[sixties-l] Fwd: Where was the Color at A16 in D.C.?

From: radman (resist@best.com)
Date: Sun Jun 18 2000 - 01:03:23 CUT

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    radman pull quote:

    "The generation of activists of color who
    participated in the anti-imperialist struggles during the 1960s and
    1970s could provide a key link between the past and the present."

    >Below is an advance copy of "Where was the Color at A16 in D.C.?" by
    >Colin Rajah, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of ColorLines, a
    >national magazine of Race, Culture and Action. The article is a
    >follow-up on the ColorLines article written by Elizabeth Martinez about
    >racial issues at the WTO protests in Seattle last year.
    >The new issue of ColorLines will be available in early August. It
    >features a special section on welfare organizing, which is heating up as
    >reauthorization of the new system comes before Congress in 2001. The
    >issue also presents the keynote speech of Angela Davis at the historic
    >Color of Violence: Violence Against Women of Color conference held at
    >the University of California at Santa Cruz on April 28 and 29, as well
    >as a report on the conference itself.
    >Subscriptions to ColorLines are $16 per year (four issues) and may be
    >obtained from our website, http://www.colorlines.com or at 510.653.3415.
    >Where Was the Color at A16 in D.C.?
    >By Colin Rajah , director of programs at JustAct.
    >Last year's World Trade Organization (WTO) shutdown in Seattle was a
    >historic moment for the growing U.S. movement against corporate
    >globalization. However, the Seattle actions, dazzling as they were, also
    >cast a spotlight on serious issues of race within that movement.
    >After Seattle, the movement set its sights on mobilizing for the annual
    >Spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)
    >in Washington, D.C. this past April 16. Known as A16, these actions were
    >also hugely successful. Although they did not completely shut down the
    >meetings, the actions mobilized some 20,000 participants, gathered major
    >national and international attention, and sustained the momentum of the
    >anti-corporate globalization movement.
    >Lingering Whiteness
    >Yet the whiteness of the movement remained a thorny issue at A16. While
    >Seattle is a relatively white location, D.C. promised a far better
    >opportunity to mobilize people of color: its majority African American
    >population has a long history of international action and other large
    >East Coast populations of color are nearby.
    >Indeed, a significant number of people of color participated in the D.C.
    >actions, as they had in Seattle. Still, A16 was probably proportionately
    >even whiter--and, since labor departed early--younger than the WTO
    >protests. "A16 was indeed a sea of white," comments Eric Tang of Third
    >World Within (TWW) of New York City.
    >After the racial critique emerged in Seattle and was substantially
    >analyzed by Betita Martinez's widely circulated ColorLines article,
    >"Where Was the Color in Seattle?," various attempts were made to
    >mobilize people of color to DC. The Mobilization for Global Justice, the
    >central initiating and organizing coalition for A16, hired Asantewaa
    >Nkrumah-Ture, specifically to do outreach to black communities in D.C.
    >"The outreach we did was never `affirmative action.' We answered
    >questions, provided information, and asked for participation. To that
    >extent, we did a very good job and we planted seeds that will bear fruit
    >in the future," Nkrumah-Ture says.
    >Paternalistic Greetings
    >Nonetheless, the D.C. mobilization of color was thin. Damu Smith,
    >coordinator of the National Black Environmental and Economic Justice
    >Coordinating Committee and a veteran D.C. international solidarity
    >activist, says that he "was only approached to pass on contacts." Given
    >the meager interest in issues affecting people of color shown by A16
    >leaders, "I could not drop my ongoing campaigns and plunge myself into
    >A16. Black and Latino leaders were not even asked to speak at the main
    >events, let alone to really help lead the actions."
    >Luis Sanchez from Youth Organizing Communities (YOC) and Los Angeles
    >Direct Action Network (DAN) describes the weak understanding of some
    >white activists of how to create multi-racial solidarity. "If you go to
    >a DAN meeting and ask, `Why aren't there people of color here?' they
    >just say, `We should recruit more,' and that's it."
    >Eric Tang recounts how the TWW contingent was constantly greeted with
    >white paternalism. "The best they could say was `Yes! This is what
    >democracy looks like!' Given how white-dominated the scene was, this was
    >deeply insulting to all of us, as if the Third World people in our group
    >were some sort of mere add-on to a struggle being waged by radical white
    >college kids and the environmental movement."
    >The JustAct youth delegation and Third World Within (TWW) were among the
