Rank #1: Climate Change Is A Chinese Conspiracy – Ummm. No!
Talks Conspiracies with Christian Perez
Interview by Heather Warburton, article By Ryan Hosey
this edition of Wine Women and Revolution,
to tell YOU about conspiracy theories!
Today, Heather sits down with Christian Perez, host of the podcast Modernity and Absurdity, to discuss why conspiracies have such an impact, and what people can do to remedy conspiratorial thinking.
start off, Christian mentions how his podcast, Modernity and Absurdity, evolved from an outlet for him to vent about
things he cared about into an outlet for his own political commentary.
“I know a lot of fun people,
there’s a lot of things I like to talk about it, but it really just kind of
turned into me talking about politics. My first ever episode was on the
shooting at the church in Charleston a couple of years ago and then it’s kind
of followed that vein.”
Christian, a Kings University
alumnus, likes big issues such as politics and culture, and also has a knack
for conspiracy theories. He says that a healthy dose of skepticism, sans right
wing batshit crazy talk, is not only good, but necessary, especially for
“I got into a lot of the skeptical
podcasts, and I do consider myself a skeptic. I do think that as socialists,
progressives, anticapitalists, we do need to be a little bit more skeptical.
That being said, there’s a lot of right wing assholes in the skeptic movement, and
they kind of need to get cleaned out.
The World of Conspiracies
It was the weird, paranormal, and
the bizarre that attracted Christian to conspiracy theories. Classic examples,
such as UFOs, Bigfoot, the JFK assassination, and reptile people sparked his
interest in this often-eccentric world. He was also interested in why people
believed in conspiracies.
“I think a lot of it is ego,
honestly”, he jokes. “I think I know what I’m talking about at least we’ll say
85% of the time. But you go online, whether it’s in a chat room or you’re listening
to media, people start talking about all kinds of crazy stuff and they start
blaming Jews, people of color, Muslims, African Americans. And it’s basically,
I was interested in the idea of why people believe things that are just not
As Christian puts it, when it
comes to conspiracies, “I’m disgusted with people believing downright silly
things, sometimes not so silly things.”
The Chinese Hoax: Trump’s Scapegoat Strategy
Unless you have been living under
a rock, or you’re the current Commander in Chief, you may have noticed that the
climate is changing, and it’s not for the better.
The science is in, and it’s grim: The
United Nations (not a group of assholes in their basements) says the planet has
to get its stuff together in the next twelve years or Earth is on its way to
But unfortunately, there are
individuals out there who do not believe the science behind climate change.
And one very prominent, very orange
individual famously discredited climate change as a “Chinese hoax”.
Christian says the whole concept
of the “Chinese hoax” conspiracy can be directly credited to President Cheeto
“It’s absurd. It’s silly. And it
really begins and ends with Donald Trump. I went online, I looked up the phrase
and it basically begins and ends with him. He’s the guy, he just threw it out
there one time. And this is a man who throws around the word ‘hoax’ like you
and I would throw around ‘water’ in a locker room.”
Interestingly, Christian says that
the Trump “Chinese hoax” conspiracy, along with others, stick because most
conspiracies stem from peoples’ own rational disdain of government and power.
He goes on to say that there is method behind Trump’s conspiratorial madness:
It provides an easy scapegoat.
“What you’re going to find with conspiracy theories is there’s similar themes that are weaved in throughout them,” he explains. “This distrust of government, this distrust of foreign governments, this distrust of foreign ideas. So, whereas Trump kind of makes up this idea about the Chinese conspiracy theories, it’s coming from someplace else.”
One Big Lie
Christian breaks it down quite
simply: Old conspiracies still find their place in today’s world. The Trump “Chinese
hoax” climate change conspiracies are an example of that.
“Part of that plan is: Climate
change is the Trojan horse that they’re going to use, one of the many Trojan
horses, the other being universal health care and educating children of color.
But it could be preexisting conspiracy theories about this supposed New world
order about the Illuminati, which was created and disbanded in the night and
the 18th century, right? These people haven’t existed for 200 years, but they
keep popping up as boogie men because it’s easy to pull upon these preexisting
He admits that while he doesn’t
know how all of the conspiracies work, he is more interested in why people buy
“I’m more interested in collecting
them than trying to find out the details and the minutia of each one because
they’ll start to drive me nuts. And then I realized, I feel like I can’t trust
anybody,” says Christian, “and I started thinking my wife is a reptile alien.”
Full disclosure: As of right now,
NJRR employs zero reptile alien people, but of course, we are an equal
In all seriousness, Christian says
all the “Chinese Hoax” nonsense is just typical conspiratorial lies, it’s just
this time they’re just being delivered by the president via 6 am rage Tweet.
“This is all just a big lie.
That’s the conspiracy theory,” he says.
Mr. President, All The “Oligists” Say “We’re Fucked”
All the scientists are saying we
need to act now to fight catastrophic climate change. Unfortunately,
conspiracies perpetuated by right wing talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh have
has a strong effect on the public’s perception. Including of course, President Trump.
Once more, Christian alludes to the distrust of the system.
“They distrust the government,
they distrust authority. And this is what has added to the breakdown of public
discourse. Donald Trump, and I think you’ll agree with me here, there’s a lot
of liberals out there that think that if we get rid of Donald Trump, everything
goes back to smiles and assumptions that Obama is going to become president for
a third term. And we’re going to go back to being this, this, this happy go
As Christian points out, a lot of
the neoliberals and #resisters fail to see Donald Trump is merely a symptom of
a much larger problem. He also cautions that the “Trump effect” can rear its
ugly head again, after President Orangey leaves office.
“Donald Trump is a buffoon. Donald
Trump is a cartoon character, right?” asks Christian. “In one generation, a
couple of years, there could be another Donald Trump who smarter, better
looking, more articulate and just better at being a right-wing maniac than
Donald Trump, and the same cycle will repeat itself over and over again. But
you know, Donald Trump is the result of this breakdown in public discourse.”
As previously mentioned, conspiracies
floated by right-wing talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh have proven to be
massively influential on public perception.
Long before Donald Trump stumbled
onto the political scene, there were the “Old Guard” crazies, like Limbaugh,
who made it their job to push climate change denial conspiracies.
As Christian explains, one of the
most prominent climate deniers is Senator Jim Inhofe, R-OK.
Famously, Inhofe once brought a
snowball onto the floor of the U.S. Senate to try to make a bogus point about
climate change not existing.
Yeah, he’s that guy.
“In his (Inhofe’s) book, he
outlined his conspiracy theory that scientists, in order to secure more money
for research, will exaggerate claims about climate change. And there’s kind of like
this whole climate change-industrial complex, I guess. Scientists and left wing
politicians and activists are in on this scam to defraud these helpless billionaires
in their corporations out of their profits.”
This level of nuttiness (from a
sitting United States senator, horrifyingly enough) is what, according to Christian,
separates intelligent conspiracy theorists from the tinfoil hat clan.
“As an educator, I don’t want to
paint a broad brush because a lot of conspiracy theorists are incredibly intelligent,
but not all of them are,” states Christian.” And some of these are just some silly
ideas. And I can’t help but just roll my eyes or get nauseous at times.”
Denying Everything Smart
There is always that one person in
a group chat or blog somewhere who will deny climate change is occurring, no
matter how many times one may hit them over the head with the facts.
Importantly, Christian says that
there is a three-pronged approach to dealing with these hard-to-reach
“We would have to look at the
actual conspiracy theory, and then B., we have to accept the fact that most
people aren’t rational, right? People are irrational. They like to “follow
their hearts”. We all know somebody like that. They always get themselves into
trouble. And a lot of times they get other people in the trouble. And then the
third part, and I try to get my students to understand this, is some people are
just full of shit. I mean, if someone is telling you in 2019 that they don’t
think climate change is real, they are either completely ignorant of the
science and uneducated, or they’re just up to something,” he says.
Christian is most interested in why people believe in conspiracy
theories, even if they are extreme. He explains a variety of environmental
factors play a role in planting the seeds for conspiratorial thought.
“You, Me, black, white, rich,
poor, North Jersey, South Jersey, Japan, China. It doesn’t matter. Anybody can
be a conspiracy theorist. Anybody given the right situation, given the right
circumstances can, can take on paranoid or conspiratorial beliefs.”
He mentions extreme economic
anxiety factors, such as the events of 9/11, can create paranoia which ultimately
can lead to conspiratorial thought.
“There’s so many factors for what can cause somebody to become a conspiracy theorist,” Christian says. “External factors, internal factors. Did you grow up in a household that is predisposed to conspiratorial thinking? Are your parents white supremacists who think Jews are behind everything? Well, there’s a good chance you’re going to be a conspiracy theorist.”
Oh yeah, also remember: In the
land of conspiracies, rationality really doesn’t matter. Once again, Christian argues
it’s more about who one trusts and distrusts.
“There’s a study done in Australia,
where they ask conspiracy theorists: ‘Do you think the British Royal Family had
Princess Diana killed?’ And they said ‘yes’. A lot of them said ‘yes’, but a
lot of the same people that answered ‘yes’ to that question also answered ‘yes’
to the question: ‘Do you think Princess Diana is still alive?’ So, yeah, it’s
not about rationality. It’s about, ‘Do I trust authority?’ And in this
instance, I’m don’t mean political authority, I mean intellectual authority.”
Failed Leadership Breeds Contempt
The corrupt nature of politics has
an effect on conspiratorial thought, says Christian. He explains how the
concept of “one person, one vote” does not always pan out as it should.
“In politics, there’s what’s
called the principal agent relationship,” Christian says. “Us, the voters, elect
the politicians, the principal, in the hopes that they’re going to do our
bidding, that they will act as an extension of our will, and that’s good. And
that’s in most cases how it should be. But there are just dishonest
politicians, right? There are people who want power. They see politics as a way
to cash in. 85% of lawmakers in this country are either businessmen or lawyers.
There are a lot of good businessmen and lawyers, but these are not disciplines
that are known for their trust and their honesty. That’s the reality of the
The pay-to-play politics and gross
levels of corruption are a breeding ground for conspiracies. Christian says the
most effective way of dealing with the corruption? Grassroots action.
“It’s very hard to defeat
incumbent politicians. They have the money. They have the name recognition.
Something like 70 to 80% of incumbents always when these reelections,” he says.
“You can’t just slap a politician in the face. You can’t just run them out of
town and tar and feather them as much as we’d like to. You have to do it the
hard way. You have to do old fashion campaigning.”
In closing, there is one time-tested
method that Christian swears by when it comes to remedying conspiratorial
Big surprise: It’s education.
“You have to find out what the
actual conspiracy theory is, what it is they’re saying. And then open up a
history book, open up a political science textbook, educate yourself, take a
class” Christian says. “There are a number of podcasts people can check out.
There’s volumes and volumes of free sources out there to educate yourself on
conspiracy theories. I pay for very little sources. A lot of it is just
Of course, Christian says one must
always consider who exactly is making
the claims, and do they have the public’s best interest in mind?
“If Donald Trump says the sky is
blue, there’s probably an 85% chance the sky is going to be orange because
that’s how many lies come out this guy’s mouth. So, just right off the bat,
know that Donald Trump doesn’t have your best interest or the truth at hand.”
“When it comes to climate science,
maybe we shouldn’t be listening to what Exxon says. When it comes to whether or
not tobacco causes cancer, maybe we shouldn’t consider Philip Morris scientists
on it. Maybe we should look at more objective scientist. But the way to defeat
crappy politicians, the way to educate ourselves and insulate ourselves from
conspiracy theories is just through education.”
Have any conspiracies or other stories you want to share with
Christian? Email him at:
Check out Modernity and Absurdity on Facebook and Soundcloud and wherever you get your podcasts!
May 27 2019
Rank #2: Newark Activist Chairman Shaka Zulu of The New Afrikan Black Panther Party
Outside City Council Chambers in Newark NJ Chairman Shaka Zulu of The New Afrikan Black Panther Party tells us why he came and inspires more community members to get active! He also updates on the new community programs his comrades are engaged in!
Aug 10 2019
Clearing the FOG with co-hosts Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese
World Socialist Web Site Daily Podcast
By Any Means Necessary
Loud & Clear
Black Agenda Radio
The Real News Podcast
Media Roots Radio
Eyes Left Podcast
The Discourse Collective
Rank #3: War With Iran? #NJRR Live Special Report with Bahman Azad
Afghanistan, Iraq, Bolivia, and across the globe the US continues to use violence as the main instrument of foreign policy. Iran has been in the sights of both Democratic and Republican administrations for another ill advised war for profit. This time in Iran.
President Trump may have made genocidal maniac John Bolton very happy Even after his unceremonious departure from the administration in 2019. It has been his dream along with Hillary Clinton’s to commit atrocities in Iran.
With re-election coming in November, many feel this war is blood for both oil and politics. Read More Below….
Bahman Azad joins Brian Powers to talk about the recent killing of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani as well as other high ranking leaders. Anyone who wants to find out about events or add theirs to our supported please click here for a list of events or contact us to tell us about your event so we can list it!
Watch On Youtube
Bahman Azad, PhD, an Iranian-American peace and justice advocate since the 1970s, is a retired professor of economics and sociology who has done extensive research and writing on the subject of the Middle East and Iran. Bahman@USPeaceCouncil.org www.facebook.com/USPeaceCouncil
Organized conferences including National Conference Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, Baltimore, MD, 01/12/2018-01/14/2018; and First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases, Dublin, Ireland, 11/16/2018-11/18/2018.Executive Committee member, U.S. Peace Council (USPC), 1985-2019, and Executive Secretary, 2003-2019.Member, World Peace Council, and representative at the United Nations, 2003-2019.Chair, Veterans for Peace Iran Working Group, 2012-2019; and Co-Chair, Venezuelan Embassy Protectors Defense Committee, 2019.Organized delegations including USPC Peace Delegation to Syria, 07/24/2016-07/30/2016; and USPC delegation to Venezuela, consisting of the leaders from peace and justice organizations in the U.S. and Canada, 03/10/2019-03/15/2019.Speeches, interviews, and press conferences including “US Peace Council Exec member Bahman Azad on War, Peace & Imperialism,” 2016; “UN Press Briefing on Syria,” 12/2016; “No to US Intervention in Syria,” New York, 06/04/2017; “Peace and progress instead of wars and poverty,” Prague, Czech Republic, 02/2019; “US Peace Council Report on US/NATO Bases,” Pittsburgh, PA, 02/09/2019; “US peace activists stranded in Venezuela,” 03/2019; “The US follows the same pattern of aggression against Syria in Venezuela,” teleSUR TV, 03/2019; and “Peace Council on their Findings on the Situation in Venezuela,” 03/26/2019.Co-Founder and Co-Coordinator, Hands Off Syria Coalition, 2016-2019; and People’s Mobilization, 2019.Coordinator, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, 2017-2019; and Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases, 2018-2019.Coordinating Committee member, United National Antiwar Coalition, 2017-2019, and Administrative Committee member, 2019.
Jan 04 2020
Rank #4: Be Realistic, Demand The Impossible
In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather sits down with Derek Bloom from the Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project and Mimi Soltysik from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition and the Socialist Party to talk about prison and police abolition.
This may be somewhat outside things you have considered before, but there can be a society without police or prisons. There can be something better. What seems impossible only seems that way because it hasn’t been done yet. Derek and Mimi talk about those alternatives, and what victory can look like. This battle may be long and require hard work but we can craft anything we want, its ultimately our society to create.
To learn more about the programs Mimi mentions visit:
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio, you can find us online www.njrevolutionradio.com, get us wherever you get your podcasts from and find us on all the social medias. Today I’m talking about a concept that’s fairly important to me and maybe an alien concept to somebody who’s never heard of it before. But we’re talking about prison abolition and police abolition, and what society can look like when we aren’t under this oppression of the suppressible racist rule. So I have two people here that are working in these fields. I have Derek Bloom. He’s joining us from the Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project. And I have Mimi Soltysik, who’s joining us, he was the presidential candidate for the Socialist Party in 2016. Welcome to the show, both of you.
Derek Bloom 1:07
Thanks for having us.
Mimi Soltysik 1:08
Hi, thank you.
Heather Warburton 1:10
So I’m going to start with Derek first. First off, let’s tell me a little bit about your organization. What is the Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project?
Derek Bloom 1:19
So yeah, the Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project, one of the main things we always start with is an anti colonial setting or form. And so we always like to talk about how we’re on occupied Lenae Lenape territory, realizing that New Jersey is Lenape land that was never agreed to be ceded to the United States government. So we always like to focus on that with the belief that if we’re going to want collective liberation or justice in our world, we have to focus on the first injustices that came in into the world, or at least this this nation state called The United States formally, for at least the last 10,000 years what the United States used to be is called Turtle Island. So I’d like to start in that anti colonial setting and mindset.
But The Asbury Park Transformative Justice Project. We have a mission, which is to drastically reduce recidivism by bringing an end to the victimization and powerless inherent in today’s criminal justice system by using the transformative justice collective model. And our vision is we put our belief that people are not the worst thing they’ve ever done into action by providing intentional housing, organizing, training, job skills, and mental health counseling to people of all walks of life returning from prison. Our ultimate vision is to transform the way people view crime and rehabilitation from one of individual choice to one of collective responsibility and accountability.
Our guests will find their own liberation by seeking their own mental health and healing from an unjust system while receiving the time they need to find housing, jobs, and restored family and community relationships. So that’s kind of a huge, a lot of words right there. But basically, what we want to do is we want to get a house and house people coming out of prison for free, most halfway houses or three quarter houses charge about 100 to $200 a week. But we want to make sure that people really get off their feet. And while they’d be living with us, we’d be living in an intentional community. And then all guests after three months have the choice to join the collective and then therefore they would have decision power within the house, we’re a horizontal collective so there’s no bosses in our organization, we all share power. And then eventually, we would start working on a transformative justice model.
And again, that’s kind of a newer concept. I think a lot of people are familiar with restorative justice. But I think transformative justice takes restorative justice just a little bit farther. So wants to restore the human, but also wants to take power from the system that has created these injustices like colonialism and racism, people hating their own bodies and skin and things like that. So we work through a process where we talk about the injustices of the prison system, class-ism, racism, trans-phobia, homophobia, why people are there. And then the second part is we do transformative justice, where we try to heal the person coming out of prison. And when I say that, we understand that prisons are pretty much just places where they punish people inside of cages. So people need healing. And we ultimately believe that no one is the worst thing they have ever done. So we look to heal them. But also, we look when I mentioned taking power away from the court system, putting the power back into the community. So giving the community the chance to heal each other, giving the community the chance, because ultimately, people want other people to go to prison, because they feel unsafe. So we want to start as talking to the survivors.
And the person who perpetuated the violence. And this might look different, it might be directly the survivor might just be a family member who misses their parent or their friend or their lover, and they weren’t affected. The crime in parentheses wasn’t committed on them. Sometimes the offence would be directly committed on a survivor. So we’ll work with both groups. But what does the survivor really want to feel healing? What does the survivor really want to feel justice, and most people don’t want just people to be in prison, they want to make sure that that person doesn’t do it again, maybe they want a sincere apology. And of course, some people won’t want to be part of the process.
But I think what we look forward to is to talk about community accountability, and human relationships. And I think, you know, stressing on the Lenae Lanape, I think they had multiple community accountability systems, they didn’t have prisons and things like this. So they had traditions, where if someone violated a community agreement, there would be consequences, you know, one it might be a first like, you’re not allowed by this person, and we’re gonna hold you to that the second time, something else the third time, they might be asked to leave the community for a year. And then they can come back, you know, I think the Zapatistas down in Chiapas in Mexico, the revolutionary group, they do something kind of similar to that. And yeah, it doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for some.
So anyway, that’s the second part, transformative justice. And then the third part, continuing transformative justice is to train the people coming through the house and program to be organizers to work with other people coming outside of the prison. Also, with the belief that the people that are most effective in the work are the people most affected. So believing people coming out of prison are the best people to organize people who are formerly incarcerated. So, and all those words, that’s what our project is.
Heather Warburton 6:49
How did you come to being involved in this? How did you get to the point where you’re like, recognize that prisons maybe aren’t a real solution for society?
Derek Bloom 7:01
Well, I think the first time was really, I guess, I’ve been to jail a few times, mostly in holding cells, I’ve only been in to population a few times, maybe six or seven times. And I think it was the first time I really realized, oh, when people are in jail, you’re putting human beings behind cages. And then there’s other human beings walking around with keys that are forcing these people to be inside of these cages. And I just realized how dehumanizing it was. And almost it became this hard concept of like, how does this How is this even accepted that this is, especially because most of us in there, too, were there for drinking a beer on the street or protesting, you know, for democracy or urinating in public. I mean, it was like these kind of minor things are, you know, getting wild and smoking pot. And then, and to do those things, and being forced behind bars just seemed like a pretty wild concept.
And so I think that was the beginning of that. But then once I learned about the injustices of the prison system, mostly through Angela Davis, and Critical Resistance out in California, I realized that the way the prison system works the entire system, which Angela coins is the prison industrial complex. So it isn’t just the prison system, but it’s the school to prison pipeline. It’s the drug war, its lack of education, lack of housing, the creation of ghettos are all part of this prison industrial complex that lead people to the prison system, which is basically a form of profit and a capitalist system.
So when I realized that capitalism is using the prison prison system to profit off of people, you know, I realized that that’s a great injustice, specifically with the idea that, as most people know, so I won’t get into this too much. But within the 13th amendment, it actually still holds slavery to be legal in the United States today, which you could, you know, people have been that’s been popularized through Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow. But it states that inside the penal system, slavery is still legal. And then when you look at our prison system, which has about 2.3, to 2.4 million people in it, that in itself is kind of a wild number, specifically, because countries like China have 1 billion people in their population only have 1.3 million people in prison, we literally have the most people in prison in anywhere in the world. So we have 4% of the world’s population. But we have 25%, of the world’s prison population. So I think I just realized that prison and incarceration and making people criminals has become a profit incentive. And that is a great injustice that people are profiting off of putting human beings in cages.
I think that was sort of the beginning of realizing that the way that the prison system functions, and really was even created is a problem and to live in a more humane society, I think we have to come up with some more creative ways to deal with our community members who have mental health issues, who have become more individualistic and less communal, who are hurting, and I think we can be more creative and more humane with our community members.
Heather Warburton 10:35
I think it’s worth noting that our prison system doesn’t work. If our prison system was effective, no one would ever go back to prison. That’s whats effectice . And that’s clearly not the case, because people are ending up in prisons, because they’re in dire and desperate situations. And going into prison usually ends up putting you in a more dire and desperate situation, because it’s going to limit your job opportunities going to limit a lot of your choices you can make. So clearly prison is not this problem solver that a lot of people like might think it is it’s actually a problem creator a lot.
Derek Bloom 11:12
When I think to we have to think Dorothy Day said, was an old activist in the 1900s feminist woman, that all our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, dirty rotten system. And I think that’s along the lines of I totally agree with everything you said. But in a way, I also would like to add that I think the prison system is working great. For what its supposed to do. And I think America and the prison system were created to do very specific things. You know, the nation state of America was created to steal land from indigenous people, and build it by slave labor, and be profitable for a certain group of people. And the case way back then, mostly wealthy white men and 500 years later, it’s still mostly wealthy white men, right? So and I think with the prison system, it was created in capitalism, because it’s really interesting.
The United States is the first capitalist nation to be born capitalist. So its whole premise is to profit at all costs. And then the capitalism, it’s actually illegal if you stop profit from a corporation, whether you’re protesting or you work for that Corporation, and you get a heart or soul and say, You know what, that’s an injustice, I’m not going to do that. People who buy into your corporation can literally sue you for trying to do something good for your community. So in some ways, I think the prison system is working great. It’s working for people to make money. And that’s why we really need to change the way that works. We have to make sure that we’re concerned about people becoming healthy again and not to profit off of them. So but I think what you are also referring to most people think prison. Oh, you know, there’s bad people, and they should be kept there. You know, but that’s also not working either. As you said, I think
Heather Warburton 13:16
I think that what you said is correct, that the system is working exactly as designed. It’s just not designed to prevent crime. That was never what the prison system was designed to do. Do I have you back now? Mimi?
Mimi Soltysik 13:17
I sure am. I’m sorry, like, Wi Fi just completely cut.
Heather Warburton 13:39
You ran on a prison and police abolition platform when you ran? Correct?
Mimi Soltysik 13:44
Correct. So the reason I had come on to this program is that my Local of the Socialist Party works within a coalition here in Los Angeles, called the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. It’s a it’s an organization, it’s housed on Skid Row in Los Angeles. It’s a police abolition organization, it’s led by the community. It does a really wonderful job of being led by the folks, you know, most directly affected by police surveillance, police brutality. And so as opposed to like, you know, folks jumping in from the outside to say, Hey, this is what you need. It’s heavily led by, you know, the folks from the community from Skid Row from South LA from East LA, you know, etc. And what it does is it’s a direct fight with the LAPD, it’s an abolitionist organization. And the work is, you know, one doing research through Public Records Act requests, etc. to expose the programs that the LAPD are using surveillance, new technologies that are being used to expose them to inform the community, to build power, and then to peel those programs away and take them away from the cops, you know, on the ultimate goal to toward abolition.
And what we found with this is that it can work you do get you can get victories, just a few months ago, we were able to get the LAPD to, to ditch to force them to ditch some of their predictive policing programs. One in particular called Operation Laser, which stands for Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration Program. Sorry, strategic extraction, restoration. This stuff is big money, these, these algorithms, the software. So, you know, you’re not just fighting, you know, the LAPD you are also fighting. You know, the folks who contract these services who develop these services.
A couple years ago in Culver City, which is within LA’s borders, they were about the contract, an automatic license plate reader with an automatic license plate reader contractor called Vigilant Solutions, who also contracts with ICE. And I think this is about a $500,000 contract. And they wanted to encircle, the city of Culver City, which is an area that’s heavily gentrified. And they wanted to encircle the city so they could see who was coming in and who was coming out of the city. And through building that community power and community pressure, we were actually able to stop that contract. And it was a real treat to see the folks from Vigilant Solutions were there, they made the presentation, the cops were there, and to see them lose. You know, you can see that they’re stunned, you know, that this could happen. It’s really amazing, the work is relentless, for sure.
But I think to see that we can win against the cops, and we can start to dismantle the police, is really inspiring. And I can tell you that, you know, the founders of the coalition, and a lot of the community members within the coalition, they’re always flying around the globe, to sort of share how it is that this happened, how we do this, you know, and it’s sort of setting a blueprint for how we can abolish the police. So that that’s, that’s why that’s sort of where I’m grounded at to come into this conversation that that work. I can tell you also, one more thing, that’s a real trip for me. I’m a, I’m a white guy, you know, and this experience for me, it’s been, you know, I’ve been involved for about five years with the coalition. For me personally, it has meant a lot of going into the space, and listening, and learning and providing the support as needed, and as asked by the community, as opposed to, you know, leading that and, you know, that’s, that’s been a huge learning experience. For me.
Heather Warburton 18:15
I think both of you are coming from a very similar place in that that people that are coming out of these heavily over policed communities or the people that actually were in these prisons, would be the best people to tell you how to craft a society without this or a society that really works for them. So I think that that’s great that both of you were coming from a very similar place. In that respect of building an alternate power structure based off the needs of the community, which is one of the most important things we can do. What kind of successes have you had, Derek?
Derek Bloom 18:51
Um, well, you know, I think we’re at the very beginning of our process, we’re still looking for a house. So if anyone listening to this has a house in Asbury Park, or Neptune that they want to donate, that’d be great. But I think one of the things we’re finding to is so I’m working with people who are coming out of the prison system is that to really go through a transformative justice process, they need time, because once they get out they’re trying to find housing, they’re trying to find jobs, they’re meeting with their PO, and don’t necessarily have hours each day to really reflect of the time that it would take to actually do a transformative Justice Project.
So I mean, transformative justice is almost a form of decolonization. So getting out all the toxidity of a capitalist colonial system. And healing yourself takes a great amount of work. So to really do the work we want and believe in, we realized that we need to also provide housing, so that people are trying to get jobs just to supply of housing, so they have a few extra hours. So that’s one of the problems that we’re finding is that we really need to provide a space, rather than just a few hour meeting where people are talking, where they can really kind of feel calm, know that they have some time. It’s not about trying to push them out to get jobs, we don’t want to just make them part of the system, we really want to talk what is healing look like for them. And specifically, we started another group called Co Op Asbury that looks to have cooperative politics, similar to the revolution in Rojava or the Zapitistas.
