Keith Ellison for Minnesota Attorney General

Elianne Farhat

We can imagine a world where everyone can live free, joyful lives, regardless of what they look like, where they came from, or how they worship. We can imagine a democracy that’s by the people, for the people, and is representative of the people. We can imagine a future where the feminine is highly respected, and no one is held back or harmed because of their gender or sexuality.  

At TakeAction Minnesota, we believe achieving justice and strengthening our democracy requires us to take on some of the biggest challenges in our society, including systemic racism, unbridled corporate influence, and gender oppression.

First, at TakeAction Minnesota we believe womenwomen of color, and survivors. We believe them because we are them. Our member leaders, our staff, our board, we’re a majority women & femmes organization. We listened to Karen Monahan as sisters and survivors. 

TakeAction Minnesota is a member-led organization. This post took a while because our internal process took time. We’re grateful so many of our supporters have been patient.

I hope this provides insight and background into TakeAction Minnesota’s endorsement process, our grounding values as a people’s organization that centers women, especially women of color—and why we wholeheartedly endorse Keith Ellison for Attorney General—and how we got here.

From mid-July to mid-October, our leadership assembly, made up of member leaders of diverse races, ages, identities, and backgrounds from across the state, went through a thoughtful and deliberate process about our endorsement of Keith. Our process was grounded in and guided by our core values: we love and support each other, we have enough, we tell the truth, we heal together in public, and we figure it out together.  

This led to internal conversations between members of our leadership assembly and Keith. The long-term public relationship between TakeAction Minnesota and Keith formed the foundation of our exchanges, which centered mutual accountability and co-governance. For us, holding people we are in relationship with accountable is an act of investment and love toward building the world we imagine; it is not a punitive or one-sided act. As long as the process, set and held by our leadership assembly stayed on course, our endorsement would as well.

The conversations with Keith were authentic, powerful, hard, messy, and beautiful—because at this most critical time, we got to have real discussions about gender oppression and the role of cis men in dismantling the patriarchy.

At TakeAction Minnesota, we believe that authentic leadership means bringing our whole selves to the table. We can’t take out pieces of ourselves or our experiences. As community organizers, we believe in building powerful public relationships with each other and with elected officials.

We also refuse to reduce our human complexity to an either/or – at TakeAction Minnesota we operate with both/ands. In moments like these, our first instinct is often to find the “Truth.” But, the reality is there is no one, singular “Truth.”

In our complicated world, filled with infinite love and also indescribable pain, we must allow for multiple truths and resist the temptation to force a false choice. That means we believe women. We believe hurt people hurt people. We believe in restoration. And we believe in building transformative relationships that allow us to navigate a complicated public arena. We are all in for the messiness because the only way forward is through it.

Keith Ellison, candidate for Attorney General

Our conversations with Keith were rooted in TakeAction Minnesota members’ own experiences and the values we strive to live out: we believe that when private pain is brought into public memory we can work toward healing and justice. Keith brought his authentic self forward as well. He has continued to show up, have the important conversations, and be the trusted and respected public leader many of us have known him to be for years.

In our conversations, it was clear to me Keith is engaged in a process of discernment and reflection that we all must be engaged in, especially men. Justice and full liberation require each of us to examine our biases, decide how we show-up in this moment, renew our commitment to each other, and ensure every person’s humanity and dignity is protected.

At this point, we’ve had more discussions about gender justice with Keith Ellison than any other elected official in the state of Minnesota. Over the past three months, Keith showed up, listened, and went down this powerful path with us. When many people would have retreated, Keith opened up and earned our trust and respect through his brave, vulnerable leadership.

Keith embodies the kind of co-governing relationship we believe in at TakeAction Minnesota and our journey with him will continue. We’ll continue a longer-term member-led process of relationship building with Keith but we’re ending our short-term process this week.

The future we believe in and the future we imagine won’t happen if we sit this race out. It won’t happen if we stay silent. 

We want to have hard conversations like we had with Keith when serious issues come up. We don’t believe anyone in our society is disposable, or that we can dismantle the patriarchy and end gender oppression by terminating people from their positions. That’s got to happen through honest, trusting, and powerful relationships, dialogue, and cultural and systemic change.

We cannot sit this one out.

We’re clear on our values—and what the stakes are.

The future we’re fighting for won’t happen if a key statewide office is held by Keith’s opponent—someone who has stood against workers’ rights, reproductive justice, immigrant rights, transgender students, the affordable care act, marriage equality, voting rights, and more.

Keith’s opponent has called for policies that lead to more mass incarceration and he’s stood by while right wing interest groups deploy every racist, Islamophobic tactic they have to in an attempt to make voters fearful and distrust Keith because he’s a Black man.

Our future is worth fighting for—and we’ll create it together. Thank you for everything you do every day to take our boldest dreams closer to reality. 

Let us know what you’re feeling. Take a minute to share your thoughts with us here. 

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