Explaining the details of the discrimination lawsuit and the changes to affordable housing at Brookland Manor, this article highlights the changes in affordable housing and unit size in the proposed redevelopment. While Brookland Manor presently has 209 three or more bedroom apartments, the redevelopment will only have 64 three bedroom apartments and zero four and five bedroom apartments. Data gathered by the Washington Lawyers' Committee's Fair Housing Project indicates that 150 families will be affected and potentially displaced by the reduced unit sizes of the redevelopment. One of the plaintiffs on the discrimination lawsuit explains how the redevelopment will tear apart the long-established sense of community and social cohesion at Brookland Manor. Read the article here.
This article details the discrimination lawsuit and also points out the gaps in Mid-City's argument that they are providing an "inclusive" where all current residents will be welcomed to remain. The proposals to the Zoning Commission actually remove housing sized for families. Mid-City's current practices documented by the Washington Post include suing tenants for small amounts and beginning the eviction process for minor lease violations. Read the article here.
The chairman of Mid-City Financial Corp responds to the Washington Post's investigative reporting, through a letter to an editor. Gene Ford, Jr., claims that the redevelopment is "socially responsible and inclusive." He argues this by listing the number of Section 8 contracts that will remain at Brookland Manor (373). Compared with the bare minimum that developers are required to provide, the number of affordable units are larger than the requirements of a new development. Though Mr. Ford indicates that everyone will be able to return to the redevelopment, he does not address the issue that large families currently in four or five bedroom units will not find similar housing at the redevelopment. Read the letter here.
“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “state of emergency” in which we live is not the exception but the rule.” –Walter Benjamin Theses on the Philosophy of History, Thesis VIII
Donald Trump is the leader of the free world. In his first week as president he has signed a disheartening number of executive orders: Reviving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, banning refugees and residents from seven Muslim nations, the authorization of a U.S.-Mexico border wall, and banning federal funds to international groups that perform abortions or lobby to legalize or promote abortions. The left, galvanized by an unmistakably white supremacist regime, have overwhelmingly refused the Trump administration’s sovereignty. There have been marches, mass protests, and, in a few instances, the destruction of corporate property.
However, there are two broad tendencies on the left that, if unresolved, threaten to stifle the revolutionary potential of the moment. One desires a world free from the systems of oppression that constitute the American political system. The other merely wants to return to a less tumultuous time. It is this second tendency that refuses to acknowledge the violent core of American politics. They refuse to acknowledge the rising tide of fascism beyond the figure of Donald Trump.
Leon Trotsky, in opposition to the Stalinists and their theory of ‘social fascism’, insisted on fascism’s specific political role: “The historical function of fascism is to smash the working class, destroy its organizations, and stifle political liberties.”
Trotsky’s analysis, however, situates fascism within
an economic crisis rather than a general function of State repression. It is precisely during a crisis that the democratic process breaks down and capitalism is at its most vulnerable. Here the material conditions of the masses are a breeding ground for malcontent but also a germinating class-consciousness. In response, capitalism organizes fascist cells to dismantle anti-capitalist resistance. Thus, fascism appears during periods of “deep social crisis” by default
Today, economic crises are bound to the material conditions of the middle class. The financial crisis of 2008 devastated the wealth of middle class Americans (albeit disproportionately amongst African Americans).
Now, income inequality has widened to such a degree that the middle class “may no longer be the economic majority in the U.S.”
Of those who voted, Trump won the majority of both
white college graduates and white non-college graduates.
Other demographics reveal that Trump’s largest support came from those with salaries ranging from $50,000 – $99,000 as well as those living in the suburbs, small cities, and rural areas.
If fascism is capitalism in decay then it is also as much a crisis of whiteness
. Yet everyone knows that Hilary Clinton won the popular vote (despite voter turnout plummeting to a 20-year low).
The issue is that the Electoral College, by its very nature
, tends towards reifying white supremacy.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Alt-right aligning their movement with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or the significance of Trump naming Stephen K. Bannon, former executive chair of Breitbart News
, as his chief strategist and senior counselor. However, it’s a mystification to claim that Trump’s election is normalizing white supremacy. The truth is it was here long before January 20th
. The Clinton administration built the carceral state; Barack Obama expanded George W. Bush’s clandestine drone war while also authorizing over 2.4 million deportations as President.
Trump’s policies and appointees are intensifications, not aberrations, of American politics.