But the other part of it is to start worker controlled coops that would be able to be ran by people who have formerly had felonies. But as far as some of the success working with people coming out of prison, just listening to their stories, talking to them about some of the things we’re talking about, like what is surplus labor? And that’s kind of a big Marxist terminology. Right. But I think just in some ways, it’s like, when you have a system, where you don’t have work for people, what do you do with those people? You know, either they’re a drain on the system, or you decide to start profiting on them. And then that’s what the prison system as you really see the rise of the prison system after slavery after the Civil War, you know, you’ve had what, 260 odd some years of slavery, and you know, 99.9% of folks from the African diaspora hadn’t made any money for those first 260 years. So what do you do? You either become an indentured servant, you sell your labor to somewhere, or you’re wandering around the streets, and you go to jail for being a vagrant or something like that, you know, so you really see the rise of prison happened with what do we do with this surplus labor for us, now that they’re that labor is not free, there’s not enough money or not factories to hire these people.
So let’s create an entire other system to place these people. So when you talk to people about that not everything is their fault and again, we always everyone’s culpable for their decisions. So we do talk about that. Like, if they had done something that wasn’t good for the community, or good for them, we do talk about that. I think it’s very healing for people to hear that there’s actually a system specifically targeting you as a black person, as a trans person, as a working class person as a person in poverty. That it’s not all your fault that I did all the same things you did as a youth, but grew up in a white suburb. And I’m fine. I didn’t go to jail. I knew all the police officers and I wasn’t deemed violent. And all these different things. So I’ve seen a lot of people kind of get healing, and be able to find sobriety through it, be able to, we’ve gotten people housing, a lot of places in Asbury Park are willing to hire people who have felonies. So we’ve gotten a few people jobs. So we’ve been working in that scenario. And that’s some of the small successes we’ve had.
Heather Warburton 22:58
Mimi, are you able to use your organization as well to have those kinds of conversations about this is where the police force came from. This is the goal of prisons. Instead of having a jobs program, we have a prison program, are you finding the community is very receptive to those kind of ideas as well.
Mimi Soltysik 23:16
So like this stop LAPD spying coalition, they have, it’s almost like every night, there’s an action, a meeting. And there’s different campaigns within the coalition. There’s one about how, you know, data tracks and surveils, black and brown bodies. The predictive policing programs, drones, counterinsurgency. And, like I said, that, that that work is led by the community. And so they’re having those discussions, you know, within themselves. They do take information, you know, that’s gleaned from, you know, Public Records Act requests, that will show clearly and they do show clearly the, the enormous racial component to this. And so those discussions, they’ve been happening, you know, for years as we build power, and then those discussions inform those actions, you know, so, you know, at any given moment, like right now, even though we were able to get this predictive policing program, removed from the LAPD, they do come right back around, you know, once they take a big hit, they will come back around. And I think now they’re saying they’re moving to what’s called Precision Based Policing, which is another predictive program.
I know, we have a team right now that’s working on the FBI’s Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools program, you know, which, you know, essentially, it targets Black and Brown students, K through 12, who expressed an interest in their culture, you know, who express anger and frustration, through music and art. And I believe, you know, through working with ULTA with the UCLA, the teachers union out here, we were able to get, I think them to sign a statement rejecting the program. And I believe to get the mayor out here Garcetti, who’s terrible, to reject the program. So, you know, you do see these, those discussions happen to build an understanding, but these communities that have been affected, they know they’ve been affected, they’ve been on the receiving end of this system, you know, since day one. So a lot of this thing, though, it’s the details about, you know, numbers, specifics that are coming from the LAPD, Department of Homeland Security, etc, that stuff helps to sort of provide additional arsenal for the tools to fight. But they know, you know, and like I said, you know, for me personally
Heather Warburton 25:58
Can you talk a little more about what you were just talking about that program, where they’re targeting children who are rightfully angry, and what are they flagging them?
Mimi Soltysik 26:07
Yeah, it’s actually on the FBI website. It’s really insidious. Oh Shit. A few years ago, we had a conversation with a former FBI agent, who sort of explained it, you know how this works, I believe the program initially started in England. And in there in England, there was actually a mandate that teachers were required to report on students who, you know, exhibited these behaviors. And now, it’s come to the US, a lot of what we we find when we filed, you know, when those Public Records Act requests are filed, is that a lot of the sort of tools, technology, strategies, they’re tested, they’re used in Pakistan, Afghanistan, you know, Iraq etc. And then they’re brought here, like I said, this is big money. So the decriminalization of black and brown bodies, this is just a lot of profit here, you know.
So this is just one that FBI Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools program, I believe maybe it was piloted in Boston and LA. And the idea is that teachers, K through 12, are I don’t think it’s a mandate yet, but are, you know, encouraged to report students who exhibit behaviors like, you know, that interest in their culture, I can, I can email you a link to the FBI website, where it outlines what their criteria are, and another one. Most cities, your city probably has this what’s called Suspicious Activity Reporting. I believe that what the legal standard for us to file a suspicious activity report means that you have to show observable behavior reasonably indicative of pre operational planning of terrorist activity. And what that means is that if you take pictures with your phone in public, if you use binoculars, if you ask for directions, that means that the cops have the authority to open what’s called the Suspicious Activity Report on you. That report then goes to what’s called the Fusion Center, of which there are tons throughout the country. I believe it stays there for about 30 years, and then that is shareable with law enforcement, not only within the US, but globally. And it’s also shareable with private contractors.
So you can see how this whole process of criminalization and of this targeting of black and brown bodies, it also is a direct correlation to, to profit to capitalism. So you know, knowing that these these programs exist, you know, part of that fight on the way to abolition is, is getting them out of there and seeing them removed, and that Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools is, is one that, you know, the stop LAPD Spying Coalition is focused on, there is a group it is being led by students, they develop, you know, the curriculum. And it’s amazing to see, you know, the community take control over this. And, and fight and win.
Heather Warburton 29:16
Alright, so this question is for both of you, if somebody is just now waking up to how damaging and exploitive our quote, unquote, justice system is in this country, and they want to start organizing or helping around that topic, and there’s nothing in their area, what kind of things would you tell someone who wants to become an activist and get involved in this? Start with Mimi?
Mimi Soltysik 29:45
Oh, wow. So you know, I think one thing, if you’re in an area, where did you say, if you’re in an area where nothing exists?
Heather Warburton 29:52
Yes, where if you’re not in LA, or you’re not in Asbury Park, you know, say you’re down in, you know, Cape May, where there’s some real issues with policing down there.
Mimi Soltysik 30:04
I would suggest, for anybody listening to this call, that a good place to start would be to tap into the resources and information available from organizations elsewhere, that have gotten a head start on that, so that you can inform yourself and start to ground yourself in what the, you know, the this work is like, so just, for example, if you’re in Cape May go to the stop LAPD Spying Coalition website, where you will find you know, a lot of these reports that detail what’s involved with body cameras, drones, you know, predictive policing, etc. And even though the numbers and names, you know, they’ll reflect the situation in Los Angeles, these strategies and techniques, they’re being used throughout the country.
So you can pull from what’s already been, you know, uncovered, to give yourself a head start. And then, you know, I think one of the next steps is taking that information, then you can start to expose to your community, whether you do it through like just hosting a small meeting to get started, what started with to build power, but start to expose what the police are doing to the community, build that power, and keep an eye toward the abolition process, you know, like, we want to build power, we want to be informed, we want to expose, show up to a police commission meeting to let them know that you’re aware of what they’re doing, or as our town hall or city council if you don’t have a police commission, but then start to work toward, you know, getting rid of these programs.
But I would definitely say if you’re starting by yourself in an area where that presence doesn’t exist, use the resources that have been, you know, made available to give yourself a head start. Start to educate yourself about, you know, on how this all works. So, I would suggest borrowing, you know, and so, you know, I can tell you that, you know, there are other groups throughout the country, who are doing similar kind of work as a Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. I know we partner with other groups on certain projects, and you know, Detroit, Charlotte, so they are popping up throughout the country. Some have been working on it for a while. But the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition is just one that you can go to the website and start to pull information to inform yourself. And I think just starting simply like that, it’s a really good way to go.
Heather Warburton 32:44
And so Derek, how did the Asbury Park transformative Justice Project get started?
Derek Bloom 32:50
Um, we, I think, where we got started and just answering your question about how would someone get started in Cape May, for example, I think you had Jennifer Lewinsky, the founder of Black Lives Matter, Asbury Park on your program before?
Heather Warburton 33:10
Twice. She’s amazing.
Derek Bloom 33:12
And one of the things I really love about Jennifer and I think, you know, we are having a radical conversation, a very left conversation, and how do we meet people? How are we practical, right. And so I think, yes, the end goal is abolition to a place where communities have control of their own communities, right. One of the things Jennifer always says mostly to large white crowds, you know, we could go all the way to abolition, but one of the first things you can start is just have sessions, talk to people have a small community meeting, when something is going on, do not call the police as a first option. Right? Talk about you know, what is the issue is your neighbor playing loud music, think about if I do call the police, and my neighbor happens to be a person of color? What are the repercussions from that? Right? So I think we ultimately have to start, you know, if you’re a small person, and you live on the block, get to know your block, get to know your neighbors, start a community, neighborhood potluck, get to know each other, where you have these conversations. Hey, everybody, what would we do? If you know one of us is partying too much, you know, I want you to know, talk to me. And you know, I won’t call the police.
And I think that’s just something very basic is that a lot of people when they call the police, they don’t really know the repercussions, even the people who, for instance, in domestic violence calls, sometimes they’ll call the police, and then they go to jail. You know, one thing, I think, is another interesting resource to look at. And I agree with Mimi that, definitely, unfortunately, it’s not super exciting or sexy, but read, you know, really inform yourself, but Cop Watches all over the country. And I think it’s a really easy model. And you can get trained up on how to cop watch, you can train people how to film the police’s interaction with the community. And then another example, I would like to just mention, right before I mentioned how we got started, as you know, I always think about the Black Panther Party that got started in Oakland.
And you know, a lot of people in really both white and black communities to have can sometimes see if you’re not on the left side of things that the Black Panthers were violent, and they had guns and, you know, Martin Luther King was a really the person to go with. But you know, the Panthers really came out, kind of fulfilling what Martin Luther King and specifically Malcolm X wanted. But when they really started, the first thing they started was they, they wanted a Stop Sign at an intersection. And if I’m correct, Huey P and one other person started just standing on the corner and telling cars to stop, they started directing traffic, and their first big protest was just getting a stop sign on the corner. Um, you know, I think these are huge things. And, you know, they eventually organized kind of their own society. And they were mostly Marxist, Leninist and Maoist, which I, you know, have a disagreement on that political spectrum. But I think their model of how to do community organizing was unbelievable. They’re still health clinics that they started from the 70s. You know, they started breakfast programs and reading programs. And from what I know, as far as the community policing, any block that the Panthers were really at. Even drug dealers to the community were no longer on that block, they took care of that problem on their own. So for instance, in a very practical level, when a police officer arrests someone who might be selling drugs on the corner, that person’s replaced the next day by someone else. So the problem isn’t actually being solved, they’re incarcerating someone and then someone else comes.
And I think real community accountability and action. As far as doing I wouldn’t say we’re doing our own police work, but we’re creating community accountability it really just starts out with relationships. And as far as how we got started, Chris Lakte, who was one of the founders along with Jennifer Lewinsky, I think we started talking about organizing. And we’re in all these different projects that are doing this and trying to fight this injustice and that injustice and we want a police oversight commission. We want affordable housing. And and we’re doing all those things. But we started talking about what world do we want to live in? What kind of world do we want to live in. And one of our/ my favorite quotes from the Paris Commune and in 1968, in the French Revolution, the students had graffiti-ed all over the city when they took over the city for few weeks, a few days, I forgot the time. But they said “Be Realistic Demand The Impossible”
Heather Warburton 38:02
I love that.
Derek Bloom 38:04
We really wanted to do that with this project. So we want to help people. And through that, we want to talk about creating community accountability. We’ve talked about what it would look like, starting on Sundays, you call us instead of the police. We did that in Albuquerque for a little bit with the Albuquerque cop watch. And yeah, it was really intense, we got called into some really wild situations. But it felt really good. None of us got hurt. We knew that there was the potential to get hurt. But I think things like that. And the last thing I would say to someone wanting to get started, I think it’s also really scary. I think when we talk about the prison system and policing in America, which I mean, policing really started all the way back from colonization, and the first police were really slave catchers, you know, so when I think when we talk about that, and then when we looked at, mostly at least what 43 to 45% of the current prison population is black, even though black folks only make up 13% of the population. It’s a little scary how 500, you know, some years later, we’re still having the same issues with the prison system.
So it could get very overwhelming. But the one thing I would say to youth or anybody organizing and even in their 60s, is Yeah, we’re not perfect, we will never read everything, but we just have to start trying, start getting people together, start talking, talk to people directly affected, make sure they’re part of your organization, so you don’t just become the charity. And you start with two or three people. But as long as you move forward, you can build power. And, you know, start small and just keep pushing forward. And, and you’ll learn and you’ll meet people, I know anyone from the Transformative Justice Project would love to come down to Cape May and talk to people about cop watch or community accountability or transformative justice.
Heather Warburton 39:58
Alright, so we’ve been going quite a while now. So I’m going to give you a chance for a last word here. Key takeaways you want people to take from what we’ve talked about today. You know, are you optimistic about the future? What does the future look like? Whatever you think would be a good takeaway to leave people with? We’ll start with Mimi, go ahead.
Mimi Soltysik 40:20
So we have like a phrase that we will often use, that’s often used within the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, because this stuff is scary. You know, every week the coalition is in a room with at a police commission meeting, which essentially, you know, this idea of like, the community, police accountability, shit, they basically serve as a rubber stamp for whatever the LAPD wants. But, you know, every week at the police commission meetings, the community is surrounded by armed officers. You know, the, that just the very space is violence, you know, you know, here in LA, like, every time you look up, police helicopters are, you know, they’re overhead overhead. They’re always on Skid Row, you know, like, it’s just a swarm. It’s like a military occupation. At this shit’s, scary, you know, but what we always talk about is the idea of power, not paranoia, you know, that, as you do this work. It can be, it can be scary, and and there are consequences to doing this work. And I know that a lot of the folks who’ve been suffering the consequences since day one. And as they do this work, that intensifies.
But what I always want, you know, I mentioned some of those examples of how the coalition how you see victories. That gives me hope, you know, that, while I know, that requires a lot of work, a lot of research, a lot of, you know, being intentional, when we say things, you know, that we think that we think that we think that, that we’re actually following through with that, and, but I feel hopeful when I see that, you know, when the community comes together, to fight, that they can win, you know, watching seeing the police, and the police commission, and the police chief out here, seeing them get scared, you know, of in front of the community about seeing them seeing that fear that they have from community power, knowing, you know, like, how incredibly powerful this police force is out here, but seeing the fear that they have from the community when the community starts to expose what it is they’re doing, and mobilizes to fight to take them down. That’s inspiring as hell. And that gives me a lot of hope to see, you know, like shit, if you can do that here. I think you could do it anywhere, you know.
So I actually do feel optimistic. I’m realistic about, you know, how challenging this is. And I think as you know, the climate crisis continues to intensify, you know, we’re going to see sort of this, the scamper to secure access to resources, and profit, that’s going to intensify as well. And of course, there’s going to be a lot of policing involved with that to sort of, to provide security and pathways to those resources, you know, these technologies, they’re going to continue to crop up, and this is going to escalate. But we can do this, we can win. And essentially, you know, when you’re looking at things to that climate crisis, climate, climate crisis context, we have to win, you know, the alternative here It’s, it’s, it’s pretty bleak. So I’m always I feel sense of optimism.
Heather Warburton 44:02
All right, your turn, Derek.
Derek Bloom 44:04
Yeah, I always kind of wait for this question. I think about Ta-Nehisi Coates a little bit and how he answers this question. And I think he talks about bashing hope, in a really interesting way. And he talks about, show me statistics where I can be hopeful, and I’ll be hopeful. But until you do, I’m going to wait. And he talks about, I think every 24 to 28 hours of black person is killed by law enforcement or extra- judicial groups. And since his writings and since black lives matter, it’s certainly become way more popular. I mean, I think what he says is, nothing is new, just the cameras are new. But I think also in his writing that the police homicides to the black community, have not stopped. So I do think that’s important, because we have this niche to want hope.
So I, you know, I do truthfully feel despair. And I want to be honest, but then I also think about James Baldwin, a black queer man in the 50s, and 60s, who in the midst of all that had such hope in human potential, and love, and I remember his words as well. So I think, you know, if I had a faith or spirituality, I think it lives in tension, so that, that I do have that despair, but I also have the tension of the hope that we we bring the hope by our actions. So hope isn’t this magical thing that’s just kind of there. I think like Mini said, it’s about community power. Sounded like when he was having hope it was because the community showed up the community has victories all over the world and I think, when I got into activism, I’ll never forget, there’s that documentary, The Fourth World War, which I would highly recommend any listeners, but it’s the fight against globalization from South Korea, to South Africa, to Chiapas, to Argentina, to the United States. And if saying, hey, like, you might feel alone, but there’s thousands and millions of people and resistance to capital and the way it flows today.
And then as far as hope here, and Asbury I do have hope i, but I think it’s based on reality. It’s based off of hard work. I do have hope and people being able to change. And if I’m going to be optimistic, I mean, compared to the 90s. I think people maybe aren’t necessarily talking prison abolition, but they’re having hard critiques of prison systems and if I’m correct. I think even President Obama and the last one of the last things he ever did, he ended federal private prisons. So not saying like, that was amazing Obama but I’m saying that the the prison abolitionists like Angela Davis and Critical Resistance and all these people that have been doing prison abolition, really since the 1800s, anarchists have been against prisons. I think it’s it’s up front, Netflix documentaries is about it, you know.
So there’s definitely momentum, I just think the sad part, the despairing part of our country, it takes a really long time for justice to happen. It took 260 years for slavery to be abolished. And on day one, there was many white people that took up arms with black folks, runaway slaves and indigenous folks and said, this is wrong. So we knew slavery was wrong from day one, but it took 260 years. So I think about slave abolitionists who had that hope. And in a, in a world, I’ll never understand that violence or that despair. But they still fought, you know, the Harriet Tubmans, they kept going. And so if they had hope, I mean, I think I need to try to find hope, as well. And I think through people power, I think we can do that. But I also do think we need to start building institutions. I think that we can’t just keep protesting, but we need to start building the world we want to live and we need to start worker cooperatives, we need to start police accountability groups in every town, you know, the police are probably going to be here for a while. So let’s have our own community accountability system, we need to create alternate to capitalism. I mean, I think the one reason that gives me real hope other than the Zapitistas, is the the revolution in Rojava right now in northern Syria. And I think the YPGYPJ folks out there, I’m not going to get into it. But basically, they’ve taken over 300 municipalities or cities and Syria, and decentralized them, they kicked out ISIS, which the US or turkey or Iraq or Iran couldn’t do, which I also forgot to mention that 40% of their military is female.
On a lighter note, the ISIS believes that if you’re killed by a woman, you don’t get to go to heaven. So that’s pretty sweet. But long story short, here we have over a million Kurds. And these three municipalities basically did what the Spanish anarchists did during the Spanish Civil War. They are right here right now. And one of the most violent areas in the whole world, they’ve created direct democracies, where they’ll have a village meeting of 100 people, and then they’ll go to the larger town meeting, and then we’ll have a larger municipality meeting, and then they have a Congress. I mean, the work that they’re doing is so amazing. And I think that really gives me hope that people can organize for collective liberation. And for justice for all people, even in today’s hard times.
Heather Warburton 50:04
I think those were both both of you had great closing words there. And hopefully, if you’re listening to this, you hear that they’re coming at those and from different routes and different avenues. And there’s a lot of room for whatever your particular style of organizing is, or whatever your particular, as long as we’re fighting together, we’ve got people from the socialists, from anarchists. Here in Newark, we have the new African Black Panther Party, that’s a Maosit based party. And we’re all organizing in communities, and that there’s a place for you, no matter where you’re starting from, and there’s a home for you, there’s you can get involved, you can make a difference. Don’t be overwhelmed, get involved, and who knows where that spark that actually really starts changing things comes from, it is a scary place, we’re in horrible time. But if we want to have a future, this is how we start it right now, by organizing in your community, by helping open people’s eyes to the realities of what things are, if they don’t already see it. If you’re coming out of that community, if you’re coming out of the prison system, you already know this. So making sure you listen to people that are coming out of the system that are being exploited is really important. And I think that we can have a bright future no matter where you’re coming from, if you just get involved. There’s a lot of work to do, be pragmatic, but keep that little bit of hope in your heart, that we can make a better community because we have to. To my listeners, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate you more than you can know. And we would not be here if it weren’t for the activist community. We take no corporate money on this show. We can’t be a voice for activists if we’re sponsored by corporations. We are only sponsored by activists who donate chipping in a couple of dollars a month. If you’d like to be one of our supporters, you can go on www.njrevolutionradio, com Click on that Donate button. Even if you’re only $1 a month supporter, it really goes a long way to helping getting us out to more events covering more things, having more shows bringing you conversations that you may not be hearing other places. We appreciate you more than you can ever know the future is yours to create, go out there and create it
Aug 19 2019
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Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine Women and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to wine women and revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online at www.njrevolutionradio. com. Get us wherever you get your podcasts from and follow us on all the social medias. Today I am really excited about this interview. I have someone with me that the group he’s with is probably doing some of the best organizing I’m seeing in the state of New Jersey right now. And I do not say that lightly. They really are doing really impressive work up in the Newark area. And I can’t wait for you guys to meet this guy. Welcome to the show Chairman Shaka Zulu of the new African Black Panther Party.
Chairman Zulu 0:52
All power to the people! Glad to be here and I’m glad to talk to your audience.
Heather Warburton 0:57
I’m so happy that New Jersey Revolution Radio was able to support you guys and help get your message out. And that’s one of the things I’m probably most proud of that we’re doing here on NJRR. Because like I said, you guys are doing amazing organizing. Like I’m just not seeing the kind of organizing you’re doing that grass roots neighborhood empowerment organizing for many other groups in the state. So I wanted to take a little trip back to your origin story. How did you come to be a revolutionary? How did you get this thought, revolutionary thought, in you, and your going to start empowering communities? Where did that come from?
Chairman Zulu 1:34
Well, I think that how I became a revolutionary was my encounter with the criminal justice system. I think that the police encounters, the prisoner cell, that kind of kicked me into the revolutionary movement. When I initially went to prison, I was a common criminal. You know, I sold drugs. I robbed. I’d steal. I did all the things that people that are cut off from from the economy does to survive. But when I went to prison, that’s when I encounted a hardcore revolutionary idea – that with study with time and practice one can change their behavior, one could change the ethics and morals, their values, and join with the rest of humanity trying to make a better place for everybody. So I began to read books. I began to talk to political prisoners. I began to do a lot of writing. And in that process, I discovered the importance of ideas what it meant, how can we apply it?
And in essence, how can I relate to those ideas in a meaningful way? So I encountered books that I still read to this day, “Soledad Brothers” by Comrade George Jackson. Huey P. Newton’s “Revolutionary Suicide” or “To Die For The People”, Bobby Seale’s “Seize The Time” Obviously, I read Assata Shakur, umm I read Angela Davis’ “If They Come In The Morning”. So I read a lot of revolutionary books that dealt with the black condition here in the United States. But as I began to delve deeper into ideas, revolutionary ideas, I began to become familiar with a Mao Tse-tung, Lennin, and Marx, Che Guevara, and their lifestyle, their ideas, the ideas match their action. So I said in order for, in order to be a true genuine revolutionary, I had to marry theory will practice. And so I became a revolutionary within the enemy prison system.
Heather Warburton 3:56
And so obviously, you’re reading a lot of early, you know, the Black Panther movement stuff? And is that really…had you had any familiarity with the original Black Panther Party before you were in prison? Or did you really come to finding their ideology while you were in prison?
Chairman Zulu 4:13
Oh, no I think that the average black person, whether they are part of the black Lumpen class, or the black working class, or the black petty bourgeois class know, of the history of the Black Panther Party in the superficial way. Because our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, grandmothers, grandfather’s had some kind of encounter with the Black Panther Party, whether they saw it growing up, or they experienced it by participating in the many programs that the Black Panther Party had. So, I always knew that the Black Panther Party existed. I didn’t know its ideology, I didn’t know its membership. I didn’t know its international reach. And I certainly didn’t know its theoretical practices. But I knew of the Black Panther Party name.
It’s similar to old folk tales that we have within the black community, especially during slavery, there will be periods where the African slaves would get together, and they would talk about Old Jack, or they would talk about Old Kennedy. These are black slaves, that rose up in rebellion. They escaped the plantation, and they raided the slave masters house for the corn for the chicken. But there was never caught. And so 10 years, 15 years, 20 years down the line, this tale is still being told to African slaves, about the behavior of Old Jack or Old Kennedy, who was able to out maneuver the slave master, in fact, the slave state, but he was never discovered. And in some instances, it’s a fairy tale. Because African culture, you want to inspire. You want to motivate. You want to put people in a position where they believe they can win.
So the Black Panther Party has that sort of mysticism, that sort of mystique within the black community. Some of us don’t understand its ideology. And think that is all it’s a hate whitey party. You know, others, perhaps thought it was, or still think that it’s about kill police, or guns, you know. But it was only when I begin to read that I begin to understand, that the most important aspect to the Black Panther Party was the social programs. Was this ability to empower people who were hopeless, who had no sense of what it means to be agents of change, and not depend on the enemy state, not depend on charity, not depend on handouts, but become proactive, and transforming your conditions where you at right now. You may not have all the resources, but you have something to start with, and that idea of the Black Panther Party, that you can empower yourself, empower the community, empower the nation, empower the world through a revolutionary thrust for freedom inspired me. And that’s where I became enamored with social programs as a prerequisite to the liberation of all oppressed people.
Heather Warburton 7:47
Well, I think that leads really well into my next question of, you know, we obviously know the problems with capitalism, we know the problems of imperialism, we know the problems of racism in this country right now. So what does a good functional society look like to you like, when what we’re struggling against, but what are we struggling for? What do you want to see reflected in society?
Chairman Zulu 8:11
Yeah, I think that one of the most beautiful things about being a communist is that we have over 150 years of solid practice, to look back on to determine what kind of society that we want. Obviously, the first socialist society in 1917, did not get the chance to fully develop as a socialist society, because it was constantly under attack. It was surrounded by imperialist enemies. And from 1917, really to 1953, we saw a microcosm of a world that we want today. We saw woman liberated from the household, and Russia’s situation, liberated from the peasant life, the peasantry, the backwardness of that kind of life, and became leaders of the society. We saw free healthcare. For the first time in history, we saw housing become a human right. The means of production, the resources under the earth, and on the earth, was put into the hands of the state, and the state used it to lift up the living conditions of its people.
So I think when we look at capitalism, and try to compare it to the kind of world that we envision today, the most important aspect that everybody can agree with, is that all of the resources under the earth belong to all up the people on top of the earth. That these resources will give us, a world that is free of militarism, racism, a world that is free of negative isms, because if you look at resources, resources are primarily responsible for the way that the world is constructed. Today, there’s uneven economic development, because there is a part of the world that hordes and monopolize the resources and Earth. So that gave birth to racism. That gave birth to wars. That gave birth to a sort of seeking refuge in a religious understanding.
So if the resources were in the hands of the people, we wont have a Congo that has been at war essentially all of it life. Since Leopold, invaded during a scramble for Africa, but I’m talking about since 1996, when Laurent Kabila assumed power in the Congo and was assassinated, the next year, there has been a low intensity war, taking place in the Congo over the resources. The gold. The diamonds. The tantalum, go into cell phones, airports, jets, etc. So if we can grab hold of the resources that are in the hands of the 1670 billionaires, if we can grab hold of those resources, we can change the world that we live in, and we can start giving people housing as a human right. We could give them education as a human right. We can abolish prisons. We can abolish warfare as a means of resolving contradictions between nation states and individuals.
So I think that the kind of world we want is a socialist world, it is the only viable alternative to capitalism. There have been others who try a third way, you know, monarchies, and others who sort of mixture of capitalism and socialism. None of that stuff works. We know that socialism gives us the ability to put humanity on the right course, and on the right foot. Capitalism, from the get go, put humanity on the wrong course. So I think that envisioned a world that is free of pollution, free of sexism, patriarchy, a world that is free of militarism, a world that gives humanity the opportunity to live in peace and harmony, and to enjoy the fruits of the earth, in equal way. So that’s the kind of world we want, we want a socialist world.
Heather Warburton 13:09
And I was really hoping that’s what you touch on. Because everything you said, just makes sense. Like, this is not people don’t always understand what communism or socialism means. And they build things up in their head. But really everything that you said, I think everyone can relate to. I think everyone can see the contradictions of their current life, and how some other way of forming society just makes sense. That we’re actually living collectively as opposed to constantly in conflict with each other. And conflict comes out of capitalism or any class society really.
