Dr. Rose Brewer is Mark's guest Thursday,
June 5, 2008
June 20-22, 2008 will mark the 10th anniversary
of the founding of the Black Radical Congress. Surely the
St. Louis, Missouri event will be a time of sober reflection
and celebration, as well as one of vision and strategy. It
has been a tough ten years. Yet, the organization survives,
while facing formidable challenges. As movement-building energies
emerge globally and within the U.S., the BRC must take a hard
look at its analytical and organizing strategies, as well
as new possibilities. As a decade of BRC struggle attests:
the hopes might be high but social transformation is neither
simple nor easy.
On the eve of the 10th anniversary, as a founding
member of the BRC, I know that the political terrain we face
is messy and difficult. Even more daunting, I know these things
to be true:
1. This is a moment of rapacious transnational
capital, of intense privatization and the global exploitation
of human and material resources. The Black worlds of the U.S.,
Africa and the African Diaspora are in the vortex of these
realities, facing intense economic, political, and cultural
2. It is a moment in which wealth is extremely concentrated
within the U.S. and globally. The rich, indeed, have gotten
much richer. It is also a moment of complicated racial/ethnic
realities and gender divides. The immigration issue looms
large in the context of the need to build alliances.
3. It is also a moment of talk-speak, act
up, youth in resistance- youth and not so young taking to
the streets: Atlanta, GA for the first ever USSF, fighting
for Katrina survivors and the right to return, confronting
the murder of Sean Bell and the police face of state terrorism,
facing new images of nooses. Indeed, tens of thousands demand
redress, accountability. How to make common cause with the
newly mobilized yet participate in deeper level movement building
must be on the BRC radar.
4. It is a gendered moment - with Black women and women
all over the world too often exploited and impoverished
- the U.S. no exception. These
global realities have different gendered consequences for
men and women. Nonetheless if we lift up women, women are
taking charge, claiming leadership and organizing for social
change. We represent a tidewater of movement building possibilities.
Thus the next decade of the BRC demands nothing less than
a reaffirmation of our radical Black feminist roots, actually
building radical Black feminist sensibilities within our
communities. This is an imperative but unfinished agenda.
Concrete and immediate issues that need to
be addressed within the BRC include:
1. Reassessing leadership within the organization
and taking seriously the push for decentralized models (popular
in youth organizing) that have not sought to invest a lot
of leadership responsibility in a few key individuals is key.
2. Strengthening the on-line innovations the BRC pioneered
with internet organizing, but stepping up even more to the
use of the internet to inform publicize, mobilize, and analyze,
to complement but not replace face to face organizing is
3. Building a new commitment to the arts
and creative action as well as popular and political education
are in order. These have been missing pieces in the work of
the BRC during the past decade.
4. Giving visibility to the environment in our political
work must be considered. Indeed,
a new generation of younger Black activists has introduced
important discourses and actions on the environment and
the consequences of environmental racism for our people.
Van Jones and the work of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland
come to mind as does Majora Carter’s work with Sustainable
South Bronx in N.Y. This environmental issue was never fully
vetted in the formation of the BRC. The next 10 years will
These are only a few of the concerns core to
the strategies and visions to be reflected upon in ST. Louis,
June 20-22. Come and give your voices and energies to shaping
the next decade of the Black Radical Congress.
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Dr. Rose Brewer, PhD, is a professor of African
American & African Studies at the University of Minnesota
- Twin Cities. She is alsoa
founding member and leader of the Black Radical Congress. Her most recent book is the co-authored,
Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide,
The New Press, 2006.Click here
to contact Dr. Brewer.