Its the day to day organizing work that we will discuss here. For those people who are concerned about the problems of exploitation and how capitalism oppresses people, the work to create revolutionaries is the most important work that can be done. This is true because the more consciousness spreads, the more difficult it is to wipe out. Once there is one high profile leader, as is often the case with mobilization work, that person is easy to pick off, discredit, etc. Organizing work isn't about developing the high profile leader. It's about developing collective leadership e.g. cadre. The definition of cadre is people who are dedicated to the mission. With cadre development, we don't die, we multiply. Examples? In Portland, Oregon, we are engaged in a community organizing model. Next month, the All African People's Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) will be celebrating one year of carrying out our free breakfast program in the North Portland community known as New Columbia. Twice a week, we feed dozens of children. One of those days we spend just talking to the youth, asking them questions. Listening to their concerns, fears, hopes, and dreams. The other day we present something to them designed to promote African identity, revolution, culture, and liberation. We take them on field trips to further develop the relationships. We build relationships with their parents in the process. The past year has seen many, many, challenges with this work. Organizing work often lacks the glamour of mobilization work. There is no adrenaline rush. Getting up at 5:30am is not fun. Being worried about having enough bowls, spoons, and juice is not the stuff that appeals to many people. And, having to come up with curriculum for the youth is a constant worry and challenge. When we first started, we really struggled. Many of the people we had at that time had good intentions, but simply lacked the discipline and maturity to uphold the work. Organization work requires you to generate all the energy. All the commitment. All the effort. And it requires you to do that not once or twice. Not a few times, but on a consistent basis. So, one year later, pretty much everyone we started with is gone now, except for a couple of us, but this isn't a negative. In fact, we knew this would happen because we understand the science of organizing.
One year later, we have made great gains with the program. The idea behind the breakfast program was never just to have a breakfast program. Serving breakfast was just a tactic to introduce ourselves to New Columbia. You see, organizing requires a scientific approach. Unlike mobilizing, it's not spontaneous. We researched going into New Columbia. We saw that due to its high concentration of federally subsidized housing, it houses the highest concentration of African people in the entire state of Oregon at almost 20%. It has the highest percentage of police calls, poverty, and high school dropout rates. Eleven percent of the neighborhood is bilingual and there is a large percentage of Africans from all over the planet living there. All of these factors, which would be a turnoff to most people, were jewels to an organization with a Pan-Africanist vision. So, we went in and we worked through the problems we mentioned encountering above. We learned to create consistency in what we present to the children and we developed a process. As a result, the people who have stuck with it have become much stronger organizers as a result. And, more importantly, when we came into New Columbia a year ago, we didn't know anyone there. Now we have relationships with many of the parents who actually help us in supporting the program. Plus, as was mentioned, the idea was never to stop at breakfast. The idea was to use breakfast to build relationships that could hopefully propel us into advanced work to build revolutionary consciousness and community in New Columbia. For example, many of the parents, at least partially inspired by the breakfast program, see the need to develop an independent school. So, now, parents and community organizations are united in creating a project to create a Saturday school in New Columbia. The focus of this school will be the political, cultural, and spiritual upliftment of our youth. The roll-out date for this school project is July, 2016.
The breakfast program, and school, and further work that will be built on top of those programs are examples of building capacity in oppressed communities. These programs are 100% controlled by the community for the community. No institutional money or support is utilized or sought after for this work. And it must be understood that this work requires a commitment to building relationships which means being consistent, following through, taking initiative, and subverting the ego. These are all organizing 101 techniques for any serious organizer. These are also things that anyone can do in any community. As Fidel Castro correctly stated, the only requirement and skill is sincerity.
Since organizing work is long term and about sustainability, another major aspect of the work is building revolutionary cadre who will do the work. This has been one of the challenges we have had to face. We are continuing to seek out people to join us in our work, but we have learned (the hard way) that we don't just want or need anybody. We want people who have some level of maturity. People who are reflective and responsible. People who are balanced enough to give as much as they receive. People who are here to make a contribution. That's not easy to find in this instant gratification, me centered world we find ourselves faced with today where people think activism means spending all day behind a keyboard. Still, we are never elitists. We know that the same way people found us to do this work, we will find those youth who are up to the challenge. This is all the world of an organizer and this is what an organizing workshop looks like. You won't be in the news much. You won't be the center of attention. You will work your behind off and in doing so you will be expected to do more, but no one will ever give you credit for that. To do this work, you have to be in a place of comfort around all of that. You have to realize that by pushing people to reach their highest potential you will frighten some of them who are not ready. As a result, they will turn on you instantly rather than face themselves. But, we are not reformers. We are revolutionaries. We understand that we cannot change society without changing ourselves. All of this is the work we are doing to contribute to that transformation of society. We cannot be selfish. There are many people who are much more deserving than I to see the fruits of the work and they didn't live to see it so who the hell am I to expect that I should get some reward. My job is to contribute to this work and carry it forward for the next wave of organizers, who I can hopefully play a role in creating, to work with. That's organizing work. Its lonely, hard, and the best thing on the planet Earth. When you are ready to grow up and really challenge yourself to rise to another level, you will know you are ready.