Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
February 27th, 2017
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Thinking for Ourselves
Community Wisdom
Shea Howellshea25Mayor Mike Duggan delivered his fourth State of the City address last week in an unusual venue. He chose Focus: Hope as the spot. It was a move designed to highlight his central message, time to focus on the neighborhoods. “We’ve improved the basic services but if we’re going to fulfill a vision of building a Detroit that includes everybody then we’ve got to do a whole lot more,” Duggan said.

Duggan then listed efforts he intends to take: job training with a clear “path to jobs” though Detroit at Work and a Skilled Trade Employment Program aimed at youth. He emphasized neighborhood investment by philanthropic organizations, promising a beginning $30 million to engage residents in Livernois/McNichols, West Village and Southwest Detroit to create walkable communities, and he promised street sweeping. He even pledged affordable housing and to back the City Council effort to guarantee 20 percent of new units will be set aside in any new project.

He said we can also expect more police officers, a new initiative around healthy pregnancies, and a Detroit Promise to insure that those babies, and current students, have a guaranteed college education when they graduate from Detroit Public Schools.

In spite of all of this, the Mayor’s speech seems more show than substance, more promise than reality.

The first reason for this is the overall framing of the neighborhoods. According to the Mayor, our neighborhoods are only places to be fixed. He does not see any of the creativity, energy or imagination that has been evolving at the neighborhood level for years. Home recipes turned into a thriving sweet potato pie shop, a neighborhood bakery reclaiming lives with returning citizens, bike shops and barber shops, 3-D printing, hand crafted furniture, and flower shops all are anchors in communities long neglected by development schemes. Rather than seeing these as sources of strength to be supported and expanded, the Mayor reduces neighborhood life to nothing more than a vast wasteland he will fix for us.

At the same time, he has refused to look honestly at the inequality his policies have created. Just days before the address, two local professors released a study concluding: “First, by a number of measures Detroit continues to decline, and even when positive change has occurred, growth has been much less robust than many narratives would suggest. Second, within the city recovery has been highly uneven, resulting in increasing inequality.”

The report went on, “Citywide data suggest Detroit is continuing to experience decline that makes it worse off than it was in 2000 or even 2010 in the depths of the national recession. Population, employment and incomes continue to decrease, while vacancies and poverty have increased.”

Perhaps the most important reality for the mayor is his failure to come through with his earlier promises to leverage jobs in the development of the core city. Detroiters are actually losing jobs at an alarming rate. The researchers noted,
“At each geographic level, the number of jobs held by residents has dropped over time, while employment of non-Detroiters has increased…Jobs for those living in the suburbs — who are mostly white — have gone up 16.6%. Meanwhile, jobs for city residents are down 35.5%.”

Had the Mayor heeded the wisdom of the community, we would have a Community Benefits Agreement in place that could already have mandated job training, job placement and increased the number of Detroit Enterprises benefiting from downtown investment.

Had the Mayor heeded the wisdom of the community he would have adopted a Water Affordability Plan to stop water shut-offs and support people staying in their homes.  Instead his blindness to this human rights abuse risks the wellbeing of everyone.

The Mayor is going to have to do a lot more than stand inside Focus: Hope and offer promises. He might start listening to what people want.


Scenes from the rollout of Riverwise, a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photojournalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries. Check us out online!

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A Letter from Detroit Youth Organizers
Paige Watkins, Julia Cuneo, Dakarai Carter, Kezia Curtis

When we were asked to plan the Youth Day of Vision on behalf of the James & Grace Lee Boggs Center, we knew that we wanted this event to youth-led and youth-centered. For us, that meant involving young(er) people in the planning process from the beginning and letting them control the direction of the event. Our Youth Planning Committee consisted of middle and high school students who are involved in the Detroit Independent Freedom School held at the Cass Corridor Commons.

We started with an introduction to what happened in 1967, inviting the Detroit Historical Society to a DIFS session to teach the students about the uprising and the Detroit 67 Project. This introduction was followed by brainstorming sessions, school visits, and planning meetings to determine what activities would work best for the day, recruit youth to attend, and set an agenda and facilitation schedule.

This may sound like an arduous process for just one event, but we believe that creating powerful, grassroots leadership in the future means giving them the reins today. We guided the young people through the organizing process, from conception to development to completion. This process provides them with the skills to create their own events, advocacy, and activism projects. The Youth Day of Vision was therefore not just about a vision of the future, but a vision of dynamic, transformative, present day youth leadership.

The day of the event, over 60 young people between the ages of 10 and 20 came to the Detroit Historical Museum for a day of investigating the past, understanding its relevance for our present, and envisioning our future. We explored the museum through an engaging scavenger hunt, teased out the differences between a riot versus a rebellion, and imagined ourselves in 1967 through a group role-play. It was exciting for us to see the young people’s visions of the future, which included cures for diseases, regional transportation systems, and diverse, interdependent communities.

At the request of the young people, we kept the space adult-free. The purpose of this careful curation was to allow young people to be themselves, open up, make mistakes, and take charge of their own spaces. We also integrated social media and many different types of hands-on engagement into the day’s activities. You can still find pictures on Instagram & Twitter by searching #DetroitUprising.

Because of this event, young Detroiters were able to more deeply understand the power of community organizing. Armed with this information, the young people heard from youth organizations about ways they could plug in immediately to work towards social justice in their communities.

We are incredibly proud of the young people who organized this event with such bold enthusiasm. We look forward to continuing to work with the social justice activists who attended and who will continue to transform this world for the next 50 years.


An Open Letter to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Their Report: “Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint”
Tom Stephens First, the Good News

There’s much to applaud in the Michigan Civil Rights Commission’s recent report[i] (February 17, 2017) regarding the deep historical and social origins of the now-notorious Flint water poisoning catastrophe.

This includes:

1.    Exposing the historical story of implicit bias, structural and systemic racialization behind this atrocity adds official recognition to the critical dynamics, particularly the “cumulative and compounding effects” of all discrimination and environmental racism (P. 82), far beyond and much better than the simplistic and limiting notions of individuals’ intentional, subjective racial prejudice that undermine our civil rights laws.  This is a notable achievement for an official government body – especially if it’s followed by policy actions to prevent repetition of such abuses in the future.  I don’t want to be misinterpreted as dismissing this positive aspect of the commission’s work;

2.    Calls for specific reforms of the emergency manager statutes to avoid future cases of destruction of local democracy, accountability and the rule of law at the local level are welcome; and

3.    The Commission’s acknowledgement of its own failure to intervene on a timely basis for the benefit of the People of Flint, and their vow to do better in the future, displays sincere reflection and commitment.  It is appreciated.

I don’t want to minimize these good things in the report.  But as a lifelong Michigander who submitted written testimony to the commission that, altho uncited, is very much in line with their ultimate findings,[ii] I feel morally compelled to say that I am seriously dissatisfied with the report.

In brief, I believe it misapplies complex, historical analysis of flexible and only partially developed environmental justice concepts, and especially the distinction between implicit and intentional racism, to blatantly let top policy makers who are responsible for poisoning Flint off the hook for what they did and why.  Let me explain.

Racism without Racists, Poisoning without Culpability

The commission’s “implicit bias” narrative, based on the brilliant work of native-born Detroiter and leading critical race scholar john a. powell, reflects a sophisticated, contemporary and deeply insightful view of the way that racialization works to oppress People of color (and, as the commission notes, to injure Whites as well).  But that welcome perspective should never be employed as a shield for government officials whose implementation of state policies and actions causes harm.  The commission stumbles badly on this vital point of accountability.

The key flaw in the commission’s reasoning runs thru out the report.  It is perhaps most evident in the commission’s express adoption of the word “racism”, but avoidance of the term “racist” in their report, because of “a lack of consensus on the common definition of the [latter] term”. (P. 21)  Much later, near the end of its report, the Commission states that “Racial disparities are too often sustained by structures and systems that repeat patterns of exclusion.” (P. 127)  Unfortunately, the commission’s misapplication of implicit bias theory, and structural and strategic racialization, to excuse policy makers whose unconscious prejudices, ideological biases and plain incompetence and arrogance poisoned Flint, effectively sustains and repeats those very patterns of exclusion.  This is completely unacceptable.   

Excusing Official Misconduct

The commission’s “racism without racists” construct takes back with one hand whatever positive effect it achieved with the other, via their exhaustive discussion of implicit bias, structural and strategic racialization.  While these concepts offer much promise in understanding the attitudes, actions and conflicts experienced by People in our communities, applying them to the acts of policy makers responsible for poisoning Flint is a cop out. 

The Governor and his men claimed, in their campaigns for office and in their “emergency management” policies, policies they re-enacted even after being rejected by public referendum, that they knew what they were doing.  (As Michigan’s great public citizen and Governor Frank Murphy observed in the era of the great depression: “To sacrifice everything to balance the budget is fanaticism.”  That’s what they were doing.)  Implicit bias, structural and strategic racialization should never be allowed as a defense to such official misconduct.  The commission’s failure to recognize this fundamental distinction between ordinary People’s implicit personal social attitudes, and the awful consequences of official actions by policy makers, converts their report in substantial degree from a needed exposé into an unjust, structurally racist cover-up.  

The commission’s inability to place well-deserved blame where it lies with state government leaders is even further exemplified by their rather shocking statement: “We have neither seen nor heard anything that would lead us to believe that anyone in government permitted something they believed to be harmful to continue because of the racial makeup of Flint.” (P. 12)  One must ask in this context, what in the world would it take? 

