Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 18th, 2020

November 18th, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves

Breaking Myths
Shea Howell

President Trump continues to stoke hatred and violence. He refuses to acknowledge reality and concede the election.  He continues to claim widespread voter fraud. On Saturday he drove through a rally of supporters who shouted, “We Love Trump” and “Stop the Steal.” Later those supporters attacked Black Lives Matters demonstrators and challenged counter protestors. Fistfights and bottle throwing broke out and several people carried guns.

These actions mystify many liberals and progressives. Jennifer Rubin wrote last week in the Washington Post that, “The greatest challenge to our democracy is not that we hold deeply polarized beliefs, but that one party refuses to operate in a fact-based world that might challenge its beliefs.”

Rubin describes right wing mythmakers and offers this characterization,

“Many in the right-wing media bubble are marooned in a weird time warp in which the “other side” is some Cold War-era Marxist caricature. (Hence, the infatuation with the word “socialist.”) But there is also a jaw-dropping, willful blindness about U.S. history and race that allows Trumpian media personalities to exempt anyone from the charge of white supremacy unless they don a robe and hood. These opinion-makers and politicians have imbibed an unhealthy dose of authoritarianism and self-satisfaction with the status quo to the exclusion of concern for social justice, tolerance, freedom, equality and inclusion. Wittingly or not, they are the quintessential defenders of white supremacy, in which challenges to authority are painted as extreme and dangerous.

Mix in a heap of White evangelical Christians’ sense of victimhood (for whom no legal accommodation of religious liberty is sufficient), and you get a writhing right-wing culture that feels justified in its intellectual dishonesty.”

Among the 74 million who voted for Trump, White Supremacist evangelical Christians played an  outsized role. While only 15% of the population, they made up around 25% of the electorate and voted overwhelmingly for Trump. About 40% of all Trump voters identify with this group.

White Supremist Christianity is as old as America. In the last 70 years it has been systematically creating political forces to counter its dwindling numerical status.  This latest incarnation of white supremacy was given force by  critical Supreme court decisions in the mind 1950s, outlawing school desegregation and school prayer. These decisions sparked immediate backlash.

For the next 70 years white supremacists have been building the alternative reality Rubin identified. This reality  did not emerge with Fox news. In fact, Fox news emerged to support these long-fostered beliefs.

This world view is a product of a deep American tradition that uses a version of Christianity to justify and protect the political power of white men. It begins with the assumption that the U.S. was created by God to fulfill its destiny to give white men dominion over the land. They are to govern based on biblical principles. They believe urban elites, in alliance with socialists and people of color, are attempting to establish an anti-god country, ruled by socialist, communists and sexual predators.  These beliefs have been expressed time and again in battles over evolution and creationism, book banning,  and school curricula. They are at the core of what the media often calls the culture wars. But these culture wars stem from deliberate strategies of myth making.  Regardless of the particular issue, the right wing engages in “a cloud of fear-mongering propaganda and extremist hyperbole. The attacks from the far right stand apart … because of their incendiary language, their apocalyptic warnings, and their reliance on distortions, outright falsehoods and antigovernment conspiracy theories.”

Soon we will have five generations of individuals raised in this atmosphere. Millions of people voted for Trump because they fear a future they no longer control.

If we are to create a different America, we need to offer a vision of that is more compelling, richer in texture, and deeper in purpose. We know that this vision is emerging every day as people struggle to find new ways of living together.  A new reality is emerging out of the choices we are making to care for one another and the earth upon which we depend. This is the only way to shatter destructive myths.


What We’re Reading



Dear Legal Community,


What We’re Reading



Dear Legal Community,


Dear Legal Community,

This summer, we saw the largest mobilization of protest in U.S. history. Across the country, communities rose up in love and rage, for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and so many other Black people killed by police. The movement is clear that reforms of recent years have done nothing to keep Black people safe. With demands to #DefundPolice and invest in needed community resources, organizers offer us a vision for true collective safety. From the summer of 2020 to the elections and beyond, there is more at stake than we could possibly list. Whether you are new to the struggle or not, we invite you to join us in opposing repression, strengthening vital movements, and advancing a society that is truly democratic, fair, and free.

As tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets, lawyers have moved in to partner with them. In Detroit alone, more than 150 local attorneys have come forward to defend protestors. From coast to coast, the legal community has come forward in an outpouring of support.

Moving forward we are building on the wave of protests that erupted across the country this summer. We have witnessed the brutal crackdown on protesters, amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Voter suppression, armed white supremacist militias, and threats about the government’s unjustified use of power to retain control persisted during the elections. The struggle continues and now is the time for lawyers to meet this moment.

Lawyers, legal workers, law students — you may ask yourself, what is my role in all of this? Are you wondering if there is a place for you in the fight against anti-Black racism and the struggles for freedom and liberation?

We are here to tell you: we NEED you. KEEP READING


Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 11th, 2020

November 11th, 2020

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 “Oppression alone doesn’t breed revolutionary movements; on the contrary, sometimes it breeds fascism. . . . Community, solidarity, collective struggle is very hard work and is not a product of oppression.  It’s a product of imagination, culture, conversation, safe spaces, spaces of semi-freedom where people can laugh and cry out loud, share pains and pleasures, plan, teach, learn.” – GLB

Thinking for Ourselves

After the Election
Shea Howell
I was preparing for a meeting with the National Council of Elders on Saturday morning when the banner from CNN flashed across my screen. Biden Elected President. Minutes later as I watched commentary about Pennsylvania putting Biden over the top in the Electoral College count, I surprised myself by crying. I have no illusions about electoral politics, and none about Joe Biden, but the broad and deep repudiation of Donald Trump brought forth a flood of relief, allowing a grief I didn’t even realize I was holding, to pass.

In the days ahead there will be a lot for us to analyze and think about. But for now, it seems we should be thankful for our cities, north and south, that came through for some measure of fairness, decency, and justice. There is no question that the imagination and inventiveness of African American women in organizing, registering, and turning out the vote made a critical difference. There is no question that suburban women of all backgrounds organized, talked to neighbors, and shifted critical areas toward Democrats.

And there is no question that 70 million people voted for Donald Trump, in spite of everything. Trump actually received more total votes than Barack Obama did in his historic wins.

So, we clearly have a lot of work to do. This work has already started as the conventional Democrats are trying to back away from progressive politics, preparing to once again leave those who voted for them in the dust. As usual, many Democrats are more concerned about appealing to the right wing and its thinly veiled racism than pursuing a vision of a new kind of country.

One of the many gifts of Detroit is the ability to capture clearly what is really going on in this country. Early Wednesday morning, as workers were patiently counting absentee and mail in ballots, about 200 white republicans gathered at the TCF building.

What unfolded was an ugly scene of the divisions and violence we are facing. White men and women were screaming, pounding on windows, calling names, and all but foaming at the mouth, yelling, “Stop the count.” It was reported that some had guns. By week’s end a bomb threat was received.

Virtually all of the election workers, enduring these insults and feeling the real potential for violence, were African Americans. Most were women. In the heart of Detroit, a majority Black city, we witnessed a white mob, prepared to do almost anything, to stop African Americans from exercising their most fundamental right and responsibility. This mob is as old as America itself. It should affirm for all of us how much work lies ahead.

It should also remind of us of how much our city administration leans toward protecting white power and privilege. Neither Mayor Duggan nor Chief Craig denounced the protestors.

In fact, Detroit Police Chief James Craig called the protests “uneventful.” He went so far as to say that people who came to challenge the white mob had tried to “agitate” them.

Craig and Duggan, who were quick to call those who challenge police abuse “outside agitators” driven by a “Marxist Ideology” seem to think a bunch of white people, challenging the legal counting of votes are an “uneventful” occurrence. Neither man mentioned that these protesters were all “outsiders” and they adhere to a white supremist ideology, clearly spoken, as they shouted at black workers.

