Boggs Center – Detroit – Living For Change News – March 31st, 2021

March 31st, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Revolution Reflection
Shea Howell


A coalition of activist organizations is calling upon us to join in a reflection on the direction of our country and what we can do collectively to advance justice and peace. They are inviting us to listen to the words of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech on Breaking the Silence read by a diverse group of people dedicated to King’s ideas. The reading will be followed by a conversation among activists from around the country. The event is set for April 4th at 7pm. You can connect at: kingandbreakingsilence.org.

We hope you will participate. The Boggs Center has a long history in encouraging serious reflection on this speech and King’s ideas as a touchstone for actions. We think this event is important for all those who are working toward a revolutionary transformation in this land.

In 2004, Grace Lee Boggs and I were part of an effort called the Beloved Communities Initiative. We wanted to find and connect the places in the country where Dr. King’s idea of community were coming to life. Entitled Beloved Communities: Growing our Souls we aimed to form “a network of communities committed to and practicing the profound pursuit of justice, radical inclusivity, democratic governance, ecological responsibility, health and wholeness, and social/individual transformation. It continues to be informed by the 1965-1968 visionary thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr., combined with indigenous cosmology and social ethics.”

A cornerstone of that initiative over five years was to encourage the reading of this speech on Martin Luther King Day. A decade earlier, it was King’s insights to call young people to engage in the work of transforming themselves as they transformed the structures of our dying cities, that provided the foundation for Detroit Summer.

In 1969, James Boggs wrote about the revolutionary moment unleashed by The Montgomery Bus Boycott, offering the possibilities of revolution, or counter-revolution, as never before. Protracted struggles across the country, he argued, were forcing people to recognize the inability of a system rooted in genocide, enslavement, and exploitation to be humanized through reforms. In Racism and the Class Struggle, Jimmy wrote:

King’s movement, based as it was on the reclamation of the white man, did not intend to be a revolution. It was revolutionary, nonetheless, in the sense that from its inception it went further in confronting whites and in creating conflict between black and white over issues than any blacks, North or South, had ever dreamed of trying to go before. And even though civil rights are only the normal common rights that a nation should grant to its citizens, the civil rights struggle in this country was a revolutionary struggle because blacks had been denied these normal rights. (109)

Jimmy explained that in the fifteen years since Montgomery:

It is quite apparent that what we are now engaged in is not just a revolt, not just a rebellion, but a full-fledged movement driving toward full growth and maturity and therefore requiring a serious examination of the fundamental nature of the system that we are attacking and the system that we are trying to build. (133)

Violence is at the core of this system we oppose. This lead King to name the U.S. “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”

Jimmy and Grace shared with the King the understanding that to build anew, to “to save the soul of America,” we need to counter this violence with love and compassion.

Dr. King was “convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin… the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

This April 4th we hope you will join us to reflect together on a long legacy of struggle and to ask, “Where do we go from here?”

The National Council of Elders, the Vietnam Peace Commemoration Committee, the SNCC Legacy Project, Highlander Center, The Zinn Education Project, and the Shalom Center are among the organizations endorsing the event. The speech will be read by a series of people who advocate for progressive change. They include well know voices and those from the front lines of change. They include Alice Walker, Tantoo Cardinal, Ibram X. Kendi, Saru Jayaraman, Jane Fonda, Victoria Kirby York, Kathy Wan Povi Sanchez, Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, ,and Ambassador Ton Nu Thi Ninh.
                                             

A Country That Doesn’t Yet Exist 
Rich Feldman

On Sunday, March 20, more than 350 people gathered at the Federal Building on Michigan Avenue and Cass in downtown Detroit to raise their collective voice with a very clear message:

“The silence must end.”
“This is our time to be heard.”
“We told them this would happen for more than a year.”

The crowd was multi-generational, with many children, and multi-racial. A majority of the participants were Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), joined by Black Americans, European Americans, and other people of color. They all came to stand against the racist and gendered violence in Atlanta and across the country.

The speakers shared their pain, fear and commitment to never be silent; the fear to go shopping, send their children to school, walk in their neighborhoods, ride a bus was shared by multiple speakers.
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These voices reminded us of 9-11 and the continued racism toward people of the Islamic faith and from the Middle East.  We were reminded of  the World War II internment camps when Japanese Americans were removed from their homes, their jobs and their communities and placed in concentration camps.  During WWII, The US Government called them internment camps.

