Inside/Outside Strategy Leads to Living Wages for All City Workers

By a majority vote, the Durham City Council voted on June 6 to amend the Durham City Manager’s recommended budget by allocating almost $650,000 for increasing pay to the City of Durham’s part-time workers. With this decision, all City of Durham workers – not only permanent full-time workers, but also part-time seasonal workers – will earn no less than the city’s living wage standard ($15.46/hour as of July 1, 2019).

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PA and PAC Respond to Letter from Rodrigo Dorfman

We, the Board of People’s Alliance and PA PAC Coordinators, write this letter in condemnation of the email written by former Nuestra Gente member Rodrigo Dorfman, and to share our plans for accountability and healing that this hurt, combined with larger systemic issues, has caused in the Durham community. Unequivocally, PA believes that no political agenda matters more than our community, and we will show this in action through short-term and long-term plans.

Nuestra Gente is an action team of the People’s Alliance. Formed in 2018 to provide members of the Latinx community with space to build power and representation within the People’s Alliance, the action team meets regularly and maintains a listserv. Recently, Rodrigo Dorfman, then a member of Nuestra Gente, sent a letter to the action team’s members using its listserv. We are aware of the letter’s contents because it has been circulating online and in various public spaces. We acknowledge that this response is not timely, which has contributed to increasing the harm this letter has caused. His letter contained broad and specific anti-Black sentiments. Neither the PA Board nor PAC leadership agree with these sentiments, and we have accepted Rodrigo’s resignation from the People’s Alliance. While it is not enough, we are sorry for contributing to the pain and mistrust through our silence.

We strongly condemn the sentiments that he shared, and we recognize that the delay in responding to the anti-Black sentiments in the letter could imply that at best we do not care, and at worst that we condone the sentiments he shared. That is not the case. The People’s Alliance’s vision is of a Durham where everyone works to dismantle structural racism and other forms of oppression… All members of the People’s Alliance are asked to subscribe to this and the rest of the organization’s vision for Durham when they join. We acknowledge that the People’s Alliance has much work to do to fulfill this mission, and we must be honest about that. This includes examining the ways that racism, misogyny, and white supremacy manifest even in so-called progressive spaces. We have much work to do to bring this vision to reality within the People’s Alliance, let alone more broadly throughout Durham. The fact that Nia Wilson, Spirithouse, and black women in general, who often model what transformative accountability and grace in our imperfect community can look like, were targeted and harmed in this letter is of particular concern. This will be addressed in our plans moving forward.

PA and PA PAC are committed to broad representation in our political spaces, and we support the candidates who share our vision of Durham and who our members choose to endorse. Support for the candidates selected by PA members is accompanied by respect and appreciation for any candidate that works hard to advance a progressive vision for Durham’s future. The PA and PA PAC are accountable to the communities in which we live, the voters whose trust we seek to earn, and our members.

Moving forward, we commit to doing a better job of fulfilling our vision for Durham and we must institutionalize this so that our accountability is not dependent on a particular person or people. We recognize that there is a lot of work ahead of us, including healing, mindset shifts, and action that supports our words. There is not a quick fix to this, but we are committed to the long-term process.

Durham would not be the same without the effort and heavy lifting of our black and brown communities. PA recognizes we have a long way to go to earn back trust that was damaged, and we commit to this and look forward to sharing our plans in the near future. In the meantime, we will work to make the changes that helps PA become an organization that truly represents and supports our whole community. We hope to do this in partnership with the Durham community, and we look forward to doing this hard work. We believe this change is possible.

People’s Alliance Board of Directors
Coordinators of the People’s Alliance Political Action Committee


A Letter from Nuestra Gente to Durham/ Una carta de Nuestra Gente a Durham

Dear Durham,

Nuestra Gente del PA is a People’s Alliance action team and affinity group that was formed in the spring of 2018. Our purpose is to hold the PA accountable to their commitment to our Latinx community's progressive agenda, to create and open political spaces for our community, to amplify our voices, and to augment our participation within the PA.

While the Latinx community is often referred to as a single community, it is not. We, like other groups of people, are not a monolith. Because we are so diverse, we often do not agree on specifics, what brings us together is a commitment to support and advocate for our communities within the political structures of Durham, specifically within the People’s Alliance. In November of 2018, to support the participation of diverse voices, we set the norms of our group to speak and vote in consensus. In discussion of the structure and membership of the group , we weighed the benefits of a safe space for Latinx community members to speak openly and the benefits of an open community where all could participate. We made a decision to allow for open participation in the group and did not create a membership structure because there was no consensus around the specifics of membership in Nuestra Gente.

