Mercy - more and more people are talking about it in the context of the masses of Americans incarcerated. but is mercy enough? Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, has done a lot to push this debate to the front. Also in the show - how you can be a part of EJI's history marking project. Plus a few words from Laura on the high cost of giving a cold shoulder to the poor in Hillary Clinton's neighborhood.
How does race and racism affect in your life? Anti-racist activist and writer Tim Wise is the author of six books, most notably his highly acclaimed memoir: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son. His latest book, Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America is out this month. Also, New Orleans youth discuss how racism affects their lives. All that and a few words from Laura on security forces that stink.
Professor and author Greg Grandin talks about the enduring influence of Henry Kissinger's bloody and brutal foreign policy. Greg Grandin has been examining Empire in all its forms across seven books, including his latest, Kissinger’s Shadow, out this month. A professor of history at NYU and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Grandin writes on US foreign policy, Latin America, genocide, and human rights. He also served as a consultant to the United Nations truth commission on Guatemala. And Laura discusses war criminals in Guatemala and in the US.
Will the future be better or worse for workers? Peter Frase says with more tech tools, there's more leisure in our future, as there should be. He also is convinced that capitalism will end. Peter Frase is an editor of the magazine Jacobin, and has a book coming out next year from Verso Press, Four Futures. Also on this episode: Part two of our interview with Boots Riley, a poet, lyricist, MC, screenwriter, activist, organizer, radical, and founder and frontman of Oakland-based hip hop group The Coup. Boots Riley was also one of the most influential voices and leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is the only known musical artist whose surveillance by intelligence agents has been exposed due to Wikileaks documents. All this, and Laura discusses war, refugees and Dick Cheney's second home.
How do we break America's addiction to guns and gun violence? We talk with a young man who served ten years in prison on a gun-related crime and hear from cultural critic Jeff Chang about the cultural changes that have and haven't transformed America. Marlon Peterson spent his entire 20s in prison, charged with second degree murder, and convicted of attempted robbery and assault. Five years after his release, he's now a Soros Foundation Justice Fellow, working to end gun violence and increase community safety in New York City through the creation of zones where no one will need to carry a gun—not even police officers. Jeff Chang is an author, historian and cultural critic. He is the author of Can't Stop Won't Stop, A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, and Who We Be: The Colorization of America. Also in this episode, Laura discusses a prison-free state.
A look at the historical and present-day connections between democracy, land, housing and economic development. The history of the US is packed with people of color and poor people who’ve been stripped of their rights - to vote, to wages, to housing or even just the right to stay in the country - through incarceration, segregation, slavery and deportation. For just as long, black communities have created safety, and won a say in democracy, through buying and keeping land cooperatively. It’s not just history, either. Mark Scott is an organizer of #blacklandmatters, a group working today, and Tia Powell Harris is the director of the Weeksville Heritage Center, Brooklyn’s largest African-American cultural institution, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th century African American community of Weeksville - one of America’s first free black communities. This episode also features an exclusive report, Cooperation vs. Gentrification: Bed Stuy Strives to Stay Local, which explores ways people in the Bed Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn are using co-ops to find ways to benefit local communities and prevent the displacement caused by gentrification.
Will labor endorse Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or someone else? Larry Hanley began driving a bus in 1978, at age 21, in Brooklyn, NY, and attended his first union meeting soon after. He’s now international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union which represents some 200,000 bus drivers, rail operators, mechanic and station attendants across the US and Canada. Since his election in 2010, he has been outspoken on everything from greening the economy to outsourcing of public sector jobs and racism. He was also the first union president to speak up about the 2016 US presidential election, and he was supportive of Bernie Sanders. Also in the show, Morrigan Phillips tells us about how to bring science fiction and fantasy into social change and direct action.
Ten years since the flooding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, we look at the recovery, what worked and what didn't, with an extended interview with a former insider turned outsider. Oliver Thomas was city council president at the time of Hurricane Katrina, and was on his way to becoming the city's next mayor. Within a few years, he serving time in a federal prison, having pled guilty to taking a bribe related to permits on a parking lot. Now, he's a radio show commentator and activist, and discusses what went right and what went wrong in the recovery. We then hear another view on the recovery from New Orleans poet Sunni Patterson.
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What might a global Black Lives Matter movement look like? A discussion with Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, a Black feminist writer, communications strategist, cultural organizer, and co-founder of the BlackLivesMatter Network. She is also executive director of the US' leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Also, we look at Chicago's successful campaign for reparations for the Jon Burge police torture. All that and a few words from Laura on patriarchal pretexts for racist killing, and how she isn't Dylann Roof's woman.
