[Guest blog by Rafael Rodríguez Cruz]
As I read the Winter/Spring issue of Carry It Forward, I realized that I have been a member of the RFC Board for almost 17 years. I still remember my first meeting with Robby Meeropol and Bruce Miller in the summer of 1997 to talk about my potential candidacy for the Board.
I had mixed feelings; the whole idea of being a Board member of a progressive agency sounded somewhat strange to me, given my radical background with pro-independence groups in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, the RFC’s work with the relatives of targeted families was well known among the Puerto Rican left, due to its solidarity with the Macheteros and FALN political prisoners. And I felt tremendous gratitude for that. So, I said to myself, why not?
The real question, however, is why have I stayed on the RFC’s Board for so long? The answer is really simple (and it actually becomes obvious if we look at the current issue of Carry It Forward). It is the sense of community that underlies everything that the RFC does. We all know that political repression is more effective when it isolates the victims from their natural community, when it creates the sense that the targeted activist and his/her family are completely alone. My own country, Puerto Rico, is a good example of the use of isolation to destroy any sense of community among progressive activists. Yet, even though we all know that solidarity is the only antidote to repression, quite often sectarianism and organizational affiliations get in the way of effective solidarity when it is needed the most.
The RFC was the first progressive organization that I found that was not interested in abstract debates about political views. It was (and still is) interested in helping the children of targeted progressive activists, regardless of their parents’ affiliations. In fact, when it comes to progressive political views, the RFC’s board is uncommonly diverse. Some of us are attorneys; others are social workers, therapists, college professors, union organizers, retirees, etc. But what really ties us together as board members is our full commitment to the four beliefs that define our understanding of progressive activities: 1) all people have equal worth; 2) world peace is a necessity; 3) people are more important than profits; and 4) society must function within ecologically sustainable limits.
I believe that the RFC, through its grants to families of targeted activists, has found an effective way of promoting a sense of community among progressive individuals in the United States, and even abroad. Repression is inevitable nowadays given the climate of persecution in this country. But we can make sure progressive activists and their families don’t have to face alone the terrible consequences of targeting by the police, the FBI, or by other repressive institutions. That is what has motivated me to be on the RFC's Board for almost 17 years.
Rafael Rodríguez Cruz is a Legal Services Attorney and Chair of the Rosenberg Fund for Children's Board of Directors.
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