I got to Oakland about a week ago. My last month in Minneapolis felt like a whirlwind that was laced with all this incredible sweetness: pancake breakfasts and handmade goodbye cards and the kinds of opportunities that start to surface right before you leave a place, to remind me of all there is to come back to. Now, here, it is 60 degrees and the sun is shining and the gulls are circling over Lake Merritt and—maybe you can tell—my life feels a little surreal.
I’m in Oakland/San Francisco for the next four months (more or less until the end of May) to do two things, mainly:
The Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program, through the Catalyst Project: a 4-month training program for white folks who are doing different kinds of social justice work. The aim of the program–which is named after long-time white Southern anti-racist organizer Anne Braden–is to help us get better at combating white supremacy in and through the work we do. There are all kinds of trainings out there around race, racism, and privilege, but the focus of this one is on organizing in particular. For me, that means that the one of the main questions that many of us are asking ourselves going in is: how do we, as white folks, join with other people (both other white people and people of color) to build a broad movement that changes institutions, culture, and the way power is distributed in the world we live in?
PeopleSkool, with POOR Magazine. I’ve been connected to POOR Magazine for a little over three years, and it’s been some of the most transformative work I’ve ever been a part of. Also, it’s less suited to one-line summaries than anything else in my life, so I’m hoping you’ll bear with me and let it unfold over time with more writing. POOR is a poor-people led, indigenous people-led arts, media, and education project based in San Francisco. I work with POOR as a member of the Solidarity Family, a crew of folks with race or class or educational privilege who do what we can in all kinds of different ways to support POOR’s work and to learn from the scholarship of the family at POOR. PeopleSkool is POOR’s main curriculum, a few months worth of studying, creating, un/learning that is open both to folks living in poverty as well as to those of us with different kinds of privilege.
Both of those programs have already started; I’m also job-searching for some part-time work, settling into the apartment I’m staying in, reminding myself how to bike Bay Area hills, and catching up with some of the people I love here. The homesick pangs hit me once in a while, but they mostly feel kind of like crushy long-distance romance so far, and not get-me-outta-here angsty. Most of the time I’m just feeling a little saturated with how grateful I am to be here right now. After a few months of stressed-out decision-making in the fall, I feel really clear about what I’m doing here, and I’m excited to share some of what’s on my mind and in my heart with y’all here. And, I’m hoping that you’ll share some of those things with me too–respond, ask, push, let’s talk.