A conversation about capitalism with two brilliant minds, Cornel West and Richard D. Wolff, together in a rare joint appearance. Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, and author most recently of Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown 2010- 2014/ Dr. Cornel West has written or edited dozens of books, including classics like Race Matters, and Democracy Matters. His most recent is Black Prophetic Fire, written in conversation with Christa Buschendorf. Also in the show, activist Manju Rajendran tells us about a small business that is successfully operating under an anti-capitalist economic paradigm. And Laura raises questions about the record-setting settlement with BP over drilling disaster in the Gulf Coast.
This week's episode focuses on modern warfare and US imperialism. Is drone warfare here to stay? It’s one of the few things Republicans and Democrats agree on. Andrew Cockburn has been a rare critical voice on the subject. He is the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of several nonfiction books on war and international politics. His new book is Kill Chain: The Rise of High-Tech Assassins. And later in the show, an excerpt from a new film about a young man held in the US prison at Guantanamo - Fahd Ghazy.
How do we shape our future, right now? Author and architect Keller Easterling discusses the role architects should take to shape a better world, and the invisible systems used by corporate power to exert control over populations. Also in this episode, we speak to scientist Helen Caldicott about facing the nuclear threat. All that, and a few words from Laura on police and women in crisis: the real vs the "seemingly violent".
Safety: every law enforcement officer and every politician tells us that they're for it. And yet for many, police are a problem in their communities, and today's policies are only making things worse. If what we're doing isn't the answer. What is? We explore this issue, and what we all need to learn from the disability justice movement, with this week's guest. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled writer, performer, poet, healer and teacher, inspired by poets and authors June Jordan, Suheir Hammad and Audre Lorde. She is the author of several books of poetry, including Consensual Genocide and the Lambda-award winning Love Cake. She has a new book of poetry called Bodymap, and a memoir, Dirty River. out this year. She also co-founded the performance group Mangos With Chili and is an editor of The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities, a book that grapples with the difficult idea of addressing violence without police. All this, and Laura discusses the roads less traveled.
Protests against police violence continue across the US, and this week's episode continues our exclusive reporting on the movement behind the protests. How are the legacies of the eras of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow still with us today? Laura talks to civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander about citizenship and the prison industrial complex. Michelle Alexander is author of the best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a book which has taken on even more urgency in the current protest moment. This episode also features an exclusive new report from Baltimore, with a look at the issues behind the recent uprising, from housing to education to jobs, and Laura connects the issue of lead paint in Baltimore homes to the death of Freddie Gray.
How is the Black Lives Matter movement reshaping models of social movement leadership? We continue our ongoing conversation on Black Lives Matter with another of the movements cofounders, Patrisse Cullors. Patrisse is an artist, organizer and freedom fighter. She is also the founder and executive director of Dignity and Power Now, based in Los Angeles. Among her projects are the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence, and she recently directed a theatrical piece titled POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, based on community stories of police violence. Also in this episode, artist and revolutionary Kai Lumumba Barrow discusses her new "visual opera," set to premiere in New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and Laura explores the links between police violence in the US and internationally.
The two state solution has been declared dead too many times to count. But have we turned a corner? In the last Israeli elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu raised alarm about Palestinian citizens voting, and declared his opposition to a two state solution. This week's episode airs 67 years after the founding of the state of Israel, known to Palestinians as the Nakba, or tragedy. To mark the occasion, we speak to both Israeli and Palestinian activists.
Ronnie Barkan is an Israeli activist, a conscientious objector and co-founder of Boycott from Within - a group of conscientious Israelis who support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. He represented the Popular Struggle Coordination Committees at the European Parliament in Brussels, where he challenged EU institutional complicity in Israeli violations. Then we go to Gaza for an exclusive conversation with Dr. Haidar Eid, a Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza's al-Aqsa University. Dr. Eid is a leader in the Palestinian movement for one democratic state, and a member of the steering committee of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. All this, and Laura discusses Gaza's missing millions.
