Adrienne Maree Brown,
"Transforming Ruckus: Actions Speak Louder"
(page 3 of 4)
We learned that every member of the community holds pieces of the
solution, even if we are all engaged in different layers of the work.
We learned to look for telltale signs that actions were
community-based. One indicator that things are off is when impacted
communities and people of color get involved, are put in the role of
"performing the action," for example, having their photos taken, being
spokespeople, or being asked to endorse or represent work they don't get
to lead, etc., while most of the background organizing is still
dominated by the folks who aren't impacted and won't be around long-term
to sustain the campaign or to be held accountable.
At its worst, this approach builds up hope and encourages local
communities to take risks, and then abandons them with the results.
At its best, there is a moment of victory. But too often, in spite of
their best intentions, those who aren't directly impacted only see the
surface layer(s) of the impact, and thus come up with surface solutions
that don't address the deep seated multi-pronged need in the community.
We learned that in organizing and relationships, accountability is
key for building a lasting base; when folks see change, they feel their
own investment is worthwhile. We need actions that build our base,
because we must reach a tipping point of folks who are on the side of
justice before we reach the peak of what our planet can provide.
To be transparent, while Ruckus was in the midst of this transition,
I didn't think of it as a transition from a patriarchal organization to
a feminist organization any more than I thought of it as a white
organization becoming an organization for people of color. I thought of
our story as moving from a reactionary, surface-change direct action
organization to vision-based, systemic-change-oriented direct action
Along the way we began to practice principles that felt necessary and
powerful to articulate:
- Ruckus comes where we're called, respecting local work
and building long-term relationships of support. We reach out to and
build relationships with groups we respect, to lay the groundwork for
being called to frontline work. We do not insert ourselves into people's
political or community work.
- Ruckus supports action when the community most impacted by a
political, social, economic or environmental injustice is the
leader of the strategy, vision, and action.
- Ruckus supports action that builds strength and holds space
for a strong community vision.
- In a successful Ruckus action, the visions and solutions are
deeper and more compelling than the injustice. (We are calling for
a movement-wide shift away from action that isn't grounded in a vision
of deep systemic change, as that ultimately is a misuse of our time and
- We submit that no social movement in history has successfully
transformed its society without direct action, and we at Ruckus
recognize our historical significance and the need for our work in the
movement at this time. However, the actions that have had the most impact
were uniquely suited to the time, place, and political conditions. We
feel the movement has gotten stuck in a tactical rut and that it's time to
leap out with actions that address our current political conditions
directly (Gulf oil spills, SB1070 in Arizona, global economic and
- "Transform yourself to transform the world." —Grace Lee Boggs.
We aim to be an organizational model of the change we call for in the
Now in hindsight I can see how we have transformed ourselves in a way
that makes our work much more relevant as a living resistance to the
dysfunctional social system in which we live. Within our small
organization we have grown from a kickass, majority white, male-led
environmental-issue centered network into a kickass, female-led,
multicultural, justice AND environment-centered network.
We lovingly embrace those who brought the skills before us and those
to come as part of the same fierce family of fearless activists with
lifelong commitments to societal transformation. We are intentional
about living our vision in terms of how we operate as a community in
order to bring vision-based support to the movement we love. We opt for
self-determination and sustainability in everything from our structure
to our budgets to our programs.
Page: 1 |