A time for resistance: Detroit 2013 June 23-30
By Grace Lee Boggs
Special to the Michigan Citizen
Detroit 2013 will be a gathering of movement activists from all over the country to broaden and strengthen the resistance that the American people are mounting to the abuses and assaults we are suffering from corporate and political elites.
Across the country, extreme right-wing forces are systematically attacking our most basic values and most cherished rights and responsibilities. They are turning everything we love into a way to make money, attempting to control our land, water and the very sources of life and creativity.
They are dismantling education, public services and political life. They are waging perpetual war to control the resources of the globe. They are attempting to destroy our spirits, our history, our memories and our dignity.
Around the country, we, the people, are mobilizing to resist these actions. In North Carolina, a coalition is emerging to bring public attention to the efforts of the state legislature to privatize schools, destroy unions and assault communities.
Groups of citizens and organizations, including long-time civil rights organizations like the NAACP, the Beloved Communities Center and local churches have agreed to send large delegations to Raleigh, N.C., to participate in nonviolent civil disobedience and to serve as moral witnesses to the attempts of the legislature.
In Wisconsin, Growing Power, a leader in urban agriculture and sustainable, just food systems, is joining with others to challenge the Monsanto Corporation. They are participating in a “teach-in” and March Against Monsanto to protest its efforts to control seeds and foster chemically and genetically altered agribusiness.
In Jackson, Miss. a “Plan for Self-Determination, Participatory Democracy and Economic Justice” has emerged, inspired by urban agriculture, people’s assemblies, participatory budgeting, freedom schooling and new economic relationships.
Spearheaded by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the Jackson People’s Assembly, the Plan is an initiative to apply many of the best practices in the promotion of democracy, solidarity economy and sustainable development, combined with progressive community organizing and electoral politics.
Its objectives are “to deepen democracy in Mississippi and to build a vibrant, people-centered solidarity economy that empowers Black and other oppressed peoples.”
A spirit of resistance is growing in Detroit, echoing acts around our country. Every day, we endure attacks from a corporate elite determined to remake our city into a place where the wealthy can live, work, play and be served by the rest of us.
Corporate interests are grabbing land while people are unable to pay escalating utility bills and property taxes, and mortgages are forcing people out of their homes. Speculators are buying up apartment buildings, evicting long-term residents in hopes of attracting newer, wealthier tenants.
As some people, desperate and despairing, turn against one another, looking for a quick fix, a moment of relief, our neighborhoods have become war zones, with private police forces and federal agencies uniting to impose control.
These assaults have challenged us to deepen and grow our resistance. Drawing on our experiences as a movement city and the depth of relationships we have woven, we are struggling to recreate life in the face of abandonment.
We have mounted petition drives and court cases, challenging the legality of emergency manager laws and privatization. We are organizing people’s conventions, neighborhood councils, people’s law schools, forums and teach-ins.
We are demonstrating in Lansing, being arrested at city hall, marching in front of federal, state and city office buildings and the banks that are responsible for much of the pain in our city. We have moved people back into homes and challenged foreclosures. We are developing nonviolent ways of problem-solving in communities, turning to one another to resolve differences and to provide for our own safety and security.
These are more than acts of protest. They are reassertions of our humanity, acts of resistance to the immoral policies of vicious forces bent on the destruction of all that we cherish in the pursuit of profit and power.
We will not be silent as schools are closed, and people go hungry and lose their homes. We will not be silent as our land is taken for private gain and used as a dumping ground for the waste of the petroleum industry. We will not be silent when we are told we must kill other people to protect our way of life. We will not be silent when we are told there are no alternatives.
Enough is enough! This is our city, our state and our country. We can and will create a new world — beloved communities that heal ourselves and our earth; and cities that value our children, reconnect our generations, provide for our needs, and promote sustainable, productive and peaceful ways of life.
We are doing it every day. Some of us are creating new schools based upon a commitment to redefine, respirit and rebuild our communities. Others are creating Peace Zones for Life, engaging in restorative justice.
Muralists, writers, spoken word artists, musicians and artisans are sharing visions across our city. Detroiters are creating food security, healthy food, urban gardens, and new policies that will allow us to feed ourselves and one another.
Others are committed to digital justice, exploring new forms of work and culture. Cooperatives, neighborhood businesses, technology centers for children, and new forms of local production and self-sufficiency are emerging in our neighborhoods.
We resist the cynicism and hopelessness spread by the corporate media about our city. Detroit is not a city of ghosts. It is not a city of decay. It is a city of vibrant, resilient people, calling upon a deep legacy of struggle to create the relationship and values for a better future. Join us this summer as we unite to resist the mushrooming assaults on our humanity that we cannot accept.
For more information, contact the Boggs Center at 313.923.0797 or Tawana Petty at 313.433.9882.