Friday, July 20, 2007

Lucha en contra del desplasamiento en Pilsen

Miércoles 27 se empeso el foro con la marcha fue increíble . la energía que se sentía entre toda la gente de diferentes legares del país ver tantas organizaciones reunidas con diferentes mensajes
diferentes cartelones todos reunidos luchando cada organizacion por lo que creemos justo en nuestras organizaciones
fue una gran experiencia sentirme parte de este movimiento caminar y conocer a estas personas y ver que la lucha es muy grade.

Jueves 28
La origananisacion poder de san Francisco de jóvenes ablo sobre el cigarro sobre un estudio echo a los jóvenes decendientes de familias que an fumado por vastantes años y sorprendente que nuestros jóvenes empiecen a fumar tan temprana edad.

Rap derechos para todos en Colorado la primera Coalición política formada por inmigrantes.

Viernes 29
Movimiento por la justicia del varió
Un documental sobre diferentes campañas en movimiento en Colorado el comandante Marcos escucho al pueblo y abro con ellos sobre los problemas que tenemos en la frontera diferentes personas abra ron sus experiencias aquí en estados y las rosones porque an dejado a México y es por pura necesidad económica por todos los gobiernos corruptos que an robado a nuestro país Mexico.

Inmigrantes en nueva York
Las mujeres sufren de machismo bastante en esta ciudad.

La comunidad esta organizada en contra del desplazamiento teniendo una persona líder por cada edificio representando los edificios para las reuniones el líder se encarga de pasar la bos en su edificio.

Sábado 30
Leonard E. Tate, MPA, JD.
Saber cuales son los blancos
Cuales son las metas de la organizacion estudiar para saber cuales son las reglas tener aliados activos dentro de la organizacion tener oganisaciones aliadas y voluntarios tener estrategias y recursos,
Blancos aliados saber quienes son enemigos con cuanto dinero contamos en la organizacion tener un comite de reclutamiento con informacion para la comunidad
Educar y motivar a los participantes en nuestras acciones.

Para mi fue una experiencia grandiosa estar en este foro aprender de estos talleres bastante educativos para aser un trabajo mucho mas productivo en mi comunidad me ayudo mucho a ser me preguntas sobre mi posición de trabajo y como puedo asarlo mas efectivo
Mi trabajo con la comunidad
Analizo mas lo que boy aser y de que manera lo boy aser para tener un mejor resultado de mi trabajo.

Friday, July 13, 2007

intial thoughts--to be continued

Hi Third Wavers,

It has been a whirlwind experience at the social forum. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here and feel a real sense of actively participating in history-making. Prior to coming to the forum, I was extremely skeptical. I must admit that my skepticism remains, but with it is a strong sense of hopefulness. Why the skepticism? Well, as someone who is deeply committed to my community and to making the world a better place for all people now and in the future, I believe it is important to talk, think, listen, engage beyond those who are like-minded. When it comes to the “social justice movement,” I feel that we sometimes are so fed up with our current environment that we opt to disengage or fuel antagonistic relationships with deeply and innately flawed systems. We find ourselves talking about social justice to people who share our vision of justice, rather than those who don’t—and those who don’t are our obstacles. We must figure out how to dialogue with these individuals (and systems) which are as much a product of oppressive social forces as our opposition to these forces are. And, I am also mindful that we can't do this at the expense of building community and healing. Yes, there is a ongoing tension!

I am not sure where to go in this. I have these dynamic conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and members of my communities everyday—about change-making, justice, racism, sexism, misogyny, classism, professionalism/ non-profiteering, queerness, ageism. Sometimes it feels like too much! However, I experienced some real hopeful moments during the US Social Forum. Specifically, these moments were in settings that were specifically for lgbt folks and people of color.

One of the highlights for me was the Audre Lourde Project’s ‘We are the people we’ve been waiting for: LGBTST (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender) people of color organizing against violence.” In this workshop, lgbtst people came together to brainstorm on alternatives to traditional state-involved responses to violence in our communities. We held hands, remembered those we have lost to violence by police, the prison industrial complex, failing medical and social services, capitalism, family/ friends/ lovers, and homophobic, racist, transphobic, classist strangers. We built on vision of transformative justice, of real community building and support, and of taking back our streets rather than relying on systems that tend to fail us. The strength and positivity in the room was remarkable and I will carry it with me for a long time to come.

