Jan - Mar 2024

In this issue we take a look at a recent boost to the organizing efforts of Canada’s Rotating Savings and Credit Associations; new funds available in the US for Black-led solidarity economy organizing; this year’s Black inductees to the US Cooperative Hall of Fame; plus Black solidarity in action for Sudan and Palestine.

Keep scrolling for stories from cooperators connecting across borders, the newest news and resources across the global Black solidarity economy, and the latest on what we’re up to at Collective Diaspora.

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Maroon Dispatches

News from across the global Black solidarity economy

Rotating Savings and Credit Associations Get Major Boost in Ontario (Canada)

In a ground-breaking collaboration, Meridian Credit Union has pledged $100K over multiple years in financial support and in-kind resources to bolster The Banker Ladies Council's mission of cultivating a thriving network of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations across Canada, known as the ROSCA Network.

ROSCAs are a group-based form of savings popular throughout Africa and across the entire African diaspora. They are known by names such as Susu, Partner, Boxhand, Sol, Sociedad, Sunduq, Tonbit, and more.

In Canada these collective approaches to finance in Black immigrant communities face severe criminalization and discrimination in hyper-policed Black immigrant communities. Members of the Banker Ladies Council described the discrimination they face in detail during a Collective Diaspora Black Co-ops for Change webinar last July.

The ROSCA Network aims to unite the sector and challenge the discrimination faced by ROSCA members through education and advocacy efforts. The Ontario Co-operative Association will support the project by providing vital back-end administrative services to facilitate the ROSCA Network's initiatives.

Andria Barrett, inaugural Director of the ROSCA Network, shared "We're going to open doors, start conversations, educate, advocate, and support ROSCA users in our province and across Canada." To reach the Banker Ladies Council/ROSCA Network, email ROSCA@ontario.coop.

Cooperative Hall of Fame to Honor Nannie Helen Burroughs & Vernon Oakes (US)

This October, two out of five inductees into the Cooperative Development Foundation's Cooperative Hall of Fame will be Black cooperators. The two are Nannie Helen Burroughs, Co-Founder of Cooperative Industries of Washington, DC and Vernon Oakes, Host of Everything Co-op.

Founder and acclaimed leader of the National Baptist Women’s Convention, Nannie Helen Burroughs also co-founded the Northeast Self Help Cooperative in 1936, an agricultural and consumer cooperative in Washington, DC. It was later renamed to Cooperative Industries and eventually grew to include a community medical clinic, broom factory, sewing unit, canning department, grocery store, furniture manufacturing unit, and a cooperative farm and produce market. Nannie Helen Burroughs’ award is part of the Unsung Heroes category. In its third year, the Unsung Heroes category  is an attempt to recognize co-op organizers who, because of racism, sexism or both, had their accomplishments ignored or even suppressed.

Vernon Oakes has utilized his podcast and radio show, Everything Co-op, to elevate the voices of cooperative leaders who organize, maintain, support, and grow cooperatives. In October 2023, Everything Co-op celebrated 10 years on air and has over 365 episodes with themes ranging from cooperative development to advocacy, all with the goal of sharing the power of cooperatives through education.

New Black-Led Funds Support New Crop of Black Solidarity Economy Initiatives (US)

Good news for Black solidarity economy in the US! In recent years several new Black-led grant-making funds have launched to provide support for Black solidarity economy organizing efforts in the US. Here’s who they are and what they’re up to.

In 2020 Black leadership within the New Economy Coalition created the Black Solidarity Economy Fund with the goal of redistributing resources to Black-led organizations building the solidarity economy across North America.  In December  2023,  the Black Solidarity Economy Fund working group redistributed $280,000 to 48 Black-led solidarity economy projects!

In 2021, the National Black Food and Justice Alliance launched the Mutual Aid Resource and Capacity Fund to help enhance, expand and deepen the operations of Black-led organizations that build a stronger alternative food system, nurture community wellness and build systems for local cooperation. To date MARC has made 142 awards for a total of over $1,1500,000 in support.

In 2022, The Partnership Fund launched the Collective Courage Fund to fund the growth and development of Black-led, and serving, food and land-based cooperatives. In December 2023, they distributed a total of $178,000 among 21 such cooperatives.

