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Picture Theory

Let’s talk about landscapes of power, justice, and liberation and the worlds we dare to imagine.

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Understanding The School To Deportation Pipeline in the U.S. with Juhi Verma, Patricia Maloney, and Duke Austin

As the focus on immigrant apprehension of adults, minors, and families has dramatically increased under the 45th administration, the Pew Research Center estimates at least 725,000 students in grades K–12 are undocumented in the U.S.As communities become more and more polarized along socio-political identities we see more reactionary, alt-right, anti-immigrant ideologies shaping political discourse — which is why today’s conversation with sociologists and researchers Dr. SaunJuhi Verma, Dr. Patricia Maloney, and Dr. Duke W. Austin is so important.Much like the school-to-prison pipeline (before schools closed for the COVID-19 pandemic), more undocumented students were put in vulnerable positions as some disciplinary protocols increasingly involved police officers, or school resource officers (SROs), when combined with stricter immigration enforcement.To better understand the history and mechanisms behind the School-to-Deportation Pipeline I spoke with sociologists and researchers Dr. SaunJuhi Verma, Dr. Patricia Maloney, and Dr. Duke W. Austin who have dedicated years of research to the nuances and complexities of immigrant students lives, the obstacles they face, and strategies for the eventual end of the deportation of students. Here’s a little about each of our guests:Dr. SaunJuhi Verma is a scholar of immigration policy, transnational migration, and race/settler colonialism. Her work focuses upon emerging technologies of migrant surveillance for regulating rights to mobility. Three significant research lines reflect the breadth of her work, (1) settler colonialism as a framework for evaluations of immigration policy, (2) the school to deportation pipeline, and (3) migrant surveillance technologies adopted by nation-states. These research streams have generated a forthcoming book manuscript Captive Labor, a second book manuscript Schooling Exclusion with New York University Press, a third research project funded by the Fulbright Global Fellowship, and countless other refereed article publications in journals such as ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Political Power and Social Theory, Amerasia Journal, and Urban Education. Through her contributions, Dr. Verma strives to bridge the gap between scholarly production and community activism.Dr. Patricia Maloney specializes in sociology of education, sociological theory, program assessment, and qualitative methods. Recently, she has been conducting an inquiry into how different types of charter schools perform character education in America. This is in conjunction with a larger research project out of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia examining how multiple different school sectors perform character education.Dr. Maloney also studies Teach For America and how beginning teachers acculturate to their local school environments. During her time in multiple (Teach For America and non-Teach For America) schools, teachers also began to tell her about how adults cheat on standardized exams. This research is new and forthcoming.Dr. Duke Austin believes that quality teaching and learning fosters intellectual empowerment and social justice. Through learner-centered pedagogy, experiential education, and educating for a diverse world, he empowers his students to apply critical thinking skills to the world around them and to see the relevance of education in their own lives. In doing so, he prepares his students to become civic leaders who actively contribute to society in intelligent and effective ways. Dr. Austin is a strong advocate for peace and justice. To that end, his teaching and research focus on race, gender, immigration, environmental justice, community engagement, and social justice pedagogy. When conducting research, he utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods. His published work includes a co-edited volume on ethnographic research, titled Bringing Fieldwork Back In (ANNALS 2012), and he is currently completing a co-edited book on the unintended impact of white supremacy on white Americans.In addition to serving as an Associate Professor at Cal State, East Bay, Dr. Austin has an appointment as a Senior Fellow with the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale University. Before entering academia, he worked as a Lead Wilderness Instructor for Outward Bound in Florida, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, a Supervisor of the Children's Ski School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and the Camp Director at Quarterman Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. He is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served as a Teacher Trainer in Paraguay.Here’s today’s episode, you can also listen to Picture Theory on Spotify and in the Apple podcasts app.Thanks for reading, enjoy!

1hr 42mins

26 May 2020

Rank #1

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Amish Dave + Nancy Belcher: How To Build Collaborative Medical Communities During This Crisis