And, I believe the experience was a collective one—not just an individual one—in which we built relationships that we will utilize to move forward. As a youth worker at an LGBTQ youth center in Philadelphia, I plan to call upon my New York brothers and sisters to visit us and share the work that is being done with Philly lgbtq youth of color.

In fact, we have already started to build together. In March 2007, a friend/ loved one/ community member, Erika Keels, a 20-year-old black transwoman, was killed in Philadelphia, having received multiple injuries from being hit by a car. Police called her death an "accident". Community members are demanding that her case be investigated fully and that we are given answers by the authorities. A demonstration was organized for June 14th, 2007. The goal was to send a powerful message to the Philadelphia Police Department that we stand together to demand police accountability, justice for trans and gender non-conforming people and respect for the inherent dignity and worth of every person. (See Audre Lourde Project’s S.O.S. Collective and Transjustice Project and FIERCE responded by offering their organizing/ activism expertise and by traveling down to Philly for the march. Their presence made all the difference in our city, which has much to learn from other organizers in other states. (Thank you!)

I believe these relationships across geographical space and across-issue are essential to building a sustainable movement and community.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Building Radical Racial Solidarity: One QPOC's review of the USSF

ussf reportbacks

As I read over everyone's blog entries, I am encouraged and simultaneously saddened. I am glad to hear of the power of the experience for some, and sad that my own experience did not feel as encouraging and fruitful. Perhaps it was the cancelled flight on my way there and the night on the airport floor, or my missed flight back and 14 hour bus ride instead, but either way I am exhausted and less ready to jump up into action again.

I'll give a few critiques and feedback so then I can really focus on what worked and what I liked.

Organization V. Intentional Planning
The conference was well organized, but not well planned. There were so many workshops and many of them overlapped in discussion topics. Some people I met wanted to cancel their workshops because they had no idea so many people would be covering the topic, others were cancelled because there were not enough participants. It would have been more beneficial (though harder and more complicated in terms of prearranging agreements, organizations making contact pre conference) to have more panels and co –lead workshops. I understand that this is more difficult for facilitation, but it would have added a huge networking element that was lacking. Organizations would not necessarily have to agree or run a meeting together, but for the non-interactive and more informative type workshops it would have added a large coalition building element to the conference.

"For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." -audre lorde
I heard that the Starbucks in the Westin Hotel lobby broke its sales record two days in a row during the conference!! Hearing the discussions around anti capitalist perspectives, it was shocking for corporations to have such a large presence at the USSF. I understand that they were willing to give discounts, as well as individuals have specific needs for lodging, but I saw little money going into the local economy. Perhaps the conference could have been partially held in hotel conference rooms, and additional space could have been rented from local businesses, churches, community establishments. At the Civic Center, there were only four or five food vendors that consistently sold out of goods, this would be another opportunity to support Atlanta.

The Plenaries

By far the best: diverse panelists, well spoken and prepared, relevant and on point topics. Yes, Andrea Smith rocked (as she always does) and so did many others. What I was most impressed by was the woman who spoke at the end of "Gulf Coast Reconstruction in the Post- Katrina Era." 62 years old, born and raised NO, activist, feminist, self empowered black woman- what she said was more concise than any feedback I have heard or read on NO: 'Stop analyzing me, guessing and assuming what I need, and coming to help me.' I remember her powerful voice resonating through the Civic Center as she REFUSED to give up the mic "Don't come to New Orleans! Don't come to New Orleans!" This woman had a reason and a voice worth listening to, her demand that white people deal with racism in their own communities speaks to what many people are afraid to say and admit to after Katrina: It's glamorous to travel and think that you are saving someone. It’s a lot less glamorous to deal with it in your home and realize that you are systematically dominating and destroying people of color.

