Last week, an Atlanta based group gave the president a welcome that was not to be missed. Visiting for the NCAA Football Championship, members of Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists (MADSA) decided to send Trump a message. “F*ck Trump”, along with three other messages, were projected on the side of the Mercedes Benz Stadium. The other messages “Medicare for All,” “No One is Illegal,” and “Dismantle White Supremacy” did not seem to capture the media’s attention in the same way.
Over the past few years, a small cadre of folks has been responsible for projecting words off of several buildings here in Atlanta. The trend has taken hold across the country with a recent display in San Francisco in response to Trump’s “shithole” comments.
In this age of resistance, there is so much focus on symbolic anti-trump gestures that the meaning and message of actions by groups like MADSA are often lost. News of their action primarily reflected on the F*ck Trump projection, with no mention of the other messages flashed across the stadium.
While it is crucial for many to push back on Trump “resistance” cannot and should not be limited to Trump only. There is a system of inequality perpetuated on multiple levels that requires challenging. We must demand better for all people and not just in the face of a disgusting character currently occupying the highest office in the land.
With all of this in mind, I chatted with Erin Parks, Board Member at Large, about the MADSA action. Erin shared some thoughts about MADSA’s action and the path forward.
Why project the messages onto the stadium?
The stadium is a symbol of the gentrification and economic exploitation of poor people and people of color in metro Atlanta, so it served as the perfect canvass for our message. And of course, the fact that Trump would be there was the impetus for this specific action.
What were you hoping to accomplish by that display?
There is a reason why he felt comfortable coming here (Georgia/Atlanta) of all places. We felt that it was important that Trump and his supporters know that not everyone in Georgia is a fan of his divisive policies and hateful rhetoric. We also wanted to call attention to the causes that he and his base are actively fighting against – Medicare for All, fair immigration policies, and the effects of white supremacy in our society. While “Fuck Trump” was the most controversial and heavily covered image of the projections it wasn’t the only message. The fact that the media is only focused on the single controversial message while ignoring the other three, Medicare for All, No One is Illegal, and Dismantle White Supremacy is very telling.
There are many organizations focused on resisting Trump. How does MADSA see its role in 2018 and beyond?
Our role is to help advance the idea that our society and government can and must function in a way that is beneficial to ALL citizens. It is surprising to hear in conversation how many people agree with the principles of Democratic Socialism but either object to the term or don’t believe that our society can work that way. Socialism is not a dirty word. Democratic Socialism means by the people for the people, a principle that was once the backbone of our government. Through our work, we hope to provide a vision of how Democratic Socialism would function in our current society and encourage citizens and politicians to incorporate this philosophy when creating the policies that will govern the American people.
How did you come to organize with MADSA?
I became aware of MADSA during the Bernie Sanders campaign. I was inspired to get more politically involved and was initially drawn to the political groups that were created after his campaign. While these groups advocated for political engagement, they lacked a coherent vision for what type of government we wanted to create through this activity. After attending the MADSA socialist dialogue, “The ABCs of Socialism” I was drawn to the vision of society that Democratic Socialism promotes. A society where our government functions to maintain an equitable lifestyle for all people instead of just a wealthy few.
We are working on transforming the idea of Democratic Socialism into reality. Our first significant community action this year will be MADSA’s Give Me a Brake(light) Clinic. Created by the New Orleans branch of DSA, volunteers provide free replacement of brake lights to help people avoid the unnecessary police interaction and egregious fines that come from being ticketed for having a malfunctioning brake light. What better way to show society that we are more than capable of taking care of each other than by taking care of each other? We also have members who are active in feeding the homeless in Metro Atlanta and have hosted supply drives to provide coats, blankets, and other cold weather gear to the homeless. The work is happening, and we need all hands on deck to transform our vision into reality – liberty and justice for all.