New Millennium Paradigm for Grassroots African Organizing: bt Duron Chavis circa Feb. 2009
1. Clarity of Vision
2. Establishment of Cadre
3. Definition of Purpose
4. Strategic Considerations
5. Network Development
7. New Millennium Considerations
8. Suggested Reading
New Millennium Paradigm for Grassroots African Organizing:
The new millennium paradigm is a shift from traditional approaches to organizing amid the poor and oppressed masses. Essentially the concise statement that captures the essence of what this treatise presents is: The weapons of the masses must be constantly redefined in order to counter the Empires ever evolving technology and propaganda. This treatise is submitted humbly; with the understanding that the methodology of struggle implemented in the 1960’s and 70’s must provide a framework, however cannot successfully bring about relevant change amid a new millennium climate.
Clarity of Vision:
The grassroots organizer has to have clarity of vision. It is imperative to have a concise perception on one’s role and a strong grounding + affirmed position in one’s participation in the movement for social action. There is a difference between an internet activist and an in the streets activist. The first can start & be a catalyst to change by posting online and tweetinf hashtags however an in the streets activist has to be clear on his/her role in protracted struggle beyond that. A defined sense of identity revolving about the axis of ethnic/national/cultural/spiritual values that must be ascertained and claimed and uncompromising dedication to the people and the issues relevant to the people are of paramount importance for clarity of vision. Essentially clarity of vision is an understanding that one stands upon the backs of ancestors who struggled and for this reason; it is honorable and out of duty to the Creator & those yet to be created that we struggle to further liberate our people.
Establishment of Cadre:
Cadre essentially is a small unit of individuals with varying skill sets and capabilities that are cross-trained to a high degree of efficiency to undertake the duties and responsibilities of another in that person’s absence. Cadre is your core group of workers. It is not your organization. Cadre is static to a high degree however; cadre does change perhaps increasing however sustained efforts must be implemented to ensure the sustenance of your core group. These will be the individuals that surround you to ensure ills such as battle fatigue do not hinder one from protracted struggle.
In order to establish cadre:
1. Seek individuals with like minds who have the same sincerity regarding struggle. Organizing does not mean you have to have a formal structure, board of directors or 501 c 3 status
2. Seek individuals who solicit help out of altruistic and selfless motive.
3. Develop projects and activities that will employ cadre member’s skill sets. It is nothing worse than being a part of a group and not having any responsibility. This can lead to retention problems.
4. Share the victory (victory being a amorphous quality, best defined as completion of a goal however small) consider all ideas of equal importance.
Definition of Purpose:
Define for what reason you are organizing. What is your group’s purpose? While it is definitely positive to stay abreast and to have a position on many issues, it is not your responsibility to tackle every issue. By defining your groups purpose, you limit the over expenditure of your time & resources. Often organizations have broad purposes; however this leads to a scattered approach and limited measurable successes. By limiting the purpose of your group you can tackle your particular piece effectively and assist others in their attacking of their piece with your resources. Essentially by defining your purpose you have a framework in which to struggle effectively. Contradictions will arise, however experience is gained by handling each issue on a case by case basis. For example, if your group is organized to stop the war, when an issue of religious intolerance arises i.e. the unfair treatment of Muslim brothers and sisters in a predominantly intolerant Christian climate you will have to choose whether this is an issue that you are equipped to deal with. While it is not being said that issues must not be dealt with or that one issue is more important than the other; if your organization has no clear definition of purpose you will not be effective in organizing against anything; you will seem inconsistent in the people’s eyes, picking and choosing various unrelated issues. Definition of purpose is best achieved by creating a one word mission statement: i.e. the get conscious think collective is an collective of individuals sick of working as individuals to raise consciousness in the African community.
Five strategy Questions:
1. What is the particular problem confronting us?
2. Why does the problem exist?
3. What should we do about it?
4. How should we move to attain the goal?
5. What are the results going to be?
These questions do not have to go in this order but all of them must be addressed at some point in order for your organizing to be effective. No.3 & No. 4 are often confused as one and the same. What you are going to do is not the same as how you are going to do it. Special attention needs to be placed on both. It is easy to say what you are going to do but critical thought must be put into how you are going to do it. No. 5 must be noted as well because you can have action but if you have no way to measure your success your work can easily become wearisome and tiring seemingly unfruitful. Be honest with yourself and your capabilities but note that you can accomplish anything with a properly laid out plan. By asking No. 2 you identify the enemy and the obstacles to your goal; you also define allies in your struggle and possible avenues of quick and painless victory. I.E. you have a problem with your water in your apartment. Your hot water is not on anymore. Well you can protest the landlord but did you first check if the water heater was turned on? This is an obvious oversimplification however it is used to illustrate that sometime the solutions to problems are a lot easier than one may think.
Utilize the network. Seek allies in your city, state & region through any means possible. Attend events and represent yourself and what your group stands for, hold your own events as well, conduct not only struggle related action, but also provide popular education, and social service action to further develop ground-level support of your larger scale activities. Use the internet, telephone, mail to make contact with other groups with like minded views.By creating an inter-regional network your activities can cover much ground in a short amount of time. Pay close attention to what is going on in other places and seek ways that your group can support as well through your network and resources.
New Millennium Considerations:
The age of conventional protests, marches and rallies are dead. The people on a grassroots level especially among Africans in inner cities are ever-increasingly becoming disillusioned to these methodologies due to their over use and the often limited results elicited by them. Use the conventional methods sparingly; however employ innovative spins on these techniques as much as possible. Create new and engaging ways to bring attention to your cause. Create strategies that are relevant to the core audience that you intend to attract and do not fear the concept of guerilla marketing. In an ever increasingly competitive society driven by marketing and advertising; the Empire’s propaganda is honed to a science with focus groups, research & development; behavioral scientists and the like: Millions of dollars are invested on studying how people will react to various trends, events, and products. Everything down to the color of McDonalds new big mac wrapper is highly scrutinized before it reaches the common everyday John or Jane Doe. Therefore you as an organizer must not leave things to chance regarding your propaganda.
The Empire will attempt to crush you and your movement even if it does not know you specifically exist as an entity. The programming of the society is designed to purge you as an anomaly. Therefore it is important; to stay sharp and wise. Keep your affairs in order i.e family, finances, legal issues, etc. while undertaking grassroots organizing work.
Ready for Revolution; Kwame Ture
Survival Strategies; Anthony Browder
Black Panther Party Speaks
Jay Conrad Levinson: Guerrilla Marketing
Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman, Jill Lubin: Guerrilla Publicity
Dietrick Hessel: Social Action Primer