On Wednesday morning of this week, my immigrant neighbors got up early and went to work. Muslim families in Rhode Island sat down and had breakfast together. The children of same-sex couples went off to school. Low-income workers calculated how they’d get through another month of bills. Victims of sexual assault put on a strong face. They did what they needed to do because they didn’t have a choice.
As a state representative, I am in awe of my neighbors’ strength and resilience, and inspired to follow their lead – because we don’t have a choice.
The Rhode Island General Assembly, Governor, and administration need to have clarity of purpose moving forward. Washington, D.C. is about to fall under unified, far-right rule, with the most hardline conservative Republican majorities ever in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House. Because of this dominance, we know that many of our most vulnerable communities in Rhode Island are going to face an unprecedented assault in the near future. Federal policy is coming that will attempt to strip families of benefits and access to basic needs like food and healthcare, deny certain Rhode Islanders their rights, make it hard or impossible for Rhode Island workers to advocate for workplace protections, break up families, lay waste to the environment, deny reproductive rights, and much more.
There will be pieces of this assault that we can do nothing to stop at the state level, and many of our neighbors will suffer for it. But there will be a range of issues that we can act on. In any and every instance that Rhode Island’s state government can throw up a shield to protect our constituents from the oncoming storm, we must do so. It is our moral and ethical and fundamental duty, and I pledge to do everything remotely within my power to to fulfill that responsibility.
Rhode Island was founded, by immigrants, on a vision of equality, diversity, and justice. I am proud to be among the countless Rhode Islanders who will stand up to resist any effort to wrest that vision from us. Every inch counts, and we will fight for those inches with literally everything we’ve got. Because we don’t have a choice.
P.S. Want to get together to talk about what that fight might actually look like and how we can all plug in? Come to an Emergency Meeting this Saturday at 6pm. There’s lots to do.