Long before they admitted it, the top state government officials had significant information that would convince any reasonable person that 1) Polluted water is harmful; 2) Most People in Flint are of color and poor; and 3) They were being forced to use polluted water.  Avoiding the conclusion that “government permitted something they believed to be harmful to continue because of the racial makeup of Flint” under these circumstances is apologizing for decisions and actions that implemented structural and systemic racism, of which these top officials should have known and which it was their duty to avoid and later stop.  The commission’s failure to reach this inevitable, common sense conclusion is an extremely grave, unconscionable error.

Ignoring Critical Relevant Evidence

One of the ways the commission achieves this myopic result is by completely ignoring – in spite of their otherwise comprehensive historical overview – the damning official history of government attacks on environmental justice in the 1980s and 90s, centered around Flint and Genesee County.  As I stated in my written testimony (note 2, below):

“Some 20 years ago, the issues of environmental racism and environmental justice – the disproportionate adverse exposure of People of color communities and the poor to pollution and other environmental dangers – were addressed by environmental agencies and courts in two (2) major cases that arose in Flint: 1) The Genesee Power Station (GPS) case; and 2) The Select Steel case.

The GPS case involved a wood-burning incinerator sited near Flint’s impoverished north end, a community already swamped with other toxic, heavy industrial sources of pollution.  Negotiations with the incinerator resulted in an agreement to significantly reduce the amount of lead paint-contaminated construction and demolition wood the incinerator was allowed to burn. (They originally described their business to state environmental officials as “burning demolished Detroit crack houses”.)

After that partial settlement, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) under Gov. John Engler and Director Russell Harding insisted on a historic environmental justice trial of the allegation that they violated Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by permitting the GPS, the first such trial ever.  The Genesee County Circuit Court, Hon. Archie Hayman, entered an injunction against granting more air pollution permits in Genesee County after a 1997 trial that included lots of evidence of increased lead poisoning in Flint because of the GPS; the injunction was subsequently reversed on appeal for a procedural technicality.

The Plaintiffs in the GPS case had also filed the first administrative Title VI environmental racism claim with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992.  After initially losing the file, EPA later found it and opened an investigation, but they have never issued any decision.  Meanwhile, 3 of the 4 Plaintiffs died.

A second major environmental justice case arising in Flint was decided adversely after a bogus, pro forma investigation in 1998 by EPA: the infamous Select Steel decision.  In Select Steel, the same plaintiffs complained about a proposed (never built) steel recycling facility, that would further pollute their already overburdened community.  EPA came under heavy political pressure in both Michigan and Washington, DC, including explicit threats to zero out the budget of their Office of Civil Rights.   EPA rendered a decision against environmental justice that abandoned any meaningful attempts to remedy environmental racism, refusing to use their power to bring public health and environmental quality in Flint up to standards enjoyed in white suburban communities.

In significant part as a result of the Flint Select Steel precedent, environmental racism has found no legal remedy at EPA.

Why did these regulators ignore the pleas of Flint residents who were forced to drink smelly, foul and discolored water for a year and a half?  Because that was the policy of allowing substandard environmental and public health conditions in communities like Flint, conditions that would never be allowed in whiter, more affluent communities.  And that precedent was largely established in Flint in the 1990s.  The ongoing Flint River scandal was the result of emergency management and the Snyder administration’s depraved indifference to health of People in Flint, as well as longstanding, established de facto environmental policy to allow such pollution in these communities.

The Flint River’s lead poisoning is just an extreme case.”

Ironically, on January 19, 2017, EPA finally issued their administrative Title VI decision in the GPS case.  They found the state violated Title VI in their permit process. “… EPA finds that the preponderance of evidence supports a finding of discriminatory treatment of African Americans by MDEQ in the public participation process for the GPS permit considered and issued from 1992 to 1994.”  25 years later, it’s a textbook case of “justice delayed is justice denied.”  The commission should not have ignored this evidence.   

Leaving out Flint’s important role in the attack and rollback against environmental justice perpetuates the very exclusion the commission decries, and allows current state leadership off the hook for implementing racist abuses in Flint in 2014-15.  This seriously compounds the commission’s admitted failure to come to the aid of the People of Flint in their hour of need.  That is why I feel compelled to write this response.

Racist Restructuring is not only about Flint

In addition to erasing the significant history of anti-environmental justice state actions in and around Flint, the commission’s selective application of history leads to other major contradictions.  For example, Detroit’s decline and revitalization is a product of the same history of structural and systemic racism, suburbanization, housing and employment discrimination, capital flight and separate and unequal benefits of crucial infrastructure, all rooted in regional development shaped by implicit bias, that the commission details in Flint.  Indeed, the two cities’ histories of abuse by such structural, systemic forces are inextricably related. 

Detroit, like Flint, was subjected to Governor Snyder’s racist and undemocratic “emergency management” restructuring and asset-extraction policies; instead of contaminated water, Detroit’s structural adjustment involved mass denial of water via shut offs to tens of thousands of families comprising well over a hundred thousand individuals, an atrocity that was condemned by UN representatives as a human rights violation.  This dubious achievement has been widely celebrated in the corporate media as Detroit’s “resurrection”.[iii]  It is not critiqued by the commission, altho it represents another manifestation of the same deep history of implicit bias, structural and strategic racism that is their primary focus.

Ignoring Agency and Power

In political terms, emergency management deprived predominantly African American citizens in the managed communities of their agency in democracy.  Now the commission’s “racism without racists” reframing of the Flint River scandal lets the perpetrators off the hook for their abuses and crimes, by excusing their agency because it “merely” reflected implicit bias the commission believes they shouldn’t be called out on, because it supposedly did not rise to the level of intentional, willful prejudice embodied in state policy.  In addition to devastating democracy by ignoring the crucial role of agency, this is far too charitable to the structurally racist miscreants at the top of Michigan’s power systems.  For the record, neither Snyder nor any of his Republican enablers in the state legislature have lifted a finger to date to fix the deadly problems caused by Michigan’s unprecedented emergency management statute.  There’s nothing unconscious about their racist evil.

Coincidentally, the release of the commission’s report coincides with the release of the justly acclaimed James Baldwin documentary film, “I Am Not Your Negro”.  Baldwin’s simultaneously blunt and eloquent message to American White People perfectly captures the moral blame that should be cast for poisoning Flint, and should serve as a useful corrective to the commission’s tragic evasions of official culpability:

What white people have to do, is try and find out in their own hearts why it was necessary to have a nigger in the first place. Because I’m not a nigger. I’m a man, but if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it. . . . If I’m not a nigger here and you invented him — you, the white people, invented him — then you’ve got to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. Whether or not it’s able to ask that question.”[iv]

It is long past the time to stop the “relentless poisonous action” of Snyder and his associates; the systemic, structural and implicit nature of the racist bias underlying their shocking, depraved actions should not be an excuse. 


[i] The Flint Water Crisis: Systemic Racism Through the Lens of Flint (link)

[ii] The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective (link)
I also drafted the original, much stronger version of the Michigan State Environmental Justice Policy that was disastrously watered down by DEQ bureaucrats in 2009-10, under pressure from corporate and white supremacist special interests.  That “Executive Directive” is discussed at length by the commission beginning on P. 100.  The commission’s analysis of this farcical process and the meaningless document it produced is pure tautology: If Michigan had an effective policy against environmental racism, then there would have been a policy against environmental racism that might have been effective.  True.  But that’s not the question.  The question is why the state government’s bad actors did what they did. 

Lansing’s systematic inattention to issues addressed in our communities’ original draft environmental justice executive order, like the  precautionary principle, cumulative impact of multiple pollution sources, communities’ rights to directly petition the state to investigate and remedy environmental injustice, and environmental racism (as well as feral, unregulated capitalism) itself, came after fighting tooth-and-nail against grassroots groups seeking such policies for 30 years.  This notice-and-refusal-to-correct-injustice evidence adds culpability – even willful depravity, in the unprecedented circumstances of Flint in 2014-15 – to the depths of unconscious, implicit bias that undoubtedly plague all levels of the Snyder administration.  This is precisely why I reject the commission’s reasoning and conclusion; they seem to be saying that, since structural and systemic bias are overwhelmingly implicit and unconscious (Nobody in state government endorses “I am a racist”), it would be unduly hurtful to attribute blame where blame would otherwise be due.  I respectfully dissent.

Flip the script: The policies and actions of high officials like Governor Rick Snyder, Transformation Manager Richard Baird, and Treasury Secretary Andy Dillon that exposed the People of Flint to contaminated water were racist.  Fundamentally, environmental racism is the state’s policy.  The Flint River crisis proves it beyond doubt.

[iii] This uncritical corporate and white supremacist backslapping has been debunked by scholarship.  Detroit’s Recovery; The Glass is Half Full at Most “…[B]y a number of measures Detroit continues to decline, and even when positive change has occurred, growth has been much less robust than many narratives would suggest. Second, within the city recovery has been highly uneven, resulting in increasing inequality. … Overall, citywide data suggest Detroit is continuing to experience decline that makes it worse off than it was in 2000 or even 2010 in the depths of the national recession. Population, employment and incomes continue to decrease, while vacancies and poverty have increased.” (emphasis added)

[iv] I Am Not Your Negro; James Baldwin’s Lesson for White America Still Hits Home 50 Years Later


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
February 20th, 2017
With the release of our first issue on February 7, 2017, RIVERWISE magazine is officially part of the local media landscape. Part of our stated mission is to be inclusive in ways not normally associated with print media.

