In Kenya, when we opened Baraka Women’s Center, women came in droves to register as members. The larger community supports the Center only if there is cash on the table for them. Influential people who could rally funding for the Center have been unhelpful.

At Oakland Women’s Center, we are searching for the women. Meanwhile, so many people from the community have donated money and furnishing and equipment to the Center. They want to teach and offer services. Influential people who could bring money to the Center have been unhelpful.

In Kenya, we are seen as a sort of ‘gravy train’ – the white folks of course have money – though the Center there operates on a shoestring budget.

In Oakland, we evidently are a kind of interloper. Again operating on a shoestring budget.

I wonder about the stasis that poverty induces. The desire to stay with the familiar no matter how messed up it is. Cynicism about hope and change. Does the movement of know-how and support need to pass through a racial/cultural checkpoint? Is ‘community’ a notion that, in practice, plays out as xenophobic and suspicious?

Soul Train Oakland showed me that the joyful melding of lots of different people is not only possible but fun.

Some days it’s hard to read the tea leaves.

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