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imperialism & war

What about Afro-Americans?

How to build a movement (?)
Hi all of you, demonstrators, anti-Bushes ecc.
I'm writing from Italy, i saw photos from the demonstrations, i read some of your articles here on IMC and yet i've got some questions for you...

1) I did not see any coloured demonstrator in the photos. Some friends i know from our Italian "Genoa Social Forum" (that is maybe the greatest italian network of the movement) who have been in Washington D.C. to meet U.S.A. anti-war demonstrators told me there were still great problems for the WASP and Black movements to combine or at least to find some ways to unite their struggles... isn't it?
If so i guess it's a big problem you should try to solve, the main aspect that has not permitted reform or revolution movements to change society so much is the importance of being united... (sorry for my f***ing bad English!)
Here in Italy we are trying to unite italians with all the immigrants, primarly because they are those who suffer more for our economic liberalism and for our racist and right-wing government (Berlusconi -our Bloomberg- and his fellows).
I guess migrants at our side will be our key to victory, and will be the key to change the world... well i hope so!

2) Do you know about Porto Alegre? Will there be many U.S.A. people in the second World Social Forum?

3) How is it going with the Unions? I read that after many years of lack of antagonism, trade unions (and the Afl-CIO) in USA are getting anger. I hope so!

4) Don't use violence! As i said, unity is the key to victory, and violence lets media and politics divide any kind of movements.

Thanks anyway, goodbye and hasta siempre!

Cienfuegos
Down With the Brothers and Sisters. 07.Jan.2002 09:42

Allahntin Bahana ysab@efn.org

One of the reasons is that there aren't as many people of color in P-town like in other places. The Powers That Be use tactics to keep people apart. Many activists in p-town are trying to bring more minorities to their cause. I mean even I met Bobbie Seale, Angela Davis, and Ramona Africa. They seemed down with what we were doing.

One-armed movement, sorely compromised 07.Jan.2002 10:14

an @poc nomorebases@yahoo.com

Dear Cienfuegos -

You raise a lot of interesting points, but I'm only writing to address # 1 (and your english is fine, HA!).

If you are referring to the anti-war/anti-bush movement, it has been despairingly lacking in diversity. Not that it is to be blamed on any individual or group (not by me anyway) - the problem lays in the lack of outreach to the communities in Portland that are predominantly african-american, or hispanic, or asian. In my observations, I think that the outreach of many activists here in Portland has been limited class-wise, even.

I believe that there are many people of color in Portland. It appears that they are largely ignored or neglected, sad to say.

When we rely so much on outlets like Indymedia, and at the same time ignore that there are MANY people who don't have internet access, that is a flaw in our movement. I'm not trying to rap on imc either. But being internet-based drastically limits the reach.

There are only a few groups that seem to be really concerned about the involvement of "people of color" in the anti-war (or any) movement. The ones I am aware of are usually described as "radical" on the spectrum of activism, so the group is usually small and limited in means to begin with. We need to pay more attention to the absence of diversity.

The absence glares at me every time I attend a rally or march, especially for the anti-war cause. Many times I am the only "person of color" there, or there might be 2 or 3 other people.

Most of the actions have been taking place near downtown and other upper-class neighborhoods. There have been no teach-ins, no flyering, no canvassing, no demos in "diverse" neighborhoods that I know of.

A good sign might be if the demo takes place on MLK and you hardly see any african americans. That should be a huge warning sign about the lack of involvement.

What about Southeast (and no I don't mean reed college area)?

What about Beaverton?

What about North and Northeast Portland?

***********I am working on ways to do outreach to these much needed communities (presently, alone) and invite anybody to mail me about working together on outreach in Portland, especially if you can speak Spanish or other languages.*****************

Further observations:
I've met activists who have made ethnocentric or racist remarks - that happens very seldom.

What isn't so seldom is when I come across appalling ignorance about "people of color":

I've met people who were working against Free Trade and Fast Track who were under the impression that "international trade started centuries ago, in Europe" (which largely ignores, just to name two examples, the silk road markets and the spice trade in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East), or that "asians seem very willing to work [in sweatshops] for such low pay, and they do it without protest" - which is of course FALSE and ignorant, and also is incredibly arrogant in that it indicated the activist considered herself a "caretaker" of sorts.