Black Solidarity Vs War & Genocide (Sudan, Palestine)

In Sudan, over 15,000 people have been killed and over 8 million displaced since mid April as the nation plunged into a civil war between two factions of the Sudanese military government. In response, local mutual aid networks have sprung up across Sudan, with youth-led volunteer-run committees setting up “Emergency Response Rooms” that are scrambling to take over the functions of a crumbling nation-state.

These networks largely came out of the neighborhood resistance committees that organized against the dictatorship of Omar al-Bashir (before he was overthrown in a military coup). Working through horizontal structures, they’ve taken over public hospitals, and coordinate with local markets, pharmacies, and electric, water, and telecommunications services to meet local needs. They’ve become the most reliable means for donations, and the distribution of medicine, food, and information about safe passages.

Global media outlets and international humanitarian aid organizations have largely ignored the crisis in Sudan, including genocidal killings. What little support arrives come largely from local donations and the Sudanese diaspora. Help is desperately needed. The Sunduq Al Sudan is accepting donations for the Darfur Emergency Response Room and several women’s cooperatives.

Meanwhile in Palestine, the state of Israel has killed over 30,000 Palestinians in a genocidal war, and threatens more deaths until it can, as Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu recently declared, “control the entire area from the river to the sea.” In response, global Black solidarity with Palestine has skyrocketed on both sides of the Atlantic.

Black liberation movements from Southern Africa to the Americas have long identified with the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation and criticized Israel for its international role as a principal developer and exporter of technologies used for the surveillance and violent repression of Black dissent.

Black South Africans remember Israel as the weapons supplier to the former white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa. Meanwhile Israel’s legacy among opponents of mass incarceration in the US is its training of hyper-militarized racist police forces. Less known is Israel’s 50+ year history of training, advising, and selling arms to right-wing governments and paramilitaries across Latin America (usually at the request of the United States).

Recently, on the heels of South Africa’s successful petition to the International Court of Justice charging Israel with genocide, the African Union banned Israel from attending functions and declared its solidarity with Palestine. And across the Americas, Black human rights organizers to Black pastors are expressing solidarity through marches and statements to art and pro-Palestine carnival contingents.  For more resources and suggestions on what you can do to stop the genocidal attacks against Palestinians, check out this comprehensive Black & Palestinian Solidarity Organizing Toolkit from US-based Dream Defenders.

What the Traveler Saw

Stories of Connection

Reflections on visiting Ghana with Repaired Nations

by Jihan McDonald

"Home is a place we all must find, child…Home is knowing: knowing your mind, knowing your heart, knowing your courage. If we know ourselves, we're always home, anywhere."

- Lena Horne as Glinda The Good Witch of the South (The Wiz)

In October, I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana with 40 African-Americans as part of Repaired Nations’ Black Solidarity conference at the Kweku Andoh Sustainability Institute (KASI). As we navigated a diversity of experiences within Ghana over our 16 days together, we also navigated what it means for us to be at home with ourselves and each other. Which begs the question: where is home when your identity is hyphenated and by definition liminal? This question is an inheritance full of possibilities.

To be both African and American is not to be less than either but to be more than language or identity politics can contain. While many African-Americans dream of finding home in Africa, and/or fight for it within the USA, my prayer is that we find it within ourselves, embracing the liminality as a bridge between what is known and what is possible. It is said that the medicine is in the wound.

Born of the crucible of the maafa I believe that African-Americans carry a unique cultural medicine for these times. I pray that we do not seek to define ourselves by anyone else's ideas, be they American or African, of what we should be as a people but practice self-determination and pride in what we are.

I came away from the trip with far more questions than answers and this feels right. While the conference focused on the possibilities of diasporic cooperatives as a path to empowerment, what I found myself thinking about is the culture necessary for those ventures to be not only (re)generative but liberatory. For me, freedom is not a matter of changing who sits in the seats of power at the economic table but questioning whether there needs to be a table at all. How does it change the conversation for us to gather under a tree or dance in a field? Colonization, and the degradations of oppression that come with it, is first and foremost rooted in the mind and spirit. Answers close while questions open and one of the things we most desperately need is an expansion of our visionary imaginations.

Join Repaired Nations later this Fall for tours of both Ghana and Tanzania. Get more info here.

