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Can we discuss that?
Hi, John. Why don't you tell us why you yelled at people that one GA? What are your frustrations?
This is a post from the OB discussion page on facebook.
As far as OB resources. I would ask that maybe we reach out to the homeless community in Boston. I can't think of it off the top of my head, but there is a group geared towards homeless mothers and their kids (I know some folks who were in it) that could probably use some of the gear we have. Linda Jenkins The one thing OB GA seems incapable of doing is listening to why people left. The fact that you are asking people to come back and do something ignores the very significant reasons why we left and why we do not feel OB GA is a useful force in activism at this moment. The last GA I was at was the one on the common where we decided to have an emergency meeting the same night as Dyke march (something that is very important to me and other queers in the city). I left for the blatant disrespect OB showed to the queer struggle in Boston. This is a disrespect that has been shown again and again. Basically, I am not coming back to OB GA because I am busy doing things that are relevant to my life and don't feel like leaving parts of me behind to aide some greater struggle that don't take folks like me into account. It is just so frustrating to see people telling folks to come back when no adjustments or acknowledgements have been made as to why we ain't there anymore. You may disagree with John, but at the end of the day, he's right. I was there from the beginning. I put a lot into OB, I believed in it briefly. I pushed myself through attack after attack by the OB community on my bodily autonomy and my identity because of that belief. I fought so hard for that to change but months and months of work yeilded only disappointment. The decision to leave wasn't based in cynicism or apathy. It was an act of self-preservation. Until that is fully understood, you aren't going to get people to come back. People are going to yell and be angry because when it comes to survival, we don't have the time or space to pick our words carefully and monitor our tone. OB was supposed to be something and it didn't turn out that way and so many of us just don't have time to wait.
Regarding the quoted material in comment #3, I'm really not sure it speaks to the issue of accountability. The writer appears to feel disenfranchised by GA (for creating a scheduling conflict between a meeting and a march), and disappointed with Occupy Boston in general ("OB was supposed to be something and it didn't turn out that way"). It think it's clearly a case of OB and GA not working out for the writer.
In that scenario, the writer had two options: (1) to stick with it, or (2) to walk away. That's a decision that depends on the individual and the circumstances; there is no wrong answer. If the writer felt that walking away was in their best interest, then that was the right thing for them to do.
But I'd like to return to the original poster's comment about GA and accountability. Anything that happens at a GA ultimately comes from the actions of one or more individuals. The question of accountability becomes "do members of the community have the right to pull those individuals aside, and ask them to explain what they did at a GA?"
I think the answer to that question is "yes". In fact, rene has already done that to JohnFord in comment #2 :)
Who wrote that?
Lord Fuck You
Serious Question. Why is is OK for members of Banned in Boston to broadcast and ecord racist slurs against African Americans on OBR with no accountability? We can roll the tape to present the evidence, so this is not conjecture. Why should I repect assumed "leadership" when I have watched many of you exhibit unapologetic sexism, classism, and racism from the minute I set foot on camp? How can people look up to some one so openly and obviously racist? Can anyone explain this? I really don't get it. Many people left because of tolerance and apologist attitudes for racist attitudes as well as classist, elitist, sexist and homophobic, and some how that is never deemed a serious issue. It is interesting that people point the finger at others and have yet to take a much needed look in their own mirror of prejudice. I have for two years watched John Ford be less than charming and yet, he is revered. I maintain the OB fell apart because in many aspects stupidity reigned. It is difficult to respect, and more difficult to respect his cronies. Many of the whiners only come around for money or to complain, which is a testament to immaturity. Many do not want to associate with blatant unapologetic over privileged racists either and tainted by their stupidity. Some people left because OB financially supported and sponsored a radio show on Un-Regular hosted by open racists. Never seemed to be problem to some people though. Maybe when this conversation can be had openly and honestly, the originator of the thread might be taken seriously. Avoiding and sidestepping the issue does not make it go away. And while I am on fire, Facebook is not to be taken seriously either. I want to think people are smarter than this, but I have low expectations of OB in general and have learned not to overly invest emotionally, but work with like minded individuals in the group. The GA is comprised of people who show up. It is and entrance or a exit, it is up to you. No one is standing in your way if you want to stay or go. Kendra
First, thanks to Steve for putting the focus on all the meanings of "accountability". OB is no stronger or weaker than the sum of its members. That means we have to have some kind of accountability to each other for our actions, and our behavior. To me, it is right that OB members feel that they "owe" something to OB, and that should include limiting ourselves to the kind of civil and comradely behavior that makes OB spaces Safe Spaces. From John Ford's initial question, it sure looks like he has a grievance with GA-- but he "owes" it to OB to make it a lot clearer what that grievance is than he did with that Very Terse Opening Question, or with his very impassioned but unclear statements at that Heated GA.
Any person bringing a proposal to the GA for money "owes" it to OB, if she/he has any respect for it, to know something about OB's financial situation in the past months. It can be expressed very simply--- OB is just about out of funds. Folks who have been attending GA have been working very hard to adapt to that new reality, to get OB used to living in the Thin Air of minimal donations and minimal expenditures. Anyone who has been involved with that transition will tell you it has been a fair amount of work. So when someone comes to a GA and asks for most of OB's remaining funds--- our work is being disrespected, and OB is being undermined.
AS far as the "unrepresentativeness" of GA---GA has the structure that OB gave it more than a year ago. It was never intended to be a "representative"or "accountable" body--- those are hierarchical ideas, and OB rejected that from day 1. The voices that get heard at any GA are the voices that show up, like Kendra says above-- that should not be news to anyone in OB. But folks who have Actually Been Going to GA on a regular basis will tell you, discussions there are serious, and attenders are careful with the "mission" of GA.
If you have an idea for how OB could "govern" itself better--- well, a good step one would be to tell someone about it. Put out some suggestions on Community Forum, or Voices, as Steve R and others have done. If you hold those who are for the time being working thru the structure that OB gave itself at the start in such contempt that you cannot bear to speak/communicate with us anymore--- then don't expect us to fall over backwards trying to meet your demands. Doesn't sound like you want to be in any kind of anything with us. We get the hint.
GA's themselves don't do the work of activism, and I've never yet heard anyone claim they do. If they work right (and they do NOT always work right), a GA might help Enable Activism-- that's it. Yes, it can be aggravating to go to meetings where egos clash and folks articulate views different from your own---that is the price of being in a Diverse community that values freedom and autonomy. And those are also values that OB embraced from Day 1.
My message to the larger OB body, which I sincerely hope is "larger" than it now seems to be--- if you still believe OB is something valuable, please show us the respect of joining the "larger OB conversation"" in some way. Tell us what you have been doing. Tell us why you hate going to GA. Tell us what new campaigns or issues you'd like OB to be involved in. I promise you there are a lot of OB hands ready to follow you if you have some bright new campaign in mind. If you don't like something it's doing, let us know somehow-- if you can't stand being at a GA, send a delegate, or at least a letter to Community Forum. In fact, John Ford's message to this here venue is step in the right direction.
But-, if you can't stand to go to a GA, can't stand to communicate with folks from other "factions" of OB, if you believe that GA is a farce and that OB has outlived its usefulness--- then it might be time to stop claiming any association with OB, and to Let OB BE---