Version 2. February 2019.
The Work of Many
In the introduction to v2 of New Orleans DSA’s Gimme a Brake! (Light): A DIY Guide, we refer to the brake light clinic as “genius.” We should be clear the “genius” referred to herein is not ourselves, but the person who came up with the idea of these clinics, DSA organizer Kaitlin Marone. What a cool idea!
Many of us are writers, and we can tell you, a cool idea gets you pretty much nowhere. It doesn’t accomplish anything, on its own. What an idea can do is bring people together. And that’s what it did here in New Orleans. Marone took the idea to the newly-established DSA local. The brake light clinic’s success is not its idea: it is its execution, which is the work of many.
Only two people* who worked on the original version of this guide had a hand in creating v2. That’s because in the past year and a half, the brake light clinics have gone from a cool idea to an ongoing project that has helped our chapter recruit members, develop new leadership, sharpen our political education, develop better organizing skills, and record our institutional knowledge. That is the work of many.
This guide was built by consensus. We started the process by gathering information about clinics around the country and soliciting feedback from people who had built on our work. Then we met around a table in New Orleans, each of us outfitted with a printout of the old guide, plus every piece of organizing material we had developed since. And then we went, page by page, talking about whether each piece of information was necessary, clear, and accurate. Then we rewrote and came back and did it again. And again.
It is revolutionary to be more proud of a group project – of true consensus – than an individual effort.
As we release this v2 guide, we are orienting ourselves for deeper questions. How can we transform this project into a more sustained demand? In Louisiana, there is no part of life untouched by the carceral state. Should we fight to end money bail? Can we agitate to change the fee schedule for traffic violations? How can we leverage our position and build power to influence the 2020 District Attorney race in Orleans Parish?
The work of many will continue. We are overjoyed that you’re on the journey with us.
Direct Service Committee
New Orleans DSA
*and not Kaitlin Marone!
We had a great crowd last night at our New Member Dinner. About thirty new faces! It was good to meet everybody and enjoy delicious food, wine and king cake. Stay posted for details on our next chapter dinner, which will be scheduled sometime in mid-late March after everyone recovers from Carnival season!
DSA New Orleans stands in solidarity with striking Los Angeles teachers!
Across the U.S., education workers are under attack. They’ve been pushed to the edge by charter schools and austerity.
Today more than 30,000 education workers in L.A. went on strike for the first time in 30 years. They’re demanding an end to school privatization, inflated class sizes, excessive testing and decreased funding.
As socialists and working people, we believe that support for labor struggles is a central priority of our movement. To demonstrate our solidarity, we’re donating $100 to a strike fund for Los Angeles education workers and sending them a statement of support from our chapter.
Strike fund: https://act.dsausa.org/donate/utla_strike_fund/
Here is a statement for our upcoming special election to select a new at-large council member for the chapter. Only one person, Jordan F., has been nominated for to run in this election. The election will be held Monday, January 7th, 2019.
Our chapter has grown incredibly in the past year! We’ve sharpened our skills, built up our committees, developed new leaders, and given new members a place to plug in. The space in this chapter for members to incubate different projects is one of our greatest strengths. What we need to do next is synthesize all this work into a cohesive political vision and concrete demands. Let’s leverage these projects in a way that escalates campaigns and builds victories. I will focus on this through building a strong chapter program process and by building up the capacity of committees. I’m running for this position because I want to be part of a chapter everyone can be proud of and because I want everyone to feel like they own the work we collectively do. The only way we can build this future is if we build it together.
Democratic Socialist Voting Guide
Municipal Action Committee
New Orleans Chapter – Democratic Socialists of America
New Orleans DSA organizes for the power and benefit of working class and poor people in Louisiana, and to take power and influence from the wealthy and corporations. In our first electoral guide for the 2018 Midterm elections, we specifically choose not to endorse any candidates. There are currently no candidates for office whose platform includes our core values of fairness, direct democracy, and human dignity. We present this guide to offer historical context, information on candidates, and a vision of how these offices could function differently in our democracy.