Beat the Drum

Calls for Support

  • Call for Donors - Sunduq al Sudan collects and distributes funding to community-led initiatives throughout Sudan providing life saving relief to those affected by the current war that has displaced over 9 million people. Gisa, an established non-profit based in East Africa, is currently providing fiscal sponsorship for Sunduq Al Sudan. All donations will be directed to Sunduq Al Sudan's mutual aid fund. Help provide needed relief during this crisis. Donate today!

  • Call for Donors - Repaired Nations is seeking donors and investors to support the conversion of a 30 year old restaurant & resort in the Central Region of Ghana into a multi-stakeholder cooperative. One Africa Resort & Restaurant has been a well known stopping point for Black travelers from across the African diaspora for decades, hosting thousands of travelers visiting the nearby slave dungeons. Learn more  here.

Collective Diaspora News

Our Team is Growing

We’re excited to be bringing on two new additions to our team, Development Director, Renee Shepherd (Inglewood, CA, US), and Communications Director Jonathan Hooker (Ciudad Panama, Panama).

Renee is bringing with her a treasure trove of fundraising experience she’ll be using to grow resources for the global Black solidarity economy. Meanwhile Jonathan has developed an extensive portfolio of social media and design services that he’ll be using to promote Black co-ops and grow this movement.

A major goal of ours this year is Building Capacity. And we’re looking forward to what’s to come this year with Renee and Jonathan as a result.  

Black Co-ops for Change!

This fall and winter we hosted three webinars as part of our Black Co-ops for Change series profiling incredible and inspiring Black cooperative organizing efforts across the African diaspora.

Members of Willow Permanent Real Estate Cooperative in Massachusetts shared their vision for transforming our relationship to land and community by taking land out of the speculative market. Meanwhile, the Black Women Workers Association of Peru (AMUNETRAP) delivered an inspiring and powerful deep dive into the struggles faced by Black Peruvian women domestic workers fighting for recognition. And lastly, 10 year old Pecan Milk Cooperative in Atlanta, just shared openly and honestly about the challenges they face raising capital and maintaining accountability structures in their co-op. You can watch the recordings of these and other Black Co-ops for Change webinars here.

Coordinating Trainings for New African Immigrant Interpreters

Last fall we coordinated a 15-week training series for AfriLingual, a new Harlem, NY-based worker cooperative of African immigrants providing interpretation, translation, and language instruction in over ten African languages plus English & French.

Our Collective Diaspora Consulting Services coordinated a team of Black co-op consultant-trainers to lead workshops for them on accountability processes, business modeling, and financial management that they immediately began putting to use. Visit their website for more information, including a list of their available languages.

Global Black Solidarity Economy in the News

News articles/essays/press covering any aspect of the Black solidarity economy

Resource Library

Podcasts & Videos

Digging Deeper

Books, Journal Articles, Reports, and More

No Movement Without Art

Songs, Film, Murals, and Paintings

Poem by Maya X Zioni reflecting on Repaired Nations October 2023 Black Co-op Conference and Cultural Exchange in Ghana

A Loaded Drum

In gratitude Nov. 9, 2023


To whomever reads this,

From the best of my abilities,

From the joy of my heart rooted in Oakland, California and

Through the blood that runs through my veins.

I dedicate this poem 2 you, till the day we meet again.


I've been walking to the beat of an ancient drum, wondering where it comes from?

It’s the drum that our ancestors played.

Before they never saw each other again.

But even when they were taken away, and through The Door of No Return, my dear one, Mama Afrika was kept in them like a loaded drum,

It’s in the salsa we dance and

In the salsa we eat,

En el cuero del tambor (in the skin of the drum)

And in our mac and cheese

I’ve been walking with a drum and now I know where it comes from because I walked through The Door of No Return, bringing our Mexican blacks back home.  

Blessed be our drum, the one that calls us back home.

Peace to the streets, the hoods and the villages and may

Love be in every household, and no drums shot at the sideshows.

Dedicated in the spirit of the drum that guides our hums

The drum that our ancestors played,

Before they never saw each other again

Hoping my brothers and sisters find their way, till the day we meet again. Ashe.

Yours Truly,

Maya X Zioni

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