What a Community Organizer should know about “Targets”

A Community Organizer thinks of programs and services that are not delivered to the poor in the context of “Targets”. The term “target” as far as Community Organizers are concerned refers to a person/ persons representing an agency that is mandated to deliver services and carry out programs for the people but doesn’t/ don’t deliver. The slack or negligence of doing what an agency should do creates or contributes to the already prevailing poverty situation. For example, babies in a poor community are getting sick of measles because the health programs of the city has not been efficient for one reason or another. The “Target” here could be the City Health Officer. By the way, I enclosed Target in quotes to illustrate that the term Target here is a Community Organizing term and therefore should be taken in the context of the community organizing process.There are two kinds of Targets – the “good” and the “bad”. Good Target means “good for organizing people” and “bad target”means bad for organizing people. If a Municipal Officer/ City Officer, for instance, treats people courteously, gives them snacks and make them laugh while in his/ her office but ignores their demands, that Target is bad for organizing because people do not see the oppressive officer behind the mask of courtesy and cordiality. On the other hand, there is the Municipal Officer/ City Officer who is oppressive right away and would not listen to the people’s demands. This is the “good target” because the officer is not veiled by the mask of courtesy or cordiality. The officer who is mandated to act on the people’s demands is not hidden by any psychological veil but immediately shows how he/she treats people. When poor people are treated without respect, surely they will get angry. This will make them see the oppressive reality immediately.It is very important for Community Organizers to have a good analysis of the identified Target of an identified community issue. This enables the Community Organizer to link the reality of powerlessness and hopelessness expressed in different forms by the community to the kind of action that they will carry out. For instance, in the SI (social investigation) of the Community Organizer and the people, the “Target” has been known to threaten anybody who would assert his/ her rights in his presence. With good planning, the people can do something within their experience to deal with their fear of the “Target”. The Community Organizer should just see to it that the people’s action in dealing with the “Target” are outside of the “Target’s” experience. For example: If the Municipal Officer slaps the table with his hand in an effort to intimidate upon seeing that a hundred people are at his office, the intimidation will no longer shake the people as this scenario would have been dealt with during the “Role Play”. The “Role Play” is a step in Community Organizing as a preparation for a group action or mobilization. In the case of this example, the people could laugh at the “Target” while saying this:” Mayor, we are here to talk with you, not to slap your table or any other line that would be out of the Mayor’s experience.Good Target Analysis is crucial in getting people’s demands acted upon by a bureaucracy that most of the time ignores poor people’s right to the programs and services of the government.