Posted in Power, Equity, Inclusion

October 29, 2009

Moving from Paralysis to Action

I’ve been reading Diana Block’s memoir, Arming the Spirit, and am grateful for the chance to dig into another story of someone whose work for social justice came before me and contributed to where we’re at now. Diana went underground for thirteen years in the 1980s and 90s as part of a collective doing solidarity work with the Puerto Rican independence and Black liberation movements. Diana’s journey represents one group’s choice about how to be effective as white folks challenging racist systems of oppression.

“Our political history was rooted in our commitment as white people to solidarity with Third World struggles around the world and inside this country. That commitment will take different forms today but I think solidarity is still critical for white people who want to make social change. Also, for people who live in America, we definitely need to situate our work in relationship to the efforts of people around the globe who are fighting imperialism or we cannot expect to achieve very much.”*

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October 15, 2009

Rethinking Stakeholder Analyses

Earlier this week, I had the great fortune of hearing Rinku Sen (Applied Research Center), Ellen Gurzinsky (Funders for LGBTQ Issues) and Lori Villarosa (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity) present on “Catalyzing Change and Deepening Racial Justice Impacts” at the Neighborhood Funders Group Annual Conference in New Orleans. It was an exciting session in which they talked about the current racial context in the US and ideas about how grantmaking can be done with a racial justice lens – including real stories about work some specific foundations and groups of foundations are doing. I’ll likely be sharing more over my next few blog posts about grantmaking with a racial justice lens, but wanted to start with some reflections about group processes that came up for me based on their presentation.

As a non-funder, I was listening with an ear toward things that might be applicable to group process as well. Rinku talked about the difference between using a diversity approach and using a racial equity approach to grantmaking, which started me thinking about the difference between these two approaches in stakeholder analyses of multi-stakeholder processes. A diversity approach, as she described it, would be one in which what matters is what the group of people assembled “looks” like – if there are representatives from all the groups affected, etc. – while a racial equity approach might lead one to assemble an entirely different group.

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September 23, 2009

It's Urgent That We Stand Up

There have been constant questions in the press over the last few weeks about whether much of what’s happening in the US these days is about race.

  • Here’s a recent article from the New York Times in which Bob Herbert calls it.
  • And another from Newsweek by Raina Kelley.
  • And a great blog by Damali Ayo

And so I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I read in graduate school by people like Ervin Staub about the critical role that can be played in situations of impending violence (and even genocide) by those who see clearly what’s going, stand up, call it by name and loudly and persistently demand that it must stop – the critical role played by what Staub calls “active bystanders.”

Not that this hasn’t been needed for generations, but the situation is incredibly urgent these days. The rampant and violent racism in the US calls for all of us to stand up and insist that it stop. Many of us see it clearly – and we need to be calling our Congresspeople, contacting the media (old and new) and talking to everyone we know to call things as they are and say, “Stop!”

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September 23, 2009

It’s Urgent That We Stand Up

There have been constant questions in the press over the last few weeks about whether much of what’s happening in the US these days is about race.

  • Here’s a recent article from the New York Times in which Bob Herbert calls it.
  • And another from Newsweek by Raina Kelley.
  • And a great blog by Damali Ayo

And so I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I read in graduate school by people like Ervin Staub about the critical role that can be played in situations of impending violence (and even genocide) by those who see clearly what’s going, stand up, call it by name and loudly and persistently demand that it must stop – the critical role played by what Staub calls “active bystanders.”

Not that this hasn’t been needed for generations, but the situation is incredibly urgent these days. The rampant and violent racism in the US calls for all of us to stand up and insist that it stop. Many of us see it clearly – and we need to be calling our Congresspeople, contacting the media (old and new) and talking to everyone we know to call things as they are and say, “Stop!”

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July 24, 2009

This Week in Blackness: 2009 is the New 1952

The Brooklyn Comedy Company Proudly Presents the 4th Episode of season 2 of This Week in Blackness. In the latest episode host Elon James White talks about the past few weeks in so-called post-racial America…and this was even BEFORE the incident involving Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates that happened a few days ago, right in IISC‘s backyard. (For more on that connection and an extension of last week’s lively discussion on same,  check out Princeton Professor and MSNBC regular Melissa Harris Lacewell’s recent blog in “The Nation” entitled “Skip Gates and the Post-Racial Project”.) Read More

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July 17, 2009

The Door of No Return

On Wednesday’s edition of the Tom Joyner Morning Show, the Rev. Al Sharpton made a poignant observation about President Obama’s recent trip to the slave castles in Ghana. While noting the psycho-spiritual-historical significance of the First Family’s visit to the infamous “Door of No Return”  his statement was that, contrary to the intent of the enslavers, indeed we (descendants of the enslaved) have returned — as President of the United States, the most important and powerful leader of the most powerful country on Earth.

