Paying Homage to Community Colleges: Thank You, Dr. Jill Biden

I was aware of the prejudices in ‘elite’ circles against community colleges before I sent my daughter off to one, but got a fresh taste of that sort of judgment – from people across the political spectrum – over the last couple of years. One (ahem) friend literally laughed in my face when she learned where my young’un was going to school.

Yet it was a wonderful space of learning for my bright, intrepid child – different than if she’d completed those 2 years at a public university or small liberal arts college, but different in its own valuable way, not different-as-lesser.

In the more distant past, I worked with immigrant students in ESL in a program through Houston Community College. I have friends who teach in community colleges in Alabama or around the country – and others who have attended them for useful professional skills or for the beginning or shifting point of a postsecondary academic career.

Community colleges make space for 1st generation college students, for returning college students, for the curious, the professionally ambitious, the poor, the intimidated, the unconventional, the cost-conscious, the brilliant, and the struggling.

They have technical career programs that will train young (and not so young) people to make more money with a 2-year degree than I’ll ever earn with multiple graduate degrees.

They have liberal arts courses that introduce students to critical thinking and the breadth of human knowledge.

They prepare students – many of whom have been underprepared by their high schools – for work, for further education, and for life.

In an age of the ridiculous (and I mean ridiculous) explosion of college costs*, they remain relatively affordable (and ought to be even more so, but that’s  a discussion for another day).

*(through the ongoing neoliberal commodification of higher education – but that’s also a discussion for another day)

They can be found in remote rural areas, downtown urban areas, and smack in the middle of suburban office parks — and online.

Community colleges get far fewer resources than they deserve – and are burdened by arcane higher-level institutional bureaucratic decisions that come with devaluing and disrespect. They are often political footballs in the larger context of public postsecondary power struggles.

That’s a shame. We as a society ought to give them not only our full respect, but stellar resources, and should prioritize nurturing learning environments over institutional inertia, political power games, and our misguided stigmas.

Dr. Jill Biden’s doctoral dissertation – Student Retention at the Community College Level: Meeting Students’ Needs – is exactly the kind of useful research we need in this world – and the knowledge and commitment of her and people like her represent a great hope for this country.

If you meet someone who tells you they attend a community college, say to them “Awesome! [and mean it – and not in a condescending way] What are you studying?”

If you meet someone who teaches or has a staff position in a community college, say to them “What meaningful work! I bet it’s really interesting to teach such a wide range of students.” [and mean it – and not in a condescending way]

Advocate for community colleges in the political arena. Let’s make sure they get the funding and support they need.

And most of all: respect community colleges and their students and their faculty and staff. Real respect. Seriously. Please. Especially if life has sent you through higher education in ‘elite institutions.’

Because few things are more contemptible than privilege having contempt for gritty, real, human, everyday, beautiful effort.

On Centrism and the Importance of the Radical Left: Jones, Biden, and Electoral Strategies Going Forward

When Doug Jones won his Senate seat in the 2017 special election, some people were convinced that Alabama was ‘turning purple’ and that formerly Republican voters would be in play for Democrats in future elections. 

Jones, a centrist by inclination, doggedly marketed himself over the last 3 years to Republicans as their solid, responsible, near kin. He positioned himself as moderate and bipartisan, framing his voting record and his campaign rhetoric to appeal to red red-state voters. 

In a small forum with other activists, I once suggested to Jones that he had an equal responsibility to his constituents on his left – to listen with respect to our stories, to address our concerns, to speak for our interests, and to weave our priorities into his own. 

He didn’t take kindly to the suggestion.

In 2018 statewide elections in Alabama, Democrats were so soundly drubbed that few were willing to appear on the ballot in 2020. In 2020, Jones’ experienced a thorough thrashing at the hands of one of the most politically unqualified, Trump-sycophantic candidates in recent memory. 

The lesson: Jones won in 2017 only because Roy Moore was such an embarrassment that (a) even a small-but-critical mass of Republicans couldn’t stand to vote for him and (b) Democrats not particularly thrilled with Jones’ moderate politics nonetheless showed up on Election Day to support him. 

