The GDA and the State of the Nation

By Marina Karides #

The United States is in the midst of a media blitz on the presidential nominees for the two dismal parties. While the possibilities of a woman or an African-American as president offers some hope that change is on its way in the belly of the beast, the real movement for justice taking place in the US was reflected in the Press Conference on the Global Day of Action (GDA) held on January 22 in Atlanta, Georgia. As it was in Press Conferences taking place all over the globe including Zurich, Switzerland; Fortaleza, Brazil; Recife, Brazil; Natal, Brazil; Belem, Brazil; São Paulo Brazil; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Chennai, India; Mumbai, India; Erbil, Iraq; Rome, Italy; Brussels, Belgium; Mexico City, Mexico; La Habana, Cuba; Ramallah, Palestine; Manila, Philippines; Seoul, Korea; Beirut, Lebanon and Barcelona, Spain—all a response to the Global Call to Action made by the WSF.

Alice Lovelace, lead USSF organizer and poet, set the mood claiming that this press conference was a place to talk “to talk about what is happening in the real lives of real people.” The conference set in the Auburn Library of Atlanta, the day after the nation celebrated Martin Luther King Day, brought together movement builders from around the US working on key political issues including immigrant rights, the right to return of Gulf Coast residents, the poverty, violence, and the racist imprisonment of young people, and the loss of political freedoms.

The press conference was highly charged with criticism of the US government’s failure to meet the needs of its population and marked how deeply connected US internal conditions were with the violence it wrought abroad. Sandra Robertson, speaking for Georgia Citizens Coalition on Hunger, described the dwindling of people’s economic resource in Georgia and lack of governmental assistance available to the poor and low income despite the fat wealthfare checks being cut for the corporate elite. The Poor People’s Caravan and Assembly on January 26 in Atlanta will draw strength and participation from the multiple groups participating regionally.

Links were clearly made in speakers’ presentations between the poverty and violence within US borders and outside of them. Monica Garcia, of the Southwest Workers Union, spoke to the immediate violence along the US-Mexican border and the resistance in the region to the vicious construction of a wall that will divide families and communities but porous to corporate greed. Ajamu Baraka, speaking for US Human Rights Network, spelled out US responsibilities abroad:

“ . . . this nation state is deeply implicated in the affairs of countries around the world from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe from Columbia to Haiti to Nepal to Serbia in the systematic and persistent violence of people around the world.” Presenting clear and concrete figures on the expansion of US empire, Allison Budschalow, from American Friends Service Committee, discussed the proliferation of US military bases here and abroad and her organization’s concern with the widening net of the US economic reach through military expansion.

The absence of mainstream press was not lost. After thanking the Independent Media for its presence, Emery Wright from Project South pointed to the absence of corporate media at the event and its lack of focus on “real issues in this country or in the world.” The continued absence of US media at key political moments in US history such as the USSF (despite organizers attempts to cajole them) are expected but always striking as the history of the people, their history, is missing from their daily view of news on their TV screens.

The solidarity of US activists and movement organizations with the rest of the world was a bright light to the grim descriptions of US imperialism. Cindy Wiesner the political coordinator of Grassroots Global Justice, positively remarking on “the advancement of the globe and US social movement acting together in a more coordinated fashion” reminded us of the alliances of justice that WSF process has helped to foment around the world.

# Assistant Professor of Sociology in Florida Atlantic University
Email: mkarides@fau.edu

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