Call for Session Proposals
THE 22nd Annual Pedagogy & Theater of the Oppressed Conference
“Breaking the Silence: From Rebellion to Waging Love”
Submit proposals by Friday, January 20th, 2017.
WHEN: June 1st – June 4th, 2017
• Pre-Conference with Julian Boal May 30th-June 1st
• Welcome Event on June 1st
• Workshops June 2nd-4th
WHERE: Cass Corridor Commons, 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI, USA, a city with a rich history of activism and organizing.
WHAT: A chance to LEARN, SHARE, QUESTION, and CONNECT through interactive techniques developed by Paulo Freire, Augusto Boal, and other people working to fight oppression and create justice. Learn more about Freire and Boal and their work at ptoweb.org.
WHO: YOU. Students, teachers, scholars, artists, activists, organizers. People of all ages, places, identities, experiences. If you want to build dialogue and make a more just world, you are invited, you are welcomed, and you are NEEDED.
WHY: The 22 Annual Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference will be held in Detroit, MI commemorating the 50th Anniversary of 1967 Detroit Rebellion and Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence – in which he called for a radical revolution in values in the struggle against the evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism—and looking toward the future. Read more here.
Thinking for Ourselves
As we approach the moment when Donald Trump will assume the powers of the presidency, conversations and articles abound about how to survive, resist, and organize our way through the next few years. These discussions are essential. We have never been here before.
Certainly there are many parallels with other moments in our history when racism, ignorance, and arrogance have combined to defend and advance white power and privilege. But the irrationality of Trump, combined with enormous ego and unchecked power, challenge us in new ways.
Detroit and Michigan have a special contribution to make to these conversations. We have suffered from right wing extremists for the last several years. Our governor, state legislature, and Supreme Court are in the hands of right wing ideologues. They are supported by local and national think tanks and policy institutes that have outline a global neoliberal agenda. Their strategy is tinged with fundamentalist Christian views of the most corrosive kind. Their actions in Michigan point the direction that will mark the Trump administration.
First, Trump will make every effort to diminish democracy. Michigan has experienced unrelenting assaults on normal democratic practices. The right to petition, to assemble, to pass resolutions, and to peacefully, publicly oppose policies have been undermined and attacked. With the imposition of emergency managers, more the 50% of all African American in the state were denied the right to vote for local government. Rev. Pinkney of Benton Harbor is in prison on fake charges for his vocal opposition to emergency managers in Benton Harbor. Artists in Detroit faced felony charges for painting “Free the Water” on an old water tank.
Second, big business will prosper at the expense of people. Wall Street profits will overshadow the will of the people. For example, in the Detroit bankruptcy process, explicit state constitutional prohibitions against reducing pensions were “set aside.” Pensioners bore more than 70% of the cost of the bankruptcy.
Third, basic essentials of life will be turned into profit. From education to water, businesses will be enabled to turn public responsibilities into private profit centers. Those who cannot pay will be shut off, locked out, or left to struggle with underfunded, neglected public programs.
Fourth, the capacity of children to be creative, critical, and imaginative will be attacked. The relentless testing, controlling of curriculum and dumbing down of ideas will accelerate. Turning students into consumers, not citizens, will drive education.
Fifth, what is real will be denied. Politicians will proclaim victories by distorting and defying the realities of most people’s lives. In Michigan, the Governor proclaims “relentless, positive action,” as the people of Flint still cannot drink their water. Detroit’s comeback is limited to 7.2 square miles of a city that is 139 square miles. Most people have become poorer, not better off, since bankruptcy.
Each of these areas will be advanced by the coming administration. With initiatives large and small, Trump, Pence and company are dedicated to reshaping American life under an extreme, right wing ideology intended to promote business interests and personal wealth.
Just as we can look to Detroit and Michigan as signs of what to expect, we can also see the kinds of resistance that will be essential to challenging and changing our country. Here we see people carving out self-determining, caring communities, new forms of cooperative economics, collective efforts to save homes and defend against evictions, alternative media, and independent child centered educational efforts.
We should have no illusions. American is being reshaped. All that we hold sacred will be profaned. But this we know. The imagination, creativity, and collective actions of people who seek justice and joy matter now more than ever.
