day of blogging for community organizing

Over at Slant Truth, Kevin has a collection of 40 some bloggers who wrote about the importance of community organizing today. Check it out.

Jay Smooth, one of my favoriiiiiiiiite vloggers, also did a good piece on the RNC and Sarah Palin’s jab at community organizers.

“The difference between a community organizer and a politician is that community organizers are the ones who take the responsibility upon themselves to help their fellow citizens without the benefit of a government budget behind them… and go out there every day doing the hard thankless work to make this country livable which is what allows you politicians to be able to go on tv and brag about how this is the greatest country in the world…” —Jay Smooth

I don’t want to give more platform space for Palin by talking about her but there have been some really good points made that say a lot about people in this country and our view on community.

BFP points out that people have been laughing at the idea of grassroots organizing for a good while now and that liberation through mass mobilization is seen as unrealistic. I think this says a lot about the effect non-profit industrial complex [professionalizing system of non-profits] has had on our movements. How many times have you been to a meeting and the only people that have authority are those that have degrees or able to get paid for their activism? How many times have you seen a group have its vision watered down through government funding? While there is a need for every community to have multiple strategies to achieve freedom [i.e. the disability community has ADAPT, a nonviolence civil disobedience organization, and AAPD, a disability advocacy organization based in D.C. Both types of organizations are needed to make the Community Choice Act a reality.], there is also a real need to look at the way that we’ve moved away from mass mobilization to careerism. BFP leaves a lot to think about by asking why we’re surprised by Palin’s comments when movements have been ridiculing organizing and prioritized careerism.

There have also been a lot of points on the way the word community organizing has been racialized to mean something that is a threat to mainstream white dominant society. This is true. At the same time, I’m not sure that I’d want “community organizer” to be interchangeable with someone involved with the PTA, church, etc. though both technically are working for the community. Community organizing is about resistance, coming together, sustainability, interdependence— People power. It’s fair to say the GOP has community organizers but then we need to come up with some kind of word that captures the spirit of organizing and recognizes the legacy we have in folks like Malcolm X, Nadia Abou-Karr, Anita Cameron, Cesar Chavez…

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “day of blogging for community organizing

  1. Pingback: In Honor of Community Organizing | A Slant Truth

  2. Thanks for this. You’ve got me thinking now about the difference between the organizing that groups like the PTA and churches do and the more resistance-oriented organizing that I’m interested in.

    I will say this, though; in all the activism that I’ve done in my life, I’ve met some amazing activists that also happened to be priests and ministers. Rogue priests and ministers to be sure, but I’m still not willing to wholly discount organized religion as a force for serious resistance–even though I happen to be an atheist. Malcolm X was a church organizer after all.

    No, let me take that back, I’m not willing to wholly discount a spirituality-oriented activism. Yeah, I like that better. Just remembered that Malcolm’s church went after him too after he went too far.

    Anyway, sorry for thinking out loud on your blog. Thanks again for participating and being an all ’round kick ass blogger!

  3. You’d be probably be surprised at what groundwork for resistance us PTA moms can accomplish… 😉

  4. Oh, Stacey, please fix that grammar…remove one of the “be”s….it’s early here.

  5. ah you’re both right. i didn’t mean to come off like organizing that happens through churches and such isn’t important, in fact i think activism connected with spirituality is crucial.

    it has been very intriguing to watch the nc naacp chapter organize over the last two years— while nationally the org seems to be becoming irrelevant, they’ve done some tremendous organizing around a 14 point agenda here in nc. it’s always interesting to go to their rallies and see people share activism and faith.

    i suppose my main issue with this is that community organizing to me is related to justice. that can happen through PTAs (i.e. protesting inadequate school environments), churches, etc. but i don’t want to see the word used interchangeably for just anyone since it definitely has power behind it. another example of this is everything being called a movement lately.

    wonderful blogswarm kevin!! thanks for all your work on it

  6. Right, they’re definitely not interchangeable–all volunteer work can’t be called “community organizing.” It’s not WHERE you’re working in the community, but how and why. But there’s something wonderful about finding opportunities for justice work and empowerment in the least likely niches.

    (Okay, it’s afternoon now, and I think this one is more grammatical!)

  7. You point out something very worthwhile here in your blog. It is not a new idea but something you have come at from many different angles. That is, how do we create an authentic movement through community organizing that does not somehow get hijacked by fiscal concerns? The closest I’ve seen to this would be ADAPT, which relies solely on non-paid volunteers. In reality though, ADAPT is a small organization and many times perceived as a “fringe” group by the rest of the movement. How do blow up the type of organizing ADAPT does and get it to be deployed more generally? Also, can we even really say even ADAPT is separate from the non-profit industrial complex, when most of its members have “day jobs” in that arena?

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