Last Saturday’s session [on community organizing strategies] was very helpful for me, as someone who has been vaguely involved with community organizing for a while. Just going over the definitions and aspects of organizing allowed me to revisit aspects of the practice that I had not really examined.  Breaking down the differences between all of the types of organizing was beneficial as well, as it let me picture how different approaches are needed for different issues, and what it takes to enact these approaches. It was positive interacting with the folks from the youth workers organization, they had a lot of awesome ideas on how to share space with youth and it was super inspiring to be in a place with so many people who's aim is to help uplift the youth. 

For me the most important lessons were centered around how one should interact with youth in a social action setting. Examining how organizations and individuals mobilize youth seems like an essential piece in creating positive change. We have to be aware of how we are sharing and growing with the youth, so that they are central to the movements that they are helping to create. As someone interested in education, I am committed to dismantling the teacher/student split and creating spaces that exchange knowledge across boundaries. This said, it also seems necessary if you are leading youth in a campaign to be able to lead people in a positive direction and not to lead anyone down a path that might be harmful to their future. These are very amateur ideas, but the direction of thought is a powerful one that everyone interested in social justice should walk. 

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AuthorChicago Freedom School

This program is proving to be increasingly valuable to me with every meeting. I feel honored to surround myself with people who are willing to have real and relevant discussions about shaping the world around us with regards to prisons and prison culture. It is facilitated by people who are experienced, who are knowledgeable, and are honest.

We talk about the world not as we wish it to be, as we are told it is, but how we see it. We are learning the systems, as intricate and entangled as they may be, inside and out. We began this discussion going back to the end of slavery, when Black lives were heavily policed because there were no longer overseers to do so. We relate these to immigration laws, the war on drugs, the heavy policing of the LGTBQ community and how these are all the same yet different.

We begin to create an understanding around language and association as well and the way that language affects the world we live in. For example, in Ferguson this past fall, the media used the words riot and protest interchangeably, therefore they could rationalize using tear gas and rubber bullets on civilians in their own community.

Our conversations are frank and overwhelming at times but the entire experience is unique. I enjoy coming every other Saturday. I rarely leave feeling more joyful than when I came, yet I am always more optimistic.

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AuthorChicago Freedom School