Black Lives Matter Houston, Community Voices for Public Education, Houston DSA and allied grassroots groups are calling on all people of conscience in our city to protest Ron DeSantis’ speaking engagement at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Friday, March 3rd, where he’ll be addressing a local Harris County GOP fundraiser. DeSantis is at the sharpest edges of a vicious and murderous anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist backlash following the historic BLM protests of 2020. As over 20 progressive groups did on Monday in Chicago, where he addressed the Fraternal Order of Police, we must mobilize in solidarity with communities under attack and send a clear message to all that DeSantis, his supporters and his politics of queerphobia, racism and attacks on public education are not welcome in Houston.
We are asking attendees to gather at Discovery Green across the street from the George R. Brown at 4:30pm, Friday, March 3rd. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
The footage of Tyre Nichols being killed at the hands of Memphis PD captures the murderous function of police in all its brutality. The police initiated and escalated the violence; they passed him around as they beat him with fists and batons; in his last moments, Tyre called out for his mama.
Police don’t keep us safe. The only tools they have at their disposal are to incarcerate or kill; their ultimate purpose is to use these tools to protect the ruling capitalist class’ institutions and interests, as evidenced by the eager expansion of the police state by both Democrats and Republicans. The violence is inherent; the behavior of the police officers that murdered Tyre is the expectation, not an aberration.
Houston DSA is committed to fighting for a world free from police and free from systems of violent oppression, systems that disproportionately affect black and brown, working class people. Memphis and Houston are not so different- in our own city, Jalen Randle was murdered by HPD on April 27th, 2022, and the family is still fighting for the officer responsible to face justice. We stand in solidarity with all victims of police brutality, and mourn the loss of Tyre Nichols.
Disarm, Defund, Abolish. Black Lives Matter. ACAB.
Looking to join or form a union? Perhaps you’re a union worker or a DSA member looking to build organized labor’s power across the state of Texas and beyond?
Join young workers and students from across Texas (and beyond) at the Young Active Labor Leaders (YALL) Summit, being held Friday, July 22nd through Sunday, July 24th, 2022, in Round Rock, located just outside of Austin in the beautiful Texas Hill country.
The three day event will include a variety of panels and breakout sessions. Topics will include:
– Digital Organizing – Texas Green Climate Jobs: Organizing around climate change – Creating a union – and much more!
Get to know and learn from your fellow Texan labor enthusiasts as we Educate, Agitate, and Mobilize for a brighter future.
For more information or to register, please go to yallsummit.org. Houston DSA and our Labor Working Group are raising funds to provide scholarships and financial assistance to youth and workers to attend this Summit!
Houston DSA members voted to affirm their full solidarity with the DSA BDS and Palestine Solidarity Working Group, and call for the DSA National Political Committee to reinstate the Working Group’s leadership.
We “commit to struggling through conflict, …remain true to our anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist values, and …[stand] with our Palestinian and Palestinian-allied comrades against censorship.” View the Resolution passed by chapter membership at General Meeting on April 14: http://bit.ly/HDSA-Palestine
Thank you to everyone who showed up to the January general meeting yesterday; it was longer than normal but we covered a lot of important voting. We’re proud to announce Franklin Bynum for Harris County Criminal Court 8 and Molly Cook for Texas Senate as re-endorsed and newly endorsed candidates respectively! The membership also passed a resolution calling on the NPC to expel Jamaal Bowman and uphold BDS in our own work.
Again, thank you to everyone who showed up, expressed their point of view, or ran for endorsement. It was exciting to see so many people show up and forge a path for our chapter through debate. We hope to see you at canvasses and other organizing events in the future!
We extend our appreciation to everyone who came to our general meeting last Thursday! For those that don’t know, our monthly general meetings are where we gather to discuss ongoing meetings and conduct official chapter business. Our next general meeting will be Thursday, December 10. We hope to welcome you there!
