Reflections on the World Social Forum. Tunis, Spring 2013.
Tunisia is a society under construction. After a successful revolution in 2011 that sparked the "Arab Spring", the country, and the entire region, are in the midst of profound social transformation. I went to Tunisia thrilled to learn from the social movements that overthrew a profoundly entrenched, decades-long dictatorship. The World Social Forum (WSF), held in Tunis in late March, occurred in the wake of this groundbreaking change. The Forum brought together 50,000 people from social movements on all over the world to share and learn from each other and from the advances of the "Arab Spring."
Alma Blackwell, lead member of Causa Justa :: Just Cause, and I were both part of a majority-women of color delegation of Left community-based organizations from the United States, organized by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ). In our community organizing work at Causa Justa :: Just Cause in California, we emphasize bringing our work to scale, and building a movement strong enough to have national impact. Just last month, we helped launch Right to the City's national "Homes for All" campaign and brought together homeowners in foreclosure with public housing residents, homeless people with renters, all with the goal of building a movement large enough to win the change we need.
I am part Argentine, and a bit nationalist (particularly around World Cup time), so it's no wonder I've been congratulated many times about the new, Argentine Pope. And, while I think almost anyone would be an improvement on the previous ultra-conservative, Nazi-youth-league member Pope Benedict, I question whether Pope Francis will really move the Catholic Church in a progressive direction. And if he won't do it, who will?
Reflections on internationalist solidarity, in preparation for the 2013 World Social Forum in Tunisia
"Hijab is part of our culture!" yelled a young woman in a gold and yellow "hijab" Muslim headscarf, squared off against an older French blonde, whose chin and shoulders were pulled back, signaling how offended and taken aback she was. "You think feminism is taking off the scarf?" the young woman continued, "Why don't you stop the wars in our countries, stop the criminalization of Islam in Europe? We do not want to be in your country but we have no choice but to migrate, now you want to take away our culture, too?"