Workshops Schedule Reportbacks

Session 2
Harm Reduction and Transformative Justice, Part 2: Young Women's Empowerment Project
cancelled due to no show (another Harm Reduction Workshop happening in another hotel same time)

Organizing w/ Imprisoned Domestic Violence Survivors for Freedom, Justice, Healing:
Legal Services fore Prisoners with Children

I stopped into:
Stopping the Rail to Jail: the US' Addiction to Incarcerating Youth of Color: the community Justice Network for Youth

Session 3
From Alternative Sentencing to Transformative Justice: Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project
the TGI Project gave a briefing of the work they are doing as Trans people in the Bay Area. Very overworked, I was impressed to hear of the negotiations they are able to achieve in alternative sentencing., mainly through their lawyer, Alex Lee. They found that bracelets (home stays), rehab programs, and aftercare programs are most helpful for actually reintegrating after incarceration. They create awareness and demand visibility by holding Trans 101 trainings in local community center, police stations, etc.

"The TGI Justice Project serving the Transgender, Gender Variant, Gender Queer and Intersex Communities through: Breaking Cycles of Poverty and Prison. Helping TGI people avoid prison by connecting them to social and economic services that address the root causes of poverty. Community Organizing and Leadership Development: Supporting the leadership development and capacity building of the TGI communities to become leaders in the movement to protect human rights of prisoners, and to build a truly just and safe world with no need for prisons."

I stopped into:
Immigrant Youth Organizing Against Enforcement in School: DRUM Desis Rising Up and Moving
I already knew DRUM rocked. I was even more impressed by the youth movement within DRUM, self empowered and well spoken. They are working hard to create spaces and programs that address the threat of violence against young Desis and simultaneously analyzing/ dismantling the US' obsession with violence.

Session 1
Another Politics is Possible
Alliance between and members from: Catalyst Project, Sista ii Sista, Center for Immigrant Families, Garment Workers Center (LA), Coalition of Immokalee Workers
A well- facilitated discussion with these groups, it would have been nice for more of the USSF workshops to focus on this kind of coalition building!

How do you practice leadership development when you are trying to implement a horizontal structure and politics?
Many people say that non- heirarchy collective sounds good, but they ask: is it efficient? Is it more of a luxury for folks who aren't experiencing immediate oppression and perhaps have more time?

How do you understand the idea of 'intersectionality' and the way it relates to your work? How do you practice it and build it into how you resist?

Living the Vision
When and how do you decide to make demands of and organize against dominant institutions, or build an alternative to that institution?
When you say a principle is "living the vision" what do you mean by this, how do you practice it and what are the challenges in this practice?

Larger Social transformation:
Given this 'others politics' that people are talking about, how does this change the methods of work: campaign, organizational strategy? How does it change the way you think about broader social transformation?
What's the relationship of some of the politics we are trying to articulate an the broad revolutionary theories of socialism, anarchism, etc...

Session 2
Surviving Desire: QPOC talking love, sexuality, and our Cultural Legacies: Mangoes with Chili
This looked awesome, but I never found anyone there and I think it got cancelled. There was another workshop going on at the same time"HomoHop: Queer Hip Hop Artists Talk Back" and I know a few people who were torn on which to go to. (Just another e.g. of too many workshops)

Making Another RURAL World Possible: Strategies for Rural Movement Building: Rural Organizing Project, Alliance for Excluded Communities
What are we good at? What are our strengths?
community building, personal relationships, direct communication, long term presence (look for e neighbor after 20 years and you can still find them)

Where do we need help?
difficulty in contact, geographical distance between neighbors, lack of access to communication modes, keeping youth engaged and involved, offering options to youth movements even when we are not in urban areas, engaging in dialogue/ asking for what we need from urban folks

The people in this workshop seemed dedicated to leadership development and grassroots work. I still have questions as to accountability (see questions below), especially in rural spaces where there is less visibility and awareness.

"ROP: Strengthening the skills, resources, and visions of primary leadership in local autonomous human dignity groups with the goal of keeping such groups a vibrant source of democracy."

What I want/ What I have to give to continue rural organizing:
What I need personally, and it is a need for me to continue this work, is similar to what many people have said about finding the coalitions in the racial divide, figuring out how to make people of color and our organization more visible. What I need in that struggle in building alliances with white allies, is an ability to have humility around the issues. Many people in this workshop expressed the same desire to have those alliances, but it requires a strong anti racist intention and call for accountability than can be damaging and hurtful. What it requires, from all perspectives, is an ability (and space) to make mistakes, be wrong, and humble, and the commitment to continue past 'conflict.'
I can bring my own willingness to learn and softening of my own ego, as I try to learn about my own feelings, and find constructive ways to express them.

