DD 2017 Round Up: In the Community

From neighborhood townhalls, collecting petitions for Florida rights restoration, our Books & Breakfast program to teaching a class at a prison in South Florida, 2017 was the year that brought us into deep community.

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We did work this year. It wasn't flashy, easy, much of it wasn't covered but we made an impact with our people this year.

DD 2017 Round Up: Our Actions

We did work this year. It wasn't flashy, easy, much of it wasn't covered but we made an impact with our people this year. 

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Dream Defenders Statement on the Condemnation of M4BL Platform by Some Pro-Israel Groups

On Monday, the Dream Defenders along with 50 other organizations, representing hundreds of Black people across the country launched A Vision for Black Lives, an agenda that clearly defines policies, organizing tactics and resources to advance Black liberation. The platform included a call for the US government to divest from military expenditures and US aid to the State of Israel and instead, invest this war-making money towards building infrastructure to support Black and Brown communities in the US. Since our launch, some Zionist organizations have condemned the platform and have announced that they will cut all ties with the Movement for Black Live, going so far as to label some in the BLM movement anti-semitic.

Their response has made it all the more clear why we stand in solidarity with Palestine and with Black and Brown people around the world fighting for justice.

 

Those who have previously claimed to be allies of the Black lives matter movement have shown us that they are comfortable with our resistance so long as it fits within particular confines and restrictions. It is convenient to endorse black lives matter when it benefits you. And as long as we stay silent about Israeli apartheid, they will “stand” with Black liberation in the US. Now that our movement has taken a stand against all forms of white supremacy and oppression, Black lives no longer matter. We want no part in this quid pro quo form of politics. True solidarity does not come with strings attached.

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Happy Independence* Day

Here at The Dream Defenders, we know that this holiday will always need an asterisk until the racial habits and oppression that are engrained in the DNA of this country are abolished. For as long as there has been oppression in this country, there has been clapback. From the ancestors Frederick Douglass and Phillis Wheatley to the young writers and orators of today, we express our anger and weave our path to liberation through our words.

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We must be working on getting our people what we need all the while envisioning and enacting the future that we want.

The Abolinitionist Framework

I had heard about the Highlander Center, but I never knew just how integral it has been to the liberation movement. It is a place that energetically grounds itself in personal transformation as well as the transformation of our society as a whole. Leaning on history we see the sister I’d call the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Septima Clarke, and how she used the highlander space to teach former slaves how to pass literacy test so that they could vote under Jim Crow.  Organizing Black folks who could pass the literacy test had transformational effects on our society including  the creation of the CIO, the first inclusive union, which  was facilitated at the Highlander Center. The highlander is where people who are concerned with our condition in this country go to transform their lives, their values, their circumstances, their communities; it’s a place that transforms  the overall human experience in Amerikkka. Since its creation people have gone there to plot the revolution and dismantle the dominant white narrative.

 

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We had a team of radical educators create a curriculum that can teach children about revolutionary organizations.

In February and March, Dream Defenders engaged our base through a cultural art education project that focused on revolutionary organizations from around the world and highlighted their elements of REBELLION. It’s been an enlightening process for the organization and for the squaDDs to uncover how each of these revolutionary organizations have garnered power in the past to create transformational change.  It wasn't enough for us to create the artwork, we want to share this knowledge far and wide.  

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Patriarchy

To be honest patriarchy is still as abstract of a subject as it when I was first introduced to it. While I understand theoretically that Patriarchy is a system that values masculinity and men over women in a way that devalues us, exploits our labor, and systemically rewards and perpetuates masculinity as superior to femininity. Whether patriarchy rears it's head in my language when I say sorry excessively to white, entitled men at my hostess job, or reflects in the dollars and cents in my paycheck - it's presence is known. 

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Blackout Reflection: No One Hand Should Have All That Power

We live in the age of uploaded insecurities and weaknesses in the name of forming community.  And yet, somehow our tangible feelings become lost in the experience of impersonal expression. Social media coddles an individual’s expectation for recognition and a false sense of connection through that recognition. 

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Studies confirm that being on social media actually makes us depressed. When Sandra Bland was killed, my timeline was filled with images of her in her death and as the week went by, tiny pieces of the story came out one headline at a time, with each one flooding my entire timeline for hours...

Blackout Reflection: The Opium of the People

note, this is a part of a series of reflections made during the 73 day social media blackout that Dream Defenders just ended.  Find out more here.

Before I joined the Dream Defenders, I was one of the many organizers around the world whose work did not reverberate through social media with thousands of likes and follows. Even though I was doing amazing grassroots work with some of the dopest people in the world, I felt voiceless and powerless because I didn’t know how to talk about my organizing online. I used to get together with friends and ask them how they did it, feverishly writing down tips for how to make my work attract attention because I felt like I had to. When I shared this with other Dream Defenders after arriving here in July, I was surprised to hear that even people who I had perceived as having the power of a huge organization, still felt invisible as individuals over social media. In the age of the internet, power and exposure have become increasingly relative - you can always have more followers and retweets and you’re bombarded with examples of others who have all of these things all the time. It’s clear that social media creates a feeling of loneliness and inadequacy for many of us regardless of our positionality.  

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As we entered The Blackout, we wondered, “Is everyone talking about Black lives matter or is everyone on our timelines talking about black lives matter...or about the genocide in Palestine, or about kids getting kicked out of classrooms, or about all of our family, friends and community members who are stuck behind bars.

Our Social Media Blackout is Over.

On September 21, we began a 10-week online hiatus that ends today.  Our stated goal was to step back and deeply analyze our engagement with our movements’ most powerful medium - social media.  We all felt that something was...off. And, if we’re being totally honest, we were tired.  After three years of feeding the news, we found it nearly impossible for our feet to keep up with our mouths and thumbs.  And, we weren’t well.

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