We who believe in freedom have a lot of work to do. But this vote, this week, reminds us that we are not alone. The desire for real, systemic change is a shared longing that will not be stopped.



Virtual Book Club:
The Next American Revolution
hosted by Dr. Scott Kurashige

Friday, November 20th
6:30 – 8 PM est

Read Scott’s new essay, This is a “People Power” Moment: It’s Time for a Revolution in the Name of Democracyhere.




What you see is what you get. It’s what you don’t see that will get you. Everything’s Political, is a podcast about the politics we don’t see that shape our lives. They can shape our lives for good, for bad, and sometimes without us realizing. Join Junius Williams for a conversation on the hidden side of politics.

Over this year the demands on The Boggs Center have expanded to the point where we have made a commitment to engage an executive director and support staff, especially around social media. We invite you to make a financial contribution to the Boggs Center. This is a responsibility that requires us to create a clear financial plan and we urge you to become a Monthly or Yearly Sustainer. Our goal is raise $50,000 in 2020-2021 through this fund.

To contribute, click the “donate” button at the top of our homepage or send a check to

Boggs Center
3061 Field Street
Detroit, Michigan

Try Email Marketing with VerticalResponse!

Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – November 2nd, 2020

November 2nd, 2020

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preparing for the election & post
*please share publicly & widely*
[Washtenaw County, MI]
para español, haga clic aquí

In sharing this toolkit we do not intend to create undue fear or anxiety—instead we hope to prepare ourselves and our neighbors for unpredictable and potentially chaotic conditions this November. In all things, we believe we are stronger when we are connected to community and empowered with information.



Thinking for Ourselves
The Days Ahead
Shea Howell

We are writing this a few days before Election Day, 2020, November 3. Almost everyone expects an increase in right-wing violence. No one thinks it will be confined only to election day. In fact, since the election of Trump, we have seen an acceleration not only of hateful speech, but deadly actions. We have also seen countless examples of efforts to dominate the public square. Right-wing supporters routinely attack waiters who request masks and teachers who advance progressive ideas. They take up arms inside legislative halls.

This week, in central Texas, a bus travelling with the Kamala Harris campaign was surrounded by a long line of cars and trucks flying Trump flags. Vehicles pulled in front of the bus, attempting to stop it. It appears at least one Biden-Harris staff car was hit. Two campaign events were cancelled because of the incident and the FBI is investigating.

This violent activity raises serious questions for all of us. Everyone now understands that the right-wing in America is more extensive and far deeper than Trump. He has been a useful tool and supporter. But those forces committed to the protection of power and privilege founded this country and have persisted to shape our history.

In a recent article in Mother Jones Nathalie Baptiste commented.

“The United States has a long history of turning a blind eye to violent white ideology while focusing on scapegoating other communities like Muslims, immigrants, and now Antifa. Despite years of warnings about white supremacist violence from its own intelligence, government officials seem hellbent amplifying warnings about anti-fascists, even as violence among white nationalists and other far-right groups escalates. The Trump administration seems to accept violence perpetrated by white extremists—not considering it violence at all, but a form of patriotism—and has blamed any bloodshed on their opponents.”

Over the Trump years we have seen a hardening of right-wing beliefs. A recent Pew research report documents the entrenchment of the divide around key issues of race, gender and immigration. While noting that Americans have been learning from the racial disparities of the pandemic and from the Black Lives Matters movement, all of this learning has been by Democrats, not Republicans who support Trump.

Moving beyond this election, those of us who are working for justice are going to have to find new ways to change the entrenched thinking of nearly 40% of our people.

Calls for “conversation” seem hollow. If seeing more than 230,000 people die, babies ripped from parents, police squeezing the life out of people and killing them in their beds has not moved them, what possible sentence could we utter to create change?

Some of what we can look to as a strategy forward is also marked by November 3. In 1979 five anti-fascist union organizers and members of the Communist Workers Party were gunned down by members of the KKK and American Nazi Party. The Greensboro police and the FBI were complicit.