Chairman Zulu 13:47
Exactly, man, if you look at the earth been around a long time, I mean, the earth, almost a billion years. States, the modern construction of a state where you have people existing on top of one another, the working class, the ruling class, that is a new invention. And it came into existence as a result of dividing up the resources of the world. Prior to that, for thousands of years, people lived in a kind of world where intercommunaly everything was shared amongst the people. So if we wanted grapes, it wasn’t a grape store, down the street, that monopolize the grapes. You know, if we wanted apples, we didn’t have to go to Chiquita. And ask them, can we buy a pound of apples. You simply went and plucked some apples off the tree. You got enough to make sure that the whole village got some apples when they wanted some. So this is the kind of world that we can only create. This is the kind of world that we can only create, through a revolutionary struggle of the working class, against those who seek to continue to hoard, control, dominate, monopolize the resources of this earth, that belong to everybody.
Heather Warburton 15:29
And I think to that end is where you’re doing really amazing organizing work. And I’m hoping you can tell us a little bit about some of the work that you started doing, you’re building an actual base of revolutionary power in the city of Newark. So can you tell everybody a little bit about what you started doing there?
Chairman Zulu 15:46
Oh, that’s beautiful. I think. This base, this base area, this idea that there’s liberated territory, that revolutionaries here, the United States can go to and strategize, come up with tactics, come up with ways of clarifying theories, and values and ethics and more rules came out of my study. It came out of the fact that the Black Panther Party created base areas in the country where all people that were struggling for justice could come and meet and talk. Sometimes, these areas, discussions got heated, you know, they were intense, but they were meant to clarify the conditions that oppressed people were struggling with.
So what we want to do is rebuild that infrastructure, of revolutionary thought, a revolutionary structure, a revolutionary into communalism. We want to rebuild that because it gives us the opportunity to extend that revolution, outwardly, from a base area. I think that a lot of revolutionaries and progressives have moved away from the construction of a base area, because of the way that helter skelther politics is organized now a days. There is a need to respond to so many conditions of brutality, and exploitation. And as a result, the painstaking work of doing what Antonio Gramsci called “building the organic leader in the community” working with the grass roots have suffered.
So we’re trying to re-institute that infrastructure. And we have been moving in that direction for the last few months. So we started our first campaign was to stop a prison that they was trying to build. Here in the City of Newark, they wanted to build a prison smack in the heart of the oppressed community. They wanted to tear down houses, in that particular community in order to build the prison. So we put together what we call a No Prison Friday Rally. And for nearly two months, we were on South Orange Avenue here in the city of Newark protesting rallying every Friday. And we got the governor, the enemy governor, to state that there will be no prison built on South Orange here in the city of Newark. That was the work of the New African Black Panther Party and the United Panther Movement.
Others have come along the Johnny come lately, and claimed responsibility for that’s okay. But the community in which we stage, these rebellions know, who put the groundwork down. Know who was there every week, to stand in solidarity with them. So that was one of our initial programs. And we still continue that program under a different set of work conditions. We don’t no longer focus strictly on the prison, per se. But now we incorporate mass incarceration, criminal justice, you know, there’s 2.5 million people in the enemy prison today. There’s 6.5 million people on some form of criminal justice supervision. There’s 500,000 people waiting right now in county jails across the country. So we exist, we live in a mass incarcerated state. And any Revolutionary Organization that truly wants to liberate the ground, have to take on this ugly behemoth of mass incarceration.
So Fridays, we call it no mass incarceration, we want liberation. Oh, that’s our new project. Our other project is Empower the Block. That is something that we put together two weeks ago, and a Saturday survival program, we go out into the community, not to bring charity, not as an act of pity. But we do it as a, as a way of empowering the people in the community. Letting them know that you don’t have to wait on the garbage truck to come. You don’t have to wait on the mayor to come. You don’t have to wait on the state to come. You could simply get on your block, pick up a broom, and and empower each other by cleaning the neighborhood. And then talk about why did you need to clean the neighborhood, because the resources that other communities have are not available in these poverty stricken communities that are left off the national economy.
So it’s the means of revolutionizing the minds of the people. Let them know that we could start with something small, and build that project into a mighty revolutionary force. And so that’s what Empower The Block does, it gives the people the opportunity to come out of their house to meet one another again, and to begin to talk to each other about why our blocks. Why would communities of nations have to suffer the way that is suffering. And it’s because of capitalism, white supremacy. Its because of an idea that, in order for capitalism to maximize the rate of dollar, it must explore the labor power of the masses of the people. We have to teach that. They have to understand that economics is primarily responsible for their condition. It is not individual white men. It is it is an economic system that has privileged white society over black society. So we get rid of capital capitalism, then we could sit down all of us black, white, Latino, and Asian, and the indigenous people and talk about the kind of world we could build. But it starts with grassroots organizing.
Heather Warburton 22:54
What you were saying reminded me a lot of Thomas Sankua when he says, you know, like people that just give us food, you’re not helping our community really. Giving us fertilizer, giving us plows, so we can empower ourselves is who’s really helping us. And you know this confusion of like, charity is great, you’re filling a temporary need, but you’re not really teaching people how to empower themselves and do it themselves. And that’s really where revolution comes from, is enabling people to know that they really hold the power. And you know, that’s your slogan, right? All power to the people.
Chairman Zulu 23:33
And that’s beautiful, that’s beautiful, because that’s the difference between a capitalist society, they individualize heroic acts. As socialist society, we make heroic collective work. So if there is a village or an urban setting, that is suffering from a lack of resources and the state is unwilling or unable to provide those resources ; Then we have to come up with a methodology to pool what little we have to make sure that our brothers or sisters can eat, or have access to health care, or stop police brutality or get a decent education. So Thomas Sankura was right. You know, giving us a bowl of rice, it’s not the same weight as teaching us how to plant rice in order to feed the whole community. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to hand out a bag of food and simply say, that’s the work of revolution. We’re trying to build confidence in the idea that you could start a community garden, and plant your own vegetables, plant at your own food, and utilize that as a way of empowering your community. So charity is an act of capitalism, empowering people, allowing people to become agents of change is an act of socialism.
Heather Warburton 25:17
I think you just said that beautifully, really, I think that was perfectly stated. And I hope that’s going to resonate with some people. One other thing that I did want to touch on you with is historically, when we think about revolutionaries, it kind of is more from a masculine viewpoint. You know, we think about some of the great revolutionaries throughout history, it’s always men. And I know you’re specifically working on empowering women as well in your community to make them revolutionary leaders. It’s not just a men only club for the New African Black Panther Party.
Chairman Zulu 25:50
You know what, Comrade? That is very important to us. We have we have a multiplicity of rules and regulations that prohibit discrimination, or sexism or patriarchy against not just revolutionary women, but women in general. We find it a stamp of disapproval, that we should subject, the other half of humanity to psychological chains, or to physical chains. To a tradition that denied them their full stature as human beings. So we make it a case to put qualified, qualified sister comrades in leadership positions. And we have in place currently, within our various two organizations, sisters, revolutionary sisters, that are leading. That are making decisions, that are highly qualified to move this revolutionary struggle forward.
And all of the men within our organization, respect, adhere to to and push forward with this idea that half of humanity cannot be in chains, while the men sit, eat apples, drink water, and talk about freedom. We can’t do that. So it would be reinforcing a kind of bourgeois tradition, to say that only men can pick up rocks. Or only men can write a dissertation. Or only men can speak eloquently to move the masses. I know that history shows us definitely. And we have those examples that we teach to one another on a day to day basis. So some of our comrades lead these particular study groups, female, woman comrades, lead study groups. You know, they lead the protest rallies that we organize.
So it’s a wonderful opportunity to show the rest of the country and by extension, the world, what mighty power lay dormant in a woman when they’re given an opportunity to lead revolutionary movements. And to express revolutionary ideas, because all of the ideas, all of the projects that we have been doing have come from our female, comrades. I’m the face of the revolution. But behind me is a cadre of women revolutionaries, that prod me every day, that tells me every day, be mindful of how you speak. Be mindful of what you do, because you have to represent everybody, not just men.
And we’ve just elected to the branch committee of the new African Black Panther Party, Deputy Minister of Finance, who is a female. She is from Delaware, and she and hopefully the world will get the opportunity to see her pretty soon, but she is a wonderful revolutionary leader. So we’re making sure that anyone that’s qualified within our organization, and within our ally organizations are that if they don’t push women forward who are qualified, we don’t want to have anything to do with you. Because we’re not going to a set a new form of slavery within a socialist framework. Its not going to work. We either for the total freedom of humanity, or we’re for the continuation of the division of humanity that we have today. We are for the total freedom, the new African Black Panther Party is for the complete and total liberation of all humanity. And that includes our significant, mighty force of woman revolutionaries.
Heather Warburton 30:25
And I think that’s great that you’re putting that into practice and not having ally organizations that are upholding misogyny and upholding male supremacy. They’re actually if you’re going to be an organization that affiliates with you, you’ve got to put this stuff into practice. You can’t just talk about it, you’ve got to do it. So I thank you for that. Um, let’s see, what else did I want to touch on here today? Oh, you had said something to me at the I think it was at the green party convention, it was a quote about women, um, something about like holding up half the sky. What was that called?
Chairman Zulu 30:58
Ah Mao Tse-tung, well, first. Well, let me tell you Mao Tse-tung said first that. And it’s a famous quote that women hold up half the sky, now bound up with that as a whole lot of ideas of values and ethics. But Malcolm X said it in a way where he made more plain, he said that you can tell the political development of people by the political development of its women. So what he meant was the society if they suggest an equal and virtuous society will prioritize the most disenfranchised, and victimized people within that society to a level where they on an equal footing with others. And for us, since we’re talking about women, they have been the most brutal in this society, because they have always been under the foot of a patriarchal, dominating kind of structure.
Heather Warburton 32:08
Yeah, I thought that was a great quote. So I wanted to make sure that you said that again. So what if people want to help? How can they get involved and help you? How could if somebody wanted to start organizing a revolutionary base somewhere like Philadelphia or other cities? What can they do? How can they get involved?
Chairman Zulu 32:25
Well, the easiest thing obviously, is you can visit the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Facebook page, or you can give us a direct call, which is, I don’t know if I could get my phone number out here.
Heather Warburton 32:43
I probably wouldn’t give your phone number out directly how about an email address.
Chairman Zulu 32:46
We have an email address, which is you can email ZuluS6003@gmail.com. And we will talk to you about what are what are the requirements. How you go about opening up a collective or a branch within Philadelphia, or any other state. There is a prerequisite to that you have to go through a orientation process. So we will explain all of that to anyone, all you have to do is send me an email at ZuluS6003@gmail.com
Heather Warburton 33:29
And you accept donations as well, right you can get.
Chairman Zulu 33:33
That’s right. In fact, we can’t do anything without donations. The word… they say that revolution aint free. Freedom isn’t free, so we collect the nickels and dimes of the masses of the people. So if anybody want to donate, they could CashApp SZulu, you know, again, they could CashApp $SZulu. And we will certainly appreciate whatever the contribution you could make to us building this base area of social, cultural and political revolution here in the city of Newark.
Heather Warburton 34:09
All right, you guys, like I said, you really are doing some of the best organizing I’m seeing. So it’s just a different spirit you’re organizing with and I think it’s starting to show that people are starting to really pay attention. You didn’t brag about it yet yourself. And I asked you to brag a little bit about some of your work you’re doing. You had one of your was it outside the prison, you had 500 people show up to an event?
Chairman Zulu 34:35
Yeah, that was what that was wonderful. I think that they Mao Tse-tung got a saying that a small spark can start a praire fire. That sometimes revolutionaries and progressives around the world, especially in the West, which is Britain, France, United States, they get discouraged. They get discouraged when lot of people don’t show up. They get discouraged when their ideas don’t readily take off. They get discouraged when they don’t see immediate gratification. And as a result, their work suffers as a result, their, they may have a great idea. But because we have this immediate gratification mentality, we end up not staying with the idea, not sticking to the idea. When we started the prison rallies, it was only 15 of us, mostly from our organization. But each week, it increased. It gradually increased. It brought more people in.
So we can’t simply take credit for all of those people coming out. We know that the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, also participated in that rally, and their voice was able to help persuade, a lot more people to come. So we was just happy that folks stood up, they raised their voice of condemnation of the prison by putting their bodies on the line. And this is the kind of work that we want to do, we will continue to do. I think that we’re building a beachhead, a true genuine beachhead in New Jersey, and there are gonna be folks coming from all around this country watching what we do. And I mean this in the collective sense, watching what we do. And we hope that this small, small Spark, here in the city of New Jersey, and the city of Neward becomes a praire fire around the country.
Heather Warburton 36:56
And Brian and I have always joked here of calling New Jersey, the great nation of New Jersey, and like the thought was that we would start the communist nation of New Jersey or the People’s Republic of New Jersey, but like you guys are actually doing that, like, you guys, start your own area that can spread and I think it will, I really genuinely believe for the work you’re doing that it’s going to spread. And you’re going to build an actual revolutionary base here in New Jersey, and spread out from here. You have any closing words today, before we wrap it up?
Chairman Zulu 37:31
No, I just want to say all power to the people and encourage. our brothers and sister organizations out there, the masses of the people that change can only come through small incremental steps. That we shouldn’t automatically be enamored with the glitz and glamour of struggle, but get our hands dirty, get on our knees, and turn some screws, and knock some nails to some wood. That’s how you build an infrastructure of revolution. And I’m excited, I’m happy. And we’re just getting started. Hopefully, like I said, we build this thing into a dual and contending power with the enemy system. And it leads to a true genuine revolutionary overturning of capitalism, imperialism.
Heather Warburton 38:27
And I think, honestly, I try to ask everybody, if they’re an optimist on my show, or ask a lot of people if they’re an optimist, and I genuinely believe you are because you see, in practice, and in theory and practice change happening. Time is short, and we need this change to happen. And I don’t see a lot of other movements that could bring about this change that we all need or will die ultimately, like capitalism is killing us. It will wipe out humanity. And we need need revolution now. And you’re one of the only organizations I see that’s even remotely making that happen. So, so much for the work you’re doing.
Chairman Zulu 39:11
Thank you, and I appreciate this interview and anytime you need The New Afrikan Black Panther Party will be there. We will be on the scene. And we appreciate the work that you’re doing at this radio station as well.
Heather Warburton 39:25
And same thing whenever you need publicity, or you want to talk about anything, our air waves or your airwaves, you know that that anything you want to talk about, we’re here for.
Chairman Zulu 39:36
All power to the people
Heather Warburton 39:37
All power to power to the people. To my listeners, thank you so much for joining us today. This interview should be inspiring to you. This interview is probably the breath of fresh air a lot of you need right now. Because things are grim. And it’s easy to get bogged down in how grim things are. And that’s why we’re here. We want to inspire you. We want to help elevate the voices of the people that are doing the actual hard work of changing society. We appreciate you so much here as our listeners and our family at NJRR and we do unfortunately have to ask for your help occasionally. We take no corporate money, we can’t be your voice if we’re being paid off by the corporations. So we only can rely on donations from the activist community. If you can go on to our website, www.njrevolutionradio.com, click on that Donate button, even if it’s only $2 a month that really helps us budget, and know what we’re going to have coming in so we can get more people out to cover events. We can get more places. You know, Brian and I are the only two of us you know, we need to be able to hire more people to get out and cover these events. So anything you can do, we really appreciate it. The future is yours to create, go out there and create it.
Jul 15 2019
Rank #6: NJRR Live: Action Report Fighting Racism in South Jersey
BOE Member stays put despite horrifically racist statements.
Daniel Leonard is not stepping down after making racist comments and standing by them. Instead of backing down this Trumper is calling for other racists to join him. Apparently this guy thinks he is the victim of something. Melissa Tomlinson joins Heather Warburton for this special NJRR Live show to let the Garden State know that Tom River needs you to support love over hate.Toms River “Hate Has No Home Here” Rally
Wednesday at 7 PM – 8:30 PM
Toms River High School North
1245 Old Freehold Rd, Toms River, New Jersey 08753
From Pittman New Jersey. Idavox has reported that a conference including white nationalists, racists, morons, and even some pedophiles. No Hate NJ is urging folks to call the Broadway Theatre in Pittman, NJ regarding the conference and ask why they are hosting this thing. Their number is (856)384-8381.
*Breaking* We just received work this morning that the event will not be held at the Pitman Theater. We do not yet know the new location of the venue but follow us here at NJRR and at Idavox as this story develops.
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#NJRR needs resources to get to the story and put it out to you! Help us make sure that we gain momentum as we fight racism around the Garden State. Give 5, 10, or 20 bucks a month for Independent Media from New Jersey!Make a contribution now!
Aug 19 2019
Rank #7: Mental Health and Capitalism
In this episode Heather sits down with Alaina Jo from the Big Picture Relationship podcast to talk about the disastrous effects that capitalism has on your mental health. This was an interesting discussion, since we hold very different political views, but when it comes down to it, the facts that capitalism is a detriment to mental health are apparent across all political ideologies.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is wine women in revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio.
Hi and welcome to wine women and revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio. You can find us online at www.NJRevolutionRadio.com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Tonight I have a conversation I’ve been dying to bring to you. And I’ve been alluding to it for the past couple of weeks and I finally have a clinical social worker who’s willing to sit down with me and talk about mental health issues under capitalism. So first I just want to welcome you to the show. Her name is Alaina Joe and she’s the host of the big picture relationship podcast. Welcome to the show.
Alaina Jo 0:52
Thanks, Heather. I’m thrilled to talk with you tonight. I’m very excited.
Heather Warburton 0:56
So one of the common things you hear when peopleare trying to defend capitalism is they say that humans are naturally competitive and isolated and rugged individuals. But I think that’s kind of untrue. And I always think of humans as being fairly social creatures. Did you have anything you’d like to chime in being a licensed clinical social worker, of your opinions about that?
Alaina Jo 1:22
Absolutely. Attachment, like the attachment that humans feel one toward another is the whole basis of survival for our species. And it goes way, way back to caveman days to wandering. When we had to be in groups, it was a group survival thing. And anybody that was too rugged or too individual, was usually foolish and could get the group hurt or didn’t take care of the larger group as it is so so in multiple ways I see that this these villages this connection to the greater good has been with us throughout really like our existence until just couple hundred years ago, as well as the fact that there’s, you know, a newborn baby born to its parents attaches oxytocin floods the brain and it’s very attached and aware of people around it. And that attachment, that level of need for connection with others does not go away. When they all of a sudden you become a rugged individual, it doesn’t quite work that way. So, I would disagree that we totally change from our roots when all of a sudden capitalism enters the picture.
Heather Warburton 2:30
Thank you so much. I’ve been saying something so similar to that, but I did not have the bona fides to back it up that when you think of an evolutionary basis, like we didn’t evolve to be individual, like we don’t have claws and fur like, you know, the loner hunter thing that many predators do, the only reason we were able to survive is because of each other because of our large brains and working together.
Alaina Jo 2:54
So always been safety in numbers. And you know, that synergy that comes from group and everybody contributing to the greater good that has been with us throughout history.
Heather Warburton 3:05
Would you say you think that mental health issues have gotten worse of late that you’re seeing more incidences.
Alaina Jo 3:16
The rise of anxiety, depression over stress, you know, people whose cortisol levels are high, like there are new things being diagnosed even in working professional, their families that we never would have diagnosed, before, it’s due to this obsession with rising and, and growing and, you know, trying to, I guess, in this like money oriented society being able to prove worth, through that way. And the isolation, the competition, the loneliness, the that causes, definitely increases mental health issues in, you know, a myriad of diagnoses, depression, and anxiety and stress that comes from going it alone.
Heather Warburton 3:56
Yeah, and we kind of live in this, like, bigger, better, faster, more culture. And I think, you know, one of the problems is summed up was by former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, when she actually made the statement, there’s no such thing as society, that was her belief that society doesn’t even exist. So, you know, I definitely wouldn’t have a tendency to disagree with that.
Alaina Jo 4:21
Heather Warburton 4:22
And obviously, you know, I can’t get through an episode without quoting Marx, you know, I know you are not a communist, but this is an anti capitalist podcast. And so Marx kind of described alienation of the worker, and the way he described it as the workers are alienated from their own humanity that were robbed of this feeling that you get when you produce something beneficial for another person, because doing good work feels good. And but if you’re just kind of in an assembly line, and doing the same sort of motions over and over and over again, you’re really kind of divorced from that satisfaction. Also, that workers don’t get to design products. The capitalist class is the one who makes the decisions. And that’s probably based on profit, rather than pride and workmanship. And finally, that workers are pitted against each other, that other workers can’t form a community. Because you’re constantly fighting for, you know, lower wages. And that’s part of why we haven’t seen raises in the past 40 years. So what kind of effects would those sorts of things have on someone’s mental health?
Alaina Jo 5:33
The isolation, and the competition that comes inherent in that really, number one stresses people out, but number two, cuts right at the feelings of self worth, for somebody who’s not top dog on top of that pile? I think that when we value that, whether it’s money or the creation, or the status, or you know, people who rise to the top of the pile, like it may be true that they seem to have great worth, but what about all the other people below them that that has been built upon, and the need to have meaning and value in life is absolutely goes back to those roots of belonging to something bigger and greater. As you talked about Marxist theory there, I couldn’t help but remember, watching these two fascinating videos, and this was sometime during my education. So 20 years ago, probably I watched a video of this nomadic society in Africa somewhere that had nothing, they really like, wore loincloth and carried everything they owned on their back. And it showed the family and their village, their group being so happy as it was like, honey season and they’re climbing the trees and the kids are contributing, you know, pulling down the honey and avoiding the bees and creating smoke. And then it contrasted of that family with this middle class may be upper middle class white family, and it’s a mom at home with her kids. A vivid memory that sticks out, she was showing everybody on this video how she would chop her onions, and chop her bell peppers or green peppers ahead of time, and freeze them in little baggies so that they were there when she needed them. And she was showing all these little divided tasks that she did to manage her massive life to all these kids under foot and a husband off to work who didn’t help it all at home. And I was so struck with the difference in happiness and meaning between this nomadic village that had absolutely nothing. And this middle upper middle class lady who had everything in contrast and who seems so unhappy by comparison, and I know you were talking more about the workplace, but whether it’s the workplace or home, when we divide things down to just they’re isolated little tasks, we lose so much meaning and value and even happiness that comes from them. So I guess I would agree with a lot of said, you know, Communist or not?
Heather Warburton 7:58
Well, I think that’s the thing is, you know, something is defined as communist, but really, it’s fairly relatable because they’re talking about things that are affecting everyone who’s not one of those elite, upper class people, and even some to some effect, probably they’re being affected negatively by it as well. But you know, these are struggles that people can relate to that, you know,it feels good to be beneficial to society, those like Attaboy when somebody says you did a really good job, I really appreciate that. I think that does sort of release some hormones and just generally makes you feel good and bonded to hear that someone appreciates you.
Alaina Jo 8:36
Oh, absolutely. And it’s unfortunate that most of the praise and societal recognition comes really in the form of money in the form of status, you know, we’re not as often congratulating the smaller projects, or the artistic nature, or the empathetic neighbor, or, you know, all these other traits that don’t hold monetary value in this society, it’s really unfortunate that we’re not giving as many Attaboys and pats on the back for that. I think it’s increasing a small amount. And I hope that that movements increase.
Heather Warburton 9:09
Yeah, hopefully, that,you know, we can start to recognize our value as people isn’t just tied to the value we create, like for some capitalist or the money that we can earn, that there’s so much more to human existence than just this monetary, numerical value we assigned to people that it’s so much of the human experience is not allowed to flourish. And part of what I we had discussed, because you are, you often work with children and younger people was that, under capitalism, this the nuclear family, and life in the suburbs has been elevated as what you’re trying to attain that white picket fence house in the suburbs, 2.5 children, and there’s a loss of community and loss of extended family, that traditionally, when people were evolving to be people, you we lived on these much larger family units. And we relied on each other and relied on the community to help with that. And now it’s sort of you have to do everything on your own there is that loss of bonding and loss of community.
Alaina Jo 10:22
Absolutely, I could talk about that all day. Because you’re right, that is my wheelhouse. You know, we went from these sort of nomadic groups to farming villages, to a familial village, you know, your aunts and uncles might live down the street, and kids ran wild with their cousins that took care of each other, if husbands were working in the field, or even in the factory, you know, that was only 100 or 200 years ago. And then slowly, at least that got replaced a little bit by a neighborhood village, where the moms may have still helped each other because one income family could make it and the children still grown, and were you know parented by whoever was available. And there was not this pressure because now it today’s as you described that suburb life, and earners, whether it’s one or two earners in the family, they’re trying to achieve this capitalist bliss, you know, trying to have that white picket fence and all of that, we have somehow ended up with these families that are isolated with no village that you know, even in my neighborhood, I live in suburbia, and half the moms, myself included, are out working. So we have two income families or single mom families. So either the kids come home and keep themselves busy with video games, or there’s even a nanny surviving. Longer isolated, don’t have friends. So to really have this divisiveness and isolation. And then you added a social media piece, which I won’t go off on, but anybody sitting at home that is looking and seeing everybody, perfect white picket fence, beautiful white windows lifestyle, and feeling poorly about their own, surviving it alone. And along with that anything we were having in that lifestyle in that trying for that perfect, I love white picket fence is such a good analogy, where people are having fewer children either because they can’t afford them. Or it’s just not the norm anymore in the suburban lifestyles were being crammed together. And those so therefore the fewer children that we have in the family are having more pressure put on them to be successful, to be the straight A student to be the best one on the basketball team to develop these skills and attributes that are seen as successful in our society. There’s a tremendous amount of pressure put on kids nowadays. And we’re over emphasizing linear and organized types of intelligences that are going to translate someday into high incomes and status. And we’re neglecting the other intuitive traits as other intelligences are neglecting the artists and the creators of those who are contributing less monetarily in their future society. And then coming full circle, we’re forgetting about that slower pace, the more beautiful things that come to us totally separate from money. And even as young as our little kids that’s bleeding over onto them. And we’re just perpetuating this isolation and competition, even a very, very young age.
Heather Warburton 13:11
Yeah, that makes me think of like the high stakes testing that they have to take these standardized tests and may not graduate from high school. And we did I did an episode some time ago, where the origins of these tests are actually very racist and divisive. And you’re, again, reducing children to a commodity, just like the workers and the adults are. Now let’s Well, what’s your number on this test? And that’s all that’s concerned. Whereas being kids and playing is kind of eliminated from the picture now.
Alaina Jo 13:42
Heather Warburton 13:44
And another thing that we had talked about a little bit in the pre interview is, obviously, under capitalism, they need to sell you things, you have to create a market for all these things that are being produced. And not because that they would serve actual need, they’re creating a need. And one way that that’s done is by making people feel really bad about themselves, and that you’re not good enough. And an example that struck me was recently I was out to lunch somewhere with my husband, and they had a TV on, which always annoys me to no end. But they had a TV on and there was an infomercial on there. And it was some sort of cream that you were supposed to buy to get rid of wrinkly skin, under your armpits, the way in which they go into the minutiae, like now we’re supposed to feel bad, that we might have wrinkles in our armpits. That’s gotta have an effect on mental health.
Alaina Jo 14:39
Oh, extremely unfortunate. Well, yeah, yeah. And this need to create new markets and new places to tap into income and new places, you know, turning people’s money, you’re right, the very first place is to make people questions where they’re not good enough, and what product or what service could help them be better. And so it’s hard. There’s a whole world I mean, it’s interesting that you mentioned armpits there are plenty of other places, but this body, I’m loving, that they’re starting to be somewhat more of a body positive movement to try to counteract that will try to say, you’re good enough as you are stretch marks, armpit wrinkles, and all. . I meant to say, so, yeah, that’s, it’s really unfortunate. And capitalism is going there, as so many other markets are tapped out or at their Max, they’re going to be creating new places to try to make money and try to make us feel poorly about ourselves, which just isolates that keeping up increases, that keeping up with the Joneses that we’re all doing. And now keeping up with my neighbors body, or my neighbor’s hair , or my kids fancy bike, or whatever it is, we’re always trying to be convinced by the Society of what’s bigger, better how we can get it, and how we need to make more money to earn it, which meant just goes full cycle right back into isolating us even more, be able to make that happen.
Heather Warburton 16:01
I think it’s especially targeted, and especially that this focus is put on women to not you know that they are not good enough that, how many products would just disappear off the shelves, if women were to decide that they liked themselves?
Alaina Jo 16:18
Oh, my goodness, like 75% plus is my very uneducated hypothesis, but you’re right, it would be gigantic.
Heather Warburton 16:26
And if you think why do you think that they target women so much for you should feel bad about yourself as a woman more so than that? I mean, there, it’s starting to trickle down, I think into men where you see some male products where they tell you that you’re not good enough. ButI think it’s been a long history of attacking women back for decades that to try to change who you are, and make yourself into something different from who you are, because what you are isn’t good enough.