We have begun accepting submissions for the Riverwise Spring issue. But we’re exploring other ways to engage and broaden the network of movement activity for the benefit of Detroit’s traditionally underserved population.

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In keeping with that spirit, we are starting a series of public dialogues.
Join us for our first official ‘community conversation’ February 25 at Source Booksellers at 5 pm and share stories of public displays of activism in your neighborhood.

Who is organizing who, to solve what prevailing issues? What existing community spaces serve as liberation zones or places to create and implement new visions? And how we can better cover these stories?


With our first issue as a backdrop, we’ll be talking about these issues and more throughout 2017 and beyond. 

 – The Riverwise Collective                              


Thinking for Ourselves
Following Orders
Shea Howell

shea25Across the country people are deciding it is more important to do the right thing than to follow a bad law. Days into the Trump administration the Attorney General refused to defend Trump’s executive order closing borders to people from predominately Muslim countries. Sally Yates made it clear, none of us can say “we are just following orders.”

Since that moment, thousands of others have confronted this choice. As TSA and Immigration officials followed Trumps orders, people staged nationwide protests, swarming airports and packing the streets. Now, after galvanizing the attention of the country through a day without immigrants, people are organizing resistance. Some of this resistance is providing workshops on understanding your rights, some is establishing networks for emotional and financial support, and some is preparing for direct actions to stop ICE from deporting people.

People of faith are asking how to remain truthful to higher laws while working to transform the unjust ones dictated by Trump. Declaring sanctuary churches is one response. Nationally, there are more than 800 congregations that have become sanctuaries since November 8.

Mayors are reaffirming their cities as Sanctuaries. These declarations of non-cooperation with federal officials shows widespread defiance to Trump’s effort to bully cities. New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco all publicly defied Trump. San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said, “I am here today to say we are still a sanctuary city. We stand by our sanctuary city because we want everybody to feel safe and utilize the services they deserve, including education and health care.”

Detroit’s Mayor Duggan has failed this moral test. Worse, his Chief of Police is telling us how much he loves Trump.  It took one little invitation up to the big White House, and Chief Craig has come back “emboldened.”

“Very positive, very supportive,” Craig said. In logic that was obviously twisted by Trump, Craig claimed he would not be “doing illegal immigration work for the president, but if a violent offender is caught and is not a citizen, the feds will be called.”

Such a distinction is likely to become increasingly blurry. During the recent round of arrests across the country, many were “collateral arrests” meaning those detained weren’t the original targets but people who got caught up in workplaces and homes.

The reality is that Trump is depending on local law enforcement to support mass deportation. That is why part of the meeting with Craig and other police officers was to highlight a little discussed executive order on immigration enforcement that included measures to ramp up a program known as 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement officers to double as federal immigration agents. In addition to establishing broad and vague authority for arrests, this order provides a framework for local governments and private prisons to benefit from establishing detention centers. Detaining immigrants is about to become an even bigger profit center.

Chief Craig would do well to rethink his thoughtless response. The Mayor and the City Council need to reaffirm Detroit as a Sanctuary City. They also need to reassert local control over local police.

Today, across the city, school principals and teachers are providing far more leadership on what it means to live in a city that cares for its people. In calling for Sanctuary Schools, they are making it clear that “following orders” will not lead to a just society.


6 Things to do to support immigrant neighbors
GLOBAL Detroit

1. Put up a sign stating that everyone is welcome (attached). Download and print the signs from this website : https://www.welcomeyourneigh bors.org/download-pdf

2. Join the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center newsletter. Stay up to date and be an ally when anti-immigrant legislation comes up: http://michiganimmigrant.o rg/about-us/subscribe-newslett er

3. Sign-up for a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training! – https://docs.google.com/form s/d/e/1FAIpQLScBR_o0LweYzITIFN Oirrh50g0Snoafsx1gzsT41NGjC7c0 qg/viewform?c=0&w=1   (More dates to follow!)
4. HOST a Know Your Rights (KYR) session at your school, church, or neighborhood and invite as many as you can!
5. Share these videos from MIRC:
Spanish and English video of our 5 minute community education videos. Some folks have been showing this video in small groups and then having discussion with copies of our guide. Here are the links to those videos:
MIRC made a 20 minute English “train the trainers” video as a companion to our popular “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” guide.  Here it is:
6. JOIN THE ACLU!! They need support and volunteers! https://action.acl u.org/secure/support-aclu-mich igan
(AHEM! 7. Others are wondering what they can do, so post what you are doing on FB and share this email every couple of weeks with others!)


Come see YES! magazine editor Sarah Van Gelder discuss her new book in Detroit

Source Booksellers
February 27th
6 pm
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What We’re Reading

Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
William Anderson
Praxis Center

There is a love that should be more prevalent. In our communities overrun with toxic masculinity, a deep, radical love for women and all gender non-conforming people is especially important right now. The horror of white malevolence has personified itself in the realization of a Trump presidency. This is intricately linked to dangerous definitions of manhood that will only make these times worse. It’s imperative that the men who create this constant disarray realize that they’re going to be making life that much harder during these difficult times ahead.

While many are contemplating what resistance will look like over the years ahead, there’s one major effort that shouldn’t be overlooked:  men need to stop beating, raping, and killing women. Any resistance to fascism will be undermined by the terror that men wreak against women in our respective communities. The overwhelming violence of toxic masculinity defines itself at the expense of women daily. It’s street harassment; it’s domestic violence; it’s everywhere. Though often overlooked, women have been the formative leaders of so much of the work that’s gotten our movements to where they are today. Without women, our movements are absolutely nothing, and we must travail to overcome the trite manhoods that destroy women. KEEP READING


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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
February 13th, 2017
Closings-Rally leafletPDF


Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!

2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.

We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.

We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.

We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.

LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more


Thinking for Ourselves
Protecting Waters
Shea Howell

In the midst of the anguish and chaos flowing from the Trump administration, new reports about water were issued with little attention. They raise serious questions about the quality of our drinking water and predict that clean, affordable water is rapidly disappearing.

In December, as we braced for Trumps inauguration, Reuters released an alarming report that concluded nearly 3000 localities in the United States currently have drinking water with levels of lead “at least double the rates found in Flint’s drinking water.”

This was followed a few weeks later by research from Michigan State University concluding that water rates are becoming increasingly unaffordable. “If water rates continue rising at projected amounts, the number of U.S. households unable to afford water could triple in five years, to nearly 36 percent.” This means, “As many as “13.8 million U.S. households (or 11.9 percent of all households) may find water bills unaffordable.”

Further, water rates have increased 41 percent since 2010, and if they continue at that pace over the next five years the number of households that cannot afford water and wastewater services could soar to an estimated 40.9 million, or 35.6 percent of all households.

The United Nations estimates that by the year 2025 as much as two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in conditions of serious water shortages and one-third will be living in conditions of absolute water scarcity.

Water scarcity will be accelerated by the Trump administration. Within the first week in office Trump moved forward on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), threatening the entire watershed flowing from the Missouri river.

In addition, he is commitment to privatizing public goods and turning the bounty of the earth into private profit centers. This kind of thinking proved deadly in Flint. A recent article by Tracey Chaplin published in Next City explains, “The flaw in the logic is simple, but devastating. An economic strategy will function in a different way if applied within a different sector, because there are two totally different bottom lines in operation. Efficiency and profit are the key motivators in the private sector. Conversely, creating the greatest public good for the greatest number of people is the bottom line in the public sector. But when private sector drive for efficiency at any cost is applied within the public sector, public good takes a back seat. Power is concentrated among a few individuals. The voice of the people is silenced. Safety and human rights are sacrificed. Lives are lost in the name of efficiency and economic solvency.”

Detroit has the opportunity to point another way forward to protect our waters and our people. For more than a decade community activists have been arguing for a water affordability plan based on income and designed to encourage conservation.

Mayor Duggan has steadfastly refused to adopt such a plan. He has shut off 50,000 homes from water since 2014. His assistance plans have been a disaster.

In the beginning of February the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department unveiled a system of block rates to encourage conservation and shift some of the burden from lower income people. While this is welcome first step, Duggan will have to do much more if he expects to truly address the crisis we are facing. As Roger Colton, a Massachusetts-based economist who sat on the panel, said the inclining rates are “a progressive step to address inability to pay.”

“Inclining block rates can be a good tool,” he said. “They are not adequate unto themselves, but they are a step ahead.”

Protecting our water and our people are fundamental to our future. While we resist Trump and his national assaults, we can make a tremendous difference here in our own city. It only requires imagination and will.


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Social Action of/in/through Yoga
Meghan McCullough

Saturday, January 21st, 2017 was shaped, for me, by this animating question: What is the relationship binding social action and yoga?

