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Communique on USSF Pieing by Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim
Pies fly when you are having fun-- and so do fliers. The text that accompanied the media coverage of the pieing was taken from the flier distributed on the scene. The following is the statement from the agents themselves.
People are talkin, talking 'bout people
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it
They think we're lovers kept under covers
I just ignore it, but they keep saying
We laugh just a little too loud
We stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they're seeing, something we don't, Darlin'
--Bonnie Raitt, "Something to Talk About"
People were talking at the historic, very first United States Social Forum. Talking. Talking talking talking. We know, because we were listening. And talking, ourselves, too, sure. Talking. Listening. Not surprisingly, a major topic was the role of non-profits in the global movement for social justice. Officially, it was the theme of workshops and presentations. Unofficially, it was the continuation of an ongoing conversation that was recently revived by the Zapatistas' Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona. At least. Recently. I mean, people have been talking about that since, like, the 60's, right? So people were talking, right? Talking about the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, right?
According to LIP MAGAZINE, the US non-profit sector is the seventh largest economy in the world. At a conference put on by INCITE! in 2004 called The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, "movement builders from within the [Non-Profit Sector] spoke of the paralysis, disempowerment and ineffectiveness of the nonprofit world." This year, 2007, a collection of essays was released by the same group under the same title. We invite this movement to pick up copies of that book and take a look in the mirror. Like Bonnie Raitt sings, "maybe they're seeing something we don't."
On Saturday, June 30th Medea Benjamin, self-appointed spokesperson for popular movements, received a tasty banana cream pie courtesy of the Bakers Without Borders, Co-optation Watch cell. The tactic of delivering our critique of just desserts was specifically chosen as a social critique from within our peoples’ movement which mobilizes a tradition of tricksters, clowns, jesters, pranksters and yippies to make serious commentary in a playful way. And while our actions were playful, the issues which motivated us were serious. So, in the spirit of Hopi clowns, court jesters, and buffoons of all ages, Bakers Without Borders offer this movement a mirror—at the bottom of a pie tin—for self-reflection. Are these funhouse mirrors the clowns hold up? Do we really take ourselves that seriously? Have our heads really swollen that big?
Global Trade-Off and Code Pinkerton represent the vanguard of the Non-Profit Industrial complex. All of us in the Co-optation Watch cell of Bakers Without Borders have collaborated with Global Trade-Off and Code Pinkerton, at some point, to some extent. That's how big they are. And sadly, many of our allies, feel like we cannot publicly express our concerns. But know this—we are many. We call Code Pinkerton, Global Trade-Off, and the many non-profits like them to account for co-opting, manipulating, and exploiting local community organizing and resources, the world over, as they engage in "parachute activism" where they drop into communities with no meaningful attempt at equal-footing collaboration with long-standing community groups. Here, there, and everywhere. Shine a spotlight; hold up a microphone; there they are: speaking for you.
However you engage this topic, the Co-optation Watch cell of Bakers Without Borders invites you to join us on the low road, that dusty path that stretches across the grass roots and mud puddles. And feel free to bring pie. We like pie. Mmmmm, pie...
In splooshy solidarity,
Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim
"Never doubt that a small, committed group of people with pies can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."