addressed that regret and shame by working with Mossville Environmental Action Now and experiencing the enduring agony that is the situation for communities of color trying to live (and breathe...) in that state's oil patch. But it only takes the first five minutes of a situation like Ferguson for that old guilty voice to rise up, with this thought, "I should be there. I should be there supporting my people!"
I have learned to not give in to this urge. And while I am obsessed with the events unfolding around the death of Michael Brown, I have been acutely aware that the Organization for Black Struggle, a St. Louis-based community organization attempting to create some capacity for long-lasting social justice in "The Lou" and its suburbs.
|Jamala Rogers of OBS (OBS Website)|
Here's their message, received via Spirit House in Durham, NC. They are an affiliate of Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD).
- Help shape and reframe the narrative around looting; the media and even some well-meaning folks are getting caught up with a small piece of the issue that involves an even small percentage of the thousands who have been in peaceful protest. The focus and blame needs to put squarely on the white power structure in Ferguson for their years of political and economic abuse topped with police abuse.
- Lift up the serious issue of urban centers being treated as if they're militarized zones. As much as we've talked here about the militarization of the police, seeing was believing. When
Ferguson? No. New Orleans, 2005
- We have discouraged people from coming to The Lou for a variety of reasons but understandably folks want to be where the action is. This is a bad habit that the movement needs to break--running all over the country to a fight when the damn fight is in your own backyard. (emphasis mine) Of course, there are times when a call is put out for people's presence because it's the numbers that are needed. This is an opportunity to connect the Mike Brown murder with all of the other extrajudicial murders in the country. (See Fletcher's recent article in ZNet.) Activists and organizers need to began examining/criticizing policing methods where they live and put some real energy into make these occupying forces accountable.
Lastly, if there's something you hear about Ferguson that needs clarifying or you get information that you think is helpful (like the press release I received on the County Police Chief going to Israel for counter-terrorism training a couple of years!), please feel free to call or to share..."
So, I'm staying home. Send a donation to Organization for Black Struggle so they can hire an organizer to be in Ferguson and build community capacity to address their own problems.
For my part, I'm checking in with one of Akron's local social justice group, Stop the Violence Akron Movement, and putting my efforts at the service of BOLD toward figuring out how we build a movement based on working locally, in our own weed-infested backyards.