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News :: DNC : Organizing
Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
19 May 2004
“Boston Comes Together” is the first installment of a five part series by the Boston Independent Media Center that will introduce all of the major groups organizing for events surrounding the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Mayor Tom Menino has invited 6,000 of his fellow democrats to Boston to pick a new presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention in July. 15,000 members of the press will follow them to the hub, and other components of the DNC entourage will bring the total “invasion” force to 35,000 people. If the U.S. electoral system encouraged candidates to bond with their constituents and know the problems they face, Bostonians would rightly be delighted to host such an event. As it is, the electoral system we have requires candidates to find simple, dumbed down, centrist messages that can appeal to large majorities instead of a platform that might have real substance and meaning for anyone. This majoritarian system serves to keep the diversity of voices that are extant in the United States out of the executive and legislative bodies of the government. Instead of party loyalists and dissenters alike enjoying an opportunity to talk to their representatives and candidates, the people of Boston are instead devising clever strategies that will allow them to breach the dividing walls, buffer zones, and police lines that will surround the Fleet Center and the delegates inside. One group, Boston’s DNC Coalition, has come up with a novel way to get their voices heard.

bostonsky.jpg


The Boston DNC Coalition (BDNCC) is one of the longest running DNC organizing efforts (second only to the Black Tea Society), and definitely the most diverse. The first meetings began in the fall of 2003. Within its ranks are members and representatives of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the District 7 Advisory Committee, Project VOICE, Critical Breakdown, Project Hip-Hop, Madison Park Development Corporation, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, United for a Fair Economy (UFE), Roxbury Safety Net, The Black Tea Society (BTS) and more. The DNC coalition is constantly reaching out to new groups and growing a community wide network. Last week they met with Worcester Mass Care, Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) and United for Justice with Peace (UJP) and secured their support and active participation.

The DNC coalition includes groups from all sides of Boston’s activist communities and bridges the especially wide gap between white activists and activists of color. I talked to long time activist and DNC Coalition member Cynthia Peters who described the problems that exist and how BDNCC is dealing with it. In her analysis many activists have a long history of not listening or understanding to the needs of people of color, and they can be resistant to altering their activities and strategies to reflect them. For example, a lot of white activists see the war as a central issue, whereas people of color, while sympathetic with an anti-war stance, generally see more pressing problems at home. Activists of color could be described as “crisis oriented”. Police brutality, transportation racism, environmental racism, disappeared immigrants, prison rates, jobs, education, and the de-funding of city programs are more likely to attract their attention than problems of foreign policy. This basic difference in emphasis between the two groups can lead to fundamental lack of trust that prevents either from working with the other. The BDNCC has worked very hard on both of these difficulties to bridge this gap.

Agreeing on priorities was difficult enough, but the disparities described above also led to different choices when it came time to decide on a winning plan of action. Early discussions about strategy included protests, rallies, bazaars and direct action, all at or near the Fleet Center. However, as the group got to know each other better, it became apparent that many activists of color are uncomfortable with a protest situation that would put them at risk of arrest. Especially without any guarantee that the delegates inside would be paying attention. The Fleet Center will be heavily guarded and fenced in, with a protest pen, or (as the police like to call it) a “free speech zone” two blocks away. It seems very unlikely that even yelling and screaming would affect the delegates frame of mind or the democratic platform. As the BDNCC continued to meet, several facts about the two activist strategies become clear.

White activists have developed a fairly constant set of strategies for social change. Giant focused protests have become the norm, beginning with the Seattle WTO protests in November 1999. When there isn’t a protest, many groups focus on media and education strategies designed to inform more people about the issues. There are also a number of solidarity groups, for those in jail and for those in countries with oppressive regimes. White activists generally have very little trust in politicians. However, many use lobbying and petitions in their strategies, often on a national scale (an exception perhaps being the environmental movement) instead of a local one.

