Mar 30, 2013

call me hope?



I will admit to having enjoyed this video.  The music is great, as is the production, and I like the way it reminds us of all the things we have in common, across differences.   I was disturbed that Africa gets conflated and is not really an equivalent to the US category (like, say, Tanzania would have been) - but what really got me was following the link to the organization that produced it as a promo, Mama Hope.  Though it tries to present itself as a different sort of development organization, it comes across as a lot more like traditional charity than the vision of solidarity the video led me to think they might embody.  Though they may, as they say, respond to the needs and proposals of local communities - none of those seem to have involved any sort of organizing component to change the structures of power that make it necessary to go to the US to get help in, say, building a clinic.   Maybe local committees didn't ask for organizing support - but that is probably reflective both of who the people in the US talked to, and what the Tanzanians thought they could ask of them. 

Mar 24, 2013

Can shopping build solidarity?


well, the actual title of this fabulous video by Ananya Roy and gang is "Can we shop to end poverty?" - but she ends by arguing for a shift from responsibility to accountability, even mutuality and solidarity.  ok, I gave away the punch line, but please, watch it, you'll be challenged and moved!

(thanks to Paul Jackson, whose blog pointed me to this video.  The video is part of the #Global POV Project, which has other videos, and is an ongoing twitter conversation)

Mar 16, 2013

Rachel Corrie presente!

Today is the anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death.

Rachel was serving as an accompanier with the ISM in the Gaza strip, accompanying a Palestinian family that was resisting the demolition of their home by staying in it as the Israeli bulldozer came towards it.  Rachel stood in front of the bulldozer with her bright accompanier vest and was run over and killed on March 16, 2003.  She was 23 years old. 

International protective accompaniment is being done in 10 countries around the world.  Only in Palestine have accompaniers been killed and injured.  Tom Hurndall was also killed in 2004 and several others have been very seriously injured. 

The quote on this poster, from Rachel's letters, reads: "The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly. People without privilege will be doing this work no matter what, because they are working for their lives. We can work with them, and they know that we work with them, or we can leave them to do this work themselves and curse us for our complicity in killing them."

Mar 11, 2013

Freire on solidarity

"solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is in solidarity; it is a radical posture"  - Paulo Frerie in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1995:31)

What exactly does 'entering into the situation' mean here? In Freire's case he was working with the very poor, but he did not live a life of poverty.  He would have been far less able to do his work and make his impact if he had.  It seems to me there is more power in using one's privilege tactically, carefully, when working in solidarity with those that don't have that privilege, rather than in simply trying to give it up.  I would hope Freire didn't mean just trying on 'the situation' for a week or a month, a common tactic I've written about here before.  I don't actually think 'entering into the situation' is necessarily the best way to understand and respect what life is like for those you work and struggle alongside.

As a side note, one of the highlights of my life was to get to see Freire speak to popular educators in Moraz├ín, one of the FMLN controlled zones of El Salvador, just after the peace accords were signed, in '92.   The energy that weekend was electric and, as I remember it, the conversations were interrupted several times a day with chants of !Viva Paulo Freire!

Mar 5, 2013

I am Juan vs. We are Juan vs. We are all Juan

Which do you feel more comfortable saying? I am Juan,  We are Juan, or We are all Juan?

Each of these slogans has a slightly different impact.  There really was a 'We are Juan' campaign to stop a deportation, though the link seems to be gone.  I personally like that slogan better than I am Juan, but I like We are all Juan best.  It is the closest translation to the zapatista solidarity 'Todos somos Marcos' slogan that may have started this wave, but it also seems less appropriative.  It does not imply I am exactly like Juan, or totally know his experience, but rather that I stand with him, if you attack him, you attack me.  An injury to one is an injury to all. 

I've written before about the drawbacks of 'I am X person under attack' type campaigns, such as the current ''I am Bradley Manning campaign - though it's very different when Daniel Ellsberg says it, since he really did live through a very similar persecution (please sign Daniel's petition to support Bradley).