    >larger organized groups of color at A16. The JustAct delegation included
    >groups from around the country, such as Youth Organizing Communities of
    >Southern California, Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM) from New
    >York, the Brown Collective of Seattle, the Next Movement of Boston, and
    >the School of Unity and Liberation and Students for Justice of the San
    >Francisco/San Jose area. The TWW contingent was from New York City and
    >included people from the Audre Lourde Center, the Committee Against
    >Anti-Asian Violence, the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights,
    >Youth Force, the New York Metro Black Radical Congress, and others.
    >A Rallying Point
    >Both JustAct and TWW's organizing efforts began with people already
    >active within their own communities who led their respective
    >mobilizations. From there, both organizations invested time, energy, and
    >resources to develop an analysis and organizing workshops that were
    >relevant to communities of color. They also made sure that their
    >respective delegations were provided with resources to get to D.C. and
    >housed adequately.
    >Once in D.C., Mark Rand of JustAct says, "We tried to create space for
    >leadership of communities of color to be exercised within the larger
    >mobilizations." Organizers Jia Ching Chen and Edget Betru convinced St.
    >James Church in D.C. to house 70 youth of color, and to allow the church
    >building to be used as a meeting place, staging area, and strategizing
    >center throughout A16. Hop Hopkins of the Brown Collective says, "You
    >know, in Seattle, the biggest thing was, `Where are the other people of
    >color?' Here in D.C., we all know we're right here in the basement of
    >this church. Democracy is what we're doing right here."
    >Emory Smith of the Nhia Project believes that people of color in D.C.
    >"were able to make a statement to America, to the world, that youth of
    >color are concerned about how globalization is happening."
    >The welcoming atmosphere at St. James Church was absent elsewhere. Irene
    >Tung, a member of the Young Communist League who helped organize a Brown
    >University contingent to D.C. says, "There was definitely an insider's
    >culture at A16, especially at the convergence spaces. There was a
    >vocabulary and behavior, an assumed cultural commonality, that was
    >somewhat eerie. It seems that the ideals of absence of leadership and
    >`facilitated chaos'--as they say--function best in a homogenous group."
    >While this movement continues to grow and mobilize this summer for
    >actions at the Democratic and Republican conventions in Los Angeles and
    >Philadelphia, the racial divide needs to be addressed appropriately if
    >the movement is to have legitimacy and broad, lasting impact. Kim
    >Fellner of the National Organizers Alliance argues that, "At this point,
    >there is a need to reorganize power and control in the movement. To say
    >`Come in and be included' is different than `We're turning over
    >co-ownership of this organization.' I think the attitude of ownership
    >instead of mere inclusion is critical."
    >Denise Gaberman of Paper Tiger TV adds that DAN and other organizations
    >could learn from "talking with" rather than "talking to" leaders of
    >color. "Why is DAN not asking older people of color for knowledge and
    >experience?" Eric Tang agrees. "The generation of activists of color who
    >participated in the anti-imperialist struggles during the 1960s and
    >1970s could provide a key link between the past and the present."
    >Luis Sanchez suggests that this responsibility works both ways. "As
    >people of color, we also have to bring these issues back to our
    >communities. It's not just how white organizers deal with us, but at the
    >same time, internally how we deal with educating our own people."
    >Similarly, Tang says, "Raising criticism from the sidelines doesn't get
    >us anywhere. We have to take this work upon ourselves."
    >According to Sanchez, DAN-LA is the only regional DAN group that has a
    >significant number of organizers of color. DAN-LA will be the principal
    >coordinator of the actions at the Democratic National Convention (also
    >called DNC or D2K) in August. Sanchez sees this as an opportunity to
    >finally have leaders of color in the center of the mobilization. "There
    >is definitely a call out there," says Jasmin De La Rosa, coordinator of
    >the Third Eye Movement, which is organizing hip-hop activists and other
    >high-school youth to participate in L.A.
    >Sadiqa Yancey of the Next Movement argues, "We need to recognize that
    >this is affecting us. We need to recognize that we're not an island in
    >the cities, in the U.S. These types of things are happening to people
    >all across the world and it's unbelievable what they're doing to our
    >Copyright 2000, ColorLines Magazine.
    >The nation's leading magazine on race, culture, and organizing

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