Over the weekend, I spent four hours in the first of four sessions of a training about organizing our communities with a framework of anti-oppression and anti-racism. The training was set up and put on by the citywide Neighborhood Action Coalition (NAC)–yet another sign things are really taking shape for the grassroots group that formed after November 8. I don’t have much time to write this morning, so I’m quickly posting some of the quotes from Day 1 of the training that stuck with me or challenged me in some way.
-“We are undoing institutional racism and that is really hard.”
-“This work is messy and hard. There will be conflict and disagreement.”
-“You can be an oppressor and oppressed.”
-“Just because enslavement may look different today, it still exists in the prison system we have.”
-“Saying ‘I don’t see color’ is incredibly counter-productive to working on race equity. Saying that means you are ignoring a whole history of oppression.”
-“The people in power are always trying to maintain their power.”
-“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
At the end of the first hour, one of the organizers told us to look outside the window. While we’d been sitting there, someone had spray-painted “FUCK ISIS” on the side of the building across the street. Here are the pictures I snapped:
As we sat back down, a Muslim man who was in the training took the stage. Here is the note I took on what he said:
“That graffiti is part of a Trumpian message, they mean, ‘fuck Islam’. That’s what they really mean. It’s part of a pattern. We Muslims need white people to speak up against this. We can’t fight this alone.”
The training then moved into its next phase, here are some more notes that stuck with me:
-Definition of “oppression”: A dynamic when one group of people is seen as less than, treated as less than and receives less resources historically over time. And where another group of people is seen as better than, treated as better than, and receives more resources over time. (The point was made that oppression solidifies over time, the more it’s normalized by our daily lives).
-Red-lining still exists just in a different form. There are people opposed to adding more floors to their apartment building, yet they post a “BLACK LIVES MATTER” sign in their window. They don’t realize that the creation of more affordable housing would be a step toward leveling the playing field, allowing people of all backgrounds to live in a certain neighborhood, and truly starting to recognize the message of BLM.
Throughout the first day, we sang this song as a group. I love it.:
“Forget your perfect offering. Just ring the bells that still can ring. There is a crack in everything. That’s how! The light gets in! THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN.”
The next workshop is in a couple weeks and will be two hours of learning the nuts and bolts of community organizing.
Here are a few news headlines from this morning’s Washington Post: