FIERCE Determination~Reflections from the USSF
Analysis & Reflections | Christopher Baez | Tuesday August 17, 2010 10:34
My name is Christopher Baez, and I'm an active member at FIERCE. I have been involved with the organization for a year and a half. Growing up as a low-income LGBTQ youth of color in New York City, I wanted to create change for my communities. Over the past several years, I began to see that social justice work and organizing is where my passion lies.
Throughout my time at FIERCE, I’ve been told that I am a very warm hearted person that attracts people to me. I feel that it is up to each of us to carve our way and build strong ties with people. The more people you know, the more you learn about yourself.
In my lifetime, I aim to create change for my community, and part of creating this change is learning about social justice movements on a broad scale. We are all connected, and one fight for justice should not be isolated to just one issue, group or community. We must build together. It’s important to look at our community as one collective movement. We are one heart that keeps beating and pushing through all the obstacles we face. We have to break the barriers that exist for all of us. Often our communities suffer from oppression, phobias, and biases. We have to demonstrate that we are united and strong.
On June 21, 2010, I decided to face my fear of flying and go to the US Social Forum in Detroit, MI with a FIERCE team of fellow youth members and FIERCE staff. I stepped onto that airplane and went to Detroit with a positive outlook and determination to grow as an organizer.
(Chris & Emerson at the Opening March)
During the week, I went to several workshops. One workshop I attended organized by the Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW). CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida (http://www.ciw-online.org). Workers were not getting fair wages for their work so they began organizing in 1993 and meeting in local churches to discuss how to better their community and their lives. Within a few years, CIW had managed to bring about significant, concrete change. In 1998, they won industry-wide raises of 13-25% (translating into several million dollars annually for the community in increased wages) and a new-found political and social respect from the outside world.
Another workshop I attended was one organized by Grassroots Global Justice (GGJ). In September of 2009, I had to opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh for the G20. The G20 is a group of leaders from "elite countries" who make decisions that influence the economy in different regions around the world.. The G20 makes decisions to make already wealthy peoples’ pockets larger. Due to capitalism many people are left impoverished. As a response to the G20, people mobilized to Pittsburgh in protest. At GGJ’s People’s Tribunal, testimony was given to show how different people/communities around the world were affected by the G20's policy. For example, an immigrant housekeeper had to work long hours everyday for low pay. One day she grew ill and didn’t come to work and she was fired. Capitalism has no mercy on humanity.
(Grassroots Global Justice @ the Opening March)
Part of why I went to Detroit was to continue to work with GGJ on solutions following the G20. People were split up into groups according to region. I was in the North East. I learned that the only way we will see a better tomorrow is if people take the power and fight for reform collectively. We must seek reform through mobilizing and sticking together.
Some of my other highlights from the USSF were seeing Detroit. Detroit was definitely a city hit hard by the economic crisis and at times, it felt almost empty. I saw tent cities and remember there were tent cities in Pittsburgh too. I had the opportunity to be there for in Pittsburgh and in Detroit. I am motivated to fight so that everyone can have access to their rights. We still have a lot of work to do!
Photos were taken by FIERCE Media Crew Members who travelled to Detroit for the USSF.