in solidarity with organizers in Ferguson and all on the frontline of racial injustice
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“It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Comunique from Ferguson
On the evening of Monday, November 24th, 2014, the Grand Jury announcement on the Michael Brown and Darren Wilson case was released to the public. The deplorable ruling of “no indictment” for officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed black teen, is regrettably not a shock. This ruling is a reminder that the justice system favors those who abuse power and privilege to disempower those who are systemically positioned to endure the consequences of an extractive economy — a system that neglects to uphold a standard of justice based on racial equity, economic justice, and one that proactively works to dissolve the acts of oppression that have led us to this somber situation. With this announcement, the hearts we carry are both heavy and emboldened. As organizers and as humans, we are called to mobilize and recognize the intersection of not only our work, but our lives.
The California Student Sustainability Coalition recently hosted an incredible organizer, Julia Ho from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, at the Fall 2014 Convergence at UC Davis on November 14th-16th. Attendees were inspired to hear the call from organizers in Ferguson as well as racial justice and civil rights activists to work in solidarity with those on the ground in congruence with our current efforts. As a network of California youth working actively on sustainability and climate action, we recognize and affirm that our struggle and liberation is indelibly bound to the liberation of others. We cannot have climate justice or a sustainable planet without racial justice. Even further, our planet cannot be sustainable without an economy that reflects equity, without an ecology that reflects respect for all beings. Our movements must be intersectional because our lives are, our very identities are. As students we are fighting to escape undue debt and tuition hikes, fighting for a stable and livable climate, and fighting to transition away from an extractive economy. The injustices that Ferguson faces today are rooted in the same injustices that we fight here in California. Though we all feel their impacts differently, we have a moral duty to highlight these impacts and those who are the most vulnerable if we are to find justice. Most importantly, we need to recognize that we are part of the same struggle. If we want freedom from the fossil fuel industry, if we want freedom from tuition hikes, then we must also have freedom from oppression and racial injustice.
CSSC must stand with Ferguson in order to – together – resist these injustices and to – together – build the future we want and need to see. We also recognize that we are part of a larger community that holds a LOT of privilege, and although our membership and leadership is by no means monolithic, the very point of entry (a university or college) is from a place of privilege. Our struggles may or may not be the same but we are bound nonetheless.
CALL TO ACTION
The main call to action that has been expressed to us is to Donate to www.fergusonaction.com/donate-supplies/. These donations will go towards supporting organizers on the ground in Ferguson for their daily needs for actions as well as providing support for safe space creation. You can also donate to other community wellsprings of support, such as the Ferguson Public Library. And here is a whole host of other ways to help!
If you’d like to learn about the Ferguson Action Information Hotline for people to ask any questions they have regarding actions. The voice recording will reflect the most up to date information: 314-329-7667.
There are plenty of resources out there to help clarify the fights that are happening. However, a good place to begin is with the organizers from Ferguson themselves. Please go to their website and read their Demands so you know what is being asked for.
Host or attend solidarity actions.
For those in California, there are several rallies, vigils, and marches to participate in and many of them are tied up in existing fights. If you can, speak with your body and use your time and energy to show your support.
Davis: Tuesday, November 25th, 6:00 PM, Davis Community Center, 412 C Street
Fresno: Tuesday, November 25th, 6:00 PM, Eaton Plaza, 2400 Fresno Street
Santa Barbara: Tuesday, November 25th, 6:00 PM, Santa Barbara Courthouse, 1100 Anacapa St
Other Actions: Facebook event here
2PM COMMUNITY FORUMS AND POSTER MAKING, Storke Tower
9PM CANDLELIGHT VIGIL, Pardall Center
You can find more actions here.
The media intentionally waited to release the deplorable ruling until night time so that any nonviolent direct action in response would look like a “riot” to viewers. We cannot trust the mainstream media moving forward. This is why it is essential that we tell it how it is, that we tell OUR story.
Not everyone can afford to put their bodies in this fight. Not all of us have the economic means to travel to a protest, the physical means to start one, the privileges to be at the mercy of police or legal authority. We may feel that we have little we can offer to Mike Brown’s family, to the stricken community of Ferguson, to Black citizens of this country. But at the very least, we all have words.
