im cross eyed as i write this, but compelled to write something before i go to sleep.
over the past week i have been pulled into a community, in every way. i want to tell it here, for the record, cause history is written by the victors and we fully intend to be victorious.
this past week i saw movement in a way i haven’t seen it in a long time. some lessons (learned and relearned):
– community media is the ultimate accountability tool. oscar grant is not the first man killed by the police, or the only man killed on new year’s day by police. but we have cell phone videos of oscar grant, his murder has played over and over again for us, for the media, for the potential jurors, for the authorities, for his coworkers…that changes the game in every way. like – there are murder charges, which is unprecedented.
– an array of political approaches, when brought together against a common oppression, yields results. the young people of oakland, and clergy, and artists, and organizers, and elders, and regular folk, and anarchists, and community media, and small business owners – folks really came together and came out in so many different ways over the course of the week and today. there were plans, and then there were spontaneous outbursts of emotion, all in response to the violence of the police, the silence of authorities, and the morbid escalating energy that media and most americans have around the idea of riots. but the result is that the authorities in california know we’re mobilized, and right now they realize they have no idea how to keep folks from wildin’ out – short of producing justice. the result is, they went and found the dude in nevada on the run the night before we gathered.
– it is actually possible for a respectful relationship to exist between nonprofits and the community-at-large in situations like this. i watched community leaders come together, communicate with oscar grant iii’s family, and then use all the resources available to them. that included independent security forces, the space of a nonprofit, the space of a church, radios bullhorns and flashlights and training from my organization, radios and bullhorns from other organizations, safety vests from another organization, a sound system, the copy place giving hella free copies, artists donating their time. i watched hella nonprofit leaders in the room, playing roles, but not naming their group, not sucking up media time, not dominating the microphone at the event…just supporting. thats how it is supposed to be.
and on a personal note, god i love backstage. i love being at an action with a super clear and useful role to play, diffusing stress, makin sure folks connect, just supporting. its one of the most fulfilling roles i ever play in my life. it’s interesting to be a ‘leader’ who is really a support person with a big smile, leading what “what’s needed?”, instead of “i think we should…”. works for me.
i feel like im in dreamland every time i blink, that tired, the helicopters are still out and of course oakland is still awake, still poppin. but i can sleep on the work we did this week – prayin for peace, workin for justice.