Keep That Turkey You Phony , Venice Needs Real Change

More Solidarity, Less Charity in Venice

   Here we go again. It’s that season where all the worst agents of gentrification work extra hard on their PR charity distractions to obscure their role in the gentrification,or more accurately for the gentrification stage we are in now, de facto segregation in Venice. It’s that time where for a couple days out of the year segregationists get to do what they condemn true activists for the rest of the 362 days of the year— feeding the needy. But you know, its ok when they do it.

Don’t get me wrong, charity can be great when its sincere and serves an openly expressed community need and is part of a larger process to create racial equity and dismantle systems of oppression (Mutual Aid). Mutual aid is a  form of political mobilizing in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing the oppressive political and social conditions that created the hardship in the first place.  Of course that’s not what we have here though. Instead, what we have in Venice during the holidays is a predominantly self serving, white saviour, public relations masturbationfest.

 Most of these organizations and people serving food and giving gifts during the holidays don’t do anything to combat the housing and economic justice issues the rest of the year. You’d be hard pressed to find charity efforts in Venice that actually help their recipients combat the oppressive agencies and people that put them there in the first place. Not trying to be cold about it but brutal reality needs straightforward analysis. Sugarcoating words only enables and gives room to the oppressive forces. Also,  I’m sure there are some people unconsciously caught up in the white saviour, charity model & culture through little fault of their own. However, spotlighting the disingenuous and/or oppression reinforcing elements of charity culture is what’s key here.

What I mostly see going in Venice is that it’s the network and affiliates of the most offensive gentrification agents actually “doing the most” with charity displays while their gentrification media associates hype up, publicly stroke each other’s efforts, and reinforce the public facade that they are actually helping the poor and needy. They make it more about themselves than the people they are supposedly trying to help.

 Most of these phonies are types of people who actively fight against saving 113 year old historic Black Churches, the types who constantly vote for policies that further propagate mass incarceration, the types that enable and venerate Sheriffs who obstruct murder investigations, or  the types who are always there to obstruct or paternalize every Black & Brown self-determination effort in Venice. In a nutshell, the types that work to ensure White supremacy grows and is maintained in Venice.  LAPD public relations events and charity demonstrations by the predatory real estate sector like Tammi Pardee are great examples of this white saviour, systemic racism reinforcing charity culture. There are many people and organizations I could additionally name but I’ll save that for later.

“If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

Lilla Watson

How to Do Better

Getting caught up in social, or in this case, charity trends or unconscious modes is understandable. This society rewards capitalist endeavors that maintain white supremacy—culturally, historically, spiritually, and economically. 

    Here are some guidelines for awareness and doing better.

  • question the effort you are organizing or are volunteering with. Ask yourself  if you/they are really addressing requests made by those in need or is it a paternalistic, top-down organizing dynamic? 
  • As a standard, does the organization have a record of fighting for and politically addressing the systemic issues of their charity beneficiaries?
  • Are the beneficiaries of the charity or their genuine representatives given a true voice or platform or are they just being tokenized for optics?
  • Who are the charity organizers? Do you research and get perspectives outside the gentry demographics and assess what the charity organizers role is in the community.

    You should also  support the organizations and people who have already been doing the mutual aid work, the orgs who in addition to helping those in need, also actively challenge the policies, people, and systems that create that poverty and displacement in the first place. Some mutual aid, systemic oppression fighting organizations, and/or people who have a record for already doing the work, off the top of my head are: Save Venice, Venice Catholic Worker, Free Food Collective, Hoagie’s, Venetians Car Club, Traquero Monument Committee, and Mar Vista Voice. Honestly that might be it.

    I wanted to get into the angle of capitalist centric holidays like Thankstaking and Christmas and how they reinforce  poverty and colonizer/gentrification modes & paradigms but that would take attention from todays main focus: stop fucn with gentrification/white supremacy agents in activist/charity disguises AND  make sure when your working for social solutions you employing, at the very least, a bottom-up organizing model such as supporting the organizations and people who have established and reputable records of doing the real work.

If  one is not acknowledging, addressing, or challenging white supremacy and racialized capitalism dynamics in any of their activism or charity work, its very probable that you are actually supporting the very oppressive social structures and mechanisms you think you’re helping to relieve.

Less turkey—turkey, more reflection. ✌🏾



More info I would love for you to read if what I’m saying sounds “radical” to you… 

A Savior No One Needs: Unpacking and Overcoming the White Savior Complex

Why ‘Mutual Aid’? – social solidarity, not charity

What is white supremacy? By Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez 

5th generation Venetian, Indigenous Rights Activist and educator for youth and families in West Los Angeles, and lead coordinator of the Four Corners Spirit Run. Current Board member of the Venice Neighborhood Council (and 2014-2016). Perspectives are my own.

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