Friday, June 25, 2010

LIVE from the US Social Forum 2010, Day 3

- by Mara Collins

I can hardly contain what is happening here. Today is Friday. I spent almost the entire day in healing space. During my shift in the healing practice space this morning I sat with two people, after having an awesome session with somebody last night. People's minds are getting blown all over the place here, and they need/want to talk. My mind is getting blown, too, and that makes it especially cool to have this opportunity to write about it with you.

This afternoon, 90 healers from around the country-massage therapists, midwives, counselors, etc spent nearly 5 hours together to form a nationwide collective for healing justice. TJP! you're gonna love this! We need to hook into this! I will post the synthesis of this People's Movement Assembly soon, after the forum. For now, suffice it to say, we converged to address the ways healing and organizing go together and must infuse all our movements for greater effectiveness, sustainability and growth.

Now I am in a ballroom of a convention center where this convergence is being held. The room faces the river that divides us from Canada. A vessel called the Riverboat Princess just floated by. About 10 other healer/practitioners are here with me, playing music, stretching and talking. We made an open call to do work tonight with a group of folks who may need support after an intense week. The sun still hangs high at nearly 830 on this glorious summer night. I don't know what the other 20 or so thousand people are doing, but that's me. More soon.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

LIVE from the US Social Forum 2010, Day 2.

- by Mara Collins

Hello from Detroit! Today there was an earthquake in Canada, right over the river from the city, can you believe it? The earth shook from all these positive vibes. It's late now, and I want to talk about everything that happened. But for each person ten stories could be told. It's late now. So what I'll do first is tell you what I did today and then maybe tomorrow sink it into the context of the work here at TJP.

I woke up so tired so I knew I needed some more sleep. As invigorating as these things are, they also really take it outta you. So I gave myself more time, got up and stretched, and went to the Healing Justice space in the United Auto Workers Ford Building. The boardrooms of the Union Building were converted into meditation spaces, candles set out, massage tables set up for bodywork. It was so cool! All of us volunteers sign up to practice our therapeutic modality and when this is all over, we will have each other's contact info and do collective healing justice work.

In the afternoon, I tried to facilitate a People's Movement Assembly space for the Northwest. Not very many people came, though. I felt disappointed, but my co-facilitator reminded me that it is a slow process to do regional organizing. The question came forward, though-what would people think of having a bigger NW meet up, where we can strengthen our issue-based work by building relationships regionally. In our case it would be a real regional healing network, which I think would be awesome. What do you think?

After that, I was supposed to do my shift at the healing space but the UAW had been closed. The earthquake occurred and because the building security crew was nervous we might get some aftershocks. I want to start the work. Hopefully it ill reopen tomorrow. I ended selling event posters at the vendor tables.

The day's programming ended with an amazing plenary with old time Detroit activists including Jerome Scott, the founder of Project South, Grace Lee Boggs, long time Detroit activist and revolutionary-who turns 95 this week! Ron Scott, who has been fighting police brutality since he was 13 years old and General Baker from the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. It was like standing among giants as they talked about this city that they love and fight to keep alive.

Grace Lee Boggs said to take a piece of Detroit's mentality home-That when they give us a crisis, turn it into an opportunity.

So that was my amazing day 2. Gonna hit the hay and send you more tomorrow,...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

LIVE from US Social Forum 2010

- by Mara Collins

This afternoon I joined tens of thousands of visionaries and activists in Detroit, Michigan, a city known for Motown Music, the Automobile, as well as a city known as the epicenter of the nation's economic crisis. I am here at the United States Social Forum, where the saying goes- Another world is possible, another US is necessary. As we converge to share our ideas and strategies for a better world, a healing world, we distinguish ourselves as citizens engaging in two crucial activities -practice and participation.

Convergence is Movement practice. I read this in the newsletter for Project South in Atlanta, one of the anchor organizations of the Social Forum process. The first social forum took place in Atlanta three years ago, and they have been practicing movement building for over twenty years.

We know as therapists, healers and body workers, that it often comes down to our practice. We are building a practice, practicing our craft, and when we don't keep up on reading and consultation, we can feel out of practice. You are likely reading this blog because you see a link between justice and well being. You know that the world is better off if our hearts and minds and bodies are in tune. You know that we can use our healing as a catalyst for healing in the world.

As practitioners, we know it takes an ongoing series of conversations, adjustments and bodywork sessions to create lasting change, so does it take a long-term strategy. We also know that, even though we are constantly striving to improve, it isn't necessarily about getting it right-it's about forward movement.

This happens in part because we continue to participate. For instance, this week I will try to give it my all. I get to help hold space at the healing justice area where people will come for community accupuncture, massage, making art, mediation, and talk therapy. I will get to know other participants and try to remember names. I will mess it up. I will help clean up. I will shout chants in call-and-response in the crowd. I will make sure my fellows reach their rooms safely. I will soak in the experience. I am not a consumer. I am a participant.

You can participate in the Social Forum too, even here in Seattle. is a way to see what is going on this week in Detroit. In addition, Seattle central Community College is holding a social event for people who can't make it this time, but want to attend an event in connection with the Social Forum

In the days to follow, I am going to submit more writing from the space in Detroit. If you have any questions, or things you want to know about from the convergence, let me know! I'd be happy to share what I learn.

