This is quite the week. A week of celebrating a whitewashed nationalistic history that erases Native genocide in the United States. A week that appropriates Native foodways as “American traditions.” A week that offers a transactional view of “gratitude” rooted in pity and isolation instead of true interconnectedness. A week that emphasizes consumption and false scarcity through Black Friday (which starts, confusingly, on Thursday or even before?) An urge to spend, an urge to numb, an urge to hoard. A week of continued grieving for our relatives in Gaza. A week of continuing to fight antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, ableism, and transphobia and transmisia.
And this is a week that extends into another week of shopping and of guilt-giving (and guilt provocation). As a 501c3 organization, we are both skeptical of Giving Tuesday and enmeshed within it.
In The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex*, INCITE! writes:
Dylan Rodriguez defines the non-profit industrial complex as "a set of symbiotic relationships that link political and financial technologies of state and owning class control with surveillance over public political ideology, including and especially emergent progressive and leftist social movements." He and Ruth Wilson Gilmore argue that the NPIC is the natural corollary to the prison industrial complex (PIC). While the PIC overtly represses dissent the NPIC manages and controls dissent by incorporating it into the state apparatus, functioning as a "shadow state" constituted by a network of institutions that do much of what government agencies are supposed to do with tax money in the areas of education and social services. The NPIC functions as an alibi that allows government to make war, expand punishment, and proliferate market economies under the veil of partnership between the public and private sectors. We are a part of the non-profit model that both absolves the state of responsibility and also allows for state co-optation of liberation work.
Giving Tuesday is a part of this nexus, a way of kickstarting the donation season that keeps most non-profit organizations afloat while allowing for tax deductions. It should come as no surprise, then, that as “charitable giving” increases, the number of small donations from individuals decreases.
“Donor fatigue” is real, and so too is inflation, job and food and housing insecurity, inaccessible healthcare costs, and the privatization of civic and social services.
It is in this landscape that we are asking you to give a gift of any size to support us as we offer free resources to educators passionate about cultivating better learning experiences for young people, to sustain our Create Freedom Artivist Fellowship, and launch our new Free Sixth Grade Learning Academy. Now, more than ever, we are called to make schools and classrooms more loving. We can’t wait for the world to catch up as we freedom dream it. In the words of abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore, we are compelled to “infiltrate what exists; innovate what doesn’t.” We are asking you to support our Black women-led organization to broaden the reach of our transformative work. Help us reach our goal of raising $6,000 for our Free Sixth Grade Learning Academy.
We sit in the contradictions and invoke James and Grace Lee Boggs, who wrote: “the resolution of one set of contradictions has led to the creation of others.” The contradictions sharpen. As we navigate and resolve contradictions, we welcome the new contradictions.
*Note: The book we reference was co-edited by Andrea Smith, a noted “pretendian,” whose actions are a micro embodiment of colonization.