by Jonathan Krall
This post is personal. I’ve been reading a lot of books and attending a lot of meetings. A constant theme has been “intersectionality.” Intersectionality is the simple fact that social justice issues intersect. Improved healthcare creates economic opportunities. Restorative justice in our schools strengthens our communities to better withstand over-policing. To do this work I have to learn, constantly. My fellow volunteers do the same, sharing what they’ve learned. If we’re going to get through this, together, we’ve got a lot of learning to do.
My first glimmer of the scope of the problem came in the Occupy Wall Street days. I wasn’t occupying anything, but did want to understand. I picked up a thick book on economics. Within a few pages, I learned that I am not an enthusiastic student of economics. I learned that the economy is a mess because the people in charge of making it work aren’t. I learned that many of those people are Congressmen. Long before finishing the book, I concluded that clobbering a Congressman with a thick book on economics is a pretty appealing idea, especially in comparison to the thought of reading it.
Since joining Grassroots Alexandria, I’ve learned more than I ever thought I wanted to know about fascism, healthcare, Israel & Palestine, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, over-policing, welfare reform, and white supremacy. On the other hand, I’ve been privileged to learn about civil rights, restorative justice, police reform, gender, and intersectionality. I’ve been privileged to meet and learn from amazing people. I’ve learned to narrow my work to just a few issues. I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who feels we are standing on the verge of a new civil rights movement.
As we move forward, we will share what we learn, and see how others help us integrate our ideas with their own. To do this, we need to speak up in public. We will also speak up in Congress, but I won’t bring along that thick book on economics. I might be tempted to use it. This is a nonviolent movement.
We at Grassroots Alexandria are horrified by the shootings in Del Ray on June 14, 2017, which targeted US government officials and workers, ordinary citizens, and law enforcement protecting them. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our hero citizens who, simply by being present or doing their jobs, found themselves in harms way. We affirm our commitment to nonviolent, nonpartisan political action and stand with groups such as Moms Demand Action against gun violence.
As a community, we must take concrete action to reduce violence. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. The way forward is through community dialogue and collective action that are guided by the principles of respect, equality, and justice. We value all members of our community, especially the most vulnerable among us, and stand with them against violence and injustice.
As everyone has seen, signs supporting white supremacy appeared all over Del Ray this weekend. Here is the story.
LaDonna Sanders, past president of NAACP Alexandria, posted this in response to a FaceBook post about this issue:
“I truly need for ppl to stop acting surprised…and stop blaming these kinds of acts on Richard Spencer’s move into the City or Trump…white supremacists, white supremacy, oppression, and injustice occur in Alexandria City everyday and people turn a blind eye!
Take a look at the disproportionality in suspension rates between students of color and their counterparts….look at how the police department, and neighbors responded during those community meeting after those shootings last year uptown…That darn confederate statute still standing in the middle of S. Washington St despite the trauma it causes for the few black people left living in the City (yes I know City Council voted to have it removed…and neither of our state delegates drafted legislation to have the statue removed)”
Our neighbors have been asking “what should we do?” This response comes from Jonathan Krall of Grassroots Alexandria:
“I’m pretty sure white supremacists would like us to continue to oppress communities of color. Perhaps an appropriate response would be for us to adjust our policies so we are no longer doing that.
Put another way, white supremacists are using our criminal justice system to accomplish their mission. Perhaps we should stop them.
Having said all that, I understand that my neighbors really are shocked. I’m on a learning curve myself. The basic reality is that we are living in a society that withholds opportunity and places barriers in the path of non-white residents. The polite way to say this is ‘white privilege is real,’ but even that makes it sound like everything is basically OK except that white people are getting a little something extra. The reality is that everything is not OK.”
Grassroots Alexandria was born on December 19, 2016, at a meeting called by co-founders Sarah Stott and Jonathan Krall. The impetus was the 2016 election, which led many to worry that democracy in the USA was not working well enough.
A founding idea of Grassroots Alexandria is that, in a democracy, individuals need a personal political practice. A political practice is like an excercise practice or a spiritual practice. It is an element of a healthy life.
“A personal political practice keeps me, my political allies, and my political leaders informed about my most important political goals. I will devote time, on a regular basis, to my practice.”
To support each other in developing our political practices, we found common interests and formed “teams.” Our current teams are: Environmental Stewardship, Healthcare, Vulnerable Communities, Anti-fascist, LGBTQ, and Communications.