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Your National Political Committee newsletter — reflections on Black socialists and revolutionaries

Enjoy your February National Political Committee (NPC) newsletter! Our NPC is an elected eighteen-person body (including two YDSA members who share a vote) which functions as the board of directors of DSA. Make sure to check out the NPC’s updated national priorities, including attracting, retaining, and supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizers and strengthening unions by passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act).

In this month’s newsletter, you’ll find reflections on Black revolutionaries, authors, and socialists over the last 100 years. Enjoy your reading!

FROM THE NATIONAL POLITICAL COMMITTEE

During this Black History Month, we’ve been reflecting on the Black revolutionaries, authors, and socialists that have shaped our politics. Below, some NPC members share a text by a Black author that influenced their thinking and politics, and a little bit about why.

We hope you find some inspiration here as we build our struggle for a world where everyone is free.

Solidarity,

Your NPC

NPC member: Jen McKinney
Author: William L. Patterson
Title of work: We Demand Freedom! — 1951
Why does this speak to you? “Unity in struggle is the guarantee of victory.” This pamphlet includes two very inspiring speeches that William L. Patterson gave, one on account of his 60th birthday and the second, to celebrate his 25th year of civil rights work. It’s important to understand that the issues then are not so different as they are now, and we must all fight for the rights and freedom of Black people.

NPC member: Sean Estelle
Author: Olúfémi O. Táíwò
Title of work: “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” — 2020
Why does this speak to you? I’m recommending a piece published last year by Olúfémi O. Táíwò, who I had not heard of before reading this piece. Now I’m following his work closely and seeing that there’s lots of overlaps with my own organizing praxis around the Green New Deal, a global Just Transition, and climate reparations. This piece in particular articulates extremely clearly a central tension that I have seen play out in multiracial organizing work, including in DSA — namely, the tension between acknowledging the “standpoint” from which people articulate their oppression, while also not accelerating the “deference” that liberal elites use to shift responsibility and keep us divided from structural solutions. I can’t recommend this piece enough to every single person in DSA!

NPC member: Blanca Estevez
Author: Huey P. Newton
Title of work: Revolutionary Suicide — 1973
Why does this speak to you? He wrote this book when he was the age I am now, experiencing similar feelings of righteous anger! This life is hard, but when you give it to the people it creates a deeper bond to all the living things around you. No surrender, right?!

NPC member: Maikiko James
Author: James Baldwin
Title of work: The Fire Next Time — 1963
Why does this speak to you? It’s on my mind because I recently reread it — Baldwin’s writing is both beautiful and powerful, the kind of words that sit with you for a long while.

NPC member: Marianela D’Aprile
Author: Barbara Jeanne Fields
Title of work: “Race — The Power of an Illusion” — 2001
Why does this speak to you? Reading this for the first time was a before-and-after in my life. Fields lays out how the construction of race is inherently tied to American conceptions of freedom: white Americans’ ability to understand they were “free” hinged on the Black Americans’ lack of freedom. She also clearly differentiates between race as a construction and racism as a social apparatus. A must-read for situating these concepts in a historical context, as well as understanding very clearly how they play out in our daily lives.

NPC member: Kevin Richardson
Author: Cedric J. Robinson
Title of work: Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition, 2nd Edition — 2000
Why does this speak to you? Robinson inspired a generation of leftists to rethink Marxism and its account of racial capitalism. If you want to have a deeper understanding of racial capitalism and the Black Radical Tradition, you should read this book.

NPC member: Dave Pinkham
Author: A. Phillip Randolph
Title of work: “Our Reason For Being,” The Messenger — 1919; “You Should Know More About A. Philip Randolph, One of America’s Greatest Socialists” by Paul Prescod — 2020
Why does this speak to you? Randolph emphasizes the shared interests of all workers for social, economic, and political freedom and the need for labor organization to unite Black and white workers in order to amass the power needed to challenge the capitalists who keep us divided. I believe this vision is one that DSA must pursue now if we hope to win transformational change in our society. Randolph dedicated his life to this cause, led a decade-long campaign to win recognition for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and helped guide the BSCP to become an important part of the Civil Rights Movement.

NPC member: Keon Liberato
Author: Thomas Sankara and Amilcar Cabral
Title of work: Freedom Must Be Conquered — 1984 (Sankara); “Party Principles and Political Practice” — 1969 (Cabral)
Why does this speak to you? These two texts from African revolutionary democratic socialists provide an orientation and blueprint for building a political instrument to transform people in the struggle to transform the world. Both espoused a theory of revolutionary democracy and understood how culture related to class struggle and socialism. If we are to transform DSA into the political instrument our country needs, Cabral and Sankara offer important insights.