I don't know why these people have the ideas that they do while they are involved in a movement that demands respect for all people. It has had me baffled for some time now.

Even in the face of more vigorous policies of racial profiling, the misunderstandings continue, both about "people of color" who are citizens, and those who are here in the US on resident (immigrant) status. We've had many immigrants here in town affected deeply by 911, some have been laid off from their jobs and the activist community did not pay much attention to this. The focus of attention has been kept on those of Middle Eastern descent. This is logical, but that scope needs to be extended much further.

Please keep in mind that this is just a series of observations by one person. It is not intended to villainize caucasian activists or anybody else. It is, rather, an attempt to prod at everybody and really ask, WHAT do you stand for? Do you just represent your community or are you reaching out *in solidarity* to the entire world as EQUALS?

It is possible that the hegemony of the U.S. in the international community is reflected (unintentionally) by a lot of activists who are still brainwashed by our whitewashed educational curriculum and our government's policies (i.e., "affirmative action") - the results of both are deeply embedded and hard to rid oneself of, especially after years of exposure and reinforcement. Our educational system is Euro- and Amero-centric and this is probably the biggest task for activists to handle, deprogramming themselves.

It is also entirely possible that "people of color" are feeling even more threatened these days by the police and other arms of authority ever since 911. All activists are being watched closely, and we need to provide more assurance about the safety of advocating social/political change, in order to depend on their ability to participate.

I dearly hope that the activist community will start to realize that it needs to be more cohesive and that requires the participation of members of ALL communities. It is incredibly vital that we reach out to, and enlist the help of the other communities in town. If we are organized to present the US government with grievances we should also be sophisticated enough to work in different neighborhoods and overcome difficulties such as language "barriers". We need to be agile and responsive to these factors.

Otherwise we are not united in voice, nor would we be an accurate representation of the people in WHOLE. It doesn't matter how many endorsements you get from Ramona Africa and others. THAT'S NOT ENOUGH.

let's get SOLID.


overlooked... 07.Jan.2002 10:42

an @poc nomorebases@yahoo.com

all that lecturing and I failed to mention Native Americans. For shame!

The Pacific Northwest region of the United States is home to many Native Americans (but what region of the US doesn't have reservations where they try to institutionalize Native American communities?); we should reach out as much as possible.

So, again I request that anybody who is working in that area, please do contact me at the above mail and let's put our heads together for action! Thanks to all for caring.


Why not more African-Americans 07.Jan.2002 21:57

Hope hmarston@epud.net

One possible reason for less involvement in a potentially dangerous potential arrest situation with police by African-Americans is that they are racially profiled already. They are already pulled over when they're driving, though they've done nothing wrong. If they're arrested, they're likely to be beaten or tortured. So, why should they stick their necks out for some middle-class march?

Maybe when and if this country is a little less racist, it won't be as difficult for people of color to take to the streets as easily as it is for lily white folk wearing Columbia sports gear and Nike shoes, who know that the worst that will happen to them if they're arrested, is they'll be bailed out by their friends.

Wake up and smell the coffee folks. We live in a racist society. We would like our movement to be more diverse, but it's still not safe for people of color to draw attention to themselves. Police love to kick the shit out of them. Anyone remember Amadou Diallo? How about Timothy Thomas? When's the last time something like what happened to them happened to a white guy?

What about "working Class" Whites 08.Jan.2002 05:34

John

i agree with the statements. Above I think there should be more people of color. But I also be more "Working class" whites and not just "middlle class" whites, we should also get Young union members on our side,

I think many of the so called "hicks" that the left loves to bash can also be brougt to the left if we appeal to them on certian issues.Remeber poor whites are still Poor.

unity is key... 08.Jan.2002 08:23

an @poc

Hope, I also have concerns about safety of those who are profiled and who could be vulnerable to backlash from socio-political involvement, but what can we do in order to ensure that their voices are heard as well?