The ‘Great American Experiment’ has always been an experiment of white supremacy. Our nation grew by enslaving generations while thieving untold wealth from their labor. Modern medicine owes its status as a science
to the ghastly tampering of black bodies.
We recoil in horror at the eugenics programs of the 19th
centuries yet most forget that America forcibly sterilized Black and Indian women up through the 1970s.
Still, we risk erasing the struggles of marginalized people when we merely equate fascism with white supremacy. Trotsky’s analysis, as it was made from his
historical position, fails only insofar as we maintain that fascism manifests during
a period of crisis rather than as a phase
in a larger coherent system of violence and oppression.
From within San Quentin State Prison, George Jackson argued that fascism’s most advanced form was here in America.
For George, fascism went through three phases: 1) Out of power 2) In power but not secure 3) In power and securely so.
With each phase come varying modes of political violence from Mussolini’s Black Shirts to America’s expansive policing and prison apparatuses. However, binding the fascist mode of violence is its intolerance of any “valid
In the late 60s, the FBI used COIINTELPRO to wage war against the Black Panther Party. Today, the State mobilized the National Guard and local police precincts to brutally repress water protectors in North Dakota. What we are beginning to experience is fascism’s shift from the exterior of the American political system to engaging the entire social body.
So what is to be done? It is not enough to only engage in critique or to be anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-racist, or anti-Trump. Negative concepts have never been strong enough to hold together revolutionary movements. The general strike, mass protest, and other forms of direct action are all useful tactics for waging revolution. However, their use is secondary to the community and values that drive them. We must refuse the call for a return to American politics and the white subjectivity it privileges. We cannot content ourselves with only pushing fascism back underground, back to only policing low-income communities, back to only terrorizing our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and beyond. We must begin to practice a politics of solidarity, inclusion, and radical egalitarianism. We must center the struggles of marginalized people and listen to their voices. We must prioritize political education. We must build alternative institutions. We must remember, “The essence of politics is dissensus
Our enemies will try to convince us that “we are insufficient, scarce, waiting in pockets of resistance, in stairwells, in alleys, in vain” but the demonstrations this past week have proven the contrary: “We’re already here, moving.”
 See Reproductive Rights from Angela Davis’s Women, Race, & Class.
 Jackson, George. Blood in My Eye. New York: Random House, 1972. Print.
 Blood in My Eye. Page 123.
 Blood in My Eye. Page 118.
 Ranciere, Jacques, and Steve Corcoran. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. London: Continuum, 2010. Page 38. Print.
 Harney, Stefano, and Fred Moten. The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study. Wivenhoe: Minor Compositions, 2013. Page 19. Print.
This article is a long, in-depth feature highlighting the difficulties tenants have faced at Brookland Manor. It highlights the experiences of tenants who have been threatened with eviction over small sums - sometimes held back to try to urge management to make repairs in their units. Urban renewal is bringing change to neighborhoods, or gentrification, and developers across the country and in Washington, DC, have financial incentive to redevelop older properties - once affordable - and market them as luxury units to wealthier newcomers. Small debts to property management companies are being used to threaten or clear out existing tenants and make way for the new development. Lawsuits over small debts also create an online, legal background that can be used against tenants in future rental applications. Read the article here.
Click below to view photos from our latest fundraising event -- a special ONE DC showing of Dance Place's What's Going On? Life, Love, & Social Justice. Thanks to your support, we are closer to our goal of raising $1.3 million over 2 years to support the opening of the Black Workers Center and #Another10Years of resident-led organizing for racial & economic equity in DC! Click here to donate.
|From Left: Nawal Rajeh, Delonte Wilkins & daughter Taylor, Madeline Hernandez, Nia Nyamweya
Delonte (Tae) Wilkins was raised in the Green Leaf community of SW as a child, then later moved to the Eckington area of NE, attending schools such as Amidon Elementary, Jefferson Junior High, then Dunbar Senior High, where he graduated. Like many youth in his era, Tae experienced violence from all angles in his life-- from street violence, poor education, to police profiling-- all forms of violence leading up to a hopeless community. Struggling to stay positive in a community of hopelessness, Tae experienced severe anxiety, accompanied with stress and depression, which led to poor choices which later landed him in prison. While in prison, Tae educated himself. He read history, law, political theory, and books on various organized rebellions. After educating himself, he learned that his condition was a result of a systematic agenda that purposely created the hardships he has endured . Shortly after his release, Tae began to organize with ONE DC after hearing about the organization from a friend in the neighborhood. Hearing the group discuss the “People's Platform,” recognizing human rights as the foundation in which a nation should be built on, sharing the same vision, Tae immediately stayed on board, motivated to help in any way possible. Tae is a part-time apprentice organizer focusing on the Black Workers Center.
