Pages tagged "member reflection"
By Patrick Gregoire
On October 5 through 7, 2018 over 15 ONE DC members, as well as other local organizers, activists, and tenants participated in the Center for Third Organizing's (CTWO) Community Action Training.
Over the course of two and a half days, we went over the five different types of community change organizations (service-based, advocacy, community economic development, electoral, and direct action/organizing) and their relationships to altering the power structure.
We learned about messaging and the importance of framing a narrative. We learned about the power of symbols and messaging. Popular brands are instantly recognizable, elicit specific emotions, and transmit specific messages. This is due to the deliberate efforts that go into crafting the stories about them. We learned how choice of words, perspective, and framing and crafting narratives can impact voiceless and disenfranchised communities.
To that matter, we learned what questions to ask ourselves when crafting our messaging as community organizers. What forms of communication work best? What is the current landscape surrounding an issue that we hold important? What audience are we trying to reach? What is our audience’s relationship to this issue? How do they engage with it? How do we get the message out? What are markers of success? These questions are important because they allow us to not only tailor our messages to our audience, but also better ensures that they receive our messages and that those messages stir folks to action.
We learned how to make a power map and from there, formulate a campaign. We learned which entities to consider (Decision Makers, Organized Opposition, Allies and Potential Allies, Unorganized Constituencies,etc) and what factors to look out for. This framework is vitally important for organizers to get a better sense of the influencers of a given target. Ultimately, it helps us leverage our relationships and networks to determine who needs to be influenced, whom we can actually influence, and exactly who can influence these targets.
Lastly, we were given a list of 198 methods of nonviolent action; tactics that are crucial for the groundwork of any direct action campaign. These are the tools necessary in order to drive, elevate, grow, and ultimately realize our campaigns and get our demands met legitimately.
By Jourgette Reid-Sillah, Richman Apartments
Almost eight years ago, my family moved to Richman Apartments in Southeast D.C. At the time there was an empty lot across the street where I was told town homes and apartments were going to be built. Keeping in mind as to things that were happening in other parts of the city, I thought having an organized tenants association may be a good idea for Richman Apartments.
The lot is no longer empty. We have town homes and apartments directly across from our forty-one affordable units. New homeowners are settling in. These town homes were sold before they were built. Young families from various backgrounds have introduced themselves and state, “I love my neighborhood.”
Our apartments are well-managed and we have no problems of a major scale that I’m aware with our management company, WC Smith. Our association would be a community building group. Everyone says they think it would be a good idea. The challenge is changing hearts and minds and getting people to step up and understand we have nothing to fear.
I, with the help of ONE DC, (thank you Kelly) have started organizing to get the tenants to elect a board to officially establish our tenant association. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a quorum to vote at our last meeting. Meanwhile, another town home is built. And another new neighbor moves into their home.
Congress Heights is changing rapidly. Starting with the St. Elizabeth’s Project to the restoration of many historic homes along Alabama Ave. Change is here, Richman Apartments. Will You Be Ready?
By Dominic Moulden
"They don't even treat dogs this badly." This is the statement Congress Heights resident and leader Robert Green made when the tenants, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and ONE DC discussed Congress Heights tenants' struggle at the UDC Housing Law conference several years ago.
I traveled all the way to East London only to hear the same story from Beverly Robinson, a Maroon Jamaician immigrant housing leader and organizer who is the ONLY person living in a 172-unit Aylesbury Estates Council Housing apartment located on the scenic 8th floor with spectacular views that the monied class scheduled for demolition. Beverly actually owns her unit but the Council Estates Board voted to sell the entire Aylesbury Estates development, which has displaced thousands of families.
|Beverly showing contaminated water from her unit|
|View from the 8th floor showing the ongoing demolition|
By David Schwartzman
Chair, Political Policy and Action Committee
DC Statehood Green Party
Member of ONE DC, Empower DC, Fair Budget Coalition
“If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.” -Lyndon B. Johnson
"People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as "parasites" fail to understand economics and parasitism.A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make the host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society." -Jason Read, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern Maine
The most serious human right violations in our DC community are:
- Homelessness and the big lack of affordable housing which forces many residents, especially low-income, to pay a high fraction of their income for housing thereby neglecting other essential needs of individuals and families, such as medicine and nutritious foods. (HUD criteria: housing is unaffordable if a household pays more than 30% of their income for rent or mortgage).
- Child poverty
Note: DC became the nation’s first Human Rights City in 2008, recognized officially by District government; go to http://afsc.org/resource/report-state-human-rights-dc for assessment reports of DC’s status.