Sometimes, words are a mask to our costumes of comfort, promises borne empty by our privilege. We must be careful to not conflate letters of support with meaningful action. Words by themselves will not bring about justice, will not bring Darren Wilson to trial, will not mitigate the painful emptiness that a lost child leaves. They can be a shield against showing true solidarity or a spear thrown into the status quo. Now is not the time to stay quiet, to fear debate, to deny the judgment of your friends. For as many doubters and bigots there are, there are just as many unsure of where they stand, scared to out themselves, hesitant to speak up for Black lives. Do you believe your voice is meaningless in reaching out to them? For the unheard in this country who are battered with the voices of white rage, of systemic oppression, of an (in)justice system bent on preserving the status quo, your voice is far more important than your few judgmental Facebook friends.
With this, the next call to action is to please write to the grand jury, write a blog post, write a status update, even just write a tweet. Add to the fire in any way you can because though you may feel far, the flames will catch.
Lastly, we must write because we need to find ourselves in this movement. Some of us are white, some of us have always been upper class, some of us are settlers, some of us are undocumented. We all have stories of love and hate and privilege and oppression that inform our space in this very moment. We are all working to understand ourselves and what our personal and historical liberation must be. If your writing does nothing else, let it illuminate your path and bring clarity to your place in this fight against racial oppression and economic inequity. This is crucial not only to the movement but also to your own freedom of self. And the moment you know why you are fighting, you can be sure that there will be open arms to embrace you and link up with yours.
WHO WE ARE
CSSC was founded on the three pillars of sustainability: equity, economy, ecology. Our Mission is to unite and empower California’s community of higher education to collaboratively and nonviolently transform ourselves and our institutions based on our inherent social, economic, and ecological responsibilities.
We have been the leading statewide student-run organization for California youth who are passionate about sustainability. Our convergences have been moving from the traditional focus on ecological and environmental stewardship toward a greater understanding and valuing of justice, uplifting economic transition and equity as the priority. We still very much value environmental and ecological stewardship but with recognition of the social and economic context of such issues.
For the last few years, we have been working actively toward embracing this intersectionality, heading up campaigns like Fossil Free UC and Students Against Fracking as explicitly justice-based campaigns working toward climate justice. In 2014, we started the first ever Solidarity Organizing Program. At the Fall 2014 Convergence held at UC Davis just under two weeks ago, we reached out to speakers from several walks of justice-oriented work, from anti-sex trafficking to anti-deportation. We created an intentionally diverse space, lifting up organizers of color and who identify as being from oppressed minorities. We are far from perfect, and we recognize the progress that needs to be made and the trust that we must continually work toward building. However, we are no longer hesitant to take the steps that we can in opening up to all of our collective struggles.
We have been inspired by groups like the California Climate Justice Alliance who paint this picture so well and help us to understand the crossroads of our work:
“The tragic killing of so many young Black people, like Mike Brown, the environmentally-caused illnesses and death from disproportionate pollution in so many communities of color, and climate chaos are all linked by the same systems of racism and oppression.”-CA CJA
“The fight for Black lives, racial justice and the incredible organizing of #FergusonOctober is inextricably linked to the fight for environmental justice & we stand in solidarity with everyone in Ferguson”. CA CJA
As a group with the word “sustainability” in its name, we recognize that if we are to be truly sustainable, we cannot ignore equity and justice. This is inherent to sustainability and inherent to building a safer, healthier, cleaner, more beautiful, and just world.
TO CONNECT FURTHER
If you are either part of CSSC or want to connect with those interested in further efforts through CSSC please contact Emili Abdel-Ghany, Field Organizer for the Solidarity Organizing Program. Keep up to date on what’s happening in #Ferguson by calling the Ferguson Action Information Hotline for people to ask any questions they have regarding actions. The voice recording will reflect the most up to date information: 314-329-7667. You can also find up to date and accurate information on www.fergusonaction.com and follow the hashtags #JusticeforMikeBrown #BlackLivesMatter #HandsUpDontShoot
“This moment is a historic one — Ferguson is everywhere– and we are building a movement for justice for Mike Brown and an end to police violence nationwide. Just like people have done throughout American history, we are making our voices heard, taking to the streets and using our first amendment rights to engage in strong actions of civil disobedience. The people of Ferguson have boldly faced tanks, tear gas and militarized police forces in their quest for justice. We call on you to stand with us and envision a future where the promises guaranteed under our Constitution are guaranteed to all, without exception.”
Emili Abdel-Ghany, Field Organizer for the Solidarity Organizing Program
Shoshanna Howard, Students Against Fracking Campaign Director
Simone Cardona, Council Co-Chair
Alyssa Lee, Field Organizer for Fossil Fuel Divestment
Jake Soiffer, Field Organizer for Fossil Free UC
Eric Recchia, Board of Directors Member
Emily Williams, Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign Director
Henry Morse, Climate Delegate
Unique Vance, UCSB EAB Environmental Justice Chair