Join us for Part 3 of the Collective Courage Wisdom Circle at the Potter's House on Thursday, May 5th from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm. For the first hour, Jennifer Bryant will interview author Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhard. The second hour will be reserved for community dialogue, introspection, and visioning. Below is a link to the Potter's House. We look forward to a lively discussion for the last section of Collective Courage!
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In Collective Courage, ONE DC Shared Leadership Team member Jessica Gordon Nembhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality. Not since W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1907 Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans has there been a full-length, nationwide study of African American cooperatives. Collective Courage extends that story into the twenty-first century. Many of the players are well known in the history of the African American experience: Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Ladies' Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. Adding the cooperative movement to Black history results in a retelling of the African American experience, with an increased understanding of African American collective economic agency and grassroots economic organizing.
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Jessica Gordon Nembhard is Associate Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, City University of New York.
Looking for cooperative housing in Northwest DC?
The housing co-op of 1417 N Street NW is currently offering affordable living spaces with a variety of features. By owning a share in this co-op, you can have affordable long-term housing while managing your building.
Centrally located in Logan Circle, amenities include HVAC, remodeled bathrooms, a laundry room, bike storage, and more. Units available include the small studio (225 square feet) and the studio (330 square feet); respectively valued at approximately $950/month and $1,144/month, costs cover maintenance, insurance, water, and payments to the co-op blanket mortgages.
To qualify for the apartment, you must undergo credit and background checks, demonstrate an interest in co-op participation, and have income between the minimum and maximum values. For more information, contact Hernan Sotomarino at 1.202.630.1417 (fluent in both English and Spanish).
Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE) DC’s mission is to create and preserve racial and economic equity in DC. We envision a DC that is equitable and just place to live for all of its residents. Given our systemic understanding of oppression, our work centers on popular education, alternative economic development projects, and organizing for community ownership and control of land, housing, work, and all aspects of our lives.
Through our partnership with Building for Progress, ONE DC is seeking a fellow to support our work. Tasks include:
- Creating graphics that simplify complex housing, work, and other concepts
- Creating popular education materials for ONE DC members and the public
- Researching and writing real-time responses that share the People’s Platform perspective on issues
- Supporting our social media organizing efforts
- Joining People’s Platform and campaign meetings
- Other ad hoc assignments
The fellow will be paid $15/hr. The number of hours worked per week is somewhat flexible and can be agreed upon with the coordinator.
- Graphic design skills;
- Strong research and writing skills;
- Good communication and interpersonal skills;
- Self-motivated and skilled at working as part of a team;
- Knowledge of Washington, DC issues and organizations;
- Learn about and commit to ONE DC’s organizing model;
- A desire to deepen political analysis and learn about the history of social movements;
- Willingness to engage in honest, though constructive, mindful, and compassionate reciprocal critique of work with others.
To apply, please send a resume, writing sample, and graphic design sample to DCWorkerCoops@gmail.com by February 27th. People of color, women, DC residents, and youth are encouraged to apply.
Black workers are one of the primary social forces in the Black Liberation Movement in the US. Historically and today, they experience racism on the job, in labor unions, and the most negative effects of ‘neoliberal globalization.’ At several points throughout their history, Black workers have analyzed their own conditions and concluded self-organization was key to gaining power over their own lives. In the tradition of autonomous Black worker organizing, the 2nd annual Black Workers Center (BWC) National Convening met on November 12-14 in Oakland, CA to strategize for Black Workers Power. The theme of the convening was “Black Freedom Dreams.”
The history and current conditions of Black people demonstrate the necessity of spaces like BWCs where Black workers can conduct popular education, organize campaigns, and create Black worker-owned cooperatives. The exploitation of Black workers and the ideological justification to maintain control of their labor is foundational to the US settler colonial project. In a workshop titled “Black Worker Centers Meet Organized Labor” respected labor organizer Bill Fletcher discussed how Black radicals and anti-racist Whites were excluded from the newly formed AFL-CIO in 1955 due to segregation in the labor movement and McCarthyism. Around the same time in 1951, Black workers created the National Negro Labor Council to fight job discrimination, racism in labor unions, and build what we today call Black Workers Power.
BWCs are slowly proving themselves to be spaces where Black workers can organize for power to overcome structural inequalities such as having twice the white unemployment rate, receiving 60% the white income, and Black median wealth 20 times less than that of whites. For example, the inaugural BWC in Los Angeles, in coalition with community groups, organized to win a project labor agreement (PLA) that requires 40% of workers hired onto Metro Construction projects come from ‘disadvantaged areas.’ The convening allowed all of us to compare notes and learn from each other so that we can infuse the concerns of Black workers into the emergent Movement for Black Lives.
Click here to view photos from the Convening.
A few months ago a report and hashtag called #BlackWorkersMatter was created in order to highlight the numerous challenges confronting Black labor in the context of #BlackLivesMatter. At the National Convening, a presentation called “A Glimpse at the Moment” by Bill Fletcher discussed ‘neoliberal globalization’ as one of the fundamental issues impacting Black workers. He described it as “a transformation in the regime of capitalism placing more emphasis on deregulation, privatization, subcontracting, casualization, and anti-unionism. It emphasizes the elimination of trade barriers and the unrestricted flow of capital.” This process comes in the form of relocation of industry away from large concentrations of Black folk or privatization of the public sector. Manufacturing and the public sector were two sectors where Black people traditionally could attain upward mobility.
Furthermore, over 50 years ago, radical Black worker James Boggs identified automation as a major threat to Black working people. This is why Kali Akuno, in an article called “Until We Win,” asserted that in US society the value of Black life is connected to how much profit we produce for the capitalists. In short, in the era of ‘neoliberal globalization,’ Black Lives don’t matter because unlike in the period of chattel slavery or segregation, Black labor produces less profits. The importance of self-organization and advancing our own initiatives could never be greater.
Steven Pitts, the founder of the National BWC project, presented a new National campaign that will be promoted by BWCs across the country called Working While Black. The title is a play on the common refrains ‘driving while Black’ or ‘walking while Black.' Central to the initiative is building coalitions or united fronts on local and national campaigns. The current approach of most US labor unions is business unionism or a narrow focus on gaining better wages or benefits. The initiative rejects this restrictive approach in favor of social justice unionism wherein workers organize around wider human rights issues such as mass incarceration, reproductive justice, and more. Black workers, like all workers, problems extend outside of the workplace and into their communities and day-to-day lives. BWCs have the potential to begin the process of building Black Workers Power in the work place and wider community so that we can confidently say that BlackLivesMatter AND BlackWorkersMatter.
In Shapeshifters, Aimee Meredith Cox explores how young Black women in a Detroit homeless shelter contest stereotypes, critique their status as partial citizens, and negotiate poverty, racism, and gender violence to create and imagine lives for themselves. Based on eight years of fieldwork at the Fresh Start shelter, Cox shows how the shelter's residents—who range in age from fifteen to twenty-two—employ strategic methods she characterizes as choreography to disrupt the social hierarchies and prescriptive narratives that work to marginalize them. With Shapeshifters Cox gives a voice to young Black women who find creative and non-normative solutions to the problems that come with being young, Black, and female in America.
Join ONE DC at the Potter's House on Saturday, November 21 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM for a book event & author talk.
Aimee Meredith Cox is Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies at Fordham University.
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