Session 3
Sexuality and the Left: Queering the Public: NYMAA/ RHA
Thanks to the folks from Tran justice at the Audre Lorde Project who spoke up as participants in this workshop. There was so much assumed knowledge/ unrecognized privilege I couldn't believe it. THIS IS NOT ABOUT FINDING WHAT STRUGGLE IS MORE IMPORTANT OR WHO IS MORE OPPRESSED. THIS WORK IS ABOUT RECOGNIZING PRIVILEDGE, DIFFERENCES, AND SIMILAR SUFFERINGS AND SEEING WHERE WE CAN CREATE ALLIANCES TO BUILD "OTRO MUNO POLITICO." It is unfair and undermines our projects to try to define some else's experience. If someone who is queer experiences violence, whether or not we think it is 'real violence' it is up to us as allies, to support them in their struggle. If a survivor of domestic violence feels fear when in the presence of those who identify as men, is it up to as allies to support them, not by 'protecting them from all who identity as men' but by creating spaces where their voice is heard, while simultaneously challenging what their assumptions about gender norms may be. But it has to be in a supportive environment. It is not helpful to a sustainable movement to tell someone who is oppressed that their situation is 'wrong' or 'imagined.' All oppressed peoples need relationships of trust to speak our fears and also be challenged. That’s all the comments I have on this workshop.

Session 1
Organizing in the Shadow of Slavery: Domestic, Farm, and Low Wage Workers in the South: Domestic Workers United

Another awesome and inspiring panel. The first ever alliance of domestic workers was formed over the USSF. This panel, made up of immigrants and people of color, made it clear how, while marginalized groups needs support and resources, they do not need guidance and leadership development. Each panelist was inspiring and self determined.

Session 2
Organizing Community Accountability in Communities of Color: Communities Against Rape and Abuse (CARA), Sista II Sista
Alisa, Sandra, Priscilla, I knew you all rocked, but thanks even more for this. There was an opportunity for discussion on "agree/ disagree/ not sure" on statements about community accountability. What I recognized the most was the need for accountability to start BEFORE an act of violence within a community, and while an assault or specific instance can be a catalyst, it is also a reflection on work that can happen independently of an act of violence, i.e. stronger community ties, more transparent communication.
We then broke out into smaller groups to discuss different scenarios. There was not enough time in this session to discuss specific strategies.

What was most apparent about this workshop was they need for people of color to come together and talk about violence in our communities. This is what struck me in a very personal way: that most of the focus of my life, thoughts, writings, organizing, jobs, and work has been with building relationships with other people of color, sharing similarities and differences, and learning from one another.

Challenging White Supremacy
As we left this workshop, someone had posted (under our posting "people of color only")

"Is this racist?"

It was aggravating for some. It made me sad to know that some people have not considered the need for self determination for people of color, even though SO MUCH of the topics surrounding USSF are about racism in the US post Katrina.

One of the responses was "If women want to have a place outside of patriarchic spaces to talk, is that sexist? Think about it."

Why do we have to still use feminism as the analogy just to get people to see inequality of race issues? Sad.

Session 3
Trans Feminism: SOUL (The School of Unity and Liberation)
Done in a popular education format, we started by charting a herstory of trans people before and after the arrival or the conquistadors. It was fascinating to learn about the largely unwritten herstory of trans and gender variant peoples, as well as see how much knowledge was in the room. From here the facilitators directed us with a few questions that asked us to challenge the role of capitalism in Tran justice issues: "naturalism" as a system to justify power in sexism and racism. We looked at the gender binary roles in the working world (sexual division of labor), discussed where gender variant and non conforming people systematically end up (sex work, the underground, unemployment – 70%, or working for liberal non profits), what gv&nc people face when they do not conform (violence, prison ic, police brutality, deportation) and what are the resources needed for trans people who want to pass ( money, documentation, citizenship). We then broke out into groups to discuss the situation for the future, how to move forward in the struggle for Tran justice.

