Chocolates, Tamales, and a Community Picnic—Raising Money for BA Everywhere

February 9, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

In December and January, a diverse array of people were part of fundraising efforts that included selling chocolate bars, making and selling tamales, and doing a community picnic. A beginning neighborhood Revolution Club was starting to come together and took a step forward in the course of doing this. We decided it would be important to set a goal that rose to the occasion of the breakthroughs needed in raising massive funds for BA Everywhere, and that there was a basis to accomplish by reaching out and involving more people along the way. We decided on a goal of $1,000, and to date, we have raised $806. Inspired by the Harlem-Bronx team's determination to fight through on meeting (and exceeding!) their goal of $1000, and the collectivity they forged in doing so, we are working on a V-Day cupcake/cookie bake sale to meet and exceed our goal. V-Day is a re-casting of Valentine's Day into a day of standing up against violence against women and we're using quotes from BAsics about the oppression and liberation of women as part of how we are building this fundraiser.

The chocolate sale started with just a few people getting together to brainstorm ideas about how we could raise money. One woman who has been getting into BA over the last year proposed selling chocolates because it is a form a lot of people are familiar with and that could involve new people. As we began to get going with this, she wrote a letter calling on people to be part of this effort. We talked about how we could sell the chocolates in a way that people would be able to know why we are selling them and learn about BA and the campaign. In addition to telling people why, we decided a visual would make a difference, so another person who took this up designed a display to tape onto the box.

We reached out to different people to be part of this. Someone who cuts hair in a barbershop and has hosted screenings of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! happily took a box of chocolates to sell at his station, and when he ran out asked for a second box to continue to contribute. In addition to the display taped to the box, he put a stack of cards next to it promoting the film Stepping into the Future and put up a poster for the film. A young woman who had come to the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and been very inspired by it, but also pulled away from the movement for revolution since then, saw in this project a chance to make a meaningful contribution and took a box of chocolates which she asked her mother to sell at the dentist's office she works in. A Spanish-speaking reader of Revolution newspaper who regularly sells the newspaper in his neighborhood took a box of chocolates and sold those as well. A man who fundraises to support a program for children with disabilities and understands the importance of raising funds sold a box and a half of chocolates to contribute to BA Everywhere because he is a supporter of Revolution Books and wants to see people get into this. A couple of people who are involved in the movement for revolution in varying ways each bought a whole box and gave away chocolates to friends.

At a picnic fundraiser and showing of Stepping into the Future hosted by the Revolution Club and the BA Everywhere Committee, lots of food was donated and a woman who makes tacos for a living brought her grill and made tacos in the park. People came from different parts of the city, and some people from the neighborhood joined in. A woman who had days before encountered revolutionaries on the street came and proudly put both her donation and an additional donation she'd raised from someone else in the collection bucket. She had read the quote from Bob Avakian that was on the flyer for the picnic about imagining a whole different art and culture that doesn't degrade women (BAsics 2:8) and wanted to watch Stepping into the Future. Someone else who was just in the park that day had encountered revolutionaries in the neighborhood some months earlier and appreciated this movement was speaking out against the criminalization of the youth. He joined in the picnic on the spot, giving a donation and sitting down to watch the film.

The chocolate sale was popularized at the picnic and was one way a number of people were brought into taking it up. Some people in the Revolution Club got boxes to sell and organized an outing together. One of them wrote about this experience:

One afternoon a couple of members from the Revolution Club went out to sell chocolates at a busy street corner. It was the same night that Stepping into the Future was premiering. We went out with invitations to the premiere and everyone who was buying chocolates, we would invite them to the premiere. We had a long conversation with a man who was fresh out of prison and he agreed with many things we were saying and he also had questions, like "what kind of revolution are you talking about?" He also brought up personal responsibility and if only people would change their ways and parents raised their kids right maybe things would change but we struggled with him and explained why that would never work. We talked about Trayvon Martin and asked him if he was seriously blaming Trayvon's parents in that situation! And many other Black and Latino youth who get killed for being a certain color. And he also talked about the situation in prisons and how guards put the Blacks against the Latinos and make them fight or not like each other just for their sick entertainment. And as our conversation continued we told him this is all part of a system that pits Blacks and Latinos against each other to keep them from lifting their sights and seeing who the real enemy is. He ended up taking Revolution newspaper and said he would look online to read more from BA because he needed to learn more from this leader before he would think about joining.

She also involved her mother in making tamales and while making tamales together they talked deeply about the oppression of women, with the mother telling the daughter horror stories about feudal traditions in the country she came from and the daughter telling her mother truths about abortion that her mother never knew. These kinds of exchanges were an important element in the process of raising funds to project into the world the leadership and understanding to make real revolution to liberate all of humanity. And one thing we are summing up as we move forward is the need to really deepen the engagement with Bob Avakian for people who are beginning to get involved in this and deepen their understanding of why the campaign to raise funds is the leading edge now of building a movement for revolution and building the party as the leading core.

Across town some other people also made tamales to contribute to this project and Revolution Books sent out an e-mail to their list so people could place orders and pick up their tamales at the bookstore.

In the course of all this, the Revolution Club sent out a challenge to others to match the $1,000 goal with $1,000 donations of their own. The dynamic of coming together in this campaign with people across the country through the pages of Revolution newspaper has been important and we are learning from and inspiring each other. The person who wrote the challenge had this to say in relation to the Harlem-Bronx team: "I think what they are doing is very inspiring because this society looks down on people from the neighborhoods and tells you they are not capable of leading but they actually are capable of that and much more. These are the kinds of things people should be doing…raising funds and coming together to learn why it's such a big deal that they are involved in this campaign. And it inspires people that read their story to want to do the same with their friends and neighbors."

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