In the morning, B led us in an empowerment flow. On our mats, we moved and breathed to songs born of the anti-apartheid freedom struggle. Voiced from within the movement, these songs carried the struggle, hope, and soul of a people in pursuit of survival, justice, and liberation. They manifested active nonviolence in the heart of the most abusive of legal, social, economic, and political structures. From the birthplace of humanity, at the southernmost tip of the African continent, the cry of freedom echoed outward, calling the international community to a greater awareness and a deeper reckoning with its complicity in global systems of social and economic oppression. They said: “see and hear how our cities and our families have been torn apart by your ‘development.’” “Khawuleza, mama!” “Senzeni na?” What have we done to deserve such abuse? In this human family, we are all subject; these songs call us, however “us” was or is or will be understood, to account for our deeds and rise to nobler heights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fqdcz0eYLSQ

Singing begins with breath. On my mat, I breathed. My heart sang with Miriam Makeba and I contemplated the dramatically different definitions of “power” manifesting themselves in the world around me, and within me. What is it about softening into a posture that strengthens?

Off the mat, I met and joined my colleagues who, on this day, were coming together for the first time to begin a journey into yoga teaching training. Together, our small group took the decision to join the Women’s March and embarked on our walk from the studio to the Lansing Capital building. As we walked, we worked to clarify our motives, our inspirations and our dreams. Never did we claim to be the same, yet the pursuit of a common question united us in dialogue. I imagined all of the human beings around the country and the world who also felt moved to join what became one of the largest days of protest in US history and globally. Women-led marches took place in over 600 locations, spread across the seven continents of the world. We were joining them, in their tremendous diversity of experience, expression, and intent. We joined them in the quest/ion of social action, in the struggle of “chaos or community?” that must be faced by a global people awakening to their shared humanity. I wonder who they’re talking to.

Outside the capital, I observed and heard and felt the differing motivations and concerns of my fellow marchers as they stood in the sun, walked through the mud, held and hugged and greeted one another. There is nothing more beautiful to me than people who care about people. Sometimes, their hopes were intoned with notes of despair. Sometimes, the cry “freedom,” was reduced to the protesting of one man’s inauguration and the “others” who let it happen. Advocacy efforts are too easily coopted by the falsities and loss structures of partisanship, of gender binaries and the naturalized violence of white supremacy in a sensationalized market culture. Therein lies the challenge and responsibility for those of us who believe in unity as an active principle, and not as a rhetorical tool to silence those voices and bodies who have been written in as “outsider.” “Showing up” is complex, and just as two people who look the same in a yoga posture will always feel it differently on the inside, it is easier to claim unity with our physical presence than it is to advance a unity of thought and action capable of aligning words with deeds and principles with practice. For some, “social action” is surviving and living in the bodies God gave them and the circumstances into which they and their parents and their ancestors were born.

Yoga as praxis is a process of unification; it means “union,” the communion of breath and movement, body and mind, the reconciliation of the fragmented, disparate parts of ourselves into a whole. If yoga doesn’t humanize, it is not yoga. And humanization is, for me, the sole objective of social action. The distance between the minds and hearts of these bodies, of my body, gathered together for a common-cause-in-the-making, is a source of motivation, a challenge and opportunity that lives in the vision of the beloved community.

What does it mean to have a world-embracing vision? How do we locate the voices of the vulnerable? What are the crying needs and unique opportunities of this Day? What is the source and meaning of our power? What substance and programs and policies will fill our slogans? These are movement times. As the world of humanity becomes increasingly able to envision itself as one body, united in spite of the myths of national borders and false hierarchies that have displaced and governed for centuries, how can our actions, individually and collectively, come to embody the principle of the oneness of humanity?

At other points in human history, the study and practice of the life system of “yoga,” its roots and branches, began by teaching its ethical principles: the yamas and niyamas. Long before the asana was introduced, the spiritual implications of movement were contextualized and clarified. In a time when the material advance of civilization has far surpassed the maturity of its thinking and the quality of its relationships, I urge myself and every concerned individual to place the question of spiritual development at the center of definitions of “progress,” and to commit, through dialogue, to clarify the meaning and practice of “development” wherever it is invoked.

Yoga requires of us the sacrifice of a material attachment to self, in the service of a higher purpose: an ongoing, moral becoming. It is “the true union of our will with the will of God.” Undertaken as both individual and collective practice, in the context of community, it is social action. Social action, when uncompromising in its belief that every soul was created equal and noble, when seeking to advance social, material, and spiritual conditions for all people, and especially the vulnerable, is yoga.

Khawuleza, mama
Amandla
Namaste


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What We’re Reading

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Jump in Sarah van Gelder’s camper for an unforgettable journey. From remote North Dakota reservations to Chicago’s urban farms to the coal fields of Appalachia, YES! Magazine’s cofounder meets the quirky and the committed, the local heroes and the healers who are building a better world, one community at a time.
She’s coming to a town near you!


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

  Jimmy and Grace  
* Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!
* Rally Against School Closures
* Resisting Trump is WORKING!
Dilla Youth Day Detroit 
*Educating for Democracy
Shea Howell
* Emory *Douglas Feedom Freedom fundraiser 
*Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
*Detroit Youth Day  Detroit Historical Museum
Living for Change News
February 8, 2017
Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!

2017-0952 Riverwise One proof

Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.

We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.

We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.

We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.

LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more


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Resisting Trump is WORKING!

For everyone who believed in #resist, congrats on helping with the following successful efforts. – Betsy Taylor

Because of you:
1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Federal judge imposes temporary nationwide halt to Trump’s travel ban.
3. Green card holders can get back in country after massive airport protests and litigation efforts.  Iraq war vetswere part of those protests.
4. Uber CEO drops off presidential advisory council and pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter. 200,000 Uber users drop the app.   Lyft gives 1m to American Civil Liberties Union to fight immigration ban.
5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air with  help from private companies.
6. The ACLU raised 24M over one weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure.
8. 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/ethn ic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. White House contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has opposed almost all of Trump’s nominations and is getting support as a result.

11. Trump’s approval ratings are low by historical comparisons.
12. Governors are standing up against Trump – most notably in California.  They are joined by over 17 state attorney generals.
13. Big City mayors are defying Trump on immigration issues and more.
15. High profile athletic teams – and many others – are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels.

16. Theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just released and extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin.  This must see film is the latest in asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.
17. There will be a growing number of efforts to impeach Trump.
18. Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.
19. The White House has pulled back from reopening black site torture prisons due to public outrage and pressure from veterans.
21. Seattle climate activists successfully moved their city council towards divestment of 3 billion dollars from Wells Fargo due to its support for the Dakota Access pipeline project.
22. Most important perhaps, hundreds of thousands of new people are engaged.  Scores of new platforms for engagement have been launched including:

These are dark times and the threats are colossal.  While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins.
Stay vigilant, but also take self care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. Give thanks for all the others – known and unknown – who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight.
#resist


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Thinking for Ourselves
Eucating for Democracy
Shea Howell

The announcement by the state School Reform Office that it is considering closing 25 more schools in Detroit is being met with widespread outrage. Students, teachers, parents, and community members rallied quickly to denounce the proposed closures. Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent for Detroit Public School Community District vowed to fight the closures saying, “School closure is not an option.

Even Mayor Mike Duggan, who has absolutely no authority over schools, weighed in to say he would “fight the irrational closing” of schools. The Mayor, in announcing his bid for re-election, said he had called Governor Snyder to tell him the announced closures are “wrong” and that the school reform office efforts are “immoral, reckless … you have to step in.”

On Sunday February 5 the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative spearheaded a community town hall to develop strategic responses to this latest assault on our children and their futures. Over 300 people gathered to talk about how we can support our children and parents.

Russ Bellant, community advocate, began the informational panel opening the meeting saying, “The fundamental message I think everyone needs to understand is that the closing of the schools, not just this month but for the last 18 years, has been illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral.”  Mr. Bellant emphasized that the state Constitution says “no public money to private schools,” but 80% of the charters are for profit private corporations. Over half the children of Detroit attend charter schools.

Other panelists and audience members agreed, arguing that school closures are a form of genocide, targeting African American districts across the state, creating conditions where it is impossible for children to learn, to feel cared for, or be respected.  

The only groups in Michigan supporting additional closures are those supported by Betsy DeVos and her cronies. The Great Lakes Education Project called on the state to shut the “worst of the worst” schools. The organization said education officials have spent $7 billion on failed school-turnaround efforts. Most of that money has gone into the hands of private corporations and consultants.

In a system where private corporations have driven children into overcrowded classes, provided unqualified teachers, refused to provide needed materials or even basic facilities like functioning bathrooms, DeVos and her friends continue to claim they care about our children. Defying reality, they claim closing schools is good for families.

“The simple fact is these schools are failing our kids and their families deserve better,” said GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert in a statement. “If the SRO exercises the ‘unreasonable hardship’ exemption to avoid closing any of these schools, we expect them to implement dramatic restructuring to give these students a chance at a successful future.”

The battle for public education in Detroit is a prelude to what people around the country will face as Betsy DeVos brings her agenda to the national stage as the new Secretary of Education. Uniquely unqualified, dedicated to the destruction of public education, and architect of polices that are nothing short of child abuse, DeVos will be pushing privatization and schools of choice across the country.

Resisting her efforts requires deepening our understanding of the critical role public education should play in strengthening our democracy. The purpose of education is to enable people to become fully responsible, creative citizens, making decisions that critically reflect an understanding of ourselves, our relationships to one another, and our responsibilities to the earth that supports us.

We are facing critical times. We need the imagination and thinking of everyone, especially our children, to develop just and regenerative futures. The efforts of DeVos and company to reduce education to another profit center for corporate elites must be resisted. This resistance must be rooted in love for our children and in the celebration of their capabilities to participate in developing solutions to what democracy can really look like.

