If we do not dare everything,
The fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us:
God gave Noah the rainbow sign,
No more water, the fire next time! – James Baldwin
Since the Zimmerman verdict, there have been a number of great articles and social media posts that provide very insightful analysis of the trial specifically, and related issues of justice, racism and white supremacy more generally (see endnotes for partial list). I have penned a number of essays on these topics over the years as well (see my blog Rise up Hip Hop Nation), including an essay I wrote in 2011 under same title.
What Can Work….And What Never Will
But for this update, my focus is not analytical but practical. While ideas and theory inform my writing always, this essay focuses on a specific list of actions to organize this moment into a sustainable movement.
The Model = A 21st Century SNCC*
*term coined by TVOne journalist Roland Martin
1. ORGANIZE around ISSUES, not leaders, personalities, political parties, or ideology
A. Keeping focus on issues over all else makes it possible to collaborate and build with others despite other differences that often keep us from uniting. As Dr. King best stated, we must keep our work in “a positive action framework rather than engaging in consistent negative debate.”
B. Some issues that we can all agree on and organize around include:
1) Valuing all humanity and all human rights
2) Improving education and educational outcomes
3) Equal treatment and justice for all
4) Community security, and all the ways this manifest in our communities (sustenance, peace, health and wellness, love).
5) Environmental protection
6) Voting Rights
7) Others? Add to list in comments.
2. Nurture COALITIONS of the Willing
A. Create lists of organizations (local and national) to collaborate with on chosen issues
B. Some organizations to consider include:
1) Hip Hop Congress
2) Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
3) FTP movement
4 ) Color of Change
6) National Action Network
7) League of Young Voters
8) Dream Defenders
9) and thousands of local CBOs (community based organizations)
10) Others? Add to list in comments.
Strong people don’t need strong leaders. - Ella Baker
3. Establish TRAINING Regiments
A. Grassroots organizations must study SNCC and other freedom organizations to learn how to train its members to effectively 1) promote the issues we want to promote and 2) challenge/overtake the systems we must challenge/overtake.
B. For training, keep focus local.
C. Utilize community centers, schools, community colleges and universities, and churches for meeting , planning, organizing and training sessions.
D. Keep a consistent schedule. Meet regularly so community members can know to always expect your presence, and learn to count on it.
“Service over Leadership” - Carter G. Woodson
4. Community SERVICE
A. Always remember: We are all we need. We have all the resources (human capital and natural resources) to sustain our own communities. Work from this perspective at all times.
B. Collaborate with local CBOs to support and promote their services to wider community (database all available CBOs and services offered by city/county/state).
C. Study the UNIA for its cooperative economic model that promotes community self reliance. Utilize crowd funding strategies and ready available community resources to meet community needs.
D. Some programs/services needed include:
1) Educational programs,
2) Anti-violence programs,
3) Community policing programs,
4) Resource sharing (food, clothes etc)
5) Health/Wellness programs
6) Others? Add to list in comments.
"I have a right, even a duty to resist, with violence or civil disobedience....you should pray I choose the latter." - from the film Great Debaters:
5. Mass Mobilization Actions - Think Globally, Act Locally
A. Identify specific outcomes and next steps (to sustain movement)
B. Coordinate events with coalition of the willing to maximize impact
C. Promote extensively and share information via all media and social network sites
D. Keep pressure on local media outlets and elected officials
6. Media Strategy
A. Study Social Network Analysis and Media Discourse Theory
B. Draft and Promote NARRATIVES that focus on chosen issues (proactive strategy)
C. Utilize our own media resources first and foremost to disseminate information
D. Share data and information with networks
E. Watch dog panel: Monitor all media outlets to immediately counter any narratives that undermine our adopted narratives (reactive strategy).
F. Some social network sites and media to utilize include:
10) Huffington Post
14) Local community radio stations
15) local news stations
16) Others? Add to list in comments.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. There are two aspects to action. One is to overcome the distortions and afflictions of your own mind, that is, in terms of calming and eventually dispelling anger. This is action out of compassion. The other is more social, more public. When something needs to be done in the world to rectify the wrongs, if one is really concerned with benefitting others, one needs to be engaged, involved. - Dalai Lama
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions...."
PEOPLE OF COLOR and ALLIES
1. Answer one question: What are YOU doing to effect change?
A. Have a specific, developed answer to be a part of the solution. If you have no answer or just a vague, undeveloped one, you need to get a specific answer or you will be a part of the problem.
2. Educate yourself on issues*
3. Join at least one organization. You can join a local organization for community actions and the mailing list of a number of nationally based organizations for petitions and information.
4. Sign relevant petitions and share them with your networks.
5. Be a conscious consumer.
6. Vote, especially in local elections.
7. Share information with your networks purposely.
8. Never Scapegoat other communities.
9. Never fall for the politics of distraction and divide and conquer.
10. Check your idealism at the door. Change takes action not hope. #HOPEisNOTaSTRATEGY
11. Be against nothing; just be clear what you are for (Iyanla Vanzant). Keep your framing positive and your eyes on the prize.
12. SEIZE, never cede your power.
13. MENTOR anyone in your network that needs direction, guidance, help, and love.
14. SERVE your community in some concrete way.
15. Be Media LITERATE. Study media literacy, understand media framing, and get information from a variety of sources.
16. Others? Add to list in comments.
But it is not permissible that the authors
of devastation should also be innocent.
It is the innocence which constitutes the crime. – James Baldwin
* Education is an ongoing process throughout our lives. As an educator of almost 20 years, I still gain new knowledge everyday. For the many growing up in the United States that only learned a western civilization version of history in school, education must begin with a correction of the record. I recommend taking some non-western civilization history classes and/or ethnic studies classes if possible (African & African-American Studies, Asian & Asian-American Studies, Chicano and Latin American Studies, Native American Studies, Middle East Studies, etc). If you are unable to take a class, contact a professor of said classes for a suggested reading list. As a starting point, I recommend reading historian Ronald Takaki’s A Larger Memory: A History of our Diversity with Voices and James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.
We can’t use ignorance or innocence as an excuse to not act or to just accept the status quo. We either accept our responsibility to educate ourselves and then act accordingly, or we accept responsibility for the world we sow and the results that we reap.
Some of the last public words of the most influential cultural icon the world has ever known make my final point best: "The time has come. This is it. People are always saying.. 'Oh they, they'll take care of it.' 'The government will do it. They'll' ...They who? It starts with us. ..it's US. Or else it'll never be done (Michael Jackson).”
We can change our world. We have the resources to do it. We know what we need to do. We obviously have had the endurance to survive oppression. The only question left is do we have the endurance to end it?
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. - Frederick Douglass
Energize, Organize, Revolutionize! - Hip Hop Congress
Fruitvale Station, Trayvon Martin and the Value of Human Life in America by Shamako Noble
The U.S. v. Trayvon Martin: How the System Worked by Robin D. G. Kelley
White America, the George Zimmerman trial, and the power of denial by Tim Wise
The Cancer of Racism Thrives in America by Chris Williams
Dear White Folks: Black People are Sensitive to Race by Joyce Clark
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, NOT GUILTY: BLOOD ON THE LEAVES by Jelani Cobb
Trayvon Martin’s Unpunished Shooting Death Among 100+ Extrajudicial Killings of Unarmed Blacks
Questlove: Trayvon Martin and I Ain’t Shit by Questlove
100 Black Youth Leaders Statement
Facebook user’s ‘Letter to Zimmerman’ goes viral by Alex Fraser
The Fire This Time: James Baldwin on George Zimmerman by Joshua Adams
The Great Debaters