Here’s some episode notes:What is the King County Medical Society?How COVID-19 is impacting communities in SeattleDecrease in patients coming to clinicPublic needs PPEWhat does it mean to be a doctor today?What it’s like to work for large hospital systems“Employed” physicians vs. independent physiciansImpacts of telehealth equipmentHow do class and race play out in COVID cases?Comorbidities, urban areas, minority populations, povertyInner city detroit, Brooklyn, QueensCoronavirus affecting POC and low-income populationsUndocumented, Incarcerated, Homeless and unsheltered populationsPPE in hospitals, homeless shelters,Why you should reach out to local clinicsWhy we have a massive shortage of blood in the US right nowWhy COVID pandemic is a great time to become a blood donorSmall scale strategies and tactics for daily life to reduce the spread of coronavirusWhat is a medical society and why Amish and Nancy have been involved and the intersection with human rights advocacy and social justice campaignsCurrent shortage of physicians exacerbated by the covid crisisRural areas and inner city areas are underservedHow will the Covid crisis affect people’s choices to become physicians in the futureThe important ratio of physicians to administratorsHow do we encourage physicians to speak collectivelyAmplify the individual voices of physicians outside of institutionsWomen’s reproductive justiceAnxiety and stress during the covid pandemicRecent encouragement in scientific collaboration changesDevelopments in tele-medicinePatients relieved of burdens like parking, travel, waiting times and creating deeper connections with physiciansConcerns about the consequences of mis-information and the populist distrust of medical professionalsFears of police brutalityThe books and films that Amish and Nancy are turning to process their emotions during the crisis

1hr 10mins

17 May 2020

Rank #2

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Silvia Perez + Natali Rodriguez: Farmworkers In Immokalee Florida Are Producing Your Food And Demanding Justice

Years ago, I attended an event called Encuentro in solidarity with farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida organized by the Student Farm worker Alliance and Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). At this event I was introduced to a whole range of specific issues surrounding the growth of tomatoes in Florida and the cultural and political landscapes of power that surround the city of Immoklaee.So, for this episode of Picture Theory I contacted Natali Rodriguez and Silvia Perez to see if they could share their perspectives and insights as women, organizers, and farmworkers, demanding justice in a time of crisis and political polarization.Silvia is a farmworker staff member of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and one the coordinators of the Women's Group, she’s also a DJ on the Coalition’s radio station, and organizes for the national Wendy's Boycott.Natali is a staff member of the CIW and in addition to community support, she helps coordinate the logistics for the worker-to-worker education sessions that the CIW facilitates throughout the season. Natali will also be translating today’s conversation.So, you might be wondering what is the CIW and what kind of work do they do? First here’s a little context: the average wage for a farmworker in Immokalee is roughly 17k a year. The work is extremely, physically labor-intensive and very difficult to maintain a family on. Immokalee is a multiracial working class immigrant community surrounded by wealthy communities that often ignore the human rights and needs of those in Immokalee.The CIW is a leader in the growing movement to end human trafficking due to its groundbreaking work to combat modern-day slavery and other labor abuses common in agriculture. In order to take action and demand justice the CIW has three broad campaigns or strategies you should know about:The Campaign for Fair FoodThe CIW’s national Campaign for Fair Food educates consumers on the issue of farm labor exploitation – its causes and solutions – and forges alliances between farmworkers and consumers in an effort to enlist the market power of major corporate buyers to help end that exploitation. Since 2001, the campaign has combined creative, on-the-ground actions with online organizing to win Fair Food Agreements with eleven multi-billion dollar food retailers, including McDonald’s, Subway, Sodexo and Whole Foods, establishing more humane farm labor standards and fairer wages for farmworkers in their tomato suppliers’ operations.The Fair Food ProgramUnder the FFP, the CIW conducts worker education sessions, held on-the-farm and on-the-clock, on the new labor rights set forth in the Fair Food Code of Conduct; the Fair Food Standards Council, a third-party monitor created to ensure compliance with the FFP, conducts regular audits and carries out ongoing complaint investigation and resolution.Anti-Slavery CampaignThe CIW’s Anti-Slavery Campaign has uncovered, investigated, and assisted in the prosecution of numerous multi-state, multi-worker farm slavery operations across the Southeastern U.S., helping liberate over 1,200 workers held against their will; pioneered the worker-centered approach to slavery prosecution; played a key role in the passage of the 2000 Trafficking Victims Protection Act; and co-founded the national Freedom Network USA and the Freedom Network Training Institute, which is regularly attended by local, state and federal law enforcement officialsIn our conversation Silvia and Natali talk about what the CIW’s focus has been on before the COVID pandemic and how the workers are cooping with the health crisis as farmworkers, asking supporters to sign this petition and demanding justice from the governor:Set up a field hospital, or alternative care facility, in Immokalee to provide both treatment for COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms, and a separate quarantine space to allow workers with milder symptoms to self-isolate, to stop the spread of the virus in the community and relieve stress on the local health system.Require agricultural employers to provide personal protective gear, particularly masks, to farmworkers for use while they are traveling to and from the fieldsEnsure comprehensive, free, accessible COVID-19 testing in Immokalee, when widespread testing becomes availableAllocate public funds for economic relief for Florida farmworkersHere’s our conversation with Silvia and Natali of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers:You can also listen to Picture Theory on Spotify and in the Apple podcasts app.Episode notes:History of the CIW; started in 1993Immigrant farm workers coming from Mexico, Guatemala, HaitiWage theft, difficult working conditions, extreme cases, sexual assault25,000 people working in agricultureMigrant community dependent on growing seasonsHousing conditions of workersHow COVID pandemic aggravates the conditionsThe history behind the CIWSiliva’s backstory with CIW women’s group and becoming a staff memberA typical day in the life of a farmworker in ImmokaleeWhat campaign work looked like before the COVID pandemicWhat does a victory look like for a farmworker action and campaignDemands 1 extra penny per tomatoEliminating wage theftZero tolerance policy for sexual assault in the workplaceThe key players in the fight for food justice from Wendy’s, to Walmart, to hospitalsWhat the supply chain looks like on a macroscale and how anyone who eats tomatoes is involvedThe after-effects of slavery and the history behind why tomatoes are grown in Immokalee, FloridaWhat it’s like to raise a family as latinx communities living in a politically conservative state ImmokaleeWhy Immokalee is a forgotten working class immigrant community surrounded by wealthy land ownersThe joys of doing work as a coalitionFarm work is not easy and the wages on average are around 17000 per year and the seasons are unpredictableSelf isolation for workers who can’t go back to their homes without spreading the virus furtherNatali describes the nation network of food justice organizations

