Statement by Brandon Rey Ramirez
The Food for Solidarity (F4S) Proposal is a well-intentioned proposal that fails to align with the realities of DSA’s political purpose and its organizing capacity. If passed, it is destined to restrict the chapter’s resources and limit the diversity actions various committees and working groups have to execute their own projects. Externally, the F4S misses the mark for how an organization like DSA should be engaging with Latinx and low-income communities. This should be a learning experience for how we as a chapter must make decisions that prepare us for sustainable growth.
While we know the existential debate about DSA-LA’s political role is long and contentious, members from all sides can agree that we are meant to be a political force and not a charity. DSA-LA is meant to have a presence in organizing workers, tenants, and students. We are to challenge policymakers and political institutions. We are to confront and dismantle authoritarian and oppressive agencies. Directly trying to alleviate a problem like food insecurity is not within our scope. Under this precedent, our healthcare committee will be expected to provide medical exams.
F4S proposes that it will be funded by donations and that a very limited amount of dues will be needed to support the project. The donations needed to begin the program are roughly $3k. If the project does not kickoff with fundraising, it will likely cut into chapter dues, which are already too low for our chapter’s goals. In order to sustain F4S, it requires a series of fundraising events. The amount of time and money required to put on many of these events are already lofty, and if our financial committee had to dedicate all of its labor into F4S, it will deprive funds from other DSA-LA projects.
Culturally speaking the proposal fails to meet Latinx & low-income communities as equals. These communities do not need to be educated by an organization that does not directly represent them. The reason the Black Panthers program is a superior model is that the organizers actually lived and represented its community. Instead we should be partnering with local leaders around shared political issues. We need to listen here, not lead.