REClaiming The Organic Intellectual
by Grace Lee Boggs
CAAS 6-7-2016- final6 click here
Thank you, Jim Chaffers, for those warm introductory remarks. They remind me of the talks that Jimmy and I gave every November for 20 years in your class on Urban Design and Social Change in the Department of Architecture, mostly on Citizenship and Community.
And thank you, Kevin Gaines and CAAS, for inviting me to keynote the 40th anniversary celebration of the University of Michigan’s Center of African American and African Studies.
I very much appreciate the opportunity this gives me to discuss a question which has been troubling me for some time and which I believe should be troubling everyone in this room.
In light of the historic struggles and sacrifices that gave birth to Black Studies and Centers of African American Studies, we need to ask ourselves why these studies and these centers have been mainly producing university professors and not leaders for the struggles now needed to resolve the urgent and complex issues facing our whole country and especially black communities?
My hope, frankly, is that our discussion around this question will be so lively that it will spread to other campuses and other communities all over the country.
Living for Change News
February 20th, 2017
With the release of our first issue on February 7, 2017, RIVERWISE magazine is officially part of the local media landscape. Part of our stated mission is to be inclusive in ways not normally associated with print media.
We have begun accepting submissions for the Riverwise Spring issue. But we’re exploring other ways to engage and broaden the network of movement activity for the benefit of Detroit’s traditionally underserved population.
In keeping with that spirit, we are starting a series of public dialogues. Join us for our first official ‘community conversation’ February 25 at Source Booksellers at 5 pm and share stories of public displays of activism in your neighborhood.
Who is organizing who, to solve what prevailing issues? What existing community spaces serve as liberation zones or places to create and implement new visions? And how we can better cover these stories?
With our first issue as a backdrop, we’ll be talking about these issues and more throughout 2017 and beyond. – The Riverwise Collective
Thinking for Ourselves
Shea HowellAcross the country people are deciding it is more important to do the right thing than to follow a bad law. Days into the Trump administration the Attorney General refused to defend Trump’s executive order closing borders to people from predominately Muslim countries. Sally Yates made it clear, none of us can say “we are just following orders.”Since that moment, thousands of others have confronted this choice. As TSA and Immigration officials followed Trumps orders, people staged nationwide protests, swarming airports and packing the streets. Now, after galvanizing the attention of the country through a day without immigrants, people are organizing resistance. Some of this resistance is providing workshops on understanding your rights, some is establishing networks for emotional and financial support, and some is preparing for direct actions to stop ICE from deporting people.People of faith are asking how to remain truthful to higher laws while working to transform the unjust ones dictated by Trump. Declaring sanctuary churches is one response. Nationally, there are more than 800 congregations that have become sanctuaries since November 8.Mayors are reaffirming their cities as Sanctuaries. These declarations of non-cooperation with federal officials shows widespread defiance to Trump’s effort to bully cities. New York, Boston, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco all publicly defied Trump. San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said, “I am here today to say we are still a sanctuary city. We stand by our sanctuary city because we want everybody to feel safe and utilize the services they deserve, including education and health care.”Detroit’s Mayor Duggan has failed this moral test. Worse, his Chief of Police is telling us how much he loves Trump. It took one little invitation up to the big White House, and Chief Craig has come back “emboldened.”“Very positive, very supportive,” Craig said. In logic that was obviously twisted by Trump, Craig claimed he would not be “doing illegal immigration work for the president, but if a violent offender is caught and is not a citizen, the feds will be called.”
Such a distinction is likely to become increasingly blurry. During the recent round of arrests across the country, many were “collateral arrests” meaning those detained weren’t the original targets but people who got caught up in workplaces and homes.
The reality is that Trump is depending on local law enforcement to support mass deportation. That is why part of the meeting with Craig and other police officers was to highlight a little discussed executive order on immigration enforcement that included measures to ramp up a program known as 287(g), which deputizes local law enforcement officers to double as federal immigration agents. In addition to establishing broad and vague authority for arrests, this order provides a framework for local governments and private prisons to benefit from establishing detention centers. Detaining immigrants is about to become an even bigger profit center.