ONE DC is on the frontlines fighting for affordable housing. Here is a proposal regarding eliminating child poverty. No child poverty in DC, let’s make this possible asap!
TANF income enhancement, a multi-year goal
Proposed goal: Make DC government increase the TANF income benefit over the next three fiscal years, reaching 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) by no later than FY 2021.
The poverty level of Income support for TANF is the main cause of child poverty in DC. The high level of child poverty in DC, especially in Wards 7 and 8, has a lasting negative impact on children and their families, indeed the whole DC community. Therefore, boosting the TANF income benefit should be a high priority for all concerned about human rights violations in our Human Rights City (footnotes 1 and 2).
The scheduled increase in the TANF income benefit in FY 2019 to 36% of the FPL, an increase from the present benefit of 30% FPL (footnote 3): this increase is already budgeted according to Kate Coventry, DCFPI.
Note: the income benefit as a percentage of the FPL in Maryland is now 38.1%, New York 46.4% with New Hampshire having the highest in the nation, 60.0% (footnote 4).
Most TANF recipients in New Hampshire are white. In New Hampshire the monthly income benefit for a family of three is $1,021, in DC it is now $508. Why should Black children receive one half the income benefit that white children in New Hampshire get?
The DC TANF income benefit has declined 21.5% since 1996 (corrected for inflation). The present TANF income benefit plus Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit is 56.4% of the FPL. Assuming the SNAP benefit stays constant, with the scheduled TANF income increase for FY 2019 the combined benefit will go to roughly 60% FPL. In New York the combined benefit is now 74% FPL, for New Hampshire it is 77%. (Source: footnote 4).
Of course boosting income security is necessary but not sufficient, complementary funding is imperative for universal child care, adult literacy, mental health and substance abuse, and of course job opportunities at living wages. Note that even with TANF income benefit at the FPL plus the SNAP benefit the overall income level would be significantly below the family income necessary to reach self-sufficiency in DC, roughly two to three times the FPL, given the high cost of living.
Reaching the FPL by FY 2021 will require a well-thought out strategy. ONE DC and its allies will have to confront head on the long-standing prejudice regarding TANF recipients which has served to divide the working/middle class community thereby serving the interests of the neoliberal agenda (trickle-down solutions, “education is the only answer to poverty” etc.) which has long dominated the policies of DC elected government.
Estimate of funding required to bring TANF income benefit up to the Federal Poverty Level (FPL):
According to DCFPI (footnote 3) if the scheduled increase is funded in FY 2019 the DC monthly benefit for a family of 3 will be $644 corresponding to 36% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Therefore this family of 3 would get $1,789/month at the Federal Poverty Level (644/0.36 = 1,789). Assuming a total of 40,000 recipients (the 2011 level), and that all families correspond to 3 members (this is an approximation), there would be 13,300 families, each receiving an income benefit at the FPL, totaling $23.8 million/month or $286 million per year. In FY 2015 the budget for income support was $70 million. With these assumptions, the increment in funding to reach the FPL will be approximately $216 million, not taking into account the change in the cost of living as well as potential decrease in the number of TANF recipients by FY 2021, pending the performance of complementary programs and economic conditions. This estimate is rather modest given the size of the DC budget, and if implemented would have a major impact towards reducing child poverty.
(1) http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/43-children-in-poverty-100-percent-poverty?loc=1&loct=2#detailed/2/2-52/true/870,573,869,36,868/any/321,322; https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/housing-complex/blog/20835238/poverty-in-dc-is-getting-worseeast-of-the-anacostia-river-study-finds.
(2) https://www.dcfpi.org/all/when-every-dollar-counts-child-poverty-has-lasting-negative-effects-but-even-small-income-boosts-can-help/; Greg Duncan and Katherine Magnuson “The Long Reach of Early Childhood Poverty”, Pathways, Winter 2011.
By Angie Whitehurst
For our monthly People's Platform political education event, ONE DC held "Link Up for Black August" at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre. Black August is a month of commemoration of the death of George Jackson on August 21st, 1971. The day is remembered to encourage social justice versus injustice throughout society.
Speakers and participants included Mia Clark, Eugene Puryear, Delonte Wilkins, Yasmina Mrabet, and Dominic Moulden; all of whom spoke passionately on the needs to change housing injustices, restorative programs for those incarcerated, and the Black Workers Center mandate to create a space where people can find "real jobs."