Activists of color have very developed strategies that reflect different priorities. Instead of large protests that hold the risk of arrest and little guarantee of effectiveness, these groups have tended towards grassroots organizing and heavy lobbying of their local representatives in city and state government. They organize forums, youth groups, and neighborhood organizations and keep people aware through social networks, small newspapers, newsletters, and other media. One of their strongest suits is their close involvement in local politics.

In Boston in particular people of color have bonded very closely to their city councilpersons. Chuck Turner and Felix Arroyo both seem to be very well bonded to their constituents. Indeed, they are both part of the BDNCC. Mr. Turner comes to meetings in person and Mr. Arroyo usually has a representative present. City Councilperson districts seem to reflect real neighborhood boundaries rather than the strange paths the State Legislature districts follow. This gives communities of color that are concentrated in one area an electoral advantage compared to white activists who are generally spread thinly among several districts. From a Councilpersons viewpoint, bonding closely with ones constituents is then a winning election strategy. In contrast, State legislative Representatives are more likely to use “bridging” strategies to “bridge” the differences between divergent race and income groups in say, Brookline, the South End and northern Jamaica Plain. Activists of color in Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain have had great success in City Council and somewhat more limited success in the State Legislature when lobbying for better transportation, housing, and education policies.

With all of these different tactics in mind the BDNCC continued to deliberate until they came up with a common strategy that reflected all of the above. It includes the empowerment that a large gathering inspires and also speaks directly to those in positions of power (the delegates themselves). It provides activists from all corners with a chance to inform and educate more people and also gives the people themselves a chance to speak their mind on the issues and actually make contact with those who will actually be participating in the election.

The events that will be held in three to five locations across the city are being called “People’s Parties”. On the Sunday before the Convention officially begins, Mayor Menino is throwing lavish parties (with our tax dollars) for each of the 58 delegations in locations all over town. Members of the BDNCC have pulled out the maps and found that several of these shindigs are near public spaces where large crowds could be accommodated. One example is the Sam Adams Brewery’s proximity to the green space in front of the Stonybrook T stop. All of the delegates will be invited to stop on by and hear the voice of the people. The Kucinich campaign has already announced that their fifty or so delegates will be in attendance. Planning for the events, speakers, and other diversions at each People’s Party is still in the works, but with the large number of amazing activists from local groups coming together, finding people to step up to the podium seems to be the least of the BDNCC’s worries.

[Editor's note, 7/14/04:Currently, only one People's Party is planned, for the Stony Brook T stop.]

The main message of the Boston DNC Coalition during all of this will be “Another World is Possible, Fund the Dream”. Fund the Dream is a national initiative promoted by Chuck Turner that follows the ideas of Martin Luther King. The plan is to take one hundred billion dollars out of defense spending and spend it on social programs. This would effectively force the federal government to change their foreign policy strategy (to a more cooperative one) and allow for programs that would improve education and address racial disparities. Also within the initiative is a call to reinstate taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Of course, within the coalition there are hundreds of other messages to be heard. Another major focus is the new Bioterror lab being planned on the Campus of Northeastern University. Others believe the behemoth dilemma of corporations and their heavy involvement in American politics should be at the forefront. Still others point to the slew of transportation, environmental, and education policies that so often discriminate against communities that include people of color. All of these issues will doubtless be heard at the “people’s parties” on July 26th, but the genius of this particular protest strategy is that instead of being shouted out in a protest pen towards a large plastic fence, they will be spoken with dignity to ears that will pass directly into the convention. With a little luck and a little power of truth they will be repeated inside. Perhaps these words can help pull the democratic platform that seems to be running away from the American people, back towards a better, more responsive, and more responsible government.

If the national media is interested in actually informing the public they would do well to focus on the connections that Boston’s DNC Coalition is making between activists that traditionally work on opposite sides of the tracks. Instead they seem to prefer spending their time making up cockamamie stories about anarchists with flamethrowers and acid filled squirt guns. Next time you spring a buck for the Times, fifty cents for the Globe, or god forbid- The Herald, think of The Independent Media Center. Without us (and us includes you), the true activist scene in Boston wouldn’t be recorded.

