Social movements are moving all around us. The basic idea of community organizing as ‘unite to fight back’ is real for our time. In the 1960’s Saul Alinsky offered a model of community organizing designed to disrupt the power of the “establishment” by connecting different interest groups to win campaigns that were of mutual benefit. In retrospect, Alinsky only had part of the answer, and his part was not easily resonant for People of Color, Trans people, LGB, or most women.
Today, we realize we need lessons from classic community organizing but we also need to understand hybrid models of organizing and movement that cross lines of race, class, culture, gender and other identities to offer hope and action in the face of backlash rooted in racism, gender oppression, xenophobia and hate. Backlash will be playing a massive role in the next few years of organizing, as it is ignited by progressive advances but also decreasing economic opportunity.
None of us have all the answers. Grappling with the questions at hand for organizing can sharpen and nurture our practice and growth.
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