I’m coming out of retirement to resume leadership of Oakland Parents Together (OPT) mostly because it needs my time and resource for a while longer, but also because we have a new political reality which gives organizing Black and Latino parents a new urgency. It is likely, that the right-wing hegemony of the Federal government will move fast. They have two years to implement their privatization agenda. We can expect the privatization of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, food stamps, and welfare in the first year. A return to stop and search and plant-evidence policing with no accountabiliby. A qualitative escalation of mass incarceration, along with privatization of the prison systems. The US already has the largest prison population of any country on earth, and that’s absolute numbers, not per capitas. This means our government is the most oppressive in the world. Think about that for a minute. Cuba? An oasis of freedom by comparison.
We need to play defense. We need to organize our communities to refuse to allow ICE or overpolicing to divide people. We are one people. These are our communities. We will defend them to the death if necessary. Isn’t that what it takes? Certainly the other side has no compunctions of sending our young soldiers to their deaths to “defend” our country from what, an Iraqi or Syrian invasion?
We can use our nonprofits for this defense, and I think most of our funders, at least in California, would support this effort.
In West Oakland, we have a grant to organize parents in Parent Cafés and workshops. In the Parent Café process, we train parents to facilitate conversations among themselves about how to strengthen their families. We’ve helped hundreds of families realize that if they want decent lives, they need to create them for themselves by connecting with other families. As I’ve said before, reality inheres in the connections between us, and this means we can change reality by focusing on who we are connected with and improving the quality of those connections. If we’re serious about changing the society to one which serves people before profit, from an emphasis on competition to an emphasis on cooperation, then we have to start with ourselves — the people we’re connected with. The more people are connected at the bottom of society, the less we need to concern ourselves with what they do at the top.
So, on Giving Tuesday, can you donate generously to Oakland Parents Together?