***The Next article in this series will focus on the efforts of the Black Tea Society. ***


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Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
"The DNC coalition includes groups from all sides of Boston’s activist communities and bridges the especially wide gap between white activists and activists of color."

What, no mention of how certain prominent members of this group engage in undemocratic practices and backroom politicking in attempts to marginalize anarchists?
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
It is interesting that for all the noise the liberals are trying to make about how diverse and how many groups they are working with, they haven't done much besides hold lots of painfully boring meetings and decide to do an event before the DNC even starts!

A number of the participants in this group have voiced a desire to hold events during the week directly opposing the DNC. But the white liberals who started and control the group, who love to talk so much about crossing race boundaries, have no interest in opposing the democrats because they are lame-liberals to begin with. They control the group, so they get to decide what events other people are allowed to work on. This sort of hypocracy really annoys me.

I have talked to members of these community groups that Cynthia Peters says are afraid to march in the streets or militant, they say the want to be out there, it is only the liberals running the show that think poor people of color can't decide their own politics and tactics.

The People Parties sound interested, but they have hardly anything to do with opposing the DNC's invasion of this city.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
Wow. That's alot of negativity directed towards a group that the last two posts assume familiarity with. In my opinion as both a regular reader and contributor to Boston IndyMedia, your posts (under the guise of anonimity) are neither productive nor conductive to a greater unity between activist groups. One might even go so far as to ask whose side you're really on? Real-world progressives, or those who undermine confidence in activists and help maintain the status quo.

If you have problems with the BDNCC group, shouldn't you address your concerns with them? Directly?

In my experience, most activist "organizations" suffer from an excess of process and bureaucracy. That doesn't mean that real work doesn't get done, and it doesn't mean that individual voices aren't heard. Unless direct evidence can be given that supports your claims, I hope that most readers will disregard your posts as rants, and nothing more.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
I went to their meetings and was interesting in trying to be part of this group. I left because i couldn't stand the fact that a few liberals got to control the agenda, meeting times and direction of the group. It was also sad to see folks who wanted to organize events against the DNC being stopped from doing so because these few self appointed leaders support electoral politics.

I tried voicing these concerns and was met by rude responses from the 'leaders'. They weren't interested in the democratic principles of 'their' group.

As far as the 'all talk-no action' claim. I feel that the burden of proof is on them say what they are actually DOING DURING THE DNC. So i ask, what does this coaltion that is more diverse and grand and whatever than everyone else planning to do during that week??
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
No kidding the DNC coalition is marginalizing direct anti-DNC protest! The leaders are Democrats and Democrat supporters! Duh!

Anyway I thought that the anarchists were all clear about not working with authoritarians. So what are they doing with these liberal democrats anyway?
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
Actually, I do think it is productive to get these things out in the air, having an email or name would definitely help the dialogue though. Would Curious Questions, Beantown Black and Red, and anyone and everyone else experiencing problems with BDNCC "leadership" please contact me? (email above) My original idea was actually to write about organizational process in the BDNCC, because when I first attended I didn't see a real decision making process in place and felt that I was kept out of planning meetings on purpose (I could have been mistaken of course), but I liked the combining of strategies theme so much I went with it. Apparently the BDNCC has just adopted a formal decision making process (last week or so), Consensus with a 3/4 majority backup. I asked Cynthia if any problems had come up that made it necessary to create that process and she said no. Sounds like there have been some she didn't know about. I'm willing to be the detective who figures out what's going wrong and if somebody is doing wrong, so please contact me ASAP. It's for the good of everybody involved that these differences get settled.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
I would hardly dismiss Cynthia Peters as a liberal. The issue here may not be so much one of the radicalism of one's politics as which strategies one thinks wise in a particular situation. There are many radicals who dogmatically advocate direct action regardless of circumstances. There are others who have a more nuanced view and, while emotionally preferring direct action and the empowerment it can provide, realize that sometimes other tactics are actually more effective. I used to be in the first camp. As I did organizing over many years, and got a better grasp of the complexities of it all, I moved to the second camp. I find that many people in first camp dismiss people in the second camp as liberals, when they're not. None of this is to say there isn't a dialogue to be had here, but let's be clear what we're debating--namely, tactics and strategy, not reformism versus radicalism.