  • The racist murder of the 9 black church members in Charlottesville
  • The 6 people killed in the Wisconsin Sikh church
  •  The 23 killed and the 23 injured at the El Paseo.
  •  The list of black men and women killed by police, in the last 5 years will never be forgotten

One of the speakers, Stephanie Change, shared these numbers: more than 3,800 hate-driven incidents, including physical assault, verbal harassment, workplace discrimination, refusal of service, online harassment and shunning, have been reported between March 19, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021 nationwide, including 16 incidents in Michigan, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition based in San Francisco, has been tracking the numbers.

Violence, whether by police or by white civilians is all part of this reckoning with a nation built on racial-capitalism, a nation that destroyed the land for wealth, that massacred Indigenous people to clear the land, that enslaved Africans to create wealth, economic wealth for the few. While some of us like to say that these murders  are “not America,” we all know that in fact this is America. As a nation we have never told tell the truth, which is that our country has always placed economic and technological advancement above values, relationships, dignity, humanity and nature .

Whether the violence is lead by the President (Donald Trump) or by our neighbors, it is deep in our DNA.  And now White Rage is on the rise.

While recognizing the pain and the fears of this moment, Ceena Vang was very clear in expressing love and solidarity at the rally:

“Today we hold a safe space for the Asian American community and we are going to take up as much space as we possibly can.”

Vang and Zora Bowers organized the event and also founded
Whenever We Are Needed: to support the AAPI and Black communities and dismantle racism.

All of the speakers shared the “hidden” history of US Racism toward Asian Americans.  All clearly spoke in solidarity with Black and Brown people and uplifted the importance of the Movement for Black Lives.

Seeing the little kids in attendance running around, holding signs, listening to their families speak and stand up to be heard was a powerful reminder that we are building the world we want and what we do today matters for the future.

This event showed the importance of expressing love and solidarity, of rededicating ourselves to the struggle to against the evil triplets of racism, militarism and materialism, and to create a Revolution in Values. As I end this short report on the event I also want to uplift the quote shared by one of the speakers Sunday:

YOU cannot change any society, unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as  belonging to it and taking responsibility for it.”  — Grace Lee Boggs

And a reminder from James Boggs. When he looked at the relationship of racism and capitalism, he said that racism is both the power and the internalization of a culture, explaining that: “racism is so deep, that white people become racist with the breast milk from their mothers.”

Our responsibility is to create a just,compassionate country, amore caring, genuinely  multi-racial, multi-religious, joyful, and forgiving country, a country that cares about its children and its elders, that cares about itself and the world. Invoking the words and the spirit of Vincent Harding: I am, you are, we all are citizens of a country that does not yet exist.

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From NPR’s Code Switch

Asian American organizers and influencers have been trying to sound the alarm over a dramatic spike in reports of anti-Asian racism over the last year, and have been frustrated by the lack of media and public attention paid to their worries. Then came last week, when a deadly shooting spree in Georgia realized many of their worst fears and thrust the issue into the national spotlight.

LISTEN

 


Bloom – AMP’s 2021 Spring Speaker Series

ASL, speech-to-text, and live Spanish translation available.

April 29th at 5pm ET Youth Power 
May 13th at 5pm ET Undocumented & Unafraid 
May 27th at 5pm ET Ancestral Ceremonies 
June 10th at 5pm ET Deep Work 

 


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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – March 23rd, 2021

March 23rd, 2021


Mass Surveillance of Black Bodies & Anti-Racist Data-Sharing: An Interview with Data 4 Black Lives’ National Organizing Director Tawana Petty

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Thinking for Ourselves

Violent Hands
Shea Howell

As people in Minneapolis struggled with questions of jury selection, prejudiced judgments, and appropriate places for a trial for the killer of George Floyd, another young white man picked up a gun. He ultimately killed 8 people, six of them Asian-American women. His actions were explained by the local sheriff as the result of a bad day.

Violence, at the hands of the state, or among neighbors, is routine in America. Often it is inflicted on people of color by white men. Often it is deadly.

Over this past year, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand that we stop, take a long, hard look at who we have been, and who we want to become. This cry to look deeply at ourselves, at our history,  and to affirm our capacity to change and become more human, has itself been met with violence. Sometimes deadly, against those who dare to question how much we have come to disregard life.

Those of us in Detroit have a special responsibility to speak out against the rising tide of violence against Asian Americans. We know this leads to death. We know this violence has a long history in the white settler colonial assault on this land. We have witnessed the results of rage.