Alaina Jo 16:53
It has been and I wonder, you know, I’m not an anthropologist, by degree. But as you’re sitting here mentioning that wondering if some of that goes back to this innate nurture nature that we came with from generations ago. And it goes back to being part of the group being part of the tribe. And that includes being seen as good enough by the tribe was necessary for survival. Like we had to fit in, we had our social capital back then was fitting in and being part of the group and not too much of a rabble rouser, you know, that we’d get kicked out of the group or not one of the weak underlings that might get left behind. And so I wonder if that that survival of the species that came through many women as the bearers of children nurturers back in those days, I wonder if that intense need for belonging continues in us today, and that’s part of this capitalist need to create more and just plays on that.
Heather Warburton 17:49
I do also think that some of it is just often we’ve, and especially in this country, the exploitive nature, you know, we stole land, we stole the labor and bodies and lives of slaves, that were based on so much exploitation, that I think almost people might be sort of living in like, I don’t know, is there a phrase for like a low constant low grade state of fear and state of tension and anxiety, like, not a full scale anxiety attack, but just like, constantly being under this, like low grade attack, is there some sort of mental term for that?
Alaina Jo 18:30
I can’t think of I’m sitting here racking my brain, nothing comes to mind, but I can picture what you’re talking about. And it is, I like the phrase, low grade, because it is it’s just underneath that, and throughout our society pervades, there’s this need to hustle, this need to do a little more be a little more productive, you know, even like, stay at home moms to get their kids in a few more activities, keep the home a little cleaner, you know, for people to now pick up a side business, or to turn their hobby into a money making thing I you know, I looked at a few ads for that. So of course, my Facebook feed, everything is targeted toward turn your hobby, you know, stay at home moms, and it’s following me everywhere. But yeah, I think there is this underlying need to produce more to be more productive to earn more money, because it’s become our social capital, it’s also become a way that we feel acceptable and accepted by the group in order to continue to belong.
Heather Warburton 19:22
Yeah, and I think, you know, going back to what you said a little bit earlier about the social media that it’s really often based on a lie, because people don’t share. Because of that isolation and fear, they don’t share the darker and more negative aspects like today really sucked, and I need help. And I’m not dealing with as well, and I’m not existing Well, on my own, it’s always, you know, here I am on a beach sipping a margarita, or here I am, at this event being fabulous. And we’re really stripped of that bonding over shared struggle as well.
Alaina Jo 19:56
We are and something we don’t talk about, either is the the people who are that openly honest, you know, on their Facebook feed is always complaining, or really talking about how we tend to without meaning to or not see them as less than, or this, this idea that people need to be successful to be worthy starts to creep in, and nobody wants to listen to those people. And everybody starts to demote perhaps a little bit in their mind. We don’t want to hear it again. We’re so used to hearing and seeing people just presenting their best self.
Heather Warburton 20:31
Yeah, and that constant, like, it’s not an intentional lie, but just this belief that everyone else is so perfect, that it’s not true. And it’s gotta, you know, hurt that, oh, I’ve got to do everything myself, I’ve got to be perfect myself, and no one’s perfect. That’s, I think that’s the most important takeaway that no one is living that perfect life, it’s not possible, we’re all living on credit, and that it’s not, not what it appears.
Alaina Jo 21:03
What’s not, and then, you know, wrapping back around to mental health, the pressure that puts on people when they’re feeling their own depressive battles, or their own anxieties, or their own imperfect relationships, or their, you know, children with struggles or whatever, the problems, that isolation, highly, you know, juxtaposed right next, seeing all these so called perfect lives of other people, just increases, this alienation that we’ve been talking about just increases the isolation and magnifies and starts the cycle of that depression or whatever that struggle is getting even worse and more overwhelming, which has a, you know, a huge impact cumulatively on the mental health of all these people who are isolated from each other and not talking about those things.
Heather Warburton 21:49
And I think also that isolation strips you of your power, that you don’t feel you can change anything or make anything better if you’re constantly in the state of being beaten down.
Alaina Jo 22:01
Absolutely, because where would you get the confidence to do that it’s not modeled for you, everybody else just looks like they figured it out. And, and you’re the one left behind?
Heather Warburton 22:11
Yeah, and that’s part of what I always try to do is I readily you know, talk about my mental health struggles and going through, you know, battling depression, battling anxiety and how that I’m nobody special, but I’ve, I can fight it back, I can overcome it. And then use that as a vehicle for social change, that you can be something better, you can actually really have an impact on your society. And you can organize with other people to do that. And that that’s sort of capitalism takes that power from you. But it is possible to get it back.
Alaina Jo 22:52
Yeah, no, that’s a great example of trying to create a village again, create a sense of community somewhere and to fight back against that isolation.
Heather Warburton 23:01
Was there any other things you’d like to touch on tonight, before we call it a night,
Alaina Jo 23:07
You and I talked briefly about what sorts of social relationship would require or required or maybe produce the optimal mental health. And while we danced around it, I just wanted to point out this idea that it’s frustrating that the things that create the best relationships and create somebody’s feeling of worth and values take a lot of time. And time is something that we lose out on in this competitive capitalistic society. So I would say that for a person to feel like they truly matter to somebody, or that they have a safe place to be vulnerable. That’s not demonstrated by going out to dinner once a month, one spouse talking to another at the end of the day for their requisite 20 minutes before getting back to work, we’re seeing these sorts of connections take a lot of time. And in the survival of the fittest type of society that we’ve created, we don’t have the time to do that and to connect with each other. So I would just put that plug in to fight back in that way to to try not to see productivity as the highest best honor. But to try to slow down and create the space and the time for that quantity of attachment. Wants build quality, you can’t force quality by scheduling it into your busy schedule. Does that make sense?
Heather Warburton 24:24
Yeah, that you can’t say okay, well, tonight, my darling husband, from eight to 815. We’re going to have quality time.
Alaina Jo 24:32
Heather Warburton 24:35
That’s just not how it works.
Alaina Jo 24:37
Yeah. And since I work with teenagers primarily at the moment. I’m even in like parenting relationships. And neighbors and sisters. Yeah, families, all those things. Take time, take lots of little conversations and being there when somebody needs you. And not just when you have time next Thursday, between mommy and me and your pedicure, like you’ve got to be able to create and have that little space in your day to make these connections and these attachments that build great emotional and mental health for both you and the person you’re connecting with.
Heather Warburton 25:09
I think that’s a beautiful way to end it out. What was the name of your show? Again, let’s give you a few more plugs. How can people hear you if they want to listen to your show?
Alaina Jo 25:17
So on any podcast provider, I am Big Picture Relationships. Or you can also find that at my website, www.AlainaJo.co
Heather Warburton 25:27
And what kind of things do you talk about on your show?
Alaina Jo 25:30
I talked about how taking two steps back from any problem or relationship struggle, whether it’s with yourself or a loved one or a child, taking a bigger picture perspective actually makes you feel a little more normal, gives you a little more patience. And so it’s really based on finding a more real life kind of happiness. And it’s not a podcast with a lot of to do’s it’s just perspective shifters and new things to think about that really increased happiness in a real life.
Heather Warburton 25:59
That sounds like a awesome podcast. And I think we can all use a little more happiness because things are grim. You know, the future does not look bright. So anywhere that we can, I don’t want to say steal little moments of happiness, but find happiness where maybe we weren’t finding it before can really kind of help stave off everyone’s pending emotional breakdown.
Alaina Jo 26:19
Absolutely. Well, it’s been a lot of fun to put together.
Heather Warburton 26:22
Yeah, it’s been great talking to you tonight. I’ve had so much fun. To my listeners. Thank you so much for joining us here. We here at New Jersey revolution radio, strive to be the voice of the activist community, strive to be the voice of the change makers who aren’t getting covered in mainstream media. Because the mainstream media is part of this capitalist society. And they have their own narrative to tell and it doesn’t always focus on someone who’s organizing in their local community. To that end, we take no corporate money here on New Jersey revolution radio for us to be a voice for the activist community. We only take money from donations from fellow activists. If you have the ability, please go on to www.NJRevolutionRadio.com Click on that Donate button. Even if it’s just a couple of dollars a month on Patreon. It really helps us keep the lights on here at New Jersey revolution radio. To my listeners. Thank you again for joining us the Future Is Yours to create go out there and create it
Jun 17 2019
Rank #8: What Is Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan
In this mini episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather is joined by Food and Water Watch’s Matt Smith to talk about the New Jersey Energy Master Plan. Governor Murphy released this disappointing plan months later than expected. It falls short on a number of issues that Matt lays out and explains for us. There is a brief window of time to get your voices heard and ask them to do better. This is a call to action. Get involved and demand something better.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine Women and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine Women and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online www.njrevolutionradio.com. Get us wherever you get your podcasts from and find us on all the social medias. Today I’ve got a guest joining me from Food and Water Watch, Matt Smith. Welcome to the show, Matt.
Matt Smith 0:33
Thanks for having me, Heather.
Heather Warburton 0:35
So I wanted you to come on today because I think people are starting to hear a little bit about this thing called an energy master plan. And they may not know exactly what it is or what a good energy master plan would look like. So can you give us a little information about what it is?
Matt Smith 0:51
Yeah, sure. The energy master plan is really a document that guides all policy making on energy decisions for this state of New Jersey over a 30 year period. So it’s a fairly substantial and weighty piece of policy. And, you know, we had suffered under eight years of Governor Christie’s energy Master Plan, which explicitly called for more pipelines and more fossil fuel infrastructure. And, you know, so in 2016, when Governor Murphy was campaigning on a plan to get New Jersey to 100% clean energy in order to fight the climate crisis and promote public health and safety in New Jersey, we were very excited. And you know, many of us have been anticipating this plan for quite some time. And, you know, we were very, very disappointed when, last month a governor Finally, after several months delay released a draft plan that was very inadequate. That did not go nearly far enough or fast enough in terms of the rapid transition that we need to make off of fossil fuels and onto renewable energy in order to avoid a real climate catastrophe, the worst case scenarios of the climate crisis.
Heather Warburton 2:15
So what kind of things were in the plan versus what we were hoping was going to be in the plan?
Matt Smith 2:20
Yeah. So I think the first thing that stands out to me is that for the last year plus, over 85 organizations that are part of the Empower New Jersey No Fossil Fuel Projects Campaign, have been actively campaigning and calling on the governor to declare a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, the thinking being that if the governor agrees we have to get off of fossil fuels rapidly to fight climate change, then the first step in that process is to not make the problem bigger. Let’s not build any new stuff that will be pumping out greenhouse gas pollution and other pollution for 30 plus years.
Heather Warburton 3:02
When you’re digging a hole, stop digging.
Matt Smith 3:04
Yes, the first step. If you want to get out of that hole, you gotta stop digging yet. Nowhere in the plan does governor Murphy address this issue of the 13 new fossil fuel pipelines, power plants, compressor stations and other fossil fuel infrastructure that’s either proposed or under construction currently in the state of New Jersey. And, you know, the Empower Coalition. We released a report last year that showed that if the state does nothing to stop these projects, instead of decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions, like we need to, we would actually be increasing greenhouse gas gas emissions in New Jersey by over 30% making the problem virtually insurmountable. So, that was the first issue that we took with the energy master plan is that it doesn’t include a moratorium on new fossil fuel project permitting.
I think the second big thing, was just the insufficient targets that they said, you know, here we have, you know, the two landmarks landmark reports from last year, the UN IPCC report and the US National Climate Assessment, both of which concluded in very clear terms that we have just about a decade to cut global greenhouse gas emissions world wide, virtually in half, to avoid critical climate tipping points where we would not be able to come back from and yet the governor in his plan. First of all, the only target that was set was for 2015. So there’s no interim targets or benchmarks, no reporting on how we get there.And, you know, furthermore, they concluded in their report, that they’re not sure if they even want to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, and the state has had authority to do so since 2004 and they meekly call for a study to assess the greenhouse gas problem further as if we need more scientific evidence of the situation we’re in. So that was the second major failure.
And I would say the third and final major failure was this cynical redefinition in an Orwellian Trump-ian fashion, to say that instead of 100%, clean energy, we’re going to go for 100% carbon neutral energy. What this means is that New Jersey could still under the 100% carbon neutral goal, operate fossil fuel power plants, fracking infrastructure, use unproven, and unreliable carbon capture and sequestration technology.Which there isn’t a single instance where this this technology is being used commercially in the entire world, and we have targets to meet now. So governor Murphy can’t point to technology that doesn’t exist. to address our greenhouse gas crisis, it allows for nuclear, it allows for trash incineration and allows for market based schemes like carbon credits. You know, basically the carbon fairy is going to, you know, wave her wand and all of a sudden it’s okay to burn to continue burning fossil fuels. This is the kind of cynical move that Governor Murphy did when he renamed the goal away from 100% clean energy, which is what we need to 100% carbon neutral energy.
Heather Warburton 6:29
All right, let’s talk a little bit about that, because I don’t think I’ve actually had a discussion about that on the show of these unproven untested, kind of non existent technologies of carbon capturing technology that we hear a lot of people referring to rather than demanding a 100% clean energy. What are they talking about?
Matt Smith 6:54
Yeah, that’s my question, Heather. What are they talking about because carbon capture and sequestration is an ill conceived idea on a multiple of fronts. First and foremost, it doesn’t really exist yet. So as I mentioned, there’s not a single commercially viable instance of anywhere on the planet of carbon sequestration being used successfully. And, you know, we simply don’t have time to wait and see if this technology eventually will pan out and be affordable and practical to use when we have reductions targets we need to meet today. So that’s the first problem.
The second problem is that carbon capture singles out just one pollution, one pollutant from burning fossil fuels and that’s carbon. And it tries to say that the only crisis that we have from the continued extraction processing burning of fossil fuels is carbon and that virtually ignores the fact that environmental justice communities here in New Jersey largely low income communities of color, who live around the state’s largest polluting facilities are getting poisoned every day by things like ground level ozone pollution, Noxs and Soxs, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter soot, black carbon, all of these things are literally poisoning people in these communities. It’s why the kids in Newark have the highest rates of childhood asthma anywhere in the entire country. And all of that would be allowed to persist for decades under a scenario where all we try to do is capture carbon from from power plants, and virtually gives the fossil fuel industry free reign to continue polluting and poisoning these communities.
Heather Warburton 8:47
They are ignoring essentially a whole myriad of other pollutants and greenhouse gases like methane and things like that are not addressed by this idea that we’re going to plant some trees collect carbon in them essence?
Matt Smith 9:03
Well, well, I mean, so I think it’s important to distinguish that there are natural processes for carbon sequestration that we should be pursuing at scale. Things like reforestation, wetlands mitigation, all of those things are proven ways to capture and store carbon in a way that’s sustainable, that’s working in harmony with the planet’s life providing cycles, and that can provide meaningful work to lots of people. What I’m talking about is the carbon sequestration out of the science fiction novel, which is basically a proposal to create giant vacuum cleaners, and literally suck carbon out of the air and then put it underground and pipelines and other caverns and stuff, and in many cases do other crazy things with it. There’s proposals to use it to continue extracting gas and oil reserves from deep shale rock formation. So the insanity knows no bounds. But I think that’s, that’s the specific form of carbon capture and sequestration that first of all, it doesn’t exist in any practical commercial way. Now, and secondly, it’s specifically what the fossil fuel industry is talking about when it talks about carbon capture.
Heather Warburton 10:20
And so the science fiction Murphy’s, like buying into it, it kind of just sounds like he’s kicking the can down the road. He’s like, I don’t feel like dealing with this. Although, you know, climate chaos is happening every day. It’s already happening. It’s already here. So he has to deal with it, but it kind of seems like he’s just pretending it’s not a thing.
Matt Smith 10:41
Yeah, I mean, he wants to be seen as a climate leader without actually challenging the power of the fossil fuel industry. And I think that’s really what makes this sort of democratic version of you know, climate denialism, in which is really about climate incrementalism. setting targets so far out into the future, that you create an excuse for inaction today that we’re seeing throughout the country, whether that’s here with Governor Murphy, whether it’s in New York State with Governor Cuomo, you know, everyone’s applauding his new Climate Community Protection Act.
But same thing, it waters down all the environmental justice considerations within the plan, and it set targets that are not only inadequate, but they’re so far out that the governor’s can continue approving new fossil fuel projects, and delaying or really avoiding the political fight that we need to have, which is we have a rogue industry, whose business plan would put the earth out of business permanently or all life on it at least for quite some period of time. And so we need to make a moral decision that their profits are not more important than the survival of life on earth. And it seems like as of right now, the democratic party at large is is not stepping up to the plate. There are exceptions, you know, freshman members of Congress and certain legislators here in New Jersey and other states, but, but certainly governor Murphy is not meeting that challenge.
Heather Warburton 12:12
And so this is governor Murphy’s sort of in charge of this plan, right. It’s, if we want something to change about it Governor Murphy’s, who we have to reach out to contact about his plan.
Matt Smith 12:22
The buck stops with, with Governor Murphy. So definitely encourage people to call governor Murphy every Monday we’re doing a thing called moratorium Mondays, which is, you know, everywhere throughout New Jersey, where there’s fossil fuel projects, either under construction or being proposed organizing community members to contact the governor and demand an immediate moratorium on fossil fuel expansion projects. And so folks can do that. You can either opt in to get a regular Monday alert with a new message each week to call by texting the words, no fossil fuels to the number 69866 that’s 69866 and the message to send to that number via text is “no fossil fuels”. So that’s every Monday. We’re also there’s critical public hearings that the governor and his board of public utilities are holding on the energy master plan. And we really need to mobilize everyone who cares deeply about these issues, public health, from dirty energy pollution, the climate crisis, the potential to create jobs from a green economy, and the issues of environmental justice.
Anyone who cares about these issues really needs to make their voice heard through this public comment process. So there’s two hearing dates coming up. The first is August 8, and that one’s right in Newark, New Jersey at Seton Hall University. The hearings start at one o’clock and there’s an afternoon session from 1-4 and then an evening session from 430 to seven. So anytime between. We will be there from noon to close 730 at Seton Hall University, either rallying on the outside or testifying on the inside. And we need hundreds of New Jerseyians to join us to to make this political point to Murphy that we’re watching the decisions he makes in implementing the final version of the plan. And then folks can also comment online. So all of these details are up on our empower New Jersey coalition website. So if you go to WWW.EmpowerNewJersey, that’s EmpowerNewJersey.com. You can get all this information when the hearings are how to sign up to comment on the draft plan, suggested talking points and our analysis about the plan and its shortcomings, as well as all the details for the Newark hearing on on August 8.
Heather Warburton 14:56
And when’s the other hearing? The one that’s in Camden?
Matt Smith 15:00
That hearing is September 12. I’m going to double check my own
Heather Warburton 15:09
Right check and give us the address too if possible.
Matt Smith 15:12
Heather Warburton 15:14
And while you’re looking that up, um, when does this draft become official? Like when does it get certified? Is there a timeline for that?
Matt Smith 15:23
There’s an estimated timeline. So the final hearing date thus far, and we are calling for more public hearings because we think that only two evening hearing dates for the entire state of New Jersey to weigh in on this critical plan isn’t acceptable. But as of now, the final hearing would be Thursday, September 12. in Camden, New Jersey, again from 1pm to 7:30pm. And that’s at the Kroc Center – K R O C 1865 Harrison Avenue in Camden The close to the public comment period on the draft energy master plan is September 16th. If you can’t get to a hearing date, you can still submit a comment online. Again, the details for how to do that, including the email address or on our website EmpowerNewJersey.com And we expect the final plan will be published in late 2019, although I wouldn’t be surprised if that was delayed again, this administration, in addition to not having the political courage just seems to not have their house in order and consistently not meeting their own deadlines.
Heather Warburton 16:33
Okay, so and once it’s finalized, it’s finalized until the next governor comes along?
Matt Smith 16:41
I mean, you could get the next governor who would seek to you know, open up a new energy master plan hearing process, but these are supposed to be long term. You know, policy documents that guide us.
Heather Warburton 16:53
So we only have a few weeks left to act on this, that they’re only having two public hearings. So get your comments in as quickly as possible. This is not Matt talking, this is Heather they’re talking, be as annoying as possible, you know, call governor Murphy every day, you know, be a pain in their butt until they want you to go away. And to make you go away, they’re going to have to step up and do something worthwhile. That was not the official opinion of Food and Water Watch. But that is the official opinion of New Jersey Revolution Radio of if they’re not doing what you want be more annoying.
Matt Smith 17:34
Yes, I mean, we definitely agree that we need everyone to raise their voices on this on this issue. We do have a limited window of time to act not just on this energy master plan, but on the climate crisis at large. And so you know, in addition to the energy master plan, I would also want to point to the next wave of global climate strikes, which is happening the week of September 20 Go to, you know, if you google global climate strikes, there’s a website where you can get more information sign up there. The young people who are leading this, you know, millions of kids from across the world who are walking out of their classrooms demand more action on climate from our elected leaders are calling on adults to join them in the streets during this next wave on the, you know, the week of September 20. So, if you haven’t yet found your opportunity to plug in, I would say that, you know, when the kids are calling on on us to join them in the streets that you know that that’s not a call that we should leave on answered.
Heather Warburton 18:39
I 100% agree because, you know, they’re the ones that aren’t going to live to be as old as we are now. You know, these young kids are not going to have a future unless something changes very, very rapidly.
Matt Smith 18:54
Heather Warburton 18:55
Well, I just wanted to thank you so much for helping clear up a few points about the energy masterplan maybe people hadn’t heard about it yet or didn’t quite realize how significant it might be. But there’s something that sets the tone for the, you know, next several years. And those several years are the critical years where we decide if we have a future on this planet or not. So hopefully, my listeners are going to get involved and you know, at least you know, email and say, Hey, this is not a good plan. But if you can show up all the better.
Matt Smith 19:27
If you say nothing else, you know, our top line demand is and continues to be any real energy plan that seeks to avoid climate catastrophe has to start with the moratorium on fossil fuel expansion. We just simply cannot build new fossil fuel power plants and pipelines and and address the climate crisis at the same time. So it’s a simple in is an easy to digest message. And so if nothing else, if you can reiterate that message in your comments to the governor, it will definitely have an impact because it’s coming from all corners of the state.
Heather Warburton 20:00
Thank you so much for your work, Matt to my listeners. Thank you for listening to this quick little update episode here. A call to action up episode as it were. I appreciate you listening. We appreciate everything you do to help support us. If it’s all possible, please go on to our website www.njrevolutionradio.com, click on that Donate button so we can get out to more events and cover more things. Or you can support us on Patreon even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month that really helps. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it.
Jul 26 2019
Rank #9: A Brush With The Law
In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather sits down with former candidate Alex Law to talk about his David and Goliath battle against the Norcross Family.
Alex Law made his decision to run because he saw the “defacto coronation” of Donald Norcross play out across the political scene in South Jersey. For instance, within 24 hours of Norcross announcing his candidacy, every democratic leader in each town had endorsed him. Alex was shocked at the level of graft and corruption her saw in his community.
Contracts Up For Grabs
In South Jersey, there is system of what Alex refers to as uncompetitive bidding. Companies owned by the Norcross family and their friends receive lucrative contracts in towns throughout the area. This drew Mr. Law’s attention to the “Economic Opportunity Act”, which Donald Norcross sponsored. Later, it became a law.
Alex calls this act “the single biggest piece of graft in the history of the United States”. This act transferred over a billion dollars of NJ taxpayer money directly to the Norcross machine and their affiliates. However it created next to no new jobs. Companies received over a billion dollars in sellable tax credits. These tax credits were sold, by the state, for 90 cents on the dollar to bigger corporations (like Exxon or Apple) to offset their tax bill. Then the companies got to pocket the extra cash. As a result of all this, Alex Law knew he had to run.
In the meantime, no appreciable good appeared in Camden. The communities were still suffering while the waterfront thrived. There is no social or economic infrastructure in the city for the citizens to receive the benefit of these billions of dollars. People drive in from Cherry Hill or Vorhees they stay on the gated campuses, and then drive back to Cherry Hill at the end of the work day. They are not spending their money in the city. In fact, things have gotten more difficult for the average resident because of mega corps buying up property and displacing residents.
Alex Law Plan Of Action
Alex knew he had to work with the residents of Camden to help them empower their community. Above all, taking on the Norcross party boss system required a strategic plan.
His plan involved a
1) Figuring out how
many votes he needed
2) Deciding how much
he would spend per vote.
3) Operating with the greatest efficiency possible.
Whenever a volunteer signed up, they immediately incorporated them into the structure of the campaign. He developed a different model for every town. Although they didn’t win, they met their vote total goals and did it with an unparalleled efficiency.
Apr 15 2019
Rank #10: The Right Has Created A Cottage Industry Of Lies
In this episode, Heather interview Daryle Lamont Jenkins of One People’s Project, and the movie Skin about his work opposing fascism and the recent fascist conference being held in Pitman NJ.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online at www.njrevolutionradio. com, get us wherever you get your podcasts from and follow us on all the social medias. We have today, somebody I’m interviewing somebody near and dear to my heart. He doesn’t really like it that much when I call him a superhero. But I have started calling him a superhero recently because he absolutely is a superhero. If you follow us at all on NJRR. You’ve seen him on a number of things. And he’s involved in all kinds of great actions throughout the country. Welcome to my show, Mr. Darrell Lamont Jenkins.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 0:58
Shalom. How you be? Hotep.
Heather Warburton 1:01
I’m doing good. Thank you so much for being here today. It’s a pleasure working with you every time that I get the chance to I really appreciate it.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 1:08
And that same to y’all. I mean, I like the fact that, you know, I’ve been doing a lot of this, we were pretty much a skeleton crew here. But there’s been a lot of momentum as of late. And the best thing about the momentum is that I’m getting, I’m starting to work with people more. And y’all were the first to really come on board with all of that. And I really do appreciate the fact that you are holding it down for OPP holding it down for antifascist out there. And I hope that this is a long, it’s funny too, because we only started working together in October.
Heather Warburton 1:17
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 1:41
And it’s like you’ve been here for 1000 years.
Heather Warburton 1:53
Yeah, we grow on you
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 1:55
We went from zero to 100 in 30 seconds basically. And really, I really do appreciate all the help that you and Brian have been contributing to us. And hopefully I can contribute to you as well. And, yeah,
Heather Warburton 2:13
you definitely do. We appreciate you so much, and all the work you’ve been doing. I’m gonna assume that my listeners know who you are, but just in the odd chance that this is somebody’s first contact with New Jersey Revolution Radio. And with Darryl Lamont Jenkins, let’s give a little bit of who you are and what your story is.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 2:31
I’m a New Jersey native and born in Newark and raised in Somerset, New Jersey. My stomping grounds in New Brunswick, and pretty much has been for much of my life. Also, for much of my life, I have been chasing after Klan, neo nazis, or what have you. And in 2000, I started a group called One People Project, which basically monitors researches and reports on right wing groups and individuals. In particular, the racist right, this is my regular spiel in case anybody heard it before, in a attempt to encourage communities to be proactive against them to diminish their ability to function. And we’ve been pretty successful in that regard. And it was originally, This is something I don’t say much but I’m originally it was intended to show the kinds of connections the mainstream right have with the fringe right, with that really hardcore nasty right. And over the past 20 years, we’ve been pretty successful in that regard too. Over the past three years, we’ve been pretty pissed off how successful we’ve been.
Heather Warburton 3:47
Yeah, the connections are becoming more and more obvious every day, that there is fascism growing throughout the country, there was really little distinction these days.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 3:57
And I’m kind of, I gotta be honest with you, there’s many times where I just get pissed off at our own, for not grabbing the bull by the horns when people were talking about this element, stepping up and trying to do some harm. But uh, but we’re here now, we’re here now, and we’re gonna have to do something about it. And we have to do something about it now. Because I’m concerned about the fact that when Trump does leave office, everybody’s going to think that the crisis is averted. And that’s gonna suck, because it hasn’t, we got a lot of young people out there, that latched on to this crap, and they’re still going to be there, they’re still going to try to do some crap. And we just got to be ready for it.
Heather Warburton 4:39
Right? I’ve seen people say, Oh, if Hillary had won, I’d be at brunch now, you know.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 4:45
I’ve always hated that
Heather Warburton 4:45
And that’s the same thing that eventually when Trump leaves, you’re afraid these people are just going to go back to sleep and like, Oh, well, we’ve got a Democrat in office. Now everything must be hunky dory, when really the fascist have been here since the start of the country, it is what the country is founded on.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 5:03
And by the way, I’m 350 pounds. And I’m antifa. I have never avoided brunch. So there is no excuse for you to avoid anti fascism. Don’t use brunch as an excuse for you not doing anything. I don’t!
Heather Warburton 5:24
You can have brunch and fight fascists.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 5:28
I should have a vegan brunch. But that’s another story.
