“I believe in the fire of love and the sweat of truth.” – Assata Shakur.
In my continual study of systems of oppression and movements for collective liberation, I seek insights which expand my understandings. Sometimes the shifts are small, other times they feel like a bonk on the head. An uncomfortable but stimulating awakening. “The sweat of truth.” Inevitably, a new insight means a plethora of new questions.
Last week, in a conversation with my brilliant friend Marisol Jiménez of Tepeyac Consulting, I got a much needed bonk on the head. In this case, it was a reminder of a truth I knew on one level but had gotten lazy in my thinking about it.
Specifically, she reminded me that when large institutions give funding to grassroots organizations led by people of color to implement programs that address disparities, the dynamic created is not one that truly moves towards equity.
Now, as my readers know, I am ALL about supporting grassroots organizations led by people of color, and the leaders themselves. The rightness of those groups and individuals having as many resources as possible is incontrovertible.
The problematic dynamic Marisol illuminated for me is this: institutions which have maintained and benefited from systems of oppression offer funding to the people most negatively impacted by those oppressions with the expectation that they will fix the symptoms of these systems.
“They look to communities to fix the symptoms while the systems continue creating and deepening the disparities with all the momentum of history and accumulated power,” she said. “And our leaders – in the face of so many overwhelming obstacles – weave together these safety nets full of gaps in the hopes of catching as many people as possible… often while in a free fall themselves!”
As Marisol put it, “hundreds of years and billions of dollars have gone into creating our current inequitable reality.” The amounts grassroots organizations are receiving to address this reality are paltry in comparison. The organizations’ healing work is essential. Problematic power dynamics are not. “When we talk about ‘accountability,’ who EXACTLY are we holding accountable?” she asks.
So the bonk on my head was a reminder not to be appeased. To fight harder with the fire of love.
As I breathe into next steps, I carry a new collection of questions to address. More to unload from the “invisible knapsack” I cannot see but can feel and deal with (more on that soon).
May we keep connecting our way to transformative change.
Support Black History Month Hood Tours
From Hood Huggers International: “In February, to celebrate Black History Month, we will be offering weekly Hood Tours specifically for people who live in the historically African American neighborhoods we visit on the tours, as well as black business owners featured in our Green Book. To make this possible, we are inviting you to sponsor tickets for our Black History Month tours.” Click here for more information and to sponsor.
Date My City Presents Testify!
“On Saturday, February 3 at 6 pm at the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design, join Date My City for a riveting cultural exchange called Testify! Click here for more information.
That’s it for today! Onward.
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