"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Roughly two months ago, Amy Williams and I decided to form a summer reading group. The participants are young, active leaders in social justice organizations and related professions at the University of Missouri and in the larger Mid-Missouri area. Essentially we thought the organization needed to exist because the /best/ intentioned, most committed people doing progressive work tend to become narrowly focused on their area of specialization. They track into becoming rape advocacy experts, or environmental sustainability gurus. Immersion into a chosen passion denies one opportunity to become informed about or involved in other, related advocacy work. This lack of diversification also results in a poverty of communication and lack of joint projects between organizations that are fundamentally complimentary, and could pool their resources to do a lot of conjoined events. A feminist organization and the Latino Students Union, for example, could have a great, third-wave dialogue about the rights of Latina immigrant women in America that might enrich both.
It may seem a bit pretentiously networky, and it /is/, but it also raises awareness and educates everyone involved. Discussion facilitators refine their ideas in order to present on their areas of expertise to the assembled, who might not know anything
about the discussion topics coming in. We're also doing small activism projects: there's an initiative by Columbia Montessori to provide discounted daycare to low-income families, especially those living in the city's impoverished first ward, and as a group we're participating in the fund-raising.
It also keeps us busy during the summer, when the city's largely dead and our brains might otherwise atrophy.
I bring this all up because I /love/ the dedicated, intelligent people I've met doing this. Their diversity of perspectives has been invaluable. I feel regenerated by participating in activism in a way I've not done since high school, largely due to the maliciously complacent vague liberalism of my otherwise charming college town. It's fun
. I'm proud of my co-founder, Amy, for doing great work here and elsewhere, and kind of humbled by the amazing woman she's grown up into. I'm proud to be doing this. Validated.
So far we've had discussions of
1) 'Language as a Mechanism of Social Control and Resistance' (a good introduction to each other and the format, language being common--positioned at the nexus of all our work, the means by which we proposed to transgress the boundaries between branches of what is at its heart a single tree, a unified field theory of a movement)
2) rape victims and the legal system, and
3) cultural appropriation (a showing of Sita Sings the Blues
followed by a discussion).
Next week's Pornography and Sex Work.
Feel free to check out our blog: http://justreadcomo.blogspot.com/
. The articles range from hilarious to informative to a bit heartbreaking. But like Annette Henshaw sings, "if you want the rainbow, you must have the rain."