The pandemic has me watching a lot of Star Wars with my kids. Defeating Trump feels a lot like blowing up the Death Star at the end of the original movie. But as the rebel alliance found out, evil is always ready to rebound: in the next episode, and in the next franchise, there’s a new Death Star AND a Starkiller Base.
So the resistance needs to rebound, too. It matters little what the forces of racial capitalism and corporate power call themselves from era to era. …
But what happens if we fail at this again?
Folks, we have hit the social movement trifecta: a racial justice uprising and pandemic in an election year where everything is on the line under an increasingly authoritarian president. This is creating a real opening for structural change, one we have not seen in generations.
The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tony McDade (and too many more to name here) have exposed the deep pains of the intertwined relationship between race and class in the United States as never before. Violent and racist police forces, the disproportionate…
What kind of a world do we have the will to win?
It feels like everything is on the line right now for our country, our planet, and for humanity.
We have a global pandemic in the middle of a climate emergency. The corporate-conservative Radical Right has taken over country after country. Inequality and inequity are rising. It feels overwhelming. But there is a path toward a green new world if we have the will to win.
It is the beginning of 2020. I am hoping for changes bigger and more transformational than a new president. If you are like me, you also fear for friends, family and neighbors in the rise of white supremacy and fascism in the United States and across the globe. You may be asking yourself where to put your energy in this very important year.
For answers, let’s listen in on a conversation across centuries between organizers and people’s movements that have worked to achieve transformational change. If we are wise, we will heed their advice.
So with the freedom to choose…
First published in Social Policy Magazine in 2008.
After two years of community organizing, I was asked a deep, penetrating, and typical question by my great-grandfather (affectionately called Bump). “So, what do you do?” he asked.
Bump was a retired cookie maker whose first job was as a pin boy at a Buffalo, New York bowling alley in 1907. But I knew him later in life, as a tall kindly man with a car trunk full of cheap cookies. My first attempts to describe community organizing resulted in a confused jumble of jargon, “I help people who live in Chicago…
First published in Social Policy Magazine in 2007.
Relationships are the crucible within which we clarify who (and why) we are. The clarity that comes from being intentional about ourselves, our relationships, and our realities, focuses a burning light on our self-interest. We see more clearly through our attachments and aversions, and become more able to act. We free ourselves through the unqualified love that is liberated in relationship.
People’s relationships with God, mentors, teachers, and lovers all sharpen this direct experience of life. Love exposes us to the nature of self and reality, the dialectical tension of a grounded…
First published in Social Policy Magazine in 2003.
It may be an exaggeration to say that a butterfly’s wings can produce a tidal wave across the world, but if we amplify this premise then we must discern the implications of our relationships with others.
Our fates are linked — urban and suburban, first world and third, indigenous people and colonizer. In Peter Dreier, John Mollenkopf and Todd Swanstrom’s Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-first Century and David T. …
You may think direct action — the kind of protest that directly confronts power and shifts it from the hands of the few to those of the many — is something you do when everything else fails to get people in power to change.
You’d be wrong.
Veteran organizer Lisa Fithian — who has played a key role in hundreds of protests, describes direct action as “a way of life and a strategy to heal ourselves in the midst of the struggle.”
“Direct action,” she continues. “is not about asking permission, but rather doing what needs to be done to…
“You know what this country is?” she said. “This country is a man trying to describe a burning building without using the word fire.”
— Omar El Akkad, Riverbed
“You were born for this resistance, for this preparation, for this life. You were born to fight.”
— Maria Dahvana Headley, Read After Burning
I listen to a lot of very heavy Doom Metal music, and let me tell you — it feels a lot more hopeful than what our most insightful climate writers have to say right now.
The mood is grim, folks. …
What should be done about publicly-subsidized extraordinarily wealthy immortal corporations who want to reshape our society?
Oh bondage, up yours! — X-Ray Spex
Part feminist rallying cry, part anti-consumerist manifesto, the English punk band X-Ray Spex’s 1977 debut describes how I now feel after reading three compelling recent books on philanthropy. As a longtime participant in the symbiotic grantor/grantee relationship myself, I’m agitated and challenged by what I’ve read. …
All opinions here are my own. I tell my kids I have superpowers, but they don’t work around children. I also serve as the Campaigns Director for Greenpeace USA.