I am reporting from Detroit, Michigan and the 2010 US Social Forum (USSF). This forum is a movement building process. It is not a conference, but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sector, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.
Each afternoon, the forum offers several Peoples’ Movement Assembly (PMA), which is a gathering of people to discuss and analyze our conditions, to come up with demands, commitments, and visions for how things could be different. Each PMA is a facilitated space to decide and coordinate, actions that will bring us closer to those visions.
I attended the Queer/Trans PMA from 1 pm – 5:30 pm on Wednesday, which was facilitated by members of the more than 10 nationwide organizations that make up the Roots Coalition. The room was packed with more than 100 beautiful Queer/Trans people from around the country. There were 4 goals for this PMA, to clear pressing issues, to seek out a possible direction for a new national LGBTQ campaign, to gauge the group so we can move together in a chosen direction, and to develop a Queer/Trans agreement that will be present to the USSF National Planning Committee on Saturday at the National PMA.
The facilitators led us in a series of group activities before we got down to business. Our first task was to find our respective regions posted on each wall (North, South, East, West). I work in the New Mexico, so I went to the West region. Normally, this activity is not that challenging, but with more people than the room could handle, it was very challenging for folks to make it from one side of the room to the other. This became very obvious to me when my group realized we were only three. Really, in a room of over 100 people, only three of us work in the West? No, we knew it couldn’t be right. For the next activity, we were given three Post-it notes to write down what were three issues most important to our communities. After this we did two rounds of “speed dating” with folks sitting around us to share what our issues were. Next we connected our issues to larger themes like Education, Immigration, Policing, Housing, and Safety. This was an opportunity to see where our issues intersect and mirror each other. The facilitators wanted us to be able to walk around the room, so we could read what others wrote, but since all of us didn’t really fit, it was virtually impossible to accomplish. Our facilitators saw this was not happening as they expected and called out the bad idea.
Next, we were broken up into 6 groups, half of which moved into another room. In these groups, we discussed 3 topic issues that came out of local PMA’s from around the country, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Jobs Creation, and Real ID Act. Our job was to talk about and assess the potential for each issue to be a national campaign for Queer/Trans communities. The Real ID issue my group felt was the most relevant, winnable, bold, and could really grow capacity and give our communities the opportunity to work with organizations we might not traditionally look to as partners.
Thinking about this issue in terms of healthy communities and identity, it seems to me that all people, even white people, generally appreciate privacy and having their identities respected. While the Real ID Act will have serious implications on all communities, we are sure there will be serious ramifications for Queer folks especially. The impact this legislation has will look different in each community, and can be used as a tool against queer/trans, and people of color communities.
For anyone interested in this struggle, please contact FIERCE.
thanks for reading,