Faced with a more palatable Republican candidate in 2020, Jones got less than 40% of the vote. 

There’s an obvious parallel at the national level.

Biden won in 2020 because Donald Trump is such an embarrassment that (a) even a small-but-critical mass of Republicans couldn’t stand to vote for him and (b) Democrats and those further left not particularly thrilled with Biden’s moderate politics nonetheless showed up on Election Day to support him. 

The lesson for Democrats in Alabama needs to be the lesson for Democrats nationally – and I’m writing this this morning because I already hear right- and right-center voices complaining about and blaming leftists for any Democratic failings. 

It’s not our fault. 

The primary legacy of centrism over the last half-century has been collusion in a wholesale shift of public discourse and electoral politics way to the right.

It has substantively eroded an entire segment of serious, humane political discourse and policy. In many ways, Joe Biden is positioned to the right of Richard Nixon. The notion that socialism forms any part of the Biden/Harris agenda is blatantly absurd. 

Too often the center has turned its back on the needs of the People – rejecting a public policy commitment to housing, environmental protection. food security, racial and gender equity, access to quality healthcare and education – in an effort to appeal to monied interests and the voters they manipulate and buy on the right.

If the Democrats want to win elections in the future, they need to stop that. 

Voters are not inspired by anemic platforms, beyond the singular circumstances of the 2017 Alabama Senate election and the 2020 presidential one. That wasn’t about platform or policy – that was about electoral insight into obvious, corrupt, dangerous narcissism. 

But not all corrupt and dangerous narcissists are so obvious about it – and the next candidate will inevitably be smoother and more ingratiating.

I’m not saying that the Democratic Party has to immediately shift wholesale left (though that would suit me fine). It means that centrists need to embrace radicals with love and respect across our differences, not turn their backs and try to hush us up – and certainly not blame us.

Those of us making the radical claim that everyone should have clean air to breathe, decent food to eat, and an adequate roof over their heads are not the enemy.

Those of us who believe in public libraries and National Parks and other protected public lands, in broadband access as a guaranteed public utility and student loan forgiveness, in actual justice in a justice system, in environmental regulation that ensures clean drinking water, clean air, clean oceans and rivers, and protections for endangered species, and in a living wage as a minimum wage deserve to have that voice heard, respected, and accounted for in shaping policy platforms. 

The center needs to quit compromising with the right while treating the left like an exasperating addled cousin who can be abused at will, yet taken for granted for support.

As for those of us on the left, we need to do a better job of framing our message, so that we scold less and inspire more. Strategic awareness of how our message will be received is important. 

We also need to do a better job of allowing that incremental change that makes a material difference in the lives of people and the planet is better than no change – and that the struggle to re-open more left space will take time, patience, and genuine relationships. Strong stances matter, but all or nothing politics too often leaves us with nothing. 

We can and should be unapologetic for our commitment to the well-being of people, most especially the marginalized, and to the protection of the Earth. We also need to prioritize strategic and ethical commitment to *how* we talk about our message, as well as to the integrity of the content. 

(a tangent: in parliamentary democracies, a multi-party structure makes sense. In our system, it doesn’t. I think we’re better off to work with what we’ve got – but that’s a whole other post). 

As I have said before, attention to electoral politics is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for social change. We need to keep social movement engagement and pressure high in the days and months ahead. 

In the arena of electoral politics itself, the center and the left need each other – and we urgently need to find ways to create real respect and strategic alliances filled with integrity. 

Amen 

The 2020 Election and the Day After

In setting our expectations of what has happened and what is to come, it’s helpful to understand that the Trump governing cadre (which enfolds an entire infrastructure) has an interest in democratic institutions only to the extent that it can manipulate them to consolidate power on behalf of itself (private global-scale corporate interests).

It has no morality, in that any appeal to any ethic is solely for the purpose of manipulating the voting blocs that constitute an electoral college and legislative majority.

It has no interest in public service. Its guiding principle is not civic engagement, care for the broader good, or the needs of the country and its people.