Chief Craig would do well to rethink his thoughtless response. The Mayor and the City Council need to reaffirm Detroit as a Sanctuary City. They also need to reassert local control over local police.
Today, across the city, school principals and teachers are providing far more leadership on what it means to live in a city that cares for its people. In calling for Sanctuary Schools, they are making it clear that “following orders” will not lead to a just society.
6 Things to do to support immigrant Neighbors
1. Put up a sign stating that everyone is welcome (attached). Download and print the signs from this website : https://www.welcomeyourneigh bors.org/download-pdf
2. Join the Michigan Immigrants Rights Center newsletter. Stay up to date and be an ally when anti-immigrant legislation comes up: http://michiganimmigrant.o rg/about-us/subscribe-newslett er
3. Sign-up for a KNOW YOUR RIGHTS training! – https://docs.google.com/form s/d/e/1FAIpQLScBR_o0LweYzITIFN Oirrh50g0Snoafsx1gzsT41NGjC7c0 qg/viewform?c=0&w=1 (More dates to follow!)
4. HOST a Know Your Rights (KYR) session at your school, church, or neighborhood and invite as many as you can!
5. Share these videos from MIRC:
MIRC made a 20 minute English “train the trainers” video as a companion to our popular “Preparing Your Family for Immigration Enforcement” guide. Here it is:
6. JOIN THE ACLU!! They need support and volunteers! https://action.acl u.org/secure/support-aclu-mich igan
(AHEM! 7. Others are wondering what they can do, so post what you are doing on FB and share this email every couple of weeks with others!)
Come see YES! magazine editor Sarah Van Gelder discuss her new book in Detroit
What We’re Reading
Giving Up Toxic Masculinity To Build Real Resistance
There is a love that should be more prevalent. In our communities overrun with toxic masculinity, a deep, radical love for women and all gender non-conforming people is especially important right now. The horror of white malevolence has personified itself in the realization of a Trump presidency. This is intricately linked to dangerous definitions of manhood that will only make these times worse. It’s imperative that the men who create this constant disarray realize that they’re going to be making life that much harder during these difficult times ahead.
While many are contemplating what resistance will look like over the years ahead, there’s one major effort that shouldn’t be overlooked: men need to stop beating, raping, and killing women. Any resistance to fascism will be undermined by the terror that men wreak against women in our respective communities. The overwhelming violence of toxic masculinity defines itself at the expense of women daily. It’s street harassment; it’s domestic violence; it’s everywhere. Though often overlooked, women have been the formative leaders of so much of the work that’s gotten our movements to where they are today. Without women, our movements are absolutely nothing, and we must travail to overcome the trite manhoods that destroy women. KEEP READING
||* Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!
* Rally Against School Closures
* Resisting Trump is WORKING!
* Dilla Youth Day Detroit
*Educating for Democracy
* Emory *Douglas Feedom Freedom fundraiser
*Standing with Standing Rock
*Detroit Youth Day Detroit Historical Museum
Living for Change News
February 8, 2017
Issue #1 of Riverwise is here!
Riverwise is a community-based magazine created by a team of authors, writers, photo- journalists, parents, grandparents, students, organizers, activists, artists, educators and visionaries.
We are working together to create media that re ect local activism and the profound new work being done in and around Detroit neighborhoods.
We envision deepening relationships through media that serve as an essential part of weaving beloved communities.
We will celebrate personal Detroit stories and the process of evolving ideas.
LOOK FOR ISSUE #1 at area bookstores, newstands, coffee shops and more
Resisting Trump is WORKING!
For everyone who believed in #resist, congrats on helping with the following successful efforts. – Betsy TaylorBecause of you:
1. Federal hiring freeze is reversed for VA (Veteran Affairs).
2. Federal judge imposes temporary nationwide halt to Trump’s travel ban.
3. Green card holders can get back in country after massive airport protests and litigation efforts. Iraq war vetswere part of those protests.
