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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I am a community organizer

Today bloggers are celebrating community organizers in the hopes of teaching Rudy Guliani, John McCain and especially snide Ms Sarah Palin about the good works going on across the country by people who help their communities for little to no money.

As you know, I do educational advocacy work in my area. Due to a conflict of interet, I can't do it in my own community until my children graduate from high school, but I help parents of special needs kids to receive the services for which they are entitled from their school systems. This isn't an easy job. I fight large school systems with little money and no desire to spend it on their special needs kids. The kids I serve have serious physical, emotional, and mental illnesses as well as your run of the mill learning disabilities. They are kids that need special services in order to learn, and yet their schools deny them services until the parents break down and find me or one of the many other educational advocates out there. The difference between me and the other advocates is that I work for free, or for a very nominal fee, and I represent families that cannot afford help from educational attorneys.

I don't do this because it looks good on the resume or because I get paid the big bucks. I do this because I have 2 special needs kids and I have fought the school systems in both California and Massachusetts to get the schools to honor a federally mandated law, the Americans with Disabilities Act. I know what it's like to sit at a meeting facing 7, 9, or 12 'experts' that want you to believe every word they say, even if they are lying through their teeth. I know what it's like to feel intimidated by a team that keeps saying they have your child's best needs at heart when what they really mean is that they want to provide the cheapset and least restrictive options for that child. They don't care about the needs of the children. They care about the bottom line. Schools are a business, just like any other business. Only they are required to take any student and educate them, which entitles each child to a free and proper education.

When I listened to the speeches at the RNC and heard speaker after speaker making fun of community organizing, I was totally puzzled. It’s ironic that Palin, Guilliani and the rest of the GOP would make fun of community organizing because community organizing is the epitome of one of the central mantras of conservatism: pick yourself up by your bootstraps.

That’s what community organizing is all about. It’s about people taking control of their lives and their communities and trying to make things better for themselves. It’s recognizing that no one is going to do for you what you won’t do for yourself. You can talk about “actual responsibilities” all you want, but the truth of the matter is that community organizing is taking the ultimate amount of responsibility–not only to yourself, but to everyone in your community. That is exactly what I do as an educational advocate. I teach parents how to handle school meetings and to find out what laws apply to their situation. I help them learn to write successful letters to their superintendents, how to get help from the state, and even how to enter into mediation between the school and the state. I work with parents to enable them to learn to fight for their children and themselves.

It's apparent to me that this disregard of community organizing is racist. Helping others, particularly people of color and low-income folks, to achieve what often amounts to the most basic of human needs? Well, why would anyone do that? There’s no money, no glory, no fame in that. And that is at the root of the attacks on community organizing that we’ve seen. It’s not that community organizing is bad. To be sure, Sarah Palin has done her own amount of community organizing. The problem is that many of those community organizers out there aren’t out for personal gain, aren’t out there to keep their boots on peoples necks for profit and glory. The problem is that Sen. Barack Obama was out there organizing black folks and low-income folks. And when those that traditionally have a boot against their necks start to get organized, start to get a little power, well, that’s a serious problem for some folks.

We all know that the GOP is a racist organization. Watching the convention was a sure way to show how racist it is. Did you see black, asian, or hispanic faces? Was the crowd essentially a bunch of wrinkly white old people? Sure it was. Those are the people who don't understand community organizing because it doesn't do anything for their own pocketbooks. If it doesn't enrich their bank accounts, they don't care. They don't want to help the poor, the disabled, the mentally ill. They don't even want to consider that those people exist. They would rather stay in their beloved small towns pretending that the rest of America is just like them. They don't want their world interrupted by the reality of the down-trodden.

This is why I volunteer to help people with their schools. Because other people just don't care. If a family of color has a kid who needs special help, it must be because the mother was a crack whore and the father a missing alcoholic. They have a story all cooked up, those wrinkly white Republicans. Except they are wrong. And I mean to keep working to help all families that need me because this is the right thing to do. Instead of calling on 'faith-based' (i.e. Christian) organizations to help, I believe that every individual has a talent and should have the desire to be of help to others less fortunate in their community.

I'm proud to say I'm a community organizer. I won't even understand why snide Rudy and snotty Sarah feel otherwise. But then again, I don't really care. Who can respect people that look down on others that help? I mean, how nasty is that?

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8 Comments:

Blogger Daisy said...

Actual responsibilities? Yes, community organizers take on actual responsibilities. I love the site with the organizer posters. I can't pick a favorite, either. They're simply too good.

9/9/08 7:51 PM  
Blogger Anali said...

Wonderful post! So much good work is done by community organizers. I'm really glad that these posts are going up in unison to make a strong statement.

9/9/08 8:00 PM  
Blogger sss said...

this post was fantastic and so spot on!I so wish a news paper would publish this in their opinion pages.have you ever thought of running for a public office? boyyyy you'd set em straight!

9/9/08 8:13 PM  
Blogger Olga said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/9/08 10:12 PM  
Blogger BSumner said...

http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/sliming_palin.html

I really wish people would research a bit before keeping the rumors going.

10/9/08 9:02 AM  
OpenID chloefieri said...

Margalit for President!

10/9/08 2:19 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Bsumner...so you're denying that Ms Palin made fun of community organizers during her speech? Or that the GOP is racist? Or that the absence of people of color was rather telling at the RNC? Just what do you think I was incorrect about? And let's remember... nobody is forcing you to read these posts. I do get to say what I want on my own blog. And I feel that the GOP is horribly racist. And that Ms Palin probably is as well. How many people of color are there in Wasilla? How many Jews? How many Muslims? Yeah, I thought so.

10/9/08 2:41 PM  
Blogger hschinske said...

I think maybe bsumner was talking about the fact that you still have that list of books up. The true library story is quite bad enough without the completely inaccurate stuff about the list.

10/9/08 7:59 PM  

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