Many thanks to Mayowa Obasaju for this guest post on gender justice activism at the U.S. Social Forum:
The Social Forum and You (with a Gender Justice Focus)
The United States Social Forum will start in 4 days. Over 10, 000 people have pre-registered and thousands more are expected to attend. The forum is a movement building space and many folks have started to move; from helping to plan the forum, making plans to attend, supporting another person’s participation, to participating from one’s home location. Many people will leave their mark on USSF 2010. Will you be participating?
The USSF is a place where individuals, groups, organizations, and communities can declare what they want the world to look like and plan how to get there. Thousands of workshops, numerous plans for Direct Actions, and dozens of People’s Movement Assemblies, Tents, and Cultural Events will help with planning for another world. There are multiple ways to participate and even more reasons to do so. Here are a few activities:
One reason to participate is to connect struggles in your own community with struggles of communities around the nation and globe. These connections may provide you with opportunities for support, solidarity, action ideas, and expanded analyses. Not everyone can attend the forum, but millions can participate through Detroit Expanded (DEX). If you are unable to attend the social forum or if you would like to connect with people from your organization that are at the forum, you can participate through DEX. DEX allows people to connect through a variety of technological means; “chat, VoIP calls, unconnected solidarity forums with publicity on a common website and in the printed program, streaming audio & video, recorded media shared 1-day later.” People will be able to provide thoughts, questions, and feedback about creating a better world. Click here for more information: .
Have you wanted to take a greater role in social justice movement building? Maybe use your talents to help an organization that wants to end gender based violence or racism? Promote reproductive Justice? Disability rights? Or maybe you are an organization that is searching for a social justice minded individual for that position that has just opened up? If you are interested in making job connections, there will be opportunities at the forum through posting your resume or posting your job announcement for free. The job table will be at Cobo Hall near the Registration area. Look for the Jobs banner. There will be resources for job connections at the table; computers, printers, and other materials. The table will be there all week. This service will be hosted by National Organizers Alliance job service Organizers for America (www.organizersforamerica.org). Contact Denise Perry (305-491-7764).
Bring a book
Detroit is working towards developing a Liberation Library. You can contribute to this library at the USSF. You can bring or send through someone attending the forum, a book, zine, dvd or other resources from your organization. This is a way to benefit the people of Detroit, give them thanks for supporting the forum, and support social justice movements. The goal of the Bring a Book project is to receive 10,000 books at the forum to help with fundraising for the Liberation Library. This will jump start the work for the library, which will be purchased and renovated after the USSF. It is to be part of a multi use facility in Detroit for local organizations. It will have a theater and video editing studio. Imagine if this space could house multiple, inspiring resources addressing gender justice and intersectional thoughts and actions! Materials can be dropped off at the Children’s Art Village Booth in Hart Plaza (near Cobo Hall). This is part of the bring a book, a bike, a byte, or a buck project that will support Detroit Organizations after the Social Forum.
Attend a cultural event
“A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.” Emma Goldman. The USSF has taken this quote to heart and expanded it to encompass a variety of cultural expressions such as spoken word, theater work, drumming, paintings, photography, films, and more. There will be ongoing cultural events during the forum. There has been a commitment by the cultural organizers and performing artists to present work that does not support or promote oppression. For more information see: http://www.ussf2010.org/cultureschedule
There will be multiple events occurring at the forum, many at the same time. There will also be tents reflecting different issues and working groups where people can take the time to connect with others. There will be a Health and Healing Tent inside Cobo Hall to promote physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological well being. The Gender Justice tent will be open during the forum. Organization can bring their materials related to gender justice for display. There will be refreshments and snacks. Also, there is opportunity to contribute to the Gender Justice People’s Movement Assembly and to participate in lunch hour events. It is a space to organize informal events or process workshops and discussions.
Gender Justice Program
If you would like to know about what gender justice workshops are occurring at the forum you can access, A Program of Gender Justice Related Events at the US Social Forum here.
I would like to end this post with the words of Arundhati Roy from the Speech to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2003. “Our strategy should not only be to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen…. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe…Remember this: we be many and they be few. They need us more then we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
–Mayowa Obasaju is a member of the Gender Justice Working Group and Women of Color United (WOCU). Mayowa works with people around the intersection of HIV/AIDS, substance use, and psychological problems.
There will also a large variety of artistic and musical activism along with an excellent collection of films, like recLAmation by Hilary Goldberg which will shown at the USSF.