By Kali Akuna
March 25, 2017
Kali Akuno (left) with Eros Sana
I work with Cooperation Jackson, based in Jackson, Mississippi, which comes out of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the New Afrikan People’s Organization. I bring up both the local and national groups to give you a sense of the broad movement I’m coming from, and also the more specific work going on in Jackson. That’s important because I believe we have to be rooted somewhere firmly on the ground in order to have a base on which to stand, and from which to organize.
After Trump was elected, it took two or three weeks for many people to get out of the fog. There are some losses that we’re going to take in this next period under Donald Trump. We have to get ourselves mentally prepared for that, and do the organizing that is necessary to withstand the assault against what little democracy has ever existed in this country, as they try to take us back to the sixteenth century.
Don’t be confused about what the Republicans are really trying to do. Part of it is about profit. But they also want to make sure that those who were supposed to stay in their respective places get back in those places. And that’s virtually everybody, once you really think about it. Being white is not necessarily going to protect you.
If you can engage in actions, engage. If you can’t, that’s OK, there will be other times. The question really is, at some point we can’t just mobilize, we’ve got to start organizing. After the first 100 days, people need to sit down and come up with a plan or we are all wasting our time and we are going to be summarily defeated.
After the first 100 days, people need to sit down and come up with a plan or we are all wasting our time and we are going to be summarily defeated.
We have to develop a serious program and that starts with dialogue—amongst us. On a national level, we have to develop what I call a framework of ungovernability. Fundamentally, that means not giving any legitimacy to Trump, and more importantly, to the neo-confederates, who I would argue are actually far more dangerous than Trump himself.
We’ve got to get ourselves profoundly more organized than we are now. And we are not an organized force. Let’s not kid ourselves. With the unions, with our political parties, we’re not even as organized as we were twenty or thirty years ago. And by organized, I do not mean creating a great Internet platform.
We need to be so organized that you can call me, give me two days, and I can move fifty people, and put them in action on the ground in my community. That’s the level of organizing that I’m talking about. We’ve done it before. And we can do it again. It’s not magic; it’s just a bunch of hard work.
That’s the level of organizing that I’m talking about. We’ve done it before. And we can do it again. It’s not magic; it’s just a bunch of hard work.
I hear people say, “I can’t believe what’s happening.” But what’s happening now has been happening to indigenous people and black people all along. The older I get, the more appreciation for my people’s history and culture I have, and what my ancestors did to survive this bullshit. I am seeing that more and more as a vital piece we can’t overlook.
I’m glad people have woken up. But understand that it can get worse, and we have to get prepared for that. We don’t yet have a serious conversation between what is left of organized labor and what is emerging as the cooperative movement in this country. We aren’t in deep enough conversation with each other about how as workers we’re going to shape our own future.
A big part of Cooperation Jackson is based on black reality. Ain’t nobody creating no jobs for us. Those days are long since past. In Jackson, Mississippi, I think the real unemployment rate is easily over 50 percent. I can knock on almost any door in a black, working-class community, any day of the week, and there’s an able-bodied adult, typically, who will answer the door. Any time of day. That gives you a real sense of what I mean by a deep level of unemployment.That is a challenge, but it’s also a great organizing opportunity.
You have some time and energy. Can we use that to do something collective in our community? Can we bring your skills, time, energy, resources, and talents together with other folks under similar circumstances and transform our reality?
It takes a lot of convincing of people. But we are starting to see some results, getting people to just start doing small things.
Let’s pull together some time and energy to fix the cars and bikes in the neighborhood, to deal with our city’s transportation crisis. Jackson has a few public buses. But we don’t have much of a public transportation system. If you don’t have a car, you can’t get a job or go to the grocery store, and there are a lot of people in that situation.
But that’s an opportunity also for us from an organizing perspective, because it helps us to put people in relationship. I have a car, I have some time. You know how to fix cars, you have some time. Let’s work together and we can create a mutually beneficial system.
How do we create our own kind of cooperative cab company? We are looking into that on a deeper level—how that would fulfill not just a transportation need but a social need in our community.
Rather than see the limitations, we are seeing there’s more space from the decay of late capitalism to actually do some things to push back and start seizing the means of production. That is a big part of our project in Jackson. We call it organizing for “community production” . . .
Source: Don’t Just Fight, Build!