Someone sent us information about a new union called “Buffalo Organizers United”. According to them; “We believe in modeling the world we are fighting for”. Apparently, they are a new labor union focused on getting members (community organizers) who work in Buffalo area movement non-profits. This isn’t a bad thing at all. But, when we saw who was leading this effort, we couldn’t stop laughing our asses off!
Emily Terrana, a former PUSH Buffalo ‘Director of Organizing’ appears to be a lead person in this group effort. Terrana works now at Clean Air Coalition, a Buffalo area non-profit founded on fighting against a Rust Belt factory polluting the air in a Buffalo inner ring suburb. We also see Julia White, another former PUSH Buffalo- turned-Clean-Air-Coalition employee. Julia was a grant writer at PUSH for a little time before joining Clean Air. Julia knows all too well that “grants are terrible” as we wrote about in a previous post. She left the toxic work culture for PUSH Buffalo employees to go to greener, less toxic, and cleaner pastures.
We want to focus on Emily though. Emily came to PUSH like many white people who want to ‘help’ while believing PUSH was the social justice organization they saw promoted in the media. She had no real experience in community organizing. She did however have a lot of experience in white privilege. She had never organized a fruit salad before let alone a group or a community of People of Color, but for some strange reason she felt she had the qualifications to create and build winning campaigns for People of Color (POC). The Senior Management Team gave Emily an entry level job, and soon, very quickly, she was able to work her way up to Co-Director of Organizing, climbed over her POC Co-Director, became the sole Director of Organizing, and then left soon after. We spoke about the culture of toxic femininity at PUSH in an earlier post. Terrana used this culture to manipulate her way to the top at PUSH.
Because of a number of factors including Terrana’s toxic manipulation and mismanagement, the POC Co-Director of Organizing and another lead POC Community Organizer were forced to find employment elsewhere. After both announced their resignistions, Terrana resigned. She resigned knowing that she couldn’t use their labor a.k.a. their creativity, neighborhood/community clout, and hard work to empower herself and make her look good. That was probably smart on her part. She left PUSH and ‘found’ a new organizing job at the Clean Air Coalition.
This is a good time to point out how crazy it is that Terrana and other “new economy” white nonprofit staffers who hate capitalism in Buffalo and around the country feel entitled to pay themselves to do nonprofit work that offers the illusion of anti-capitalism (FYI nonprofits are a wing of capitalism). They feel entitled to be saviors while providing little to no opportunity for POC leadership, self determination, or any material benefit for those they claim to empower.
Buffalo is the biggest, smallest city in the world. This is also true in Buffalo’s field of community organizing. PUSH Buffalo has a legacy of white organizers or white movement workers who left PUSH to start working at other nonprofit organizations like the Clean Air Coalition. Erin Heany (the founder or co-founder of Clean Air), Julia White, and Emily Terrana are just a few. Black organizers however don’t have this convenient option, and every POC who ever worked at Clean Air is now gone. Lol! We find it ironic that Terrana is leading an effort to organize community organizers in the Buffalo area with her nefarious background. Maybe she is just continuing on her legacy of building and preserving a new generation of white political and economic power in Buffalo. We don’t know, but based on what we have experienced we can’t stop laughing our asses off!
Buffalo Organizers United should change their logo into a white fist holding a jar of Hellman’s Mayonnaise. All they are doing is organizing white organizers. They may put a few People or Women of Color on there eventually, but based on the history which we have just briefly described, and based on the white faces leading it, we doubt that this union movement is all inclusive. It isn’t for POC or for people looking for honest representation in management worker relations.