Makani Themba-Nixon

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Makani Themba-Nixon


Makani Themba-Nixon assists with media and training for activist organizations. She is is founding Executive Director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health equity and justice. Current projects include Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health (PATH)— a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative to build tobacco control policy advocacy in communities of color; as well as numerous tools and resources that help people translate local problems into progressive, effective policy initiatives.[1] She is the older sister of Robin D G Kelley.

Early life

Makani Themba grew up in New York, in the Harlem/Washington Heights area. His mother was a single parent whose "politics were informed by her spiritual convictions". She was a member of the Self-Realization Fellowship. Paramahansa Yogananda.[2]

Radicalization

Makani Kemba and her younger brother Robin D G Kelley became involved in the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party and then the Communist Workers Party. According to Kelley,

"Like a lot of young African Americans, especially growing up in New York City, where the Black Panther Party had a presence and had a free breakfast program in our area, where Black Nationalism was in the fabric of social life, you just can’t help it. Race becomes the dominant factor. It was not until I got to college and then listening to my sister, that we began to move towards Marxist/Leninist politics. That led both of us to join the Communist Workers Party. To go from the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party to the Communist Workers Party made sense in the early 1980s. It may not make sense to young people today."[3]

Robin D. G. Kelley further elaborated on his, and his sister Makani Themba-Nixon's involvement with the Communist Workers Party, in "Wicked Theory, Naked Practice: A Fred Ho Reader", by Fred Wei-han Ho, foreword, page 2;

Makani and i were especially sensitive to issues of Black-Asian unity, since we were both students at UCLA, where the Third World Coalition built strong ties between African American, Asian, and Latino students. And we were members of the communist Workers party...with strong roots in the Asian American and Black Liberation movements. We were as concerned about the racist murder of Vincent Chin as we were with the murders of Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpurs. But by 1986, were feeling thoroughly defeated. The Jesse Jackson campaign was supposed to be the Left's great moment to build a radical grassroots movement...Then the CWP imploded, shedding its Marxist base and re-inventing itself as the New Democratic Movement in 1985. The party adopted adopted the line that "knowledge workers", or left of liberal technocrats were the movement's future. Makani and I didn't stay much longer.

Career

Makani Themba was previously director of the Transnational Racial Justice Initiative (TRJI), an international project to build capacity among advocates to more effectively address structural racism and leverage tools and best practices from around the world. While at TRJI, she co-authored and edited a "shadow report" on institutional racism.

Prior to that she directed the Grass Roots Innovative Policy Program (GRIPP) a national project to build capacity among local organizing groups to more effectively engage in media and policy advocacy to address institutional racism in welfare and public education. She was a staffer for the California State Legislature, served as media director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference/Los Angeles, and worked five years for the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Other Drug Problems, including three years as director of its Center for Media and Policy Analysis.[4]

Grass Roots Innovative Policy Program

Themba-Nixon directed the Grass Roots Innovative Policy Program, a national project to build capacity among local organizing groups to more effectively engage in media and policy advocacy to address institutional racism in welfare and public education.[5]

Transnational Racial Justice Initiative

Makani was the director of the Transnational Racial Justice Initiative, an international project to build capacity among advocates to more effectively address structural racism and leverage tools and best practices from around the world.[6]

The Praxis Project

Themba-Nixon is Executive Director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health equity and justice. Current projects include Policy Advocacy on Tobacco and Health (PATH) - a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative to build tobacco control policy advocacy in communities of color.[7]

War Times

In January 2002, a group of San Francisco leftists, mainly involved with STORM or Committees of Correspondence, founded a national anti-Iraq War newspaper War Times.

Endorsers of the project included Makani Themba-Nixon, The Praxis Project.[8]

Center for Labor Renewal

In 2009 Makani Themba-Nixon was listed as an endorser of the Center for Labor Renewal.[9]

Africa Action involvement

In 2009, Makani Themba-Nixon was listed on the Board of Directors for Africa Action.[10]

Publications

Makani has published numerous articles and case studies on race, media, policy advocacy and public health.

  • Media Advocacy and Public Health: Power for Prevention (co-author)
  • Making Policy, Making Change (Jossey-Bass publishers), This book examines media and policy advocacy for public health through case studies and practical information.[11]
  • We the Media
  • State of the Race: Creating Our 21st Century

References