in like a lion

so 2009 is here, in like a lion…it’s been an intense year, and mercury’s not even retrograde yet.

i have been writing in response to gaza and the murder of oscar grant, while also participating in actions as an individual and through ruckus, and writing what i can.

i keep wanting to write a little bit on my thoughts about the way communities have been responding to all this violence, a lot of thoughts in my head. another time, im gonna write about why i’m not a pacifist, but a strategist – feeling nonviolence is more strategic in the long run…but not right now.

i wanna think thru some observations. the longest standing divides in the social justice community are still totally in effect. when these horrible injustices happened, there were folks who wanted to grieve together, folks who wanted a nonviolent protest to demand justice, folks who were not from the community who wanted to escalate stuff to prove a political point, folks who were from the community who wanted to escalate stuff to feel alive and powerful and express their righteous anger, observers, and folks who just got caught up in the moment. and then there’s the tons of folks who didn’t even know anything was happening.

what amazes me at moments like this is how much work we still have to do in terms of learning to trust each other, work together, make the best use of all of our resources (time, money, people, skills), and have accountability within the movement of work for social justice so that we are able to get people aware, enraged and engaged.

the victories aren’t about how much chaos we can create with our quick reactions, but how much we can shift the culture and the policies so that we don’t keep facing the same violence over and over again against our people.

the biggest challenge is such a human one to me – trying to find the balance and capacity to respond to the new struggles that arise every day, while working strategically towards longer term goals. for me, this is true in my health, in my love, with my family, and of course with the work. when we made the plans for how to best be effective this year from ruckus, palestine and killer police weren’t specifically on the radar, any more of less than the other major struggles we support. but we structured ourselves to be able to respond to the crisis stuff, so we have been able to come through in some ways. it never feels like enough. there are days when it feels like you could fill up your whole life just responding to the horrible stuff that happens every day.

that’s where it becomes so necessary to have a vision, to have something bright and beautiful and just and powerful to work towards, something to keep your eye set on. for ruckus the long-term vision is that action becomes such a normal part of the community accountability process that there is no space between everyday people and organizers – we envision a day when its expected that communities will come together to determine what they want and take actions to make sure they get it and keep it. every request that comes to us now, we are looking for the opportunity to universalize the skill set passed on to us by our teachers and ancestors.

but interacting with folks over the past few days, especially folks on the street and in shops and restaurants today, really made me wish that folks were given the space to become powerful visionaries when they were children, and all through their educational process. young folks see so clearly what is wrong, and are given so little space in school to be visionaries for their communities. so when the options come along to engage in a longer process towards a vision of real power, or engage in one night of release – one night of calling out desperately to the world to see the brutal way they are being treated, what do we expect folks to do?

i may have recommended it here before, but the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded is a necessary read. one article, by paola x. rojas, talks about how in countries in the global south that have achieved seriously progressive/radical policy and leadership, sharing vision and analysis is part of how every day folks interact with each other. the role of civil service organizations (non profits), is simply to serve the existing visions of the community, not to exist for their own sake. people lead.

how do we instill that value for vision throughout our education systems, and support parents to integrate that into how they parent? the long-term solutions to the major problems of today are not about getting politicians to make short-term promises, but to shift the whole culture around who gets to dream and make decisions tomorrow.

im sleepy, maybe babbling. in the midst of all this i got super eager about working out and strained the hip i fell on in detroit, so back to the dr tomorrow morning. hope everyone in oakland stays real safe tonight.

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  1. 1 Oscar Grant, and the Black Political Long Now

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