More tomorrow-

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Racial Resources Gap

- by Anne Phillips

The Institute on Assets and Social Policy of Brandeis University has released a 23 year study on race disparity, specifically a comparison of African-Americans and European-Americans. The study followed White and Black families from 1984 to 2007 and found that for families with similar incomes, White wealth increased while Black wealth decreased. (I am not sure how they took into account mixed race people/families.) Many reasons for this disparity were cited, including:

- Ongoing disparities in access to resources and assets. Even on an ostensibly "even playing field" there are factors such as tax breaks for investment and inheritance taxes that European-Americans are far more able to utilize and benefit from because of ownership of additional resources and assets that have only increased in value over time. Meaning today and historically Whites have been given lots more.

- Ongoing job opportunity disparities. Statistically, a white person who has been in prison is far more likely to be hired for a job than a black person who has never been arrested for anything and Black college graduates are twice as likely to be jobless than white graduates.

- Ongoing inequity in access to home ownership. Today and historically, people of color are charged higher finance fees and interest rates on home mortgages than whites.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which institutionalized inequities maintain the gap in financial and vocational success between Black and White individuals/families and institutions.

To read entire article click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rising Up as Allies in Culturally and Personally Congruent Ways

- by Agnes Kwong and Natacha Foo Kune

There are so many ways one can stand for social justice. Recently, I have been contemplating ways of challenging oppression that feel culturally and personally congruent to me given my own intersecting identities and cultural background. I am posting here a recent article a colleague and I wrote for the Division on Women of the Asian American Psychological Association (Summer 2010 Newsletter, Vol. 15, Issue 1).

Asian American Women Rising Up as Allies

In addition to our professional roles and our roles as co-chairs of DoW, we are also queer Asian women who reside in the U.S. but do not hold American citizenship. There have been many hate crimes and political developments of late that have deeply disturbed us both because we are committed to social justice and because of the intersections of our identities. Amidst our feelings of fear, hurt, anger, indignation, and more, we thought about the different ways in which we are already allies in the face of oppression and the barriers that get in the way of our being able to be more effective and/or consistent allies. In our attempt to share with you some of our thoughts, we reflected on a few specific oppressive events that occurred recently and discuss some of the personally and culturally congruent ways of challenging oppression.

Recent Oppressive Events

Over the past several months, there has been an onslaught of hate crimes perpetrated on campuses throughout California. Early in the year, someone spray-painted a swastika on a UC Davis campus building and a month later, a swastika was found carved in the dorm room of a Jewish student at UC Davis. During Black History month, a noose was found hanging in the library at UC San Diego. In March and at UC Davis, anti-gay slogans were found spray-painted on the exterior of the LGBT center. At UC Riverside, two students were physically assaulted by three people who were hurling anti-gay comments at them both before and during the assault. In April, a transgender student was attacked in a restroom and the word “it” was carved in the chest at California State University at Long Beach. At the University of Missouri, students spread cotton balls outside of the Black Culture Center. Unfortunately, these are just a few of the many, many hate crimes that occur both in California and across the nation.

As frightening to our sense of safety and worthy of our indignation is the passing of the SB 1070 Immigration Bill in Arizona in April. Consistent with our personal views, AAPA’s official position on this law is that it will “inevitably be a form of racial profiling, discrimination, and hostility toward racial and ethnic minority group members” and there is significant concern that “anti-immigrant sentiments that underlie this Arizona legislation would put Asian American and Latino communities at increased risk of harassment and discrimination.”

Personally and Culturally Congruent Ways of Challenging Oppression

How does challenging oppression interact with some of the values that many Asian American women hold such as maintaining harmony, saving face, and collectivism? As social-justice oriented AAPI women who value relationships and harmony, how do we make our voices be heard in the face of bigotry, hatred, and prejudice? We pose these questions because we sometimes feel slightly stuck as relational, harmony-oriented AAPI women about how best to challenge oppression.

To read entire article click here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Voices Rising

- by Stacey Prince

On May 29 Liz Goodwin, Anne Phillips and I attended the seventh event by Voices Rising. This organization was founded by poet/performer/event producer Storme Webber, with fantastic programmatic support including graphics, marketing, organizing, and photography from Naomi Ishisaka. Voices Rising has become the premiere showcase for LGBTQ artists of color in the Pacific Northwest. This time their performance took place at Southside Commons, a renovated church in Columbia City that has become home to several progressive nonprofit and grassroots organizations dedicated to social, racial and economic justice.

The performance featured artists from Seattle, California and Chicago who combined spoken word with music, song, and video. It was a powerful, moving, and electrifying night. Here is one audience member comment that captures well the essence of the night:

Voices Rising is an essential cultural event highlighting the truth and culture, spirit and art of people that are marginalized even within an already marginalized community. Queer folks of color must be heard in order to bring to light a fuller diversity within the queer community and culture.

Reprinted here with permission is one piece that was performed by Malkia Cyril, an artist, activist and journalist from Oakland, California.

The Redemption of My Criminal Body

by Malkia Amala Cyril aka Red Son Rise
June 2009

run run my momma say mourner run
beautiful butch and black
welcome the Native son
Oh Pirates yes they rob I
this black woman’s body I got been
cannon shot and systematically spread
over centuries of dead gospel lined with living truth
the way I hurt is living proof that I was
raped as a child
but I’d still rather be nine
so I could be three sides of three dimensions at the same time
cause/we been cannibalized burned alive beaten alive till God cried out
we been hog tied convicted before we was tried by
stacked juries laced with white power tracks
I wanna paint y’all in color but can’t find you in black
And I need y’all back homeys to show me how
I lost my soft places between then and now

Oh Pirates yes they rob I
Stole I to the merchant ship
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit

To read entire post click here.