In the spring of 1982 a young Chinese American, Vincent Chin was brutally beaten to death with a baseball bat wielded by two unemployed autoworkers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. On the night of his bachelor party, Chin was attacked by these men who accused him of taking their jobs. Vincent Chin died four days later and was buried on what would have been his wedding day.

The two men who killed him never spent any time in jail. In an agreement with prosecutors, both men ultimately plead guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to three years of probation and fined $3000.

A year later, activists brought a federal civil rights trial against the killers. They were convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but this was later overturned. Their defense was simple. It was just a bar room brawl gone bad. They had a bad day.

The brutality of this killing and the protection of the murderers by the justice system sparked the Asian American movement in this country. As Frank Wu, former Detroiter and Dean of the Hastings College of Law, University of California wrote:

“The killing catalyzed political activity among Asian-Americans — whose numbers had steadily increased since the 1965 overhaul of immigration laws but who then represented only about 1.5 percent of the population — as never before. “Remember Vincent Chin” turned into a rallying cry; for the first time, Asian-Americans of every background angrily protested in cities across the country. For all that Asians had been through — racial exclusion, starting with a ban on Chinese migrant labor in 1882; the unconstitutional detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II; the legacy of America’s wars in the Philippines, Korea and Vietnam — no single episode involving an individual Asian-American had ever had such an effect before.”

Wu, writing in 2012, concluded his article on the importance of Vincent Chin with this observation, “History also teaches us that before Asian-Americans were seen as model minorities, we were also perpetual foreigners. Taken together, these perceptions can lead to resentment. And resentment can lead to hate.”

Resentment and hate are not natural, inevitable conditions. Violence in the defense of the state, or at the hands of neighbors, is a choice.  Violence is the result how we understand ourselves, each other, our history, and who we want to become. We can and must acknowledge and turn away from violence, anywhere, anytime, for any reason. We can choose life. We are at a moment when the possibilities of radical transformation are not only possible, but essential, if we are to have a future.
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(artwork by Jess X. Snow)

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Huntington Woods Peace Group Invites You to Proclaim that Black Lives Matter
Monday Evenings, 5 – 6 p.m., starting April 5th

 

Throughout last year, as we were disturbed, outraged and heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and so many others who were the victims of racial injustice and police brutality, we, The Huntington Woods Peace Group, began our vigil every Monday on the corner of 11 Mile and Woodward, in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Week after week and month after month, with our handmade signs and our Black Lives Matter flag we stood, in our masks and socially distant, to proclaim our allegiance with the Black Lives Matter movement. And, what happened? The cars came by and honked, waved, put their thumbs up, and moved their lips to say thank you. Sometimes they even pulled over, parked their cars and joined us.  Policeman, bus drivers & semi-truck drivers would honk to show their support as well.

And, when they drove by, and we were just arriving ourselves and had not even gotten our signs out, they would honk their horns. They counted on us to bear witness on their behalf.

When the weather got too cold, we took a break, but the  American disease of racial injustice never seems to take a break.  And the recent violent actions against Asian minorities expose, once again, the ugly side of prejudice and hatred in America.

But there is another side to America, and that is what we have seen. On Monday April 5 we will restart our vigil on the corner of 11 and Woodward from 5 to 6 p.m. We invite you to join us.

All you have to do is show up. Park your car in the lot behind the church, bring your sign or we will give you one.

We hope you will take up our invitation. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at 248-219-4385.

Linda Ashley, Co-Chairperson

Huntington Woods Peace Group

248-219-4385

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News – March 18th, 2021

March 18th, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Hard Questions
Shea Howell

This week the people of Detroit achieved an important victory. U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson threw out an outlandish, dangerous, and costly effort by the Chief of Police, Mayor Mike Duggan and the majority of the City Council to squash dissent. This lawsuit was an obvious effort to intimidate those who dared to stand up against police brutality. It was a petty “pay back,” aimed at punishing Detroit Will Breathe and activists who successfully challenged Detroit Police violence in court.

After the murder of George Floyd, thousands of people in Detroit joined others around the country demanding change. Calls emerged for everything from minor changes in police practices to the abolition of policing. Efforts to defund police and reinvest in communities are a persistent rallying cry. Many of these calls have resulted in actions. In the November election, communities across the country approved ballot initiatives that increased civilian oversight, shifted funds to community programs, and increased support for mental health initiatives.

