|Thinking for OurselvesHard Truths
Shea HowellBefore the tires screamed in Charlottesville, many Americans were deeply troubled by the images of white men, holding torches against the night, chanting, “You will not remove us.” “Jew will not remove us.” These are images we had hoped belonged to a distant, bloody past. Now it is clear. They intend to seize the future, returning the country to its worst, most violent and vicious days.
The people gathered at the Unite the Right March came to protest the decision by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee. This decision, prompted by a petition circulated by an African American high school student, is part of a larger effort by people to rethink our history and what values we represent in public life.
Over the last few months several cities have engaged in fierce debates about the past and future. In St. Louis, after intense controversy workers removed a confederate monument from Forest Park in June. In Frederick, Md., a bust of Roger B. Taney, the chief justice of the United States who wrote the notorious 1857 Dred Scott decision denying the humanity of African Americans, was removed in May from its spot near City Hall. In New Orleans four Confederate statues were taken down, the last under the dark of night, because of the intensity of the protests.
In each case the majority of the people in these cities struggled with hard questions about white supremacy, racism, and whose lives matter. In each case, the majority of people agreed that public monuments to the confederacy should go. They are not who we are or who we want to represent us. They are not who we want to shape our future.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a moving, thoughtful speech about the decision to take down these statues. He said:
“First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.
It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.
These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.
After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.”
Standing in public squares and parks across our country, these monuments are themselves the product of a white supremacist movement that emerged during the First Reconstruction. Calling themselves The Cult of the Lost Cause, defeated defenders of slavery had one goal, in Landrieu’s words, “Through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.”
There is no question that the forces that sought violence in Charlottesville have always been with us. The KKK, the American Nazi Party, the Christian Identity Movement, Birchers and Militias have consistently organized to stop the efforts of people to move toward justice and peace. They depend on violence and fear.
There is also no question that the election of Donald Trump has given them renewed energy and license to accelerate their efforts. He has supported and encouraged their violence.
But these forces go far beyond the likes of Trump. And they are being engaged and defeated around the country. The people of Charlottesville, New Orleans, St. Louis, Fredrick, and all the other towns and villages who have gathered together and decided to consciously work toward a better future, offer all of us a glimpse of the ways forward.
Yes, we must condemn the violence of the KKK, Nazis and neo-fascists. Yes, we must resist the white supremacist, at every turn. But fundamentally, we must do this by turning to each other and facing the hard truths of our history. There is no other way to construct our futures.
Thinking for Ourselves
What We Owe
August 7th 2014
Public Private Partnerships (PPP) are a key weapon in privatization. This is a soft sounding term for a vicious set of practices. PPPs are often the vehicles that shift public dollars into private hands, turning essential goods and services into profit centers. Healthcare, education, water, energy, public safety, housing, transportation and even military services are turned into profits at the expense of people. The justification for this is the logic that companies, driven by competition and business imperatives, will provide better, cheaper services.
Globally, people are resisting these efforts. We have experienced the flaw in the logic that confuses private gain with public good. The single minded focus on growth and bottom line thinking have brought us greater poverty, income inequality and ecological disaster. Since 1980, the beginning of the austerity politics of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, global GDP has grown 630%. Yet we experience greater inequality in spite of all this growth.
Amina Mohammed, special advisor to the UN says, “Inequality is one of the keychallenges of our time.” She explains, “This affects all countries around the world. In developed and developing countries alike, the poorest half of the population often controls less than 10% of its wealth. This is a universal challenge that the whole world must address.”
In a recent article exploring shifting attitudes toward capitalism, Martin Kirk explains, “There’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has as its single goal turning natural and human resources into capital, and do so more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment.”
“Because that is what capitalism is all about; that’s the sum total of the plan. We can see it embodied in the imperative to increase GDP, everywhere, at an exponential rate, even though we know that GDP, on its own, does not reduce poverty or make people happier and healthier.”
Bottom line thinking isn’t thinking at all. It substitutes numbers for values. We in Detroit know this all too well. We have seen our highest performing schools closed under emergency managers because they were too expensive. We have seen nearly 100,000 people cut off from water, risking the health of our community, and we have seen an entire city poisoned to save a few dollars. This kind of bitter experience is shared with growing numbers of people everywhere. And it is changing how people think about capitalism and corporate power.
