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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/23/10

So What is the US Social Forum?

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In Detroit, somewhere between five and ten thousand activists, organizers, and cultural workers are involved in the US Social Forum (USSF) and are tuned in to social justice and global issues this week as they network with grassroots organizations and develop plans for building structures and movements that can bring forth another United States that is more supportive of all of its people.

The mission of the USSF might be perceived as a utopian endeavor but the more proper term is egalitarian. In fact, if one wanted to make it sound more commercial, it could be called "Zinnapalooza" in honor of the people's historian Howard Zinn who was a champion of people's movements and social justice until he passed away earlier this year.

Like Zinn, the USSF takes all the histories of people's movements and struggles in the world and draws inspiration from them while at the same time assessing current conditions in the world, which the people of the world cannot choose (at this point). It puts forth a vision of a world that should be instead of lowering people's expectations by prescribing a world that can be.

Blown apart are paralyzing ideas like bipartisanship, pragmatism, America's a center-right nation, politics is the art of the possible, and don't make the perfect the enemy of the good. Even the narcotic tranquilizer that is hope is noticeably absent as organizers draw from anger and courage to constructively develop and conceive plans and strategies for empowering communities across America.

This is nitty gritty behind-the-scenes work that you don't see on your television screen, that you don't hear on the radio, that you likely will not find on the Internet when your web page loads (unless you specifically seek out this information). It's what must be done to take on certain structures and ideologies in the U.S. and the world that bear down upon people that must be confronted and challenged.

The organizers of the second USSF operate under the belief that there is a "need to unite struggles of oppressed communities and peoples within the US (particularly Black, Latino, Asian/Pacific-Islander and Indigenous communities) to the struggles of oppressed nations in the Third World," there is a "high priority in grassroots organizing with working class people of color, who are training organizers, building long-term structures of resistance, and who can work well with other groups," and the people of this nation must "link US-based youth organizers, activists and cultural workers to struggles of brothers and sisters abroad."

The Texas Board of Education and Glenn Beck would not like the USSF. It is taking on the idea that indigenous community histories are to be discarded and entirely ignored because there is a value to understanding that the US began as a group of colonists that committed mass genocide of Native Americans.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for
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