Seemingly oblivious to this growing public criticism of police practices, Mayor Duggan and Chief Craig supported the direct use of excessive force against lawfully assembled demonstrations. Peaceful demonstrators were met with “beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, sound cannons, flash grenades, chokeholds and mass arrests without probable cause.” In September, the Court ruled in favor of Detroit Will Breathe and ordered the police to stop using these violent tactics. It was this ruling, finding for the demonstrators and against the police, that provoked the counter suit, charging conspiracy.

This is the suite thrown out of court. The ruling is an indictment of the shallow, self-serving arguments cobbled together by the Mayor and the Chief. The judge bluntly stated that the city “fails to establish the essential elements of a civil conspiracy claim under Michigan law.” Further, “Their allegations about planning and coordination of the conspiracy are limited to media interviews with individual plaintiffs and posts on social media about attending the protests, but not about any unlawful action. Most of the statements and posts that the City points to in no way suggest an agreement, let alone one to commit unlawful acts. Instead, they’re simply evidence of DWB organizing and publicizing public protests, albeit with occasional strident and passionate language.”

Judge Michelson rejected the arguments advanced by the City and took the additional step of dismissing the case “with prejudice,” meaning that the city cannot refile this suit. She said, “It can’t be corrected. It was without merit.’’

This entire episode brings forward serious questions about the capacity of the Mayor, his Chief of Police, and the majority of the City Council to hold the power to lead. Only weeks ago, they dedicated an additional $200,000 of taxpayer money to support this attack on demonstrators and free speech. The Mayor is calling for a $41 million increase in the police budget, and he is trying to intensify fears of crime to justify it.

In his State of the City Address, Mayor Duggan talked about the importance of returning to normal. His normal includes not only opening restaurants and schools, but the acceleration of an aggressive police force and restoration of the punitive justice system.

There was not a single word about police reform. Not a word about what the Mayor or Chief need to think about, given the recent public rebuke of their practices. Not a word about the pain of people in our city at the hands of this ongoing violence. Not a word about the hopeful lessons we have learned about our overcrowding of jails, and the inequities of cash bail.

Detroit cannot go into the future with leadership that stokes fear, denies the depth of racism embedded in the very concept of policing, and ignores the most urgent questions of our public life. We can do better, be better. Over the next few months, as people step forward to ask for our support for elected offices, we need to ask some hard questions of them and of ourselves.ourselves.


 

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A message from the Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR) Project Team:

You are receiving this email because you have expressed interest and or information was shared with you regarding the initiative, Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR): “The Vision, Journey, and Voices of Royal Oak Charter Township.” Below you will find how you can participate in this historical initiative and a communication link to general information about the project.

In this moment of national reckoning of history and race, the words “Systemic Racism” and “Structural Racism” are now in our national conversation. Most suburban communities have never confronted their historical role in the segregation, suburban sprawl, and racisms that have shaped our home. Friends of Royal Oak Township and our community partners aim to transform our understanding of our own histories in South Oakland County. Few know the history of Charter Township of Royal Oak and how the Township’s original 36 square miles, currently .55 square miles, were siphoned off to create what is now Ferndale, Hazel Park, Royal Oak, Berkley, Madison Heights, and the rest of South Oakland County.

Please join The Friends of Royal Oak Township and our partners throughout South Oakland County for an on-going introduction to our project: Truth Toward Reconciliation (TTR): “The Vision, Journey, and Voices of Royal Oak Charter Township,” which includes an oral history project with residents of the ten subject communities in Southern Oakland County, with priority given to documenting the voices of long-time (current and former) residents of historical Royal Oak Township.

We will be gathering Saturday, March 20th, at 3pm for a Zoom call to introduce the project and build community engagement through the collective exploration of our past, present, and future.

Registration Required: Space is limited, registration is required by March 19th. Future sessions will be scheduled. Register in advance for this meeting:

https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvceyhrj8uE9NfREQ8N37kmUcAcphHr7AG

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

If you cannot attend this meeting but would like to get involved or support please reach out to us at ttrOutreach@forot.org.
Please check out the link to the TTR GoFundMe as well and share the below link:

https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/truth-towards-reconciliation-the-vision-journey-and-voices-of-royal-oak-charter-township1

Thank you,
The TTR Project Team


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UUSF FORUM March 7, 2021

Not A Nation of Immigrants: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

Many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, whether in political debates or discussions about immigration, proudly state that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz asserts this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the US’s history of genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. WATCH

 


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Boggscenter – Living For Change News – March 2nd, 2021

March 2nd, 2021

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Thinking for Ourselves

Budget Choices
Shea Howell

On Saturday the Detroit Charter Commission voted to advance its newly crafted document to state officials for review. The Commission hopes that, after review, the Charter will be adopted by a vote of the people in August. The document reflects three years of work by the elected commission. They held countless public meetings, offered opportunities for citizen engagement, heard expert testimony, and have worked with city officials and lawyers to meet their responsibilities.

