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Summation: Going back to go forward–faster

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This is the sixth article of a 7-part series that will focus on the issues in our radical movements that I think need our immediate and ongoing attention. I am using the ancient eastern concept of chakras for the body as a parallel to our movement’s energy wheel. Healers believe sickness occurs when the body’s chakras are blocked or out of alignment. Likewise, the U.S. Left and our social justice movements need our collective introspection, analysis and adjustments that lead to unblocking our energy/chi points. A weakened Left, and especially the Black Left, have been unable to provide this critical guidance over the last twenty years. I do not have the space to go too deep into my thinking although I have been pondering and talking about this very subject for a few years now. I am looking to stimulate a higher level of principled discussion about how to energize and organize the social forces coming into play at this pivotal juncture in history and how we can rebuild a formidable radical movement in this country.

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“We are airing our shame and failures because we want you, our movement sisters and brothers, to tuck lessons from this trauma into your sewing kits and toolboxes to create sturdier organizations in your communities.”

-Sharing Sorrow: Women of Color Resource Center’s Downfall,  Community Taskforce Findings, March 2011

 

There are several terms used to critique if we are effective in what we are building and how we are doing it. Evaluation, assessment, review. I’m most accustomed with the word summation, as in creating a culture of summation in an organization. Summations are important because they validate whether our political analysis and strategy were realistic. Ultimately, it should help us improve our internal functioning and organizing. Without regular, thorough and collective assessments, this chakra gets clogged. When this happens, our political analysis becomes dull and our development is stagnated.

Summing up our practice or a campaign should be a routine part of organizational planning. When we sum up a program or campaign, the starting point is if we achieved the stated goals and objectives. These are based upon our analysis of conditions and capacity and how the program/campaign fitted in with our overall strategy. A summation can vary in depth from a cursory assessment to looking at all the elements of the campaign including the roles of individuals. Read more

Redemption: An Act of Humility and Humanity

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This is the fifth article of a 7-part series that will focus on the issues in our radical movements that I think need our immediate and ongoing attention. I am using the ancient eastern concept of chakras for the body as a parallel to our movement’s energy wheel. Healers believe sickness occurs when the body’s chakras are blocked or out of alignment. Likewise, the U.S. Left and our social justice movements need our collective introspection, analysis and adjustments that lead to unblocking our energy/chi points. A weakened Left, and especially the Black Left, have been unable to provide this critical guidance over the last twenty years. I do not have the space to go too deep into my thinking although I have been pondering and talking about this very subject for a few years now. I am looking to stimulate a higher level of principled discussion about how to energize and organize the social forces coming into play at this pivotal juncture in history and how we can rebuild a formidable radical movement in this country.

 

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery

None but ourselves can free our minds.”

-Redemption Song, Bob Marley

 

Our social movement can be schizophrenic about how we treat one another. While we can be a loving, caring bunch of folks, we can also be mean-spirited and self-serving. Whether you call yourself a progressive or a revolutionary, movement forces don’t always live up to our lofty principles. This article will focus on how our movement deals with disruptive, inhumane and criminal behaviors amongst us. It’s time to discover the chakra of redemption as a more humane way of dealing with contradictions. The pre-requisites to redemption are accountability and humility.

Our organizations and social movement have at least two issues going on in the arena of negative behaviors. One is how we deal with self-criticism and criticism, and recognize the importance of integrating the practice in our work styles in a healthy, non-punitive way. The other is the need for an established recourse for when one of our own has done mental, physical, social and financial harm to a person or to an organization in our movement. These two realms are inextricably connected and our movement has dealt with both in a half-hearted, superficial way. Read more

Needed: New strategies for building power

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Published in St. Louis American March 14, 2017

Mayor Tishaura Jones? Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Last week’s mayoral result was like getting a whoopin’ as a kid because of something you weren’t supposed to do. Those whacks across the butt were painful but you could’ve totally avoided them had you chose to do the right thing. You didn’t, and now you’re licking your wounds. The narrow margin of 888 votes between Lyda Krewson and Tishaura O. Jones only makes the results that much more agonizing for the African-American community.

In my February 16 column “Mayoral race exposes lack of leadership,” a few mistakenly thought I was implying that we should only have one African-American candidate in the race. It’s not about the numbers, it’s about our strategy for building political power. If we had 20 black people in the race, it would only prove that at least 20 people were interested in holding that office. That is not a strategy to win. Read more