Raven Best and Reverend Erik Martinez Resley of The Sanctuaries, with a young team of printmakers, produced Black August posters on site as giveaways to attendees. Pop-up shops included EAT, The Difference Boutique, Cockee Clothing, and the Young Queen Project selling hats and shirts. Local caterer Peggy's Gourmet & Reek the Chef provided excellent food. Sounds were brought by DJ Say Say, with performances by Loony Goonz, King Shug, Supa Trippa, G.R.O.S.S. LIFE, & Visto of Hippe Life Krew. Other organizations present were Our City DC, SURJ DC and organizers with the People's Congress of Resistance.
Also present were members of the cast from the upcoming production entitled, "The Arsonists," a play about the challenges of liberal politics some fifty years ago. The story sounds very similar to our current day events. ONE DC members and supporters are eligible for discount tickets to the performance on October 7th using code "ONEDC"
By Claire Cook
To longtime residents of Washington, D.C., the findings presented in Derek Hyra’s Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City—that gentrifying neighborhoods’ racial and economic diversity does not translate into integration—is likely not surprising.
As an organizer with Organizing Neighborhood Equity (ONE DC), a grassroots community organization working for racial and economic equity, and based in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood, I’ve witnessed firsthand how a community can be “diverse” in name only.
The Black patrons inside Wanda’s Hair Salon or chatting outside Sammy’s carry-out do not generally have meaningful interactions and relationships with the young white professionals who are lined up around the same block to patronize the Game of Thrones-themed bar. We might all be moving through the same space, but integrated we are not. Hyra’s findings in Cappuccino City present a needed challenge to the neo-liberal rhetoric that has dominated housing policy for the last few decades—that demolishing public and subsidized housing and replacing it with “mixed-income” privatized housing will combat the concentration of poverty through economic and racial integration.
Based on years of ethnographic research, Hyra’s Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City provides an in-depth look at gentrification in the Shaw neighborhood. For those new to either D.C. or to gentrification scholarship, the book should be required reading. The first three chapters lay out the historical and current conditions in D.C. that have contributed to the non-stop growth we see today. He explores the rise and fall of D.C.’s Black political machine, exposing the differences between the District’s Black mayors, their relationships with the Black community, and how they’ve represented (or more often not represented) the working-class community’s interests.
Hyra also presents the complexity of the District’s relationship to the federal government and how our lack of home rule and representation has left us to the whims of interfering members of Congress. Hyra documents the transition of Shaw from a “dark ghetto,” an inner-city, poor Black community marked by disinvestment, to a “gilded ghetto,” a transformed urban space where upscale restaurants, luxury apartment buildings, and trendy bars proliferate through gentrification and decades of pro-development urban policy.
Readers might find Hyra’s concept of “living the wire” controversial. A nod to HBO’s The Wire, a series set in impoverished, high-crime Black neighborhoods in Baltimore, Hyra finds through his interviews and observations that many white newcomers to Shaw were drawn to the neighborhood because of “Black branding” and its notorious past of prostitution, open-air drug markets, and drive-by shootings.
Wait a minute. Is Hyra really saying white people came to Shaw because they wanted to live in a violent neighborhood? No, of course not. But the motivations behind wealthier, whiter people fleeing the stagnant, “soulless” suburbs in a “return to the city” movement cannot be ignored.
Despite devaluing Black lives, white supremacy has always found a way to capitalize on Black culture. It is this attraction to living in a historically Black neighborhood—to “Black cool,” that has drawn residents to Shaw. But although new residents may be consuming Black cool at places like Busboys & Poets, a hip, politically progressive restaurant-cafe on 14th St., for the most part, Hyra finds, newcomers ignore the existence and struggle of their actual poor and working-class Black neighbors.
Click here to continue reading the review on Shelterforce.com
This month we celebrate the leadership of a ONE DC member, Angie Whitehurst. A survivor of a rare form of cerebral malaria, Angie reminds us that we each have unique talents that we can mobilize to serve our community. As a leader in ONE DC's Black Workers Center Chorus, member of the Administrative committee, and a long-time DC resident, Angie is an example of grace-filled resilience and hope.
While working in international development abroad, Angie contracted a rare form of malaria. Her recovery required her to cut down her work hours and slow her lifestyle. She then supplemented her work with volunteering and organizing. In Angie’s words, "just because you can't do what everyone else does, doesn't mean your life stops. Doesn't mean your brain stops."
When Angie was a young woman living with her family in NW DC, her family’s neighborhood was claimed by eminent domain. On the day President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, she and her neighbors moved out of their homes. They built a new home in Petworth. Years later, when plans were forming to build the Metro in Petworth and demolish the homes in the space, Angie and her family organized to ensure their homes were preserved and they were included in the changes in Petworth.
