September 20th, 2021
Thinking for Ourselves
Where are you running?
The official announcement by James Craig of his candidacy for Governor was surrounded by controversy. Craig was unable to deliver his scheduled speech on Belle Isle as more protestors than supporters gathered to shout him down. He managed to say he was running for governor before he ran off to the more secure Icon Building to meet with reporters and formally declare his intentions. By all accounts the speech and interaction with reporters was less interesting than the colorful denouncements of Craig on Belle Isle.
While some commentators are suggesting that in the long run the controversy will not mean much, it is important to remember that candidates strategically select the places where they will make important statements. Candidates select places and dates as a way to signal their historical perspectives, allegiances, and future hopes.
For example, in 1980 Ronald Regan chose the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi to define his effort to restore power to the states while diminishing the federal government. The site was near the town where three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner had been brutally murdered in 1964. Similarly, Donald Trump chose to stage his first public rally of the last campaign on Juneteenth in Tulsa, the site of some of the most brutal anti-black, racist violence in US history. Both events were widely understood to symbolize the willingness of these men to embrace racism and violence.
It is fair to ask, then, what are the symbolic dimensions surrounding James Craig’s staging of his announcement to run for governor? The announcement on Belle Isle was the latest in a series of “announcements” of his candidacy. Nearly two months earlier, Craig announced in a Fox News interview with right wing host Tucker Carlson, “I’m running.” After the Belle Isle debacle, he returned to Carlson’s show. This time to denounce the demonstrators and allege the governor and state police were conspiring against him. Craig accused the demonstrators of being paid to show up and described their behavior as “childish, counter-productive and selfish actions” that would ultimately inspire “a groundswell of support from families concerned about public safety to join our campaign and hold Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer accountable.”
These statements reveal much to worry about concerning Craig’s leadership. His disdain for the foundation elements of democracy is clear. He has persistently and consistently denounced public demonstrations that challenge his view of the world. Calling activists against police brutality “leftists,”” Marxists,” “paid radicals,” “out of towners,” “conspirators,” and “violent,” has been standard fare for Craig. Rather than acknowledging the legitimate concerns being raised by people about police conduct, Craig has used his office and public voice to attack people legally and peacefully exercising their right to voice their ideas. His response to those who gathered on Belle Isle is no different.
He has also chosen to avoid local media in favor of Fox News talk shows that laud his ideas. He does not seem willing to engage in serious discussion with the press about what he thinks, what his plans are, or where he would like to take the state. Instead he is trotting out worn and dangerous republican talking points, evading serious questions about where he stands on such controversial issues as the handling of health emergencies and the attack on the Capitol.
James Craig could not stand in a public space for ten minutes. He ran to the protection of private developers, in a space removed from public access, to claim his desire to lead the state. He was unable to answer serious questions. He blamed others for his failures to organize. Craig’s run from Belle Isle tells us a great deal about what is behind his bid for governorship.
by Wayne Curtis
Today liberating politics is essential!!!
It is also essential that we survive, exist, and have children and flourish as we are carrying out this global and local political task within our neighborhoods, communities, and zones of peace, so that our families, loved ones, and children can live in peace as the senseless violence that currently exists in our neighborhoods comes to an end.
We want to live without empty, wasteful violence from the ill-mannered, ill-principled, ill-valued, and mis-political-educated among us. At the same time, we must also bring an end to neoliberal violence from the ruling culture of the present racial capitalist, corporatocratic world system.
We will continue engineering a true revolutionary philosophy and ideology to protect us and the rest of biolife, and to help us bring an end to the current political mayhem.
We understand now that all roads of this local and glocal war and other forms of violence lead to the reactionary American corporate community, which seeks to extend itself across the globe. Yes, I am saying that this extended American world community is directly and indirectly the cause of all our human struggles to merely exist—sometimes without water or electricity in our homes, other times without homes at all.
So that our families and neighborhoods can peacefully bring about the resolutions to all problems that we may face as a collective, we will perform the task of liberating politics, relieving ourselves of this racist capitalist mayhem; door to door, home to home, district to district, and from national politicized communities to glocal politicized inter-communities.
By Bill Ayers
Many of us have followed the podcast Under the Tree, featuring Malik Alim and Bill Ayers. Recently Makik Alim was killed in a boating accident. We are sharing the eulogy of Malik given by Bill as we grieve this loss.
August 28, 2021
This is a time of tears for those of us who knew and loved Malik Alim.
He’s gone, and a gaping, irreparable hole has been ripped in our hearts.
We’re stabbed, assaulted.
And we cannot stop the tears.
I knew and admired Malik for years as an organizer and an activist, a thinker and a doer, a reliable presence in the Movement—we said hello and chatted at demonstrations; we greeted one another with a hug at Movement gatherings. But something changed qualitatively a year ago when we began collaborating to create our little back-room podcast about freedom (Gratitude to Damon and Daniel for thinking that Malik and I could become a team). We may have looked—on several dimensions—like an odd couple, but we clicked, and somehow we found a unique synergy across our vast differences of age and race and background, and within our common dreams of a world that could be and should be, but is not yet. I learned from him every day—where to hold the mic and how to create studio conditions in a closet, for example, but also when to shut up and listen, and how to make our messages more educational and compelling. We mentored one another, and I learned from him and grew with him inch by inch.
We didn’t need a reminder—certainly not this unwelcome prompt—to tell us that life is fragile—precious—hanging by a thread. But, even so, there it is: a boisterous declaration that our moment in the sun is brief. Malik knew it too: his was a short life, true, too short, but a rich life nonetheless because he lived it fully and fiercely—with purpose and at full attention. He got up each morning, took care of his kids, connected with friends, did his good work, and loved his family and his community passionately. Day by day. Every day.
