Scholars for Social Justice - Mutual Aid Strategies by Dean Spade and Ciro Carillo



[Applause] totally what can we do a lot of us are overwhelmed pissed and scared I don't want to wait till the next election I don't want to just write my congressperson and hope that they'll do the right thing I don't want to just post things to the vacuum of social media I don't want to just make statements about things I want to change how things are there are a zillion things we can do and people are coming up with new ones all the time this video is going to focus on mutual aid projects what they are and why we should be developing them right now mutual aid projects are a form a political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions not just through symbolic acts are putting pressure on their representatives in government but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable during recent flooding and storms we saw mutual aid in action as people help each other survive mutual aid isn't just for those big weather disasters it is also for the daily routine life threatening disasters of capitalism and white supremacy people who are pissed about police and prisons are doing mutual aid work like creating prison letter-writing projects where people get connected to pen pals in prison to build relationships help prepare for release how prisoners have advocates on the outside and help build a movement against policing in prisons that is informed and led by the people who know the very most about how the system actually works some people are creating jail support programs where people get together to make a schedule and agree to be outside their local jail on that schedule and greet anyone getting out and help them get what they need maybe a ride clothes a phone to call contacts information about services or benefits some people are organizing community bail funds revolving funds that can pay people's bail so that they are not locked up while they try to prepare for their defense money bail systems are one of the ways that poor people and people of color are given the worst chances in the criminal system court support projects are people coordinate to accompany someone facing charges to their court dates ideally by packing the court with supporters each time so that no one has to go alone and sometimes to influence lawyers judges and jury by showing their support for the criminalized person some people are coordinating ride systems to help families visit prisoners who are being held in facilities far from home in Oakland the Oakland power projects are about strengthening people skills to respond to community emergencies in ways that minimize police contact when you call 9-1-1 for health emergency the cops come to and that often means violence the Oakland power projects is about training the community to respond to health emergencies including mental health crises chronic health problems and acute health emergencies that people don't have to call 9-1-1 people who are scared about the embolden Minh of ice and Border Patrol and increasing deportations are doing things like forming Rapid Response networks where people warn each other about immigration rays and help each other hide and helping immigrants do safety planning in case they get detained so that someone is ready to take care of their kids and elders some Rapid Response projects are even working on training people to show up and physically stop ice from taking someone away imagine if we built that kind of power to stop arrests through rapid mobilization of a lot of people to outnumber cops No More Deaths an organization in Arizona works to save the lives of people crossing the border by putting food water and supplies in the harsh desert areas where people who are crossing off and die from the conditions there are so many mutual aid project possibilities because there are so many intense ways people aren't having their needs met in the brutal systems we live under like food projects like Food Not Bombs projects where people organize temporary housing for people coming out of prison or foster care by opening their homes to each other childcare collectives where people watch each other's kids so they can go to political meetings court or jobs projects for people accompany vulnerable people like trans people and people with disabilities to medical appointments or public benefits offices and hearings projects where people make sure neighbors being pushed out by gentrification have good access to information about their housing rights and accompany each other to housing court help people read documents and defend themselves from eviction projects where people protest landlords who are refusing to make repairs or give back security deposits by directly protesting at those landlords houses and businesses the messages of this work are the government is we can't rely on it you are not alone the system is the problem not the person being targeted by it and we're gonna take matters into our own hands and help each other survive right now rather than expecting help from the same systems that have a clear history of causing harm mutual aid projects don't just help with the current disasters they help us prepare for the ongoing disasters that are emerging because of climate chaos and crumbling infrastructure when we build cooperative projects practice making decisions together share things meet more people in our communities and learn about each other's skills and needs and learn how current systems work and how they are not working we're better prepared for the next storm the next blackout and the next budget cuts something really important about all this is that mutual aid is not charity charity and we're rich people and institutions give tiny crumbs to core people to make themselves look better usually there are a lot of strings attached to what they give like giving only to mothers or only to children only to sober people or only to people of faith charity rides on the idea that rich people or social workers to decide who is a deserving poor and who is the undeserving poor you know that rich people can put conditions on the housing or food or cash they get pull people charity blames poor people for poverty mutual aid blames the system for making people poor and says everyone deserves everything they need charity affirms the existing distribution of wealth and life chances mutual aid challenges it charity is top-down mutual aid is horizontal charity is about control hierarchy and isolation mutual aid is about solidarity liberation and participation people are scared and angry right now and trying to find ways to fight back and support each other building mutual aid projects is a way to plug people in build shared understandings of current conditions offer meaningful support to vulnerable people and prepare for the coming disasters mutual aid work is not easy it means forming lasting commitments to doing hard work collaborating with people even when we have conflict and facing the heart-wrenching realities of the systems we live under it is also deeply satisfying work that transforms us from being exasperated passive observers of the shitstorm we're living in to inspired builders of the new world we desperately crave stop believing in authority and start believing in each other we're all we've got we're all we needed you

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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