It may seem naive to suggest that there is a way to support their involvement and simultaneously reassure that there will be no repercussions, but there has to be a way for us all to be involved as one group without anybody getting the shit kicked out of them. The involvement of as many people as possible is the only way that we can stand confident as the vanguards of change...

crossing class lines 08.Jan.2002 09:29

@poc

At the risk of overkill on the comments, just wanted to say you are not being overlooked, John - as I venture to reach out to other neighborhoods the working class and youth will not be neglected in the process. The doors are open to all.

This is not an option, this is IMPERATIVE.

many reasons for people of color not pictured 10.Jan.2002 11:18

multi-racial, white-looking progressive

We have heard and read from many sources that the Portland Police called all the phone numbers they had listed for residents and businesses in the Northeast Portland area, not including people too poor to have phones, not cell or other mobile phones, etc. The majority of people of color living in the state of Oregon live in Northeast Portland (where the majority of African-Americans live by choice or racist banking, real estate, and other institutionalized practices) and in certain parts of SE Portland (where many Russian, Bosnian, and other immigrants also live with Hispanics.)

Many people of color have low-income jobs from which they could be fired or otherwise financially punished for not being at work for the time of the protest and the time thereafter when people of color are most apt to be held hostage by the predominantly-racist police. Many of us have children and/or elderly family members or people with disabilities to support and care for. Most of the children in America are born into or divorced into poverty, cared for by women who are hired last, paid less, promoted less, and fired first, with lots more probability of sexual and legal harassment and threats to our careers and children and even the legal right to have custody of and care for our children. Sexist and racist and handicapist and classist policies institutionalized in this country and worsened with clientism, make our lot as single mothers of color with disabilities and children more sympathetic to and more aware of problems, but with less power to do much about it. And at far, far worse threat and risk.

Most of us know that being Black, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, or perceived as Middle-Eastern or Muslim puts us at far more risk for racial and political profiling, arrest, assault and battery, intimidation and torture, higher or no bail, worse prosecution, and denial of adequate legal representation, but either way, with worse chances in the courts and jails/prisons and death chambers.

Maybe you from out of our country do not know that the state of Oregon outlawed Blacks so that whites could take the land from the local people who had not died from the diseases, terrorism, relocation, intervention in local disputes, etc. The purpose was to have poor white farmers and others risk their lives and do all the work to allow rich, secure white men to have profits from and military and political control over the rest of the continent, with the white poor immigrants fighting the European rulers who also claimed the land from what you might call "Indians." The USA was divided on slavery using Blacks in the south and slavery using whites in the north factories and Indians on the western "frontier." To keep the rich complacent, the state of Oregon had to be "free" but also closed to Blacks. The Chinese and Hawaiian and Polynesians who settled much of what is now Oregon, Washington, and California were then also used for extending the power and profits of the rich whites in the east. The Chinese men (only) were promised good jobs, pay, and opportunities to fight freedom from their oppression and have hope for feeding their families in China if they worked the railroads connecting the west coast with the east cost and working the mines. Then it was agains Oregon and local laws for anyone to be on the streets or in town with a long ponytail, wearing a conical hat, carrying items suspended on a pole, etc (ie Chinese), else they would be sent down the river and over the deadly waterfalls, which if theys survived, would be taken as slaves kept under the Portland streets. Few memories of the racism is forgotten by us of color, especially with daily reminders in current racism. All the peoples of the first nations (Native Americans or Indians of diverse nations and multiple nations) have a hard enough time in Oregon which is going through a major economic depression hitting people of color worst.

Many of the protestors may care about liberty and justice for all, but often do not have real friends, family, economic partners, co-workers who are strongly people of color. Many of us look or dress or pass white because that is how we happen to look or how we can best feed our kids. Many protestors simply do not have much time to connect with or network and find strong community with anyone, of any color or background, but less so with people of color and people with disabilities and people with low income and demanding kids who just don't have the time to be known or to connect, as much as we need moral support and community. It takes far more money and time to pay for, transport, shop, feed, and handle groceries and meals, rent, etc. when one is poor and more so, when one has the multiple and often unpredictable and uncontrolled disabilities and kids. Middle income folks can spend less by buying in bulk and using the feezer or pantry we don't have, by driving to the lower-cost stores not located near us, by not being limited to buses with little room or help with shopping carts. Try doing that with a diaper bag, a baby, a toddler, and a temper tantrumming kid and embarasssed and rude preteen, and see how much time you have to take time off of work and survival, even when you know the survival for all of us depends on all of us resisting and replacing the abuse of power that Bush represents.