4. Uber CEO drops off presidential advisory council and pledges $3M and immigration lawyers for its drivers after #DeleteUber trends on Twitter. 200,000 Uber users drop the app. Lyft gives 1m to American Civil Liberties Union to fight immigration ban.
5. Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment ads are still going to air with help from private companies.
6. The ACLU raised 24M over one weekend (normally 3-4Mil/year).
7. HHS, EPA, USDA gag order lifted due to tremendous protests and pressure.
8. 800,000 scientists have signed up for a march in support of science.
9. More people of different career/religious/economic/ethn ic/gender backgrounds are considering running for political office than ever before.
10. White House contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has opposed almost all of Trump’s nominations and is getting support as a result.
11. Trump’s approval ratings are low by historical comparisons.
12. Governors are standing up against Trump – most notably in California. They are joined by over 17 state attorney generals.
13. Big City mayors are defying Trump on immigration issues and more.
15. High profile athletic teams – and many others – are joining the effort to boycott Trump hotels.
16. Theaters are absolutely packed with viewers of the just released and extraordinary documentary on James Baldwin. This must see film is the latest in asking us to face the racism that continues to plague the heart of America.
17. There will be a growing number of efforts to impeach Trump.
18. Reproductive rights activists are pushing for protection at state level.
19. The White House has pulled back from reopening black site torture prisons due to public outrage and pressure from veterans.
20. Musicians and artists are stepping up their opposition to Trump, including in mainstream forums.
21. Seattle climate activists successfully moved their city council towards divestment of 3 billion dollars from Wells Fargo due to its support for the Dakota Access pipeline project.
22. Most important perhaps, hundreds of thousands of new people are engaged. Scores of new platforms for engagement have been launched including:
These are dark times and the threats are colossal. While more resistance and creative forward-moving strategies will be needed, sometimes we have to celebrate our wins.
Stay vigilant, but also take self care seriously. Activist burnout is a thing. Marathon, don’t sprint. Give thanks for all the others – known and unknown – who are shoulder to shoulder with us in this fight.
Thinking for Ourselves
Eucating for Democracy
The announcement by the state School Reform Office that it is considering closing 25 more schools in Detroit is being met with widespread outrage. Students, teachers, parents, and community members rallied quickly to denounce the proposed closures. Alycia Meriweather, the interim superintendent for Detroit Public School Community District vowed to fight the closures saying, “School closure is not an option.Even Mayor Mike Duggan, who has absolutely no authority over schools, weighed in to say he would “fight the irrational closing” of schools. The Mayor, in announcing his bid for re-election, said he had called Governor Snyder to tell him the announced closures are “wrong” and that the school reform office efforts are “immoral, reckless … you have to step in.”On Sunday February 5 the Detroit Independent Freedom School initiative spearheaded a community town hall to develop strategic responses to this latest assault on our children and their futures. Over 300 people gathered to talk about how we can support our children and parents.Russ Bellant, community advocate, began the informational panel opening the meeting saying, “The fundamental message I think everyone needs to understand is that the closing of the schools, not just this month but for the last 18 years, has been illegal, unconstitutional, and immoral.” Mr. Bellant emphasized that the state Constitution says “no public money to private schools,” but 80% of the charters are for profit private corporations. Over half the children of Detroit attend charter schools. Other panelists and audience members agreed, arguing that school closures are a form of genocide, targeting African American districts across the state, creating conditions where it is impossible for children to learn, to feel cared for, or be respected.
The only groups in Michigan supporting additional closures are those supported by Betsy DeVos and her cronies. The Great Lakes Education Project called on the state to shut the “worst of the worst” schools. The organization said education officials have spent $7 billion on failed school-turnaround efforts. Most of that money has gone into the hands of private corporations and consultants.
In a system where private corporations have driven children into overcrowded classes, provided unqualified teachers, refused to provide needed materials or even basic facilities like functioning bathrooms, DeVos and her friends continue to claim they care about our children. Defying reality, they claim closing schools is good for families.
