1st Session of the Organizing Academy

By Jefrey Velasquez

It has been a week since Eric and I had attended our first Organizing Academy Session.  At first, we were all broken into groups and were asked to answer several questions on the whiteboard.

Share your experience of the first time you experienced injustice in your life.

Why does organizing communities matter?

What do you hope to get out of this course?

I found it interesting that the questions of this exercise were similar to the ones that Eric and I asked each other in the previous blog. I had the opportunity to meet other organizers and hear their response to the questions asked. Most of the organizers have the same mindset that I have, that collectively people have more power than what they give themselves credit.  For the question referring to the injustice, I mentioned two things. The first thing was housing discrimination. I have lived in NYCHA housing for the past twelve years, where I witness the treatment of being ignored and not having repairs done in a timely manner. The second was when I was profiled by the NYPD. A few years ago, I was stopped by the cops because I said hello and “slapped five” with a neighbor that was known to sell drugs in the area. A few blocks away i was stopped by an unmarked car, and   searched. After they didn’t find anything I was told to be careful who I said “hi” to.

The instructor, Angélica María Otero, began her organizing career at New Settlement Parent Action Committee (PAC), where she worked to build victories with parents in the Bronx around issues of education access. Angelica seems to be open- minded and she assured the group that she was not pushing ANHD‘s agenda, but that she just wanted to facilitate the group’s discussion and allow people to share their experiences. Overall I liked her style, and I’m looking forward to the next class this Friday.


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