To protest the dominant culture, one must first know the language and have some basic needs met, and feel comfortable in it, instead of putting all one's might into trying to get up to the promised economic and political security.

The folks who took pictures focussed on what was important to them, for whatever conscious and unconscious reasons. There were people of color or mixed ethnicity at both protests.

The police barracaded off access to Parkrose High School, so many of us from the neighborhoods with more people of color could not make it, especially without cars. Buses did not stop for us. Buses were rerouted away. Buses were looking like they would be used to haul folks to jail, not to jobs or democratic protest.

The media is controlled predominantly by the corporations and government-- those sympathetic to or profiting from Bush attacks on the workers, women, children, people of color, consumers, soldiers, and even the police. I believe that the majority of Portlanders did not know about the Bush arrival or ability or safety in protesting, or how to meet anyone, much less where. There were many wonderful attempts by KBOO radio and the Portland Peaceful Response Coalition but few are accessed by them. I counted on KBOO to be airing live, so I could keep a bit safer and so my kids at home could feel less afraid I'd be battered or killed or jailed. KBOO played music instead. I do not know of any media reporting live so that people could show up.

The protests did not have a ringleader, which is safer and wiser. It is also because this is a grassroots, democratic expression of diverse opinions agreeing that the Bush administration is making things worse for us all and that we all need to immediately do all we can to reverse it and prevent further harm. The protests were not well-organized and the majority had no training or support to stay safe when cops got out of control.

Suggestions:
Have more diverse and effective ways of getting the word out. Have KBOO air live, with more donations from listeners and supporters of local community and alternative radio. Have more cell and mobile phone links and more computer/web links with live reporting, as I found to some degree on IndyMedia.

Expand the lists of people contacted through the Portland Peaceful Response Coallition, unions, school funding activists, environmentalists, students, welfare rights workers, social workers, police-accountability, etc. folks. Get the word out to more folks.

Include more info on how protests are sabotaged and potential protestors scared away. Include more info on people different folks can relate to, with real reasons they are benefited by the protests and effective political means for change. Not one message will persuade all. More doctors and nurses (some were present) need to know how Bush policies hurt their patients, office staff, colleagues, etc. More social workers and mental health practioners need to know that along with the perks, power, and pay, come the demand for professionalism, which includes practicing what we preach or profess, and acting with integrity to help our clients and make the country sane and supportive of mental health, which can only happen with economic justice, physical safety and food security, sane and fair jobs with living wages and fair trade, etc. Teachers and PTA moms and students and others and textbook publishers and others need to be present showing that money wasted on war and terrorism against our citizens and elsewhere is money taken from education. Loggers, farmers, etc. need to have support in seeing that destruction of their lands and the public lands on which they depend harms them and their grandkids, and can be made better by coalition instead of the divide and conquer mentality. Urban folk need to understand and connect with and respect rural folk. Middle class need to play and pray and volunteer with people of diverse class backgrounds who are currently unemployed, underemployed, disabled, etc. Pet owners and lovers of animals need to see the connections with animal exploitation and cruelty with violence against humans and the environment as a way to control, harm, kill people. There are countless examples of how we could each get out of our little ruts and issues, see the connections, and lovingly, humbly, respectfully connect with others.

We all need to be more humble, quietly listening to the inner voice (God, or whatever one choosed to call the source) to make wise decisions that bless each of us. We know we are turned off by arrogant, contemptuous folks who put us down. We want to be included, so we need to include others with compassion, good-will, humor, grace.