It has no compassion for the vulnerable. It despises those who are not wealthy and powerful – and is unconcerned with their welfare. Their lives (our lives) are disposable.

It rejects critique and human growth because it considers these to be vulnerabilities.

It regards the Earth solely as a marketable commodity and takes pride in dismantling any protections for natural ecosystems.

It has no interest in truth, only in producing and selling narratives that will get it what it wants.

It’s a manipulative, carefully-crafted scam – a very successful one – that is rapidly eroding the vestiges of civil society and the democratic norms of American governance.

It’s a deliberate response to hard-won early- and mid-20th century advancements in ensuring that civil society and democratic norms actually include everybody, not just property-owning white men.

The more that we can understand it for what it is – the more we grapple with its realities, the better we can decide how to act in the face of it.

Joe Biden is essentially a moderate Republican, as were most of the Senate candidates on whom Democrats pinned their hopes. Electing them would barely budge the needle on this country’s unchecked sprint not only to the right, but to neoliberal-capital authoritarianism over the last 40 years (though it would nonetheless be a significantly less harmful outcome).

It’s a bleak assessment, but it’s a realistic one. That’s where we start from. And – no matter what happens – if we are to figure out (1) how best to protect ourselves and other vulnerable people and the Earth and (2) how to devise new strategies of effective resistance to evil’s harms, as well as new strategies for human and ecosystem flourishing, we do well to work from a realistic picture.

Our equanimity must come in part from our capacity to face this reality.

Amen

On Interconnected Political Debacles: the City of Birmingham, the State of Alabama, and our never-particularly United States of America

As a rule, I have low expectations of those in political office – at every level. This country’s systems – at every level – have been biased from the outset toward the affluent, so that the pursuit of power, property, and profit frame public policy and public discourse.

That system of power often circumscribes and circumvents even the best efforts, intentions, and characters. 

Nonetheless, a spirit of public interest has managed to survive for a long time, kindled by uneven bits and pieces of a democratic and practical commitment to the greater good – including in some part to those disadvantaged by the system and the very Earth itself. 

The calculated withdrawal from that commitment to public good – and especially from the needs of marginalized people and the planet – traces most immediately back to the Reagan era 1980s, with specific roots in the would-be oligarchy’s opposition to 1860s-70s Reconstruction, 1900s Progressive Era, 1930s New Deal, and 1960s Great Society reformist public policies, as well as the broader enfranchisement represented by Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement. 

(and, while embodying specific forms of progress, the reforms of those eras still never went far enough in inclusion and avoidance of harm to vulnerable people and the planet – but that’s a discussion for a different day)

Make no mistake – this autocratic neoliberalism is deliberate and it is comprehensive in its approach. And it has become much more efficient, skillfully manipulative, and technologically adept in its reach. 

At a national level, what we witness in the current president is jaw-dropping in its awfulness, but it is an unsurprising outcome of the trajectory of this country since the Reagan era (and that trajectory has been advanced by both parties, though to different degrees. The Democratic party under both B. Clinton and Obama has also been actively complicit, though Republican abdication of public interest has been of an entire different magnitude. Both are problematic, but one is clearly worse). 

It is wholesale capitulation to the mechanisms of concentrated private profit and ownership – at the expense of everything else, even human life, in a wholesale philosophy of commodification. 

Trump is more unprincipled – and louder – in his manipulation of identity politics to secure his power, but he’s just an unvarnished, unrestrained, accelerated embodiment of that whole agenda. 

On the state level, Alabama’s government has always leaned this way. Such tenets are obviously well-enshrined in the 1901 Constitution. But the Powers-that-Were-&-Are did a clever end run on us 2010-2012. Those forces now maintain an effective stranglehold on power in Montgomery, which ensures that Montgomery continues to have a stranglehold on the rest of the state. That Governor Ivey has maintained a mask ordinance in the actual public interest is a wholesale minor miracle.

And as for this city: those same forces of white-supremacy-entrenched, resource-extraction-based capitalism have also long held sway in Birmingham. But there has also been a long tradition of a public sector structured to at least ensure essential public spaces and institutions (libraries, neighborhood associations, public works, parks and rec, schools, and so on). 

