Friday, June 29, 2007

"be honest with yourselves"

it's kind of surreal.

i can't really totally explain how beautiful it was for me when i first walked into the civic center. i had gotten off the MARTA (which is a beauty compared to the NYC transit system!) and was wondering lost around finding my hotel. after gathering myself together, i walked over to the center and was just mezmerized (sp??) with the sight of it. thousands and i mean THOUSANDS of peoples from all around---LGBTQ activists, human rights activists, kids!, clowns, dancers, Katrina victims, indigenous activists, labor activists, my fellow students....all together. it was an unforgettable sight.

after meeting up with old friends and making new ones, i spent most of the day preparing for my workshop on "intergenerational organizing and the new SDS." i was really nervous, not really quite sure what the turnout would be....and Ashanti Alston was going to be on the panel too!! Betita Martinez was going to be originally on the panel (!!), but complications arose with her flight. in any case, the workshop was AMAZING, much better than i had expected or imagined. it was composed of myself, ashanti (anarchist panther, estacion libra, black liberation army), bob wing (founder of COLORLINES magazines, co-founder of UFPJ), david metz (direct action anti-nuclear activist), madeline garber (SDS, war resisters league), and josh russell (one of the most amazing young activists i have ever met---for real---Rain Forest Action Network and SDS). basically, us SDSers talked about the challenges and successes of organizing with older folks, esp. with SDS's longstanding and complicated history. bob, david, and ashanti had some really enlightening things to say (afterall, they've been all), and really pushed us to think critically about not only our own organizing ("be honest with yourselves....all the time" bob) and also with making sure us young folks make autonomy for ourselves ("you gotta make room for yourselves. breathing space" ashanti), and we need to work to make those relationships horizontal ("there's a difference between being a LEADER [authoritarian] and LEADERSHIP....we need the latter" david). it was an honor to be in the room with these veterans of past movements.

i also went to another workshop on colombian trade activists....this issue means a lot to me since my aunt (and godmother) is a coffee union organizer in Colombia (where according to a United Steel Workers' census in 2000, 60% of the union organizers are killed a year). i was really inspired by this one man, german, who was an afro-colombian organizer working against the recent biofuel struggle in colombia....

soon i will be heading to another workshop---on immigrant rights. then one on student organizing.

i guess...i am kind of overwhelmed. but in a really, really, really good way.

i guess i'm just really, really happy to be here.

being honest with myself.

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