So one of the things that I failed to mention in Monday’s much-commented on blog “How Hitch-hiking Imitates Organizing” (read it at http://tcask.blogspot.com/2006/02/how-hitch-hiking-imitates-organizing.html) was some of the other responses that I got from people who gave me rides on my trip down to Mobile. Everyone mentioned that they picked me up because I looked young and”nice” (I was wearing fairly nice looking clothes, etc.) but at least 3 of my 6 rides also said that one of the things that I had going for me was that I was white. I’m also male. And, I’ll admit it, I always tell my baby sister that she is not allowed to hitch-hike. A great friend and organizer emailed me in response to my blog entry and I wanted to share their comments on this tricky aspect of our work. How do we dialogue with a society which is dominated by white males while also bringing the populations that have such a serious stake in issue into the discussion?
Here’s the email that I received:
“I also thought about his (a friend who had hitch-hiked across the country) approach because at the end of Bomb the Suburbs he talks about how class and white male privilege allowed him to get picked up and to navigate hitchhiking throughout the country.
I wonder in a movement that is predominately white and male, how do we create a hitchhiking scenario where people of color and women would be “picked up?” Organizing in a way that pushes the envelope to allow people who do not fit the model a place to sit in the car free of the fear of being raped, lynched/killed or arrested? How do we explore the organizing paradigms that have shaped our approaches to organizing to include a race and class analysis in hopes that we all can reach our goal, together.
I agree with you suggestions about organizing. I consider myself an Southern organizer groomed by organizers of the SNCC and Ella Baker School in which they stressed the importance of dressing up, giving and doing your best for the people you serve. I also wonder how that is changing in the south and abroad. Could it be intimidating or a boundary for some people we are hoping to organize?
At any rate, this is our movement and we are making waves in the South.”
I’m not sure that there are easy answers here, but that makes asking the questions all the more important to me, and they are questions that we have to be able to answer in almost any movement for social change.
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