On Thursday, OSI-Baltimore Director Danielle Torain participated in Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle’s (LBS) virtual discussion on “Building Black Power: Creating Sustainable Change in the Black Community.” Dayvon Love, LBS Director of Public Policy, moderated the conversation, which also included business strategist Bakari Jones, Changa Oyango of AO Services, and Heber Brown, III, of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church and the Black Church Food Security Network. You can watch the recorded conversation here.
Love opened up the conversation by talking about recent moves to defund the police, noting that while the idea of cutting police budgets has entered the mainstream, conversations rarely address “What are you reallocating to? What are the containers that resources are going into?”
Torain started by describing the through-line of her work as building infrastructure for change and shared a few definitions of infrastructure in terms of social change, including “infrastructure is an inter-connected web of organizational structures, capacities, and functions necessary to effect lasting and meaningful progressive change in society.” She went on to suggest that “People are the most powerful institution that there ever will be.”
Panelists stressed the importance of maintaining the spiritual, physical, and emotional health of Black Baltimore residents while working to build the infrastructure to bring meaningful and lasting change. They also talked about a range of strategies to build independent Black institutions, including identifying resources to give Black leaders an opportunity to try and fail while implementing approaches that are successful, and discussed further development of independent food sources, housing, and other central resources.
After a wide-ranging conversation, the panelists shared the hope that the conversation would continue in future sessions.