In 2014, a 12 year old Georgia girl faced expulsion and criminal charges after writing on a locker room wall of her Middle School. A Detroit honors student was suspended for her entire senior year for bringing a pocket knife to a football game. In 2013, an 8 year-old girl was arrested for acting out. A 12 year old girl was threatened with expulsion unless she changed her hairstyle. Those are just some of the stories told in a shocking report released this year by the African American Policy Forum whose director joins us to talk about Black girls and the school to prison pipeline. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is a Professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, and is a leading authority on the overlapping contours of racial and gender bias. She is the Executive Director of the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality - a term she coined - at Columbia Law School. Also in this episode: We go from the fate of our future generations to the fate of our parents and grandparents, with excerpts from CARE, a new documentary about the crisis of elder care, and those trying to do something about it. All this, and Laura discusses who's missing from all the talk about incarceration.
Many people know of Mumia Abu-Jamal as a journalist and political prisoner. But did you know he’s also a Star Trek fan? That’s one of the many revelations in the new book Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, a collection of visionary fiction from Walidah Imarisha and Adrienne Maree Brown. Adrienne Maree Brown is a writer, organizational healer, facilitator, pleasure activist, and Science Fiction scholar, among many other roles. Walidah Imarisha is an educator, writer, organizer, filmmaker, spoken word artist, prison abolitionist and activist. In addition to editing Octavia’s Brood, she has written two books of poetry, Scars/Stars and the upcoming Angels with Dirty Faces: Dreaming Beyond Bars. They explain that for them, social change and science fiction are the same thing. Also in this episode: journalist and US political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal calls in via Prison Radio to read his essay for Octavia's Brood about what the film Star Wars has to say about US empire. Also, Laura discusses the Age of Acquiescence.
This week is US tax week, a good time to ask what will it take before we have a mass movement in the US offering economic alternatives. We explore this question with two guests who are in the trenches of the new economy movement. Stacy Mitchell is co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and directs its Community-Scaled Economy Initiative. She is the author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses. Esteban Kelly is the Co-Executive Director of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and a member of AORTA: The Anti-Oppression Resource and Training Alliance, a worker-owned cooperative devoted to strengthening movements for social justice and a solidarity economy. Also in this episode: it's five years since BP caused the largest environmental disaster in US history, and we show scenes from the devastation on the US Gulf Coast, and from private gatherings of oil company executives. Also in this episode, Laura talks about corporate crime, taxes, and the cost of doing business, big business's way.
Where do art and social justice meet? From early roles in films like Bob Roberts and Five Corners to her award winning roles in plays including Wit and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches, to her current starring role in the award-winning Showtime series The Affair, Kathleen Chalfant is one of the most acclaimed actresses in the US. She has also been an outspoken advocate on issues like Middle East peace and incarceration. This episode also looks at Stanley Cohen, a radical lawyer who has represented Hamas and other official US enemies. Cohen is going to jail in a case seen as payback from the US government for his unpopular cases.
Jesse Hagopian is part of a movement challenging the regime of high stakes testing in U.S. schools. Global Warming, war, poverty, violence against women, disease... None of these problems can be solved by A B C or D thinking, he writes in a new book, so why do we continue to sink hundreds of millions of dollars into just that sort of test? Jesse Hagopian teaches history and is the Black Student Union adviser at Garfield High School in Seattle which made history when teachers, parents and students there chose to boycott the standard test in 2013. He's also editor of the new book More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing. This episode also looks at ground zero in the school reform movement with a short film about the privatization of schools in New Orleans.
Alicia Garza is the co-creator of Black Lives Matter, and also Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She helped start "Black Lives Matter" as a call to action for Black people after the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Women are at the heart of this movement. Specifically young Black women - many of them calling themselves queer. We talk about what this movement wants and where it's going. From there, we look at other systemic issues facing Black communities in the US, through Even The Walls, a short documentary about the members of a public-housing neighborhood in Seattle grappling with the forces of gentrification.
With marijuana legalization passing around the US, are we finally entering the last days of the War on Drugs? Johann Hari had an early start as an op-ed columnist for The Independent at 23. Since then, he has written for the New York Times, the LA Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Slate, the New Republic and The Nation among others. His new book, Chasing The Scream, is a bracing look inside the War on Drugs. This episode also looks at what resisting the war on drugs looks like at the grassroots, with a profile of Reverend Kenneth Glasgow and his organization T.O.P.S. - The Ordinary People Society. T.O.P.S. is an extraordinary criminal justice reform organization run by former prisoners in Dothan, Alabama.
In celebration of International Women's Day, GRITtv featuring leaders of the global women's movement, Agnes Pareyio and Monique Wilson plus a look at women of color's fight for rights with Standing on My Sister's Shoulders and Hillary Clinton's White Feminism with Laura's F-Word.