This summer, I have the ability to do a social justice internship with People’s Programs Oakland. People’s Programs is a grassroots Black socialist political organization that is fighting to make sure that all members of the community in Oakland–especially in West Oakland–are being served. The organization is growing and expanding the services they offer in order to aid more people. One of the policies I stand by most strongly is making sure to take care of the most marginalized people in order to free or care for all. People’s Program’s motto is “Free the People, Free the Land,” and that is why I feel as if our politics align. I have been able to support them with their free breakfast program, community learning program, and assisting with the start of their mobile clinic. I am now working on the logistics of their first community event, which will be an open mic night.
So far, we have been able to serve the homeless communities with hot meals, hygienic supplies, and items that we receive in donations, along with a free grocery program and the mobile clinic. Since COVID is alive and well, I have been doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for the organization. Some of my tasks consist of reordering items for our inventory, scheduling and conducting interviews with people who would like to become volunteers, and creating flyers to promote events, among other activities.
I am enjoying acquiring skills that I never thought would be needed in a grassroots organization. For example, I now have a new way to organize my schedule that includes space and time for recovering. When doing work that is grounded in liberation, you can encounter a lot of opposing views and barriers when resources are needed. However, with the mentorship of my coworkers, I have come to realize that the work we do needs to be done with or without us, so it is important to be able to care for your mental and physical state at all costs.
In addition to the work I’ve been doing to assist them, I am a member of their political education program. I appreciate the way they emphasize the importance of reading and engaging with the work that has already been done. This is an area of my work that I feel strong in since I am currently in school. In the last year, I have done related reading because of my engagement with Black Feminist Thought in academia.
One of the practices that I have embraced would be grounding myself in the workday by making a daily list to keep me on track and help me to prioritize my non-negotiables. I have been making sure to eat right and fuel my body with knowledge and power through the work I do to help the core team. Then, to round out my day, I enjoy sending a quick progress checklist to my manager to update her on the work I completed.