We need to have the religious communities reclaim the spiritual and moral heritage of protest, of the role of the prophet in identifying and resisting and rebuking abuse of power, injustice, cruetly, dishonesty, etc. The majority of Christians are aware of and disagree with the historic abuses by the insitutions in power, including the church, and the majority of Christians are not racist, sexist, homophobic, nationalistic, war-mongering nasties. Do not attack Christians, Muslims, Jews, B'Hai, Ghost Dancers, etc. Connect with churches, etc. who have buses, banners, choirs, community.

We need to pass out small pocket info in Spanish, English, Russian, VietNameese, etc. about safety and preparedness in protests. We need to have water bottles and bandanas or torn sheets to protect us from tear gas, phone money, phone numbers of emergency help and lawyers, training in nonvolent resistance. We need to have mentors and protectors. We need to have those who recognize infiltrators and provaceurs notify the rest of us, without having innocent and good folk falsely accused or smeared as IndyMedia did with a good progressive man pictured who has been harassed and worse by the police and corporate powers. Remember the years of training and support that nurtured the protestors during the 60s. One woman did not start a movement by staying in her normal seat for blacks; she had spent years in the NAACP and recent retreats and training for this and she was supported by many with practical, medical, religious, social, economic means. We need to do that for each other.

Invite people of color to your homes if you are white. Come, if wanted, to events and causes held by people of color. Support each others' protests.

Have phone trees, e-mail lists, letter chains, etc. for getting people from rural and urban, middle and lower incomes, professional and blue- or pink-collar jobs together.

Write more letters to the editors. Write more editorials. Share more photos and videos and audiotapes. Call in more radio shows. Visit more tv shows. Talk with more folk everywhere you go. Make notes and flyers to share without littering. Arrange more talks with articulate folks. Share more good articles from the net, etc. Make the connections with each issue, person, group.

Respect the need for some of us to be anonymous. The majority who fought the British king and the American Founding Fathers for equality, liberty, and justice for all needed to be anonymous to be effective. (By the way, get real education on history and share it-- like Gen. George Washington being booed by the troops who survived the battle against foreign control because George W. ordered 500 lashes to any many who seemed to democratic or not acting as he chose, because George W. feasted and wasted food while his soldiers starved, because he had warm blankets and fires while their feet froze and rotted, because he executed leaders for democracy, because the majority of the states were already independent due to grassroots work prior the rich white American men wanting to use federal control for their profits from slaves, landownership, bondholding, and unfair trade practices.)

Please be aware that there would be more folk if it were accessible to those of us with walking or mobility challenges. Get wheel chairs and golf carts and parade trucks safe for us. Get meeting places we can access.

Allow those who love the flag or what it means to be accepted by those who have other perceptions of the flag, but the same love for liberty, equality, justice, safety, human rights, etc.

Appreciate sarcasm and play.

Provide childcare and transportation and interpreters and different languages to be heard.

Hold accountable the notable Blacks and others not present who want power as spokespersons for the hetereogeneous group of people of color. Where was Ronnie Herndon talking about money Bush takes from local schools? Where was ....?

We in Portland, we thorughout Oregon, we in America, and you all in other countries can help us have more people of color in the protests and be more effective with the protests we have, and to be more visible when present.

Way to grandstand people! 18.Jan.2002 11:06

!HECKNO!

I would have liked to make a point but I feel that It will be lost in the mealstrom of your grandstanding.PLEASE! TRY TO LIST YOUR POINTS AND CUT TO THE CHASE. Notions of UNITY aside, some of us try very hard to involve people of other backgrounds in this common struggle. DIVERSITY IS STRENGHTH!
It keeps individual failings from becoming common ones. All forms of governent external to SELF GOVERNMENT (ANARCHY)
Must be contrary to diversity. Because diversity brings new ideas and IDEAS can THREATEN any GOVERNMENT'S AUTHORITY. This INCLUDES the government you see in most/all "actavist" groups in this town. I see a great many sheep in your flock that proport to support liberty and yet are NATIONALISTS who support SOCIALIST deocracy.UNITY? Well lets do the math. NATIONALISM+SOCIALISM=
NATIONAL SOCIALISM!!!
TAKE BACK YOUR LIFE, and WAKE UP!