When Margaret Flowers opened up her home for a Jill Stein event, I accepted the invitation excited to meet the Green Party Presidential Candidate face to face. Even though I was a few minutes late, I had a seat saved between Flowers and Stein as the discussion continued. I learned about their passion and their politics as constituents asked questions and important topics were discussed. Foreign policy, the environment, and economics is where I really found the difference, making me more comfortable with my switch.
My time with the Green Party, if characterized by one word, can be described as "learning". Listening to white people talk about issues like the environment, really opened up my eyes to some issues I never really considered.
Even as I think about the election today, if voting Jill Stein means I'm throwing away my vote, then my vote was trash to begin with. I would never consider voting for Hillary Clinton, but the response from Bernie Sanders voters have thus been disrespectful and condescending. "Oh, you're voting for her? But will she win?", once again reminding me that electoral politics is built on celebrity. But, I digress.
Sometimes I felt I was tokenizing myself in these majority white spaces. I often thought to myself, "What is my place, a 20 year old Black man, here around all these non-Black people discussing fracking and charter schools?" But then, I realized that in this space I can bring something back to my peers and, as Marc Lamont Hill said, "change the conversation". I can take what I learn back to my circles where we can have conversations on the privatization of education, the corporate media, and universal basic income. I can take these ideas back to my Black spaces, so that we can talk about structural issues - so that our discussions around Blackness can be less reactionary symbolism and more institutional progressivism. Besides, in the Green Party I join some other great Black activists like - Rosa Clemente, Jared Ball, Cynthia McKinney, Elaine Brown and more. There's no doubt that people of color have more living room in this party.
I've seen the limits of the Democrats and how soft "trickle-down economics" works as banks get bailouts while the people continue to get cuts in welfare and social programs. "Pragmatic" neoliberalism continues to sustain businesses and corporations, who already see benefits of wealth. As someone who believes in nonviolence, the Democratic love for war, violence, and empire is one entirely off-putting. Militarization, both globally and domestically, is dangerous as drones and the war on encryption threaten American privacy, and the sovereignty of those abroad.
The Green Party, for me, offers a greater alternative of ideas and that's what progressivism is supposed to be about - looking at the future and saying, "What new ideas can we bring to the table?" The Green Party is bringing those new ideas, from the grassroots, to the people.
I'm excited for the work that the Baltimore Green Party will do, especially after seeing the work our people have done. I don't want to just tell you. But you can see, here and here, the way that politics is less something our people do, and more a medium of bringing the change we need to see. Our values are consistent. Each day is a new day to learn and open the mind to new ideas and I'm somewhere I can do that. I know I'm in the right place.
Jeremy Collins is Co-Chair of the Baltimore Green Party. Visit his website itsjer.com