It also provided for a civil service sector to run that infrastructure. That essential sector provided economic mobility for those employed and a significant degree of economic stability for their extended networks. The positive effects permeated the entire community for decades.

Here, as elsewhere, that sector has been the subject of political patronage – and some folks ascend and others take a hit as the top of the municipal tickets change. But on the whole, it’s an infrastructure that provides meaningful services, often through longstanding relationships, to the whole of the city – not just those who can pay for perks and private delights and comforts. 

And if properly directed, it’s a structure that could address issues of widespread poverty and the need for a scaffolding of affordable housing, public transit, food security, accessible healthcare, and quality education. 

If properly directed. 

Birmingham municipal leadership has ebbed and flowed in how well it engaged the public sector and the public platform to tend to the needs of ALL its people. That has been a matter of variable commitment, variable integrity, and variable competence at navigating through civic inertias, possibilities, and external constraints. 

What’s going on now is an entirely different game.

Over the last couple of years, Birmingham has fallen fully into line with this orienting principle of neoliberal privatization that we see at work nationally and globally. 

It is premised upon the dismantling of the public sector (other than increasingly militarized mechanisms of social control) in favor of privatization, which can be outright or through ‘public-private partnerships.’

While these forces have long been one part of the equation, the comparatively recent complete embrace represents a paradigm shift in local politics – and it will benefit the affluent, both of this city and of the surrounding suburbs, at the expense of poor and working-class folks (who in this city are overwhelming Black – this is a narrative of institutional white supremacy, regardless of who advances it). 

The direction and intent has been clear for a while now, but the COVID era has offered opportunities to accelerate the process.

The current budget debacle has been a clear illustration. We will see more of such maneuvers in the weeks and months to come, I fear. Last night’s City Council meeting, which ultimately passed that budget, was raw theater for this manipulative power. 

So – the combined forces of the Mayor’s office and a (at least) 5-person lockstep voting bloc of the City Council provides all that the Local Powers That Be need to move the agenda of neoliberal privatization on along full apace.  

The current occupants of those offices are apparently willing to ride that heady mix of power’s endorsement and opportunity. It may continue to get them somewhere, especially if they are willing to resurrect ethics only for superficial viewing in campaign promises. Yet they should be aware that the system they’ve pledged into also regards them as disposable. 

That this paradigm shift took hold by manipulating grassroots electoral methods and promises is a particular sin. When some of you pledged a vow of servant leadership, you certainly did not make clear who and whose interests you intended to serve. 

Things will get complicated as we move on along. The 2021 local elections are already kicking in. Some of the critiques we are hearing now and in the time to come are motivated by the speaker’s own political ambitions and opportunism. Let us listen for that – and ask questions. There may be true and honest leaders – and we need those leaders with wisdom and integrity – mixed among those folks, but we will have to discern carefully. Nothing and no one is a given.  

There will also continue to be people who genuinely believe in actual equity, care, and justice for people and the planet – enacted with skill and with a dedicated concern for civic and common good. There are people with real integrity speaking into this struggle. I do my best to count among that number. My own personal interests might be better served by being quiet, but the ethical imperatives of my faith compel me to speak out. This is pastoral work and this is a Christian commitment for me.

On the national level, the choices are pretty clear, if less than we might have hoped for. 

Closer to home, we’ll have to keep paying attention, keep asking questions, keep making demands on the system that it be more genuinely accountable, equitable, and just in service of the public interest, and keep taking it to the streets when the interests of the commons are unheard and unheeded.

Let us never cease to ask the questions: “who benefits from this” “whom is this intended for?” “who may be harmed by this, whether it’s intentional or not?” And if the answer comes at the expense of marginalized people or the planet for the sake of the Affluent Class or the powers of patriarchy and white supremacy, we have to be ready to speak back and push back. 

Many thanks to all who have worked so hard to create structures for participatory budgeting and people’s power, liberated from political manipulation. Your expertise, dedication, witness, and example are a great gift to us all – and it is my joy to journey with you in this work.