Nawal Rajeh is the daughter of Lebanese immigrants who fled the country’s 16-year civil war and settled in Youngstown, Ohio. It was during her youth that she learned firsthand of the hardships that accompanied injustice and ignited her passion for organizing. Before coming to DC, Nawal was a community organizer in Baltimore, where she worked on joblessness and youth programs. She co-founded By Peaceful Means, which continues to run two summer programs for children in East Baltimore. Upon moving to DC eight years ago, Nawal began facilitating youth programs focusing on peace and conflict resolution in DC Public Schools. She has been a member of ONE DC for three years and is excited to continue learning and building on the legacy of resistance and alternative vision for the city that ONE DC and its members have been fighting to preserve and create. Nawal is a part-time apprentice organizer focusing on the Black Workers Center.
Nia Nyamweya is a Kenyan-American, intersectional feminist organizer and activist. She is from Silver Spring, MD and received her BA from Towson University in Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in French. Nia began organizing after college in St. Louis, Missouri when she worked with youth in the Normandy District to end the school-to-prison pipeline. Ending environmental racism and healing oppression of black women is her passion. She works part-time with the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Nia happily joins ONE DC to create spaces that center black women's voices and create alternative economies. In her free time, she practices yoga and dances salsa. Nia is a part-time apprentice organizer focusing on the Black Workers Center.
Madeline Hernandez was born in Washington, DC on September 1, 1998 to Salvadoran parents. Her parents immigrated to the United States a couple years before she was born, escaping from the civil unrest El Salvador was undergoing in the hopes of providing better for themselves and their future. Madeline was raised uptown in the Brightwood/ Fort Totten area where she attended the city’s public schools, such as Rudolph Elementary (before it became Latin Public Charter) and Truesdell Education Campus. She is a 2016 graduate from School Without Walls Senior High School, and it was here there that her passion for political activism and critical thought began to blossom. Her perspective as a Latina of low socioeconomic status was enough for her to have something to say in classrooms that were dominated by kids in various positions of privilege. She owes the development of her consciousness to being raised during the birth of Black Lives Matter in such a politically active city and having teachers in high school that openly discussed Feminist Theories. After graduating high school, she decided to take gap year to pursue experience in the field she plans on entering, (a double major in Women’s Studies and Social Services or Latino Affairs) and that is how she stumbled upon this organization. Her attraction to ONE DC came from hearing one keyword: radical. For years, Madeline used “Radical” as her social media platform because she described her thought process as one that got to the root of issues by constantly asking why. Ultimately, coming to the conclusion that the institutions put in place are to blame for all of society's issues, especially when it comes to race, a conclusion that ONE DC reached years ago in its beginnings. She’s determined to channel her passion into making change within her community. Madeline is a part-time intern organizer.
|From Left: Chauniece (Project Retail), Yasmina Mrabet
Yasmina Mrabet is a Moroccan-American organizer and conflict resolution practitioner. She grew up in the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States in a cross-cultural, interfaith household. Yasmina is Community Organizer for ONE DC's People's Platform, and has been a member of ONE DC for three years. She joins ONE DC with experience as an organizer in the Labor Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Movement for Black Lives. Most recently, as a union organizer with UFCW Local 400, Yasmina worked to develop Project Retail, a growing group of retail and food workers fighting for living wages, fair working conditions, and access to public transportation in and around Washington, D.C. She remains a member of Stop Police Terror Project DC's core organizing group, and is President of the Board of Directors of NVMS, a conflict resolution organization based in Fairfax, VA. Yasmina is passionate about organizing to expose, oppose, and resist institutionalized racism and the systematic targeting of black and brown communities through gentrification, mass incarceration, and war. Yasmina holds a BA from the University of Virginia in Middle Eastern Studies and a MS from George Mason University in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
On Tuesday, October 25, ONE DC, along with Resource Generation, hosted an interactive panel discussion about the history and current state of black labor in DC as well as the role of intersectionality in solidarity organizing. Sitting on the panel were Iimay Ho, the Associate Director at Resource Generation and serving on the board of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Kimberly Mitchell, a long time union member and labor activist in the fashion, beauty, and retail industry as well as Vice President of the UFCW Board of Directors; and Eugene Puryear, founder of the anti-gentrification group Justice First, Jobs Not Jails Coalition, Stop Police Terror Project-D.C. and author of the book Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.
