Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Of organized truth, the Jena6, and immigrant rights

From Echolandia and Youth Media Council:

Published on: September 22, 2007
Published by: karlos schmieder

We've been kicking around a quote at the YMC office since the POWER 10th Anniversary, em(Power)ed. Minister Christopher Mohamed, the keynote, came real.

He said, "Truth is essential, but it is, of itself, insufficient. Because disorganized truth can be overcome by an organized lie.”

I mean, he said a bunch of other deep shit.

This quote really struck a cord at YMC.

I thought a lot about it as I watched the Jena 6 coverage on CNN.

I have to say, the demonstration was beautiful. I wish I had gotten it together to get there.

Yet I heard CNN anchors gush all day that it was "the biggest civil rights demonstration in a generation."

Just so we're clear. The Jena6 demos WERE NOT the biggest civil rights demonstrations in a generation. The biggest were, of course, the May 1st marches for the civil rights of immigrants the past couple of years.

Now, the question isn't which were bigger. The question is how we connect these movements.

Race and civil rights are once again becoming central to the political debate in the United States. Unequal justice is a familiar theme.

Whether it's the immigration debate, Katrina, Jena6, education, health care...whatever.

And we've seen these major diverse and different gatherings of marginalized peoples.

* The May 1st demonstrations
* The United States Social Forum, and all the regional forums leading into it
* Jena 6

Yet none have truly been connected. Yes, there's been an effort. It's not as if people aren't doing stuff. The US Social Forum was an attempt at that, no doubt. There are folks connecting as a result. The Jena6 could've been helped by the forum happening in the South. But to say these movements are truly connected, or even "organized" in the traditional sense, would be foolish. (There's this viral thing to the way these events have manifested that we haven't figured out yet either.)

Folks have pointed out that it would have been great to see the crowds in Jena be more diverse. Same could be said for the May 1st demos.

And this just ain't a black/brown thing. It's about the inequalities and lack of opportunities for all our communities. It's about poor and working white folks and Native Americans too. It's about our Filipino sisters and brothers. It's about all of us. Civil and human rights at the center of the debate in this country is an opportunity to connect our movements, struggles and, yes, victories.

At the em(Power)ed event, Minister Mohamed quoted Frederick Douglas and Louis Farrakhan. "Power concedes nothing without demand," was the quote from Douglas. Mohamed pointed out that Farrakhan said power doesn't concede demand with out more power to back up that demand.
So that's my question. How do we organize our truth and power into collective demands that benefit us all? How do we really become a movement? Ok two questions...and even more than that.

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