Earlier this month, after 41 years and decades of patient organizing, the Greensboro City Council passed a series of resolutions acknowledging that the police knew well in advance about the planned massacre. They did nothing. Reverend Nelson Johnson called the actions a “people’s victory:”

“It is because of the persistence of more and more people in this city and throughout the state that the state is gradually changing. It’s an uphill climb. But we are grateful for the decision last night, and we think that it provides something positive to build on. But we want to help people appreciate themselves. They are the ones who elected a council that, with some staggering, got to the place of saying this deliberate North American death squad came in and shot persons who were leaders in their field.”

Joyce Hobson Johnson added, “The truth matters.”

So, in the days ahead, we are going to have to find more and more ways to tell the truth about who we were, who we are, and perhaps most importantly who we want to become.


Amid a national conversation about race, what has emerged is an understanding that the Americans who interact with police, who are arrested, and who are in jails are predominantly Black and Latino men and women. Building on our pivotal conversations from the Atlantic Festival, we’ll explore how to reform, and possibly rebuild, a criminal justice system that has for too long been based on racial inequities. Featuring Amanda Alexander (starting at 31:00) from the Detroit Justice Center. WATCH

Police “Reform:” A Totally Obsolete Illusion

Amid a national conversation about race, what has emerged is an understanding that the Americans who interact with police, who are arrested, and who are in jails are predominantly Black and Latino men and women. Building on our pivotal conversations from the Atlantic Festival, we’ll explore how to reform, and possibly rebuild, a criminal justice system that has for too long been based on racial inequities. Featuring Amanda Alexander (starting at 31:00) from the Detroit Justice Center. WATCH
Police “Reform:” A Totally Obsolete Illusion
Gloria House

In this article, I present excerpts from a historic presentation by the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality (DCAPB) to the Detroit City Council.  This November 30, 1998 statement of the DCAPB documented the history of police abuse and murder in Detroit for several decades leading up to and throughout the 90s.  The work of the DCAPB exposed the criminality of the Detroit Police Department (DPD), and prompted the federal government to monitor the Department in a consent decree that extended over 13 years.  Yet police misconduct and corruption continue unabated in Detroit.  These days Detroit citizens continue to call for the very same reforms that the DCAPB demanded over 20 years ago: KEEP READING

Catch The Replay of The 2020 Michigan Imagine a Day Without Water Conference




An update from the Detroit Peoples Food Coop…

We are currently 1106 member/owners strong! If you have any questions about your membership, feel free to give us a call during our weekly office hours at (313)-833-DPFC/ 313 (833) 373-2313. Please note the office is closed to visitors.
This month several local foundations including the Ford Foundation, Kellogg foundation, Kresge, Knight foundation, Mcgregor Fund, and the Fisher Fund have worked collectively to pledge the vast majority of the remaining funds needed for the development of the Detroit Food Commons which will eventually house the Detroit People’s Food Coop. While DBSFSN continues to work on the funding for the physical building, the Detroit People’s Food Coop is tasked with the work of increasing membership to ensure a successful start. MORE INFO HERE.



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Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – October 28th, 2020

October 28th, 2020

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Thinking for Ourselves

The Long Haul
Shea Howell

Tensions are building as we move through these final days toward the election. Almost everyone I know has been saying, “I can’t wait until this is over.” Of course, most of us know that no matter who wins the election, the tensions we feel and the challenges we face are not going to go away. They will intensify.

It now seems likely, that Joe Biden will win the popular vote. His lead a week before election day is in the double digits and is “without precedent in the 21st century.” Early voting has been heavily in favor of the Democrats, especially in key states like Texas and North Carolina.

However, winning the popular vote is no guarantee of winning the presidency. In an analysis of the power of minority rule in this country, Steve Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt wrote in the New York Times:

“Recent U.S. election results fly in the face of majority rule. Republicans have won the popular vote for president only once in the last 20 years and yet have controlled the presidency for 12 of those 20 years. Democrats easily won more overall votes for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and 2018, and yet the Republicans hold 53 of 100 seats. The 45 Democratic and two independent senators who caucus with them represent more people than the 53 Republicans.”

