12 April 2015

Member notes on the 2015 AIUSA AGM

One of our group members, William Schomp, attended the 2015 AIUSA Annual General Meeting, which was held in Brooklyn, NYC, the weekend of March 20–22. Here are his notes about the meeting.

(He says, "I would love to receive comments and other viewpoints." So if you have something to share, please feel free to add a comment to this post!)


There was a voting plenary session Saturday evening that I did not attend. Apparently the purpose was for members to vote yea or nay on 13 proposed resolutions. I didn't attend because I was ignorant about all of them, and there was no way I was going to educate myself in the time that I had beforehand. The thing to do is to find these things on the AI website long before the meeting and decide how to vote. I have not been able to find such things on the website.

Anyway, apparently some people at this session voted opposite of some other people, and insults were the result.  I first heard of this during a session on Sunday when a woman spoke about how insulted she felt from her experience. The last I heard, just before the meeting was adjourned on Sunday, Ann Burroughs and Steven Hawkins came together to the podium and said they would investigate and issue a report to all the membership about this incident. I haven't been able to find this report on the website either.

I was present at the other incident. It occurred during the closing plenary, "Sustaining and Growing Our Movement," on Sunday. It was the last session of the conference.

Please take all my remarks with a grain of salt and subject to correction according to the facts.

This seemed a strange group of three persons, given the broad session topic. The moderator was Vince Warren, and the two panelists were Rosa Alicia Clemente and Clara Taylor.  My understanding is that none of them is an AI member (maybe I got this wrong).  None of them seemed to have much use for AI. Their particular beef is that AI has not done enough to improve the civil rights of blacks in the country. This seemed to be their cause—forget everything else.

Ms. Clemente is the most caustic human I have ever encountered "in person." (I've never been in an audience of Rush Limbaugh.) I don't know what has happened to her during her lifetime, but she has decided to take her anger out on all the rest of us. And she accosts the rest of us with pride and glee.

Very near the end of the session, Mr. Warren said he would take two more questions, one minute each. The first of those two took the mike and started a tirade that included others with posters and that went on for a long time, far more than a minute. Mr. Warren did nothing to hold the speaker to the time limit as had been done with all other speakers during the entire conference. Was this demonstration planned? The subject was AI's lack of support for the black community in the United States, and there were demands that AI had to meet, or, if not, AI would be shut-down.

The second women who was to have a minute was never given her time. Mr. Warren told her, "No."

Do I sound pissed about this? Good, because I was and am. The second women, one of my fellow AI members was totally dumped on, and I don't approve of her mistreatment.

I welcome discussion; passionate, contentious discussion is great. Passionate, contentious discussion is a sign of a healthy, vibrant organization. The privilege of speaking, however, carries with it the responsibility of listening.

This is my two cents' worth.

(If anyone knows where on the AI website to find all these member things, please let me know.)

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