None of this is to say that not protesting during the DNC makes sense, but I think just accusing the BDNCC coalition of wussing out is a mistake. There are real questions of tactics and strategy here. And,it's true, those of us in the white, middle class left have fallen into sort of a rut regarding which tactics we use during big elite gatherings like the DNC. Lots of folks recognize this and having been trying to experiemnt with alternatives. This one of trying to organize protests before the DNC but within shouting distance of the delegates (don't forget that part) actually strikes me as rather ingenious.

A lot of time the hardcore direct actionists take direct action, regardless of what potential allies may think and whether it makes sense in the circumstances. I don't pretend to know what's going on in this case, but I have heard of other cases where activists of color were put off by the choice by white middle class activists to engage in militant action, without consulting the activists of color, and in circumstances the activists of color thought the direct action was counter-productive. (You want to talk about democracy--that creates a situation where the most privileged activists are unaccountable to the least privileged.) I certainly have seen circumstances where people were engaging in militant action for the sake of militancy, in a way that was counter-productive. There are also many times where direct action is quite appropriate, but we need to think about these issues strategically and tactically, not just choosing what we do based on our poltiical beliefs.

As for lack of democracy in the BDNCC, I am fully prepared to believe it. It seems to happen all the time in putting together coalitions. I heard similar stories from the early days of the Boston Global Action Network and United for Justice with Peace. I think there's a problem here that probably goes beyond the individual people involved and is more systemic--which means it doesn't make a great deal of sense to bash the individuals involved. Constructive criticism and trying to figure out why we (the left) have such trouble making democracy work is probably more in order. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's not how we've been socialized and so it doesn't come "naturally", especially when working with others we don't know well. How we fix that probelm is a whole nother kettle of tea.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
20 May 2004
Excellent points, Conan. Vivat!
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
"I asked Cynthia if any problems had come up that made it necessary to create that process and she said no. Sounds like there have been some she didn't know about."

She didn't know about? Are you serious? How about some problems that she is directly at the center of! What is it they say about never trusting liberals?

Ask her if she remembers trying to undermine democratic group process, and taking unilateral action to try and force an anarchist off of one of working committees. Maybe that will refresh her recollection somewhat.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
So far none of these individuals have contacted me to back up their claims. Untill somebody emails or contacts me directly to comment, on the record, about a lack of democratic process in the BDNCC I have only one choice: To believe that these posters: beantown black and red, Curious Questions, maybe an answer?, and hardcore direct actionist, are imposters simply trying to create more divisions in the Boston activist scene. Their comments, without any backup, proof, examples, or otherwise will continue to be simply disruptive untill any of them chooses to take the constructive route and contact me. I urge the Boston Community to be suspicious of these comments untill they can be substantiated. Creating hard feelings between groups is a very old COINTELPRO tactic. The best thing we all can do is to support the BDNCC's new approach to the DNC, I am sure many of them will support other efforts in kind, as they do with several groups already. If it turns out that there are organizational problems, they can be worked out, these are good people trying to do good things. They are volunteers. It is never sound policy to simply scratch off a whole population of activists based on a bunch of hearsay.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
i just emailed you pete.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
And i don't think it is a 'new approach' to go to politicians and plead with them to be 5-degrees more progressive. I think it is dis-enpowering.
Solidarity forever
21 May 2004
I am a Boston area anarchist activist who was briefly involved in the formation of this DNC coalition back in December.

Boston IMC and Pete Stidman deserve praise for undertaking this series of reports on counter-DNC organizing. That said I have a few points to make about this article and some of the shamefull comments above.

Pete Stidman unfortunately sets up an overly simplistic dichotomy between white activists and activists of color. Stidman is correct that huge differences exist between the predominantly young white movement of summit hoppers and the movements of poor communities of color. However there are plenty of "white" people involved in the labor movement, the housing movement and other grassroots organizing efforts. I think precise language is vital especially when dealing with political differences.

