Design and layout by AgitArte.
Issue 44, March 2017 – When We Fight, We Win!
“When we fight, what might we win? In this issue, writers share their stories of struggle and reflect on the large and small things they have won in the process. Maybe by fighting, they achieved their goal. Or maybe they didn’t achieve their goal yet, but by being in the fight, they’ve made friends, created community, used their voice, navigated a hard struggle, and discovered their power. What else might you win when you engage in the fight — whether it’s an internal battle or a struggle to create social and political change?”
The Change Agent provides socially relevant content, powerful student writing that inspires discussion, and ready-to-use, CCR-aligned lesson plans – all oriented toward a multi-level audience.
What can we do?
7 actions we can take right now
Though the Trump era is frightening, it is not really unprecedented. We have faced grave domestic dangers in the US, dangers that led to mass mobilizing and a transformed society. From the repression of the 1950s McCarthy era, grew the civil rights, anti-war, women’s and Black power movements. The modern LGBTQ movement was born out of the Stonewall Riots when trans working class folks fought back against police brutality; later the repression targeted at AIDs patients reignited the movement. We can learn from them.
Many people are joining marches, some for their first time, and wanting to know “What can we do?”
The Movement for Black Lives, Women’s , Immigrant and Standing Rock water protectors immigrant protests across the country show how fertile this moment is and how organized action can turn fear and hopelessness into a transformative movement.
Though it’s a fine start, don’t just ask folks to write a letter. This is not a time for business as usual but a time to be fierce, compassionate, organized, loving, effective and, most of all, focused on our vision of a welcoming, joyful, caring, and just society.
At the Leading with Love in a Time of Violence webinar, Adrienne Maree Brown said, “Whatever you shine your attention on, that is what will grow.” I’m focusing my time, energy, money, and attention on seven actions that speak to me most and describe some of what we can do now:
Shine your light on the future we are working towards and what we want to grow. Compelling visions matter—they are the light that guides us. We can focus on the love, beauty, and the personal, community, cultural and systemic transformation we envision—such as the Women’s March vision statement and the Movement for Black Lives Platform which outline a powerful economic and social vision. The right wing succeeds, in part, by putting out a bold vision. Don’t be shy.
Create spaces for your own and others calm and clarity. Resistance is difficult—we must care for ourselves and others, stay strong, clearly focused and even smiling. These times require us to eat well, get sleep, exercise, sing, meditate, pray, get out in nature, play, offer kindness and service or whatever gives you and your people joy and clarity. Instead of being locked into certainty and constricted by fear, we can be train our minds to be open, wise, humble, generous, liberating and courageous. We can make our struggle joyful. Prioritize resilience and put love at the center in all work.
Organize. Join or create and build an organization. There’s strength in numbers—that’s the force of movements. Organizations need your help providing basic needs, defending vulnerable communities, reaching the media, changing policy, creating movement art, building the infrastructure of transformation, etc. Find one of the many great organizations in your community; we can help you. Join the social action committee of your faith group. Leverage our existing service institution to take action. Create appealing openings for the many who are desperate to take action yet new to activism. The Women’s March starts by asking folks to send a postcard and take a photograph of it and post it using their hashtag—it’s one way to use simple acts to build our organizations, power and voice.
Frame ideas, symbols and slogans skillfully so they can reach multiple audiences—potential recruits and allies, leaders, likely policymakers, etc. Arts, theatre, memes, humor and stories can help us move people. Think Pink Pussy Power Hat. Call out the media when they normalize this government’s misogyny and racism. Step up; use your financial, gender and race privilege to step out front to give cover for those who cannot be visible for safety reasons and step back to allow the voices of those most impacted to show us solutions. Work to delegitimize this election and exploit how Trump has already betrayed his supporters with his big bank appointments. Focus blame on systems, not individuals—transformative change requires getting at root causes. Concentration of power by the right wing has been happening over 30+ years—this is not simply about Trump. Being fierce is more important than being popular. The resisters in Ferguson and Occupy changed our language and the national conversation.
Build critical skills, gain missing capacities and knowledge. Learn how to run effective meetings and gatherings that build connection, community, and fun and make our work irresistible and compelling. Learn digital security and safe communications. We can offer or take non-violence and organizer trainings. The Ruckus society, 350.org, Social Transformation Project, and others have great resources in multiple languages. Learn about racism, patriarchy and capitalism; study the root causes of how we got to where we are. Learn how to build organizations and power while asking folks to call their elected representatives so we don’t waste precious energy. This is not a practice drill.