Amen

9/11/2020

“I’m sad,” several people have said to me today.

I understand.

And after sitting with that feeling myself a lot in recent weeks, I’ll share this much that I know:

I stared at the rich Birmingham cloudscape as I drove this afternoon, praying all the while for you, my West Coast friends and your kin and neighbors, spending this day under anxious, orange, ash-choked skies – those, that is, with enough space, at best, to look up from imperiled yet intact houses and unscorched streets.

Regardless of one’s politics, 9/11 is fraught with memory and some form of grief.

True also for the wrenching toll of COVID, from death to disruption, from hard choices to hidden realities of the entire scope of human suffering.

And then: there really is no circumstance that compels sympathy from me for our current president. Yet I acknowledge the ache to offer equilibrium in the midst of terrible tragedy, to conjure up steady presence even when the news is grim, to open your arms wide to hold the pain and uncertainty of those you’re tasked to lead. I’m not saying he feels that way. I myself feel that way and so do many of you – and I found that thought buried in his words about deception.

I put my faith in grace and some days that’s like breathing fumes.

Black Lives Matter. Period. I don’t know how to say that any more clearly.

In a season of quiet, complex pastoral care, there’s a constant tangle of “you’ve got to be kidding me – how much more can this good soul have to deal with?” and “okay, that’s a good step – at least for right now, I think” – all mixed in with the sorrow of not being able to do more and the humble peace of being trusted with intimate stories of joy and struggle.

Every one of us here – at one level or another – carries some version of this weight right now. The notion that we’re all in this together – which is the reality of interdependence – has grown, as it tends to do in the neoliberal age, into a competition for the moral or material high ground or at least the code to the bunker of some fictive, exclusive safety. That’s one of the deepest shames of this whole moment.

We are sad.

And rightly so.

Yet as long as we have breath in us, we are blessed with life. That is no small blessing.

May we breathe, grieve, hope, pray, learn, share, wherever this night finds us.

This is what I know.

Amen

Weather and Wonder

It’s a sorrow that we consider modern conversation about the weather ‘small talk.’

We live on land under the eternal sky. The weather frames the whole of our everyday experience. Our ancestors lived that way  – and others less insulated from the natural world know it intimately still. 

I wonder if the designation of ‘small’ might be more a reflection of our human hubris, we who are actually only small, wondrous bits within God’s vast creation. 

We find ease in culture’s urbane economic rush to recenter our own selves as the world’s obvious priority.

What might happen if we were to defy the shallow and instead hew more deeply to the experience of the weather? What if we were to allow it as fully into our consciousness in the quiet everyday moments as in the dramatic ones?  

Not only our judgment about its effect on us in any given moment (though “Dang, it’s hot”  is inevitable in some form in Alabama in July), but as a treasured part of being human and an honest transcendent reality. 

What if we were to notice and breathe and give thanks throughout the day? What if we were to study deeply the natural and human-shaped patterns? What if we held fast to reverence and awe and open-ness and the blessing of it all? 

Some ethical and spiritual traditions (religious or not) encourage such a practice, but mostly we are too busy. 

But I wonder who we might be as a people if we were to let wonder change us. 

Amen

Three Types of Social Change Speech

Reflecting on three distinct types of speech acts in the context of this complicated moment – 

I talk often about two types: (1) saying something because it needs to be said, which is a proclamation of truth as one sees it; and (2) saying something to be heard, which is an invitation to examine a truth (perhaps a truth new or uncomfortable for the listener) in a new way. 

For our purposes here, let’s call those proclamation and invitation. 

Invitation is usually gentler and more relationship-oriented than proclamation – and proclamation more bold and clear than invitation – though ultimately they point to the same truths IF the same truths are in mind at the start. 

Some people focus on one and some on the other. In a healthy view, both groups respect both efforts as a collaborative, multi-faceted strategy rather than as ‘doing it the wrong way.’ In social change work, we need both, provided that they are clear about the liberation-for-all foundation. 

They are two sides of the same valuable coin, two different methods of working toward the same goal. 

