The Purpose of Power - Alicia Garza - Wow!

 THE PURPOSE OF POWER: How We Come Together When We Fall  Apart: - Alicia Garza's description of how one should build a movement, is an incredibly well written book!   She uses examples from her organizing work in Bayview Hunters Point (in San Francisco) and in her co-founding of Black Lives Matter in making very clear a lot about what one should and should not do.    Garza knows her history very well and explains things most clearly.

Examples of her words include:

By the early 1970s, two new trends were unfolding within the conservative movement : the new right (which included the Christian or religious right) and the neoconservatives ,,,

They come together on things they can agree on in the interest of building and maintaining power.  This has been key to the right's success and key to its survival. ,,,

The new right wanted to cast a wider net, beyond its base of southern segregationists and economic elites, in order to expand its reach and influence into more sectors of society. (p.14-15)

This put church leaders in position to helm movements for social change, starting with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the SCLC... The two nationally recognized movement leaders who followed the civil rights movement were, for all their differences, cut from the same cloth: the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

In the early days of the Ferguson rebellion, both Jackson and Sharpton arrived in the community to do what they'd become accustomed to doing- showing up at the site of a crisis or tragedy, articulating a set of demands while visibly supporting surviving family and community members, and in cases where the situation was particularly dire, leading a march with other faith leaders and community  members.

Ferguson deposed traditional Black leadership in an epic takedown.  Jackson and Sharpton weren't deposed because they were leaders - they were deposed because of the kind of leadership they tried to exert.

While some of Michael Brown's family welcomed the support of the two clergymen, other friends of Brown and community members in Ferguson rejected it.  Perhaps no one was more publicly criticized than Jackson, who arrived in Ferguson to a community angry and traumatized by the police's aggressive military-scale response to protests.  Jackson gather a crowd and asked for donations - for the church.  Jackson was booed out of Ferguson, not to return.  Similarly, though Sharpton befriended Brown's parents, he was widely criticized for his role in the  Ferguson protests- namely, encouraging residents to calm down and vote.  

... While Sharpton denounced "bad apples" inside the Ferguson Police Department, local protesters went much further: They made the connection between police tactics during the protests - attacking and penning in the community with military-grade weapons - and the predatory policing practices that created the need for the protests. (p.131-132)

In rejecting Jackson and Sharpton's approach and Higginbotham's respectability politics, the Ferguson rebellion marked a major shift, a moment when Black protestors stopped giving a f**k about what white people or "respectable" Black people thought about their uprising. (p.133)

Black people did not have to wear their Sunday best to be considered worthy of respect, dignity, and humanity. (p.134)

Most of my adult life, I have been actively engaged in building a movement in this country that transforms everything -  a movement that transforms our economy from one that provides profit for some and pain for others; a movement that advances collaboration at home and cooperation around the world that is fair, just, and generative; a movement that upholds our right to participate in every decision that has an impact on our lives and the lives of the people we care for; a movement that brings out the best of who we can be, alone and together. (p.135) 

Many believe that change happens because a few extraordinary people suddenly and miraculously mobilize millions - rather than through sustained participation and commitment with millions of people over a period of time, sometimes generations . (p.142)

Another way to think about that is to be intentional about decentering the experiences of white people as the experience of everyone.  Just like Band-Aids that say "flesh-colored" actually mean flesh-colored for white people, feminism that centers only on the experiences of white women is a feminism that will continue to leave out all other women. (p.206-207)

Many people are uncomfortable with popular fronts because they are afraid that working with their opponents will dilute their own politics.  I agree that popular fronts without united fronts are dangerous for this exact reason - without an anchor, with clarity about what you stand for and who you are accountable to, it can be difficult to maintain the integrity and clarity when working with people who do not share your values and vision. (p.238-239)

Alicia Garza is trying to build a movement that will transform our worlds in many important ways!   She makes a great case for all that she believes in!  Her words are well worth hearing!


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