—-

Footage courtesy of Shane Bernardo from Emergency Meeting on the Education Crisis.

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Standing with Standing Rock
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty

Over the past few months, the Boggs Center welcomed our first group of fellows. They are an intergenerational group of writers, social justice organizers, educators, union organizers and students who have been collectively studying, creating, organizing and writing. Below is their collective write-up in solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors.

In the face of corporate violence, environmental destruction, and the militarized stripping of physical and spiritual bodies, Indigenous women have played an integral role in leading a multi tribal nation stance of solidarity to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

We have witnessed a peaceful transformative stance of truth from the Sioux and many Native Tribes. This stance though long voiced, has only recently been heard by souls around the world. After inconceivable injustices toward Indigenous communities that continue today, the sacredness of Indigenous peoples and principals are finally being honored by the masses. It is a step toward the light of humanity, but it is a far journey away from where we need to be as human beings.

“Settler colonialism is a structure, not an event,” writes Andrea Smith (http://www.showingupforracial justice.org/standing_rock_soli darity).

When the DAPL was rerouted from Bismarck to Standing Rock, elected officials and corporate entities denied this right to the native tribes in residence at Standing Rock, despite recognizing the risk to the residents of Bismarck. This was an intolerable act of injustice, and is rightly protested by members of the Standing Rock community and others across the country and the world.

When we urgently reflect, as individuals and in community, on the crying needs of a humanity tired of the violence of war, too often lived as normality, we must ask: how it is that the machinery of war has come to be seen as a tool for “security” and “development?” When development is centrally concerned with the death and exploitation of the sacred, we must ask: what are its ends? We watched as the cry to protect the very water that sustains our collective life on this planet, water through which the spirits of former and latter generations flow, was shot down with water canons fired in subfreezing temperature. We saw offerings of peace carrying hopes for a more sustainable future spat upon with tear gas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades. And yet, our Indigenous brothers and sisters were armed with prayers, with love for the earth in all its sacredness, with generosity of spirit, and with hopes for generations to come. So we must also ask: what is the nature of the machinery those of us who are tired of war must develop? How will we, out of hope and out of need, reimagine and redefine what development looks, feels, smells, and tastes like on the local battlegrounds of a planetary struggle?

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at Standing Rock! We stand in support of their collective and resounding efforts to fight for their rights toward an equal and just water system. We lift up the stories, songs, and ongoing prayers of native families that will forever be connected to victorious counter-narratives. We are committed to not only being allies with our voices, but through our planning, organizing, and doing. We remain focused on creating and promoting culturally-based frameworks and understandings that affirm the lives of Indigenous communities struggling for their humanity.

We uphold the right to clean water as a basic right of all humanity. We affirm the statement that water is life, and that life cannot continue without access to water. Creating healthy and life-giving communities cannot happen without this basic need.

We celebrate the fortitude and strength of the Standing Rock Water Protectors, recognizing the Indigenous leaders who inspired the global community to take action against the illegal and immoral construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While we rejoiced in the recent victory at Standing Rock, we knew that the assaults would increase, and so must the global resistance. We knew that the responsibility to create healthy, sustainable energy and to support the autonomy of Native Peoples in this country would become more pressing and significant.

We acknowledge the work still to be done in the fight for equal access to clean water in Flint where residents continue to struggle against the contamination of their water supply, and in Detroit where thousands of residents are without water and continue to face water shut-offs each month. We take courage from the Standing Rock Water Protectors and will strengthen our efforts to stand alongside those who continue the fight for water in our own communities.

We learn from Standing Rock that open space is not empty space, that land is sacred and its resources precious, that communities should have a say in decisions that will impact their health and their relationship to the land. We stand firm against the violence, discrimination and disrespect that the Native Peoples of America continue to face from our government and corporate interests. We remember the long history of injustice that has been perpetrated against Native Peoples, and we are reminded that communities have power to stand against oppression and to make an impact for the better.

The energy galvanized by the Water Protectors — the thousands united to sustain the resistance against the violence, against being sprayed with freezing water in sub-zero temperatures, against militant threats of further displacement and arrest, against being bitten by K9 dogs — is a collective energy strong enough to stop the pipeline drilling.  We have witnessed Water Protectors protecting their sacred burial ground, their home and the bloodlines to their living ancestry. We have witnessed Water Protectors fighting to live.

May the Water Protectors be victorious. The soul of America, the soul of humanity is at stake.

Julia Cuneo,
Sarah Chelius
Eshe Sherley
Raven Jones Standbrough
Lisa Perhamus
Cass Charrette
Elbert Collier
Maggie Rohweder
Michelle Puckett
Lejla Bajgoric
Meghan McCullough

 


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The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

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3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214

Jimmy and Grace  
 
Living for Change News
January 31st – February 6
2017
correctedEmergency Ed
Thinking for Ourselves
The First Week
Shea HowellThe first week of the Trump administration has been met with resistance at every level.

People by the thousands gathered spontaneously at airports around the country to protest Trump’s ban on immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall” and “Let them in!” Mayors issued statements affirming their cities as welcoming places. Sheriffs announced they would not cooperate with immigration and border patrols. Governors stepped forward to stand with immigrants. Lawyers set up card tables to offer legal advice. Others filed lawsuits. University presidents and student leaders are issuing statements in support of immigrants. Congressional leaders have taken to the streets. International leaders and organizations condemned the ban. Reporters are chronicling the stories of lives interrupted, people and families put at risk. Business executives are setting up special funds to support resistance. Non profit organizations, churches, and people of faith are issuing declarations in opposition to the ban. Judges are ruling against it and the Acting Attorney General refused to defend it.

Meanwhile scientists are planning a march on Washington. Anonymous sources in the White House are leaking concerns for Trumps stability. And the wonderful park rangers are not only continuing to tweet, but their leadership has ridiculed the foolishness of Trump directives.

We are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country.  The speed with which Trump has moved to consolidate authority into the hands of a wealthy, ideologically driven group of white extremists has made clear his intentions to turn our country into a mean, crude, and cruel place.  

Over the next few months America will be reshaped. The actions we take matter in ways we cannot imagine or predict. As Dr. King said more than 50 years ago, “The future is neither automatic nor inevitable.”  He said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

We have seen such passionate concern across the country. And we have also seen those who are willing to collaborate with injustice. Some border patrol members and immigration officials zealously moved to enforce this ban. Others refused to provide any information to lawyers, family members and government offers. Some news sources have celebrated the get tough attitude of Trump, saying most Americans support it. Trump himself has said he is having a “good day” as outrage spreads.

We are learning that some people will risk everything for justice and some people will do anything to keep a job. We are facing a great divide. People are deciding where they stand, what they stand for, and what they are willing to do to not only to protect themselves, but for the values we cherish.

We are rapidly learning to think and act together in new ways. Turning to one another, defining the kind of future we want, requires levels of courage and creativity that are only beginning to emerge. But this first week gives us much to build upon. It holds the hope of our enormous capacities to create a new America for all.

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Visioning a world beyond struggle: What it means to be human
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

This past weekend, I joined thousands at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) for the protest against Trump’s most recent inhumane decision, his temporary Muslim ban. As usual, it felt exhilarating to be among so many people with similar views on humanity. And as usual, I felt the familiar sense of deflated adrenaline when our protest came to an end after 2 hours of pre-planned resistance. I must admit that some of it was also guilt, as I started to think about my comrades who were spending evenings resisting in other airports across the globe. Nonetheless, after being told by airport police that our “party is over,” a friend and I hailed an airport taxi and started to make our way home. I was reenergized for a bit after we were thanked by our taxi driver for our resistance, which followed with his waving of our fees. My conscience started to feel a little bit better, but I still felt incomplete.
Once home, after posting all my videos and photos on social media, I decided to visit a familiar voice for some inspiration. My late mentor, Grace Lee Boggs had issued a message to Occupy Wall Street in 2011. I also decided to watch her video around what it means to be human.

It’s typical for me to visit videos and writings from Grace when I am in deep political reflection. She was always asking, “What time is it on the clock of the world?” It’s a question that took me years to understand and internalize, but one that now motivates my writings and deeds.

After taking in Grace’s words, I decided to revisit an article I wrote after participating in one of Grace’s memorials last year in Oakland. I recalled that I had returned to Detroit with a great deal of clarity and wanted to revisit that moment for inspiration. I wrote in part:

“Grace pushed us to vision when the rest of the world appeared chaotic. She pushed us to study when many in the world would deem that passive. Grace pushed us to connect in love and struggle and to create our paths by walking them. She pushed us to turn to one another when the pain and trauma of the world was tearing us apart. If Grace were sitting here now, she would tell us that we are living in dangerous times, a time of both crises and opportunity.  She would tell us that these are the times to grow our souls and that it is not only a time to imagine what the Next American Revolution could be like, but that we should imagine what this country’s revolution could create for the rest of the world.”

Grace believed, like we believe, that Detroit could be the center for the world’s transformation and she pushed and guided us to take leadership in that regard and to nurture others to do the same.