Stay awake, up to date and alert on the news, movement successes and tactics and strategies. While it’s tempting to want to turn off the news and not face the daily horrors, equanimity will allow us to face them squarely and it’s easy to listen to Democracy Now!’s 10 minute headlines via podcast. Political Research Associate’s weekly updates help us understand what the sophisticated Alt-Right is doing.
Protect, march, defend, disrupt. Protect the rights that have been won and the communities that are most vulnerable. The American Civil Liberties Union has a free app you can download to send video from your phone directly to the ACLU if you see a questionable police encounter. We can call on our cities, schools or places of worship to pledge support for immigrants and provide safety for those threatened and show up at housing evictions or marches. Expose who is funding and behind the neo-Nazi, Klan, and Right Wing groups and disrupt their hateful organizations. Think ACT-UP which helped stop the government’s quarantining of AIDS patients in the 1980s and exposed the complicit media. Think Montgomery Bus Boycott. Join boycotts and build toward massive non-cooperation. Sign petitions. Call on your local governments to develop strategies for protective action. Advocate fiercely against internment and ethnic persecution and be transformed by this moment.
Write and tell me what you are doing and keep sending me your best stuff. Over the next few days and weeks I will be sharing more details and links. There has never been a better moment to build movements and transform our world.
Martin Luther King’s Radical Legacy, From the Poor People’s Campaign to Black Lives Matter
Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou ▪ January 15, 2017
“The only thing I ask is that they not take the freeways. Dr. King would never take a freeway.” So said Kasim Reed, the liberal African American mayor of Atlanta, in response to Black Lives Matter protests in King’s birth city last summer. Noted conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly has likewise postulated with great confidence that “Dr. King would not participate in a Black Lives Matter protest.” Reed and O’Reilly were quickly lambasted for their lack of historical accuracy: Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, led the iconic 1965 march across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge and countless other acts of disruptive civil disobedience. But their sentiment reveals our popular misunderstanding of the life and legacy of America’s favorite civil rights leader.
Liberals and conservatives alike are quick to appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr. to justify their political aims and buttress their opinions of social movements. Corporations such as Apple have used his words and image to sell their wares, while pundits of all persuasions have invoked his name to browbeat younger activists and their tactics. Such is the case with Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), commonly known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Often denigrated in public discourse, Black Lives Matter is the largest movement for racial justice since the civil rights movement of King’s day.
“In trying times, we lean on our traditions and practices, ones we have inherited and ones we have evolved, to better reflect who we are as people in the highest vision of ourselves, decolonized in mind, spirit, skin and love. The plagues of cynicism and despair hunt us in these moments looking for our vulnerabilities. They try to convince us that our lives are not worth fighting for, but our rituals and legacy serve as touchstones in surviving, resisting, combatting, and wading through crises of faith, of imagination, and of hope.
Today, we ask us all to call forth our mantras.
Call forth our protection mantras knowing that today’s inauguration is not the beginning of incomprehensible injustices to humanity.
Call forth our defense mantras knowing that all that we believe is sacred is worth guarding, giving sanctuary, providing refuge, and going to bat for.
Call forth our vision mantras knowing that our actions are sustained and fortified by the ancestral knowledge, the hope, and the possibility of what James Baldwin called Paradise.
Today is not the inauguration of our commitment in word and in deed to The Mandate, but it is a reminder to look at each other with fire in our eyes. It is a nudge to take in our lovers, our babies, our chosen families, and our extended kindred network of people we have never met with a deep breath to remember that we have always found agency despite despair.