The scope of this guide is limited mainly to issues appearing on the Orleans Parish ballot. This is a reflection of the majority composition of our chapter’s membership. It also includes comments on some of the Jefferson Parish School Board races.
There are more than 200 DSA members in New Orleans and more than 300 in Louisiana. If you have any questions or want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that in Louisiana you can be convicted of a felony or sent to jail for life without a unanimous jury decision? This unjust rule dates back to the 1898 state convention when white supremacists put Jim Crow laws in Louisiana’s constitution. Louisiana residents have a chance to change this on November 6th by voting YES on Amendment 2.
This sign spotted in the Marigny does a pretty great job illustrating why we need unanimous juries in Louisiana. This past week, our chapter joined the Unanimous Jury Coalition to phone bank and get the word out about Yes on 2.
After a leaked memo suggested the Trump administration wants to create a legal definition of sex as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth,” our chapter felt it important to release this statement:
We stand in solidarity with trans and gender non-binary folks now and always. No matter what right wing fascists say or do, we’ll support our trans members & loved ones and continue to fight for their liberation and for the liberation of trans people everywhere. Trans rights are human rights.
Last night our chapter hosted a talk at the Musician’s Union Hall on Medicare for All and healthcare justice in New Orleans. Frances Gill, co-chair of our chapter’s Healthcare for All Committee and southern regional organizer for DSA’s M4A Campaign, started us off with a powerful statement to our packed room of 50 or so people on the need for Medicare for All to win true healthcare justice in the U.S.
We heard from a representative of 504 Healthnet and Luke’s House, a clinic in New Orleans that provides free medical care. Jamila Webb from Birthmark Doula Collective spoke about the incredible work their organization does supporting pregnant and birthing women in Louisiana. She provided insights on the health disparities faced by soon-to-be mothers in Louisiana, particularly black women, and Birthmark’s work to combat the health injustice and health racism that is perpetuated and exacerbated by our profit-driven health care industry.
Michael Lighty, former policy director of the National Nurses Union, gave a captivating talk on Medicare for All and the democratic socialist solutions to the deep inequities of the U.S. healthcare system. The path to health justice will require a direct confrontation with the big pharmaceutical companies, hospital corporations and health insurance CEOs who make billions in profits while most Americans struggle to pay their insurance premiums and cover rising drug costs.
Emphasizing the need for mass action to win the fight for a true universal healthcare system in the U.S, Michael encouraged us look to this year’s teachers’ insurgency to learn how DSA can build a mass movement of working people to win the demand for Medicare for All.
Our next Healthcare for All Committee meeting will be on Thursday 11/15 at 2022 St. Bernard Ave, Building C, 6:30 PM. We invite everyone to join our struggle for healthcare justice in New Orleans and beyond!
The Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, is a nationwide, membership-based political organization that aims to build working class power by employing a variety of different tactics, from electoral organizing to workplace organizing and direct service. DSA is an organization comprised of dozens of local chapters, whose projects, aims, and strategies vary widely from chapter to chapter. Every two years, representatives from DSA chapters gather to participate in a national convention and vote on three priority issues. Last year, the membership voted to center three priorities: electoral strategy, labor organizing, and campaigning for Medicare for All, or M4A.
Medicare for All is a policy that would create universal healthcare, free at the point of service with no co-pays or premiums, for all U.S. residents.
As a socialist organization, we know why we have to take on the fight for M4A. We can name the enemy. High uninsured rates, billing bureaucracy, high pharmaceutical costs, and unevenly distributed health care resources are not individual problems that can be tackled individually. They are interconnected symptoms of a larger problem: a health care system that is designed for a few to get rich when others fall ill.
Read more about DSA New Orleans’ fight for healthcare justice in this month’s issue of Anti-Gravity.