EMPOWER (empowerment, empowering)
Empower means to enable grassroots African American communities and other communities of low wealth to create new, accountable, effective, independent organizations and leadership with the tools and skills to impact the formation and implementation of public policy with the capacity to hold public officials at all levels of government accountable to the needs and interests of grassroots communities, and to have the capacity to impact policy formation in the private sector to hold the business community accountable to the needs and interests of grassroots communities.
Racism is not about hate, it is about domination and control. Our history is rooted in the domination and control of people of color for the invidious purpose of exploiting them as economic, social and political resources. Hate is merely a powerful tool with which to manipulate people.
Fighting Racism is about dismantling the structures that created and continue to sustain the deeply-rooted control that pervades every facet of our culture. Three of the cornerstones of racism have been denial of effective access to the political process, denial of an effective quality public education, and denial of meaningful economic opportunity.
Accountability means putting community interest over self-interest and being responsive to the needs and interests of the community.
We expect public officials and community leaders, who hold their positions in trust for the people and as their representatives, to be accountable to all of the people, regardless of race, class, gender, political affiliation, geographic location or status.
When people have conflicting needs and interests it creates dilemmas about how best to be accountable. Transparency, respectfulness, active listening and sound reasoning are key tools and skills for accountability and build trust and respect even when all parties cannot agree.
Independent organization refers to an organization not owned or controlled by another organization, directly or indirectly, has its own board of directors, has its own volunteer or paid staff, has effective control of its own vision, strategies and program of work, and develops its capacity to generate and spend its own revenues.
Organizations that are not independent are likely to be beholden to others who can control or alter their goals, program and staff or volunteers.
The more independence an organization has the more creative it can be in charting paths of struggle where others may be unwilling to go.
Intergenerational model means involving younger and older people together in the work on the same basis so they can develop, side by side, the skills and tools of organizing work and leadership development, and learn to work and respect each other, and overcome the fear and suspicion of each other.
Young people have the fewest ties to the past, least fear, and great potential for creating a broad vision of a fair and just society. Young people need to work as peers, rather than silent subordinates, to develop their capacities and their sense of balance in relation to organizational needs.
POOLING STRENGTHS AND RESOURCES ACROSS TRADITIONAL BARRIERS
The history of our culture is rooted in separation. People have been separated by race, class, gender, political affiliation, geography and status. But no single organization, no single community or county, has the capacity to impact state policy on fundamental issues, such as education, juvenile justice, health care, tax reform or redistricting. Major policy shifts result from the development of input and pressure that comes from a base of support in many parts of the state. Therefore, communities and community organizations need to find the common ground on which they can work together by pooling their strengths and resources.