The brief moment of jubilation one feels when they are protest organizing cannot be lingered upon. Although it is imperative that we celebrate the small victories in order to achieve moments of relief, we must challenge ourselves to move past the joyful moments and warm feelings that keep us celebrating for too long and into the moments that challenge us to ask ourselves “What’s next? What time is it on our individual clocks? What time is it on the clocks of our blocks? What time is it in on the clocks of our cities, on the clock of the world, on the clock of our humanity?”
What changes need to take place in each of us in order to challenge the status quo?
To challenge the notion that a city must be poisoned in order for us to fight for it’s poor to have clean and affordable water? To challenge the notion that a people who cannot pay their bills are disposable? To challenge the notion that those who are undocumented, or are immigrants to a city are unworthy of clean air and the protection of their language, culture and identity? To challenge the idea that the fratricide we see happening most prominently in Black and Brown communities is disconnected from racism and capitalism?

If Grace were sitting here, she would be telling us to listen to our young people and telling the young people to utilize the marbles of our elders. She would be asking us what we are going to do different, not tomorrow, but today in terms of what it means to be a human being?

So when asked what time it is on the clock of the world, on the clock of our souls and our humanity, let us keep in mind that we hold the hands that move the clock and we have a responsibility to “move the world.”

I share with you these videos of Grace and my personal reflections with the hopes that we will all struggle individually and together to become more human as human beings and to expand our ideas towards resistance to include vision. We must become neighbors to our Muslim sisters and brothers, above and beyond Trump’s executive orders. We must turn toward one another and away from the cultural biases and prejudices that have us sitting silently until media lets us know we should be outraged. We cannot afford to revisit these conditions another 50 years from now.
In the words of another one of my mentors, Barbara Ransby, “Who among us has the luxury not to resist?”


Black Bottom and Paradise Valley Exhibit

BOLL FAMILY YMCA, DETROIT
January 3 – February 28 2017
Opening February 1 * 2017 6-8pm* 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery, was adopted by the 38th Congress. 

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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

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The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

feedom-freedom-poster

Jimmy and Grace  
Living for Change News
After the March: January, 25, 2017
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Thinking for Ourselves
After We March
Shea Howellshea25People around the globe came together to affirm the possibility of a future based on justice, love, and peace last week. There is no question that this was much more than a protest. This was a march to call forth the best of what we can become. Organizers said the Women’s March was to “affirm our shared humanity and to pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.” The organizers offered a “Guiding Vision and Statement of Principles that emphasized “Women’s Rights are Human Rights;” “Gender Justice is Racial Justice is Economic Justice;” “Women deserve to live full and healthy lives, free of violence;” and “accountability and justice for police brutality and ending racial profiling and targeting of communities of color.”The organizers drew on the legacy of revolutionary leadership naming 31 women who “paved the way” for us to march and who represent the global fight for freedom.
The also acknowledged inspiration from “the movements before us – the suffragists and abolitionists, the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the American Indian Movement, Occupy Wall Street, Marriage Equality, Black Lives Matter, and more – by employing a decentralized, leader-full structure and focusing on an ambitious, fundamental and comprehensive agenda.”Whatever the contradictions, this was a moment to be celebrated. Marches that move us toward stretching our humanity are an essential part of creating a better world. But they are not sufficient. The real question is what do we do the next day, and the next, and the next?

Many people that I talked to were already working to answer this question. Many had been working for years on issues facing their communities, challenging injustices, and developing alternative visions. But many were also new to politics. About 65% of those responding to the March survey said they had never been to a demonstration. For thousands upon thousands of people this global outpouring was made up of small conversations, human moments of laughter, fear, and joy mixed together in a spirit of hope.

We were in Washington DC on Friday. We found ourselves joining a march. We were not sure where it was headed, but the giant elephant with the “racism” sign made it clear this was group to join. All along people were stepping into the streets. Within a few minutes we heard an explosion. It was a tear gas shot. The first of several. There had been no effort to ask people to clear the streets. We were marching with babies in strollers, elders with canes, and people peacefully raising their voices. The tear gas was followed with pepper spray. We saw small groups of young people franticly trying to wash it out of their eyes. We saw fully militarized police, tanks, and army troops arrayed against demonstrators.  

Power is not frightened by pink hats. It moves swiftly to crush those who challenge it. When it does, it is often the young, the bold, and communities of color that are most directly targeted.

Over the next few days we are going to have to do some very strategic thinking. As we deepen our work to develop alternative visions, we are also going to have to expand our capacities for direct action and civil disobedience. We cannot pretend that the forces that brought us this administration will go away.

On Saturday I got a glimpse of how we can think more about what we need to do. On the sidewalk were individual white men with electronic megaphones. They were saying hateful things. Each one was surrounded by a small group of women. The women held affirming signs. They offered loud chants and songs, so we had an alternative message to the hate being broadcast. And they had fun while they were doing it.  

This seems a message for action. Box them in so they can’t move. Have more of us than there are of them. Provide an alternative vision and have as much fun as we can while we do it. We should have no illusions. But we should also have faith in our own possibilities.

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America’s Truth: The Moment We Must Now Face
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
eclectablog

This movement moment is calling on those of us who believe in the vision of Dr. King to respond. This movement moment is calling on us resist. But, what does resistance look like?

In 2014, I published an article in the beloved, but now defunct, Michigan Citizen newspaper called, “A Time for Visionary Resistance”. In that article, I said in part:

We live in a time where those who have the illusion of power attempt to continue their authoritarian rule with increased militarism at home and abroad. We live in a time where those in government and corporate America continue to evade the global environmental crisis, while flip flopping sides on where they stand, leaving the American people to suffer as a result of their indifference.

It is no coincidence that we continue to experience this never-ending turmoil in America. America has not been honest with herself when it comes to her identity as a country, her coming into being, or the violence she inflicted and maintains at home and abroad in order to continue to exist in the way that she has since her inception. Many have been harmed and killed by the values carried forward by pursuit of the American Dream. In order for us to transform this country we have to start being honest about what we stand for.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “It is a question of whether we are making any real progress in the struggle to make racial justice a reality in the United States of America. And whenever I seek to answer that question, on the one hand I seek to avoid and undo pessimism, on the other hand I seek to avoid superficial optimism and I try to incorporate or develop what I consider a realistic position by admitting on the one hand, that we have made many significant strides over the last few years in the struggle for racial justice. But, by admitting that before the problem is solved we still have numerous things to do and many challenges to meet . . .We have come a long, long way, but we have a along long way to go before the problem is solved.”

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It is time that we had very frank conversations about the condition of this country. It is time that we had brave conversations about the fear that sparks racial divide. It is time that we had honest conversations about the individualism that feeds capitalism and its toxic relationship to racism. It is time that we had real conversations about the misinformation perpetuated in the mass media and regurgitated in our homes and our communities about various cultures and identities that incubates ignorance and encourages violence.

By 1968, Dr. King was calling on this country to have a radical revolution of values.
He was calling on us to do more than build non-profits, coalitions and allegiances. He was calling on us to do more than become allies and good samaritans. Dr. King was calling on us to look inside ourselves, to look at our own humanity and resist a society, a country that would allow so many people to gain wealth at the expense of other people. Of course now we know that it has been at the expense of all living beings. Our land has suffered. Our air has suffered. Our water has suffered. Our humanity has suffered.

Right now, we are witnessing within the White House an increased investment in the 1% by President Elect Trump. This is a repeat of what we have witnessed from the top time and time again. It begs the question, what are the rest of us willing to invest in?

On Leadership and Love
Rich Feldman

The Women’s March was about leadership and love, and was truly massive. I had the privilege to travel to DC from Detroit with my partner, Janice, and our friends who founded Matrix Theatre. We met our daughter Emma and her friends there.  I marched peacefully and in militant affinity groups in DC during 1969, 1970 and 1971, challenging US Imperialism and the Vietnam War as well as defending the Black Panther party and other political prisoners.  I have joined many other gatherings of labor, anti-war, nuclear disarmament, environmental demonstrations, free political prisoners in years since but this was different.  This was a call to life and love. It felt like an emerging declaration of commitment to resist the violence, policies and barbarism that awaits all of us and the entire planet.  We responded to the counter-revolution.  How we respond is now on our agenda.

This was not a lot of self-interest groups spouting their agenda or simply putting forth “Fix it” strategies but this was a comprehensive yearning and expression of voices that brought forth an energy that I have never seen in one place. While some expressed short term concern, most of the speakers and signs created a new unity of voices: From Black Lives Matter to the need to address the Planetary Crisis. From Gay, Lesbian, Transgender to Disability Justice. From signs reminding us of the spirit of Harriet Tubman to the courage of Shirley Chisholm. From people committing to defend and protect the earth to defend and protect immigrants and strongly proclaiming solidarity with Muslims and declaring that “we will all register as Muslims”.

This was a joyous gathering not based in naivety but with a feeling that when people come together we have the chance to make history.  A great majority of people were under 40 years old and most had never been to a demonstration before.  Folks who “sat out” the 60s and 70s broke their silence and participated for the first time.  As I marched and as I witnessed this humanizing moment, I was reminded that these marches across the world were a response to the rising counter-revolution and the fact that Trump made this so personal and so ugly.   Trump’s victory was in response to our emerging movements of the past decade.  From Arab Spring and Occupy, From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock and From rallies reaching 350,000 in NY to advance the struggle against climate change and commit ourselves to Mother Earth.

A new leadership is emerging in our country and it is was not the chant: “We need a leader, not a freaky twetter” but “We are the leaders we don’t need a creepy tweeter.”

