I recently sat in on a meeting between my site (Soulardarity) and DTE. Our goal and hope is that DTE starts putting people over profit and focusing on helping communities rather than just increasing shareholder value. One of the community members made a really good point in the middle of the meeting. She said that now is the perfect time for DTE to reconsider their actions and see how they can change and be part of a better future. She said that we are living an unprecedented time. Covid-19 has demonstrated the need for food and resources to become more localized and sustainable, speaking about the urgency to create community-run energy sources and businesses. She also mentioned that statues were being torn down and people were calling for reform. This shows the people’s support for black communities, following another community member’s point that DTE has inequitably and underserved low-income and majority black communities. She said that DTE has a role to play and needs to see the momentum in the United States and be active in reform and creating a more equitable and sustainable society at the community-level.
I thought it was a really powerful comment. 2020 has been full of chaos, sadness and uncertainty. However, it has also brought attention to systemic racism, police brutality, gentrification, colonialism and many other oppressive factors that are so present in our institutions and way of life. I agree with the community member and hope that large corporations also see this as a time for change and reflective thinking that leads to actions and engagement that positively impacts communities.
She was saying that in a time like this: every individual, corporation, and institution has a role to play. Many people I have talked to are feeling this pressure, of finding out where their place is in the movement. My site is trying to find out where they fit in as well. The members, individually, are active in the protests and movement, but the organization itself is still working out what their capacity, role and lane is right now.
I’ve learned from my placement and conversations with community members that it is a time to reflect on how you fit into this time and how best to use your assets to contribute to the momentum.