This weekend, 200 organizers from all around the country will be convening in Chicago for the launch and inaugural conference for Mijente. As described on the organization’s website, “Mijente is a new national hub for Latinx and Chincanx organizing. Using a hybrid offline and online platform, we’re creating a political home that brings together leadership, advocacy, culture and media to spark the culture and policy change we need.”
Mijente has origins in the #Not1More campaign, and seeks to utilize digital platforms as well as ‘traditional’ forms of activism and community-building in order to, “embark on Latinx leadership development” and centralize Latinxs’ voices and issues, particularly in the 2016 political campaigns , which we all know is going to be a very important election year both locally and nationally. Mijente’s co-founder, Marisa Franco stated the objectives of the organization as such in an introductory letter posted yesterday:
Because alongside these numbers of growth [of the Latinx population over the next few decades] is the proliferating criminalization of our people, the lack of opportunity for a quality education, an erosion of government and democracy, the stealing of the commons, destruction of our planet and sinking of the economy. Organizing teaches us that no one is coming to save us, we transform ourselves in order to save ourselves, and each other. We believe a project of this sort is necessary now because real change requires more from us, not simply more of us.
The question is, how can this be done?
Our strategy is that it is through more connected and conscious leadership, it is through culture change and it is through relevant and concrete advocacy campaigns. Despite all the challenges we face, there is abundance in our community. There are Latinx people engaged in all facets of the progressive social movement in this country. We are strategists, media makers, cultural workers, action-takers, writers, base-builders, theorists. But in many different aspects we are scattered. This is a significant gap we see.
When we say political home, what we mean by that is a space for connection, for respite, where we can sharpen our strategy and co-conspire in our own community and in community with others.
This is not a moment to stay on the sidelines. The challenges of our time demand action, and playing it safe down the middle is simply not enough. We took a closer look at advocacy and organizing infrastructure in the Latinx and Chicanx community, and we realized that there were significant gaps and shifts that should be addressed.
Mijente aims to fill in the gaps in advocacy, inclusion, political and social power, solidarity and leadership within the large, diverse group we call Latinos/Latinxs/Latin@s. Additionally and during an era when our differences and various standpoints seem to be insurmountable obstacles, Mijente seeks to be fundamentally inclusive and take an intersectional approach in its advocacy. Workers, youth, indigenous, queer and gender non-conforming, afro descendants, undocumented, low-income, women, those who are convicted and/or incarcerated, families and the elderly make up the ‘us’ of Mijente.
Mijente’s inaugural conference will take place this Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13, at Instituto del Progreso Latino. Related events will begin today with La Catrina Cafe’s Holiday Arts Market from 4 to 10pm today in Pilsen. The entire conference schedule can be viewed here.