Malik’s passing is entirely upside down, out of order: no parent should be required to grieve their son; no young child should have their Papi torn away in a flash.
So the tears keep coming, but not tears alone—no—it’s also been a time of intense remembering, of intimate laughter and fervent embraces. Death took his life, but death did not end our relationships—with him or with one another. No matter how far back you go in memory, it’s in the work of his hands, in his curious and impatient mind, in his family and in each of us that we find Malik again. Those things are still evolving, still in-the-making, still drawing from the deep well of his life. The past is done; and life is still unfolding.
The pain we share now is a measure of Malik’s impact and value in our lives, but we’re not broken—as long as we have not lost his place among us. We will always miss him, of course, but we can all choose to live deeper and more intentional and more committed lives—in honor of him.
I’m sending laser beams of Light and Love to Malik’s parents and siblings, to Kristiana, and to the mighty Ori and Yari—for their sake, we rise again.
Under the Tree is, of course, suspended for now. We will plant a tree in Chicago in his memory as a gathering place to reflect on the work he did, and the work ahead. You can hear Malik Alim on most Episodes, but Episode # 38 (“Haiti on my Mind”) is the one we co-authored, and the inspiration for a lot of planning, including future Episodes and a trip to Haiti with Walter Riley. Listen to that one. Also listen to Episode # 15 (“Revolution is a Curatorial Act”) featuring Kristiana Rae Colon.
You can subscribe to “Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom with Bill Ayers” on SoundCloud, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Highlander Center’s Views from the Hill
- This is the year of Paulo Freire’s 100th birthday. “A is for Angicos” is the newest film from Catherine Murphy and the Literacy Project, honoring the early work of Freire. Made with 100% found footage from a dozen different sources, this documentary explores Freire’s early work in the city of Angicos in 1964 as told by his former collaborators and students.
- One year ago Elandria C. Williams, a youth organizer, solidarity economy visionary, long-time Highlander leader, and PeoplesHub’s Executive Director — became a beloved ancestor. PeoplesHub invites us to reflect, remember and reinvigorate our commitment to an expansive imagination in honor of Elandria’s life and work.
- Longtime Southern organizer and former Highlander Executive Director Suzanne Pharr has released “Transformation: Toward a People’s Democracy“, a movement book offering a collection of essays spanning six decades of work at the frontlines of organizing for democracy and social justice.
- Highlander launched “As We Re/Gather” this summer, a multi-media project sharing conversations and contributions from across movement to accompany us all as we experience this historic period of loss and resistance.
Calling all Lawyers!
Just Transition Lawyering Institute
Launching this October, the Just Transition Lawyering Institute is an online training and network-building program for lawyers looking to align their law practice with the values and demands of a just transition— a transformation of our climate-destroying, extractive, inequitable economy into a regenerative economy that centers the well-being of the earth and its peoples.
Black, Indigenous, and low-income communities of color bear the brunt of climate crisis events, with negative impacts exacerbated by underinvestment and systemic racism. At the same time, many of these same communities are leading the charge with community-driven and systems change solutions that are ushering in just transitions. Lawyers play integral roles in walking alongside the communities on the frontlines of these transformations.
The Institute will bring lawyers together over two six-week sessions to learn from leading just transition legal scholars, lawyers, and community organizers various ways to use our law practices to address the needs and demands of frontline communities and advance a just transition.
Application closes on September 26, 11:59 pm PT.
Uplifting & Supporting our Community
Pro-bono lawyer & housing advocate needs funding!
Board member of Detroit & MI National Lawyers Guild and long-time housing advocate, Vanessa Fluker, has been targeted with sanctions for going after a known real-estate scammer. Vanessa beat the motion to dismiss the appeal. However, in a bizarre turn of events, the opposing side filed a motion for reconsideration, and the court reversed its own opinion and sanctioned Vanessa over $7,000 at the request of the other attorney!
She needs our support to pay these fees. Please make a donation to the GoFundMe and/or share it with your networks.
It takes a village, so let’s show up for Vanessa.
Art in the Garden at Feedom Freedom Growers
Youth and family garden art activities, music performances, and free garden treats combine for a wonderful fall harvest celebration at the Jefferson/Chalmers Fox Creek Artscape adjacent to the Feedom Freedom Growers Garden. Come to meet the creators and join the community at the final Saturday from 11 to 4 with performances by the Goode Wyche III & the Tonic Trio at 890 Manistique.
Click here for tickets
All photos by Amy Sense
Morgan Hicks, looking at the sunflowers at Feedom Freedom before drawing them at their Art in the Garden event, taking place every Saturday in September from 1-4pm
Sapphire and Sarah Thompson
Myrtle Thompson-Curtis, of Feedom Freedom Growers takes a long look at blackberries before drawing them at their Art in the Garden Event.
Stephanie Mae, center, leads Art in the Garden with members of Feedom Freedom Growers.
What We’re Reading
“As the vibrant and productive summer of 2021 comes to a close, the Sweet Water Foundation team is taking time to reflect on the transformative experiences that transpired and the many relationships cultivated. This summer, The Commonwealth truly came to life as a “Communiversity,” a place where local youth and residents, artists, university students, recent graduates, and Values-Based Partners from community-based organizations near and far connected through hard work, dialogue and immersion in the practice of Regenerative Neighborhood Development.”
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.”
? Martin Luther King, Jr.
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