As for the anonymous naysayers: beantown black and red, Curious Questions, maybe an answer?, and hardcore direct actionist: if you continue with the unprincipled behaviour demonstrated above you're only hurting the movement and helping the enemy. Other comments above have made some good points, let me just add one thing.

"maybe an answer?" writes:
"I thought that the anarchists were all clear about not working with authoritarians. So what are they doing with these liberal democrats anyway? "

What does "authoritarian" mean?
- Someone who exhibits authoritarian behaviour? Many people do this from time to time including numerous "anarchists."

- Someone who follows the political ideology of Lennin, Trotsky or Mao? The DNC Coalition is made up of community and activist groups. While it's possible that the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation has a hidden Trotskist, or that someone from Project Hip-Hop has a copy of Mao's little red book at home this should not stop anarchists from working with the coalition.

- Someone who is not an anarchist?
I suspect that the "authoritarian" label often means just this. But what happens when anarchists only work with other anarchists? We wind up in the situation we are in today where except for on college campuses anarchists make up a small part of social movements. Compare this to a century ago when anarchists in the U.S. played a central role in the labor, women's and other movements. Sectarianism will get us nowhere.

Finally I encourage anyone who has problems with the Boston DNC Coalition to contact them or one of their member groups directly. Anarchists can also bring up their issues on the Boston anarchist list for discussion. My email address is posted above for those who wish to contact me.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
Although I was critical of some of the comments posted at the beginning, I'm a little bothered by people just dismissing them as being needlessly divisive. I haven't been to any of the BDNCC meetings and have no idea what happened. Some of the posters are making comments that come across as somewhat dogmatic. On the other hand, there are very often problems with a lack of democracy in coalitions and other activist groups--including many theoretically anarchist groups I might note. Lack of democracy is not just a liberal problem. In any case, while I think the critics of the BDNCC should provide some concrete examples to back their claims, I think it's a mistake just to dismiss their claims at this point. This is so, even if you have been to the meetings and disagree with them. People can be in the same place at the same time and experience things differently, depending on who they are and what they are trying to achieve. People who are dominating activist groups in an undemocratic fashion often honestly do not realize that they're doing it. We need to raise these issues, but I think we should all cut each other some slack and do it in a respectful way.

I also agree with MK--anarchists will never get anywhere if we refuse to work with non-anarchists. We'll just be stuck with the punk scene, which is not much of a grassroots base. You want to convert people to anarchism? Well, work with them and show them you actually have something to contribute. Then they might take our ideas more seriously. I think the term "authoritarian" is thrown around too lightly by anarchists sometimes. Yes, some liberals are very authoritarian. Some anarchists are as well, when you get down to how they act in meetings. Other liberals have quite democratic sensibilites, even if they don't have a radical analysis. Not only can we work with these people, we may learn something from them (I have). To claim they have nothing to teach us simply because we disagree with their political analysis is to become mired in a dogmatism that contradicts anarchist principles.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
I went to a UJP Strategy Conference months ago when Cynthia Peters was first proposing a DNC response group (I won't call it a protest group because they explicitly said they didn't want to come across as protesting). Cynthia Peters was in the process of organizing a meeting with "leaders" from communities of color and deliberately didn't inform UJP (white liberals) about the meeting time so as to not intimidate the colored folks with a room full of white people. I think this is a troubling approach to movement building and I would tend to take the criticisms raised by others here as genuine.

At this UJP meeting I heard every excuse possible for not confronting the Democrats. From anyone but Bush to lets not upset our local politicians. I was the only one who spoke in favor of a totally independent position (even the one ISOer in the room went along with the prevailing attitudes). I got chided by Kucinich supporters and everyone else pretty much looked at me like I was crazy. I haven't tried to work within that group since.

I want to make clear that I was advocating a position of independence and open criticism of the Democrats, not direct action tactics. The point was political not tactical.