Heather Warburton 5:33
So I wanted to touch into a little bit about really the importance of what you’re doing with independent media, and that these right wing Nazi news sources lie. They lie constantly. And when the mainstream media picks up on those lies, they’re doing a disservice to everyone really, because they’re trying to play this both sides angle. So you’re reporting on Idavox, which is your media outlet is really important. Because you may be one of the only places people are getting truth and real facts from.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 6:12
But I want to be fair, I want to be fair, We’re kind of like the granddaddy of it all. We’ve been doing this since 2000 at One People’s Project. And we’ve been putting a lot of stuff out there over the past 20 years. Idavox came along with 2015. But I gotta give props to NJ Revolution Radio for doing your thing. Unicorn Riot really been killing it, It’s Going Down has been killing it. Even Rose City Antifa out of Portland has really been on literally on the front lines. And that seems to be where all these knuckleheads want to go to cause all kinds of damage. So I want to give props to them. The battle has been joined in a big way. It used to be a time when we were the only game in town, but not anymore. To the point that we can actually just step back and just tell everybody exactly what’s going on.
But we’re out there we’re doing the work. And I will say that it’s important for all of us, and all of us and all of our media outlets to be out there talking about this, because either the mainstream isn’t talking about it or not talking about it properly. They get all their talking points from right wing groups, from their media from their right wing media. So antifa has to field questions like are you really going to blow up, “Why are you going to blow up a theater” or some crap like that? Because some propagandists on the other side said so and, and and it’s garbage and it’s corny. It is something that we have been dealing with, regardless of if you’re anti fascist too, in the sense of being out there as an activist for anti fascism.
When you talk about even when, John Kerry ran for president back in 2004. What was the biggest thing that they said dropped him? Swiftboating, right. So basically, they lied about his military record, they knew it wasn’t true. The media knew it wasn’t true. But they rolled with it anyway, they built up that they allowed that narrative to grow. And it did cost them. It cost them that election or at least it contributed to the election. I would submit that there was other things that contribute to him losing as well. But it still speaks to what these characters on the right do. Basically, it’s a cottage industry of lies. That’s what conservatism is today. And it doesn’t seem to matter to our mainstream press. So we got to go out there and get all the information and put all the facts out there. Because it doesn’t seem like no one else wants to, especially when it comes to folks that are taking them on, folks that are fighting. I mean, we are the true source of true information, we are a real source of true information. And this society cannot afford losing us.
Heather Warburton 9:16
Right. It’s a very valuable service you’re providing. And I did want to get into some of the recent examples of when the media is playing this both sides ism. Oh, there’s good and bad people on both sides. You know, no, there’s no good Nazis. For one thing, that’s just there’s no such thing as a good white supremacist. That doesn’t exist. And we shouldn’t be extending the same courtesy to them of belief that we do to normal people that are against fascism. But like, let’s talk a little bit about the milkshake incident that you brought up that, you know, they’re like, oh, someone put cement in a milkshake, which by the way, sugar makes cement not set. Fun fact. So even if you put cement into the milk shake, it never set up. That’s actually a kind of well known self sabotage technique that people have done throughout history. But the media latches onto that and starts reporting on that as if something actually happened. And that’s really dangerous.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 10:14
Yeah, I mean, we could go on forever about how foul that milkshake story was the one where Andy Ngo was apparently gotten beaten up by antifa and they had milkshakes filled with concrete in them and, and he got a concussion or rather a brain hemorrhage. And all that it’s like, Andy Ngo is a perfect example of the phoniness of it at all. And, since they’re going to be putting them out there, we’re going to make an example of them, we’re going to show them and watch if they get any, get a hold of this, some of this tape of this recording. Me saying they’re going to make an example of them is going to turn into, “we’re going to kill him”
Heather Warburton 10:58
Right. I can only imagine
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 11:00
I can guarantee it
Heather Warburton 11:02
I can only imagine how this is going to get cut up by that side
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 11:06
Yeah, but here’s the point about that. The fact that they have to lie, says that they are on a shaky ground to begin with. And they always have to lie. I mean, their whole thing is about conspiracy theories, whether you’re Alex Jones, Q-anon, so they’re making up their own stories, and we’re supposed to buy into them, even though we know otherwise. So we have the milkshake. So we just don’t have Andy Ngo and his milkshake story.
We also have stories about every time we criticize them, every time we say we’re going to protest them, they will immediately call it a riot. And it doesn’t even matter, you can be the biggest hippie on the planet, they will call it violent, because that’s they know that’s the narrative that works, then find one or two people that either say something stupid, or do something stupid, and they’ll make that person the representative of a group. Now, do things happen? Yeah, they do. Are we planning on them to happen? No. More to the point? Do they plan violence? Yes, they do. But they never say anything about that. They never talked about the violence that comes from this side. And their side kills people.
Heather Warburton 12:23
Right? They have a track record. Antifa has never killed anyone.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 12:27
Right! And God forbid, if something happens, God forbid, if something happens, that one incident will taint the entire thing. Or at least they’ll think they it will taint the entire thing. But the reason reason why we’re out there is a reason why we need more people out there and reason why you see me all the time as a spokesperson for Antifa is because a lot of antifascists really don’t like to be in the media. They don’t like being on public display. I mean, the attitude is just basically Antifa best heard not seen, you know. And, the thing is, that’s detrimental. Because when you talk about anti fascist, when you talk about antifa in general, we are really the only ones that don’t go out there to talk to the public, that don’t go out there and talk to media outlets. Occupy Wall Street did. Black Lives Matter did. The anti war movement did.
Antifa are staying away from every camera that they can find, and that is why they are able to start making demands that we should be labeled a terrorist organization, bad enough that they can do that the Black Lives Matter, but that died, the moment that they latched on to Antifa because there’s not a lot of people who are going to be speaking out in defense of us. And that’s got to change there has to be more people stepping up. It can’t just be us putting the story out and correcting the story all the time. It has to be us showing people who Antifa is and you will be surprised. Or maybe you won’t. Because Antifa is us. Whether or not you’re out there in the streets. Or doing a podcast, or just watching TV after a hard day’s work, and looking at some Nazis doing whatever and saying that’s wrong.
Heather Warburton 14:18
Right? If you’re against fascism, which I would assume most people probably should be, then you are antifa. You may not even know it yet. But if you think fascism is bad, then you’re against fascism. Not really complicated.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 14:34
No, it’s not. No, it’s not. But when you are dealing with the people who Antifa targets, they’ll make it complicated. Just so you don’t go after them hard enough. Harder than we do.
Heather Warburton 14:48
Alright, so that does bring me to what we’ve been covering and being actively involved in here down in South Jersey is what I was kind of referring to was NaziPalooza in Pitman. Pitman, New Jersey
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 15:02
Heather Warburton 15:05
Yeah, and it was the Minds Conference was what it was called. And they were bringing in some speakers that are some of the worst of the worst types of people. Do you want to give an example of a couple of who these speakers that they were featuring were.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 15:19
Oh, I’d be more than to than happy to do that. I mean, let us start with the fact minds.com is I guess some libertarian outlet that individuals will go to. Individuals have been kicked off a Twitter for being a little bit too fascist for Twitter. A lot of them have bounced over there to do whatever they want to do. There’s a number of outlets like that. And I think that, um, I call them a libertarian outlet. But I think I better be a little careful with that, because I’m not even sure. Um, but the fact of the matter is, that’s when you see all those fascists that have basically been exiled from social media. So they’re hosting a conference that they call “Ending racism, violence and authoritarianism”. One of the things about when you’re dealing with and reason why I call them libertarians, because libertarians have this thing about being coy when it comes to this particular element. Not all libertarians are about the fascism or anything like that. But they still allow themselves to be Trojan horses for fascism. And that’s an example of what we’re dealing with today.
So you have you have Minds sponsoring this event that’s supposed to be taking place in Pitman, New Jersey its down in South Jersey. But the one of the bigger organizers, who’s a co sponsor, along with Minds, is a guy named Tim Pool. Now Tim pool is famous. And basically his claim to fame has been he was he was on the ground while Ferguson blow up, he was able to get a little bit of notoriety because of that. And, we loved him for it. We thought it was great getting all this information. But he’s parlayed that into being a right wing shill all of a sudden. And he’s also involved with Occupy as well. But as time went along, he decided to become a right wing shill and start attacking all the people that he used to work with, in particular, these days, he likes to go after anti fascists. And he will go after on the narrative that everybody in Antifa is violent and nobody on the right is as violent as Antifa. They’re just defending themselves if they are violent, yada, yada, yada. But the problem, but that when it comes to Tim Pool, is the fact that he likes to lie, or likes to defer the truth, shall I say? Or spin things into being something that it’s not?
And that’s what’s happening in Pitman. Now, you asked earlier, let’s get back to this. You asked earlier who are the other people that are involved? Now, folks may be familiar with a guy online. There’s a lot of bloggers, there’s a lot of writers and a lot of videographers and stuff vloggers I should say. One in particular was a guy who calls himself Sargon of Akkad, his real name is Carl Benjamin. He’s out of the UK. And he was part of this thing called Gamer-Gate. Gamer-Gate was a right wing campaign back about 2014, geared towards harassing women who were in the video game industry. He also basically said that Jewish people had to drop the identity politics because he sorry about the holocaust, but I don’t give a shit. I’m sorry. And that was a direct quote from him. And he has, he’s defended the idea that kids should be able to consent to sex with adults. That’s one person that’s coming.
Heather Warburton 19:15
Yeah, that’s just one example of the speakers they have here.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 19:20
Just one example you need. If it was that one person, we would still be out there. Seriously, if it was that one person. I mean, even Tim Poole probably would get us out there too. But that dude right there, that dude alone will be enough. But now we have Count Dankula coming too, also from the UK. And he basically got in trouble with the UK for teaching his dog, doing a video where he taught his dog to give a Nazi salute that violated something called the Communications Act out there. So he got a lot of support from the right wing and now he’s a hardcore right wing and now he’s into people like Alex Jones anti Muslim folks like Tommy Robinson, aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon. And and he’s involved with the UK Independence Party, who was responsible for Brexit. There’s another woman named June Lapine she calls herself Shoe On Head, who has already blocked me on Twitter. Who has accused Black Lives Matter of wanting to start a race war? No, we weren’t. And said comedian Leslie Jones, quote looks like a gorilla. Unquote. I don’t know why these characters keep going after Leslie Jones, but but they do and this is bad. So we go from June to Aydin Paladin was a YouTuber who said that there were no death camps outside Poland during World War Two. And there were! She suggested that the concentration camps outside Poland we’re just simply labor camps. And the reason why people died there was because the Nazis didn’t have enough money to feed them. So they let them starve. I mean, they would have saved their lives if they could. But hey, what can you do?
Heather Warburton 21:17
They are a Holocaust denier?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 21:19
Right, right. Basically, it’s a Holocaust denial. A matter of fact, she tried to say that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. That was a insane figure to this person. You have Andy Ngo. We will be here forever with Andy Ngo, but basically what we say on the website about him is that he’s the so called Alt-right, adjacent Willett contributor. Willet, is a website who has promoted race science and fake conspiracies that got journalists put on a neo nazi hitlists. And he was once milkshaked during a rally in Portland, Oregon. And he was able to take that and turn it into a bit of a cottage industry for him just within the past couple of months. It just became a career boom that he got milkshaked. Because he started saying that he had a concussion,I’m sorry, hemorrhage. That there was concrete in the milkshakes and so on. There’s also MEGAN MURPHY. If you’re familiar with the term TERF, she is the illustration of that term.
Another person that also has an issue with transgender people is a guy named Hunter Avalon. He’s going to be there. Karen Straughan, is a female men’s rights activists who promoted straight up sexist and pro rapists like Roche, you have, and you have a woman, a right winger named Laurin Chen. She denies that people of color are oppressed, while at the same time saying that she herself was a victim of racism, because she’s half Asian. And her parents had to deal with racism because they were an inter-racial couple. Now, these are just the people that we put on the website. These are just the people that we put on the website.
Heather Warburton 23:06
Right there’s a whole cast of characters here.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 23:10
Maybe I will add some more to to the list once I get off this call, because I think that it gives you an idea of how bad this conference is. Now there are trying to play like it is even handed because they have a few liberals that are going to be speaking at this thing. But the fact that they are platforming the likes of the people that I just mentioned, poisons the whole damn thing. So shame on those leftists and liberals who are going to be a part of this. Shame on them. They should not be a part of this, you do not platform this crap. And allow them to make themselves look like victims because they’re not. If you are truly a leftist, if you are truly liberal, then you full well know that there are using you to justify their agenda. And you’re saying fine. So shame on you liberals that are being a part of this.
Heather Warburton 24:10
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 24:14
So that’s basically who was there. That’s basically what’s going to be there. And that, like I said, there’s a lot more that we could write about when it comes to these characters.
Heather Warburton 24:25
So you put out this call, and immediately the community started organizing of, we don’t want these knuckleheads to use your term in our community and calling the theater and saying, This is not the kind of people we want brought into our community. And the theater actually said, Okay, we’re not hosting this event. But somebody made a joke about Inglorious Bastards somewhere on Twitter. And immediately the lying Nazis latched on to that and were like, Oh, you’re making a threat against the theater. And I’m seeing local media reporting on Oh, where there were threats against the theater when there was never once a threat against the theater, then again, this is it’s a more interesting story. So the local media is kind of latching on to it, when it’s totally disconnected from the truth. And they’re extending this belief to Nazis again,
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 25:20
Well, this happened to us before. Back in 2010, we shut down the American Renaissance Conference in DC, um, we let hotels know that this conference is going to be held in their conference halls. And they just basically said, Nope, we’re not going to allow this to happen. We’re canceling this contract. And, and so on. Jared Taylor, the publisher of American Renaissance then decides to go on the press junket talking about how they were death threats to made against the hotel. And this was for hotels, apparently, that that saw death threats and such. Now, the thing is, I was one of the guys who was leading that charge back in 2010. I got no calls from the feds, or from any law enforcement. There was I don’t know if there to this day, I don’t know if there was even a police report filed by the hotel. Jared Taylor didn’t file any charges, didn’t file a lawsuit. The only lawsuit that I saw was some clown named David, he was supposed to speak at this thing. And it was just a token thing, because he filed that in Oklahoma, where he’s from, and not in Virginia, or in Pennsylvania, where I’m from, and basically, he won on a default judgment because my attorney said I don’t have to care about the thing. 10 years later, I still don’t.
So we knew that it was a showboating routine on their part. And that’s what happened then. Cut to today and they’re pulling the same crap. They get called out, we’re going to go out there exercising the freedom of speech that they say they defend. And they start talking about how we’re going to burn the theater down we’re about violence and such. But here’s where it gets interesting. Because right now, you can go on Tim Pool’s Twitter account. And you can see him flipping out over the fact that this conferences is being called out. And Tim has a lot of supporters and, and the like, who are talking about people needing to be shot, people will be shot because we’re pushing the envelope. I Wish I was there. I bring my CCW which don’t work in Jersey.
Heather Warburton 27:59
Can you explain CCW in case anyone doesn’t know,
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 28:03
Concealed carry weapons permit. And I have one in Philly. I can’t use one now. But that’s beside the point. I’m in Jersey. Now. That’s the way it goes. The fact of the matter is, we never ever said and by the way, not only we haven’t said anything about violence, we didn’t say we was going to go out there and and wreck havoc or anything like that. My attitude in that regard is show us the police report. If that actually happened, if there was such threats. Show us the police report. I don’t think there is a police report saying that we are engaging in violence, or that we have any plans of engaging violence. But Tim Pool spit that out. The other organizers spit that out. It shows up on Breitbart as an article, we have reporters asking us about it. Then you start seeing Tim Pool’s Twitter feed, and everybody’s talking about bringing guns and talking about Antifa needs to be shot. And nothing from Tim Pool. Nothing from the organizers. Nothing saying that we are not about this. Interestingly enough, no reporters asking us about it either. Or asking them about that. And like I said before, if they have to lie about our intentions, that might mean that there is something a little bit more nefarious than they let on going forward into this conference. Maybe this conference shouldn’t happen, if they have to resort to lying about us to keep it from happening basically proves our point about how bad they are. But the fact that they themselves, the organizers anything about their supporters threatening to bring guns and such says a lot about how bad this conferences as well.
Heather Warburton 29:59
Right, they’re the ones that are making these threats of violence. And apparently that’s perfectly fine.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 30:06
No, it’s not. It is not perfectly fine. We need to call it out. We need to let all of our people know that this is what they want. They want violence, we never called for it. They said we did. We didn’t. They’re calling for violence. And they’re not saying a thing. That should inform the rest of us. That should inform what kind of people are coming to Pitman. And who should not be in Pitman.
Heather Warburton 30:34
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 30:36
So that’s just the real about that.
Heather Warburton 30:39
And as of right now, where it stands as of today, when we’re recording this, I should have this episode up by Monday, but this is Wednesday that we’re recording it. It seems like it’s not going to happen at the theater, but the organizers are still saying they intend to have it happen somewhere in Pitman. Now, I mean, some other people are saying there’s no other venue in Pitman that it could accommodate as large of a crowd as they say they’re going to have, which who knows if they’re lying about that. But so that’s where we stand as of right now. But if they show up in Pitman there will still be some sort of action of a protest, if they do wherever they move this conference to correct?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 31:18
Correct, correct. I mean, Basically we don’t know where it’s going to be yet. If in fact, they have it and my concern, the biggest concern that I have is the fact that neither doing the venues that they might go to. So we are warning venues to be mindful of anything that is being booked within the next couple of days. for August 31. You could be hosting this event unknowingly. And because they do that, too, I mean, it’s important that all the venue’s realize just how much they are going to put people on the on the hook they come into come into town with their BS
Heather Warburton 32:05
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 32:05
So we are letting venues know scrutinize anything that’s coming up on the 31st that got booked within the past couple of days, because it might be this thing, and you might not want it there.
Heather Warburton 32:16
And if anyone happens to have information about where this venue is going to be, you know, you can feel free to reach out to us at NJRR. If you actually know that, like okay, this is where this venue is being moved to, you know, we’d love to know so we can let that venue know what exactly it is that they’re hosting.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 32:36
Exactly, exactly. Look, let’s face it, everywhere fascist go they’re going to cause problems. They have no business trying to network in a society that’s supposed to be a free one. They should not get any quarter whatsoever. Yeah, they have their freedom of speech. Sure. So if they use it, Do not let them try to shut us up when we respond to it. That’s what they’re trying to do, what all these narratives about how we’re about to engage in violence, they do that all the time. But most importantly, go beyond the conference. Go beyond the event. We got to handle these characters regardless of whether or not they’re having an event. On the off time. You gotta start saying make their lives hell even when they’re home. You know, whenever at work, when they’re at school.Whatever it is they do in life besides this, you got diminish their ability to function everywhere they go because they are not contributing to society. They’re contributing to the end of it. Whatever it is, they do so, don’t let them sleep. Don’t let them sleep.
Heather Warburton 33:59
And I know you don’t, you are out there every day fighting against hate in this country. If people want to get involved and support you and help with One People’s Project or with Idavox, what can they do? How can they reach out?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 34:14
Well, they can reach out courtesy of you can first go to our website, One People’s Project. com. Um, you can also go to Idavox.com , which is our news line. We’re 501c3 so we can definitely use donations we greatly appreciate it if you can help with that. There is information on the website about how to do that. You can you can do a snail mail we have a snail mail address online. You can also Venmo me and remember, we’re tax deductible, but if you Venmo me, it’s still gonna be tax deductible. Just write one people’s project in the comments. And I’m D. Lamont Jenkins on Venmo. I’m also D. Lamont Jenkins on Twitter and Instagram. So if anybody wants to follow me in either of those places that’s great.
Heather Warburton 35:06
And also you’re having a fundraiser, right?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 35:10
Heather Warburton 35:11
You’re also going to be having a fundraiser in Philly as well.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 35:15
Yes, we’re going to have a fundraiser on September 21 at the tattoo moms
Heather Warburton 35:20
I think its Wooden Shoe
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 35:22
I’m sorry, my bad, my bad at Wooden Show. I was sorry. I’ve got all my dates mixed up. But yeah, it Wooden Shoe it’s on South Street. Um, we hope to see you there September 21. We’re gonna rock it out. We’re going to be looking at one of the productions, incidentally, that I had been getting myself involved in. It is called Skin and I believe it’s the short film we’re going to be showing the short film, correct.
Heather Warburton 35:46
I believe that’s what we’re doing.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 35:48
Yeah, short film skin which won an Oscar earlier this year. I’m one of the producers of it. There’s a feature film also called Skin that you can see in the theaters right now. And on demand. If you have cable or anything like that you can find it on demand everywhere. It’s about a neo nazi that I help reform. His name is Brian Widener. He’s been played by Jamie Bell, who you might know as Billy Elliot and other productions he does on the TV show Turn. And Mike Coulter aka Luke Cage plays me… Superhero.
Heather Warburton 36:25
See I told you that you are a Superhero
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 36:26
It also stars Vera Farmiga, Danielle McDonald. Bill Camp. Daniel Henshall is in it. He was also in Turn, and it’s a great cast, directed by Guy Nattiv from Israel. This is his first American production. And it’s a great movie. It’s going to take you back. I’m gonna tell you this right now. It will take you back.
Heather Warburton 36:53
Yeah, it’s it’s a powerful piece of work. And also, Alt-Right Age of Rage is also another movie that you’re featured in.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 37:02
Yes, yes. Alt-Right Age Of Rage is a documentary that’s currently on Netflix. And it’s basically about me versus Richard Spencer. I mean, that’s the backdrop of it. But um, it really is about the anti fascist scene vs. the Nazis scene, really, in this day and age. So yes, there’s a lot of footage from Charlottesville and everything that was leading up to it. So you’re going to see some interesting stuff. It’s a real, real real good documentary. Real good documentary. It gives you an idea of why we do what we do and how, so if you get a chance to check out Alt-Right Age Of Rage, it was directed by Adam Bhala Lough. And he is responsible for a number of documentaries, including one about Lil Wayne, that I saw, and I love that documentary, and the New Radicals so just check it. Check it out. Let me know what you think.
Heather Warburton 38:10
All right, thank you so much for being here. And thank you so much for everything you do, Daryle. It’s always a pleasure you.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins 38:17
Thank you. And we’ll be working again in the future.
Yes, we will. To my listeners, thank you so much for joining us here today. We appreciate you so much for being a part of our family here at NJRR. We take no corporate money so we can only be responsible to you guys to our family. That’s why we have to keep asking you for donations. You know, even if you can only give us a couple of dollars a month that helps keep us on a budget and know what we can spend so that we’re not having to do all this stuff out of pocket. Go on to our website, www.njrevolutionradio.com and click on that Donate button. We appreciate you so much. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it
Can you help with a small donation to keep trustworthy independent media going? We take no corporate money, only donation from real people. https://njrevolutionradio.com/donate/
Aug 26 2019
Rank #11: Stolen Land; Stolen People with Rev. Francois
On this episode Heather joins Rev. Willie Francois at his church Mt Zion Baptist in Pleasantville NJ to talk cannabis, capitalism, human nature, and philosophy
Great Respect for Rev. Francois
Since Heather is traditionally quite critical of Christianity,
if she has a religious leader on the show, it really speaks highly of her respect
for the person. This is 100% the case with Rev. Francois. He has been serving
the Mt Zion family for 3 years and has come to know and deeply care about the
communities of Pleasantville and Atlantic City. It shows in everything he does
to speak for justice for these communities.
Pleasantville look like?
Pleasantville is about 6 miles outside of the entertainment
capital of Atlantic City. The local economy is completely tied to the economy
of the neighboring city. 40% of city residents
are employed in the casino industry. It is a small town of roughly 20,000
residents, predominately black and brown.
The 2010 census put the city at about 50% black and about 40%
latinx. In recent years those numbers
have shifted to being predominately latinx.
Deep Poverty Zone
Pleasantville is also a deeply impoverished town especially since the crash of 08. Unemployment is 11.9% which is 7 points above the national average. The high school graduation rate is about 70% which is well below the state average of 90.5%. 29% of residents live below the poverty line. In Atlantic County it is completely a gig economy. The community is plagued by all the trappings of being economically disadvantaged such as crime rate and being a food dessert. Displacement due to gentrification of Atlantic City has concentrated the poverty in Pleasantville. These are the demographics of the community Rev. Francois serves
Loss of Vitality
Since the state considers them a high poverty zone, it removes them from funding for affordable housing. The state’s goal is to move people out of poverty areas in wealthy areas, which causes a displacement from community and people. A community is made up of its people, and it causes real trauma to be forced out of your home.
No Real Community Development
There is no economic development happening for the residents of Pleasantville. The school district has been under state monitor for over a decade. Rev. Francois comments on corruption in the school board and that we are literally gambling with the future of black and brown communities.
Stolen Land; Stolen
This is just another iteration in our country’s long history
of white supremacy and radical displacement of black and brown people. It what
the country is built on. It is no surprise that gentrification happens in
minority communities which displaces non-white people. Mass incarceration and
the school to prison pipeline is another form of that displacement. Our country’s
legacy is the terror of displacement of native bodies or the trafficking of
black bodies for slavery.
People in Atlantic City are being priced out of their homes
in the name of urban revitalization. In many cities including Atlantic City,
community is not interest based it is place based. Families have invested
generations into the development of a community. Memories of growing up and
forming relationship on certain streets form your life and history. There is a real trauma when families are
involuntarily displaced from “Home”. It damages
people for an increase in the value of property. This is a significant form of
economic exploitation under capitalism.
Capitalism and Christianity
Heather brings up how in so many religious beliefs capitalism equates to goodness, when really, it’s the exact opposite. Rev. Francois explains his journey of how he became critical of capitalism as a part of expressing his faith. He mentions people like Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Dr King as helping him deconstruct our economic arrangement and forecast what type we should have.
A Dangerous Marriage
Rev. Francois calls it a dangerous marriage between global Christianity and global capitalism. It spreads all the worst that western society has to offer. He also suggests the work of Cornel West as having deeply influenced him. These thinkers helped him come to understand how capitalism exploits human bodies and although it demands work it does not dignify what it means to work.
Does Marx Find Inspiration
The Reverend proposed that Marx found some of his inspiration in Acts 2 of the bible. This early form of a Jesus community talks of pooling resources and having all thing in common and seems deeply anti-capitalist. This was a subversive community in the empire. The early collective economics is what Rev. Francois calls Pentecost economics. In this community, poverty is eradicated because there are no rich or poor or any type of class. He also compares it to an Ubuntu philosophy. This collective is centered on radical equality and radical egalitarianism. That is how he knows the Jesus movement and at its heart it is anti-capitalist.
The Dangers of Prosperity
This strange and dangerous philosophy suggests that poverty exists because of lack of faith. This lets the system off the hook for all the failings of society and places the blame on individuals for being poor. It masks that you can not have capitalism without a permanent under caste. It is required for its very existence. Capitalism undermines the myth of the American dream and economic mobility. That dream is the opposite of the capitalist agenda. It uses racial and gender disparity as a way of forcing this under caste. We perpetuate this debt-based thinking, but we know it to be untrue. It creates contrived competition among workers. If we have resources to bail out banks, then we have resources to share amongst the working class.
What is Human Nature?
Often when Heather identifies herself as a socialist or
communist, the knee jerk reaction is to tell her that its against human nature.
That humans are selfish or greedy. So, Heather asks Rev. Francois to define his
view of Human Nature. For him, human nature
is goodness. It is direct manifestation of the goodness of a higher consciousness
or a God. All humanity is created in the
image of an ultimate source of goodness, light, love, and creativity. To be a
physical manifestation of that makes us beautiful and we are disabused and dehumanized
of that birthright. Rev. Francois mentions the early writings of Doctor King
about personalism which affirms the inherent good of the person.
3/5th of a Person
Rev. Francois then brings up what to Heather is one of the most impactful statements of the entire interview. People of color have systemically been dehumanized by the structures in place in society. They were trafficked here as a commodity for sale, then it was written into the early language of the country that people of color are not fully human. Then on top of that there is the religious tradition that speak of human depravity and inherently sin. He speaks about how his ancestors had to fight to become recognized as fully human and then once they finally attain that, then they were slapped in the face with the story that being human is not valuable. That it is depraved and flawed. Its another way of dehumanizing those who have been robbed of their humanity.
Heather and Rev. Francois then transition to his cannabis activism. It is one of his main activism outlets on a state level. The prohibition of cannabis is based deeply in white supremacy. Henry Anslinger, who was the original drug czar in the 20s would say things like “It is cannabis that causes a black man to look a white man in the eye” and he created this deeply racist fear mongering that marijuana makes black men go crazy and sleep with white women. Henry Anslinger appealed to every deeply racist troupe and paranoia in his effort to criminalize cannabis.