The heart of this work established the deep desire of people in the city to develop a more open, just, and compassionate community. It emphasizes more elected responsibilities over decision making bodies and takes aim at economic development policies that have long favored white, wealthy corporations. The document calls for transparency and accountability in our city.

The most critical part of the work is reflected in the Detroiter’s Bill of Rights which put forward visionary policies aiming at establishing basic rights to water, housing, and transportation. The revised Charter establishes protections for immigrant communities and expands our obligations to people living with disabilities. In addition,  it would emphasize safe communities, while limiting  the ability of the police to use surveillance technologies.

As the proposed changes have taken shape, they have come under increasing criticism from some in the Detroit City Council. Chief Deputy CFO Tanya Stoudemire called the proposals “very disturbing” and said they would mean the city could not balance its budget. Stoudemire said it would increase spending by $800,000 annually. Moreover, she is concerned that the revisions would result in revenue losses because of new rate systems for buses and water, as well as new calibrations for how we consider median income. Stoudemire warns the combination could result in $3.4 billion in debt in four years.

Both Council members Janee Ayers and Scott Benson have registered their concerns about the “cost” of this proposal.

The council members and city official claims of looming financial disaster would be a lot more credible if similar issues were raised around the proposed increases for the Detroit Police Department. The contrast between the two expenditures could not be starker.

The Detroit Police Department is requesting a $41 million increase in funds for FY2022. All of the changes embodied in the proposed Charter pale in comparison. Currently, the police department claims nearly 30% of the general fund budget. The DPD is also asking that $24 million be allocated to capital improvements, drawing on UTGO Bond Funds. There were no public hearings to solicit community input or concerns about how and where money should be spent. There were no opportunities for neighborhoods to discuss the implications of the budget or to establish community benefits with the multitude of construction projects proposed. Other than a brief presentation to the largely rubber stamp Board of Police Commissioners, the budget is a police department wish list.

In contrast to the outcry about the costs of a Charter not yet realized, the media has been silent about the current level of expenditures by the Detroit Police, the process by which it constructs its annual budgets, and the outrageous proposals to advance its share of our limited revenue.

The choice of the kind of city we want to become could not be clearer. Do we want greater transparency, more accountability, more compassion, and justice; or do we want to give more money to a police force that has little respect for us, has become increasingly hostile to its critics, and endangers our young people?

City charter   https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitmi.localhost/files/2018-05/2_29_2012_CharterDocument_2_1_WITHOUT_COMMENTARY_1.pdf

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The National Council of Elders recounts the many decades of struggle for social justice and civil rights, sharing their experiences with a new generation of activists.

Critical Resistance is pleased to offer a brand new anti-imprisonment tool, a “Reformist reforms vs. abolitionist steps to end imprisonment” poster! Wondering about the differences between reforms that strengthen imprisonment and abolitionist steps that reduce its overall impact? This poster will help! PDF copies available here and physical copies available as a thank-you gift for donations.

As cities are gentrified by developers and new residents, their work is often cast as saving the city and repopulating an empty city in crisis, despite the fact that those spaces are occupied by longtime residents and workers. This is not a race-neutral discourse. Jessi Quizar’s research on Detroit shows the connection between the discourse around “urban pioneers” to Detroit and settler colonialism. And while Quizar’s work makes this connection eminently clear about white gentrifiers in a majority–African American Detroit, her work forces us to consider the language around gentrification more broadly: who is made visible and who is erased in policies about and discussions of urban development?

The 2021 Blues Series concludes with a long overdue tribute to Detroiter Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sr. who began the series with a 1988 solo acoustic performance at our Navarre Branch Library and has returned each and every year since. His masterful combination of impeccable, multi-instrumental musicianship, deep knowledge of the history of blues and roots music, and compelling (and often hilarious) storytelling, has served Monroe County’s music fans well, as Rev. Robert’s starred in and co-created what’s been called “a history lesson with a backbeat” that’s lasted for over three decades.


