M is for May
During the evening of Wednesday, April 26, a group calling itself “Workers Against Work” hung a banner over the street at the corner of State and Liberty in Ann Arbor, Michigan to draw attention to labor struggles in the region and an upcoming May Day rally. The banner read “May 1, No Work, Liberty Plaza 1 PM.”
“While we’re not part of the organizing of the May Day event, we think it is important that people come out on May Day to celebrate the victories of the working class and prepare for struggles ahead,” said Shauna Hillard, a member of Workers Against Work. “In a time when a man can rise to the presidency by dividing the working class along lines of race, nationality, and gender, it is more important than ever for us to gather and show our unity and determination.”
The May Day Festival of Resistance includes an Open University with lectures and workshops with such titles as “Intro to Anarchism,” “Mass Defense in the Age of Trump,” “What to Expect at a Protest,” and “Organizing Racial Justice Campaigns.”
“The University of Michigan is the largest employer in the state,” said Tom Marckres, another member of Workers Against Work. “It creates false scarcity in knowledge and education, drives up housing costs, and relies on the precarious labor of graduate employees, service workers and the service-driven economy of downtown Ann Arbor. We are hoping that an Open University will show that we are capable of collective self-education.”
The Festival of Resistance begins at Liberty Plaza at 1 p.m. on May 1, 2017.
History is full of people who just didn’t. They said no thank you, turned away, ran away to the desert, stood on the streets in rags, lived in barrels, burned down their own houses, walked barefoot through town, killed their rapists, pushed away dinner, meditated into the light. Even babies refuse, and the elderly, too. All types of animals refuse: at the zoo they gaze dead-eyed through plexiglass, fling feces at the human faces, stop having babies. Classes refuse. The poor throw their lives onto barricades. Workers slow the line. Enslaved people have always refused, poisoning the feasts, aborting the embryos. And the diligent, flamboyant jaywalkers assert themselves against traffic as the first and foremost visible, daily lesson in just not.
WCC Trustees Want an Armed Police Force
Stop the militarization of Washtenaw Community College!
WCC Trustees need to hear from taxpayers opposed to the madness of wasting a half million dollars on a new campus police department. Two trustees who were elected last fall—Milliken and Davis—might be persuaded to form a majority with DeVarti and Hatcher in order to vote NO.
“What did you do that brought unfair treatment on?”
Props to Riyah Basha and Allana Akhtar of the Michigan Daily for their exploration of racist policing in Ann Arbor.
The AAPD’s Director of Community Engagement, Tom Hickey, offers an all-too-familiar set of deflections/denials in the article—and in one instance he unwittingly illustrates the destructive bias that’s almost always an influence on the sight(s) of white cops:
Racial profiling, [Officer Hickey] insisted, is not an issue in Ann Arbor.
“What did you do that brought unfair treatment on?” he said he’d ask students.
Read the full article here.
Festival of Resistance
Join the May Day Collective in building toward a Festival of Resistance.
The May Day Collective recently formed with the aim of collectively organizing a Festival of Resistance for May 1st in Washtenaw County. Made up of different communities, projects, and political tendencies, we are acting in solidarity with calls issued for A Day Without Immigrants, the Movement for Black Lives, and the Women’s Strike Committee.
The Movement for Black Lives has announced:
Fifty years ago in Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech he called for us to confront “the fierce urgency of now,” and demand that this country “undergo a radical revolution of values.” In doing so he expanded his civil rights platform. On the anniversary of that speech (April 4th) and on May Day we will go beyond moments of outrage, beyond narrow concepts of sanctuary, and beyond barriers between communities that have much at stake and so much in common. We will strike, rally and resist. Our aim is to build a mighty movement of all people dedicated to freedom. That means we don’t deny our differences, we embrace them and build a movement bold, broad and big enough to include our many realities.
The Women’s Strike Committee has declared:
The violence of ICE against immigrants is part of the systemic police violence against Black people, Latinx and Native Americans, and the mass incarceration of people of color. This violence and systemic sexism and racism oppresses and humiliates women of color, including Native women and immigrant women, every day of our lives. To those who want to narrow down feminism, we say feminism cannot be narrowed down only to demands over reproductive rights and formal gender equality. Feminism is a struggle against poverty, racism and immigration raids…. To those who say immigrants have no right to be here, we say that we have fled countries that were bombed, occupied and impoverished by the US military industrial complex and the brutal governments they imposed or supported. U. S. wars are stealing land and resources, exploiting, raping, imprisoning, and torturing people – from Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Syria, from Palestine and South Sudan to Haiti and Honduras. On May Day we strike to reclaim the wealth we immigrants helped produce and to establish our right to be here.
On May Day here, our Festival of Resistance will celebrate social struggles and liberatory movements, past and present. It will also urge people to engage together in a day of “no work, no school, no shopping, no business as usual,” striking for justice and freedom.