A note from Rich
I want to share with LFC friends and supporters of the Boggs Center some exciting news about my son, Micah and the forthcoming film Intelligent Lives.
Micah is now 32 years old and has been a disability organizer, speaker and activist for many years. As parents and as activists, we have watched and nudged the political community to create an inclusive social movement for the Next American Revolution and always ask the question: Who is not at the table?
Micah has an intellectual disability and was alongside Detroit Summer and attended many meeting at the Boggs Center over the years. He’s currently a teaching assistant at Syracuse University School of Education, works as an outreach organizer for the Taishoff Center and has a strong circle of support that provides opportunity, love and and challengeds that help him live a full dignified life.
It is with great honor that I want to share that he will be speaking in LA and SF in late January where they will also share the trailer of the film intelligentlives.org. As my wife Janice and I often say quoting Dan Wilkins, “A community that excludes even one of its members is no community at all.”
For more about Micah’s journey, check out Throughthesamedoor.com & Janice’s website, Dance of Partnership.
Please join the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education and Syracuse University Los Angeles for two exciting events this month!
Wage Love Lessons
as we look upon the most recent cycles of seasons, moons and solstices for guidance, here are some lessons from my journey that i’d like to share with you and reflect upon.
as dear friend, comrade, speculative fiction writer and conspirator of radical love, Adrienne Marie Brown says, “things are not getting worse. they are simply being uncovered.”
in the same spirit, please also notice that the capacity to not only survive but also thrive is being uncovered. we are not mere beings defined by contemporary moments but rather timeless spirits being called upon to the purpose of serving the greatest good and stepping into our highest selves.
the presence of uncertainty, anxiety and trauma are indicators that we have the capacity to do this arduous and revolutionary work of healing ourselves, our ancestors, our families and communities “from the inside out and from the bottom up.” as spirit sister and ancestor, Charity Hicks would often say. these emotional and bodily indicators are a reflection of our innate human ability to care and to empathize. we can do no worse than to welcome and embrace them with open arms, mind and heart.
there is ancient wisdom in fear, sadness and loneliness. they are messages from deep within that are translated into tears, clenched fists and sore backs from carrying their weight. we embody ancestral intuition that has accumulated over countless generations. these gifts require deep reflection to honor their lessons. it takes a swell of gratitude and relaxed ego to crack them open.
Red Lake Ojibwe and wisdom keeper, Renee Gurneau says, “our triggers are where our power is.” and that “our innerverse is as expansive as the outerverse.” Renee calls us to remain ardently present and tender within life’s challenges and allow ourselves to be transformed by what brings us discomfort, pain and trauma…to not simply succumb or react to the harm they inflict upon us and instead allow these emerging signposts to illuminate the power that lies just past these triggers.
it’s important that we don’t allow the temptation of dejection and isolation to delve too deeply or long within our hearts. we must be able to access love in a way that transforms fear into purpose. it is here where life is fought for and won…within the palms of our inner most selves. as comrades, Movement Generation says, “what the hands do, the heart learns.” we can knead these inhibitions into submission and write ourselves as victors of our own stories.
stay vigilant. stay present and be very mindful of developing the muscle of intuition. recognize what is emerging. anticipate it.
notice our tongues unfurling. our sense of sight, hearing and smell becoming more acute. our touch more delicate and sensitive. our hearts feel more deeply and our collective imagination of what is possible is richer than ever.
stay in the womb of this heart center and ground y/our sense of what’s possible within the places where we are most strong. it is here where rich expansive possibilities are brought into the light and encourage our deep sense of love to lead the way. #WAGELOVE family. #WAGELOVE!
*this piece is dedicated to chosen fam that literally and collectively saved my life this past year; Natasha Tamate Weiss, ILL Weaver, Joya D’Cruz, Adrienne Maree Brown, Kezia Curtis, Mahima Mahadevan, Michelle Martinez, Lola Gibson-Berg, Louxoi Stoakley, Erin Martinez, Monté, Sterling Tolles, Sage Crump, Hong Gwi-seok, and Julie Weatherhead.
**inspiration for this piece came from the abundance of the collective wisdom of Adrienne Marie Brown, Charity Hicks, Renee Gurneau, Movement Generation, the Wildseeds Collective and ancestral femme spirits within my lineage that speak thru me. some of which can be found at the following links:
otherwise, i can be contacted at Shanebernardo@gmail.com.
Disillusionment & the Need for Community In the Imminent Era of Trump
Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States of America, and the Republican Party controls the House and the Senate. The election has revealed a sobering truth: the “United” States are far from united, and significantly more Americans turned out to vote for the Donald than we thought. Moreover, it is clear that within states across the country, we are more divided than ever. Our separation is both ideological and geographic, ethnic and economic, intellectual and religious.
Mainstream media and most of the circles I hang around slated Hillary as a shoo-in. The news and political commentary professed and joked that an inexperienced, racist leaning, hot headed, misogynist could not possibly win the election. NEWS FLASH!!!! He won, and based on the electoral vote, Hillary had no chance. The American people, although not the majority, voted adamantly against the establishment and arguably for the greater of two evils. Trump voters were presumably neglected in the polls, and they exist outside the media narratives. Or then again, it could just be the Russians.
Trump’s win indicates the people’s frustration and inability to achieve the “American Dream”. Donald Trump is not the problem, but rather the product of our government’s failure to serve its people and enforce the values communicated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Despite all of the ways we are divided (and connected), we – the electorate – have been funneled for centuries into a two party system that for all intents and purposes has failed to bring forth justice for all. However, anyone familiar with history may recognize that “justice for all” was never really the goal though. Democrats and Republicans alike as a whole have spent the last few decades catering to Wall Street and multinational corporations at the expense of America’s social and economic fabric. Parties have focused primarily on winning elections, while deprioritizing their commitment to serving their base.
Furthermore, government officials have increasingly been shepherded by corporate execs into the fields of neoliberalism to graze on interference and exploitation of foreign countries. At the same time, elected leaders were coaxed into undermining their own constituents’ rights as our educational system, local economies, and access to public resources were handed over to private interests. There was minimal commitment if any to addressing and healing centuries of oppression based on race, class, and gender – although I must acknowledge that the government has never expressed or concerned itself in a concerted effort to genuinely confront injustice. Fortunately, the founding fathers ratified the constitution in a language that has allowed the oppressed to leverage it against the system itself. All the while, the U.S. has maintained and broadcasted a message of “equal rights for all”, “land of the free”, etc.
Thankfully, many of us continue to be jolted awake from the American Dream, as our fellow American’s demonstrated with the ballot that they want America to be great again. Of course, those who voted for Trump and agree with what he has said suffer from their own illusions. Now however, we must all prepare for what the next four years may bring; “greatness” will surely lead to continued if not increased suffering. We all must rise from the complacent slumber and simply dreaming and challenge every facet of our lives that has lead to this political juncture and our state of separation. Our dreams can either be visions that guide our being and actions, or they can be illusions that pacify, blind us, and distort reality.
It is not my intention to place full blame or responsibility on us as individuals, but rather recognize that we all play a role in the separation that has lead to Trump’s ascent. In order to prepare for and resist the worst of what is yet to come, we must shift our behavior and orient ourselves towards strengthening our communities. I am glad to point out that in Detroit and neighborhoods across the nation, millions of people have been organizing and doing just that for decades already, but we may need to do it better and differently. We must operate in ways that weaken the system and strengthen our bonds. This political- economic system is weakened when we intentionally participate in interdependence i.e. community and depend less on everything that is sold to us for the almighty dollar.
We must slow down and consume less: less television, less driving, less shopping, and less working (less tweeting and facebook too!). We can gradually or as quickly as possibly transition to lifestyles where we share our gifts with one another more. Instead of the grocery store or supermarket, try a local food producer or Community Supported Agriculture. Enjoy slowing down and balancing work with other life giving activities, or figure out how to intertwine work and joy in creative ways. Discern how your consumption patterns and daily behaviors perpetuate and reinforce our oppression and separation; then seek community-building substitutions. Let’s connect, struggle, and create together. With trust and love we can persevere and overcome our brokenness, and dare I say “Make America Great for real!”