The commitment to resistance, the commitment to go back and organize, the work to create vision and practice to change ourselves and establish liberated territories is now on our agenda. When Angela Davis addresses 1 million people in DC and when Grace Lee Boggs is an honored leader along with Judy Huemann (Disability Justice) this is not your usual march.  Let us learn all their names,  just as we will learn each other’s names and  passions. This is our time.

Let us claim no easy victory and let us never underestimate the barbarism of those in power and let us never underestimate our power as we engage for the long haul with a sense of deep urgency.  Let us “not panic” but organize.

From the Women’s Call to March:

We are empowered by the legions of revolutionary leaders who paved the way for us to march, and acknowledge those around the globe who fight for our freedoms. We honor these women and so many more. They are #WHYWEMARCH.    

Bella Abzug • Corazon Aquino • Ella Baker • Grace Lee Boggs Berta Cáceres • Rachel Carson • Shirley Chisholm • Angela Davis Miss Major Griffin Gracy • LaDonna Harris • Dorothy I. Height * bell hooks • Judith Heumann • Dolores Huerta • Marsha P. Johnson Barbara Jordan • Yuri Kochiyama • Winona LaDuke Audre Lorde • Wilma Mankiller • Diane Nash • Sylvia Rivera Barbara Smith • Gloria Steinem • Hannah G. Solomon Harriet Tubman • Edith Windsor • Malala Yousafzai



WHAT WE’RE READING

Why Need James and Grace Lee Boggs Now
Garrett Felber
Black Perspectives

In 2011, I sat in the living room of Grace Lee Boggs at 3061 Field Street, a space Bill Strickland affectionately described as “the Boggses’ University.” Grace was then a sharp 95 years old and began by asking each of the graduate students huddled on her floor where we came from. I told her that I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but was skeptical what this could tell her about me. I had given it little thought since I left for college a decade earlier. Fort Wayne was a place Grace knew intimately, whether she had been there or not. It mirrored her city, Detroit: a booming, blue-collar industrial city, home to massive plants that were depleted by a loss of over 30,000 jobs during the closures of the 1970s and 1980s. The cities even shared a basketball team (the original Zollner Pistons were moved from Fort Wayne to Detroit by auto magnate Fred Zollner in 1956).

Five years since sitting in that living room, as Donald Trump unfathomably became our 45th president, I kept returning to that conversation. A year since Grace’s transition at the age of 100, and two decades since her intellectual, political, and spiritual partner Jimmy passed away, the Boggses’ lessons about grassroots organizing, community activism, and dialectical thinking are needed now more than ever. As Grace once put it, “The answers are coming more from the bottom.”

KEEP READING

new_mo_cover

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!

Among many other titles, don’t miss…

Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street

Detroit, MI 48214

Boggs Center – Living for Change News – Martin Luther King jr Day

  Jimmy and Grace  
Our mission is to nurture the transformational leadership capacities of individuals and organizations committed to creating productive, sustainable, ecologically responsible, and just communities. Through local, national and international networks of activists, artists and intellectuals we foster new ways of living, being and thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century.
Living for Change News
MLK Day
Thinking for Ourselves
Breaking Silence
Shea Howell
shea25
This year there is a poignant urgency to the celebrations of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Across the country people are gathering to celebrate, honor, and remember the movement and vision that called our country to find its best traditions and just promise. Everyone is mindful that these gatherings are happening in the shadow of the inauguration of a man who is the antithesis of all Dr. King represented.King would be 88 years old now, an age where many are still offering wisdom and counsel. Yet because of the kind of wisdom and counsel he was compelled to give us, he was killed. That wisdom is best captured in his speech given at Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, “A Time to Break the Silence.” That was 50 years ago. It was his most searing indictment of the war in Vietnam, his deepest call to creating beloved communities.

King said, “When I speak of love I am not speaking about some sentimental and weak response…Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality…Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. We must find new ways to speak and act for peace and justice…If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

The “dark and shameful corridors” are pressing in on us. And so Dr. King’s call to action is fiercely urgent. He asked us to “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter—but beautiful—struggle for a new world.”

It is this call that is animating renewed energy in our country. Thousands of people are gathering in Washington D.C. and communities across this land to publicly declare opposition to the policies and practices that threaten to poison our souls.

Dr. King said, “It is the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation’s self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

In this spirit Movement for Black Lives has called for a Pledge of Resistance and a week of non violent, direct action stating, “The Movement for Black Lives continued in the tradition of civil disobedience and direct action to reclaim the narrative of the Civil Rights Movement from corporate America, Hollywood, and others bent on sanitizing Black history rooted in radical tradition. #ReclaimMLK is a call to connect our contemporary movements, and to eschew respectability in order to embrace the radical courage of our people in the present. Today, as many ask us to “wait and see” and “respect” politicians aimed at hurting us, that original call is even more urgent.”

The National Council of Elders is calling for people to move with this courage to organize public readings of “A Time to Break the Silence” and ask hard questions about what it means for us today.

In this last year of life, Dr. King was becoming increasingly aware of the need for revolution. He said, “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

Our country is at a turning point. Dr. King reminds us, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” Now is the time to give new and renewed voice to determine our future together.


PTOflyer Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”

Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.


Detroit Visionary Resisters
Tawana Honeycomb Petty

As the country experiences the turmoil that is American politics, many people in Detroit are showing visionary resistance to the status quo.

Whether it’s Pastor Barry’s call to action, artist, educator Walter Bailey’s hope to transform nature through art, Complex Movements building better futures, or Halima Cassells, Jerry Hebron and others making a life without money, Detroiters are once again exhibiting brilliance and resiliency in the face of adversity.

In 1964, Dr. King said, “Now, this economic problem is getting more serious because of many forces alive in our world and in our nation. For many years, Negroes were denied adequate educational opportunities. For many years, Negroes were even denied apprenticeship training. And so, the forces of labor and industry so often discriminated against Negroes. And this meant that the Negro ended up being limited, by and large, to unskilled and semi-skilled labor. Now, because of the forces of automation and cybernation, these are the jobs that are now passing away. And so, the Negro wakes up in a city like Detroit, Michigan, and discovers that he is 28 percent of the population and about 72 percent of the unemployed. Now, in order to grapple with that problem, our federal government will have to develop massive retraining programs, massive public works programs, so that automation can be a blessing, as it must be to our society, and not a curse.

Then the other thing when we think of this economic problem, we must think of the fact that there is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a segment in that society which feels that it has no stake in the society, and nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a number of people who see life as little more than a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign. They end up with despair because they have no jobs, because they can’t educate their children, because they can’t live in a nice home, because they can’t have adequate health facilities.”

As we look around at the conditions that plague our communities some 53 years after Dr. King gave this speech, we now know that our dignity and our humanity lies within the hands of those willing to struggle towards Dr. King’s later call for a radical revolution of values.

We now know that we must create while we resist.

“I don’t know what the next American revolution is going to be like, but we might be able to imagine it if your imagination were rich enough.” – Grace Lee Boggs

Luckily, we know a lot of visionaries.

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine


The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

Living for Change News
January 2nd – January 9th
PTOflyer

Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”
Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.

WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
•    Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
•    Welcome Event on June 1st
•    Workshops June 2nd-4th

WHERE:  Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.

WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.

WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.

WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.

Thinking for Ourselves

Reshaping America
Shea Howell
As we approach the moment when Donald Trump will assume the powers of the presidency, conversations and articles abound about how to survive, resist, and organize our way through the next few years. These discussions are essential. We have never been here before.

Certainly there are many parallels with other moments in our history when racism, ignorance, and arrogance have combined to defend and advance white power and privilege.  But the irrationality of Trump, combined with enormous ego and unchecked power, challenge us in new ways.

Detroit and Michigan have a special contribution to make to these conversations. We have suffered from right wing extremists for the last several years. Our governor, state legislature, and Supreme Court are in the hands of right wing ideologues. They are supported by local and national think tanks and policy institutes that have outline a global neoliberal agenda. Their strategy is tinged with fundamentalist Christian views of the most corrosive kind. Their actions in Michigan point the direction that will mark the Trump administration.

First, Trump will make every effort to diminish democracy. Michigan has experienced unrelenting assaults on normal democratic practices. The right to petition, to assemble, to pass resolutions, and to peacefully, publicly oppose policies have been undermined and attacked. With the imposition of emergency managers, more the 50% of all African American in the state were denied the right to vote for local government. Rev. Pinkney of Benton Harbor is in prison on fake charges for his vocal opposition to emergency managers in Benton Harbor. Artists in Detroit faced felony charges for painting “Free the Water” on an old water tank.

Second, big business will prosper at the expense of people. Wall Street profits will overshadow the will of the people. For example, in the Detroit bankruptcy process, explicit state constitutional prohibitions against reducing pensions were “set aside.”  Pensioners bore more than 70% of the cost of the bankruptcy.

Third, basic essentials of life will be turned into profit. From education to water, businesses will be enabled to turn public responsibilities into private profit centers. Those who cannot pay will be shut off, locked out, or left to struggle with underfunded, neglected public programs.

Fourth, the capacity of children to be creative, critical, and imaginative will be attacked. The relentless testing, controlling of curriculum and dumbing down of ideas will accelerate. Turning students into consumers, not citizens, will drive education.

