A message from a WeROC organizer, Tad Wysor, of Ypsilanti MI:
“Hello, sisters and brothers…
Late last night, after the phenomenal [Black Lives Matter / Police Task Force meeting at Ypsilanti High School] event that I was able to witness for a couple of hours, Jim Anderson (who gave a powerful personal testimony to the crowd and the public officials) called me, and we found ourselves unpacking a little of all the intense history-making that seems to be swirling around us in real time right now. For what it’s worth, I wanted to share one brief insight that emerged for me out of that conversation.
What was so amazing to me is what happens when power is more balanced, even if for a brief moment. In the YHS auditorium, filled beyond capacity, dozens of people who don’t share my background or privilege felt able to do something very rare, to speak, in public from their hearts and personal experience about how the deep insidious workings of the “dominant narrative” we’re all immersed in, but that people who look like me do much more than our share to maintain and benefit from. Given an opportunity to feel safer and more supported than usual, they were able to express their anger and disgust and frustration, and also wisdom, love, and hope, in a much more public and powerful way than is usually possible.
There was also the widespread expectation that it would all lead to nothing. To me, this was not so much cynicism, but just a sickening fact. Potential wannabe allies like me most of the time go back to our comfortable realities. And whatever brief shift of power toward working people and lower income people and people of color they were able to create then quickly dissipates.
This is huge, and complex, and deeply rooted, I know. But, really, it may not be as complicated as we usually make it, you know. Last night, in just a few hours, people who haven’t had nearly enough voice showed me how quickly they can build a sense of community solidarity and power, and how effectively they can get the serious attention of public decision-makers, if only briefly.
That’s where WeROC and MOSES come in, right? No local organization is better situated right now to help turn this flash of healthy grassroots power into something more long-term. Maybe we need to consider finding the time and leadership and resources for a major, well-designed community organizing training event (or events), where a lot of people personally facing these issues on a daily basis have a rare chance to explore together these issues of how power really works, how to more effectively build it in healthy ways, how to strategically use it, when and how to join with potential allies who aren’t directly affected (like me) — and how to help each other generate and support powerful and savvy new community leaders. And how to make this a long-term enterprise, not just a brief reaction to a horrible moment.
That’s the kind of thing that will be on my mind as I try to listen and learn tonight. To the extent that some of this makes sense to others, I hope we’ll consider some serious conversations soon about some kind of action like this. I’m obviously motivated to do what I can to help it happen, but I’m wide open to suggestions. Our unique WeROC project may be needed right now as much as we ever have been. — Tad
Pastor Jeff Harrold reflects on structural racism at ICPJ/Faith Leaders Forum rally at Liberty Plaza in Ann Arbor 7/12/16