I am an enthusiast for solidarity work with countries in the so called developing world. That enthusiasm has taken me across the globe. One of the countries that I was most inspired by is Haiti, the first independent black republic. Despite billions of dollars in aid money after the 2010 earthquake, there has been little to no progress reconstructing homes, or vital infrastructure.
In 2013, I plan on continuing my support for a school, medical clinic and church outside of Port au Prince in Carrefour. To truly make the kind of impact on the ground that matters in a place where foreign interests and aid organizations already abound, the team I assemble needs a clear mission to let the people of Haiti know that we love them. Focusing on sending love as opposed to just money or aid workers is an interesting concept I hope to build on in the near future but right now I am too sleepy to carry on.
The qualitative impact of the rapid defunding of public education from pre-K to college and growing economic inequality is often understated in reports. Buried underneath statistics and reports are real individuals whose futures are predetermined by race, class or both. As a society we are able to accept this reality by looking away from it, preferring instead to hold fast to our foundational myths about free-markets, individualism, self-help and so on. The truth is that our market economy, now dominated by finance capital, is writing “we the people” out of the story of America.
The NYTimes published an article today entitled, “Affluent Students Have an Advantage and the Gap Is Widening”. The stories inside raise the need for profound change if we are serious about living in a nation with liberty and justice for all.
“Low-income students with above-average scores on eighth grade tests have a college graduation rate of 26 percent — lower than more affluent students with worse test scores. Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference in the share of affluent and poor students who earned a college degree. Now the gap is 45 points. The gap has also grown in college entrance rates and spending per child on tutors, sports, music and other enrichment activities.”
“There is death and there is rebirth.”
As we approach December 21st and the end of an era according to the Mayan calendar, I’ve been reflecting on what changes if any the current moment may signal for the future of the progressive movement.
Michigan’s Right to Work legislation was passed after other successful actions across the country by Walmart workers, a strike by fast food workers in New York, and defeat of the ultra-right in the 2012 election among other things. And yet how we make sense of these contradictory moments depends. It depends on leadership—- leadership that stands in the gap between what is and what could be. Effective and progressive leaders are rare because they recognize the potential in every death for rebirth. They see every setback as a setup for a comeback. These are times that require that kind of visionary leadership today.
Now that President Obama has been announced the clear winner of the 2012 contest, does his re-election signal the end of Reaganism as a dominant force in U.S. politics?
Prominent American conservative Charles Krauthammer predicted
earlier this week that the re-election of President Obama could signal a reversal of the 30 year legacy of Ronald Reagan or as he describes it, “attacking [the New Deal/Great Society’s] foundations — with radical tax reduction, major deregulation, a frontal challenge to unionism…and an …attempt at restraining government growth.”
So was Krauthammer right? Will Reaganism finally take its resting place in a grave next to “the Gipper”? The progressive new majority coalition that won Obama elections in 2008 and again in 2012 was in many ways an anti-Reagan coalition. The coalition included unions, African-Americans, Latinos and women who have watched the last 30 years of “conservative ascendancy” chip away at the gains won by important social movements of the 20th century. Millennials, who overwhelmingly supported the President’s re-election, are of course the children of the Reagan era facing the actualized worse consequences of the conservative agenda. Also, young voters successfully fought back against the decades-old ‘war on drugs’ associated with the Reagan regime in Colorado and Washington. President Obama was able to win large majorities among these constituencies by essentially running as an anti-Reagan candidate. For example, he promised to end the era of ”trickle-down economics”. But as we saw in 2009 and 2010, effective electoral strategies are no guarantees of trans formative governance. Reaganism was not just about electing one President but empowering a governing coalition made up of the so called “New Right” including Christian conservatives, Wall Street CEO’s, right-wing populists and others.
Honestly, the answer to Krauthammer’s question about a new progressive era of course depends less on what President Obama does or does not do than what the new majority coalition that got Obama re-elected chooses to do. If the coalition remains as it is today—-a chance amalgamation of separate interest groups driven by identity politics—-then Wall Street and the forces of reaction will keep the Reagan social and economic vision in tact as they have done under previous Democratic administrations. If this progressive electoral coalition becomes a broad-based, self-determining justice movement (connected by more than an election but a shared purpose)we are not only capable of resisting the power of finance and the far-right but of governing and initiating decades of progressive gains. The Millennial generation is the largest, most diverse and progressive generation in American history and are ready to lead the change. The first immediate test of whether or not such a movement emerges begins during the debate over the fiscal cliff and austerity in Congress. Wall Street CEO’s are already poised for a coup. Our move.
Every year, our annual report provides us with the opportunity to explain to our supporters how we have allocated your generous donations and to give you details about the lifesaving programs we’re running in clinics, hospitals, and feeding centers all across the globe.
In short, it gives us the opportunity to be accountable to the people who make our work possible.
Download our 2011 annual report here.
Definitely one of the best teams in global health around the world.Imagine if instead of sending drones and military bases America sent doctors at record numbers around the world.
Will you Donate to a just cause for my 26th birthday this month?
I have worked all of my young adult life empowering people of African descent to create change in their communities. This incredible journey has taken me across more than three continents and cities right here at home. I can safely say that there is a lot more work to be done, but I can’t do it without you. Now, I am in the process of working with many of my peers to create a network of organizers across the Americas to celebrate our common history, humanity and envision a better future where every person of African descent can reach their full potential—-that means first and foremost ending the 40 year ’war on drugs’ that has costs so many lives here and abroad.
Tunisia is hosting a World Social Forum next February, 2013. This is a meeting of progressive minded thinkers, activists and organizers from around the world who will discuss the most pressing issues of our time. If you agree that mass incarceration, drug abuse, gang and police violence in African-American communities should be included on the agenda then please help send me to Tunisia.
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