Fifth, what is real will be denied. Politicians will proclaim victories by distorting and defying the realities of most people’s lives. In Michigan, the Governor proclaims “relentless, positive action,” as the people of Flint still cannot drink their water.  Detroit’s comeback is limited to 7.2 square miles of a city that is 139 square miles. Most people have become poorer, not better off, since bankruptcy.

Each of these areas will be advanced by the coming administration. With initiatives large and small, Trump, Pence and company are dedicated to reshaping American life under an extreme, right wing ideology intended to promote business interests and personal wealth.

Just as we can look to Detroit and Michigan as signs of what to expect, we can also see the kinds of resistance that will be essential to challenging and changing our country. Here we see people carving out self-determining, caring communities, new forms of cooperative economics, collective efforts to save homes and defend against evictions, alternative media, and independent child centered educational efforts.

We should have no illusions. American is being reshaped. All that we hold sacred will be profaned. But this we know. The imagination, creativity, and collective actions of people who seek justice and joy matter now more than ever.
—-
A note from Rich

I want to share with LFC friends and supporters of the Boggs Center some exciting news about my son, Micah and the forthcoming film Intelligent Lives.

Micah is now 32 years old and has been a disability organizer, speaker and activist for many years. As parents and as activists, we have watched and nudged the political community to create an inclusive social movement for the Next American Revolution and always ask the question: Who is not at the table?

Micah has an intellectual disability and was alongside Detroit Summer and attended many meeting at the Boggs Center over the years. He’s currently a teaching assistant at Syracuse University School of Education, works as an outreach organizer for the Taishoff Center and has a strong circle of support that provides opportunity, love and and challengeds that help him live a full dignified life.

It is with great honor that I want to share that he will be speaking in LA and SF in late January where they will also share the trailer of the film intelligentlives.org. As my wife Janice and I often say quoting Dan Wilkins, “A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”

For more about Micah’s journey, check out Throughthesamedoor.com & Janice’s website, Dance of Partnership.

Please join the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education and Syracuse University Los Angeles for two exciting events this month!

Wage Love Lessons
Shane Bernardo

as we look upon the most recent cycles of seasons, moons and solstices for guidance, here are some lessons from my journey that i’d like to share with you and reflect upon.

as dear friend, comrade, speculative fiction writer and conspirator of radical love, Adrienne Marie Brown says, “things are not getting worse. they are simply being uncovered.”

in the same spirit, please also notice that the capacity to not only survive but also thrive is being uncovered. we are not mere beings defined by contemporary moments but rather timeless spirits being called upon to the purpose of serving the greatest good and stepping into our highest selves.

the presence of uncertainty, anxiety and trauma are indicators that we have the capacity to do this arduous and revolutionary work of healing ourselves, our ancestors, our families and communities “from the inside out and from the bottom up.” as spirit sister and ancestor, Charity Hicks would often say. these emotional and bodily indicators are a reflection of our innate human ability to care and to empathize. we can do no worse than to welcome and embrace them with open arms, mind and heart.

there is ancient wisdom in fear, sadness and loneliness. they are messages from deep within that are translated into tears, clenched fists and sore backs from carrying their weight. we embody ancestral intuition that has accumulated over countless generations. these gifts require deep reflection to honor their lessons. it takes a swell of gratitude and relaxed ego to crack them open.

Red Lake Ojibwe and wisdom keeper, Renee Gurneau says, “our triggers are where our power is.” and that “our innerverse is as expansive as the outerverse.” Renee calls us to remain ardently present and tender within life’s challenges and allow ourselves to be transformed by what brings us discomfort, pain and trauma…to not simply succumb or react to the harm they inflict upon us and instead allow these emerging signposts to illuminate the power that lies just past these triggers.

it’s important that we don’t allow the temptation of dejection and isolation to delve too deeply or long within our hearts. we must be able to access love in a way that transforms fear into purpose. it is here where life is fought for and won…within the palms of our inner most selves. as comrades, Movement Generation says, “what the hands do, the heart learns.” we can knead these inhibitions into submission and write ourselves as victors of our own stories.

stay vigilant. stay present and be very mindful of developing the muscle of intuition. recognize what is emerging. anticipate it.

notice our tongues unfurling. our sense of sight, hearing and smell becoming more acute. our touch more delicate and sensitive. our hearts feel more deeply and our collective imagination of what is possible is richer than ever.

stay in the womb of this heart center and ground y/our sense of what’s possible within the places where we are most strong. it is here where rich expansive possibilities are brought into the light and encourage our deep sense of love to lead the way. #WAGELOVE family. #WAGELOVE!

*this piece is dedicated to chosen fam that literally and collectively saved my life this past year; Natasha Tamate Weiss, ILL Weaver, Joya D’Cruz, Adrienne Maree Brown, Kezia Curtis, Mahima Mahadevan, Michelle Martinez, Lola Gibson-Berg, Louxoi Stoakley, Erin Martinez, Monté, Sterling Tolles, Sage Crump, Hong Gwi-seok, and Julie Weatherhead.

**inspiration for this piece came from the abundance of the collective wisdom of Adrienne Marie Brown, Charity Hicks, Renee Gurneau, Movement Generation, the Wildseeds Collective and ancestral femme spirits within my lineage that speak thru me. some of which can be found at the following links:

https://www.scribd.com/doc/233820532/Emergent-Strategy-Handbook

http://movementgeneration.org/

https://nolawildseeds.org/

otherwise, i can be contacted at Shanebernardo@gmail.com.

Disillusionment & the Need for Community In the Imminent Era of Trump
Naim Edwards

Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and the Republican Party controls the House and the Senate. The election has revealed a sobering truth: the “United” States are far from united, and significantly more Americans turned out to vote for the Donald than we thought. Moreover, it is clear that within states across the country, we are more divided than ever. Our separation is both ideological and geographic, ethnic and economic, intellectual and religious.
Mainstream media and most of the circles I hang around slated Hillary as a shoo-in. The news and political commentary professed and joked that an inexperienced, racist leaning, hot headed, misogynist could not possibly win the election. NEWS FLASH!!!! He won, and based on the electoral vote, Hillary had no chance. The American people, although not the majority, voted adamantly against the establishment and arguably for the greater of two evils. Trump voters were presumably neglected in the polls, and they exist outside the media narratives. Or then again, it could just be the Russians.

Trump’s win indicates the people’s frustration and inability to achieve the “American Dream”. Donald Trump is not the problem, but rather the product of our government’s failure to serve its people and enforce the values communicated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Despite all of the ways we are divided (and connected), we – the electorate – have been funneled for centuries into a two party system that for all intents and purposes has failed to bring forth justice for all. However, anyone familiar with history may recognize that “justice for all” was never really the goal though. Democrats and Republicans alike as a whole have spent the last few decades catering to Wall Street and multinational corporations at the expense of America’s social and economic fabric. Parties have focused primarily on winning elections, while deprioritizing their commitment to serving their base.

Furthermore, government officials have increasingly been shepherded by corporate execs into the fields of neoliberalism to graze on interference and exploitation of foreign countries. At the same time, elected leaders were coaxed into undermining their own constituents’ rights as our educational system, local economies, and access to public resources were handed over to private interests. There was minimal commitment if any to addressing and healing centuries of oppression based on race, class, and gender – although I must acknowledge that the government has never expressed or concerned itself in a concerted effort to genuinely confront injustice. Fortunately, the founding fathers ratified the constitution in a language that has allowed the oppressed to leverage it against the system itself. All the while, the U.S. has maintained and broadcasted a message of “equal rights for all”, “land of the free”, etc.

Thankfully, many of us continue to be jolted awake from the American Dream, as our fellow American’s demonstrated with the ballot that they want America to be great again. Of course, those who voted for Trump and agree with what he has said suffer from their own illusions. Now however, we must all prepare for what the next four years may bring; “greatness” will surely lead to continued if not increased suffering. We all must rise from the complacent slumber and simply dreaming and challenge every facet of our lives that has lead to this political juncture and our state of separation. Our dreams can either be visions that guide our being and actions, or they can be illusions that pacify, blind us, and distort reality.

It is not my intention to place full blame or responsibility on us as individuals, but rather recognize that we all play a role in the separation that has lead to Trump’s ascent. In order to prepare for and resist the worst of what is yet to come, we must shift our behavior and orient ourselves towards strengthening our communities. I am glad to point out that in Detroit and neighborhoods across the nation, millions of people have been organizing and doing just that for decades already, but we may need to do it better and differently. We must operate in ways that weaken the system and strengthen our bonds. This political- economic system is weakened when we intentionally participate in interdependence i.e. community and depend less on everything that is sold to us for the almighty dollar.

We must slow down and consume less: less television, less driving, less shopping, and less working (less tweeting and facebook too!). We can gradually or as quickly as possibly transition to lifestyles where we share our gifts with one another more. Instead of the grocery store or supermarket, try a local food producer or Community Supported Agriculture. Enjoy slowing down and balancing work with other life giving activities, or figure out how to intertwine work and joy in creative ways. Discern how your consumption patterns and daily behaviors perpetuate and reinforce our oppression and separation; then seek community-building substitutions. Let’s connect, struggle, and create together. With trust and love we can persevere and overcome our brokenness, and dare I say “Make America Great for real!”

 

The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
Among many other titles, don’t miss…
Ron Scott’s – How to End Police Brutality

{R}evolution in the 21st Century Anthology

…or the classic, Conversations in Maine

The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership

.

3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214
US

 

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