Color Blind

Activists of Color Bring the Economic War Home, But Is the Movement Missing the Message?

The metamorphosis has been painful, involving "bitter arguments and many tear-filled meetings," says Rand, but it has wrought an impressively diverse staff interested in linking local and global struggles. The group helped mobilize multi-racial contingents at both Seattle and A16. Chen, who traveled a similar route from international human rights issues into criminal-justice activism, is now one of JustAct's organizers. A one-man bridge between movements, he was arrested at the San Francisco Hilton and in Seattle.

If JustAct's evolution is a useful model, protests at the upcoming Republican convention in Philadelphia may present an early test. Philly organizer Amadee Braxton, cochair of the Black Radical Congress, says that the R2K protests signal a shift in the movement toward connecting the global corporate agenda with national politics, while more young activists of color are learning a vocabulary from anti-globalists—"struggling to find the language to describe structural adjustment at home." One result may be radical education for both sides. After all, it's not as if mainstream black, Latino, and Asian leadership has taken an anti-imperialist turn—just as big labor's critique of globalization has been blunted by its embrace of Al Gore, so has the NAACP's fondness for the veep put it inside the Democratic convention, not outside with young protesters of all colors.

Teamsters, turtles—and raptivists? "Our capacities have been diminished because of our blind spots," Jones notes. "If we can bring both currents together, we'll have a flood. And the corporations will have a big problem."

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