During the discussion, the panel named two forces impeding a robust and inclusionary coalition of black labor organization: 1) A shift away from labor organizing towards non-profit paternalism and 2) an absence of worker solidarity.
Many of the organizations built to work on behalf of black workers and communities are run by non-representational groups. It's the "professionalization of organizing," Eugene remarked. Non-profits embody an institutional hierarchy whereby the needs of the community are defined by an organization and not the people. "Black workers have become the object of organizing, not the subject," Eugene quickly added. Career activism has a tendency to silence the voice of the community in favor of its own programs and political allegiances, especially when confronted with the need for funding.
This tendency speaks to the reality of organizing within conditions set by Neoliberal Capitalism. Organizations need money to function and that money must come from somewhere. Yet, Resource Generation has worked tirelessly to reduce the limitations funding an organization normally necessitates. "We have the flexibility to give to organizations, which frees you to support this or that," Iimay deftly explained, "There's no hoop jumping." One of Resource Generation's core values is believing that "social justice movements need to be led by communities most directly impacted by injustice." Resource Generation aims to reverse the status quo of funding: They subordinate their privilege and wealth to the voice of the community.
Still, even if an answer to the question of funding were found we must still confront the stark lack of worker solidarity and organization. Lamenting, Kimberly spoke a hard truth, "Mothers and daughters have always been organizing the community, church, schools, etc but they've become complacent. I have to remind them that they are needed." A little later she discusses the disparity between the older and newer generation of workers: "I see workers that have worked for forty plus years being disrespected and told 'We don't need you.' What we have now is an assembly line of workers who are unorganized and untrained who are lucky to be there past the ninety day probation period. Its very important we teach the younger generation to let them know that this is not okay or normal." Similarly, Iimay vigilantly highlighted the need for an intersectional approach to organizing: "The legal/illegal immigration status is a strategy for keeping a mass of workers that are vulnerable. Trans folk have some of the highest homeless and unemployed numbers, which are even more when you're black and trans. Queer youth can be cut off from their family and resources."
In the end, the panel left the audience with some advice for moving forward. "Accountability is a key issue. The city will pass anything that sounds progressive but will include either infinite loopholes or make it impossible to enforce." Kimberly was in agreement: "DC is dressed up with nowhere to go." Kimberly also was adamant about opposing gentrification: "What we need to organize around is housing. We are being displaced. This is everybody's fight." Earlier in the discussion, Iimay stood by countering the effects of gentrification: "I don't believe DC should be built on my needs and my consumption." By the end of the night she returned to this sentiment: "The powers that be center the needs of wealthy people and not long-term residents. We need to change the game. We need to focus systemically."
If you would like to find out more about Resource Generation click here. Click here to support ONE DC.
Over the weekend, we sat down with Luci Murphy as a part of our ONE DC Member Spotlight feature. We met at Lamont Park in Mt. Pleasant, which was soon to be the site of the annual Dia De Los Muertos or Day of the Dead celebration with Luci slated to perform later that day. Together we discussed her thoughts on ONE DC, politics, and the unique importance of music.
ONE DC: Before we get started, I see everyone is setting up for an event. What is it? Are you performing today?
Luci: Mmhmm! Its the Day of the Dead. The tradition is that people build an altar and bring photographs of their deceased loved ones, put them on the alter, and remember them. It's a day of remembrance. We'll have music and poetry. We usually do a little parade a few blocks through the neighborhood to remind everybody.
ONE DC: You have a rich history with ONE DC stretching back 10 years. Could you briefly state what attracted you to the organization in the beginning and what motivates you to still be an active member?
Luci: The issues. The issues of housing and jobs. These are issues that we still have not resolved. There's a lot of dislocation. I remember when my aunt lived in a substantial house in the 60s and the price on it was 25,000. The same house is probably three quarters of a million now. How to you do that? People's salaries aren't changing. What is this?
ONE DC: What is it about ONE DC's approach to organizing that you like?
Luci: The emphasis on co-ops. Studying co-ops and preparing people to build co-ops!
ONE DC: Last month you performed at the Renter's Day of Action. What inspired your performance? What did you want people to take away?
Luci: We have a lot of vacant buildings in Washington, DC and then we have our homeless. Why can't we get these two together?
