Organizing Upgrade

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Open Letter to Black Organizers

Dear Black Organizing Community,

We are writing this open letter as an invitation to engage in conversations for the sake of ourselves and the communities we are working to transform.  We are two sisters from the Black Diaspora who have been, and continue to be, interested in what experiences and knowledge our communities have to share about our organizing work for the movement, for the liberation of our people.

To clarify, the “Black” folks we are writing to are African American, Afro-Latina and Afro-Latino, African, and Afro-Caribbean leaders who are invested in and committed to strengthening the grassroots leadership and power of Black Communities. Our use of the term Black is not to group our identities, not to make us a monolithic group, and certainly not to erase the rich cultures each of us bring from our places of origin. We use the term Black to collectivize ourselves, indicate our Power, and elicit a united front.

The two of us have more than 35 collective years of work in movement building. During that period we have sat at hundreds of kitchen tables learning about leadership, economics, and family—from Yazoo, Mississippi; to Atlantic City, New Jersey; to Oakland, California. While we have worked in different geographic areas and with different communities, we are connected by the core belief that Black communities—organized in creative, strategic, and healing ways—are a central component to the personal and systemic transformation we work towards.   This place—the Black Channel of Organizing Upgrade—is a place for us to learn, build, grow, and challenge each other.

Each of you has found your way to our letter because of your interest and experience in organizing for the movement. We hope you will take the time to write a letter of your own.  All you have to do is click this link—share your thoughts, think out loud, or vent about things you want to change.

Letter writing is an age-old art form used to connect loved ones when they have been kept apart by choice or force. Letters share our experiences in the moment. Letters help us to say the hard things we need to talk about.  It’s valuable and necessary for us to bear witness to what we each have to say: Letter to the Movement from a member of the Black Organizing Community.

This Black channel is ours to create a dialogue that inspires and challenges us.  We want to discuss all matters of race, class, gender, sexuality, and geography as it relates to our movement work. It’s a space for us to support, provoke, laugh, and challenge each other.  It’s ours for what we need it to be. Are there topics that you want to discuss or learn? This is the place. Are there ideas or strategies that you want to explore and get others to think about? This is the place.

Write your letter here: Letter to the Movement from a member of the Black Organizing Community
Feel free to contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In power & solidarity,
Denise & Ingrid

“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is tied with mine, then let us work together.”
---- Lila Watson aboriginal activist

Black Organizing Editors

Denise Perry has been organizing for 28 years. She began as a union organizer for a couple local and national unions following the lead of her father. Majority of her organizing and organizer training work has been in the south where she was a co-founder of Power U Center in historic Black Miami, Overtown. Currently, she is directing the BOLD project a training center committed to building Black leadership and organizing infrastructure.

Ingrid: I’m a first generation immigrant from Nicaragua, my family moved to California in the early 80’s.  I started in this work as an organizer against anti-affirmative action ballot initiative – Proposition 209 – when I was in college.  This led me to the world of youth organizing where I’ve spent most of my time learning, laughing, making mistakes, trying my best and working to win.  As a previous organizer, trainer and facilitator – I’m trying to learn ways to improve our work, be creative, have fun while we’re doing it and build good relationships.  The last few years I have been working with funders trying to understand how we can better resource grassroots organizing. I’m enjoying working with Denise on the Black Channel for Organizing Upgrade.

If you have ideas or questions of things we should do, please email us at:

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