Angie sees the same thing happening at Brookland Manor: development that is neither inclusive nor just. "I call it loopholes. The government doesn't say you have to move, but when people buy buildings just for speculation, flipping, without your participation... it's ethically and morally wrong."
That’s why Angie is a member and leader with ONE DC. She embodies resilience, and she raises all of our spirits with her songs and her stories.
Become a member of ONE DC and volunteer your energy, spirit, and leadership.
Reflections from an Interview with Ms. Jourgette Reid-Sillah
"We get very comfortable in our lives, and it sometimes takes a tragedy to wake us up," Ms. Jourgette – a survivor of breast cancer and soon-to-be graduate of the University of DC – explains why she is striving to form a tenants association. She is not waiting for the tragedy of displacement.
"I need to know what's happening. I want to be prepared. I need my community to be prepared," Ms. Jourgette expressed. In Congress Heights, she has heard rumors that the rent in the new developments is well above the current rates in her neighborhood. What will happen to her neighbors who have lived in her building for over 40 years?
Ms. Jourgette recognizes that the displacement happening at Brookland Manor, at Barry Farms, and in too many communities in DC is spreading to Congress Heights. And in response to this displacement, we must educate ourselves. As her mother used to say, "forewarned is forearmed." That's why Ms. Jourgette became a member of ONE DC: she sees the changes coming and is preparing her community to fight for their homes.
ONE DC stands on the principle that there is power in political education. We must understand the city policies, the laws, and the tools available to us, in order to ensure they work for us. For Ms. Jourgette, forming a tenants association in her apartment building in Congress Heights is an important step towards educating her community and preventing the tragedy of displacement.
By Colin Stragar-Rice
“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.
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 and 20th 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 revolutionary activity.” 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.”
 https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1944/1944-fas.htm See: The Collapse of the Bourgeois Democracy.
 https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1944/1944-fas.htm See: The Fascist Danger Looms in Germany.
 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.
By Paige DeLoach, ONE DC Intern, Cornell University
During the last week of my summer internship with ONE DC, I received an email from Dominic Moulden advertising Black August, a BYP100 and BLM-DC month long event. Black August is described as “a month of rest from, reflection on, and recommitment to our decades long struggle.” Rest from the struggle, reflection on the struggle, recommitment to the struggle. An August that is Black like me. A struggle that is mine.
Black August is so necessary. So often, people fighting the essential fights do not recognize their work as continued exposure to trauma. Black people face constant assaults on our personhood and our integrity. We fight for the right to inhabit our bodies, to be in charge of them, to protect and treasure them. This specific kind of fight, against racism and mistreatment, requires us to confront triggering experiences, possibly even share and relive them, so that others see the validity of this plight. But when we must use these experiences as fuel, we are denied the chance to heal.
Black people are familiar with burnout. Black people are familiar with wounds that are cut open every day. Burnout is full of rage, hopelessness, weariness a type of emptiness that is very hard to shake. Through my internship, I hoped to fight for and with those too burnt out to fight alone. I wanted to take part in fighting for the rights of Black people in my community. I wanted to build power, to provide support, to give solidarity. I wanted to give people the chance to heal.
My work at ONE DC taught me how to work for and with others, how to be an active citizen in the creation of public policy, and how a nonprofit organization can help create positive and sustainable change from within a community. I met Angela Davis and Barbara Ransby; I was part of a DC artist’s inner circle for a night; I yelled at city officials; I protested.
As I look back to where I was and all ONE DC accomplished this summer, the one fact I know is that ONE DC gave me the chance to heal, because I was in need of the solidarity I was trying to provide. My rest from the struggle involved joining the struggle of others, and realizing that as I fight for others I fight for myself. We fight for one another to assure ourselves we are not helpless or hopeless, but that within us lies the power to change our world. Spaces like ONE DC and Black
August are essential to our survival, because when we come together, we lift one another up we save each other.
As I return to school, I know that transitioning back to a primarily white institution will be difficult, but I am not afraid. More than anything, I am grateful to every person I met through ONE DC this summer, who helped me heal: you have made all the difference. More than anything, I am eager to come from this period of rest and reflection recommited to the struggle. More than anything, I am ready.
“Who made us forget our past? Who can make us forget that we come from a long legacy of organizers, thinkers, and doers who understood that the fight can be long, it can be hard, but it can be won?”