Journalist Anderson Cooper will air a 1-hr special this weekend on CNN (8p, 11p on Saturday and Sunday) of his exclusive interview with the President during the First Family’s historic tour of these monuments to evil. In this clip, Cooper narrates a tour of the dungeons where captured Africans were held until they would be shoved through the Door of No Return to face their fate of either death during the terror-filled Middle Passage or a life of enslavement in the Americas.

While such observations evoke sobering, grievous as well as prideful thoughts, when coupled with my reaction to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings of the brilliant, exceptionally qualified, impeccably credentialed, and yes, wise, Latina Judge Sonia Sotomayor — I am further vexed about the state of race relations in this country.
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June 12, 2009

Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules

The American economy wasn’t created in a race-blind way and the current recession isn’t race-blind in its impacts. It stands to reason, then, that we won’t get out of the current recession fairly without paying attention to the impact of race as we create solutions.

Listen to this summary of an Applied Research Center report on the issues of race, recession, and recovery.

To read more, go to: http://www.arc.org/content/view/726/136/

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June 5, 2009

On, Women, Revolution and Love

I’ve never been much of a feminist. In the crucible of my political coming of age, I internalized a strong message. I could either be a ‘race woman,’ devoting myself to improving the conditions of black people, or I could ally myself with bourgeois white feminists. There were no other choices, and clearly only one was acceptable. A small group of female African American seminary students was working out a ‘wymist’ theory that took gender, race and poverty seriously but I didn’t take them seriously at the time. I constructed my identity primarily around race. Like many African American women who’ve played a prominent role in the struggle for freedom and justice, I would advocate for the community as a whole—no particular emphasis on women. Focusing on women, and especially highlighting sexism and misogyny within the black community, was an especially hard row that I didn’t want to hoe.

In the past two years, I’ve begun to take women’s work – organizing among and on behalf of women – more seriously. Why? Because I’ve begun to see a unique source of power I had missed before. I’ve worked with incredible African American and Sudanese women in the Sisterhood for Peace who working toward peace for the whole of Sudan. I’ve wept as I watched documentaries about the horrors facing women in Darfur and as I read A Thousand Splendid Suns, set in late 1980s Afghanistan. I’ve learned with great pride about Liberian organizer, Leymah Gbowee, who catalyzed the Women in Peacebuilding Network—a movement of women who were sick and tired of losing sons, brothers, and husbands to a 14 year civil war—and whose actions led to the war’s end.

From Sisterhood For Peace.

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May 13, 2009

The Hawt Post & Hot VIP Post Blogs – oh the balance, oh the irony

Does anyone else read the blog posts that appear in either the Hawt Post or Hot VIP Post?  I have read these from time to time and am astounded by the right wingishness of the content.  Now, I’m all for freedom of speech – and I’ll fight for anyone’s right to say something offensive to me (or to you, for that matter) – but it does strike me as odd (or perhaps, in a perfectly twisted way, balanced?) that such hateful (IMHO) material is there to read before I make the magic click into the left leaning, liberal safety of the IISC blogspot.  It is sort of like running through a grove of thorn bushes before you get to the flower riddled meadow.

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May 13, 2009

The Hawt Post & Hot VIP Post Blogs – oh the balance, oh the irony

Does anyone else read the blog posts that appear in either the Hawt Post or Hot VIP Post?  I have read these from time to time and am astounded by the right wingishness of the content.  Now, I’m all for freedom of speech – and I’ll fight for anyone’s right to say something offensive to me (or to you, for that matter) – but it does strike me as odd (or perhaps, in a perfectly twisted way, balanced?) that such hateful (IMHO) material is there to read before I make the magic click into the left leaning, liberal safety of the IISC blogspot.  It is sort of like running through a grove of thorn bushes before you get to the flower riddled meadow.

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