic spaces and celebrity Democrats devaluing her work and mischaracterizing her message to incessant attack on her personhood, I have watched as Senator Turner glides above the fray.