On August 14, 2019, we held a meeting to make recommendations for the August 21 PA PAC endorsement meeting. In order for a candidate or bond to receive our recommendation, they had to receive 80% of the votes from our group. Prior to the endorsement meeting, we agreed that individuals could present their own comments at the endorsement meeting. Nuestra Gente presented our recommendations, as a group, at the endorsement meeting. Several members of Nuestra Gente spoke as individuals at the endorsement meeting. One of those individuals was Rodrigo Dorfman.

Immediately after the People’s Alliance endorsement meeting, many of the members of Nuestra Gente were extremely concerned about the comments made by Rodrigo Dorfman in response to Nia Wilson’s support of Joshua Gunn. An emergency meeting was called on August 28th to discuss various concerns with our participation in the endorsement meeting. During that meeting, Rodrigo was asked to apologize for his words from the endorsement meeting, and the email he wrote to the Nuestra Gente listserv, that is now public, was his response to that process. We want to be clear that Nuestra Gente explicitly rejects the anti-black sentiments and falsehoods expressed in the endorsement meeting and in his email to our group. What Rodrigo Dorfman said in his statement at the People’s Alliance meeting and what he wrote in his email does not reflect any official position of Nuestra Gente. He spoke and wrote as an individual in both cases.

The majority of Nuestra Gente members did not know that the email had been shared beyond the group and erroneously believed that we would have time to directly address his harmful message at our regularly scheduled September 25th meeting. As a result, there was a delay. We understand that silence can be perceived as complicity or dismissiveness. We understand that our inability to respond more quickly has caused harm in and outside the group. As a collective, Nuestra Gente believes in accessibility to all members of our community. Nuestra Gente has a flat power structure and we do not have a leader. Some members do not have email, the privilege to attend and participate, are new to the democratic process in the United States, or do not speak the language of power in this country. Out of respect for our values, processes and diversity of our members, our process is at odds with lightning speed of social media and emails.

However, as a group, we must acknowledge that the Latinx community holds anti-black beliefs. The beliefs Rodrigo Dorfman has shared are absolutely a symptom and signal of the work that we must do. Nuestra Gente knows that we need to grow and develop as a community to transform our beliefs on race and have equity in our practices. At the end of our August meeting, it was requested by various members of the group that we undergo racial equity training along with other steps to move forward so that we may honor all the identities that the Durham community holds, which includes Afro-Latinx. As a community we can, will and must hold ourselves accountable to the work of practicing anti-racism.

Our heart is broken over the pain that this has caused our Black neighbors in Durham. We are sorry. Our desire is to move towards accountability and healing, and we would like to do so in collaboration with Durham’s Black communities when they are ready. We know that in this moment it is our responsibility to build a bridge for unity.

Our group met on September 18, 2019 and unanimously voted to end Rodrigo Dorfman’s participation in Nuestra Gente. This is one step in a long journey in the work to rectify what this has brought to light. We believe that his words and actions have no place in our group. This letter was written in consensus with the Nuestra Gente members present at our emergency meeting.

Ivan Almonte
Carolina Alzuru
Cecilia Barja
Susana Diaz
Pablo Friedmann
Alexana Garcia
Megan McCurley
Mercedes McCurley
Sandro Mendoza
Ana S. Nunez
Aidil Ortiz
Yesenia Polanco

Una carta de Nuestra Gente a Durham

Querido Durham,

Nuestra Gente del PA (People’s Alliance) es un grupo de personas en acción de alianza y afinidad que se formó el la primavera del 2018. Nuestro propósito es apoyar la agenda progresiva de PA para la comunidad Latinx (Latinos/as). Para crear un espacio abierto para nuestra comunidad y ampliar nuestra voces y argumentos de participación con el PA.

La comunidad Latinx es frecuentemente referida como una comunidad singular, pero no lo es. Nosotros, como otros grupos de personas, no somos un monolito. Porque somos muy diversos, a menudo no estamos de acuerdo en algunas especificaciones, tenemos en común el compromiso para apoyar y abogar por nuestras comunidades con la estructura política de Durham, específicamente con la gente de People’s Alliance.

En noviembre del 2018 para apoyar la participación de diversas voces, desarrollamos formatos y normas de nuestro grupo para hablar y votar en consenso. Discutimos la estructura y membresía del grupo. Balanceamos los beneficios de un espacio seguro para que los miembros de la comunidad Latinx podamos hablar abiertamente y los beneficios de una comunidad abierta donde todos pudieran participar. Hemos tomado la decisión de permitir una participación abierta de grupo y no creamos una estructura de membresía porque no hubo un consenso con las especificaciones de la membresía de Nuestra Gente.

El 14 de agosto del 2019, tuvimos una reunión para hacer recomendaciones para la reunión de respaldo político del 21 agosto del PA PAC (el comité de acción política del PA). Para que un candidato o la propuesta de bono de vivienda justa reciba nuestra recomendación, se debe de recibir el 80% de los votos por parte de nuestro grupo. Llegamos al acuerdo que individuos podían presentar sus propios comentarios en la reunión de apoyo. Nuestra Gente presentó nuestras recomendaciones como grupo en la reunión de apoyo. Varios miembros de Nuestra Gente hablaron como individuos en dicha reunión. Uno de ellos fue Rodrigo Dorfman.

Inmediatamente después de la reunión de respaldo político de People’s Alliance, muchos de los miembros de Nuestra Gente estaban extremadamente preocupados por los comentarios hechos por Rodrigo Dorfman en respuesta a los comentarios realizados por Nia Wilson en su respaldo político para Joshua Gunn. En agosto 28 se llamó una reunión de emergencia para hablar acerca de las preocupaciones de nuestra participación en la reunión de apoyo. Durante la reunión de emergencia se le solicitó a Rodrigo que se disculpara por sus palabras en la reunión de apoyo. El correo electrónico que él escribió a Nuestra Gente, que ahora es público, fue su respuesta al proceso. Queremos ser claros que Nuestra Gente explícitamente rechaza los sentimientos y falsedades expresadas en la reunión de apoyo y en su correo a nuestro grupo. Lo que Rodrigo Dorfman dijo en su declaración en la reunión del People Alliance, y lo que él escribió en su correo, no refleja ninguna posición oficial de Nuestra Gente. El hablo y escribo como un individuo en ambos casos.

La mayoría de los miembros de Nuestra Gente no sabían que el correo se había compartido más allá del grupo y erróneamente creyeron que podría haber tiempo para hablar sobre dicho asunto en nuestra reunión regular del 25 de septiembre. Como resultado hubo un atraso. Nosotros entendemos que el silencio puede ser percibido como complicidad. Nosotros entendemos que por no responder rápido esto causó daños adentro y afuera del grupo. Conjuntamente, Nuestra Gente cree en la accesibilidad para todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad. Nuestra Gente tiene una estructura de organización plana y no tiene un líder. Algunos miembros no tienen correos electrónicos, el privilegio de asistir y participar es nuevo para el proceso democrático en los Estados Unidos, o no hablan el idioma de poder de este país. Por respeto a nuestros valores, procesos y diversidad de nuestros miembros, nuestros procesos dependen de las probabilidades de rapidez de las redes sociales y correos electrónicos.

Sin embargo, como grupo, debemos reconocer que la comunidad Latinx percibe creencias en contra de la raza negra. Las opiniones que Rodrigo Dorfman ha compartido son un síntoma y señal del trabajo que debemos de hacer. Nuestra Gente sabe que necesitamos crecer y desarrollarnos como comunidad para transformar las creencias sobre razas y tener equidad en nuestras prácticas. Al final de nuestra reunión en agosto, se solicitó por medio de varios miembros del grupo que nos someteriamos a un entrenamiento de equidad de razas junto con otros pasos para más adelante honrar todas las identidades que sostiene la comunidad de Durham, la cual incluye la comunidad de Afro-Latinos/as. Como comunidad nosotros podemos, y debemos mantener prácticas anti-racistas.

Nuestro corazón está roto por el dolor que esto ha causado a nuestros vecino de la raza negra en Durham. Lo sentimos mucho. Nuestro deseo es continuar con la rendición y el proceso de curación , y nos gustaría hacerlo en colaboración con la comunidad de raza negra de Durham cuando ellos digan que están listos. Nosotros sabemos que en estos momentos es nuestra responsabilidad construir un puente para la unidad.

Nuestro grupo se reunió el 18 de septiembre del 2019 y anónimamente se votó para terminar la participación de Rodrigo Dorfman en Nuestra Gente. Este es un paso a lo largo de nuestra jornada de trabajo que rectifica lo que esto ha iluminado. Creemos que sus palabras y acciones no tiene lugar en nuestro grupo. Esta carta ha sido escrita en consenso de los miembros presentes en la reunión de emergencia:


Ivan Almonte
Carolina Alzuru
Cecilia Barja
Susana Diaz
Pablo Friedmann
Alexana Garcia
Megan McCurley
Mercedes McCurley
Sandro Mendoza
Ana S. Nunez
Aidil Ortiz
Yesenia Polanco



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