A Racist Prohibition
The prohibition does not come from a place of safety but of social control of non-white bodies. Rev. Francois’ activism is committed to ending the terror of incarceration and from a deep sense of social justice. He speaks about the repair that needs to be done to for communities. This can not just be a tool to fuel capitalism but must be a tool for community repair.
A Cannabis Forum
Keep an eye out because Heather, Rev. Francois, and Henry Green are in the process of organizing a community forum on cannabis. We will post the details on New Jersey Revolution Radio as they develop.
Other Avenues of Activism
in the Church
He also speaks about other issues important to him such as restoring voting rights to those who have finished serving their time in prison. He also mentions the importance of having an id that is accessible to everyone. The church has quarterly townhalls about social justice and activism. They seek to counter the religious right and reclaim the activist tradition of black churches to counter then with the religious left. They also will be working on the dignity of work and a job guarantee. There is no good or bad jobs and all work has dignity and all jobs should pay a living wage. It makes no sense for someone to work 40 or 50 hours a week and still be poor.
Jan 28 2019
Rank #12: Ranked Choice Voting In NJ
In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution Heather interviews Craig Cayetano about Ranked Choice Voting, a remarkable voting system that could revolutionize NJ’s elections.
Craig Cayetano advocates for a Ranked Choice Voting system. In his role as co-chair of the Green Party of NJ, he educates and organizes around this issue.
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
To explain what ranked choice voting is, we must compare it to what it isn’t. New Jersey currently utilizes a “first past the post” system of voting. You go into the voting booth and cast a vote for 1 person. Next, you cross you fingers that your candidate gets more than 50%. On the other hand, Ranked Choice is something very different. It has been around a very long time. A number of cities have utilized this system.
Yes, You Vote for Multiple People
Instead of voting for one person, you would vote for as many as you want. For example if you really love Candidate A, then you rank them first. If you kinda like candidate B and they make you feel safe, then you rank them second. If Candidate C is horrible you don’t rank them at all. For example, last election many allies could have voted for The Green Party candidate Madelyn Hoffman. Instead, they bought into fear of Hugin becoming Senator, and “held their nose” to vote for Menendez. Ranked Choice Voting would change that whole dynamic. Voters could vote for representatives they actually want.
Ok, So Whats With Voting Rounds?
Voting continues until someone gets a majority. If a candidate gets that in the first round, great, we end there. If not then your second choice comes into play. The tabulation software eliminates the candidate with the least votes. Their votes are then reassigned to the voter’s second choice candidate. This continues until a clear winner emerges.
Elevation of Discourse
A more fair election is only one consequence of Ranked Choice Voting. Under ranked choice, candidates stop going low. They choose not to release attack ads and instead they discuss actual topics. In other words, attack ads actually hurt candidates under ranked choice. The conversation changes. Discussions can center issues. This leads to significantly better solutions than our binary choice system. Voters become re-engaged. Politics ceases to be a dirty word.
Maine has been working on implementing ranked choice since 2015. Politicians fought tooth and nail. If the system is working for you, you don’t want things to change. Finally, Maine ratified the ballot measure. They used this system for the first time this past election. The election played out that in the 2nd round the democratic candidate won the election. Massachusetts and Alaska are now working on similar measures. Tim Eustace first proposed a ranked choice bill in NJ in 2015. Andrew Zwicker introduced a comprehensive ranked choice bill (A5205) this year into the NJ legislature.
Paper Ballots and Election Safety
Admit it, are you concerned about the legitimacy of our elections? Most machines currently don’t produce a paper trail. You pull the lever and pray someone counted your vote. All that changes under a Ranked Choice Voting Bill. The machines have to produce a paper ballot. That paper trail returns. You can stop worrying if someone is cheating or hacking. Your vote will count. We need secure and fair elections if we care about our democracy. If you care about nothing else. Then call your legislators and tell them you are concerned about election safety. Politics are dirty and shady, but they don’t have to be. This issue crosses the political party line.
If any of the grassroots groups like Action Together, Working Families, or Indivisible would like to work with Craig or us here at NJ Revolution Radio to host a forum about ranked choice voting you can reach us at email@example.com
For more information check out FairVote.org
or join Craig’s facebook group “Ranked Choice Voting for New Jersey“https://njrevolutionradio.com/heather-interviews-heather-gordon-wine-women-and-revolution/
Jun 03 2019
Rank #13: Venezuela, Colombia and Peace With Madelyn Hoffman
Longtime friend of NJRR, peace activist and former New Jersey Green Party Senate candidate Madelyn Hoffman sits down with our own Heather Warburton to discuss her recent visits to Colombia and Venezuela, and how America’s ugliest imperialist tendencies are seeping through yet again.
Champion for Peace in Colombia
is a fierce advocate for peace, and her mission has led her to various places
across the globe. “Let’s say for the better part of two decades, I’ve been
specifically dedicating my life to working for peace,” she says.
recent travels have taken her to Colombia and Venezuela. In regards to Colombia,
she had initially planned on just visiting a friend’s family, but says the trip
ended up being an important networking event between herself and various other
peace activists. “That trip, from ‘Oh, let’s go see where my friend is from’,
developed into a trip where I had 14 meetings in 8 days.”
Speaking With Global Peace Activists
says she spoke to various peace activists, from moderates, to what she calls
“militant” peace activists. Madelyn also spoke with members of the Mennonite
church; whose religious beliefs include conscious objection to war.
Peace Accords In Shreds
meetings also included one with a former member of FARC, a guerilla
organization that was involved in peace accords in Colombia, peace accords,
that she notes, “now basically lie in shreds on the floor.”
the way, she also spoke firsthand with environmentalists to get a sense of the
challenges that they and other peace activists face, which include, in her
words, “fear of, and the risk of, being assassinated, having themselves or
their families threatened by authorities.” She points out that in the Colombia
over the past two years, 454 community leaders have been assassinated,
presumably by the government and paramilitary forces.
Colombian Woman’s Struggle
also met with one woman who she called “One of the most outspoken and visible”
activists fighting against a hydroelectric plant in her region of Colombia.
talked about the secretive nature of the meeting. “She had to be extremely
careful, about where she met me, how she met me, because she’s really
concerned, and she’s living in an area where about 300,000 campesinos, those
are peasants or farmers, are affected. She has to be careful all the time.”
A Risky Meeting
herself had to go to a different area to meet her, as meeting in the woman’s
own region was too risky. “The decision was made that I should not go there
because I would have a target on my back,” she says.
recalling the hour-long conversation with the woman, Madelyn notes “There were
moments when I was so choked up, I couldn’t talk to her,” due to the
overwhelming nature of the meeting, and hearing about the struggles the people
the most disgusting part of all of this? “There’s American money behind it,”
says Madelyn. “Not only American money, but there’s American money behind it
through the World Bank and some of the other supports.”
the conversation, Madelyn thought about a specific issue brought up by the
woman, namely, the lack of exposure in the America to the struggles that
regular people face in Colombia.
from the obvious humanitarian struggles, Madelyn speaks about the persecution
of labor leaders, organizers, and other peace advocates. She says this issue is
very real, and the lack of media attention is due in part to attention being
paid to the ongoing coup in neighboring Venezuela.
The Human Rights Fight in Colombia
address the current “the human rights fight” going on now in Colombia. “There
are 7 and a half million Colombians who have been internally displaced,” she
explains. “Mostly because of the extraction industries, for minerals and other
resources. People have been pushed off their land in order for new projects to
be built. They were promised the right to return to their land, and the
government hasn’t upheld its promises to the people.” She notes that Colombian
human rights fighters take a risk every time they speak.
was, however, a human rights mobilization effort on April 25th in Colombia
around these critical issues. Madelyn explains, “The fact that the peace
accords are not being enforced by (Colombian) President Duque, the fact that
the so-called New Development plan is not guaranteeing the right to return, or
is not taking action to allow people to go back to their lands.”
A General Fascism
issue in Colombia is the consistent protection of organizers and human rights
activists. Madelyn notes that while there are communities in the U.S. that live
in fear, there is not the threat of “general fascism” faced by champions for
human rights in Colombia.
U.S. Imperialism in
Colombia: A Staging Ground for a Coup
explains that another reason for her visit to Colombia was to get a sense of
what the people thought of the threat of war with Venezuela, and the fact that
the U.S. is using their land as a staging ground for a coup against Venezuelan president
says the Colombia people have a lot to worry about on their own when it comes
to dealing with American imperialism. “There are seven military bases in
Colombia that everybody knows about, and two that are secret, so there is
concern about the military presence in Colombia itself, U.S. military bases.
These are U.S. military bases in Colombia.”
Everyone Knows The Score
concept of U.S. intervention in Latin America is not new. “Everyone sort of
knows the score,” explains Madelyn. “They know the role of what the U.S. is, or
has been, in their internal affairs for many years.”
notes the strong anti-NATO sentiment amongst the people of Colombia, and how
many detest the U.S. using the country as a launch pad for a coup in Venezuela.
She also mentions that Colombian president Duque is using the migration of
Venezuelans to Colombia as a fear tactic to create an anti-immigrant sentiment,
similar to U.S. president Donald Trump.
the airports, on the city streets, most of the people who are either homeless,
or are washing windshields and all, they’ve come from Venezuela,” she says. “A
lot of Colombians are thinking seriously about what the solution is, no one I
spoke to was in favor of U.S. military intervention.”
Even Avocados Have An Impact
traveling the country, Madelyn saw how both “military and corporate” U.S.
imperialism was affecting the Colombia economy. The coffee trade is negatively
impacted, and agricultural changes, such as the planting of hass avocados, are
affecting the natural vegetation.
all this, Madelyn says she is impressed with the grit of the Colombian people
who are trying to protect their country. “There are people who are just so
connected to the land and the situation, and really wanting to make those peace
accords enforced. Colombians are extremely active on a lot of those issues that
The U.S. Suffocation
to neighboring Venezuela, Madelyn says that the U.S. media portrays a very
different situation than what is actually occurring. One popular misconception
is that Venezuela is now some sort of wasteland with no one in sight. After her
recent trip to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Madelyn says this is not
being there for just a short while, you could see people going to work, going
to school, vegetable stands and fruit stands on the side of the road. People
selling this and people selling that, and traffic jams and hoking of horns,”
picture of a humanitarian crisis that’s been painted by the U.S. media, while
there are problems and there are shortages, life is going on. There’s a lot of
life in those streets and there’s a lot of life in Caracas. There’s no crisis
that’s shutting down commerce and business and school and life.”
did not experience any of the blackouts that had occurred earlier in April. She
spoke to a woman who said that if an outage occurred, “they went to work, they
did what they had to do. They intend to continue to do that. They are not going
to let these obstacles get in their way.”
also stresses the people of Venezuela know quite well of the “sabotage” taking
place. “They know that their country is under economic warfare.”
Assets Frozen or Stolen
in Venezuela, she heard a speech that she “will never forget” given by the
Venezuelan Vice President of Foreign Affairs. The speech chronicled U.S.
aggression since the rise of former president Hugo Chavez in the late 1990s.
According to Madelyn, the Venezuelans feel the U.S. and its European allies are
trying to “suffocate” their economy.
billion dollars of assets are frozen in international institutions,” says
Madelyn. “The international community is not putting in any fresh financing in
addition to the sanctions which have been imposed, most likely illegally. Can
you imagine as a country if those assets were no longer available to you, from
the places you had counted on for years?”
Peace Not War
points out that even through economic suffocation, Venezuelans have been
characteristically peaceful, unlike the way some other countries have behaved
historically. “They have never been at war, Venezuela has never attacked another country, no
soldier has ever gone on foreign soil
to fight a war. They are a peace-loving country. Their goal is to resolve this
peacefully. They’re not a war-like nation. From 1840 to 2020, no wars. None. Compare
that to the same time period in the U.S.’s history, and you have virtually
every year some kind of military activity, either at home or abroad.”
An Ideological Threat
got to speak to Venezuelans candidly about threats facing the Venezuelan
people, and how the Maduro government has been addressing them. She also talked
to people to try to get a sense of how the public feels regarding the U.S.’s
unwarranted involvement in their day-to-day lives.
considers the issue of housing in Venezuela. Under President Maduro, 2.6
million new housing units have been constructed out of a set goal of 3 million
by the end of 2019. She says there are people who live in the mountains of
Venezuela who live what she called “very basic lives with very basic shelters.”
She describes a group of people who are quite content with their simplistic
Helping Instead of Harming
of rounding all of these mountain villagers up and threatening to kicking them
out, Madelyn says the Maduro government tried to make their lives easier. “The
government added freezers, or helped with the plumbing, or did something to
strengthen and solidify the housing that people had. So, you talk about a
different type of values system.”
her interactions, Madelyn also spoke to a woman who has visited and had family
in the U.S. In her words, the woman said to Madelyn: “I don’t get it, I don’t
like it. I come to the U.S., my i-Phone breaks, and they’re trying to push the
latest i-Phone on me. I don’t want it! I
don’t need it! Get away!” The woman rejected the very American, capitalist
idea of “having the best of everything.”
War is Bipartisan
points out that the U.S. coup is not merely a Democratic or Republican issue,
but is an assault that has bipartisan support. “In 2015, President Obama issued
an executive order saying that Venezuela was a threat to the United States, and
the United States can’t coexist with Venezuela.”
Her tone changes suddenly. “A security threat? No, it’s an ideological threat. It’s people who don’t want to live under capitalism. I’m not saying all people of Venezuela feel this way, but the people that we met do, and part of that is what fuels their commitment and conviction to say, ‘Oh no, no, no. Venezuela, we have our problems, of course we do. But we are going to solve them. No one from the outside, especially from the United States is going to solve them for us.”
The article accompanying this interview was written by Ryan Hosey
May 06 2019
Rank #14: Weed and Women: The Preview Show
In this episode, Heather talks to Dana Belka from Cannacare Docs, who is the main sponsor of our event. She talks Heather through the process of getting a medical cannabis card. Then they talk about the future of industry and how women are taking over.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today we are talking about an amazing event we have coming up this weekend. It’s the Women Weed and Wellness event out in Cherry Hill. And I have with me our primary sponsor who’s making this whole thing happen for us. Dana Belka from Cannacare doctors. Welcome to the show.
Dana Belka 0:48
Thank you for having me.
Heather Warburton 0:50
I’m so glad that you guys got on board with us and are helping us bring this women specific event to New Jersey because I think it’s really something that’s needed.
Dana Belka 0:58
I absolutely agree with that statement.
Heather Warburton 1:01
And why I really wanted to have you here today, we’re not going to give away too much of what we’re doing at the event because we want people to come to the event. But we did want to talk a little bit about how you can become a medical marijuana patient in the state of New Jersey. And since you are from Cannacare doctors and are my prescribing doctor as a matter of fact, who else would be better to have on the show than you?
Dana Belka 1:23
Right? So in New Jersey, there are I think 19 qualifying conditions now, all the way from chronic pain to anxiety to PTSD to opioid use disorder, to epilepsy, migraines, seizures, chrones, ms. I mean, the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And so you need to have one of those qualifying conditions and your medical records to support your qualifying condition. And then you would bring them into a place like CannaCare doctors.
Heather Warburton 1:54
So you just go to your regular doctor who’s treating you for that and they say that you have this condition correct.
Dana Belka 2:00
And usually it would be in your notes as well. So when you leave the doctor’s office, you get a patient summary. Usually in there, it will let you know what you were being treated for, or what you were diagnosed with, and then you would bring that in to our office.
Heather Warburton 2:16
Okay, so what happens? I’ve got my paperwork and I come in and make an appointment with you guys. How many offices do you have?
Dana Belka 2:21
Right now? We have five offices in New Jersey, but we are national. So we are in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Colorado, Texas. We’re going to be in New York very soon. Missouri’s coming online. Oklahoma is coming online. So a lot of growth is happening with CannaCare doctors, but in New Jersey, right now we require two visits. The first visit you would come in, meet with one of our site coordinators. They do all of the education with you on the program, the rules, the regulations, they helped get you registered, and then you would come back in for the second visit. If it can be done in one day, we will do it in one day. But then you would come back, you would meet with the doctor, he would certify you and then you’re good for the year.
Heather Warburton 3:13
Alright, so I get the certification. Do you guys fill out the paperwork for me? Or do I have to fill that out myself?
Dana Belka 3:18
We do it for you, at CannaCare doctors. It’s part of your our service. So if you want us to do it, we can. If you want to do it yourself, you can do it yourself too. We also help with the two year card renewals at no charge as well, too.
Heather Warburton 3:33
All right, yeah, I’m still a little way away from my two year card renewal
Dana Belka 3:36
We have people coming up on their six year card renewals.
Heather Warburton 3:40
But, you know, it’s it’s great that you do help people with that because it’s kind of confusing still, like a lot of people I talk to still don’t really understand how you get it. And when I say like, oh, they’re the prescribing doctor, well, what’s the prescribing doctor? It’s not really a prescription anyway,
Dana Belka 3:54
Right. It’s a recommendation because marijuana is still a schedule one drug so it’s not looked at as A prescription, but you need a prescribing doctor to give you the recommendation.
Heather Warburton 4:06
And so you get that paperwork and then can I go to any dispensary?
Dana Belka 4:10
So you can go to any dispensary that you want in New Jersey, however, you can only be registered at one at a time. So if you wanted to go to Egg Harbor, you can go there to now and then next week, you can go to cure leaf, but you have to go online and change your primary dispensary.
Heather Warburton 4:28
It’s a little annoying.
Dana Belka 4:30
And actually, you know, they are actually pretty good at doing it for you if you just show up there as long as you’ve been there before.
Heather Warburton 4:37
Right. And it’s it’s not that hard to do. You can just do it right on the Department of Health website, right. Currently, who knows once they’ve changed things around? Because things are changing.
Dana Belka 4:47
They seem to be changing every week lately.
Heather Warburton 4:49
Yeah, they definitely do. Now we’ve got the ballot initiative that we’re going to be voting on in 2020.
Dana Belka 4:55
That’s also going to be another game changer, right?
Heather Warburton 4:57
Yeah, for sure. And it’s not gonna be The Department of Health it’s going to be the advisory board.
Dana Belka 5:03
Yes. Trying to put a cannabis commission? board? committee? in place. So that’s something that they are working on right now. But at this time it is the Department of Health and they do have a separate medical marijuana team.
Heather Warburton 5:20
And so when somebody comes into your office if they’ve never used cannabis before, do you kind of talk them through a little bit about it or does that happens at the dispensary?
Dana Belka 5:27
We offer the education prior. So we go over methods of use and stuff like that. And then the dispensary is supposed to do it as well. So they are supposed to go hand in hand. But because marijuana is a schedule one drug. There’s a lot of information that it seems like people don’t find out, that they need to find out on their own because people are still afraid to talk about it.
Heather Warburton 5:52
Dana Belka 5:52
Yes, if that makes any sense
Heather Warburton 5:54
There’s still this stigma around a medication that’s helping people across the world. People have been using it for centuries.
Dana Belka 6:02
Heather Warburton 6:02
And we have this relationship with the plant that just drastically changed at some point in time. Because somebody decided it was a bad thing,
Dana Belka 6:10
It probably helped too many people,
Heather Warburton 6:12
Right? It’s a plant, you know, you could grow it yourself quite easily.
Dana Belka 6:16
I say that all the time. It’s a plant, it grows in the ground. What is the problem with it? Right? We eat plants that grow in the ground, vegetables, I mean, everything we eat comes out of the ground.
Heather Warburton 6:28
Right? There’s a friend of the show who says like, I can grow as many tomatoes as I want. I can grow tomatoes all day long. I can grow peppers. But the one thing that’s actually prescribed to me can’t grow.
Dana Belka 6:40
I can’t grow.
Heather Warburton 6:42
The thing that you’re actually like, someone told you, this will help your medical condition and you can’t grow that but grow the corn you will.
Dana Belka 6:49
And the thing that people, I think, don’t understand about the medical cannabis is that it’s the micro dosing and the everyday use with micro dosing that you get the relief from it if you just use it here and there. Yeah, you, you will get high.
Heather Warburton 7:05
Okay, let’s go into that subject a little bit because in case anybody doesn’t know what micro dosing, like, if they’re only experiences is they smoked a joint at a party, you know, they get high and they laugh at whatever’s on Netflix for two hours. And you eat an entire bag of Doritos, but what’s micro dosing,
Dana Belka 7:23
Micro dosing, it’s pretty much when you just take a little bit. So your pains away and you go about your day and then a couple of hours later, you take a little bit more to keep your pain away, so on and so forth. If you use too much marijuana, then yeah, you will get high you’ll have that.
Heather Warburton 7:43
Dana Belka 7:45
Right. So it’s just a little bit to ease the pain to feel the relief.
Heather Warburton 7:50
And people have been micro dosing and really keeping severe conditions under control, as long as they’re keeping that little little bit in their system at all times.
Dana Belka 8:01
I know for myself, it’s been everyday since 1993 of the micro dosing. And that’s all I keep coming back to.
Heather Warburton 8:10
And before you started the interview you were telling me that you were actually in a back brace before you discovered this.
Dana Belka 8:16
Yep, I wore a back brace from age 11 to 22. I never took gym class, never played a sport.
Heather Warburton 8:23
And once you discovered this, you’re up, you’re active. I see your pictures. You’re on like Facebook, you’re out everywhere. You’re doing all kinds of stuff.
Dana Belka 8:30
I started using it for migraine headaches. I get basilar migraine headaches every time before it rains. They’re very, very rare. So migraine medication wasn’t helping them. And the other option was pain pills. And I didn’t like them. So a doctor told me in 1993 to smoke marijuana. Best advice I ever got. But it really did. Six months into it I couldn’t understand how a back that I was told that would need surgery on was getting better. And the only thing I changed was marijuana.
Heather Warburton 9:02
It’s obvious why you’re in this industry. You’re so passionate about it, that it really is a calling for you. That you’ve seen the help.. the miracle, it’s done for you, and you want to share that miracle with other people.
Dana Belka 9:11
I do. And I’ve actually gone through a lot to even get here. I mean, I dealt with family services, had my kids taken away from me, I didn’t see them for a year, all because I self medicated. And I refuse to give it up. Because I knew the benefits of what it did to me in 1993. And I want everybody to be able to at least have that option, to at least experience what a natural medicine is and how that can help you. It can help you.
Heather Warburton 9:40
And Dana is especially very caring about patients because a while ago, my original practice or my original prescribing doctor kind of went out of business in a rather abrupt manner. And I had an appointment set for like less than a month. It was maybe like two weeks from then, and I’m like okay well??? And Cannacare had taken over the patient profiles. And I’m like, I’m freaking out because I take it for anxiety, and this is not helping my anxiety. I’m freaking out. I think I posted on the Facebook page like, What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go. And the office I went to was closed. I was freaking out. And you actually personally reached out to me and it was like, it’s okay, we’ll set you up with an appointment come out here and like, you kind of calmed me down.
Dana Belka 10:27
I was like a hawk on Facebook, like oh my god, these patients I was I was going crazy because I felt bad for all these patients that I knew needed to get in. And at the same time, because there’s been so many problems within the marijuana program in New Jersey with doctors being a little shady. The state is now watching closer and cracking down that it just created a mass panic but Canna care doctors got the state involved in the transition, which really helped with the transition. And then me being so involved. I was able to see people like you On Facebook, oh my god, don’t worry, we got you. We’re not gonna leave you.
Heather Warburton 11:03
it’s not like you’re just like an office manager. You are the regional marketing director for Cannacare, like you’re not, you know, it’s you are covering a giant area. How many states doyou cover?
Dana Belka 11:14
I cover four states and I help with New York. But then I also assist the area manager who also covers the same states. She does the operational side. So I was really assisting her because it was so much so fast. And so many patients were just, especially the ones with anxiety. Their anxiety got heightened really fast.
Heather Warburton 11:35
Right, you reak out, because here’s this medicine that keeps your anxiety at bay.
Dana Belka 11:39
And our call center was not ready for the volume, right? And it just created the phones overblow and then it just created this mass chaos. But we worked through it we got through to ,you know, most of the patients, and we did the best that we were able to do. And luckily the doctor did assist with some things that we needed. That made the transition a little bit easier to.
Heather Warburton 12:05
And I would definitely say I prefer Cannacare doctors as my prescribing doctor versus my old prescribor that I had. You guys are pretty awesome.
Dana Belka 12:13
You went into Linwood. Right?
Heather Warburton 12:14
Dana Belka 12:15
And you met the doctor who’s just,
Heather Warburton 12:18
He’s a very nice guy. Yeah, he’s so laid back and chill. Like, he actually took my blood pressure reading like, which never happened at my other prescribing doctor. He took my blood pressure. He took my temperature
Dana Belka 12:30
And he talked to you.
Heather Warburton 12:31
Yeah, that’s about like, Okay, well, what are you using? And, you know, how’s it working for you? And, you know, it actually was a real, like, medical conversation, which was very different from my other experience.
Dana Belka 12:42
And that’s why Canada care doctors, you know, came into New Jersey and took over the patient base to show them that there were other ways out there and that just because their first experience wasn’t so good, it doesn’t have to continue that way.
Heather Warburton 12:56
Right. Yeah. So I have to ask you because, you know, we’re doing weed and women event. What’s it like being kind of a powerful woman in the weed world here in New Jersey and in the region
Dana Belka 13:09
So I could tell you that there’s not enough time in the day. My days run into my nights. my Nights run into my weeks, My weeks run into my my months. It’s always moving and always changing. And it’s one of those industries where you just can’t take things, you know, personal. And just keep on you know, keep keep on moving because if you have the passion that will override anything else out there. But you know, they say that its, you know, fast paced high energy. For me it’s that I never know what the day is gonna bring. I have a plan one way and it’s gonna that’s not gonna happen.
Heather Warburton 13:50
Right? We had this interview scheduled before and you’re like, I gotta go to Massachusetts today. I’m sorry. I can’t
Dana Belka 13:57
Its just they just pop up out of nowhere and I think it’s also because the industry itself every day is always changing state by state and, you know, on a national level too. So you’ve states that were medical now the recreational. It’s just I think that 2020 we’re going to see a lot of changes in the industry, but the industry itself, I don’t think it’s even really surfaced yet. If that makes any sense, right?
Heather Warburton 14:20
Do you find yourself very much in the minority being the only woman at the table sometimes?
Dana Belka 14:26
Sometimes, yeah, but lately, I feel like it’s more of a women’s world.
Heather Warburton 14:32
We’re kind of slowly taking over.
Dana Belka 14:33
Yeah, I kind of feel like that. I feel like women, you know, are more true to their passions. And it’s not just so much. Let’s get on the next bandwagon. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people also in the space come and go right to. So I think the ones with the real passion, and the real, you know, knowledge and really want to be there. We’ll be there as the industry grows. And I know I’m one of those people.
Heather Warburton 14:59
Yeah, I can Imagine you’ll be around, you’ll be in this industry, as long as you can.
Dana Belka 15:03
I never thought I’d find myself here. But I truly, truly enjoy helping people get their medical marijuana card and then seeing the results. Like I have seen results that I’m like, wow, like speechless.
Heather Warburton 15:17
Yeah, it can be a pretty profound effect.
Dana Belka 15:20
To help get somebody back their quality of life. I find that to be very rewarding. It’s definitely not about the money.
Heather Warburton 15:27
So we’re having this event this weekend and it’s going to be awesome. I’m so looking forward to it. The amazing people at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center are hosting us and are giving us the whole run of the building. So we’re going to have vendors in different rooms. We’re going to have one room set aside just for getting massages and then we’ve got the essential oil demo. Still not sure if we have the yoga demo or not. But we have a lot of really awesome vendors. We have speakers obviously Dana will be one of our speakers you can come you can meet her
Dana Belka 15:57
With information on how to get the card and have information
Heather Warburton 16:01
About Cannacare doctors in general. Where the offices are. You can meet somebody who’s a professor who runs the cannabis minor out at Stockton. You can meet the woman who’s the co-owner of The Joint in Trenton. And she’ll be one of our speakers. We have just amazing speakers. We have a woman who runs a company that’s bidding for one of the licenses, one of the minority licenses is going to be one of our speakers. We just have an amazing group of women.
Dana Belka 16:31
It’d be a fun afternoon. Yeah.
Heather Warburton 16:32
And you can get all your questions answered. Explore your relationship in like a friendly woman positive supporting environment.
Dana Belka 16:40
So no judging,
Heather Warburton 16:41
No judging. Oh, and there’s going to be chocolate, so what more do you need?
Dana Belka 16:46
Not much more. Not much.
Heather Warburton 16:49
And I really want to thank you and Cannacare doctors for enabling us to have this event.
Dana Belka 16:54
And thank you for having us too. I mean, I think this is something we should do on a bigger level.