So let's stop griping and do something about it! Who else wants to call for a march on Monday,July 26th that will reject calls to reform the Democratic Party?
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
21 May 2004
Thank you "mk" for your input. You are entirely correct, there are alot of "white" people in labor*, housing, and other grassroots organizing efforts. I should have qualified that segment of my article a little more precisely. I was attempting to speak in terms of percentages, as in, the majority of (not all) white activists are involved other types of activism, like summit hopping (nice term!), solidarity, media, environmental protection, and anti-war efforts. There are, of course, a number of exceptions to the rule. However, *labor is an entirely different area with a long history of racism. I skipped over that area in my article to avoid confusing the main theme. The racism that existed in the labor movement around the turn of the century and up untill recent times is, in a way of thinking, the root of the legacy of racial division that we are dealing with in the movement now. Labor unions were "whites-only" almost without exception for the first half of the last century. People of color were often used by evil corporate types as scabs, resulting in further racism. While Europe progressed into Social Democracy, Americans were not united enough to push for change. Labor has changed, but it seems to be too late. We're post-industrial headed into some completely new thing. Anyway, now I'm getting sidetracked. See why I left it out? Thanks for the constructive words--- by the way, why not sign your name? It's nice to know who you're talking to.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
22 May 2004
Might I suggest that the solution the confusion around the term "white activists" is to use the term "white, middle class activists"? Of course, that's not entirely accurate since some people of color and working people are involved with that wing of the movement, but it is predominantly white and middle class. The issues were talking about aren't just race issues, but about a combination of race and class.
brou hahaha...
25 May 2004
it's difficult to decide just where to begin. thanks pete for bringing to light work around the dnc, but especially for unearthing and providing a forum to discuss the apparently giant chasm between 'community groups' and 'anarchists' organizing for the dnc in boston.

by way of introduction, i am a person of color who identifies politically as an anti-authoritarian, especially because the word anarchist has so much baggage attached to it (i immediately think of young, white people with allegience to an exclusive subculture, dogmatic political views and awkward relations with people of color despite their best anti-racist intentions, with some strong exceptions of course). this view has been developed over several years of working with and in the anarchist scene here in boston and in various cities around the us, and i've found this to be the general case with anarchists. like i say there are some very well-respected anarchists in people-of-color scenes, and much good organizing happens as the result of the work of a small number of people who identify explicitly as anarchists. all this is to say that while the black tea society has been saying a lot about 'defending boston' from gentrification and fighting against racism, it still has an overwhelmingly young, white membership (are there ANY people of color involved?) and is viewed with considerable skepticism among the many radical people of color in and around town. that's point #1.

then there's this issue of calling out a long-time organizer in a public forum and dishing out all sorts of alleged dirt about her. this really is, to use mk's phrase (and that is his name for whoever asked) shameful behavior, bordering on childish. there are so many things that warrant genuine concern and discussion in the activist world, but to let what seems like a personal beef with one individual cloud the community's perception of the work of an entire group and its process is absolutely counterproductive, assuming our intention is to be strong in our resistance. we are at a fragile place in race relations in boston, with tender motions of solidarity between traditionally POC groups and traditionally white groups, with a foundation of shared work being built painstakingly as a road to a cooperative future. when panthers and AIM oldtimers and puerto rican independentistas welcomed an animal liberationist as an equal at a political prisoner event a few weeks ago at umass, it was a beautiful thing and a long time coming. i have never seen this type of acceptance of animal rights work (a traditionally white liberal or anarchist area of work); in fact it is usually greeted with derision or even laughter.

my point here is that when people on imc who purport to speak for the real, hardcore anarchists dismiss the support that the black community in roxbury/south end gives to councillor chuck turner for example, it's clear this stems from a profound ignorance of both his politics, and the contribution he has made to his constituents as well as to radical organizing efforts in boston. and when that type of ignorance morphs into broad slander of the work of many people committed to the same opposition to a common enemy, we have to be proactive in questioning it.