At 1 p.m., we will gather at Liberty Plaza to make signs and banners.
At 2 p.m., we will march through the streets, ending at the UM Diag.
At 2:30 p.m., we will hold an Open University on the UM Diag. All are welcome to contribute to this event by hosting a workshop, creating signs and banners, sharing skills, offering a performance piece, coordinating children’s activities, contributing to a clothing/book swap, giving out free literature/zines, and/or speaking from the soapbox. To support local sanctuary city efforts, those present will also be able to sign up for a Washtenaw County ID. To propose an event for the Open University calendar, please contact the event coordinators.
At 5 p.m., we will move into the streets of Ann Arbor for a block party.
If your group, project, or community would like to join the May Day Collective to help organize the Festival of Resistance, email email@example.com.
In addition to these activities, we are interested in composing a “calendar” of local May Day actions. If your group is planning an action for that day in keeping with the “Principles of Solidarity” below and would like to have information about your action included in our calendar, please write a message to us on Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Principles of Solidarity
The May Day Collective has adopted the following principles of solidarity that we hope will guide those who participate in the Festival of Resistance.
* In planning for May Day, we will not coordinate with the city or police in any way, including by requesting permits or sharing march routes ahead of time.
* Our Festival of Resistance is not meant to provide a platform for elected officials, political parties, or their candidates. We are here for working-class and oppressed communities, and want our soapbox to be a platform for those struggling—against capital, the state, and white supremacy—for an egalitarian society.
Save the Date
She’ll Do It Anyway
The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. —James Baldwin
MLive ran a story yesterday about the Ann Arbor Public School District’s “Schools of Choice” program. There are moments in the piece that deserve underscoring and some fast exegesis.
Ann Arbor School Board OKs 750 Schools of Choice Seats for 2017–18
After wrestling with the financial and regional implications of accepting Schools of Choice students, Ann Arbor Public Schools trustees decided to accept as many as 750 students who live outside the district for the 2017–18 school year.
Can we throw a quick punch at the euphemism “Schools of Choice”? It reminds us of the phrase “Right to Work,” itself a euphemism for unionbusting. What processes are camouflaged by the phrase “Schools of Choice”? White Flight, and also competition among public school districts.
Open Casket: Erika Lindsay on the Misuse of Emmett Till
This critique comes from my own perspective, which is not omniscient—our human perspectives never are. My perspective is middle class, middle-American, white, and female. I feel that I have been well-educated as a cultural producer, have well-honed abilities as a cultural consumer, and wish to elaborate on the problematic nature of the work Open Casket by Dana Schutz. First, the problem isn’t about generally depicting or potentially profiting off of the reappropriated image of a dead black body (the latter of which I don’t condone), and Schutz assures us she isn’t profiteering, as the painting is not for sale. It goes much deeper and may be unintentional on the part of the artist; however, I am going to explain why this is unacceptable.
Bad Brains: Sacred Love
Even though books have been written and films have been made about Washington, D.C. punk band Bad Brains, their influence on white American culture is obscured in a way that will be familiar to anyone who’s even an armchair student of the parasitic process of white supremacy. And though they were a primary—if not the primary—inspiration to Minor Threat, Fugazi, Black Flag, Cro-Mags, Nirvana, and other bands, the four original members of Bad Brains won’t ever accumulate the cash or social capital those bands have. To make a long story short: America’s most fiery, technically skilled, and innovative hardcore punk band was Black, which meant that its contributions to American culture weren’t going to be recognized until they’d been appropriated and reconstituted by white practitioners. This is why Ian MacKaye has got some millions in the bank, while Bad Brains vocalist H.R. lives modestly in Philly, and guitarist Dr. Know was employed for many years at a grocery store in Woodstock, New York.
There are plenty of other ways whiteness dogged Bad Brains its entire career. The following anecdote is just one.
In 1986 the band was at a recording studio in rural Massachusetts, at work on the rasta-metal album I Against I with producer Ron Saint Germain. After all but one of the vocal tracks had been recorded, H.R. informed Saint Germain he had to immediately jump in a car to return to D.C. in order to turn himself in to serve time for a marijuana charge.
The two of them eventually devised a way for H.R. to record the vocals for “Sacred Love”: over the phone from Lorton Reformatory in Laurel Hill, Virginia. “H.R. unscrewed the mouthpiece of the telephone so that there could be no background noise, and sang into it.”
No matter how much Bad Brains has been emulated, appropriated, and even incarcerated, H.R., Dr. Know, Darryl Jenifer, and Earl Hudson are still out there, and their listeners multiply at an exponential rate. Check out how Ypsilanti media artist Ashanti Africana has brought “Sacred Love” to the screen: