Madison Worker Cooperatives (MadWorC) and the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC) grieve the murder of George Floyd, the latest in a very long string of victims of state violence against people of color. This is also one more example of the effects of the systemic and institutional racism that have been part of this nation’s history from the very first days of European colonization. Black lives matter, and they must be safe, free, and prosperous.
We call for demilitarizing the police, along with meaningful community oversight of the police and greater personal liability (including criminal culpability) for officers who fail to provide equal protection.
MadWorC and MCDC believe that racial and economic inequalities are long-term problems that require long-term solutions, so we also seek to reduce the disparities that keep communities of color vulnerable to ongoing violations of their civil and human rights. We do not offer gifts or thoughts and prayers, but solidarity and shared purpose. The best way to dismantle structural racism is to build a new and better structure founded on equal participation.
Both MadWorC and MCDC want to see more Black-owned businesses in and around Madison, and in particular, more Black-owned worker cooperatives. There is a strong history of Black-owned cooperatives in the US, a legacy that we believe can and should continue. (For details, read Collective Courage, by Dr. Jessica Gordon Nembhardt.) We are prepared to provide active and ongoing support to groups that are interested in starting them, and in the case of MCDC, can even provide grants to help cover start-up costs. We view Black business ownership as a path to community wealth-building and self-determination.
From the earliest days, cooperatives have been a source of stability and empowerment for the marginalized. Our principles say that prosperity must be shared, not hoarded. They also tell us that democracy is fundamental to justice, both in the workplace and in society. Yet another thing they tell us is that we must always show concern for community, especially in times like these. We call on cooperators in Madison to redouble our efforts to embody these cooperative principles, to stand with all who have suffered racist violence and oppression in their grief and anger, and to lift up their voices.