NPC Member: Kristian Hernandez
Author: Ella Baker and Audre Lorde
Title of Work: Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement by Barbara Ransby — 2003; “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” — 1978
Why does this speak to you? So much of my understanding of what it takes to be an organizer and a socialist feminist I owe to Ella Baker and Audre Lorde. I admire Ella Baker’s diligence to the iceberg work, the unglamorous but sustaining work, of listening, of developing people to recognize their agency, and of fostering relationships as an approach to organizing. Reading about her brought to the forefront for me the idea that it’s not only important to help change the world but we must be intentional about how we do it. Audre Lorde’s work — hard to summarize in a few sentences why it speaks to me but I recommend listening to her read my favorite work of hers, “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” as she explores joy and power and how that manifests in the fight against oppression.

JOIN OUR MEDICARE FOR ALL REGIONAL ORGANIZING CALLS!

Interested in getting involved in the national Medicare for All campaign? Sign up here to get connected with one of the campaign’s regional organizers, who are hosting regular regional calls for almost every state in the country. These organizers will help connect you with the national DSA M4A campaign in 2021 and all of the resources (talking points, social media graphics, organizing tips, campaign ideas) that you’ll need to start organizing. You’ll also connect with DSA M4A organizers in your area so you can begin building regional networks together.

DEMOCRATIC LEFT CALL TUESDAY 2/23 — REDISCOVERING THE EARTH: A CONVERSATION WITH KIM STANLEY ROBINSON

Kim Stanley Robinson has been called “one of the greatest living science-fiction writers” in the world. In this live webinar, Robinson and Anders Dunker, editor of the new book Rediscovering Earth: Ten Dialogues on the Future of Nature, will talk about nature, socialism, and the future. The call will be moderated by Michael Carter. Join us Tuesday, 2/23 at 7:30pm ET/6:30pm CT/5:30pm MT/4:30pm PT for a fascinating discussion!

This call is co-sponsored by our member magazine, Democratic Left, and the Democratic Socialists of America Fund. Following the discussion, members of DSA’s Green New Deal Committee and Ecosocialism Working Group will discuss DSA’s campaigns. Rediscovering Earth is available to DSAers at a 20% discount using the code DSA20 here.

IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS WORKING GROUP WEBINAR THURSDAY 2/25: QUIENES SOMOS Y QUÉ QUEREMOS LOS SOCIALISTAS DEMOCRÁTICOS

El Grupo de Trabajo por los Derechos de los Inmigrantes (IRWG) de DSA los invita a un seminario web en español: “Quienes somos y qué queremos los Socialistas Democráticos.” Se llevará a cabo el jueves 25 de febrero a las 8pm zona este/7pm centro/6pm montaña/5pm Pacífico.

Escuche a algunos de nuestros miembros hablar sobre su trabajo en DSA y en sus comunidades.

  • Moderador: Blanca Estevez, Comité Político Nacional (NPC) de DSA
  • Jorge Mujica, Organizador de trabajadores inmigrantes y de bajos ingresos con Arise Chicago. Arise Chicago crea alianzas entre comunidades religiosas y ​trabajadores para luchar contra la injusticia en el lugar de trabajo mediante la educación, la organización y la promoción de cambios en las políticas públicas. Miembro del Consejo Nacional de la Unión Nacional de Escritores y copresidente del IRWG de DSA.
  • Ald. Rossana Rodríguez, Concejal del Distrito 35 de Chicago y miembros de DSA. Sus prioridades como Concejala incluyen proteger la asequibilidad del vecindario, apoyar a la población inmigrante de nuestro barrio y crear procesos más democráticos para que los residentes del barrio participen en las decisiones que afectan sus vidas.

Join the Immigrants’ Rights Working Group of Democratic Socialists of America for a Spanish-language webinar: Quienes somos y qué queremos los Socialistas Democráticos. The call will be Thursday, 2/25 at 8pm ET/7pm CT/6pm MT/5pm PT.

Hear from some of our members about their work in DSA and their communities.

