Top 10 Moments from the US Social Forum

After a crazy, beautiful, and overwhelming (mostly in a good way) week in Detroit at the USSF, I’m back home in Oakland. I was blogging from the Forum for The Progressive magazine, and in my last post, I decided to put in 10 of my favorite/unexpected/hilarious moments of the week. To me, it was those moments (as much as the workshops and the marches) that made the forum not just a gathering, but an experience.

Here are my pieces leading up that one…

Pre-USSF: Looking for the American Left

Day 1-2: Digging in at the Social Forum

Day 3-4: Carnaval, Classroom, Family Reunion

Day 5 & Post-USSF: Ten Memorable Moments from the U.S. Social Forum

And here’s an article I found really on point,  about how we at the USSF represented ourselves (or not) to the American public.

So, the list below is not the USSF’s most important political moments, but things that I will remember. With that said, here’s my…

Top 10 Moments from the US Social Forum

10. Marching through downtown during rush hour, and looking around wondering, “Where’s the traffic?” Then we realized: that’s how few people there are in downtown Detroit.

9. Playing a 30-on-30 game of Capture the Flag with a group of high schoolers from Chicago, in the huge room made for the plenary sessions. When a USSF organizer asked us to wrap it up to get ready for the plenary, one of the students asked, “Why? What else is going on?”

8. Feeling an earthquake, a huge thunderstorm, and a near-tornado all in one day. And they say California has crazy weather.

7. Hanging out with an immigration activist from El Paso, TX, who looked across the Detroit River and asked, “That’s Canada? This border is different up here. It looks…happy.”

6. My friend Ryan outside Cobo Plaza: “Are those Navy Seals?” Me: “No, that’s the Social Forum security.” (Seriously, the private company the USSF hired to stand between us and the cops…they were cool, but they looked scarier than the actual cops.)

5. The Center for Media Justice’s remix of Warren G’s hip-hop classic “Regulators.” They turned the gangsta braggadocio into rhyming about the need for stronger regulators in the FCC. Hilarious, and actually decent lyricism.

4. The contradiction of attending the biggest Left gathering in the country, while staying at the Greektown Casino Hotel. Or as my roommate said, “Socialist by day, capitalist by night.”

3. The one thing that everybody planned to go to: the Leftist Lounge. Glad to know progressives still like to party. (And what a party it was.)

2. Talking with a comrade from Oakland, who said the Oscar Grant police murder verdict could come down this week back in California. If the cop Johannes Mehserle is found not guilty, there will be chaos in the streets of Oakland — while many of the community’s progressive leaders are here in Detroit. A reminder of what’s really at stake, and a warning that maybe we need to make sure our hometowns are cool when we go leave for national events.

1. My conversation with a 70-year-old USSF participant and Detroit resident, born and raised in the city that is now 80% black, as we looked at the crowd outside Cobo Plaza and he told me with only slight exaggeration: “This is the most white people I’ve seen in Detroit since Kennedy was President.”

Those are my top moments. What were yours?