The Endorsements Committee has 7 openings up for election! This committee is responsible for screening candidates seeking our endorsement, and then presenting that information to the general body. The committee makes recommendations, and the membership then votes on endorsement. Elections for these positions will be held at the next general meeting on December 10th. Send all nominations (whether they be for yourself or someone else) to email@example.com then!
Abolition Working Group Resolution
We passed a new resolution to recenter our Abolition Working Group’s efforts on targeting the surveillance capabilities of the Houston Police Department, specifically their ability to access the footage of Amazon Ring Doorbell surveillance devices. This is an important step on the road to abolition as we aim to inform our community about the dangers of these devices, divest HPD funds from these and other predatory technologies, and deepen our partnership with other local organizations while making winnable demands. Look for further information on how you can become involved with this new campaign!
Get Involved: Charter Amendment Campaign
We’re collecting petition signatures to make our city more democratic. Come canvass with us this weekend at Hermann Park! We have three separate shifts you should attend (Saturday at 10:30am and 1:30pm, and Sunday at 10:30am). We will be meeting at the North entrance of the park at the Mary Gibbs and Jesse H. Jones Reflection Pool. Look for our gray shirts! You may have difficulty parking, so arrive early.
The nearest rail stop is the Red line at Hermann Park/Rice U. Check Hermann Park’s website for parking. There is street parking Northeast of the park as well. Email the Steering Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions.
As some backstory, our membership has voted in favor of a resolution to join a coalition aiming to amend the charter of the city of Houston in order to take some of the power of the Mayor of Houston and give it to City Council Members. Under our current system, the Mayor has complete control over the City Council agenda. Even if all 16 Council Members want to vote on an issue at a Regular Session, only the Mayor has the power to let that happen.
Fortunately, the people of Houston have the power to change this. Houston DSA is working with IAFF Local 341 on an amendment to the Houston City Charter that would allow any group of three Council Members to add items to the Council agenda. While mayors come and go, our City Charter stays the same. Let’s use our power to build a more democratic, more functional City of Houston where everyone’s voices are heard.
If you are interested in getting involved this weekend or beyond, please fill out this interest form. Contact the Steering Committee if you have any questions.
We welcomed a bunch of new members as we continue to grow both locally and nationally as part of our goal of 100,000 DSA Members! At the National Convention in Atlanta last year, delegates established to goal of growing DSA membership to 100K by 2021. Nationally we’ve had over 12,000 new members join since October, and over 40 in Houston!
We we glad to welcome everyone who attended the October General Meeting!
There were two Steering Committee positions up for election. The body reelected Dan D. as Internal Secretary, and elected Henry M. as Co-Chair, replacing Bryan L. Congratulations to all, and thank you to Bryan, who has faithfully served our chapter in an official capacity and will continue to do so as a rank and file member.
We debated a resolution for the creation of a Housing Working Group. This passed with 31 yes votes, 0 no votes, and 0 abstentions. You can read the text of the resolution here. They certainly will be doing good work soon, so make sure to keep an eye out for opportunities to help fight for housing justice in Houston.
The membership committee ran a presentation on the DSA100K recruitment drive. At the National Convention in Atlanta last year, delegates established to goal of growing DSA membership to 100K by 2021. To meet those goals, Houston needs to increase our membership by 10%, or 78 members. We are asking all members to sign the pledge to recruit 3 new members by going to dsausa.org/recruit. The first 500 members to reach this goal will get a nifty DSA hat, and the next 1000 will be getting some swag as well! We’ll be having an in-depth training on how to ask people to join DSA Saturday, October 17th at 2pm. We’ll see you there!
In preparation for the Houston DSA Arts Collective and Political Education Committee’s author talk with Mark Nowak, the Reading Group met to read the introduction and first two chapters of Nowak’s new book, Social Poetics. The book uses Nowak’s decades of experience as a socialist cultural organizer—founding first the Union of Radical Workers and Writers, then the Worker Writers School—to explore the possibilities of building socialist culture today.