  • Moderator: Blanca Estevez, DSA National Political Committee
  • Jorge Mujica, Immigrant and low-income workers Organizer with Arise Chicago. Arise Chicago builds partnerships between faith communities and workers​ to fight workplace injustice through education, organizing, and advocating for public policy changes. Member of the National Council of the National Writers Union, and co-chair of the IRWG of DSA.
  • Ald. Rossana Rodriguez, Chicago 35th Ward Alderwoman and DSA member. Her priorities as Alderwoman include protecting neighborhood affordability, supporting our ward’s immigrant population, and creating more democratic processes so that ward residents are involved in the decisions that impact their lives.

APPLY FOR THE NATIONAL POLITICAL EDUCATION COMMITTEE — DEADLINE WEDNESDAY, 3/10

The National Political Committee is looking for nominees to serve on the National Political Education Committee from April 2021 through March 2022! The NPEC is expanding and we are looking to draw in members with substantial roots in diverse areas of DSA. To this end, we are asking chapters and official National committees, working groups, and caucuses for nominations (specifically, formally recognized caucuses such as AfroSoc, not ideological caucuses).

Nominees should be prepared to devote at least 5 hours a week to committee business and contribute to substantive discussion on the content of political education material as well as contribute to its implementation. This implementation can take place in a variety of contexts, from curriculum preparation, to hosting speaking events, to producing audio and video recordings, to training new political educators. Currently, the NPEC has three subcommittees:

  • Training, which holds regular regional workshops to support Local political education programs
  • Events and Speakers, which provides logistical support for National political education events and develops DSA members as public speakers
  • Communications, which handles publicly facing communications and coordinates with other DSA bodies to produce political education material in a variety of formats, from articles in Democratic Left to video lectures

The appointments for this term will also increase the size of the committee, and new members of the committee can contribute to the expansion of our work. Chapter, national committee and working group, and caucus steering committees (or equivalent) must email their nominee’s contact information (name, email address, and phone number) to politicaleducation@dsacommittees.org by Wednesday, 3/10. Individual DSA members can also apply via this form by Wednesday, 3/10. Appointments will be announced by Wednesday, 3/31 to begin their terms on Thursday, 4/1.

NEW ISSUE OF SOCIALIST FORUM OUT NOW!

The Winter 2021 issue of Socialist Forum lands in the middle of a new political landscape. Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in November’s presidential election, but the transfer of power from one administration to the next was anything but orderly. With Biden in the White House, a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, and an effective Democratic majority in the Senate, Democrats enjoy unified control of the federal government for the first time since Barack Obama’s first term. Have they learned anything from the Obama administration’s failures to adequately address the crises it faced in its own time?

Socialist Forum is an open and wide-ranging venue for thoughtful discussion and debate among DSA members. It provides a space for theoretical, strategic, and long-term political reflection, and aims to help develop a theory and practice of democratic socialism for the twenty-first century. This issue of Socialist Forum addresses political questions from the current situation in US politics, to the rise of Hindu authoritarianism in India, to the state of the lobster industry in Maine. We invite readers to submit responses to any of these articles to socialistforum@dsausa.org.

MEET YOUR STAFF

Dana, Chapter Pipeline Coordinator

Hey y’all, Dana from Detroit here. I am the Chapter Pipeline Coordinator, a new position that will support members as they organize to create new chapters nationwide! I have been heavily involved in my local chapter and the national Growth and Development Committee (GDC) over the past year, and I’m excited to bring my on-the-ground experience to the work. I love cats, video games, cycling, and creating, but what I love most of all is that all of us are here, together, working to build a better world — and I believe we can!

PLEASE WELCOME OUR NEW DSA GROUPS!

Our power comes from our organized base rooted in communities large and small. Join us in welcoming the latest new DSA groups.

New chapters:

  • Berks, PA
  • Binghamton, NY
  • Blue Ridge, VA
  • Bozeman, MT
  • Brainerd Lakes, MN
  • Cannon Valley, MN
  • Central Oregon, OR
  • Central Vermont, VT
  • Coachella Valley, CA
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Columbia, SC
  • Delaware, DE
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Fort Smith, AR
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Greater Lafayette, IN
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Kern County, CA
  • Merced & Mariposa, CA
  • New River Valley, VA
  • North Olympic, WA
  • Northern Nevada, NV
  • Northwest Indiana, IN
  • Polk County, FL
  • Stanislaus, CA
  • Western, IL
  • Wilmington, NC

New organizing committees:

  • Amarillo, TX
  • Appleton, WI
  • Blue Ridge, VA
  • Brainerd, MN
  • Green Bay, WI
  • Northwest Indiana, IN
  • Sheboygan, WI
  • Troy, NY