Healthcare is an extraordinary complex bureaucracy, and in the US enormous authority is given to healthcare providers and professionals. What does that mean for community mobilization around health? Can health serve as a site of organizing and social justice work? Are there particular ways of organizing around health that do – and don’t – build community power? The Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the Grey Panthers all campaigned around health issues, and in different ways explored how health organizing might be a vehicle to build power. Arguing that capitalism directly equates one’s ability to produce labor to one’s value in society, these organizations grappled with the question of organizing the non-working poor and the non-working elderly such that they would come to be valued and would gain access to political power. The scholars on this panel will discuss the different power-building and organizing strategies of the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the Grey Panthers, and how they worked both inside and outside the systems of traditional medicine to make health central to their political activism.
moderated by Gregg Gonsalves