Here are the groups I am interested in learning more about, if anyone has info and feedback:
Women of Color Resource Center
Young Women's Empowerment Project
Make the Road by Walking
Project South
Here are questions I came away with:

ACCOUNTABILITY- What does it mean and how and where do we find it? How do we hold ourselves and others accountable? Specifically:

What is the power dynamic in organizing with immigrant communities/ undocumented workers/ citizens of the US? I heard some groups talking about the valuable alliances they were creating with local immigrant groups in their 'communities' but how are the actions of these groups, how are the leaders held accountable when there is such a strong element of fear, assimilation, inherent power by the informed structure of US immigration? I did hear organizations speak of leadership development, issue identification, building from grassroots, but even with these ideological values, who is there to check to power system?

With allies: I heard people ask for feedback on the Tran justice workshop. I also saw people address themselves as "white allies" or "anti racists" in the struggle. But what does it really mean to have relationships across race of accountability? I know we WANT it, but what does it look like and what are the power dynamics that we struggle with (because there WILL be some when those who benefit from white privilege want to build solidarity with POC)? How do we form these alliances, especially when the role of POC is not to be educators?

My answer to these questions is to continue to build movements and relationships with other POC. An ally once said to me that he could do the work of anti racist organizing, but he needed to know that we are working towards the goal of working together. My answer to that is I am less concerned with trying to structure a movement to build with allies, and am more focused on self determination, and in this struggle, if my vision for a better and alternative world meets someone else's vision, I hope that we have the respect, common language, and some knowledge with which to build together, not in a glamorous pilgrimage to the gulf coast or the 'global south,' but in a way that requires building and dealing with the ugly at home, in your own neighborhood of mistakes.

USSF photos!

The opening ceremonies

Paulina Hernández of SONG welcomes queer and trans folks to the USSF

Jessica gives a speech at the Ms. Foundation breakfast

Third Wave staff and scholarship recipients

Monique, Tara, Vanessa, Jessica and Shanina

Mia and Asani

Tara, Andrea and La'Tasha

The Jobs With Justice 20 year anniversary party

The NAPAWF workshop on building API community.

Kids welcome us to the Gender and Sexuality Plenary!

The Sexuality and Gender Panelists

You can view the entire album here!

How to move forward…

This week at the USSF, I have been inspired, rejuvenated, and challenged. Amidst all of the energy and excitement, I have also been really reflective. There is amazing work being done all over the country and this has really got me thinking about how to move forward with my own work. But at this moment, I feel very exhausted. I feel a mixture of: 1) I want to sleep for a week straight and 2) when I get back to my office I am gonna be working around the clock to kick some ass!

But before I can move forward full force, I really feel that I need to have a deeper understanding the history of activism in the Asian women's community. In order to know where we will go, we have to know where we've come from, right? I helped facilitate a workshop on building a movement of justice and power among Asian & Pacific Islander women and girls. In this workshop, we talked about our history of activism and created a timeline that listed how much women in our community have done in the social justice movement - but it has not been recorded or recognized. There is a stereotype that API women are quiet and don't cause a stir. But we are fierce sisters! This has really encouraged me and my fierce sisters to create a timeline that honors the work our API sisters have done and to incorporate it in NAPAWF's training curriculum.

The Power of Gender & Sexuality

I found the plenary on gender & sexuality to be the most powerful, most passionate, and most radical plenary of all those I attended. Leaving the Civic Center, I felt challenged and inspired. Andrea Smith was incredible – her closing remark absolutely rocked the entire Civic Center: "If another world is possible, why is the US necessary?" Her words on colonialism & militarism, and their impacts on women, is so critical in this movement against neoliberalism. I appreciated Loretta Ross's critique on how we hurt ourselves by creating schisms between us, fighting for "ownership" of an issue, and re-creating systems of patriarchy and oppression in the movement. I found it to be real and she spoke truth to power. I think it's easy for us to say that we want and need to work together on whatever issue we work on, but it's not always that easy. And Mia Mingus was absolutely amazing! Her experience as a queer woman of color with a disability really underscored the fact that all of our struggles are interconnected – we cannot address one without touching on the other.

In thinking about the political landscape and the state of this capitalist world, I can't even imagine how much work it will require to counter this pervasive neoliberalist regime. But what inspires me the most is thinking about all of the great connections I have made this past week and hearing such powerful stories. In getting to know people on a personal level, I was also able to connect with their spirit for truth, peace, and justice. That was really powerful for me.

It will be a challenge to push ourselves outside of our little world and remember to stay connected to others and to the broader social justice movement – but we have to in order to create another world.

--Liezl Rebugio

home sweet home

Well I am finally home and I must say that I am very tired. Emotionally, physically, and mentally. this has been an event.i have never felt so empowered in my life until I was able to be apart of the social form. It gave me a chance to see things more clear than before. Ia actually got grateful because after seeing some of the injustices take place in different states and countries, I had to be grateful that although my situation is not the best that it could be worst. This movement really pushed me to ant to get involved more and be of service. I learned that it is not what color but what amount of blood, and tears has been shed because of persecution being inflicted on by our government. And sometimes the worst of a situation can bring a mass together in the name of justice, in order to make things better for the present and future. What really was awesome was the fact that it was very peaceful no one was rowdy, no one got into fights, which is what I am used being from south central LA where if people come together some one is going to fight.Once I arrived home I was very eager to share my experiences with my friends and love ones. I made sure that they understood that although life may not go right and things may seem a mess that there is always someone going through something much worst, and to be happy to just live and be free, because for some reason freedom is a gift and not a right. Thank u third wave foundation---Mia and Jessica for allowing me to be apart of this.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Farewell lessons

I wanted to share one of the most memorable workshops that I attended. The Young Women’s Empowerment Project impressed upon me the amazing work that our underserved youth have the potential to create. This group of dedicated young women affected by the sex trade and street economy, have persisted in their dedication to not only educate themselves about the intersectionality of their experience, but also to find innovative, effective, and desperately needed methods for keeping other young women safe as well. I learned so much. I learned so much, the young women were really able to articulate and break down how the state creates the situations that young women everywhere are trying to escape.

At the forum, there were posters being sold that said:

Never doubt that a small group
of thoughtful committed citizens
can change the world

Indeed it's the only thing
that ever has

I thought this quote was amazingly relevant to the USSF. Here, were people from all over the world that are seeking much needed change. I was impressed, motivated, inspired at the sight of the waves of people there to learn how to make change more effectively. We may be that small group of citizens, but our “we” must also include the mothers, young people, elderly, low income, immigrant, and other faces that were lacking at the forum: “we” must also include the communities from which we come.

The conversation, I hope, will not stop here. I hope that the tools we gained here, the work we have done, the connections that we have made, will be shared with those who were not able to be here. We ARE the people that we are trying to help. I know for me, this experience, was not just for me, but for everyone in my community. I see it as my personal mission to share what I have learned; each one teach one.

And that was just one workshop! Farewell my United States Social Forum. Its been real, its been fun, its been real fun.

Closing thoughts...

Wow, today was exhausting. I made myself get up in time for the closing People's Assembly and was impressed by how many different organizations, came to the stage to voice their future plans of how they intended to continue with the movement in their state. It was such a shame that in the midst of all of these positive affirmations, miscommunication and ego's of key leaders almost threatened to override the closing ceremony.

It is impressive that this event and all that it stands for has taken place in America, it is impressive that the organizers were able to successfully bring together so many different non-profit organizations and communities in one city for a five day social forum.

In summery, one of the final thoughts I will leave with from this forum (as one organizer said during the closing ceremony) We are not here to have a competition of who's issues/injustices are more important than anothers. We should respect one another's points of views and give them the space to be aired. We are not the enemy...we should work together to make sure this movement succeeds.

La Lucha Sigue!

Esto fue un espacio transformativo.
Un espacio de reflexion pero mas importante un espacio de aprendizaje para seguir luchando y avanzando!
Para mi en lo personal fue un momento de regresar con mas animo y sabiduria necesaria para poder tener los mecanismos necesarios para seguir luchando por un mundo justo!

La Lucha Sigue Sigue!!! Y es lo que tiene que seguir para que si podramos tener un mundo mejor!
The fight must continue!


En la Lucha que si se puede se debe!

It does not stop here...

I had a fun time learning... exploring.. and growing in the social justice movement. It was great meeting folks and also building connection to enhance what things I can do to expand the non-profit work that I do. I am so glad that IT DOESN'T STOP HERE @ THE FORUM...