Heather Warburton 16:58
Yeah, I think we’re gonna have more. Many of these. This may become a touring show that we’re going to do here and wherever, you know, we’re starting off in South Jersey, because you know, all good things start off in South Jersey here. But, you know, we’ll take it up to North Jersey, New York, Philly,
Dana Belka 17:11
Massachusetts, Maryland, all over Colorado. The women are the future of the weed movement, I think.
Heather Warburton 17:18
Any last words before we close it out for today?
Dana Belka 17:21
No, I’m just looking forward to our event and having all the wonderful women come out and just having a great day.
Heather Warburton 17:29
To my listeners, thank you so much for joining us today. Hopefully, if you are considering or wondering how do you get your medical marijuana card in New Jersey, you got some of your questions answered. And if that’s something that you think is going to be right for you, you can start moving that process forward. I’m sure Cannacare docs would love to have you as one of their patients. And, you know, it really can change your life. If it’s something that’s the right fit for you and you have one of these conditions. It can have profound effects. So thank you so much for joining us here today. And you know, we have these kinds of conversations, as activists, as patients, as people that just care about things. And most of the time, we do not actually get any corporate money for our show, because very rarely do people want to hear about the kinds of things we’re talking about. So you know, if you do want to hear about these kinds of kind of conversations and want to keep these conversations going. If you can go on to our website and click on the donate button, it’s www.nj evolutionradio.com. The donate buttons right there, we can take your money any way you want to give it to us. We could take PayPal. We can take Venmo. We can take Patreon, Cash app no matter how you want to give us money, we can take it and we appreciate every dollar you give us. It all really helps us a lot. The future is yours to create, go out there and create it.
Jan 20 2020
Rank #15: Dr. Ekaterina Sedia at The Community Cannabis Forum
Dr. Ekaterina Sedia joins Henry “Hank” Green for Part 1 of our Edison Community Cannabis Forum.
Dr. Sedia is an Associate Professor at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Associate Professor of Biology at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Her important work and advocacy gives us a better understanding of the cannabis plant and the social justice concerns around cannabis laws. The views expressed are hers.
Watch the YouTube Video
Jun 04 2019
Rank #16: Fight For Clean Water with The Newark Water Coalition
In this episode of Wine,Women,and Revolution, Heather interviews Anthony Diaz from the Newark Water Coalition. They talk about the water quality issues in the city and how activists can mobilize around water issues in their own community.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution radio. You can find us online at www.njrevolutionradio.com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today we’re going to be talking about water here. Because Water is life. It’s there’s nothing. It’s the basic building block of keeping people alive and healthy and happy. And some communities their water quality is really not very good. There’s lead issues there’s contaminants, and Newark especially is one of those cities that has been struggling with not having access to clean safe drinking water. So Newark decided to fight back specifically my guest tonight Anthony Diaz, he’s the one of the co founders of the New York water coalition. Welcome to the show, Anthony.
Anthony Diaz 1:01
Thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here. So my name is Anthony Diaz, I’m with the Newark water coalition. We found out about this water issue, probably in 2016. But the you know, the city said it was limited to Newark public school buildings. And so it wasn’t until 2018, that we found that the issue was more widespread.
Heather Warburton 1:24
And what is the issue?
Anthony Diaz 1:26
The issue is, so federally, the standard is 15 parts per billion.
Heather Warburton 1:33
Anthony Diaz 1:34
Yeah, for lead. And even by today’s standard, that’s not there is no safe level of lead that should be in anybody’s water. So Newark had, I think the first test showed like 27 parts per billion. And now the latest show that we’re up to 67 parts per billion across the city. So in fact, it’s been getting worse, it hasn’t been getting better. So you know, it. They don’t like to say that we’re not Flint, but we’re hitting Flint levels, or water isn’t coming out muddy or brown, but it’s still poisoning people. And the city is saying that it’s not an issue.
Heather Warburton 2:15
And so why is the city saying that there’s a level of lead that there’s no safe level and you’re getting some lead? Why are they saying that that’s not an issue?
Anthony Diaz 2:24
So you know,being that you have the word revolution in your show title? I, I sure I’m, I’m certain that you’re I can easily say that it’s all capitalism, that they don’t want to, they want to downplay this issue, because they don’t want to cost development across the city, and they don’t want to lose those big dollars that’s pouring into Newark. And so they’re willing to downplay this issue poison people and lie to the people just to get a buck just to get this cash flow and, you know, keep keep people’s pockets fat and with money. And it’s quite sad, and it’s quite sick. You know, I don’t think it’s the administration’s fault that there’s lead in the water, but it’s definitely the administration’s fault on dragging its feet across solutions to this issue.
Heather Warburton 3:12
So why do you think or where do they think that the lead is coming from? How is it getting into people’s drinking water?
Anthony Diaz 3:18
So they first they said, it’s not the source water? You know, it doesn’t come from the watershed, it’s actually the lead pipes, then that coupled with a corrosion inhibitor, a chemical that wasn’t working, kind of exacerbates the issue. So it’s twofold. It’s lead pipes, and it’s a chemical that wasn’t working and the water treatment facility that caused the lead levels to spike in Newark.
Heather Warburton 3:44
And they’re still elevated, though, because nothing has been done about it. Right?
Anthony Diaz 3:47
Yes. They recently said that they introduced a chemical that will lower the lead levels. But you know, recently I was on a call with one of the doctors from Flint. And she’s like, I don’t believe that, and especially during the summertime, what you’ll see is that the lead levels will increase.
Heather Warburton 4:05
Oh, no. So what kind of I mean, I think most people probably are aware, but can you run over some of the health problems that can come from having lead in your water.
Anthony Diaz 4:15
So an adult, it’s more lead takes the level of or it takes the place of calcium, so it causes bone damage, and you know, pain later on in life. For children, it’s more serious as it leads to more developmental issues. It can lead to anger and aggression, and you know, autism and behavioral problems, and just just biological issues. So it’s really, really nasty when it comes to children. And that’s why there’s a there’s a, whenever you hear about lead and water, you always hear an emphasis on getting your family tested, getting your children tested, because it can really, really, you know, alter the course of your child’s future.
Heather Warburton 5:00
Right, basically, these kids are having their future robbed from them, essentially, that once if you’ve received lead poisoning, you’re probably never going to be able to live up quite to the full potential you would have had you not been poisoned as a child.
Anthony Diaz 5:15
Yeah, I mean, that goes without saying is, you know, even if it’s a small amount, it doesn’t matter. Poison is poison. And I think that’s what really kind of irks me a lot, is that, because they’re downplaying this issue, and because the narrative isn’t, it isn’t as big as it or they’re not making this issue as big as it should be, is that people are really being taken advantage of, and that people are poisoning themselves and hurting their families, when, you know, they don’t think there is a problem. And that’s quite sad. That’s like ridiculous, right?
Heather Warburton 5:52
People are trusting these politicians that are saying that it’s not a problem, and continuing to poison themselves. Because they’ve been lied to basically.
Anthony Diaz 6:00
Exactly. And for me, one of the frustrating things about organizing around this issue is that, you know, for me, it’s very simple. It’s like, okay, here are the facts, here’s the science, here’s the proof, here’s the data. It’s all right here. And this is something basic, you know, Water is life, everyone has a right to this, you know, water protectors, shout out to them. But when we’re organizing around this, people are like, Well, you know, I could die from it, like 15 years from now. So it’s not a big issue now, or I’ll die, you know, getting shot in Newark before I die from lead in the water, or it’s not that big of a deal. The mayor said, it’s not a problem. So it’s not a problem. And it’s like, I don’t understand, like, for me, you know, I’m really, really pick and choose what issues I get myself involved in. And for me, I thought this was a no brainer, I thought, you know, this is something that can cross different divisions across the political spectrum, this could cross divisions across different personality traits, or issues amongst the activists and more, and that we could all rally around this issue. And it doesn’t seem like that’s happening. We’ve slowly been methodically building some momentum. And it’s great. But for me, you know, the recent NRDC article came out and I said, I have to accept the small victories, you know, I would like rallies of thousands of people. But sometimes the victory means just giving a water filters to someone with lead contaminated water. And that’s kind of how I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it. But again, you know, I want there to be thousands of people marching in the streets, demanding clean water, demanding filters, demanding that their families be tested. And we’re just not there yet.
Heather Warburton 7:52
Well, let’s talk about the forming of the organization, was it you and a few other activists got together and said you wanted to start working around this issue?
Anthony Diaz 8:01
Yes, one of my friends was constantly talking to me about this water issue, you know, is very important to her. And I was like, yeah, you know, I talked about it during when I ran for city council. And but it was weird to me, I thought other people were organizing around it. And what I came to find out is no one was really organizing around this issue, at least not in an effective grassroot manner. That was actually like, you know, building a power base or building momentum or building a movement, there were just kind of people that were just kind of like, screaming into the void instead of like, organizing their communities around it. So I said, you know, what, I’m going to just, you know, use my, the influence I have in the activist community, say, hey, I want to get everyone together, I want everyone to sit down, I want to rally around this issue and create a, an action plan to really create an advocacy group and an educational group that will go out there and really, you know, educate the masses on what’s going on, with the with Newark’s water issue. And so in December of last year, you know, I sent the call out, and we had 30 people show up. And then I had another meeting and another 30, people showed up, and I had another meeting and another 30 people showed up, you know, now fewer people show up. But we’re still consistent. And I think that’s what people like to see. But again, at the same time, you know, it hurts to see that it was, you know, gaining had like 30 people, and now we’re at 15. But what I’m coming to realize is that I rather have 15 people that do the work, then 40 people that do nothing.
Heather Warburton 9:42
So how often do you meet?
Anthony Diaz 9:43
We try to meet twice a month, um, you know, shout out to St. Lucie church that has allowed me to hold regular meetings there. So what I’m trying to do is make them more get the more use out of the time that we’re spending together. So one is more of getting all the committee’s together. And then the second meeting is kind of like an event. So we try to do like, or what I want to do is like spoken word about the water issue or art galleries about the water issue, or just get, you know, fellowship, where it’s just not constantly trying to, you know, hammer people with just that we’re all going to die. So that’s what I’m trying, right?
Heather Warburton 10:24
You’re trying to have more things going on to draw people in. So what kind of successes have you had? so far? you’re distributing water filters to people I heard?
Anthony Diaz 10:35
Yes. So we, we partner with a group called Essex rising. And that group did a GoFundMe, and we were able to buy about, I would say, maybe 30 filters to give out to the community. And what’s great about that is that, you know, it’s all grassroots base, and the people that we’ve given filters to our people that the city were denying filters. So that to me is I know, it’s not a big number. But to me, it’s an effective number, because these were 30 families that weren’t going to get filters from the city, despite what the city lawyers say, these were people that were still like boiling their water, people that had no idea what was going on. And so it was it was like, I we don’t have the resources to do it in mass. But we have the resources and we’re going to use them. And if we could do it family by family, then let’s do it family by family.
Heather Warburton 11:27
So the city is supposed to be providing filters to people that are affected by this.
Anthony Diaz 11:33
Yes, so the city’s they said they’ve already given out 33,000 filters. But even that number we find to be off, there are several members within the coalition, that when they went to go get a filter, they were already listed as having multiple filters, when they never received any, or they were listed as receiving, you know, two filters when they only received one. So I’m really critical of that 33,000 number that the city likes throw out often. You know, and also when I went to the court hearing, the city’s lawyer said, Oh, anyone can get a filter, as long as they push hard enough, we will give them a filter. And again, there’s several members of the coalition that just have not been able to get get filters, even when push comes to shove. And, you know, so I’m very critical of that program. And I don’t think that, um, you know, I don’t think that it’s a, like, I think that we just can’t accept everything that the mayor is saying, as as gospel. And this includes, so this is not just the filter program, but this is also like the lead service line replacement program. And then this is also the education pieces that are coming out of the of the city of Newark, are coming from the city of Newark.
Heather Warburton 12:53
So how’s the city been responding to your coalition there? I’m assuming not meeting you with open arms and saying, Yes, please come in and talk.
Anthony Diaz 13:01
So you know, I have an interesting relationship with the mayor, he oftentimes criticizes me on Instagram. And you know, we go back and forth. There’s also issues that, that we’ve called him out and meetings. So he just like gets really annoyed at everything that we do. During his State of the City address, we actually protested the event. And he called us, like, Cointelpro people and that we’re just rabble rousers, and that we don’t have viable solutions that we’re just, you know, parroting just in we’re just causing trouble for him. So and, and some people are like, Well, why wouldn’t you want to work with him, and I said, I’m always willing to work with him. He has resources that I don’t have. So if I could take advantage of those resources, I’m going to take advantage of those resources. But the problem is, is that he has too much pride to admit when he’s ready wrong, and that there’s no other organizations in the city of Newark that is making this an issue. And it’s sad, because we have activists all across the city that have you know, they’re great mouthpieces, but when it comes to this issue, everyone’s silent, because they know what the mayor’s line is. And because of that, they’re willing to let our people be poison. And that, like, I don’t care, I’m never going to be able to stomach that. I’m never going to be able to tolerate that. And that’s why, you know, no matter what, we’re going to still have to continue this fight.
Heather Warburton 14:34
Yeah, I’m often you know, living in South Jersey, jealous of the activist community that you guys have up there in the Newark area, that I wish sometimes that we had those kind of resources down here. And you would think organizing around clean water would be such a no brainer issue. Like it’s something every person needs. It’s not one group needs it. Another group doesn’t, like everyone needs to drink water, you kind of die if you don’t drink water for a couple of days.
Anthony Diaz 15:01
Yeah. And that’s that’s the thing, though, is is like, it kind of brings that like part it’s partisan politics, that machine politics, that democratic, republican, capitalism, all to the forefront, that people are willing to kind of stand to be ignorant on this issue, and to not really fight on this issue. And it’s like, if we can’t fight a things on something as basic as water, then how do we get people to move towards socialism? How do we get people to argue on women’s rights? How do we get people to move to our side on Medicare for all? You know, when people start saying, you know, well, do we really need clean water? Like,really?
Heather Warburton 15:55
It sounds asinine. You must be so frustrated at times.
Anthony Diaz 16:01
Oh, there are times I literally, I mean, I don’t have a problem. And I’m, you know, I’ve been organizing long enough. So when people are like, Hey, how you doing? I go miserable. I’m miserable. Because, you know, even tonight, I’m very tired. I would love to sleep. And that was my plan coming home because they came late. And so I got an alarm saying, Hey Heather show and I was like, oh, man, what’s important to get the message out there. So it’s important for me to go to these meetings, it’s important for me to do these presentations. Because if I can’t, you know, I didn’t see anybody else doing it. So if I step away, Will someone continue to do the work, I hope but I’m not sure. But I know the work is important to me. And as miserable as I am as frustrated as I get. And, you know, almost every day I want to quit, I have to understand that this work is important. This is why I’m doing this. I’m not doing this for myself. I am doing this for my people I’m trying to put on for my people, because disproportionately this happens in black and brown communities. And it’s been tolerated. And now in this situation, where we have a black mayor doing it to black and brown people. To me, it’s more egregious offense. It’s nauseating, it’s something it’s an offense that I can’t stomach. And so, as frustrating, as tired I as I am, I know I must continue on.
Heather Warburton 17:33
Well, I personally want to thank you for being a voice for this, that it’s not just Newark that’s being affected. And in a way you guys are kind of the pioneers that can serve as an example for other communities, like I know, down here in Camden, for example, has an atrocious water system, it’s undrinkable. It’s not a healthy clean water system as well. And although people are talking about it, like there’s no real solutions being offered down here, especially in Norcross land. What is the water system up there, and I’m assuming it’s privatized water?
Anthony Diaz 18:11
And that’s the other thing too, is our water system is actually owned by the city of Newark. It’s not privatized. But I feel like this is a kind of a push towards privatization, where they’re like, Hey, your city can handle it. So let’s, you know, let’s give it to a private company. And that’s what Cory Booker wanted to do. And oddly enough, Raz Baraka fought him on it. And so now I’m interested to see what happens now when they try to privatize this water. So, you know, I’m at the green party convention, I know that the notion of a statewide water protector idea came up. And I think that that’s what’s great. But the problem is, is that I don’t think it’s almost sounds narcissistic, to say, let’s find the Anthony Diaz in every city, but let’s find who’s organizing around this issue. And let’s say, hey, Newark is organizing around this, is there anybody in Camden interested is there anybody up, you know, upstate, this is happening in Burlington, or Bergen County, is anybody organizing there, you know, it’s affecting the Oranges now. So you know, and there’s several cities that this is affecting. And I’m certain that there’s people that can’t stomach this either. But we need to get them all together. Because we do have some of the same issues. And you know, united, we could present a stronger voice, we can fight more effectively. But the problem is, is getting us all to sit down are getting us all to communicate and, and finding these people, because I think it’s too is too few and far between. and if the voices are being silenced, and you know, New Jersey’s biggest city, then I can only imagine how is you know, how these narratives are playing out on these smaller towns in these smaller communities across the state.
Heather Warburton 20:01
What would you say to someone who’s, you know, someone who’s in Camden, or one of these other cities that doesn’t have anything going yet, who can’t stomach it, but has no idea what to do? Like, they want to start becoming an organizer or an activist, and just have no idea how to even begin.
Anthony Diaz 20:20
So, you know, I get into a lot of arguments with my academic intellectual socialists, who are like, you know, you got to read this dialectical blah, blah, blah, and I’m like, No, you know, I think we need to meet people where they are, and you have to understand what you’re capable of, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. So for me, it started out with facilitating a meeting is saying, Hey, I just want to have a meeting and seeing where I go from there. And, you know, obviously having experiencing this issue, and then trying to formulate a plan to meet our mission statement and our demands, and how to make those goals tangible, and how to make the steps to achieve those goals more tangible. So someone who’s just starting out, find a friend, find a person, you definitely need a support system, it’s very, very hard to do this alone. And even if that person is not helping you directly, but just offering you support for to, you know, to get that self care when you need it is very important. But also realizing that you’re not alone. One of the greatest things is the connection that we have with Flint, because they have told us so many things, or have taught us so many things about pitfalls to avoid, about information that’s really important. Getting rid of like the bullshit and the noise, and focusing on the issues that really matter. So for me, you know, everybody hears about Flint, and Flint is the, you know, the water, like, I guess, mascot for this century. So but they’re all they’re willing to help people across the country. You know, I was on a call yesterday. And she said, You know, I saw what was happening in Newark, and I knew I had to reach out, I knew I had to contact you folks. And like, see if there’s any way we can help. So one of the things is like, Hey, we have little miss Flint here, she’s willing to tweet anything out for you. We want, we want to bring more media attention, because that’s how it happened for us. And so people think Flint happened, like overnight, and one of the things they were saying is, hey, we were organizing for a year and a half before this got picked up by any big media. So we were like out there. So you know, even when I get frustrated that the media has not given us attention, I have to understand, hey, look, it took Flint a year and a half before that took off. And after it took off, it was like gangbusters, it opened up. So for the organizer, or the soon to be organizer, you’re not going to be perfect. No one is, you know, wakes up and is Che or Malcolm X, but you just learn by doing, you just get out there. That’s the biggest thing to me. It’s like and or, you know, I can tell you what has made us successful in Newark, I can tell you what hasn’t worked. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the same for Camden. That doesn’t mean it’s the same for Flint. So you have to figure out what process works best in your city. And you only know that by getting out there mobilizing the community being in the streets. That to me is the the most important thing of all. Because if you’re trying to find solutions from an intellectual approach, but you have no idea how the people are really suffering, then you’re not really doing effective organizing.
Heather Warburton 23:46
So I guess that actually, we didn’t specifically say what were the solutions that could help the world water situation in Newark.
Anthony Diaz 23:52
So federal funding is the only thing that’s really going to go is what it’s going to take to solve this problem. So they receive $75 million from the state, what I just recently found out is that they the program that Newark is offering is free in Flint. So they’re charging residents at the up to $1,000 to change their lead service lines. And, you know, people are like, Oh, that’s cool. You know, this is $1,000. You know, this is multi thousand dollar program. $1,000 isn’t is you know, is is okay. But we’re like, no, it’s not okay, like, why would you pay this money? When it’s the city’s fault? The city should be paying for this.
Heather Warburton 24:32
These aren’t lines in people’s houses, right? These are the lines they’re feeding.
Anthony Diaz 24:36
This is the line that feeds from the main line from the, I guess from the street, I guess. So there’s a you know, there’s the main street water line, and then there’s a line that feeds into the house. So they’re saying the line that feeds into the house is the one that’s affected, affected. And that’s the one that’s causing lead issues. Now, you know, I’ve heard different research arguing different things, you know, I’m not an engineer, so I can’t speak intelligently on it. I just know what the city is doing. For me. It’s like, Well, why I don’t like no, it should be free, you’re poisoning us we pay a water bill for a reason. It’s city owned for a reason. So let the city pay for another thing is they’re trying they’re offering. They’re offering lead test at the health department. But it’s, you know, it’s not like a it’s not an easy process. And it’s not a transparent process. So you know, during election time, the city has buses that roll out all across the city. You know, what these big banners and letting everybody know, why can’t there be mobile lead testing units? Why can’t we you know, just make this a campaign just like you do any other campaign and really, really educate your people, educate your people. And and then I think the third thing is the filter program needs to be accessible to everyone. The one of the arguments in court, for not opening this opening up this filter program across the city, is that the city doesn’t have enough money. But then the city turns around and spends $250,000, on a PR firm for to come to combat the net negative narrative against the lead issue.
Heather Warburton 26:17
People cant see me now. But I literally face palming now.
Anthony Diaz 26:23
Heather Warburton 26:24
How many filters could that 250,000 have purchased.
Anthony Diaz 26:28
And they did there an article just came out this week that the city has paid of almost $600,000 in lawyer fees fighting the NRDC, and it’s like, so you, so almost almost a million dollars, you spent almost a million dollars, where you could have put it towards solutions. You put it towards bullshit lawyers, and a, you know, bullshit PR firm. And here’s what I like to do, I like to connect all these dots. So again, this is the same PR firm Governor Snyder hired during the Flint crisis. This is the same PR firm that Cory Booker’s campaign manager Mo Butler works for, and this is the same campaign firm that has ties to the Trump administration. So again, it’s not a Democrat or Republican issue, it’s a capitalist issue. This is a money issue. This is a let’s line our pockets, and like not help people, it’s like, you know, to me, it’s such an easy win, like low hanging fruit. And it’s like, oh, we just don’t even want to do the bare minimum.
Heather Warburton 27:35
Yeah, that’s really frustrating. And I wanted to circle back around to the you said that was $1,000 for I guess, to rip those lines out and replace them, the ones that feed your house? So $1,000, let’s put that in a little bit of perspective, you know, what the average household income is in Newark?
Anthony Diaz 27:51
Heather Warburton 27:53
So $1,000 is a significant chunk of that. Yes, this is not one of the likely, you know, this is not Cherry Hill. Yeah, you know, the average income is, you know, 150,000, or whatever $1,000, to someone that’s making, what is that? Maybe 30,000 is what, like 15, $16 an hour.
Anthony Diaz 28:13
Yeah. about, you know,
Heather Warburton 28:14
it’s not a fairly wealthy community. So that thousand dollars is a lot for something that you are already paying for.
Anthony Diaz 28:23
And what’s interesting is, so there’s been, you know, I can’t verify these reports. But these are the reports I get from people, you know, the contractors aren’t showing up. People are having negative experiences with these contractors. It’s interesting to kind of see the addresses that were chosen in the first phase, only 16,000 houses are going to be replaced out of the 40,000 residents that are affected in the city 16,000 houses across the city of a population of 300,000. You know, those numbers don’t add up. So what we known in Flint is, you know, obviously, they have the same program, but even if they’re just charging you $1,000, say it might cost you, you know, it might be $10,000, to replace your house, and only $5,000 to replace my house. So whose house, do you think that they’re going to choose? They’re going to choose my house. So then you’re like, well, that’s not fair, that’s not transparent. How do we know about this process? And they haven’t they haven’t they haven’t come up with any discernible metric, or rubric to decide who gets chosen. And this is another issue with them. It’s like, if you’re doing the right thing, then why is it? Why is this process so murky? Why is it so muddy? Why can’t we get answers when we need answers?
Heather Warburton 29:48
Those are excellent questions. And so what if people are in Newark and they don’t understand the problem? They want to get more information? Or maybe they even want to join and help your cause? How can people get in touch with you.
Anthony Diaz 30:02
So we don’t have a website right now. But we are on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter, and we are email addresses NewarkWaterCoalition@gmail. com, you can find us on Facebook Newark Water Coalition com. And I believe our Instagram and Twitter are CleanWater4Newark with the number four. And I the email has been the most effective way I answer 99% of the emails. And what I do is, you know, when people want information, I just give them all of it, I give them all the information that I have available. And I you know, I try to break it down a little bit, I’m saying, you know, are telling you what you’re receiving, and really trying to educate people on the process. I think the other thing is just really learning yourself, what what’s going on, there’s been tons of articles that have come out even recently, but in the last I would say six months, tons of papers have written so many, you know, there’s been good and some bad, but so much information is out there on what’s going on in Newark and it’s levels. And you don’t have to be a scientist to really figure this all out. It’s just like really laid out there for you.
Heather Warburton 31:17
And you were able to get some donations to buy filters. Are you able to accept private donations if somebody wanted to contribute? So you could buy some more filters? For example? How much does the filter cost? And can you take donations?
Anthony Diaz 31:30
Yeah, so I’ve been doing like the CashApp and the Venmo thing. I know that it gets a little weird with money with certain people so, I prefer not to do that. But again, I’m not gonna I’m not …Beggars can’t be choosers. If someone’s offering me money for filters, I’m going to take it. So the average filters is about $30. You know, we’ve been trying to get it through Amazon or whatever, wherever I can find the cheapest filter that I think can last the longest. That is it runs me about 25 to $30. So that’s the average cost of a filter. And I try to buy pitchers instead of the ones that fit on faucets, because we might not necessarily know if this works for your faucet versus a pitcher you can always put in your fridge
Heather Warburton 32:15
Like a Britta?
Yeah. Okay. So you could check if your filter can is I know we we’ve only talked about lead, and there’s other contaminants in the water. But you know, NSF certification, if you go online, you can find out if your water filter is certified to remove lead. And and usually it says it on the box as well. So those are the only ones if it doesn’t say that, then it does not remove lead. So I know I’ve made that. I made that mistake in the past where I was purchasing filters that didn’t filter lead. But you know, reaching out to the company, they were in the processes certification and eventually got it. But still, if you really want to be 100% sure, make sure it’s certified first.
And just to clarify and something you said earlier as well, boiling your water does not remove lead from it that would only be if you had some kind of like biological contamination?
Anthony Diaz 33:17
Yes. Which is kind of like if you have like an Ecoli or legionnaires type of situation, which we kind of do, or there’s been some cases in Newark recently. That’s when you want to do that. But when you when it’s a lead specific issue, it only concentrates the lead in the water, thus making it worse to ingest in the body.
Heather Warburton 33:39
Do you have any closing things you’d like to say either words of encouragement or, you know, looking forward to the future that you’d like to add before we close it out for tonight and I let you get to bed.
Anthony Diaz 33:51
I am encouraged for the future. I you know, I do see a lot of people rallying around this issue. I don’t like I anybody can be an activist, I think anybody can be an organizer. I think to me, this is a basic issue. And if you look hard enough in your own town, in your own city, you might find that there’s a water issue and I think that you should start organizing around it. You know, we see what’s going on with the climate change issue around the world. And it’s important and these resources matter. And you know, if we’re not organizing now then when when is our line? That’s what I say constantly. When is our line of frustration? When are we going to say enough? is enough? Is it immigrants in cages? Is it you know, homelessness being attacked throughout the country? Is it gentrification? Is it displacement? Is it water is it you know, and the list goes on but you got to find your line you got to find when what motivates you to action and like I said, if you want to get involved, please reach out to me NewarkWaterCoalition@gmail. com. You know, and and we can start with working together on this.
Heather Warburton 35:01
Thank you so much for what you’re doing. That’s a lot of what I why I want to have these conversations with activists because you’re inspiring people. You saw a problem and started organizing around today whether you want to admit that you’re inspiring or not, you are inspriring. He kind of like covered his face and looked away. But although you’re being shy, you are inspiring and I think you are leading a cause here in New Jersey that does not have a voice yet. So thank you for being that voice.
Anthony Diaz 35:28
Thank you. Thank you for having me. Sorry for the multiple interruption.
Heather Warburton 35:34
It’s okay, I edit things out and post anyway. No one heard any.
