The Cooperative June 2017

The Problems of Call-Out Culture

By Malik Robinson

Technology continues to be one of the great human feats of human ingenuity whose purpose is oft reduced to existing in a state more capable than one's natural abilities. This is the overwhelmingly large and unnecessary “power” of the U.S. Military arsenal, it is China’s attempting to solve drought with the world's biggest Dam, and this is neither Uncle Sam nor China’s Dam doing a damn thing to fix the people's problems.

We create tech that has no purpose beyond being “better” than people and in turn we’ve developed an inability to control or correctly apply this new tech. We allow our shadow-selves to show through in the ways we use technology. My standing example of the misuse of technology is Online Call-out culture.

The internet, a technology, allows us to instantaneously engage in critique of misogynist, racist, classist, and heteronormative behavior. Call-out culture on the Internet is seen in the common practice of making posts that are intended to shame and problematize an individual publicly.

Unfortunately, call-out culture is often used to build the fame of activists instead of create a community of accountability among activists, organizers, and others. Online call-out culture in SJ circles parallels earlier activist dynamics of pandering to dominant groups and eventually selling themselves as mainstream political commodities, in most cases politicians (e.g. Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, ).

The fame that the newly formed and established internet activist personalities garner mimics the escape and clout of POC, particularly black peoples’, who have risen out of poverty and into fame and acceptance within the mainstream.

I believe that online call-out culture is moving past the paradigm of fame building, but the crab within the old metaphor morphs into those seeking accountability and the bucket becomes equitable standards in our community. The misguided purview of power is in perceiving accountability as a villainous desire and within those who exercise it as such, that is, the powerful still see call-out culture as a market to exploit.

The big thing here being that even in the midst of moving past the very ineffective and problematic predecessors to our movements we still mimic the cycles of violence and micro-aggression they established. One wonders where and in what ways can we be liberated from the problematic holdovers of history while not erasing or diminishing the ways in which we are shaped by our past.

The Magic City Rising Movement is Forging Democracy Anew

By Zac Henson

The Magic City Rising Movement is a coalition of five organizations - Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust, The Cooperative New School for Urban Studies and Environmental Justice, GroCoop, SWEET Alabama, and Friends of Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust. Together, we are forging democracy anew.

DH-SCLT was founded by Susan Diane Mitchell in 2015. A community land trust is a community controlled institution of land ownership. The hallmark feature of CLTs is dual ownership in which the trust owns the grounds of a piece of property and an individual home or business owner owns the improvements to the grounds. The CLT is controlled by members of the community. This creates a situation of community-based land use planning and permanently affordable housing, since land is taken out of the speculation market. DH-SCLT currently has usufruct (use) rights on six properties in Smithfield under various stages of agricultural production. They also host community education classes, and Susan is the Birmingham coordinator of Universidad sin Fronteras, a freedom school. Their goal is to control enough land in Smithfield to create an autonomous neighborhood economy that provides food, shelter, clothing, and the human right to home.

The Cooperative New School for Urban Studies and Environmental Justice is a next-generation institution of higher education. Fully cooperatively owned by the faculty, students, and staff, The CNS provides a comprehensive activist and organizer education using the tools of popular education. An online school, the education is available to students all over the world and includes classes ranging from Embracing Diversity, Difference, and Inclusion to Agroecology. We have faculty in four states that include big names such as Dr. Carolyn Finney and local activists like Susan Diane Mitchell. The CNS also has contracts with the Sierra Club and the Woodlawn Foundation and has completed contracts with The Federation of Southern Cooperatives. The goal of the school is to provide the tools for sociopolitical/natural transformation into a sustainable world.

GroCoop is the nonprofit parent company of The CNS with a mission to provide technical and financial assistance to cooperatives and cooperative-like organizations.

Friends of DH-SCLT is a new supportive organization for the land trust.

The structure of this movement is purposely decentralized. In past movements, centralization and patriarchy led to a great deal of power residing in one individual. Decentralization and fighting on many fronts at once creates resilience within the movement and is not overly reliant on a top-down structure and inefficient decision-making procedures. The structure is highly flexible and adaptable to changing conditions, creating a movement that can actually move quickly instead of getting bogged down in power struggles within the movement. Instead of one charismatic leader, there are many leaders around every corner.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please send me an email at