(NOTE: that does NOT mean that all people using either of these two tactics have the same goal – just that these are two distinct tactics that can be used in meaningful social change work toward a particular goal). 

In my own complex role, I use both approaches, depending on my assessment of the needs of the moment (note: and sometimes that shift catches people off guard and they get bold from me when they expected warmer-fuzzier or vice versa. I speak to a broad audience here and in many spaces, so I do the best I can given the exigencies of any given moment). 

As for that third type: (3)  there is also speaking because *we* need to be heard. Often it’s because we’re angry, frustrated, or exhausted, though it can be a happier thing too. The words in this case function as a vent. 

There is nothing wrong with this. (note: I do this too). In fact, it is critically important. We all need to express our feelings, especially if we are concerned about the plight of the Earth and its people. The work of caring (and acting on that caring) is intense. 

The KEY THING HERE is to understand that this third speech act, vent, is fundamentally about oneself and how one is feeling rather than about strategic engagement in social change work (which is the focus of proclamation and invitation). 

In other words, it’s a human/ego statement more than a tactical statement about an issue. 

An example, steeped in a bit hyperbole — “HEY STUPID! WEAR A DAMN MASK!!!” There are many other versions of this around this and every other issue. 

(SERIOUS NOTE – I’m not here to debate either the science or the ethics of mask wear or the approaches of those who advocate for or against it. I’ve made my position clear in recent weeks: nobody likes wearing a mask, but it is the right thing to do because the science is clear that it significantly reduces the risk that one will transmit COVID to another person. Another option for non-mask wearers (without underlying medical conditions) is just staying home so you don’t endanger others. That’s another legit way of caring for one’s neighbor and fulfilling one’s responsibility to others. You are welcome to express your own perspective, whether you agree or disagree – on your own page. But it’s beside my point here. I am simply using the phrase above as an example). 

This type of speech act suits an internal need – and if you’ve got an audience that hears you and affirms you and keeps you accountable, that is a sure blessing. 

I’d suggest, however,  that this type of engagement is unlikely to (a) persuade or encourage the reluctant, (b) inform and bolster the undecided or tentative, or (c) skillfully express solidarity and shared insight with one’s comrades in the struggle  – i.e., the primary and secondary audiences for proclamation and invitation – and for any form of social change work. 

It can be a space of shared support around the Vent topic – but that’s collective Vent rather than tactical engagement. 

It takes time, energy, intention, patience, and a certain dedication to wisdom to do proclamation and invitation well, at least on an enduring and consistent basis. None of us is perfect at it and hopefully we are all learning all along the way.

Vent, on the other hand, is driven by the energy of the self. Its criteria of success is how much release of tension and energy you gain by it. 

All three are important. All three engage the emotions and the context of the moment. They are just three different things. 

I’d argue we are wise to be mindful of  the distinctions among the three – and their relationship to our end goals – in this moment and as the work continues. 

Amen. 

Two Frameworks

Y’all know I typically preach nuance. This moment, however, allows us a glimpse of two pretty clear-cut foundational frameworks for white folks about racial injustice right now.*

1) a commitment to keep humble, keep learning, keep using that learning to do more effective anti-racist work internally, relationally, and systemically, and keep at it.

A person with this framework can be anywhere along a spectrum of knowledge and prior commitment, from just now realizing that white supremacy is a real, ongoing, pervasive evil in our society to embodying a long history in the struggle for a better world.

2) a belief – sometimes consciously affirmed, sometimes more subtly lurking in the subconscious – that one knows what there is to know, has done the necessary work to arrive at that conclusion, and is satisfied with it and one’s own place within that knowledge construct.

A person with this framework can also be anywhere along a spectrum of knowledge and prior commitment, from openly committed to a white supremacist ideology to long involved in the struggle against it.

For those of you who aim to fall into the first category of praxis, I invite you to reflect on what you do to keep from getting set in your ways or complacent in your learning and actions.

Do you know that this process of learning can be intrinsically life-giving for you and for others, even as it confronts great historical and contemporary sorrows? I assure you it can be.