“The simple fact is these schools are failing our kids and their families deserve better,” said GLEP Executive Director Gary Naeyaert in a statement. “If the SRO exercises the ‘unreasonable hardship’ exemption to avoid closing any of these schools, we expect them to implement dramatic restructuring to give these students a chance at a successful future.”
The battle for public education in Detroit is a prelude to what people around the country will face as Betsy DeVos brings her agenda to the national stage as the new Secretary of Education. Uniquely unqualified, dedicated to the destruction of public education, and architect of polices that are nothing short of child abuse, DeVos will be pushing privatization and schools of choice across the country.
Resisting her efforts requires deepening our understanding of the critical role public education should play in strengthening our democracy. The purpose of education is to enable people to become fully responsible, creative citizens, making decisions that critically reflect an understanding of ourselves, our relationships to one another, and our responsibilities to the earth that supports us.
We are facing critical times. We need the imagination and thinking of everyone, especially our children, to develop just and regenerative futures. The efforts of DeVos and company to reduce education to another profit center for corporate elites must be resisted. This resistance must be rooted in love for our children and in the celebration of their capabilities to participate in developing solutions to what democracy can really look like.
Footage courtesy of Shane Bernardo from Emergency Meeting on the Education Crisis.
Standing with Standing Rock
* Education Crisis Meet Flyer
* Thinking for OurSelves –
The First Week Shea Howell
* Emory Douglas – Youth & Family Fund Raiser February 16, 2017
* Visioning a World Beyond Struggle Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty
* Black Bottom Paradise Valley Exhibit
* Women Creating Caring Communities
Living for Change News
January 31st – February 6
Thinking for Ourselves
The First Week
Shea HowellThe first week of the Trump administration has been met with resistance at every level. People by the thousands gathered spontaneously at airports around the country to protest Trump’s ban on immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Protesters chanted “No Ban, No Wall” and “Let them in!” Mayors issued statements affirming their cities as welcoming places. Sheriffs announced they would not cooperate with immigration and border patrols. Governors stepped forward to stand with immigrants. Lawyers set up card tables to offer legal advice. Others filed lawsuits. University presidents and student leaders are issuing statements in support of immigrants. Congressional leaders have taken to the streets. International leaders and organizations condemned the ban. Reporters are chronicling the stories of lives interrupted, people and families put at risk. Business executives are setting up special funds to support resistance. Non profit organizations, churches, and people of faith are issuing declarations in opposition to the ban. Judges are ruling against it and the Acting Attorney General refused to defend it.Meanwhile scientists are planning a march on Washington. Anonymous sources in the White House are leaking concerns for Trumps stability. And the wonderful park rangers are not only continuing to tweet, but their leadership has ridiculed the foolishness of Trump directives. We are in the midst of a struggle for the soul of our country. The speed with which Trump has moved to consolidate authority into the hands of a wealthy, ideologically driven group of white extremists has made clear his intentions to turn our country into a mean, crude, and cruel place. Over the next few months America will be reshaped. The actions we take matter in ways we cannot imagine or predict. As Dr. King said more than 50 years ago, “The future is neither automatic nor inevitable.” He said, “Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
We have seen such passionate concern across the country. And we have also seen those who are willing to collaborate with injustice. Some border patrol members and immigration officials zealously moved to enforce this ban. Others refused to provide any information to lawyers, family members and government offers. Some news sources have celebrated the get tough attitude of Trump, saying most Americans support it. Trump himself has said he is having a “good day” as outrage spreads.
We are learning that some people will risk everything for justice and some people will do anything to keep a job. We are facing a great divide. People are deciding where they stand, what they stand for, and what they are willing to do to not only to protect themselves, but for the values we cherish.
We are rapidly learning to think and act together in new ways. Turning to one another, defining the kind of future we want, requires levels of courage and creativity that are only beginning to emerge. But this first week gives us much to build upon. It holds the hope of our enormous capacities to create a new America for all.
Visioning a world beyond struggle: What it means to be human
The Boggs Book Shop is open and waiting for you!
evolution in the 21st Century Anthology
…or the classic, Conversations in Maine