Solidarity Across Borders

When Fatou Camara was a teenage socialist in Kaolack, Senegal, the future looked good. Abdou Diouf, a socialist, was president, and the party had just given her financial aid to study economics in Quebec and get the education she wanted to be able to help her six brothers and sisters and her parents. While she was in Quebec, Senegal devalued its currency, and her dreams of a university education crashed. She returned to Senegal, where she interned with an accounting firm before striking out for the United States in 1994. Like so many immigrants, she came with hope and the name of someone who might be able to help her. That name was Alan Charney, then national director of DSA. He’d met a friend of hers at a Socialist International meeting, and the friend thought that Alan might be able to steer her to paid work. DSA had no opening for a bookkeeper, but Charney offered her office temp work and helped her find other part-time work.

The classic immigrant story had begun. Was it different for her as a non-European, a socialist, a Muslim? “Up until September 11, 2001, I had no problems,” she says. “I’ve been able to help my parents and my siblings, which is what I wanted,” says Camara, who has no children of her own. Because Senegal at the time required workers to retire at age 55, her father has had to support the family on a devalued pension. Her earnings helped pay for a house and for her younger siblings’ education.

When DSA’s full-time bookkeeper left, Camara moved into the job, leaving the full-time position only when it looked as if DSA might move to D.C. By the time the decision had been reached to stay in New York City, she was working full time elsewhere. DSA still benefits from her knowledge and long history with the organization because she squeezes time in the evenings and on Saturdays to reconcile the books.

Even in the cramped and crammed DSA space, she’s been able to find a spot to say prayers. At her full-time job, she noted, where there are employees from around the globe, management has provided her and other Muslims with a separate room for daily prayers. Still, after September 11, she became more guard-ed. Relatives in France and Africa urged her not to wear her headscarf outdoors. “I do it for God,” she says simply, having refused to com-promise in the way she appears in public. About a year ago, a street-corner encounter with a man who screamed at her and threatened her about the head covering left her shaken. A non-Muslim woman came to her defense.

Now, with Donald Trump having blurred the line between free speech, political speech, and hate speech, her faith in the United States has also been shaken. “This isn’t the country I thought I knew,” she says, as she tells of watching news re-ports of Muslims being beaten in the city.

She is furious at those who have “hijacked” her religion. “They don’t represent me or anyone I know,” she says of the killers of Boko Haram and Daesh. “Islam is a religion of love and peace.” She shakes her head in amazement that anyone could consider them representative of the religion. “They’re killing a lot of Muslims, too,” she notes.

What can DSAers do in solidarity as more hate speech and hate crimes poison the atmosphere? “Recruit more Muslims to the organization,” she urges. Many immigrants come as socialists already. DSA needs to start with them. After more than two decades here, she and her husband, whom she met in France, still consider themselves socialists. “My politics haven’t changed, but now, in this atmosphere, I have to be watching all the time.”

Maxine Phillips is the editor of Democratic Left. The interview was conducted in the DSA office.

Data Security for DSA Members

June 27, 2017

Ack! I googled myself and didn't like what I found!

WHAT: A DSA Webinar about "Doxing"
WHEN: 9PM EST, 6PM PST

We're proud of our organizing, and chapter work is transparent for both political and practical reasons. However, there are basic precautions you can take in this time of rapid DSA growth to protect your privacy.

Key Wiki is a website that meticulously documents DSA activity and posts it for the world to see. If you're an active DSA member, likely your name is on their website. This is an example of "doxing".

As DSA becomes larger, more visible, and more powerful, we might expect that more websites like this will pop up, and more of our members' information might be posted publicly on the web.

Join a live webinar on Tuesday, June 27 with data security expert Alison Macrina, to learn:

  1. what is doxing? with examples and ways to prevent it
  2. how to keep your passwords strong and your data secure
  3. where to find your personal info on the internet and how to get it removed
  4. social media best practices for DSA organizers
  5. what to do if you've already been doxed

Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/9173276528

Call-in Info: +1 408 638 0968
Meeting ID: 917 327 6528

Film Discussion: Pride

September 10, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Eric Brasure and Brendan Hamill to discuss the British film Pride (2014). It’s 1984, British coal miners are on strike, and a group of gays and lesbians in London bring the queer community together to support the miners in their fight. Based on the true story of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners. The film is available for rent on YouTube, Amazon, and iTunes. 8 ET/7 CT/6 MT/5 PT.

Film Discussion: Union Maids

September 24, 2017
· 9 rsvps

 

Join DSA member and labor historian Susan Hirsch in discussing Union Maids (1976). Nominated for an Academy Award, this documentary follows three Chicago labor organizers (Kate Hyndman, Stella Nowicki, and Sylvia Woods) active beginning in the 1930s. The filmmakers were members of the New American Movement (a precursor of DSA), and the late Vicki Starr (aka Stella Nowicki) was a longtime member of Chicago DSA and the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. It’s available free on YouTube, though sound quality is poor. 8ET/7CT/6MT/5PT.