DSA-RGV Monthly Newsletter — August 2020

Contents

  1. Welcome Note
  2. Website Launch!
  3. Membership Update
  4. Monthly Meeting Report
  5. Recent Chapter Activities
  6. Racism & Capitalism Reading Group
  7. Endnote

1. Welcome Note:

Dear DSA-RGV family,

It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these! How are you all? Okay, okay… we know. This is not the easiest of times for activists. There’s so much going on right now. Not just nationally, but locally too! If you are feeling overwhelmed about it, then be assured you are not alone.

But history doesn’t sleep. Not least for socialists! So, in this newsletter, we are so excited to update you on some recent developments within the Rio Grande Valley chapter of DSA, and our plans for the rest of the year. On Friday, August 14, we had our Monthly Meeting. During this session, we had a frank and productive conversation about where we are with our still relatively young chapter, the challenges of activism during the coronavirus epidemic, and the possibilities for our work together. Below, we’d like to share with you some of the outcomes of that important conversation.

Before we get started, however, we should note that one of the topics covered during the meeting was the importance of this very newsletter! We have received queries on this from a few of you over the last month or two, asking if we planned to maintain the newsletter. Admittedly, we’ve been too slow lately, getting these out. But we do realize and appreciate that not everyone is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! — and that these emails are an important way of maintaining our channels of communication. So, this in mind, we are happy to report we’ve now put together a newsletter subcommittee, and this team will be bringing you the newsletter now on a monthly basis. Henceforth, members can expect to receive the newsletter the week after every Monthly Meeting.

Of course, for those of you who are on social media, make sure you are following us!

  1. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DSARGV/
  2. Twitter: @DSAoftheRGV
  3. Instagram:@DSARGV
  4. Slack: dsargv.slack.com (for dues-paying members only)
  5. Email: dsariograndevalley@gmail.com

2. Website Launch

So, guess what’s cool about becoming an official chapter of DSA? They give us back a portion of our membership dues, that’s what’s cool! Using this money, we decided two weeks ago finally to pull the trigger on a longterm objective: a website! It’s still in early days of development, but we are absolutely thrilled to share the link with you now:

As you can see, there’s quite a bit yet to fill in here. But we have decided to set it up sort of like a blog, so users arriving at the page will basically see a focus on chapters news and developments. Here, we’ll be posting everything from the Monthly Newsletter (like the one you are reading right now), to information about ongoing campaigns and activities, from our various committees and working groups. But this homepage will also allow you to navigate to other pages on the site, where you’ll eventually be able to find public documents, such as our bylaws.

One other great advantage of having a website with our own domain name is that it allows us now to take advantage of the ‘boost’ function, on Facebook. This means we can raise the profile of our announcements on Facebook, and reach more potential members and activists in our community. How cool is that?

3. Membership Update

As in previous Monthly Newsletters, we like to keep you all abreast of how our membership is doing. As you know, we are an official chapter now. So one of priorities now is to grow the chapter. Obviously COVID-19 is going to change financial priorities for many people. So the task of retention has become crtiical.

Happily, however, our membership appears actually to be growing right now! As of August 1, we have 56 members. For comparison, on April 1 we had just 46 official members. So, as you can see, we have grown by almost 25% in the last few months alone.

It must be emphasized that this growth is vital. Not only does a bigger membership give us more capacity for our activism but, seeing as we get a percentage-based portion of our dues returned to us, it grows the amount of money we have at our disposal to do certain things, like register a domain name for our website. The more members we have, therefore, the greater our capacity for advertising our activities, thereby growing our membership and capacity even more!

So, if you are receiving this, and your membership has perhaps lapsed — or, you’ve been thinking about joining, but were perhaps wavering — now is the time! Socialism doesn’t happen all by itself. It takes the work of a dedicated movement. And no matter what happens in November, whether it is Trump or Biden returned to the White House, change here in RGV can only happen through the creation of a nationwide multiracial working class that can issue the demands, and make the noise, that drives that change in the first place. We believe DSARGV can be at the forefront of the progressive struggle, in RGV. But, for that to happen, we need your support!