A YouGov poll in 2015 “found that 64% of Britons believe that capitalism is unfair, that it makes inequality worse. Even in the US it’s as high as 55%, while in Germany a solid 77% are skeptical of capitalism. Meanwhile, a full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.”
This is why the emerging movement to (re)municiplize essential services is so important. A new study by the Transnational Institute documents a growing global consensus that corporate power and public responsibility don’t mix. They report, “Evidence is growing that such policies are bad for public budgets in the long term, and lead to poor services and a loss of democratic accountability. As a result, many local authorities are now looking to remunicipalise public services.”
The research “shows there have been at least 835 examples of (re)municipalisation of public services worldwide in recent years, involving more than 1,600 cities in 45 countries.”
Local governments are not only taking public services back from private partnerships, but they are beginning to set up new local authorities to provide services essential to protect their people.
One example is that of the Nottingham City Council (population 532,000), who set up its own energy company. They believed too many low-income families were struggling to pay their bills.. A public company concerned with protecting the right to energy was the best way to help them. Named Robin Hood Energy, the local government offers a cheaper service and is beginning to drive down energy prices throughout the region.
These efforts provide the opportunity for all of us to rethink what we owe each other. By asking fundamental questions about our responsibilities to one another and the earth that sustains us we have the capacity to create new, imaginative solutions.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Developmentally Disabled, and Going to College
Kyle Spencer – NYT
Half a dozen students, some in Syracuse University T-shirts, sat around a conference table joking about appropriate job interview outfits. No bathing suits, pajamas or Halloween costumes. Added their instructor, not joking: “No tank tops.”
Then Brianna Shults, leading the workshop with a kindhearted but no-nonsense approach, launched into the Q. and A. section. “So if I identify my interview outfit, should I wear it to bed the night before so I’m all dressed and ready?”
“No!” the group responded in unison.
“And before you put your clothes on, what’s the most important step?”
“Shower!” a few called out.
Ms. Shults, an internship and employment coordinator, closed the conversation with a sartorial tip that experience has taught her needs mentioning: “No dirty clothes!”
Why not? Meghan Muscatello piped in: “Because then you’d be smelly.” The room erupted in laughter. “And if you have a cat or a dog, make sure you leave it hanging so they don’t get it all hairy.”
The Collectivist: Stephanie Change
Tess Garcia – Metro Times
As state representative for Michigan’s House District 6, Stephanie Chang is well aware that it takes a village to effect true change, whether in the legislature or in the community at large.
Before her time in office, the Canton native worked on such initiatives as community engagement for Detroit’s James and Grace Lee Boggs School, in addition to cofounding the Michigan branch of APIAVote, a national organization devoted to providing Asian and Pacific Islander Americans with the resources necessary to be politically informed.
Live and work as a community
grassroots activist in Detroit, Michigan
Open Call August 1st
thru September 29th
Do you need a place to begin living the life of activism in service to the community of humanity? We have the opportunity of a life time for strengthening your current work, for discovering your new work and a place where you may, in a positive and affirming environment, discover and or define your Purpose. You will have an opportunity to work with us, to walk with us and we offer two residential opportunities that will allow you to discover and re-discover your passion. Ours is a place of compassionate refuge where we employ and deploy the lessons of our ancestors in growing communities that nurture humanity in each other.
- Are you ready to be the change you are seeking?
- Are you ready to change your life and become part of community where you matter?
- Do you need a place where you may continue an “established “activism of service, to learn and grow?
- Do you need a place to live and a place to network, in a community that needs work?
- Do you desire to uplift humanity while learning, growing and sharing together to build compassionate community?
- Are you ready to make the commitment to learn by doing, about leadership and advocacy, literally building compassionate communities from the ground up from a truly grass-roots methodology?
If your answer is “yes” then you are who we are looking for. We want to invest in those who are ready, hungry, for a society of intentional compassionate community building in a unique and highly inter-relational local –global organization.
We are The Hush House Collective and we are presently comprised of five fingers to our Collective Arm initiated through our museum’s purpose and service: 1)The Hush House Black History Community Museum, 1986; 2) The HH International Leadership and Training Institute For Human Rights, 2007; 3)The Simmons Center for Peace, Justice, Education and Environmental Studies, 2014; 4) The McIntosh Residential Leadership House, 2014; 5) HYMM: Hush Your Mouth Multi-Media,2008; 6)TruDSoul Bed and Breakfast, 2015.
