By David Salvador Ruiz, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
Three months ago, I came to the Blue Future Spring for Progress & Change Program with lots of questions. I had just finished my own introduction to full-time politics having organized 3 major Democratic campaigns across America through the beginning of January 2021. I have no doubt that those experiences taught me a great deal about being an organizer, a community member, and an activist — but as I came home from Georgia, I began thinking beyond the electoral ramifications of organizing and found myself wondering what came next.
I wanted to channel my energy and the sum of my experiences into more grounded, long-term, community-oriented work. I honestly also needed something to do. Joining Blue Future at the end of our bleak COVID winter as a member of this amazing, beautiful, jaw-droppingly inspiring Spring 2021 cohort brought me so much hope. The hope that was awakened in my heart, though, was NOT hope for the future. Instead, what was born out of my time at Blue Future this Spring and is a fervent hope for the present.
How can we hope for the present, might you ask? Isn’t it, well…here? Actually, if you’re reading this, each time you process that you are in the present — it immediately becomes the past as you’re aware of it. Just like, as you glance down this blog post, you are seeing more words you will encounter in the very near future. Those facts, for me, are at the core of my call to organizing. Time is no longer a vast, unwieldy expanse, but instead a field of movement that we have the frightening power to shape with our bodies, minds, and spirits — and that our social, political, ecological, and economic realities rob from us every second they persist in holding us from speaking out, stepping up, and reclaiming our time.
Time became a theme for me at the very beginning of this program, when the groundbreaking Queer Afro-Latina activist and artist Shay Franco Clausen addressed our first training and reminded us that “The future is present right here” and when Sen. Sarah McBride reminded us of Dr. King’s ‘fierce urgency of now’, and I realized that much of the resonance of youth activism comes from our understanding of time. We can lift while we climb because we must lift while we climb. Our relationship with time as young people dictates our understanding of what is working in our society and what is not. With this understanding, I also accepted the fact that electoral results are the minimum we must expect of a society in grave need of healing.
The program-wide emphasis on issue intersectionality — not used here as a buzzword but a blueprint for the survival of so many justice-oriented movements assisted me in owning the fact that electoral organizing was running out of time as an effective instrument for change for me. For all of us. I’m not saying we don’t need elected officials who are accountable to young people and the marginalized and majorities that believe in the fundamental value of democracy, it’s just that the next mass shooting is less than one cycle away — the next successful voter suppression bill is less than one cycle away — the next extrajudicial police killing is less than one election cycle away, the next deadly superstorm is less than one election cycle away — the next child death from hunger in America is less than one election cycle away. This is the reality of our generation of urgency. We cannot survive by waiting — we can only live in motion.
Year-round, community-based organizations and the organizers that power them and each of our communities and families live in the prism of now. They understand that we contain the future within us, and this program has taught me to understand our work and our struggle toward justice, dignity, and equality for all in the same way. Our systems can and will rob us of some time, but when we consciously choose to move together towards justice now — we begin to reclaim our vanishing sandbar of opportunity from the rising ocean of time.
— Dave Ruiz
About David: Dave Ruiz is a rising sophomore at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, a youth organizer based in Illinois with Blue Future, and a community activist for youth civic engagement, racial justice, and government accountability. When he’s not trembling at the thought of climate change, he enjoys running, bingeing Modern Family, and drinking copious amounts of lemon water.