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."
>**FEEL FREE TO POST**
>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.
>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.
>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
>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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