open letter to campaign x

December 5, 2011

dear campaign (fill in the one of your choice there are hundreds to choose from),

please, under no circumstance, mistake organizing with campaigning.

organizing is when you gather a people, have THEM identify the issues, provide the tools necessary so that they may advocate for themselves and they LEAD the way to systemic change created from within.

campaigning already has a set agenda and you invite others because you NEED them to meet your goals.

did you catch the difference? (i hope you do. i mean, you and all your law degrees and political jargon and your corporate behavior dressed in non-profit should see it clearly).

the former starts from its people, works with its people, and then its people create the change they wish to see. the latter, well, just wants to move a personal agenda and when it realizes it doesn’t have “enough people,” they scramble to find tokens in a jar of spare Blacks, Latinos, Queers, women, low-income people… throw us a t-shirt and some event, catered by who else but us… and expect us to join or even more baffling, fight for… what YOU want.

well, shit… have you stopped to look at your campaign from the perspective of the tokens in your jar? have you taken the time to really look in your jar? i mean, honestly… stop looking at people like they’re just people. it makes you insensitive, shallow, and disconnected. plain and simple. take the mutha’ fucking time to really learn a people. go with intent. sit and have a cup of coffee with someone you might never sit with. learn their struggle. see if you can taste it. learn what moves them to continue in light of their struggles. try to have a genuine human connection that tugs at your heart.

…but you won’t.

you’ll keep pushing your campaign based on political strategies created by the same people you claim to be fighting against. in the end, you might win… ’cause money, well… money is money.

and conversely, in the end… you will not have changed anything. because the system remains the blueprint for legislative oppression created by the oppressor.

but please, do me at least one favor… don’t call it a movement if it ain’t moving.

sincerely,

Sarahí Y. Almonte

i gave a presentation this morning to a group of college students on community organizing. one of the students asked, “how do you remain positive when you continue to meet the challenges of a movement?  how do you keep from becoming cynical?” immediately i responded, “oh, but i am cynical.”

(we laughed)

but it is true.

the truth is it is totally possible to become discouraged, exhausted and cynical when you are fighting for a cause. the challenges of fighting for “rights” alone is ridiculous in my mind. i mean, why should anyone fight for a “right.” but that is not what this reflection is about.  i simply elaborated by saying that when she felt “exhausted or discouraged” that she should… rest.

we need to rest. to reconnect to the sources that provide us with strength. to return to the things that feed our will to keep going. and ultimately, to tap into the core of what really moves us to continue “the work.”

as i drove home, i started thinking about the question. and i thought, what if i applied this to my personal life? what if i used these same answers for my own internal movement?

when you feel that your internal movement is not gaining ground… rest. but don’t give up.

return to family. to friends. return to you. seek inspiration in your nieces’ laughter… in a movie date with a friend. find strength in a two-hour phone conversation with someone who haven’t talked to in a while. get on skype and see the face of someone who brings you peace and tells you to “breathe.”

then go and sit at the center of your core. feel the feelings. breathe the emotions. find that which moves your spirit to action.

after you’ve rested, gather all of this … get up and press on.

reflection: connection

November 15, 2011

this past weekend was perhaps one of the most amazing weekends of my life.

my saturday started with a workshop that i was facilitating.  i’ve been giving a series of workshops at work for the past three months.  the relationships that have developed from these are absolutely beautiful. connecting with people that i would otherwise not have the opportunity to meet and getting to know them, their struggles, their stories and how they continue to move forward is uplifting and has allowed me to view my own struggles and grow stronger because of each of them.

lesson learned: we grow stronger in our collective struggles.

i headed to boston, to visit my sister, meet up with an old love who is visiting from DR  and then get together with new friends.

time with my sister is always a great time. i consider her one of the funniest people in my life. when i am with her my cheeks and abdomen hurt after just one hour. she has beautiful energy. she has a way to make me feel at peace.

lesson learned: her smile makes me feel at home.

i drove, nervously to her.  i didn’t know what to expect when i saw her. my heart was racing a faster as i got closer to our meeting place. i saw her. we hugged for what seemed to be hours. i felt no anger. no fear. no resentment. the only thing i could feel was our love: tender and true. her arms, her scent and her love wrapped around me like caribbean sun on palm trees.

lesson learned: undoubtedly, where true Love exist, regardless of what took place, the moment you come together, the only thing you feel is all that was beautiful about the relationship.

i headed to meet up with some friends. and with them i went to another place where i met an absolutely amazing group of new friends. it is inspiring to meet people and instantly connect. their energies, their spirits, their laughter… you’d think we all knew each other for years. our conversations went from intense to nonsense. we laughed so hard, inhalers had to come out. there were counseling sessions in the kitchen and dance-offs in the living room. games that taught us a little more about each other and had us talking about the next time we’d come together.

lesson learned: spiritual connections are still taking place.

the weekend just kept bringing me back to connections: lifelong ones, old ones and new ones.

when connections are made in their most honest form, we are guaranteed a lifetime of spiritual energy and renewal.