Note: Although the article below is quit dated, Global Justice Ecology Project feels the story and perspective offered are crucial to building a stronger movement for climate justice. Top-down, oppressive, patriarchal and racist models of organizing reward white privilege and continue to exclude and disenfranchise people of color, Indigenous People, transgender and queer folk. Essentially, this model of organizing refuses to include those with the most experience battle the systems of oppression that must be dismantled to stop the devouring of the planet. Further, it encourages a professional, career-focused model of organizing, which does precisely nothing to challenge state and corporate power. In fact, it often strengthens it.
Here’s to a new year (if you choose to recognize the colonialist-imposed Roman calendar) and a renewed focus on confronting all forms of oppression, in ourselves, in our movements and in society-at-large.
-The GJEP Team
By Chloe Gleichman, October 25, 2013. Source: Pshiftopenletters
Dear Energy Action Coalition,
“What are the implications for a social justice movement in which power and resources are being transferred based on one’s ability to develop a relationship with the right white people?”
-Tiffany Lethabo King & Eware Osayande
I write this letter out of compassion and frustration. This feedback is not directed at you as individuals, but rather the organizational culture that I experienced this summer at EAC, culminating this past weekend at Power Shift, where I resigned from EAC staff on Sunday.
First and foremost, I want to make clear that I am not trying to work toward resolution, nor do I feel it is my responsibility to offer tangible solutions and answers for the issues present within EAC’s culture. I have no investment in improving an organization I feel will ultimately be ineffective if it continues to operate in the way I experienced and observed. Instead, I will simply offer my experience publicly, as I believe there is much to be gained from having this dialogue out in the open where accountability cannot be lost, blame cannot be displaced, and those who have been systematically left out of conversations can have a seat at the table.
In my first few weeks at EAC, there were some isolated instances that left me feeling unsettled and uncomfortable, but that was what they were to me then: isolated instances. But over time as these instances became patterns, I realized that they were intentionally being framed as isolated instances rather than what they really were: systemic problems.
Inherent in the very structure of non-profit organizations “working toward social justice” like the EAC is a paradigm that renders work ineffective. The non-profit structure organizes mass dissent that could actually spur real revolution into a career-based organizing model, one in which dominating hierarchy is created and oppressive power-dynamics are replicated. Those with a relative amount of privilege rise to the top of that hierarchy, funding their organization through contributions from wealthy funders and donors (successful capitalists) who are then able to pride themselves on their philanthropy.
Non-profits do not threaten the suicidal status quo or disrupt and disturb the colonial-industrial-capitalist paradigm. If they did, you can bet the state would have already done away with them.