Only Solution: Cultural Alliances

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Staughton Lind, noted civil liberties Attorney, was in Pittsburgh on October 02 at Carnegie Mellon University to lecture on the state of race relations in the U.S. The event was well attended by local activists, students and regular folk.

Aged 70-something, Lind, talked about his experience in the Civil Rights movement and how, at one time, there was a level of reciprocal interaction among persons of color and whites that is not apparent in current social movements in the U.S. Lind called on all in the audience to work to "re-establish the solidarity" that existed in the 1960s and 70s, among the people, for a period of time in American history.

The government crack down on dissent has grown increasingly aggressive during the Bush Administration, and is far more wide reaching than average American citizens can possibly imagine. Members of religious groups are targets of government surveillance. Local anti-war activists, who object to our government’s domestic and foreign policy, are under FBI surveillance, and blatant attack, by a Police Force that overreacts when they are taunted at public protests. People of color are stopped on streets, highways and commercial airlines on a weekly basis simply because of the shade of their skin or their attire. With this many diverse groups under attack, one would think that American citizens would band together to oppose this abuse of government power.

Yet, in Pittsburgh and around the nation, despite efforts to mobilize across ethnic, cultural and religious lines, there appears to be a distinct divide or should we say--- a disconnect. Communities that should create alliances, seem suspicious of one another’s agenda, and have failed to establish the relationships that strengthen movements. Those who are committed to social justice recognize that there is strength in numbers, but too often, organizers don’t know how to foster a movement that is inclusive of all the people. Or one might say that "those who believe in freedom" recognize the importance of inclusion, but fail to persist the in the tedious, thankless and often frustrating journey that establishes and cements cross-cultural liaisons.

At your next planning meeting, look around the room. Examine who is at the table. If your group or organization, does not reflect the diversity the we know exists in the world then, maybe you should ask yourself why. One thing, that Staunton Lind made clear was that those, who are not authentically impacted by societal ills such as racism, and who benefit from white supremacy, cannot define a movement for those who are members of an oppressed group. Lind said that when he sat down with Black civil rights leaders back in the 1960s, he did not thrust his agenda upon the organizers, he joined in on the leadership that was already established.

In the history of civilization, no other group has more strenuously attempted to subvert the democratic process by denying fair play to other competitors than those descended from the European race. Racism is not a "Black Problem". It is a "White Sickness." It is something that the white race has to work to overcome and make amends for.

In what is certainly the twilight years of his life, and with a wealth of knowledge and experience behind him, Staunton Lind challenged a new generation to carry on the legacy of social  protest and cultural interaction that he lived.
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