For folks who fall into the second category – there is another way. Please know that – and know that if you’d like to orient yourself toward it, there are lots of folks who will be glad to walk with you with love on that journey.

Amen

* (I believe this categorization holds true for a lot of other differentials of power and oppression as well, including economic position, gender, (dis)ability status, sexual orientation and gender identity, religious identity, and so on).

Beyond Saying “Black Lives Matter”: the Application of Anti-Racist Learning

Knowledge of the history and present of enacted white supremacy is important.  Many of us white folks neither learned this in our formal education nor recognized it as a part of our lived reality. 

That reading circles and task groups and Sunday School classes are studying White Fragility and How to Be an Anti-Racist and I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness is a really good thing. The COVID era’s surge in online webinars and panels has also created new accessible forums for learning and engagement – and those are amazing spaces for hearing new perspectives.

This knowledge changes us, right? 

Then comes the process of really making that knowledge our own – integrating it into our understanding of the world – by putting it to use. 

We put it to use in our own thinking, in our conversations with others, and when we show up to protests. 

But we also must put it to use by engaging with applied, structurally embedded inequalities to help create change. 

This is the long haul of dismantling white supremacy – and it’s a great blessing to be able to do that work. 

I am a big fan of engaging with that work through grassroots efforts, so I’m going to name some groups working on those issues in Alabama. If you are not in Alabama and need help finding local efforts in your area, give me a holler. 

This is long-term, necessary structural change work. 

None of us can do it all. All of us can do something. 

Death Penalty – Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty

Environmental Justice – GASP, PANIC, Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice, Alabama Interfaith Power & Light 

Medicaid Expansion for Increased Healthcare Access- Alabama Arise 

Arise is also a great source of information about and advocacy space for tax reform, public transit, and other significant statewide policy issues. 

Land Tenure – Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust

Immigrant Detention – Shut Down Etowah

Payday Lending – Alliance for Responsible Lending in Alabama 

Restorative Justice & Prison Abolition – When We Fight 

Voter Engagement/Voting Rights  – Woke Vote, League of Women Voters of Alabama (and its local chapters)

While we’re here, check out the policy platforms at the Movement for Black Lives. If you are relatively new to anti-racist work, this may feel like a lot to take in. Take a deep breath and ease your way through it with an open mind. This is what meaningful anti-racist structural change looks like. This is what a more just world looks like.

Let’s make it happen – together.

Support Amazing Grassroots BIPOC-led Organizations

These are human-scale, grassroots, BIPOC*-led (and mostly black-women led) organizations doing vital work on the ground in under-resourced communities in Alabama without tons of institutional support. 

(*BIPOC – Black, Indigenous, and People of Color – this term helps to avoid the erasure of Indigenous Peoples)

These are real folks doing the work of real equity and justice every single day.

Please, please support them. 

Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust
paypal: dynamitehillclt@gmail.com

Fountain Heights Farm 
paypal – https://www.paypal.me/MDVillanueva

No More Martyrs
donation page – https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MzIxODk=/selection

TAKE Resource Center 
donation page –https://www.takebhm.org/donate

Yes, I Have a Therapist 
paypal – https://www.paypal.me/YesIHaveATherapist

Our Firm Foundation
donation page – https://www.ourfirmfoundation.org/donate

Be a Blessing Birmingham
paypal – https://bit.ly/2ZZcvSY

Black Belt Citizens 
mail a check to
Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice
23355 County Rd 53
Uniontown, AL 36786

Literary Healing Arts Foundation
Cash App $salaamgr

People’s Justice Council 
https://www.thepeoplesjusticecouncil.org/donate

Margins: Women Helping Black Women 
donation page

GASP – not BIPOC-staff-led, but majority POC board. Funnels resources directly into Collegeville/Fairmont/Harriman Park – https://gaspgroup.org/support-gasp/

Offender Alumni Association
https://www.offenderalumniassociation.org/donate

Birmingham Bail Fund –
UPDATED – centralized link
https://givebutter.com/NobodyLeftBehindBailFund