 

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Boggs Center – Living For Change News Letter – February 23rd, 2021

February 23rd, 2021

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FRIDAY 2/26 @ NOON EST

What do the Texas blackouts mean for those of us watching up here in Michigan?

Fossil fuel corporations will try to use crises like this one to extract more profit — what are the false solutions we need to push back on? What climate justice solutions will make our grid and our communities resilient to a changing, tumultuous climate?

MORE INFO

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Thinking for Ourselves

Finding Love
Shea Howell

This week the United States will have lost 500,000 people to the Coronavirus. This is more than all the deaths we experienced in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam, combined. We have endured these losses in 1 year, touching people everywhere. This week we are also witnessing the dimensions of suffering in Texas, and surrounding states. The loss of electricity, combined with extreme cold, has revealed the fragility of our basic infrastructure yet again. People are without heat, food, and water. Hospitals are collapsing. Needed emergency supplies cannot be delivered.

As the contours of this crisis become clear, people understand Texas is “a profound warning. As climate change brings more frequent and intense storms, floods, heat waves, wildfires and other extreme events, it is placing growing stress on the foundations of the country’s economy: Its network of roads and railways, drinking-water systems, power plants, electrical grids, industrial waste sites and even homes. Failures in just one sector can set off a domino effect of breakdowns in hard-to-predict ways.”

In the midst of this, Federal prosecutions are accelerating against those involved in the attack on the US Capitol. Along with police and former military personnel, investigations are now looking at connections with major Trump supporters, including Roger Stone. The New York Times found at least 6 people who guarded Stone in Washington are members of the Oath Keepers and participated in the attack.

The pain to individuals, to families,  to communities, and all life harmed and lost  by these multiple crises is beyond words. It is a suffering of dimensions that are beyond our experiences, defying our abilities to sustain compassion, care, and hope.

Yet we do. In the face of all of this people are caring for one another, encouraging vaccines, enduring bureaucracies, working with compassion and determination to bring people to health. People are raising money and getting aid to those suffering in Texas Mutual aid efforts are emerging daily. The bravery of police officers in the face of a mob, the vulnerability of Congressmembers to share their fears, and the comfort and gratitude extended to them, has been welcomed by the vast majority of people.

All of this anguish, however, has provoked an alternative reality. We are being told by extreme right-wing Republicans that the Virus is a hoax, exaggerated by left wing media. We are being told that the Green New Deal, wind power, and radical environmentalists are responsible for the suffering in Texas. And we are being told that the attack on the Capitol was really Antifa and other left-wing groups trying to discredit Trump.

It is tempting to ridicule these outlandish ideas, so far from the reality of most of us. But this would be a great mistake. An important article in the Atlantic shortly after the attack on the Capitol, raised a caution about linking such actions to organized, right wing extremist groups. Of course ,organized groups were involved. But, the authors argue, we need to understand that “a new force in American politics—not merely a mix of right-wing organizations, but a broader mass political movement that has violence at its core and draws strength even from places where Trump supporters are in the minority. Preventing further violence from this movement will require a deeper understanding of its activities and participants.”

This new political force makes no pretense in believing in a multiracial, just democracy. Collectively, they are daily denying the obvious, overwhelming suffering of their friends, neighbors, and families. Collectively, they believe violence is justified. Such a distortion of the human spirit, cannot be countered with facts, or the usual efforts to limit extremist organizations.  We need to make clear to everyone that what is now at stake is the quality of life we will embrace, the values of the future we want to create.  Finding that future will require us find in ourselves and our communities the deepest resources of imagination and love. Anything less will only foster delusion and destruction.

A note from our friends at the Highlander Center.

Highlander’s staff, Board, and community mourn the loss of Hubert Sapp, who served as our Executive Director from 1982-1989. We send our condolences to all of Hubert’s family and friends, and especially to legendary cultural worker Jane Delores Wilburn Sapp, Hubert’s spouse, and former Highlander staff member. Hubert died this past Sunday, February 14, 2021, at the age of 77.

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Come and learn about a new report released by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) on Thursady, 2/25 @ 11am. This new report explores the synergies between farming and solar with the premises that agricultural production on farmland should be maintained and farm profitability and soil health should be increased. Instead of focusing on solar siting, this report explores whether a strong case can be made from a public policy point of view for developing solar so that it helps to preserve and improve farmland and the ecosystem in which it is located, while enabling achievement of both energy system and food system goals. MORE INFO
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