I’ve recently been studying, thinking and writing about the idea of an era of global mass strikes that began yesterday, May 1, International Workers Day. https://jeffkisling.com/2020/04/30/the-era-of-mass-strikes-begins-on-may-1/
Having been involved with many movements over the course of my life, many of which have had little success, I was a bit skeptical. I wrote a couple of blog posts containing some of the available information. Today I was anxious to see what had actually happened and I’m glad to see that much did.
But this morning I want to tell you about something that is going to happen tomorrow, described below. There are several reasons I am especially glad to learn about this event.
Once upon a time…
This story begins the summer of 2017 during the annual sessions of Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), meeting at Scattergood Friends School and Farm. The theme was “building bridges”, and the first evening session was “Building Bridges with Native Americans.” On the panel were Donnielle Wanatee of the Meskwaki Nation, Christine Nobiss, organizer of Indigenous Iowa and Seeding Sovereignty, and Peter Clay, a member of Des Moines Valley Friends meeting.
That was the beginning of a process of continuing to build bridges. Donnielle had invited us to visit the Meskwaki Powwow that fall. I had never attended, so I went with my father. I got permission ahead of time to take photos and later shared them on the Powwow Facebook page, as I had been asked to do.
In February, 2018, the day before the Super Bowl was played in Minneapolis, Ed Fallon organized a van to take 15 people to Minneapolis to rally in front of US Bank headquarters to object to their funding of fossil fuel projects. Donnielle was in the van, and Christine Nobiss spoke during the event. I also met Trisha Etringer then.
In September, 2018, Donnielle, Christine, Trisha, Peter and I participated on the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March. The idea was for a small group of native and non-native people to get to know each other as we walked and camped along the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, from Des Moines to Fort Dodge. A distance of 94 miles over eight days.
There have since been a number of occasions where we worked together, and I have followed Facebook posts and websites related to these friends, looking for other chances to do so. Here Trisha, Lakasha and I were at the Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal Tour. Trisha and Lakasha were on the program.
When I began to learn about the global mass strikes, I wondered if this was another opportunity for us to work together, or promote each other’s work. When I contacted Christine about this, she told me about the great project she, of Seeding Sovereignty, and Citizens In the Present have organized, described below.
Everyone can participate in this unique action by sharing images and the hashtag #capitalismisthepandemic on social media and by creating similar actions around the country.
On May 3, a 50’ sky banner visible to millions stating #CAPITALISMISTHEPANDEMIC will circle Manhattan–the US bedrock of capitalism and banking–to deliver a powerful message of protest against colonization and worker injustice in solidarity with essential workers who aren’t properly protected or supported.
Sunday, May 3 Flight Route Route and Estimated Times
1:30 pm – Depart Liberty State Park, NJ after making 2 loops of the park
2:00 pm – Along the Hudson River to the George Washington Bridge
2:30 pm – Arrive at Battery Park and make 2 loops of the park
3-3:30 pm – Fly over Hudson River to George Washington Bridge and back, until the end of the run.
On May 3rd we are celebrating International Workers’ Day and worker solidarity. International Workers’ Day (May 1st) is a time to take to the streets for a day of political action, strikes, marches, and demonstrations to demand fairness, equality, and rights. During shelter in place orders, we can keep this ardent tradition going strong, especially when unprecedented numbers around the country are suffering the serious effects of unpaid leave, lack of healthcare, and scarce social services, and being forced to work in unsafe conditions. Everyone can participate in this unique action by sharing images and the hashtag #capitalismisthepandemic on social media and by creating similar actions around the country.
According to Christine Nobiss, Decolonizer with Seeding Sovereignty, “Capitalism is the pandemic because, though we face COVID-19 together, the heightened economic imbalance is further exposing the deep racial divide in this country. Black, Latino/Latina, Indigenous, and immigrant communities are experiencing higher morbidity rates of COVID-19 due to pre-existing conditions created by the long-term global pandemic of colonial-capitalism.” These communities face strained and genocidal relationships with the American government and live with elevated rates of poverty, violence, unemployment, chronic illness, incarceration, deportation, water crises, inadequate housing, and food deserts—creating a perfect storm for mass infection.
Janet MacGillivray, Seeding Sovereignty Executive Director, states, “President Trump’s invocation on April 28, 2020 of the War Powers Act to force meat plants to stay open after twenty-two have closed and twenty workers have died due to COVID-19, when testing is unavailable and workers can’t adequately social-distance, puts their lives, co-workers’ lives, their families’ lives, our food supply, and the general public’s health and safety at unconscionable risk. On May Day we’ll also be watching to see if Trump dares to push through the planned financial bailout for big oil and gas companies using taxpayer dollars when first responders work without PPE, workers have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus epidemic and tribes on the frontlines have yet to receive promised and inadequate federal support.”
With this action, we demand an end the colonial-capitalist economy supported by institutionalized white supremacist and heteropatriarchal systems that have devastated our lands, climate, and peoples through ceaseless resource extraction, land occupation, border imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, enslavement, and genocide. This viral pandemic is part of a much larger problem as explained by Buffalo-based media artist, Jason Livingston, who conceived this action, “The crisis began before the virus, and the crisis will continue beyond the vaccine.”
With this action:
We demand an end the colonial-capitalist economy supported by institutionalized white supremacist and heteropatriarchal systems that have devastated our lands, climate, and peoples through ceaseless resource extraction, land occupation, border imperialism, misogyny, homophobia, enslavement, and genocide.
We declare that our privileged comrades and allies reject all transactions with members of the corporate, white-supremacist oligarchy that has hijacked our land, our working bodies, and our society; the cause of the global climate crisis, injustice, and widespread pandemics.
We are certain that until we refuse the terms of the oligarchy, it won’t bend. The privileged must put their resources (labor, time, savings, earnings) back into the communities they have benefited from. Sorry General Motors, sorry Chase Manhattan, sorry United, sorry Amazon, sorry Exxon Mobil. We’ve got work to do here, to grow the world we want to live in. You’re blocking the sun. The Green New Deal is a modest beginning and must be led by Indigenous stewards of the land and frontline Black, Latino/Latina, immigrant and communities of color. Single-payer health care is a no brainer. Reparations are a necessity. Return of stolen land and sovereignty is a must. Abolish border imperialism. Break the glass ceiling. Respect all orientations. End mass incarceration.
We work together, we dream together, we fight together.
#CapitalismIsThePandemic #CitizensInThePresent #SeedingSovereignty #CITP #COVID19 #Coronavirus #NationalWorkersDay #MayDay #ReturnStolenLand #GND #ImmigrantRights
This action has been planned by:
Citizens In the Present is an ad-hoc group of friends and collaborators brought together by Jason Livingston in rapid response to the accelerated precarity of all working people. We believe that the current crisis lays bare the fundamental, foundational, and ongoing flaws of a capitalist system that puts the planet and its people at daily risk. We hope our action inspires others to be creative and determined in their resistance. We are truly citizens of the world.
Seeding Sovereignty is a collective of Indigenous Folx Creating Radical Change. In a time of climate crisis, we work on behalf of our global community to shift social and environmental paradigms by dismantling colonial institutions and replacing them with Indigenous practices created in synchronicity with the land.