Through the generous support of some community partners, I was able to travel to Ferguson for the Alianza hosted by Hands Up United on January 15, 2015. The Alianza (Alliance) was a convergence of the Black & Brown communities to talk about the way structural oppression effects both communities and ways that we can work together to fight back.
There has already been some good reporting on the Alianza - it was an incredible event. Rebel Diaz and Rosa Clemente were key speakers. There was space for people in attendance to share stories of their experience with racism. We talked about ways to build together in the future - how to be united in the struggle for freedom.
I'm so grateful that I was able to travel to Ferguson for this event. I have struggled personally with what my allyship (or freedom fighter status, or accomplice-ness, depending on who you're talking to) should look like. I am a light-skinned Chicana, and I have really struggled with the connections and also divisions that police violence in Black and Brown communities creates. Yes, Latinxs are also affected by state sanctioned violence in many of the ways that Black people are (and at much higher rates than other non-Black POC), but most of us (I can not forget Afro-Latinxs) are not subject to the centuries long deep systemic oppression that is anti-Black racism. So how do we stand in solidarity?
Rebel Diaz describes it as "hood to hood solidarity." He came to Ferguson at first to support a friend who is Mike Brown's cousin. It was that simple for him. He comes from an over-policed neighborhood, and going to stand in support of another over-policed neighborhood seemed right. He describes this united front of Black and Brown people as "white supremacy's worst nightmare."
The question now is how does this translate to scale? How do we do it in Boston? How do we organize in occupied neighborhoods? How do we connect the violence our communities face together without losing the emphasis on the idea that Black Lives Matter - and that this is a movement for and about Black Liberation - all people will be liberated when Black people are.
The Alianza raised these questions - and Black and Brown leadership committed to finding an answer. Awesome.
My intention sitting down today was to write a blog about this weekend, what I was doing, who I've met, who we can thank for making it possible. But I realize I want to chronicle where we've been first!
In the last month (it's only been a month!) we have co-hosted Ferguson Shareback with Intelligent Mischief, held 5 nonviolent direct action trainings in Boston, training about 500 activists and organizers in nonviolent direct action theory and basics with medic and/or street safety presentations and know your rights training at each event.
Boston to Ferguson Share back:
I loved this event! We had about 150 people show up to hear about our experiences in Ferguson, talk about what it was really like on the ground, and share their personal stories. We went through the timeline of events after the murder of Mike Brown, asked participants to share their memories on post-it notes. There was time at the end for a community speak out.
Our first NVDA training:
At the First Church in Jamaica Plain, our first training drew so much interest we had to change venues at super short notice. People banded together and did a pot luck style dinner (including panini's, thanks to the Lucy Parson's Center). We had about 250 people all together.
Last weekend we held our first youth-only training with our new (as of yet unnamed) high school partner group.
This Friday we're holding our first Creative Action Design Lab, a space to do deep visioning and detailed logistical planning for upcoming #ReclaimMLK actions.
Next week we're co-sponsoring a two hour medic training with the Tufts Pan African Association.
Damon Davis Comes to Boston:
Boston Youth Creative Strategies for NVDA:
Our first youth training! There were youth from local youth organizing groups and individuals who want to plug in and learn. We did a story-based strategy session and the groups came up with some seriously innovative ideas. We ended the workshop a little early so that the group could see Selma, where we did the #SingInSelma action, marching from the theater to the lobby and holding that space briefly. So good.
We've been able to do so much thanks to the support of our community - and we're working on building our capacity. The collective is growing! We started with just two and now we have 6 core members and many partners, collaborators, friends and accomplices who give us life. Thank you!