Anthony Diaz 35:39
Heather Warburton 35:41
To my, listeners, thank you so much for joining us here today. Hopefully you got inspired to do something about your water situation because there are a lot of communities that are having the same struggles. So hopefully you got a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of inspiration. And you can take this fight back to your own community and work on making things better. Water is such an important part of your community. And the activist community is the most wonderful community you’ll meet activists are the best people. We strive to be the voice of the activist community here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. To that end, we take no corporate money, we cannot represent activists if we’re being paid by the corporations that are fighting against. So we have to ask you guys to help us out. If you go on to our website, www.njrevolutionradio.com and click on that Donate button even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month that really does help us keep us on the air. We can run a pretty tight ship around here but we do have some expenses that come up. So anything you contribute really helps us and thank you so much for joining us again here today. The future is yours to create. Go out there and create it.
Jun 24 2019
Rank #17: The GPNJ House at The Green Annual National Meeting: A Recap
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About “political change,” Extinction Rebellion promotes mass “above the ground” civil disobedience. They aim to shake the political system (meaning economic disruption) There is a large NY event coming up on October 7. Check out https://www.xrr..nyc/ for more info. Diane has been attending planning meetings, and continues to participate in actions dating back to January- and actions are being taken in New Jersey. They are planning to work with Newark Water Coalition.
Did you know- that Newark has twice the levels of lead as the water in Flint, Michigan? Our comrade Anthony Diaz appeared on national TV to talk about the Newark Water Coalition.
Check out Extinction Rebellion New Jersey h for an upcoming meeting about an “epic” action.
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Green Party 2019 Annual National Meeting
New Jersey Revolution Radio live-streamed several panels and workshops. Tonights panel recaps the long weekend of workshops, a presidential forum, and a party house in Salem Mass. See our below live stream gallery from the 4 day event!
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Aug 04 2019
Rank #18: Marx, Firefly, and Joss Whedon
In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution, Heather interviews Philosophy professor and author James Rocha about his analysis of Anarchism, Communism, Libertarianism, and the greatest science fiction show ever produced, Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”
James Rocha 0:00
Two times that they have a conversation where Shepherd Book asks Captain Mal why he did the right thing on different occasions, and there’s always that conflict where Mal sees himself in a certain libertarian vein but then he does the right thing in a way that libertarians can’t analyze within their morals their limited moral system, and Mal never is able to answer why he does the right things.
Heather Warburton 0:32
This is Wine Women and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey revolution Radio. Hi and welcome to Wine Women and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us online www.njrevolutionradio.com, follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts. I’ve been so excited about today’s episode, since I booked it like months ago, because I get to really geek out in this episode. Because when I’m not out there fighting for a socialist, socialist revolution in the streets, I’m a huge Joss Whedon. You can only imagine how excited I was to find my guests for today’s show. With Joining me today is James Rocha, welcome to the show.
James Rocha 1:27
Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here.
Heather Warburton 1:29
And you’re a philosophy professor at Fresno State. And in your class, you mention what is as I just said before the interview began the best science fiction TV show I think ever made, which is Firefly.
James Rocha 1:43
And I think I would agree with you. I do think it’s the best science fiction show ever made.
Heather Warburton 1:49
But before we get into the meat of the episode, you did say you wanted to give a disclaimer because I did mention where your professor and you need to give a little disclaimer.
James Rocha 1:57
Yeah, yeah, I just want to say something, I am an assitant Professor at Fresno State, but all views are my own and I don’t represent Fresno State. I’m sure they have their own views on Firefly.
Heather Warburton 2:07
So you definitely have a fairly interesting spin on it when you teach it. And then a lot of people when I talked to them about Firefly, they definitely say it’s kind of mirrors libertarianism, because it talks a lot about freedoms. And even in the theme song, it talks about freedom, which usually in my opinion, just means fucking people over for your own benefit. But you kind of say it’s more of an anarchist spin, or I’ll even take it and say it’s an anarcho communist place, and that there’s a really lot of strong critiques of capitalism in the show. But before I kind of get into your analysis or my analysis of the show, I want to ask you, how did you make the decision to work Firefly into your philosophy class?
James Rocha 2:50
In a way, the answer just goes back to what you were just saying. I was reading the literature on Firefly, and there seems to be a consensus that it’s a libertarian show. And my first reaction just my personal reaction was, how could I be liking it so much? If it’s a libertarian show? There’s something wrong here this this can’t be a libertarian show, because it fits with my sensibilities too well. Then my second reaction is, but that’s also true of Joss Whedon. He’s not a libertarian. So I started questioning what why do people think it’s a libertarian show? I wanted to read what everyone was saying. And then I started thinking this this although it’s true, that that Jayne Cobb is definitely a libertarian. I in in my book, or the book I wrote with my wife, which is called “Joss Whedon, Anarchist”, we argue that Jayne Cobb is probably a Randian right? I think Jayne Cobb can go all the way to the far Ayn Rand right. But and Malcolm Reynolds who’s of course the star of the show, he’s a libertarian. He’s not I wouldn’t say he’s a Randian but he’s a libertarian and so
Heather Warburton 2:52
James Rocha 3:42
We can discuss that but I can see it. I can see why people think that that Mal is a libertarian but none of the other characters are. I think the point of the show is to have a story arc that goes from here’s a captain who’s a libertarian at the start of the show, but he’s going to develop and he’s going to find out that his libertarian sensibilities are probably overlapping with anarchist sensibilities and in fact, eventually grow. That’s why I think the story is about, it’s the growth of a character from libertarian to anarchist, that’s how I look at Captain Mal.
Heather Warburton 4:41
Okay, I’ll go along with that a little. Um, I guess maybe we should start in with defining some of the things how do you define libertarianism? How do you define anarchism? And since I’m going to go there, you know, see how we kind of match up on I would say anarcho communism is where I would take it, which is more of a Kropotkin kind of communism than like a Stalinist sort of communism. So do you wanna give me a quick couple of quick definitions just so everybody’s up to speed with what we’re talking about here.
James Rocha 5:13
So, I think this is really hard when you’re defining your opponent because I want to be fair to libertarians, but also, I have to be careful about this because I should let them define themselves to a certain extent. But this is what I would say, I argue that libertarians have three main components to their philosophy. One is self ownership. The second is ownership of property. And the third is consent. And I kind of see libertarians as people who view anything else besides those three, those three rules to not be required. So you can do anything you want, provided that you don’t interfere with someone’s self ownership. property and consent. So libertarians have very limited view of what’s morally required, and therefore a very strong view of what’s allowed. And so they have a sense of freedom. That’s a sense of do anything you want, as long as you don’t violate these very straightforward, simple rules. So that’s how I would look at Libertarians.
Heather Warburton 6:22
That’s a very kind definition of a libertarian. I personally might call them self centered jerks, but you’re a better person than me. Let’s move on to the next term of anarchism.
James Rocha 6:35
So I think so in my class I distinguish left anarchists from right anarchists. I admit that anarchist capitalists call themselves anarchists, and they have their reason for thinking they’re anarchists. But left anarchists think that the anarchist capitalist clearly can’t be. So. I say that the most straightforward the simplest definition of anarchism is the belief that there can be no justified state where the state is, is a power structure, not a government per se, but the ability to have power from above.
And of course, where the right anarchists the anarchist capitalist say they’re the only anarchists. They said that from the perspective of, well, if we can’t have our money and do anything we want with it, then we’re being…then powers being used against us. Whereas on the other side, the left anarchists, which is a wide range of anarchists, and includes: the anarchist communist, anarchist collectivist and anarchists syndicalists, and the anarchist feminists, of course, what they’re going to say is, if you have a capitalist system, then the bosses become the state because the bosses have total power. And so if we’re trying to avoid power, then the only true anarchism is going to be on the left, and then we’re going to quibble about all the details because that’s where it gets fun. But, so I take it that anarchism is about avoiding the hierarchy, avoiding the power, which means avoiding patriarchy, which means avoiding, you know, all these other forms of hierarchy and not just government hierarchy.
Heather Warburton 8:13
All right, and I would, you know, further expand upon communism, and a lot of people will think of Stalinism when we’re talking about communism but in communism, there is no money there is no state all power. It’s a very, it’s, I would say, the most pure form of democracy, because everything is agreed upon collectively. So there isn’t really the state also under communism, that’s, you know, most communists that I’m friends with “smash the state” is kind of one of the slogans of communism. So that’s why I think communism fits well into this discussion as well. Not Stalinism, which is a totally different thing. But actual real true communism goes along in this same line of thinking.
James Rocha 8:53
Exactly. And that’s why there’s this debate among leftists, anarchists, and sometimes we on the far left, can can start fighting each other over small things, but but those small things end up being really important too. So we might have anarchist collectivist might believe there can be money under anarchism, but the money can’t buy you anything that would give you power. So maybe, maybe that’s okay, maybe that’s not okay. But these are not as important as should there be unregulated capitalism.
Heather Warburton 9:25
Right, right. Yeah. And some, you know, although I lean more towards communism, some of my best friends are real, like, you know, just left anarchists and we, you know, we always say, “Well, you know, we’ll work out our squabbles over a pile of dead bourgeoisie.” You know, let’s take down capitalism first, and then we’ll work it out. So I guess I want to talk a little bit about Firefly in general, and this would be my sort of take on it. In essence, the crew of Serenity are space pirates. That’s kind of I think, even how Joss Whedon would describe them.
And although piracy is certainly not a perfect description of communism, because you can’t have communism on just one boat, but pirates kind of …you can disagree with me. I’ll throw it to you, once I finish this… are kind of communist. And here’s why I would say this, everyone sort of divides up the loot and gets a relatively equal share, the captain gets a little more. But you know, the wealth inequality is kind of, you know, not drastic, and the crew effectively do choose their captain, because if you’re a bad captain, you end up on the wrong end of the plank. So I think piracy like you can view piracy in general from a little bit of a communist angle. What do you think about my take on it. You’re laughing at me…
James Rocha 10:53
This, this is a fair question and there’s always going to be these questions on how do small ,we’ll call them societies, even though we might be talking about one ship, but how do small societies start to form their own systems? And one of the things we tend to take for granted because we’ve been raised in a capitalist mindset is that there has to be a leader, there has to be a hierarchy. Whereas it’s not clear that small societies function that way. And so it, I think, things to tend to it when things happen more naturally, things tend towards and and this is me kind of going back to Kropotkin in a certain way, and asking what, what are the natural formations of societies? Versus what are the formations that we assume, based on the capitalist upbringings that we all have? And so I think there is something to if we’re going to form a pirate boat, it’s going to make a lot more sense to run it in an anarchist fashion. And that’s because we need to make sure we’re going to survive out in the world that doesn’t want us to survive. And the best method of survival is not going to be hierarchy, because then you have one leader who might be an idiot. And if you’re following an idiot in a do or die situation, you’re going to more often than not end up dying.
So I think there’s something to that idea. Now, the question is, are real pirates going to be more towards anarchist formation or more towards falling into the traps of hierarchy and capitalist? That’s, of course a really hard question. And if I can just connect it to the show real quick. I think this is that the constant internal conflict that Captain Mal is going towards, right? He’s always referring to it as this is my this is my ship. Right? This is this is my boat, and he feels they don’t have a freakin democracy because it his and then so he has that kind of libertarian bent that boat, he runs it. But at the same time the others don’t seem even though they kind of give in to him. They’re constantly challenging that. And they’re constantly bringing it back to democracy. And so I see that as the conflict of the show where Mal is going to have to grow to find, to find level, a level playing field with the others who are already thinking in a more anarchist mindset.
Heather Warburton 13:22
Yeah, I would say that’s a fairly good take. And I hadn’t really thought of it from that growth aspect as far as now, but I definitely now that you’ve mentioned that I can see where, you know, I think even in one episode did say this isn’t a democracy. I can’t remember what exact episode it was. I think… I don’t remember what it was. It was it was like, Can we vote on killing this person? And he’s like, No, we don’t vote on my ship. Um, so I want to go back to something you said before. Let’s talk a little bit about Jayne as a character because yeah, he’s probably the most classic definition of libertarianism, but he’s not really viewed in a favorable light all the time on this show. You know, he’s the butt of the joke frequently
James Rocha 14:11
Heather Warburton 14:11
in this show. So do you want to talk a little bit about Jayne as a character? Why you say, you know if anybody isn’t watching the show or isn’t an uber fan like we both seem to be. In what ways does Jayne represent libertarianism? And how does the show actually view Jayne?
James Rocha 14:29
So, I think I agree completely with you, Jayne is, like I said, I think he’s the farthest into libertarianism. He’s, I think he’s a Randian. And I think and he shows this over and over again, where, one very memorable moment is when they’re, they’re voting… and they are voting in this instance… on whether, this is in “Heart of Gold” when they’re voting to whether to go help this this group of people who are under attack and Jayne says he doesn’t see the point because they’re not going to get paid. And then he’s told, but they’re prostitutes. And then he suddenly is like, Okay, let’s go do it. An this is horrible, in an obvious way. But it also represents who Jayne is. He has to see the profit in any endeavor. And he says that, he says, I have to see the profit. And so and in this case, he sees the profit in them being and I use the word prostitutes because in “Heart of Gold”, they’re represented as they’re not the kind of sex workers who are protected. Like, Inara is, so Jayne is going to abuse them and exploit their situation. And he’s very happy about that. He’s very proud of it. And that’s something where I think we’re supposed to as the audience just be disgusted by Jayne. But yet there’s so many scholars are reading this and thinking, Jayne represents what the show is about and I just can’t understand that given that he is a bit of a disgusting character.
Heather Warburton 16:04
Right. And this is a sort of off the out of the realm of the show. But there’s one scene where Jayne gets this hat in the mail and it’s a very silly hat. And actually the story I’d read that the actor who played Jane that was his idea because he thought he was such a disgusting character that he wanted to bring in something to endear the fans. And so they put him in this very silly sort of candy corn hat in one episode, just to try to like, you know, like me a little bit so I don’t get kicked off the show for being so vile of a character.
James Rocha 16:42
There’s also the episode where he,I think the episodes called ” Our Dear Mrs. Reynolds” is that the name of the episode.
Heather Warburton 16:51
Yeah, that’s with Saffron.
James Rocha 16:54
Yeah, yeah. Where he tries to trade his his gun for a woman. Yes. And he thinks that this is like a quid pro quo for him. He thinks this is something you can do. And there’s just something repulsive about him as a character, but he also has his moments of growth. And so I think at the same time, I think on the one hand, I think we are supposed to hate him. And I think we’re supposed to hate him and laugh at him, right? He’s supposed to be our kind of character that we’re mocking. But he also is growing. And so in the episode Jaynestown, which is one of my favorite episodes.
Heather Warburton 17:37
You mentioned both of the episodes I want to do a deeper dive on. Those are the two I wanted to mention.
James Rocha 17:44
Maybe I should wait because I’m about the spoil the ending.
Heather Warburton 17:47
No, Go ahead
James Rocha 17:49
But in Jaynestown, he Jayne finds they go to this planet where Jayne is he’s a hero and he doesn’t understand why he’s a hero. And, the moment of growth is when he sees a moment of pure self sacrifice. And it’s not that he accepts this person’s self sacrifice. It’s just that he can’t figure out where self sacrifice comes from. And it bothers him that he can’t figure it out. Because like I said, a libertarian perspective. There’s nothing morally you should do. That’s not for yourself. Right? And so when he sees someone sacrifice themselves for Jayne, who’s a failed hero, he can’t understand how that’s even possible. And so it’s kind of like, that’s a great moment of the show that shows us Jayne is a libertarian, who also realized he’s coming and he’s having moments of realization, that libertarianism doesn’t actually make sense.
Heather Warburton 18:47
Yeah, he definitely sort of has a moment of self reflection in that episode, even though it’s not extremely long lived, but he definitely has that moment of, maybe not my philosophy isn’t 100% maybe another I need to incorporate a little bit more. Um, I wanted to go back to Heart of Gold, the episode that you mentioned. And again, I would say that episode is a very strong critique of capitalism, because kind of the bad guy in that episode. I mean, he’s planning to kill a bunch of these women to take something he believes is his, which is his child. But also, of women in this episode are critiquing him because he’s hoarding all this wealth. So he can kind of be the John Wayne cowboy type thing, when he could be using that to help all the struggling people on the planet. And he chooses to hoard his wealth is one of the other main, like things that they say about him and critique him for that and he is definitely portrayed as a vile character.
James Rocha 19:52
Yes, and I that’s a great point you’re making. And I think that’s, that’s one of the things that’s wonderful about science fiction and why as a political philosopher, I get really into science fiction, because they create these worlds and the worlds are developed around an idea. And then they have our main characters that are heroes visit the world. And then the ideas set in motion. And we’re asking what is that idea like? What happens in that idea? And so to go back to the Heart of Gold as you’re discussing it, the the I think his name is Rance Burgis, and Rance is the is the bad guy on on the planet. But the whole planet is set up on around the idea that Rance has, he’s gotten all the money of the planet. And so he makes all the rules for the planet. It’s basically a libertarian ideal state, it’s the person who got all the money first gets to make all the rules.
And so everything around him is turning to dirt. It’s everything’s going to hell, but he’s happy because he has toys, and he enjoys his toys. And just that idea is kind of giving us a sense of us. It’s science fiction letting us see what is the theory come to life. Here’s libertarianism playing out to its ultimate level. One person gets all the money and they get toys, and they have nothing else, and everyone else is miserable. And there’s a question of why would this be a good theory? Why is this a good idea? And clearly the show is depicting that and wants us to see him automatically as a villain. Even though from a libertarian perspective, he’s played by the rules and he won.
Heather Warburton 21:45
Right and I assume that was Joss Whedon’s goal. This show was making people think about the effects of things like this, like it’s an entertaining show, he set out to entertain. But Joss Whedon has a lot of you know, he’s a very strong feminist, and a lot different things. So these episodes were constructed in such a way as to make you have or hopefully have these discussions. You know, it wasn’t just to entertain and we’re over analyzing things.
James Rocha 22:13
Yes, exactly. And I think one of the, and going back to the sex workers, because that shows about sex workers, who because they’re on this world that’s run by libertarian, they have no rights. Whereas Inara is a sex worker who she has stronger rights than everyone around her to protect her and make sure that she’s able to, to function in her job. And so there’s this kind of really interesting contrast between how sex workers are treated under capitalism versus how sex workers would be treated under a system where rights were respected and people were recognized regardless of the work they did.
Heather Warburton 22:50
Yeah, that’s an excellent point. And you know, I think that you know, and this is an episode I’m planning to do in the near future, I’m still looking for a perfect guest for that about sex workers are workers. They are no different. That’s their job that they have. And if you remove puritanical morality out of it and sex workers are workers and deserve to unionize, they deserve the same rights every worker deserves. And he definitely set up sort of a dichotomy there of over exaggerating to the certain points. But you know, like, it’s definitely setting up an interesting dichotomy of where are we today in society, versus where should we be as far as how we treat sex workers and all workers in general, which brings us to Jaynestown which definitely touches on worker rights deeply.
And then again, this is a perfect critique of capitalism, in a song that one of them sings, one of the they’re called Mudders, and they harvest mud and the are indentured servants practically slaves. They get, you know, pennies, and one of them sings a little song and Ode to Jayne because he accidentally dropped this money of you know, that the Magister was taking all of the value of their labor and giving them like a nickel back. Which is capitalism. That’s how capitalism works.
James Rocha 24:17
Yes, and what great about that show, is that there’s a sense in which the Mudders need Jayne to be a hero. But then there’s a sense in which, So over the course of the show, they end up finding out that Jayne did not purposely drop the money his ship was going down. So he had to get rid of the money because it was weighing down the ship. So it was just a matter of survival for him. And so he had no interest in leaving the money behind and he’s not a hero. And part of the great thing about that show is that the mudders are growing out of their dependence on a hero figure. And so there is a sense of even when we’re trying, when we’re trying to organize when we’re trying to work together, we do often still have that mindset of hierarchy. And we look for heroes. And the mudders have accidentally found a bad hero. But that in a way can help them because once they give up off having a hero, they can organize around themselves and not look, not look upwards, as if heroes need to be above us. So there’s something wonderful about they found a hero who’s clearly not a hero, and that’s going to help them get away from relying on heroes.
Heather Warburton 25:34
And in essence, that’s kind of the whole show, you know, Mal is the hero, but he’s not a hero for say, like, he’s kicking people into engines. You know, like, he’s not a classic hero. He is a working class guy in essence, and he’s not.. he has a moral code, but it’s very much his own moral code. So I think there is throughout the whole series that’s a you know, there’s some attacks on what’s considered a hero versus what’s a really a hero?
James Rocha 26:04
I think one of the ways in which this really comes across is there’s a couple of times where Shepherd Book, who he’s in a way he’s represented as a religious character on the show, but he’s a fake religious character. And he’s lying about being a shepherd. So that that in itself is very interesting that that he’s not really who he pretends to be. But yeah, he’s also the moral conscience of the show as a fake shepherd. And so there’s two times that they have a conversation where Shepherd Book asks Captain Mal why he did the right thing on different occasions and there’s always that conflict where Mal is. He sees himself in a certain libertarian vein, but then he does the right thing in a way that libertarians can’t analyze within their moral their their limited moral system. And Mal never is able to answer why he does the right thing.
So for example, In, in The Train Job, they steal medicine from people who need it because they had a contract. Where were Mal did not ask what they were stealing. He just took the contract. And they went and stole the medicine. And so at the end of the episode, now gives the medicine back. But on a libertarian perspective, he consented to steal the medicine. It was a job, he took the contract. So from a libertarian perspective, there’s no reason for him to give the medicine back. But when Mal gives the medicine back, and they asked him, you know, I could see how you could have other options rather than to give us this medicine back. But Mal, just thinking about the sick people says, No, there weren’t any other options. But that is like a pure moment of morality. That’s not within the libertarian set. And so, Mal is constantly growing, but he can’t really analyze how he’s growing and Shepherd Book is constantly pointing that out to him. And so Mal kind of, like you said, He’s a hero in name only. But in reality, he’s trying to figure out who he is so that he can be a better person. But he doesn’t have a good sense of that, because he still thinks he’s a libertarian.
Heather Warburton 28:17
I think it’s interesting that you brought up Shepherd Book in that because you made me think of the one episode where Shepherd gets shot. And now above all else Mal hates the Alliance, which is sort of the central power or authority. That’s his, you know, the crux of the show. He really dislikes the Alliance. And he has to go into the heart of an alliance ship because of Shepard. Like he’s doing kind of the ultimate self sacrifice there. Of this is the most outrageous thing I can think of doing, but it’s part of my crew, you know, like, I gotta take him so he doesn’t die. So there’s that you know, Shepard often seems to be set up in that position that you’re, you know, have pointed out.
James Rocha 28:55
And Simon as well because Simon, is Simon and his sister River, they’re aboard Mal’s ship. But they’re they’re the ones who are most wanted by the Alliance. So part of what keeps the show going is that the Alliance is constantly after Simon and River who are on Mal’s ship. And even though Mal would be wanted, the Alliance doesn’t really care about Mal. They don’t care about anyone else on the ship as much as they care about Simon and River. And Shepard is always pointing out to Mal “you don’t even like them”. Simon and River are a pain in your butt. They annoy you, and they aren’t even really paying you enough to be transported. And that’s one of those occasions where Mal can’t really explain why is he doing so much work constantly having the Alliance catch up to him and try to capture him just because these two people were on the ship who he doesn’t even like, and so in a way the whole show is about this one sacrifice that Mal was making to protect two people he doesn’t like. That he really doesn’t owe anything to because they didn’t really pay him and and and yet he can’t understand himself why he keeps doing it since he’s constantly in danger because of these two people.
Heather Warburton 30:15
Yeah, I think that’s a, you know, a great you know, point of he’s trying to discover himself throughout the course of the show like everybody else knows who he is, but he doesn’t seem to know who he is throughout the course of the show. So I wanted to close with one question. This is a theory… now I admit there had been a few glasses of wine before I came up with this theory. But everyone I know is a combination of two Firefly character. If you were to describe yourself as a combination of two Firefly characters, who would you pick and why?
James Rocha 30:47
I mean, I’m probably lying I mean, I’m gonna pick someone I’m gonna pick people I want to pick as opposed to the truth, but that probably is because I’m on my own self journey to discover who I am. But I want to I want to pick Shepherd Book and Kaylee, and I want to pick them because they are the two characters who are most trying to, to lead the other characters on a moral journey. And in a way, that’s my job because I teach morality to students. And so I would like to believe that I’m leading my students on a moral journey. But again, maybe I’m just overselling myself. Maybe I’m a little bit of Jayne and there’s a selfish part of me. And I don’t want to admit it. So yeah, but I hope I’m closer to Kaylee and Shepherd. Who did you say
Heather Warburton 31:44
I said, I was Mal and Kaylee. I’m far from a perfect person. You know, but I have a very strong I definitely feel I have some of Kaylee’s sense of you know, strong this Right, this is the good thing to do look out for others, but you know, I’m flawed in the same time. And you know, Mal is a very flawed character, but he’s also a good character. Yeah. And you know, when I’m out in the streets like going toe to toe with a Nazi I’m not a nice person. You know, but I’m not a nice person for a good very reason.
James Rocha 32:23
That makes sense
Heather Warburton 32:29
See, I might be on to something with my theory here, even though it did involve a few glasses of wine. All right, we are about running out of time. So I want to give you a last word to talk a little bit about whatever you want. You know, talk about philosophy, talk about economics, talk about Joss Whedon and why he’s cool.
James Rocha 32:51
Well, I guess I’ll do a plug of my book because that that’s what people do. So me and my wife. I’m James Rocha, my wife, Mona Rocha, we wrote a book “Joss Whedon, Anarchists” and the whole book kind of takes each of his main shows and pursues an anarchist line with each show. So so we use Angel to critique structural violence. We use Firefly for this very debate the anarchist capitalist versus the anarchist left and and we use at the end, we come around to Buffy and talk about anarchist feminism. And so I hope if people are interested in how Joss Whedon might, I think maybe unintentionally, that might connect to anarchism. I hope they take a look at that book.
Heather Warburton 33:38
So I’m definitely going to pick that book up. You know, I didn’t get a chance to read it before the show because I didn’t know it existed until about 45 minutes ago, but I’m definitely going to pick it off and I’m looking forward to reading it. Is it on Amazon and local bookstores.
James Rocha 33:53
Heather Warburton 33:54
Anything else before the before we close it out for today?
James Rocha 33:59
No, I had a really good time. I’m talking to this was a really fun, fun,
Heather Warburton 34:02
I really enjoyed talking to you know, I love geeking out and I love talking about communism. So if I can talk about geeky communism, it’s just a win win for me. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you to my listeners, thank you so much for joining us and sitting through me geeking out for the past half hour. So, you know, here at New Jersey Revolution Radio, we cover a lot of different topics. And I hope even though we had a lot of fun with this episode, you know, that maybe give you some things to reflect on a little bit about society, communism and just the destructive nature of runaway capitalism and how there isn’t a future a real future for us under capitalism. And we like to cover things that you’re probably not going to hear in the mainstream media. And, you know, it’s just me and my business partner, and we’re trying to do this all on our own right now. So we really need to keep asking you for help. We don’t get corporate sponsorship for these kinds of things. So if you could go on to our website www.njrevolutionradi.com and click on that Donate button. Even if it’s only a couple of dollars a month, it really does help us make ends meet. And remember the Future Is Yours to create, go out there and create it.
Jan 06 2020
Rank #19: Connecting at The Left Forum.
Another protest took place at the Elizabeth concentration camp run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Brian recaps his experience at the protest and Diane discusses the messaging around police in these times.
Activist Corey Lewis Teague put out the following statement on Facebook.
Dear, FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation, it was brought to our attention that the Passaic County prosecutor, Camilla Valdez wrote up a letter to the courts stating that Ree Mc Fadden, Jameek’s brother, was a danger to society and shouldn’t be released from city lockup. Local and county law enforcement has went above and beyond to ANTAGONIZE, HARASS, INTIMIDATE, BULLY and TERRORIZE this family ever since the death of Jameek Lowery, who was killed after coming in contact with Paterson police, went viral to the public and the media. We want to make it clear that we are aware. Nothing better happen to Mr. McFadden while in lockup. We are putting you on notice and all media outlets.
Climate change continues to accelerate and so does the cause trying to stop it. The planet is in crisis and Diane discusses all the militant and critical tactics that are being used to bring attention to this cause. Diane was recently arrested with a group of 70 protesters in NYC. The actions taking place are growing, tune in to find out more and how you can get involved.
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Everything from the Democratic front groups to communists of every stripe. The group recalls touching tributes to our fallen comrade Bruce Dixon, the millions of panels stuffed on top of each other, and a book fair in a wind tunnel.
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Jul 06 2019
Rank #20: 360 Poetry Night With Justice. Live on NJRR!
FEATURING the poet, actor, singer, songwriter FELA, Coming to Bless u with his Soulman Swag. Great food and drinks. From 6pm to 9pm limited open mic so arrive on time. Larouge Lounge 972 Broad Street Newark NJ. $15.00 at the door $10.00 on eventbrite. See you there..
Jun 29 2019