The Electoral College and the Supreme Court have been playing their intended role, thwarting popular rule.

But even if the Democrats assume the office of the President and manage to establish a majority in the House and Senate, their capacity to translate majority power into governmental action will be severely challenged.

First, anything the Democrats agree to do that will benefit the people and the planet will be challenged by Republicans. They Republican minority has the capacity to filibuster and use parliamentary maneuvers, but more likely they will depend on using the courts to challenge and overturn legislation.

We have seen this time again, for example, with the Affordable Care Act.  But this use of courts to overturn Congressional legislation will be a central tactic moving forward. One of the accomplishments of the Trump administration is that he and the republicans have successfully shifted much of the federal court system solidly toward the ideologically fringe right wing. In his first three years, Trump appointed more judges than President Obama did in his entire time in office. Trump’s appointments now make up more than a quarter of the appellate bench. For most, their primary qualification is adherence to extreme right-wing ideas. It is likely that even small efforts, like a national mandate to wear masks during the pandemic, will be challenged in the courts. And, as here in Michigan, the originalists will find it an over reach of power, not supported by the Constitution.

Beyond legal maneuvering, we should expect increased extra-legal violence. Last week the Center for Strategic and International Studies, released a report documenting the depth of right wing extremist violence. They found that 41 of the 61 terrorist attacks, or  67% of all the attacks in the first 8 months of the year, were committed by white supremacist groups. This report comes on the heels of the annual assessment of the Department of Homeland Security “warning that that violent white supremacy was the ‘most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland’ and that white supremacists were the most deadly among domestic terrorists in recent years.”

It will be a relief for all of us if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris actually take office. We know they are limited and have no desire to make the radical changes necessary. But they represent a needed counter to naked abuse.  But we should have no illusions. We have reached the point where we must now remake this country, establish the kinds of  values that will govern us, and make the decisions that will protect not only the lives of people, but the health of our earth. The transformations required of us will not be quick or easy. But they are essential now. We are in for the long haul, requiring the stretching of our will and imagination.

Podcasts! Podcasts!
HOW TO SURVIVE THE END OF THE WORLD: This is a Detroit love affair of an episode. For How To Survive’s first appearance at the Detroit Podcast Festival, we invited two Detroit based warriors for justice – 313 Liberation Zone’s PG Watkins (ultimate_paygee) and Detroit Justice Center’s Amanda Alexander (@A_S_Alexander). We discuss visions, abolition, and the unique ground that Detroit is for practicing our beliefs. LISTEN

UNDER THE TREE: We have taken up the question and the problem of freedom from various angles of regard, and today we move from an expansive metaphor—freedom as the wide, wide sea—to a material reality—freedom as the concrete act of unlocking the prison gate and walking out, free. We visit with Kathy Boudin, a social justice activist who spent 22 years in a New York State prison, and has, since her release in 2003, helped to organize a remarkable network and a wide range of projects to dismantle the system of mass incarceration. LISTEN

Land and Power
Malik Yakini

In the mid-1970s, I was a member of the Detroit-based Pan-African Congress, USA. Inspired by the South African political party, the Pan-Africanist Congress, the PAC-USA asserted, that, “Land is the Basis of Power”. Of course, this slogan echoed the words of Malcolm X and countless other Black activists before him. It embodied the understanding that it is from the land that we get the food that sustains our lives. It is from the land that we get the materials needed for housing, and clothing. It is from the land that we get mineral resources that feed economies and generate wealth. It is on the land that we build, grow and create community. As we struggle to foster food security, food justice and food sovereignty the question of land, who “owns” it, who controls it, and who benefits from it, must be in the forefront of our discussions.

Many forces have shaped the past 700 years of human history, but none as profoundly as the global imperial expansion by England, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Germany. The centuries long conquest, colonization, enslavement, domination and exploitation of Africans and other people of color and their lands was deeply rooted in a white supremacist worldview.