ONE DC: The Black Workers Center Chorus is in its early stages of gestation. Whats the difference between it and the DC Labor Chorus?
Luci: The Black Workers Center Chorus will mostly be from Washington, DC. It's going to be the people who are dealing with these issues first hand. I would really like to see a good representation of wards 6, 7, & 8, which is where the Black Workers Center is located.
ONE DC: When do you think it'll begin meeting?
Luci: It'll be after December 3rd.
ONE DC: And if someone is interested in joining?
Luci: Call me! People are scared to call me! They know I'm going to give them something to do!
ONE DC: As a performer, music and art are an essential dynamic in your activism. Who's work, either artistic or political, inspires you?
Luci: I grew up with some very activist congregations -- St. Stephen's and the Incarnation. And because I was a member of St. Stephen's, I met a woman, an older lady from Mississippi who embodied the tradition. She played three chords on the guitar but she played them in a hell of a way! She got people to sing along with her. She had something called Mother Scott and her children and I was one of her children. The pastor would take us to city council hearings and she would sing to make a point and of course that would make the news. Not everyone comes to a city council hearing with a guitar prepared to sing!
ONE DC: There's something special about music, especially call-and-response, that can bring people together. What do you find unique about it?
Luci: It works!
ONE DC: Music and Art have always played a fundamental role in the struggle for justice, emancipation, and equality. Outside of the feeling of solidarity when performing music, how else do you see music contributing to the struggle for justice?
Luci: We didn't have the SNCC freedom singers here but we had their recordings. We were able to use them.
ONE DC: American University was hosting a panel and an art gallery to honor the work of Emory Douglas. They were discussing the power and importance of his work and the way he could communicate very complicated messages in a very simple way thereby reaching a wide variety of people. Do you feel that music shares this quality?
Luci: Absolutely! I think music is actually more social because more people can participate. The creation of visual art is a very solitary process whereas music is a social process.
ONE DC: You mentioned there's more participation in music not only in a call-and-response but people are also free to riff on music anyway they want to at any time they want to through rhythm, clapping, vocalization, improvisation, etc.
Luci: Fredrick Douglas KirkPatrick said that it used to be that anybody could sing a song or pray a prayer but now its gotten so complicated. We only have specialists doing these things and we're lost in this specialization.
ONE DC: This kinda goes back to politics where the only people to be respected are the specialists.
Luci: Our Chorus is singing a song called 'You can dance, you can sing' taken from a proverb from Zimbabwe, which has been translated as 'If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing' but thats really a message for us in the United States. What the actual song says is if you can dance, dance, if you can sing, sing! You know, like do it! Everyone in Zimbabwe can dance and sing and nobody's embarrassed. That is part of what you do as a member of a community whereas here if you don't move just right you may get criticized and if you're self-conscious you may decide not to participate.
ONE DC: Similarly, there are now specific places to do it. The community aspect is being pushed out. The only way to access it is by joining a club that you have to pay for or renting a space to play in.
Luci: And I see some of the singing and music playing has become commercialized: "If you pay such and such an amount you can play as a part of this jazz group we are starting."
ONE DC: You should be able to just pick up and play. That's just what you do.
Luci: But somebody has just rented some space and has decided that they're going to get some people to pay for their time. That shouldn't be the only way that culture survives.
ONE DC: All across the country people are facing dispossession and displacement at the hands of the ruling class for profit. From the District to North Dakota neoliberal capitalism is violating people's right to housing and land. Even more, resistance is often met with brutal state violence and repression. How do you think people should go about building solidarity with one another, especially when you are economically contributing to those forces, willingly or unwillingly?
Luci: We need to study history because in order to know who we are we need to know where we come from. This country is built on great injustice and cruelty for which it's never apologized. It's never apologized to the indigenous people for all the murder and theft and never apologized to the African people for all the centuries of unpaid labor. We need to study who we are, where we come from, and then form that we will know what we have to do, but it starts with an apology.
ONE DC: How do you get an apology without allowing Empire to bury these issues as something that's happened only 'in the past'?
Luci: We have to build consciousness and right now folks are very unconscious. They are having poisonous television, poisonous food, poisonous water, and poisonous air thrown at them all the time. Well, how can they get conscious? We've got to build a movement. A movement that has to educate, energize, and encourage folks.
To contact Luci about the Black Workers Center Chorus you can find her Facebook page here or call her at 202.234.8840.