another strain of ignorance apparent here is about the coalition's process. its roots go back about a year ago to maybe may or so when a few activists (mostly POC antiauthoritarians) went around to established leaders around the city (and this shouldn't be seen reflexively as a negative thing- it is both natural and desirable to have strong 'leaders' among us with wisdom and experience and the ability to galvanize the community into action; indeed we should encourage these qualities in all members of our groups), like chuck and felix and mel king and attieno davis and various (longtime, well-respected) white anarchists, and the chinese progressive association and ACE and national lawyers' guild and so on, to set up a democratic process catalyzing a broad and racially diverse response to the dnc in this traditionally segregated city. over several months, it became clear that the dnc had not registered as a priority esp among some of the larger grassroots groups, and this effort began to be the work of a smaller-than-ideal group of activists committed to this vision of a broad response. it was only when cynthia peters got involved that the vast treasure of allied groups across boston began to be involved and for this we all owe her a debt of gratitude, especially black tea i would suggest since the visible face of dnc work in boston was no longer just a white anarchist one. not in the know about the specific incident that was mentioned about her trying tothrow out someone from a working group, but this one allegation in the face of her longstanding commitment to radical change is not nearly enough for me to condemn her as some of the posters here seem ready to do. i remember not seeing any black tea folks at the big meeting where like 75 people from dozens of groups came together for the first time, though several white anarchists from boston all the way to new hampshire were there. and when i asked some people working with black tea later, they said they didn't know about it, despite it being announced widely enough to have this huge response. what this tells me just empirically is that black tea work is being done among a minority of the progressive/radical community with narrowly focused politics and activity. on the other hand, it seems to me that the majority of people working with the coalition that's planning the people's parties are POC, and would likely knock out anyone who calls them 'liberal'.

another thing that got to me was how after FDP a couple years back it became obvious that better communication (at the very least) needed to happen between anarchists and organizers in 'majority-minority' areas, esp when the former were organizing actions in the latter's communities or on their behalf (actions against racism, police brutality, etc). and so when the small group launched in may, a decision was made to stay in touch with anarchists planning a dnc response, and concerted efforts were made to communicate the necessity for these folks to be accountable to the larger community. it was requested through an intermediary that any actions possibly representing or implicating the larger anti-dnc community be communicated to the broader group ahead of time. imagine the reaction when infoshop suddenly featured a big call for antiauthoritarians to come to boston for a colsulta on how to defend boston. even several well-known and involved anarchists in boston said they had no knowledge of this ahead of time and expressed dismay at the lack of accountability. this coupled with repeated statements by top black tea honchos about the broad group's work that i have difficulty classifying as anything but foolish, as well as an insistence on working separately or at best in a guarded and insultingly suspicious way, has contributed to the current situation. and to pour gasoline onto the already-lit fire with the poorly thought-out tactic of posting personal attacks here and to a public imc-boston working list risks subverting months of hard work and years of trust-building by igniting a full-blown conflagration in our collective scene here in boston. not to mention alienating black tea even further from all the folks we know will side with cynthia when forced now to do so. guess who's going to be laughing at all of us come july?

finally, there are reasons why comments can be posted anonymously when necessary on imc. no i don't want to identify myself in this sorry 'debate' so don't ask. just let's all of us just please think really hard and unselfishly about consequences before taking decisions which may even seem minor right now but which might have far-reaching consequences. and let's try really hard to be constructive, keeping in mind that the dnc is not the last thing we will be working on in boston. we have decades, centuries really, of mistrust and backstabbing to undo, so a misstep or two should be taken in stride and goodhearted people encouraged to be respectful of differences as much as possible rather than denounced at the first opportunity. such 'soft' ways will go a long way to making our movement much more durable and effective and democratic in the long run. assuming that's what we all want.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
31 May 2004
It is outright WRONG and paternalistic to say that:
1. People of color are not anarchists
2. "White activists" don't trust politicians
and
3. People of color support and trust politicians and will not want to risk arrest

