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My Folks Think Collectively

Thank you, Dan,1 for putting this out there. I have a couple of thoughts.

I lead three main groups—Native people, women around me, and my family.

The Native people are working-class folks, primarily raised poor and many currently working at working-class jobs—driving taxis, doing counter service work, selling arts and crafts, parenting. They don’t seem to have a problem being, and staying, working class. In Co-Counseling we have a higher number of college-educated folks than in the wide world, but they are always one step away from losing a job and have family who are working poor. Those with middle-class jobs and incomes are often supporting a large extended family.

I think we Native folks can “think” collectively. We can see that some things, many things, almost all things go better if one thinks of the whole group, and most of us have a ready-made group that we belong to—our tribe or our family.

The women around me are working-class women of color, parents, community organizers, office workers, massage therapists. They are all women who seem to be thinking collectively about how to make families and communities healthier, stronger, more collectively oriented.

One thing I notice as I read about people around the world is that women organize for the betterment of their families, communities, and countries and men tend to militarize themselves. Totally different agendas, although both are rooted in the idea of doing what’s best for “my people.”

I remember meeting Bertha Gilkey, a community-activist organizer of the Cochran Gardens housing project in St. Louis (Missouri, USA). She said that a woman didn’t design those buildings, that no woman would build a building for women and children where you had to run down fifteen flights to reach your child on the playground.

In my family, all the daughters work working-class jobs and are parents. One is in a union. The grandchildren work service jobs. My daughter said the other day, “If you were going to lose your house, Mom, we wouldn’t let that happen.” This was in reference to friends of ours who had lost their house.

If working-class liberation for all were led by “my” folks, we would have a parents’ agenda. Parents could parent. They would be supported to parent. Elders would be provided for. People would work the jobs they wanted to, and most likely those jobs would create beauty and order in the process. Some folks would not work—there would be time to be idle. First World children2 would have more responsibilities at a younger age without being exploited in the process. They would get to know their own minds and power from early on. There would be much more laughter. That’s what I think today.

Marcie Rendon
International Liberation Reference
Person for Native Americans
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for International Liberation and Commonality Reference Persons

1 Dan Nickerson. See article: pt175_042_dn.
2 “First World children” are children who live in the industrialized, wealthy countries of the world.

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00