4. Monthly Meeting Report

As you may know, this spring we settled on a fixed day for our Monthly Meetings. Moving forward, the Monthly Meeting will always take place the second Friday of every month. And, crucially, everyone is welcome. You don’t have to be a dues-paying member to attend!

Our most recent Monthly Meeting took place via Zoom, on Friday, August 14. A number of issues were discussed, including the following:

  1. Review of recent activities: We discussed our recent a cleanup event, at Sal del Rey. This was part of our post-Hurricane Hanna mutual aid campaign. We also discussed our “Racism & Capitalism” community reading group, which had its second session in July. More on this below.
  2. Initiation of a regularly scheduled Leadership Meeting: It was decided that a Leadership Meeting will take place the Friday before the Monthly Meeting. The primary focus of the meeting will be to attend to preparations for the Monthly Meeting. Thus, among other things, elected DSARGV leaders at this meeting will be making sure that the agenda for the Monthly Meeting will be circulated a week ahead of schedule, and that notices advertising the Monthly Meeting have been posted on Facebook and other relevant social media.
  3. Launch of official DSARGV website and creation of a social media channel on the DSARGV Slack: In COVID times, we agreed that a strong online presence is one of the most vital goals for our chapter. We discussed strategies for increasing our profile, inclusion the launch of our long-awaited website, and strategizing the posting of relevant stories and updates, on social media. To this end, we created a dedicated channel on Slack, where members can vote with a dedicated ‘DSARGV cactus’ emoji, to approve an item being circulated to our Twitter, etc. Any item gaining “5 cactuses” is approved for posting.

5. Recent Chapter Activities

One of the highlight activities of our last month was our cleanup effort, at Sal del Rey. We had seven members and supporters show up on the day, and carted several large bags of trash from the area (people lose lots of shoes at Sal day Rey, apparently!). Critically, we had originally envisioned this activity as part of a wider post-Hanna cleanup and mutual aid initiative, and we are still actively talking with members about potential follow-up activities. So, if you or someone you know is still struggling with post-Hanna issues, please get in touch. We will do what we can.

6. “Racism & Capitalism” Community Reading Group

This summer, recognizing the widespread uprising for black lives that took place in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, we re-committed our Reading Group to examining the intersections between racial oppression and capitalism. In our July session, we turned to Alex Vitale’s excellent book, “The End of Policing.” Vitale is a scholar of policing, and the various debates about how and why American policing has been so detrimental for black people. He is widely thought to be the originator of the “defund the police” slogan.

The group was assigned short selections from Vitale’s book, along with some YouTube clips of interviews with him. The group addressed some ‘homework’ questions, including how bulging police budgets could be redirected towards community initiatives in the Rio Grande Valley. Participants were asked to research the police budget for their local municipality, and the number of police officers it currently employs.

Moving forward, we very much hope to keep this reading group active on a monthly basis. We want to create a space where we can come together and discuss the relations between racism and capitalism, from a range of socialist perspectives. Every session, we’ll highlight different excerpts paired with a video and discussion questions. We will share the reading list and excerpts ahead of schedule, through social media and email, so as to make it accessible to the wider community. If you have any recommendations for the next text or video to highlight the please let us know, and we will try to access it.

As a heads up, please know that our next meeting is coming up 6 – 7:30 PM, on Friday, August 21. We are sticking with the Vitale book, but this time focusing on Chapter 9, “Border Policing.” There will be a separate emailer about this coming very soon.

7. Endnote

We live in difficult times. None of us imagined that 2020 was going to end up like this, caught between the election of our lifetimes on the one hand, and a global pandemic on the other. Even beyond this historical moment, however, the left is facing some difficult challenges within itself, and urgent debates are needed about who we are, and where we are going. Marx once said that designing the perfect utopia was a task best left “for the cook-shops of the future.” What we can say for certain, however, is that building solidarity is very much a task of the present moment. Our young chapter is full of vision and energy. But we can’t do it alone. We need YOU. So, we hope you can join us, and bring all your ideas and thoughts. We want to know what Democratic Socialism means to you.

See you out there,

DSARGV

NotMeUs #TrySocialism

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