It’s nearly impossible to bulldoze down just one tree in a forest, because its roots are interwoven with the roots of all the other trees.
The concept of interwoven roots linking and making each individual tree stronger was the underlying theme of the “Growing Roots and Rights” conference held in Columbus, Ohio, in September this year1. Put on jointly by the Ohio Community Rights Network and CELDF, the conference brought people working on diverse issues together to discover their issues’ common origins and explore systemic solutions.
Groups attending the conference were involved in issues ranging from labor and worker pay concerns, democracy/election issues, health care, police accountability, mass incarceration and environmental/sustainability concerns.
“We’re here because we care about a wide range of issues – environment, public health, social justice, economic justice, worker justice, democratic justice. But rather than thinking of them as different issues, we need to acknowledge they are very much the same. These issues share common denominators, which can unite us,” a CELDF representative explained.
Attendees learned the Community Rights movement offers a unifying framework for addressing their varied concerns and their root causes.
It’s about much more than implicit bias. It’s about explicit racism, explicit misogyny, and rampant capitalism. We have a system that was designed to keep us silent. Yet we refuse to submit to our own oppression. It’s our duty to resist.— Dr. Melina Abdullah, CSU professor of Pan-African Studies and co-founder BLM
“Racism is intentional, created and legitimized by those who benefit from it,” the CELDF representative said in their address. “Gender discrimination is intentional, created and legitimized by those who benefit from it. Discrimination against Nature is intentional, created and legitimized by those who benefit from it. Discrimination against democracy is intentional, created and legitimized by those who benefit from it. It’s all been intentional, to advance the wealth and power of the few over the many, to retain control over you.”
The next keynote speaker, Dr. Melina Abdullah, California State University-Los Angeles professor of Pan-African Studies, and one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, built on the theme.
“None of these systems were accidentally created. They were intentionally and deliberately designed to produce these outcomes,” she said, quoting from Manning Marable’s book, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.
“It’s about much more than implicit bias. It’s about explicit racism, explicit misogyny, and rampant capitalism. We have a system that was designed to keep us silent. Yet we refuse to submit to our own oppression. It’s our duty to resist.
“You have work to do,” Abdullah challenged the crowd. “Use your voice. I lift my voice for my cause, but I cannot keep my voice silent about your cause. I have to use my voice for that purpose, too. Our voices need to sing in harmony.
“We need to put our resources on the line. You don’t need another pair of shoes. You don’t need a cup from the coffee house. Grassroots movements need the fifty-dollars. They need the five dollars,” Abdullah said. “As allies and accomplices, build a movement, not a moment.”
communities across ohio are champions building a movement. You can help support them and others like them working to reclaim local democracy and recognize inalienable democratic, environmental, and economic rights. be a CELDF Champion, too.
Here’s what your monthly donation can do in 2019:
- $5 per month provides course materials for two Community Rights workshop participants
- $10 per month ensures 3 community members can attend a Community Rights workshop, teaching the tools needed to advance the rights of communities and nature
- $20 per month helps pay litigation costs as CELDF fights for democratic and environmental rights on behalf of community members
Here’s what your one time donation can do:
- $100 covers travel expenses for an organizer to speak at a public meeting on Community Rights and Rights of Nature
- $250 allows us to print and distribute informational handouts on Community Rights and Rights of Nature as tools to protect local communities
- $500 helps pay production costs for videos sharing the Community Rights and Rights of Nature stories
1Missed the conference? Visit the Ohio Community Rights Network page here and check out the video coverage!
Featured image: trees, by Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove in Flickr Creative Commons