Between my fellow organizers acting like I don’t exist, only treating other men like competent organizers, and the constant “hey pretty girl” and kissy faces while I’m canvassing alone in a strange city, labor organizing while female is not working out well for me today.

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I have always felt it was a handicap for oppressed peoples to depend so largely upon a leader, because unfortunately in our culture, the charismatic leader usually becomes a leader because he has found a spot in the public limelight. It usually means he has been touted through the public media, which means that the media made him, and the media may undo him. There is also the danger in our culture that, because a person is called upon to give public statements and is acclaimed by the establishment, such a person gets to a point of believing that he is the movement. Such people get so involved with playing the game of being important that they exhaust themselves and their time, and they don’t do the work of actually organizing people.
Ella Baker, Developing Community Leadership

Unless one lives and loves in the trenches it is difficult to remember that the war against dehumanization is ceaseless.
Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference, 1980. 

VICTORY For Flavia Perry! We Stopped Her Auction!It is with great pleasure that we announce that the auction is off! Together we have defended Flavia Perry’s home. Bank of America has called off her auction and is instead working with her on an affordable loan modification. This is the biggest victory we’ve ever scored against the big banks here in the Hudson Valley.Thanks goes out to everyone who marched, rallied, and sang with us. To those who called in and who wrote letters. To all the homeowners who fought for Flavia’s home just as hard as they fought for their own. And thanks especially goes to Flavia and her family for never giving up in their long struggle for justice. Foreclosure is not an individual problem, it is a collective injustice that demands a collective response. Through solidarity and struggle we created that collective response, and Bank of America and loan owner Freddie Mac were forced to listen.Flavia proves that this movement is not lying when we say, “when we fight, we win!” Even giants like Bank of America can be defeated. This is worth remembering as we continue our fight to put people before profit and defend the families of Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson.

I have never felt so intense, alive, such a sense of well-being, which is not to be confused with the illusion of ‘happiness’ equated to ‘having fun.’ I have chosen to be outside of society after having been very much inside. I intend to fight that society which lied to and smothered me for so long, and continues to do so to vast numbers of people…. My plans are unstructured in agenda in regards to anything but the immediate future. I believe in freedom, and must take the jump; I must take the chance of action.
A young white student, explaining why he wanted to join SNCC.

All [SNCC members] live in a state of tension: there is the recognition that academic life is too far removed from the social struggle, alongside the frustration that exists for any intellectually aroused youngster separated from books and concentrated learning. At the same time, having exchanged college attire and the tree-lined campus for overalls and the dusty back roads of the rural South, they are getting the kind of education that no one else in the nation is getting.
Howard Zinn: SNCC: The New Abolitionists, 1964

SNCC says that the roots of oppression lie in the entire society — not merely in the “crazy Klansman” but in the “moderate” Mayor or government leader who upholds the status quo. It asks why all the civil rights legislation has not basically changed the daily lives of millions of black people; has not ended police brutality, unemployment (where the rate is rising steadily), inferior schools, atrocious housing. And it answers that appeals to conscience are not enough, that the organized strength of the oppressed, founded on a new self-image, is necessary to end racism.
Stokely Carmichael, 1967

Recently, in a conversation with a comrade, I asked him to comment on the ways in which he sees himself enacting and enforcing patriarchy within the left. He did not know how to answer, but instead talked at length about women who had inspired him, and what he learned from them. He talked about trying to build capacity within membership so that we could begin to share decision making and leadership. I wondered about why it was so important for him to work hard to ensure others are taking on leadership roles, and I realized it was because regardless of the work of others around him, he is often both pushing (and getting credit for) many projects and campaigns the left has engaged in recent years. He has a lot of experience and is charming and strong and brave. When people want historical context or strategic advice for a project or action, they go straight to him and he has the skills and knowledge to give great suggestions and perspective, and because he continues to be able to answer these questions well, we are reticent to have these discussions without him. I deserve a way to work within the left that supports me in developing my abilities, but this man will never be able to teach me his magnetism or power.

No matter how many wonderful, feminist men I am informally mentored by, I find that I can neither embody nor learn to hold the power and leadership that they hold more easily. Not because they are not making enough space for me, or because they are not attempting to teach, but because they often can not see the way male privilege has allowed them to achieve their positions of influence. They can’t teach me how to be viewed as a leader, or how to hold power in a way that seems entrenched and appears authoritative to men. The one area I am allowed and expected to have true knowledge and influence is around feminist issues. I am often the first person called when men around me want a “feminist perspective”, or when our study group is discussing feminist (women) writers. On one hand, this makes me feel like I have influence and value to my collective, but on the other, it often feels like men are using my assumed expertise in order to further their own cred as good feminist radicals. If the men of the left were truly interested in delving in to the work of feminism, I believe they would be less likely to call on me to give them the right answer.


Hari Kondabolu on the safety for South Asians today.
sleepy themes