This was the opening question of the 2014 National Convening of Black Workers Centers, a gathering that brought together labor activists from around the country. I, along with 3 other ONE DC members and organizers, had the opportunity to attend and kick-off ONE DC’s efforts to create a DC Black Workers Center. As a young, 22-year old, who has just returned to my hometown of DC after graduating from college in Chicago, I have energy, but what I need is a vision. Organizing with ONE DC, I’m reminded that I am part of a powerful and historic legacy.
This is what I learned from the convening of Black labor activists: what we’re seeing today – in Ferguson, in Staten Island, and here in DC – is part of a larger trend, and our response must incorporate that history in order to illuminate the larger trends. ONE DC is offering a space to do that. Through Freedom Schools, listening sessions, and political education workshops, we as ONE DC are educating ourselves and exchanging knowledge in order to craft an effective response to the issues we face.
Now, we need to continue building momentum by drawing parallels between what different local groups are doing across the country. For example, ONE DC is emerging from the Marriott campaign, an effort to enforce the First Source Law in DC, which states that any development project receiving more than a given amount in public funds is required to hire 51% DC residents in their new hires. In Los Angeles, the L.A. Black Worker Center is pushing for similar accountability. To strengthen the national movement, we need to celebrate the wins and recognize the struggles happening across the country.
This is particularly true now, when the nation’s attention is focused on police brutality targeting black lives. As we come together to voice outrage over this issue, we must recognize this is part of a larger systemic trend. We must contextualize police brutality within the larger issue of disparate social power, exemplified by mass incarceration; inequitable public education; vast differences in health, by neighborhood; and disparities in earning potential.
And this response must be united nationally. This was a predominant message coming out of the meeting: we need a national political agenda that is directed by the needs of Black people in America. And note the emphasis on the political – we must engage in the political process.
I have too many family members and friends who are disillusioned with the electoral process, and rightly so. However, recent events in Ferguson remind us about the importance of voting. For example, Ferguson, MO is 67% African-American. In the 2012 general election in which President Obama was reelected, 76% of Ferguson came out to vote. However, in the last mayoral election that resulted in the selection of Mayor James Knowles (the current and controversial mayor), only 16% of Ferguson showed up at the polls. And this mayor has influence – including appointing power - over the (majority white) police force and city council.
We often feel like the electoral system and all of these messy politics don’t concern us, but they can, and they should. ONE DC understands this. The People’s Platform is pushing for a resident-led political process, one that would effectively communicate our demands to elected officials and hold them accountable.
And so, my conclusion coming out of the Black Workers Center National Convening is this: the current momentum and growing people power must result in a national political agenda, one that is committed to quality jobs for Black workers, and ONE DC has a valuable role to play in that.
One major effort of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration right now is the Reunite Haitian Families campaign. This initially involved calling for a parole program that would allow Haitians with family approved visas to come to the U.S. and stay with their families while their visas are being processed. This work has been spear headed locally by Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. We were able to get the parole program, but it covers only 5,000 of the 110,000 Haitians with approved visas.
ONE DC is calling on our members and partners to join us in endorsing the petition for a comprehensive parole program:
New York City Organizer
Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
On December 16th, the DC Council staff will walk out in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
But if Black lives matter then it means NOT cutting off TANF benefits to struggling Black mothers. If Black lives matter then it means stepping in when racist developers are trying to kick Black people out of the city. If Black lives matter then it means NOT destroying public housing and forcing families to become homeless. Heck, it means NOT shutting down homeless shelters! If Black lives matter then it means NOT funding a $200M soccer stadium that will displace Black residents and usher in low-paying seasonal jobs. If Black lives matter it means not putting only $100M a year into affordable housing, not targeted toward our lower income Black families or making a dent in the crisis. If Black lives matter then it means bringing an immediate end to the use of jump-outs by the police. If Black lives matter then it means NOT looking at poor Black people with disdain!
You can protest when Black life is taken. But what about when we are ALIVE, still living?!