The Reading Group focused on the book’s historical sections, which offer a “people’s history” of left participatory culture in the U.S. and abroad. It focuses in particular on poetry workshops held with peasants in post-revolutionary Nicaragua, labor unions in South Africa, and prisons and working-class schools in the U.S. Discussion ranged from the student poems that came out of poet June Jordan’s poetry workshops in Harlem to the importance of art and culture in building community.
Author Talk with Mark Nowak
Then, Mark Nowak himself joined Houston DSA’s Arts Collective and Political Education Committee on Sept. 17 for a discussion of Social Poetics. Mark shared stories from his decades of socialist cultural organizing. These ranged from experiences holding poetry workshops for labor unions in South Africa, to his work with unionizing big-box bookstore workers in Minneapolis. Finally, he shared his story of founding the Worker Writers School’s ongoing workshops. These workshops featured domestic workers, taxi drivers, and other radical and union workers in New York City learning about poetry together.
We discussed the history of participatory socialist culture and what exactly Mark means by social poetics (“short for socialist poetics,” as Mark said). The landscape of left politics in the U.S. is changing, and it’s vital that we build up independent socialist cultural institutions.
“It’s important that our [poetry and cultural] workshops produce more than empathy,” Mark said. This sole emphasis on empathy, he said, struck him as a profoundly liberal idea of culture’s social role. Instead, socialist cultural organizing is about opening up spaces for communities to deepen working-class bonds, experience collectively, and build power. These are spaces developed alongside unions and left organizations that have their sights set on socialist world-making.
“Think small,” he said. “Three workers from a worker center” joining together for a writing workshop could be the start of something much bigger.
The discussion brought in DSA members and others from around the country, with Twin Cities and Chicago DSA both represented. At the end, Mark encouraged the Houston DSA Arts Collective to launch its own worker-centered cultural workshops. “Think small,” he said. “Three workers from a worker center” joining together for a writing workshop could be the start of something much bigger.
We were glad to welcome people to our general meeting! It’s always great getting to see y’all’s faces. If you couldn’t make it this time, no sweat! That’s what this recap is for. We hope to see you at our next meeting, which will be Thursday, October 8th.
TwoSteering Committee positions, Co-Chair B and Internal Secretary, are open for election in our October General Meeting. Nominations are open now, and will be closed during that meeting! For more information on these positions, you can read section 5.2 of our bylaws. If you would like to nominate yourself or someone else, send an email to email@example.com, or send a message to our nominations committee on Mattermost. You can only vote if you attend the next general meeting, so make sure to attend next month on October 8th to help shape our leadership and vote on these two positions!
Our Solidarity Fund, as managed by the Mutual Aid Working Group, has given out around $2,500 to help our fellow Houstonians! Please continue to support them with donations here: https://houstondsa.org/solidarity-fund/
UFCW455 is battling with Kroger to get a fair contract that protects grocery workers, and they need your help! Our Steering Committee endorsed supporting their struggle, and last Thursday we had some members join the picket. We’d like to continue our support of local labor, so be on the look out for upcoming events to guarantee Kroger employees get good healthcare, hazard pay, and a seat at the table.
We were honored to welcome Fred Glass of East Bay DSA. Fred spoke about California’s upcoming election on Proposition 15, a way of closing a corporate property tax loophole that has allowed giants like Google and Disney to get away with not paying their fair share for decades. Thanks to Fred for speaking with us! Learn more about EBDSA’s endorsement of Prop. 15 here: https://www.eastbaydsa.org/endorsements/
Lastly, we had three breakout discussion groups! In the Housing breakout group, we discussed how to use the current eviction moratorium to keep people in their homes. The Mutual Aid breakout group discussed ongoing efforts to assist after Hurricane Laura. Finally, our Welcome to DSA breakout group welcomed new members into the fold. All in all it was a successful general meeting! Again, we’d love to welcome you to these meetings, which happen on the second Thursday of every month! Next month’s is on October 8.