We believe that this is the time for those who “see”: and need a place to take root and build. We of The Hush House purpose to make available the following in our Leadership/ Intern House:
- 2 flats of nearly the same dimensions: 2 bedrooms, living and dining room and kitchen: the space can be used for multiple functions, including residence for Interns and Fellows to serve as their home base in the community. The live in Residence is situated in (Midtown), which also includes The Hush House main campus (also in Midtown).
- Lower level of the house includes a basement that has its own entrance and will be developed by Interns/Fellows as office and meeting and teaching space(s); and a recording studio.
The Residents are encouraged to agree on some places in their work to evolve a Compassionate means to encourage humanity through their individual and their corded visions that take on “flesh.”
- Utilities will be paid as a collective: water, gas, electricity (our desire is to be off the grid, so if we are able to accomplish those goals of “going off the grid”: solar/wind energy/water collection/storage/toilets/refuse collections and disposals.
- There is an open, multi- use space to run the programs inside the community and with the benefit of emergent and ever evolving support and infrastructure of the New Work of The Hush House Collective.
Through our Collective, we have an opportunity for four to six persons as HH Resident Leadership Fellows and Resident Intern opportunities through our International Leadership and Training Institute for Human Rights and The Hush House Black Community Museum as Leadership Fellows and Interns. We encourage applicants who are currently in school to apply. Send inquiries, & applications to our email: email@example.com
INTERNSHIPS AND FELLOWSHIPS: Internships 12 to 15 months/ Fellowships 15 month commitments.
Each Intern selected will be awarded a deeply discounted living space and a work/ meeting space to develop and implement their programs that supplement and support Hush House programs: each person selected is expected to use their skill set that they have now and those that will evolve through our leadership training programs to maintain and establish replicable and sustainable community-grass roots based- solutions that strengthen our communities. Each intern is also expected to share in the tasks of maintaining the infrastructure, public and private spaces of the community. All spaces are shared and the collective is responsible for utilities: water, electricity, gas and water/sewage. Interns are obligated to contribute 20 scheduled hours work per week, minimum.
Leadership Fellows are vetted based on recommendations and of the quality of their proven work in community engagement. Fellows, receive a stipend of free rent and must only pay an equally shared portion of utilities (lights/gas/water). Fellows are expected to incorporate their interests with those of our collective, and to take responsibility as mentors, administrators, fundraisers and rising leaders in the local to global community. Fellows are obligated to contribute 25-30 scheduled hours of work per week.
*Programming may require weekends and travel (overnight/weekend and Belize -worked out in advance)
SUBMISSIONS: We are accepting letters of interest and applications August 1, 2017-September 29, 2017. If selected, Residency begins officially October-November, 2017. ThehushhouseSubmissions@gmail.com
Please submit a letter of interest that includes a “community resume” that expresses the work you have been involved in and the type of commitment that you can make. You must also provide verifiable references, be willing to have a background check, Veterans, Families, Young Adults (25 up), Active Elders (any age), and persons who have been incarcerated (with some limitations): If you don’t know your purpose but you have the passion to serve and want to learn and you are not afraid of divers work, then send us your letter too!
We also offer non-residential fellowships and internships; please call or email us for more information at our office: 313 896.2521 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Our plan to caravan to Belize is based on our successful funding of this project.
Please Support the Boggs Center
With each day we are reminded of the legacy of James and Grace Lee
Boggs as we see the seeds of their work across Detroit, our nation
and the globe, and in the work that you are doing to bring to life
This year we are thinking about centuries as we commemorated the 98th
birthday of James Boggs in May and Grace’s 102nd birthday in June.
Where will we be in 2117? What do we long for our world to become?
These questions are at the root of the work of resisting the
dehumanization of this present moment and our efforts to accelerate
visionary organizing throughout the country.
Over the next few months we plan to raise $100,000 for the
Place-based organizing of Feedom Freedom Growers, Birwood
–Fullerton and Field street initiatives: ($50,000)
Riverwise Magazine publication: ($40,000)
Boggs Center repairs. Archiving and meeting space improvements:
You can contribute directly at our website: –
www.boggscenter.org or mail a check to Boggs Center, 3061 Field
Street, Detroit, MI 48214.
Please consider becoming a sustaining member of the Center.
Your ongoing support is critical to us.
|The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan 48214