Alot of time...I find organizers gathering so much information @ conferences but never utilize it and wonder why they are frustrated with their work. It is very important that we do not become stuck in time in our social justice work but forever growing, expanding, learning, listening, building leadership in the community and empowering the people/community we work with that THEY CAN DO IT.... It is SOOOO important to stay updated on your issues and solutions that can help your community... such conferences as the USSF is important to stay educated and not become distress and burnout.

Some Personal reflections from the conference...

1. Surround yourself with people who care and love you inspite of your faults.
2. Stay encourage!!!
3. Be committed
4. It is easier to say "I can't do it" but more beneficial if "I can do it"..
5. Stop complaining... and be apart of the solution...
6. To give wholeheartedly
7. Keep your word and be accountable for your actions

This has been a pleasure... Folks please keep in touch...

Cell: 510-978-8007

“We can do it, yes we can! We’re the People’s Freedom Caravan!”

As I wind down from a very long and hot day of doing water ceremony and danza at the Forum, I’m finally able to be in a space to sit quietly, coffee and chocolate by my side, and reflect on the many experiences I’ve had, and the many people I’ve met, since leaving San Antonio last Sunday.

Our delegation came as part of the “People’s Freedom Caravan”, which took off from Albuquerque, New Mexico, going through San Antonio, Houston, Lake Charles, New Orleans, Jackson, Selma, and finally arriving in Atlanta just in time to join the opening march of the USSF. In each of the cities our caravan stopped, we had the honor of meeting amazing, dedicated, warm people who are working hard to make real their vision of justice and dignity for their communities.

I think the two places that had the deepest impact on me were New Orleans and Jackson, Mississippi. I had never been to New Orleans before, and what I saw there, especially in the Lower 9th Ward, was a mixture of both pain and sadness, but also an intense tenacity for life. We saw the depth of the impact of the flood in the Lower 9th, acres and acres of land where houses used to be, the concrete slabs of the foundation all that now remains. After driving through the neighborhood and seeing the empty lots, empty houses, we visited an organization called NENA which is trying to tend to the needs of the residents. On one wall, they have a map of the neighborhood on which they identify with green dots the people they’ve contacted who have expressed the desire to keep their land and fix or rebuild their homes. As much pain as is present is matched with a deep commitment to the neighborhood and the desire of residents to just Come Back Home.

In Jackson, Mississippi, we met with Southern Echo and went on a Civil Rights Movement Tour of the city. I was inspired by the strength of the residents in keeping the stories of the Civil Rights Era alive, keeping that history alive, sharing it with us, the younger generation so that we may someday share it with generations to come, so those names will not be forgotten, so those deaths will not go unpunished. This is also something that we use in Mexico and all over Latin America, naming the dead, naming the disappeared, giving them a face and a story so that they and what happened to them is not forgotten, so that it will never be repeated again.

El pueblo vive! La Lucha sigue!

Well, it is now the last day of the USSF, and I cannot believe that the event that I had me wondering, stressed and filled with anticipation over the last year or so is at an end. I was in Venezuela for the World Social Forum in February 2006, and one of the resolution that came from there was to carry out a US Social Forum. I was so excited at the prospect of having the kind of revolutionary energy present in Chavez-led Venezuela in Bush-dominated United States, and wondering what that would even begin to look like.

For me the USSF experience began months ago when we started prepping with our members who where going to the USSF. We had a series of meetings to talk about goals, expectations, and about the history of Black people in the South. We fed off each other's excitement and were ready to experience the USSF in whatever form it arrived. We felt much more informed and prepared for the USSF, since SPHC is on the National Planning Committee.

When we arrived in Atlanta, we immediately began seeing people who were also going to the USSF. I has a feeling of deja vu from the world social forum where people were also arriving in droves into the Caracas airport. We immediately noticed one stark difference from San Francisco; the majority of the working class and the service sector in Atlanta is African American, whereas in San Francisco it is Asian or Latino immigrants. Our delegation, which is composed of Latino immigrant, was impacted to see that some of the very same conditions that they work under in SF are the same conditions working class African American communities are also working under. In SF, de-industralization has taken out the strong blue collar sector that thrived in the 40's, leaving vast unemployment in the African American community. At the same time, a large immigrant population has been funneled into the service industry, where the pay is low, the benefits are non existant, and the conditions are exploitive.

We settled into our hotel, tired, but also filled with anticipation for the days ahead. Part 2: the USSF begins next!