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This outing this forum is highlight a interesting commentary from Randi Romo, Executive Director of the Center for Artistic Revolution, concerning the impending 2009 March on Washington. While I was in attendance of the NABWMNT convention in Philadelphia, this topic received a thorough hashing from delegates especially since a donation was being sought from the organization. I've read numerous accounts and much of the banter about this effort, meanwhile coming to the conclusion that I'm not totally secure that such a march will be fruitful or exactly what message will be extracted. Furthermore, I've seen postings citing some interest in doing a local version of the march. I'm not oppose to anyone whom wants to march, but I believe that a greater impact would be if those possible marchers would "march" themselves into the local offices of our represenatives to share their views on a laundry list of items, such as health care reform, HIV/AIDS funding, etc. Also, as established in Ms. Romo's item, perhaps individuals should consider using their expendable dollars toward those local groups with "boots on the ground," as this would be more useful with an X- factor across the board. As an example this forum has provided an online icon seeking your contributions toward Pride Picnic 2010 and will continue to urge each of you to demonstrate with your dollars. This commentary is published unedited and is the sole opinion of it's composer:
To March or Not march on Washington
There are disagreements across the country regarding the lack of inclusive planning for this march and questioning the march’s potential to have a real impact. Questions have been raised asking why if there has to be a march, why not one when Congress is in session and visits can be made with members of Congress? There are also questions about this effort’s impact - pro or negative on the current pending legislation on ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Act. There is also a sentiment that Washington cannot make laws for equality in a vacuum. And without a doubt we must have full protection under federal law. But the fact is that the work at the state level is critically important to support the ability of lawmakers at the federal level to have the cover to enact more just laws for the LGBTQ community. There is also the reality that this march will most certainly take away from the resources of on the ground groups at the local levels. During this economic decline many LGBTQ centric organizations across the country have been forced to cut their budgets, lay off staff and some are contemplating closing their doors. Here at CAR we have seen a $35,000.00 decrease in our budget income from some of our foundation funders who have suffered financial setbacks during this downturn in the economy, at the same time the in-state giving has also continued to decline. We have had to delay the hiring of the community organizer we had budgeted for.The March’s organizers have estimated that it will cost each attendee no more than $700.00 to attend the march. Multiply that by the 100,000 they are seeking for attendance and that’s an estimated $70,000.000.00! The travel industry, hotels and food/entertainment establishments will receive this money, not the organizations on the ground doing the work. Imagine what a shot in the arm if these funds were pumped into organizations at the local level. Think about it, if 200 Arkansans go and spend an average of $700.00 each, that’s $140,000.00 that could have been invested in the work here in the state! For CAR alone that would mean 3 more full-time staff people and funds for other expenses. Better yet, it could be split up between CAR, AR NW Equality Center, Stonewall Democrats, LR Black Pride, Brothas and Sistahs Together and each group could still reap close to $30,000. What an impact that would have on our work here IN Arkansas!It’s fun to think about going to DC to be an activist! But folks, we have more than enough activist work to get done right here at home and all of us who are doing this work need the help!
Randi M. Romo
Executive Director CAR