Alicia Garza, pictured, is the co-founder of the international Black Lives Matter movement. She is also the author of a recent book, The Purpose Of Power.
I think Garza would probably agree with Anand Giridharadas, about whom I have written previously. Garza would likely join Giridharadas in saying that the various philanthropic organizations that have stepped forward, both nationally and internationally, and which proclaim their earnest intention to solve all of the world's most pressing problems, are engaged in an "elite charade."
Garza believes that power is "the ability to make decisions that affect your own life and the lives of others, the freedom to shape and determine the story of who we are [page 186]." She is, in the pursuit of such usable power, focused on grassroots organizing, working from the "bottom up," not from the "top down," as those philanthropic organizations do it.
I like the way that Garza conceptualizes the effort:
Building a movement requires shifting people from spectators to strategists, from procrastinators to protagonists. What people are willing to do on social media doesn't always translate into what they're willing to do in their everyday lives. Movement building and participation require ongoing engagement, and the levels of engagement must continually shift and increase - from just showing up to signing a petition to getting nine friends involved to helping design strategy to pressuring a legislator to leading a group, and so on [page 144] (emphasis added).
I very often say that if we want to continue to have a system of democratic self-government, then we are going to have to get engaged in government ourselves. We are going to have to, in other words, convert ourselves from "spectators to strategists," and then continue on from there.
As the world is demonstrably falling apart all around us, is there anything you can think of that might be more important?
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