European explorers came to the shores of West Africa and the east coast of what we now call the United States, with ideas about the private ownership of land that were shaped by the feudal societies that they came from; highly stratified societies were the wealthy owned much of the land, and the masses were landless, impoverished and subject to all manner of abuse and exploitation. Those European explorers encountered Africans and “Native Americans” whose cultures suggested that the earth cannot be privately owned, but only wisely used by humans for the common good, and preserved for future generations.

Because Europeans eventually won the hard fought military campaigns they waged against Africans and the indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere and created institutions to maintain their cultural dominance, we have been taught the idea that the earth is a commodity that can be bought and sold. This idea has continuing impact. Many contemporary national boundaries are the result of colonization by Europeans. We can’t intelligently discuss the present economic, political, social and health disparities impacting Africans, both on the continent and in the diaspora, without understanding how these inequities were shaped by and continue to be perpetuated by European imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and the global system of white supremacy.

Across the planet, this thirst for continued dominance plays out in land-grabs. More and more land “ownership” is being concentrated in the hands of the few. Small-holder farmers are being forced out of business. People leave rural areas coming to cities where, if they find employment, they become wage-slaves to the wealthy.

Land grabs are taking place in many African-American communities such as Harlem, Washington D.C. and Detroit. But, Detroit is unique. The population of the city declined from 2,000,000 in 1950 to its current level of about 675,000. The City government struggles with how to maintain city infra-structure and services for a geographic footprint which has not shrunk, with the meager resources afforded by a much smaller tax base. No easy task indeed.

With more than 1/3 of the city’s land-mass vacant, Detroit is a prime target for land-grabbers. One can clearly see the temptation facing City government to sell off unused city-owned land to the highest bidder, putting the land back on the tax rolls, and in the process ridding themselves of the responsibility of cutting the grass and otherwise maintaining the property.

But, this is not a time for easy solutions. This is a time for bold, innovative thinking that is informed by history and guided by values that work for the betterment of humanity. Because Detroit is viewed by many around the world as the poster-child for urban decay, there is great interest in our efforts to think, create and build ourselves out of the seemingly intractable situation in which we find ourselves. The eyes of the nation are on Detroit.

Detroit’s political leadership has the opportunity to shift the paradigm from more concentrated ownership of land in the hands of wealthy whites, to strategies that recognize the value and developmental potential of commonly held land, and the value of facilitating increased land “ownership” by the city’s residents. Besides for its people, land is Detroit’s most important asset.

Detroiters should ask our elected political leaders the following five questions.

1) How can fair, just and transparent procedures for the sale of city land be developed and implemented?

2) How can a developmental strategy be implemented that allows for commonly held land to be entrusted to city residents for beautification, recreation, gardening, environmental stewardship, teaching and generating income?

3) How much land should be sold to any one developer or consortium of developers?

4) What reciprocity should the people of Detroit expect for the sale of land to developers?

5) How do we close the historical gap between wealthy landowners, and the landless?

If the people of Detroit do not quickly learn the lesson taught by the Pan African Congress USA, that, “land is the basis of power”, we will find ourselves in a continuing subordinate position.


The Story of the album that took a decade to create featuring Jazz, Hip-hop, Soul, Gospel, and Detroit. Boldy James and Sterling Toles masterpiece Manger on McNichols is told in these in-depth interviews. Producer Sterling Toles shares the story of meeting Boldy James and crafting an orchestra arrangement around the heartfelt story of what led him into street life. The Manger on McNichols album is already acknowledged as one of the most dynamic and creative works of 2020. Introduce yourself to the collaborative brotherhood that created this expression of Detroit Life. – WATCH



“Summer 2020 marked a significant shift in civil unrest in the United States. With rising unemploymenta global pandemican open supreme court justice seat, and increased public around issues of police brutality and state sanctioned violence, this country has been in a state of lamentation. People, especially Black Lives Matter activists, have come to the streets to vocalize collective dissatisfaction with racial and economic inequality in the United States. We are living in a time that calls for revisiting James Baldwin and his blues.” – KEEP READING

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