Friday, November 27, 2009
We briefly delved into a history of white supremacy and how it connects with the development of capitalism. We did an exercise to highlight the privileges and benefits granted to white people, and systematically denied to people of color. We had small group discussions to think about how white supremacy affects our social movements and what we can do to confront those issues. We also talked about the work of Catalyst Project, a center for movement building and political education that works primarily in white sectors of the left, based in San Francisco. Together we raised over $350 to go towards sustaining the important work of Catalyst Project.
Was is successful, you ask? Well that certainly depends. I personally think the people in attendance benefited from the brief history of white supremacy in the U.S., and certainly from hearing from people sitting next to them talk about their own thoughts and experiences in relation to the problem in question.
I think that to measure its success we will have to hope that the folks who went take whatever they absorbed from the workshop back into their normal lives and keep the wheel turning.
There are plans to hold monthly meetings to continue strengthening ourselves as white allies to people of color-led movements and communities. IMPACT! will also begin holding monthly caucuses for young white activists within our organization.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
Brothers and Sisters,
We are IMPACT!, a collection of individuals united by a vision of justice in this world and driven by a common spirit of resistance. We are students, workers and immigrants. We are artists, farmers, travelers, poets, friends, lovers and neighbors. We are rebellious and dignified. We speak up and we act out. We are fanatic lovers of liberty and justice. Bad government and greedy people have controlled this world for far too long. We are one voice among many that will say "no" to them, and "yes" to a beautiful world that lays just over the horizon.
Our ideas, experiences, and methods are as varied as the streets we grew up on, and there are a thousand ways in which each one of us will choose to struggle towards a just and peaceful world. We are not politicians, nor do we wish to hold power over anybody. We are not a vanguard and we do not have "the answers." We will not be arrogant, or claim that our way is the only way. We search for a world where respect and cooperation, instead of violence and coercion, maintain us. We use our differences as tools that can strengthen our communities. We do not ignore them or let them tear us apart. We are not weak and we will not be co-opted by clever and disingenuous politicians or officials. We will always keep our word and never act dishonestly. We are a tension, a resistance to injustice everywhere, an example, a dream of a new world where all worlds fit. We do not follow any one ideology.
As an organization, we have five main points. These are not the only points we have to make, but they will begin to give you a small picture of what exactly we are fighting for. They are:
We want freedom. We recognize that we are fully capable of making our own decisions and that each community must be free to guide its own destiny without being restricted or oppressed. Thus we propose, not a new regime or political platform, but rather the opening of spaces for ALL to participate directly. These would be in small assemblies in every neighborhood, where the people would be able to decide what they need and how to meet those needs collectively and democratically. We want good government and strong communities- where those who lead, lead by obeying, where decision always come from below, from the people.
Workers' Power/Local Economy
The fruits of our collective labor must be enjoyed by all. The shops, factories, and fields all belong to those who work them. Furthermore, we believe that our work must be something that uplifts our spirit and satisfies the material and emotional needs of both the worker and the community. Thus, we suggest that all workers organize themselves into strong and democratic unions in order to take back what is rightfully theirs. We seek to support local merchants, farmers, artists, etc. and defend them from greedy people and corporate chains. Massive companies, in exchange for our money, resources, labor, sweat, health, family and land offer us nothing but boredom, exploitation, and things we do not need. In short, they have no place in our community.
This struggle is a puzzle with endless pieces, and it takes all types to put it together so that we may see an image of the new world we carry in our hearts. We come from different places, with different ideas, and we take different paths. We must respect these differences and focus on how we can each contribute to this expanding global movement for peace and justice with dignity. We pledge to always support others who are struggling for social justice, in a way that mutually complements our efforts. In addition, we seek a world where we all have each others' backs; where we never put selfish interests ahead of the interests of our community, where what happens to our neighbors and co-workers is a matter of concern to us; where we live the slogan “An injury to one is an injury to all.” One organization, individual, idea, approach, strategy, or tactic, alone, cannot create the momentum necessary to build a truly democratic world. Our movements must operate like an open hand, each digit capable of moving separately and independently, but at any moment ready to bring itself together to form a clenched fist.
We will actively and consistently confront all forms of oppression that exist in our community, and especially in our organization. We want to create safe spaces for those who have suffered oppression or discrimination due to their skin color, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, age, immigration status, mental health, etc. We will work towards fostering leadership among traditionally marginalized groups, including, but not limited to: youth, people of color, womyn, queer/trans folk, immigrants, and the working class. It is the responsibility of ALL members of IMPACT! to be accountable to themselves and the group as a whole to make sure that oppressive attitudes are immediately confronted when they surface. Bigotry and intolerance will not be accepted. We will work at building our leadership skills as allies to all oppressed people, which means learning to listen, to follow, and to directly confront the hatred that we have been taught.
Culture must be something that is open and free to everyone. It should be provocative and surprising. It should be what makes life exciting and full of meaning. We vow to defend our artistic spaces and fight to construct many more. We suggest many diverse and collective acts of beauty that together can breathe life and joy into our communities, creating spaces for socializing, free expression, and recreation.
A community must have music, dancing, art, color, poetry, ideas, theater, and literature to give it meaning. We want more venues for people to play music and express themselves. We want murals in every alleyway and decorating the skyline. We want school music and art programs to be fully and always funded. We want gardens in every yard and abandoned parking lot. We want public spaces so we can gather, discuss, debate, laugh, play, protest, eat and create. We want to make our own cultural meaning, not have it handed to us by billboards and MTV. Without a revolutionary culture, our movement will be a song without a tune, a night without a day. Therefore, it will be central to everything we do.