1hr 10mins

11 May 2020

Rank #3

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Matthew Telles: Gig Workers Are Standing Up To Big Tech and You Should Too

In the years before the global COVID pandemic, more and more of our jobs in the US joined the growing “gig economy” — the Bureau of Labor estimated at least 55 million US gig workers in 2017. As a massive surge for gig workers hits the US economy during lockdown and social isolation practices the pressure continues to bear down on “essential workers”, contractors, and employees of big tech companies like Amazon/Whole Foods, Instacart, Uber, Lyft, etc. — who have recently taken to the streets to shift power and demand justice.Although no single source really seems to have a grip on the true size and scope of the Gig Economy, here are some interesting stats and projections:About 36% of US workers are now involved in the gig economy (Gallop).In 2018, US independent workers spent one billion hours per week freelancing (Upwork).The gig economy is expanding three times faster than the US workforce as a whole (Forbes).If the gig economy keeps growing at its current rate, more than 50% of the US workforce will participate in it by 2027 (Wonolo)As silicon valley companies continue to shove the myths of hustle-culture down our throats, they demonstrate little evidence that they care for the working class, beyond branded lip-service to concepts of workplace empowerment, in any material ways.While tech companies and giant e-commerce businesses continue to surge their profits during a global crisis I can’t but wonder — why are the rights of their workers are on the decline? What measure’s are in place for the healthcare of their workers? Why are union-busting tactics on the rise… in the shadows of an oncoming recession?In order to get a better understanding and attempt to cut through the fog of the headlines, I sent a message to the Gig Workers Collective; “a non-profit group, led by veteran organizer Vanessa Bain, will bring the time, resources, and focus to the fight for fair pay and better treatment for all gig economy workers, from Instacart Shoppers to Lyft Drivers.”The GWC put me in touch with one of their many outspoken, active members, named Matthew Telles. Matthew is a Chicago-based gig worker and former Instacart worker who spearheaded a mis-classification lawsuit against the San Francisco based tech company which won the shoppers, the contract gig-workers for Instacart, a settlement of over $4 million dollars in 2016.In our conversation, Matthew paints a picture of the daily life of a gig worker during the coronavirus pandemic in the US and tell what’s at stake for contemporary gig workers; what the challenges, and successes can look like.I’ve included a link to the podcast episode audio and video below, and to help guide you through our conversation ere’s a brief outline of the topics we cover with Matthew:The common challenges that face solidarity and organizing labor within a freelance, contractor and gig economyWhat the first 90 days of working for Instacart / grocery deliver apps looks like and the bottoming out of payThe effects of big tech tactics like scale-hacking / growth-hackingTip baiting, pay-cuts and referral incentivesWhat the Gig Workers Collectives’ mission is and how it got startedThe alienation of labor, the relationship between gig workers, grocery delivers and the people who order the groceries in a communityHow gig workers can work cooperatively in times where they’re incentivized to compete with one anotherThe complexity and politics of giving and taking tips on apps and undercutting gig workersWhat PPE looks like for gig workers during COVID pandemic“Grocery workers are dying and Instacart isn’t doing them any favors” Matthew’s insights into health crisis and the gig economyHow we’ve been tricked by these tech companies for the sake of efficiency and the “freedom” of the gig economyWhat the future looks like: fair pay, protections for employees and contractorsAlternate models (ie. Dumpling App, etc.)What roles AI and data collective plays in stripping away democratic labor practices and how we might leverage that as the working classMatthew’s top 3 book recommendationsWithout further rambling, here’s our conversation on Picture Theory featuring Matthew Telles:

1hr 21mins

3 May 2020

Rank #4

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Damien Belliveau - Editing Cinema, Reinventing Yourself, and The PartBlack Project

For this episode of the Picture Theory podcast we had the pleasure of chatting with Damien Bellivaeu. Damien is, among many things, a video editor, writer, and found of the photography-based PartBlack Project where he documents people who identify as ethnically-mixed. I met Damien through a mutual friend when I was asked to participate as a guest feature on the PartBlack Project. We met a nearby taco spot in east hollywood / los feliz area and chatted about our personal histories and passions. Towards the end of our chat I Damien told me was writing a memoir, and applying to a fellowship, which he would later win and is now a PEN fellow! I recently went to see him read and realized how amazing the PEN community is. Here’s a little blurb about Damien’s upcoming book tentatively titled “Hella” from his website at DamienBelliveau.com: HELLA is the coming-of-story of Damien, an ethnically mixed boy who has grown up not knowing the African American half of his family. Set in the San Francisco Bay Area at the precise moment in history when gangsta rap is taking over the country, teenage Damien embraces a thugged-out lifestyle in order to survive when his family's finances collapse, forcing him to leave his all-white private school in Pacifica and enroll at the rough & rugged, ethnically diverse public high school in Daly City.

11 Mar 2020

Rank #5

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Kyoko Takenaka & Tobi Adebajo - Filmmaking, Feminism, Ancestral Healing, and Spirituality

For this episode of the Picture Theory podcast we had the pleasure of chatting with Kyoko Takenaka and Tobi Adebajo. Tobi happened to be in from the UK where they currently live and Kyoko was in town in Los Angeles so Val introduced us and pitched them the idea of chatting on the podcast and we made it happen on the fly.For the interview they both wore bright red elastic jumpsuits and poured in some red and blue and purple lights. Before the interview we all went out to grab a bit to eat and ended up finding some spicy Pho to give us some energy.In this episode there were so many things to talk about. We started chatting about their music project Wastewomxn, which currently has a new album in the works…all the way to their micro-community titled Femmes of Colour...and the related Purple Rain Collective…Once we got the fire burning we wandered all over the place to find out Kyoko and Tobi’s deeper philosophies and feelings on feminism, ancestral energy and healing to the role of activism in creative expression.And they even performed a few songs for us.Here’s a little more about both Tobi and Kyoko:Tobi Nicole Adebajo is a community-focused Queer, Non- Binary Activist, Educator, Hair Stylist, Parent, Poet, Performer, Singer, Writer & Yoruba Spiritual Practitioner who works with prowess – centring their work on the depths and nuances of topics such as queer love, politics, g(end)er & Yoruba culture.They’ve performed and shared works and projects in various venues around Nigeria & Europe, continuing to create pieces that resonate with many.Kyoko Takenaka (Jinjabrew) is an actress, singer-songwriter, filmmaker and multi-media artist based in Los Angeles. Their name Kyoko means"vibrations of sound child" in Japanese. Their short film, HOME, premiered at the Academy Award / BAFTA qualifying 2018 LA Shorts International Film Festival. Their self-directed music video, "Prince," was recognized by the Voiceless International Film Festival. (www.kyokotakenaka.com)

11 Mar 2020

Rank #6

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Leah Byrd: Writing Comedy With A Queer Black Feminist Lens

For this episode of the Picture Theory podcast I had the pleasure of chatting with writer, director, editor Leah Byrd.At the time she had recently finished the first season of her web series titled Hot and Bothered. As described by Leah, Hot and Bothered follows the story of:“Two sarcastic stoner twenty year-olds get in over their heads when they create the "Grindr" for lesbians.”In this episode we chat about making political artwork that addresses our identities as half-black, half-white American filmmakers. We also chat about what it means to make comedy with a queer black feminist lens.Here’s a little more about Leah from her bio at LeahByrd.com:Leah Byrd is the writer, director, and star of Hot & Bothered. She was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio.She grew up spending 13 years in Catholic school in a small Midwestern city leaving very little room for queer spaces within her childhood.Discovering all of the queer content available online was a real game changer on her path towards self acceptance. This has driven a strong passion within Leah to create diverse characters within her own media.She knows first hand what representation can do to one's mental health and the incredible power that media can have on opening minds.Leah Byrd has a BFA in Motion Picture Production from Wright State University.Without further delay, here’s the video interview with Leah:

11 Mar 2020

Rank #7