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Many of us are sick of shallow platitudes and false solutions. While the “long game” takes a lot of time and strategy, marathon approaches are required to equip our communities to improve our own material, social, cultural and spiritual conditions.

As my friend Diop Adisa recently wrote on the topic of institution-building in his Indianapolis Monthly article, “Institution-Building Critical to True Change,” “It’s long-term work that can lead to self-determination and impact the struggle well beyond the current generation.”

If you are unfamiliar with the theory and practice of institution building, its role in the struggle for liberation, and how any entity, including a business, could utilize this model to create community-based solutions, please stop and go read his article now. Other examples of community institution-building are “Collective Courage by Jessica Gordon-Nembhard,”“Hip Hop Evolution on Netflix,”the life work of Nipsey Hussle.

There are a myriad of community-based institutions built by grassroots efforts to address community needs and visions. In this moment of two pandemics — COVID-19 and white supremacy — coming to a head, I hope we will invest our efforts in community institution-building, and I’m grateful to be a part of one such effort.

The movers and the dreamers of today can only build on the lessons of yesterday if they are passed on by those who experienced the challenges and successes. Today, we see a lot of repeats of the past. There was old Jim Crow, then New Jim Crow, the prison-industrial complex, and many examples of the continuation of oppression simply morphing over time. This includes recent experiences with police brutality and COVID-19, shedding light upon the stark racial realities of America.

It is by the caring transfer of knowledge, skills and resources that we might not only hope, but commit ourselves to making tomorrow truthfully better than yesterday.

 

To learn more about institution building check-out Kheprw Institute’s 8-week online course on community wealth building and entrepreneurship and mentorship opportunities with Alkhemy’s entrepreneurial incubator and accelerator program.

Mimi Zakem is a member of the Kheprw Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on empowering youth and building community wealth in Indianapolis. She is the coordinator of Kheprw’s food cooperative the Community Controlled Food Initiative.

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