The DCFerguson movement and the residents of Washington, D.C. demand that D.C. City Council immediately pass a resolution taking a stand against the use of "Jump-Out" squads, a racially biased form of policing. "Jump-Outs" are a paramilitary tactic in which unmarked police vehicles carry 3 or more officers not wearing the standard police uniform. Their objective is to stop and intimidate ordinary citizens into submitting to interrogation or an unwarranted search. This kind of militarized tactic that criminalizes entire communities and creates end-runs around our constitutional rights should stop immediately.
~A Season of Giving~
Come learn about organizing for justice and equity in DC, hosted by ONE DC members
Thursday, December 4
251 Manor Circle, Takoma Park
Join us for an evening of solidarity, hope, and community building to organize for a vision of an equitable DC.
As friends and allies, we'll gather for a evening of great conversation and learning about ONE DC. ONE DC is organizing long-time, low-income DC residents against the threat of displacement and structural unemployment, and for a resident-led People's Platform political agenda.
Please bring your checkbooks and join us in financially supporting ONE DC's campaigns and visionary organizing.
Delicious homemade snacks and desserts will be provided.
Email Karen Leu at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Black Youth Project (BYP100) DC Chapter Planned Actions for Tuesday, November 25
8:28 a.m. — D.C. Police Headquarters (300 Indiana Avenue NW)
12:28 p.m. — Office of Police Complaints (14th and I streets NW)
2:28 p.m. — D.C. City Council (14th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.)
5:28 p.m. — New Mayor’s Transitional Office (441 4th Street NW)
7:00 p.m. — #DCFerguson Rally (Mt. Vernon Square)
Post Rally: Surprise Action
#DCFerguson rally will begin at 7pm at Mt. Vernon Square, 7th and Mass NW Washington, DC Tuesday, November 25th in response to the grand jury's decision in Ferguson, MO to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the murder of teenager Michael Brown.
#DCFerguson continues to stand in solidarity with the Michael Brown family and the sisters and brothers in Ferguson that are continuing to protest and resist the police murders of Black and Latino people every 28 hours in America.
ANSWER Coalition organizer Eugene Puryear says, "The murder of Michael Brown and the situation in Ferguson can and should be a turning point. Where we finally come to terms with the root causes of these issues and address social deprivation and oppression and the police brutality that comes with it."
The initial sponsors of #DCFerguson include the National Black United Front, the ANSWER Coalition, We Act Radio, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the American Muslim Alliance, as well as independent organizing networks that have sprung up in the wake of Michael Brown's killing.
Click here for additional info
Walmart pushed its way into DC by offering good jobs for DC residents, even promising $13/hour wages. In December of last year, the first two stores opened up. Now, less than one year later, Walmart associates in DC are calling on the company to pay $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours.
ONE DC is calling on our members to stand with Walmart associates this Black Friday in saying "no more broken promises!" Walmart needs to provide living wage jobs with full-time hours, jobs that sustain families instead of keeping them mired in poverty. The Walton family, the controlling family of Walmart and owners of more wealth than 42% of American families, need to Respect DC!
What: Black Friday Protest and March on Walmart
When: Friday, November 28, 2014, 8:00 AM
Where: Meet at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20001
Why: To demand Walmart pay all their workers $15/hour and give consistent full-time hours!
If you're not able to join us for in DC, check out www.blackfridayprotests.org for other events across the country or to plan your own.
Join the movement to build a just, equitable, sustainable economy in DC!
DC is the symbolic heart of the current economy, one that is characterized by deepening inequality, unjust policies, a thwarted democracy, and ecological damage. The endless drive for profit and growth hurt people, communities, and the Earth.
But that's not the whole story. In DC and around the world, seeds are being planted for a new kind of economy -- one that is rooted in the values of democracy, justice, cooperation, self-determination, and sustainability. Join us Saturday, December 6th as we learn about solidarity economy models from around the world and explore how we can build a movement to transform our economy.
- Deepening Democracy, Broadening Ownership: Worker Cooperatives, Public Banks, Participatory Budgeting, Community Land Trusts
- Financing the Movement: Transformative Finance
- Learning from Natural Systems
- What Will It Take? Power Won't Concede Without a Fight
There will also be a Time Bank Exchange, Solidarity Economy Market (by ONE Love), and delicious food provided by our local worker cooperative catering company, Zenful Bites.