What inspires you to work for change?
My number one inspiration right now is not an organization or a person or an event, it’s the city of Detroit. I first went there a couple of years ago to do organizational development, and later for direct action trainings with Detroit Summer, which was founded by Grace Lee Boggs and her partner Jimmy Boggs. Their key lesson is, ‘Transform yourself to transform the world. It’s time to grow our soul’s capacity to deal with the world we’re living in.’
The tangible solutions that are now coming out of Detroit blow my mind. It’s not just young folks getting excited about these ideas and trying to implement revolutions. It’s the 30- to 50-year-old black men coming out of prison or unemployed, gardening and farming. It’s not about getting a job and being a cog in someone else’s system. It’s about liberated work, where you are playing a useful role in your community.
Watching “The Greening of Cuba” reminds me of Detroit. Detroit has had an economic crisis for decades. The auto companies have divested, now it’s this urban rural city. Detroit’s population is less than half what it was. Out of necessity, people have had to start community gardens and urban farming. Music and food are being used to organize people. Potlucks provide a communal place to talk about issues and eat together.
Detroit has the highest statistics in terms of crime, unemployment, and drop out rates. Those are the symptoms of an unhealthy society. Those negative aspects can create a real darkness and depression. But that darkness can be the womb from which our new societies are born, where we can create the world we want to see.
What inspires you to work for change?
By Kelly Curry
It’s a bright sunny Sunday and I’m sitting in my homeboy’s restaurant drinking a cup of his rich, black coffee. With ceiling fans whirling overhead, the last customer, of the last rush, hustles out the door. He nods goodbye to him and then turns to me, “What are you doing today?”
I tell him I’m working on a series of interviews with guys who have recently been released from prison and are now working the land and growing food for the community.
“What a joke.” He says, grabbing the remote and pointing it towards the wide flat screen overhead, “Those guys don’t stand a chance,” he mashes the mute button, “why would anybody hire a ex-con when they can have a guy with no record, never did anything and works hard? You know what a thief does? They steal...you know what a junkie does? They use. End of story.”
By Nicole Lee
Throughout California and across the country, communities of color are caught in a cycle of violence and mass incarceration, a cycle whose wheels were in motion years before the young people being pushed into this system were even born. These wheels turn in a staggeringly unequal economy where quality jobs are scarce—especially for young people of color—and the average CEO of a large corporation earns more than 350 times the average worker; they turn in the schools, where only 56 percent of California’s black male students get their diploma in four years; they turn in the justice system, where the criminalization of youth of color and entire communities—especially African American and Latino men—has helped give the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Interview by Margi Clarke and Preeti Shekar
In September 2015, Reimagine! invited five Bay Area activists to discuss how their organizations and communities relate to the Movement for Black Lives. Our wide-ranging discussion lasted over 90 minutes. You can listen online at: reimaginerpe.org/radio. Below we share some edited excerpts of the conversation, organized by speaker.
By Alicia Garza
Climate Justice Groups Release Report
By Eric K. Arnold
Big money, shady dealings, controversial politics, and a unified coalition of local grassroots activists and nationally-known environmental organizations: Oakland’s fight against the construction of a coal export terminal has all the trappings of the kind of movie Hollywood used to make in the post-Vietnam War era, when it still had a moral center. But this is no mere fictional account because real human lives and the survival of a disadvantaged community lie in the balance.