“It is in our self interest to wake up, speaking for ourselves from our own authority”
These words came from L.A.-based community, arts and women’s healing activist Trini Rodriguez during the California Network for Revolutionary Change gathering she co-chaired on October 18. With around thirty leaders, thinkers, students, teachers, writers, labor organizers, politicians, poets, indigenous speakers, and artists, the meeting was held in the Salinas barrio of Alisal (East Salinas), one of the most violent, poor and educationally challenged communities. It is also a community on the rise, especially after police killed four residents since March of this year.
Earlier this year some 4,000 people marched across Salinas to protest the murders of these unarmed people (except for work tools or a “cell phone”), including three farm workers and a young man who had been trying to get his life together after being paroled.
Shadowed by the media coverage of the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, these deaths in Salinas are nonetheless tightly linked to a militarized police presence among the poor and working class across the U.S.
The Cal-NRC meeting drew from the hundreds of supporters who stepped up after the Luis J. Rodriguez campaign for governor. Many who could not be there sent greetings and well wishes, interested in the continuing connections.
Frank Alvarado Sr., father of one of the persons police recently killed, spoke for the first time. He said, “I’m glad to be here—it’s time we organized for justice... for my son, for the whole community.”
This network aims to fill in the gaps facing those individuals, independent organizations, nonprofits, churches, labor groups, community centers, and artist collectives responding to the deepening economic and political crisis in the country. We need a network from which the practical and conscious leaders can interact, dialogue, strategize, learn, teach, and provide technical assistance when needed as more and more people lose jobs, homes, healthcare, educational resources—and are subject to mass incarceration, poisoned environment, police terror.
“We don’t need to replicate or duplicate other efforts,” said Anthony Prince, community lawyer and co-convener. “We are not just about creating a coalition or a support group for other struggles, although these aspects may be included.”
In essence, the NRC plans to be the connective tissue between the scattered and isolated persons and groups who understand there must be deep systemic and comprehensive change in how the economy is organized and the country is governed. Increasing numbers of people are aware how governance and industry is predicated to protect and uphold the private property demands of the 1 percent—the wealthy capitalists, corporations and financiers ruling this country.
It’s time, as Trini says, to assert our own authority, to rule ourselves, in our interests, for the benefit of everyone.
Present at the gathering were Latinos (Mexican, Central American, Colombian), African Americans, Asians, whites, LGBT, indigenous, disabled, elderly, young, middle-aged, and more—representative of California’s embattled populations.
As Triqui native man from Oaxaca said, “Somos completo ya” (we are now complete).”
Please go to www.canetworkforrevolutionarychange.org to keep up on our future gathering and organizing efforts. Please donate and lend your name to this growing unity-in-diversity organization.