“We’re made insane in this country, suspicious of differences, and closed-minded,” Ali says. “The cure to that is creating new ways of being with each other, by being open and curious.”
Many people are open to finding a new way to talk with each other about issues we face, he says, especially those among the roughly 43% of voters who identify as independents. “Independents tend to be less driven by knee-jerk partisanship, which keeps people divided.”
Ali’s book explores the history of Black and independent alliances in America, which date as far back as the 1840s, when the abolitionist Liberty Party arose as part of the anti-slavery movement.
Those alliances still matter today.
After George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May, Black Lives Matter demonstrators demanded reforms in Minneapolis and in scores of cities, under both Democratic and Republican leadership.
This year – seven years after the Black Lives Matter movement began – African American protesters were joined in those demands by many other people of color and White people. Even large corporations spoke out against racial injustice.
In the new edition, Ali documents how, just as in the past, these independent Black activists are finding themselves driving political and policy change. City councils from Austin, Texas, to Asheville, North Carolina, have reorganized policing and community services budgets. The deaths of Black people at the hands of police became a subject in the presidential campaign.
“If you look at any piece of legislation, you have to go back at least 20 years prior, to the movement-building efforts that led to the shifting of the culture, and the pressures that were mounted from the outside, to have people on the inside – elected officials – make changes to the law,” Ali says. “African Americans, and Black independents in particular, have been at the forefront of every major reform movement in the nation’s history leading to progressive changes.”