Whatever! What universe do you inhabit? Just because people of color don't traditionally follow white Left-led patterns of penning ourselves into chain link fenced areas at mass demonstrations doesn't mean we don't take huge fucking risks ALL THE TIME, that our organizing for our liberation ISN'T direct action. I see just as many (if not more) white people who swallow the lies of politicians who exploit them. In fact, there's a reason why people of color vote less and have less faith in the electoral system- we've caught on.
Your simplistic analysis is insulting and misleading. Please do your research in the future and don't make gross generalizations like you have here. I suggest that you look at the Anarchist People of Color website for some freaking education please, Pete Stidman.
www.illegalvoices.org
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
01 Jun 2004
I am from out of town and am visiting Boston to protest around the dmeocratic convention. The article and comments are interesting and important for making social change in this country.. I have a simple question. Does the Boston DSNC coaliton have a website?
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
01 Jun 2004
"If you continue with the unprincipled behaviour demonstrated above you're only hurting the movement and helping the enemy."

MK, are you trying to sound like George W. and the neoconservatives? I think they use that same line of reasoning: Dissent is unpatriotic. Criticize the state and you are helping the terrorists.

It sounds like mk has been offended on a personal level, and is trying to discredit those who would dare to question the coalition's leadership.

Pete Stid's comments have expressed a similar sentiment, and in a more explicitly self-serving way: He seems to be saying "unless you are willing to contact me and appear in MY article, then you must be an establishment-minded liberal tryring to create divisions and undermine the movement!"

As an objective observer, it appears to me, at least from these posts, that the leaders are the ones creating divisions within the movement, by marginalizing the most radical and passionate members.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
01 Jun 2004
And when I say the most radical and passionate members, I mean not only the white anarchists, but anarchists of color, and those in general who advocate direct action.
very serious
01 Jun 2004
My comments above were not meant to stifle dissent, but to criticize unprincipled behaviour. Organizing for radical social change is a constant struggle against the powers that be. And sometimes it's a struggle with other people in the movement over political differences or problems with behaviour. It's important that these movement differences and problems be dealt with in a principled way. Making anonymous public accusations without providing context is not a good way to solve problems in the movement. Person to person and group level communication is a much better way to hold people accountable for their behaviour and discuss political differences.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
07 Jun 2004
As a person of color who has grown up in this city and does grassroots organizing in Roxbury and Dorchester, I am happy that this conversation is happening- but I am wondering if any of the people participating in this conversation share my background. I question this because I keep feeling like most of the people in this dialogue are talking about communities of color that they are not part of and don't really interact with on a regular basis.

I am painfully aware of the chasm that exists between white "liberals" and communities of color and "radical" anarchists and communities of color. I have had my fair share of bad experiences working with both groups and I have had some good experiences that offer me hope that things could be better if there was some more hard concrete discussion.

Some people are also talking about Cynthia Peters and blaming her for things that I believe they either don't know the full story of, or that are much bigger than Cynthia and that they want to put all on her. (And I know the incident that you are talking about and if you had heard more sides of the story than the one person I am guessing you heard it from - then you might have a more nuanced analysis of what happened.)

So beyond the internal issues people may have with the BDNCC process - The whole point of The People's Parties is to create a forum for some real democracy. A place where people can come and be heard. We are focusing on the low-income communities of color in Boston because those communities are often the most unheard and unrespected.

While I understand that in this time of a very undemocratic government that is down with "coalitions of the willing" against the protests of the many- that many of us feel very disempowered; however, when many of the white liberals and white anarchists I have met come into communities of color, they often bring their own white priveledge and sense of entitlement with them in a way that shuts down people of color or makes them feel unwelcome in their own community. I can't speak for all people- but I have had this experience many times and talked about it with people many times.

So the deal is that the People's Parties are trying to empower people locally to talk about what they believe the government should do for them and to encourage people to speak directly to the government about these issues- demanding justice and not just campaign promises.

This strategy may not be the all out protest that some want; but I have two responses to that. First, sometimes you have to take step 1 before you can take step 7. I wish we were at step 7 but we are not- so we are organizing around step 1. Second, the People's Parties are on Sunday and there are 5 days of convention for people to plan around, and I am glad people are planning other events that address different stages of political action.

Just my two cents.
Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
12 Jun 2006
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Re: Boston Comes Together; DNC Organizing Part I
17 Jun 2006
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