Whether you are in the streets today or tomorrow, whether you are in your home with prayer, or just at work like any other day: we call us all forward towards our collective liberation and towards the vision of our abundance. May you go forward, taking steps back as needed, and standing in the wayside when called, with this offering from Adrienne Maree Brown,
to manage the grief
we tie our roots together
to speak when there is danger
we learn to hear heartbeats
to speak of what no one has seen
we create a whisper
to make a world that can hold us
we teach each other
every small imperfect part of love
we will protect you
we will hold you
we will be protector
we will be protected
i will protect the skin you were born in
i will protect your right to love
i will protect your right to pray
i will protect your right to choose
i will protect your however-body
and i will protect your total
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Over the last few months, we’ve witnessed the growing movement and active resistance led by the Lakota/Dakota Nations, or the seven council fires that make up the Oceti Sakowin. Many more indigenous nations, brave and visionary elders and young people, women and two spirit warriors from around the world have joined them, because they know the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the long-standing battle against colonization that has plagued this continent and the globe for hundreds of year (Learn more by reading the Standing Rock Syllabus). These Water Protectors are standing in defense of water, land, traditions, and the right to govern themselves without interference from corporations or state entities. The SONG political family stands in solidarity with the Water Protectors and warriors currently at the site of major political and spiritual resistance: Standing Rock, North Dakota, one of the largest gatherings of indigenous people in modern history.
If you’re interested in joining other SONG members and political family traveling to support on the ground resistance or if you have additional ways to support and amplify please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“Imagine Black liberation movements without music, trans and queer freedom struggles without dance, immigrant justice movements without posters and murals.
Art and culture are not just accessories to organizing, they are indispensable. Critical. The blood and and re of our movements.
They sustain us and allow us to not only imagine, but to feel the world we are building together. Art touches us powerfully and immediately. It conveys our dreams, rage, and joy, in ways that data and petitions cannot. Artists in frontline and targeted communities expand our movements and cross social divides by uncovering truths, reimagining our stories, and engaging more people. Cultural work may not always result in easily measurable outcomes, but it opens crucial space to dream bigger and envision the worlds we want to create.”
What is the role of art and culture in movement building? How are we developing artist leadership in cultural organizing? How do we create structures which support cultural work in organizations? Greg Jobin-Leeds joins forces with AgitArte to further the discussion on the role of cultural workwithin our organizations, communities and movements, based on their new book and the workshops, When We Fight, We Win!. This panel will consider the impact that arts and social movements have on each other and explore how the arts as cultural forms contribute to social transformation.
Join Greg Jobin-Leeds, Culture Strike’s Julio Salgado and AgitArte’s Jorge Díaz and Deymirie Hernández in a conversation about the role of art and culture in the class struggle.
FRIDAY, Nov 11, 2016
10:45am-12:15pm Breakout Session Block 1
Race Forward advances racial justice through research, media, and practice. Founded in 1981, Race Forward brings systemic analysis and an innovative approach to complex race issues to help people take effective action toward racial equity. Race Forward publishes the daily news site Colorlines and presents Facing Race, the country’s largest multiracial conference on racial justice.
In solidarity. #WaterisLife #NoDAPL
Purchase signed prints at http://www.micahbazant.com/buy-art in order to support the Standing Rock Legal Defense Fund (https://fundrazr.com/d19fAf)
Credit: Micah Bazant
Via SOUTHERNERS ON NEW GROUND: We are working in collaboration with The Change Agent (TCA), a biannual magazine publication used as a tool to help teachers and learners use advocacy skills and to promote social justice action as an important part of the adult learning experience. Our collaboration will ultimately be a special edition issue focusing on the theme: “When We Fight, We Win!”.
We are excited about our relationship with TCA and the work they are doing to bring movement work to our people on the ground directly affected by systematic oppressions and inequalities. It is our hope to utilize this publication as a popular and cultural education tool to start a conversation, to capture stories, and to develop our critical analysis and critique beyond the classroom for adult learners and for our people on the frontlines.
We’re accepting submissions from SONG members, adult learners and teachers for the next TCA special edition issue. The call for articles includes references to the book by the same name, ”When We Fight, We Win!” We chose excerpts and images from the book to create writing prompts around public education, LGBTQ rights, low-wage work, and housing. (You do not need a copy of the book, When We Fight, We Win! by Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte, to proceed with these writing prompts. You can access the excerpts and images that you need by visiting the links above.
ALL ARTICLES MUST BE RECEIVED BY NOVEMBER 4, 2016
All submissions must be received by the deadline to be considered for publication. Suggested length is 200-1000 words. TCA will pay $50 stipends to adult education students whose work is accepted for publication. All submissions are reviewed by TCA Editorial Board and SONG. Final decisions are made by SONG and The Change Agent Editor.
PLEASE SEND EMAIL SUBMISSIONS TO:
Please CC: email@example.com
with “SONG TCA Submission” in the subject line
Cynthia Peters, World Education
44 Farnsworth St.
Boston, MA 02210