From the American South to Global South: Emery Wright and Fred Bauma

This week The Laura Flanders Show comes from Whitakers, North Carolina, and the annual gathering of The Southern Movement Assemblies, a living experiment in popular Democracy and local self-governance.

Plantation politics, monopoly capitalism, incarceration instead of peace, a lot of the worst of the US experience has its roots in the South, but so do much of the best. From slave revolts to abolition, to organized labor, and civil rights. If the country goes as the South goes, what grassroots progressives to here matters. That's why we're here this week. For today's special, we partnered with Project South, an anchor organization of the Southern Movement Assemblies. Laura was joined by co-host LaDie Mansfield. 

Laura Flanders:This week, from the US South, the birth place of so much of our economics and governance system in the United States. Could the alternatives to those systems be emerging? It's just possible. This week we come to you from Whitakers, North Carolina, in a spacial co-production with Project South, an anchor organization of the Southern Movement Assemblies.

Emery Wright:SMA really developed out of our experiencing what wasn't available in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the Gulf Coast Disaster, we saw that there was no mechanism for social movements to come together, make decisions, and then implement those decisions at the scale that was necessary to respond to that level of disaster. And, so, we kind of made commitments to ourselves as relatively young organizers back in 2005, that part of our generational struggle was to figure out this question of movement governance, and how can social movements come together, make decisions, and implement those decisions on a scale commensurate to the level of disaster, crisis that we're facing.

Part of the process that needs to be front and center within the Southern Movement Assembly is to connect with our brothers and sisters in the global South because there's so much shared cultural foundations, but, also, shared struggles. And so we can use that to build, not only grassroots power in the US South, but grassroots social movement power globally. 

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Let's Demand More From Our Media

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F-Word: Wanted, This Christmas, A Media-Monopoly Bust Up

Holiday shopping on your mind? Gift subscriptions to newspapers and magazines were big last year. Subscriptions to the New York Times and the Washington Post spiked soon after the election, as the penny seemed to drop that without an informed electorate we have a pretty dodgy democracy.

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F-Word: Election Night - Dems Divided Down Progressive Fault Lines?

Watch the F-Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIF5HBuZ49Y

Excited by the last elections?  Relieved to see Democrats clean up? A year after the election of Donald Trump and the Republican sweep, progressives won from Maine to Minnesota. Election night was a cheery occasion for people on the progressive flank of the ever fractious Democratic Party. Cheery - except for one terrifying moment.

Just before Virginia’s governor-elect Ralph Northam took the stage, a man took the microphone who is uniquely qualified to seize from the jaws of victory yet more defeat for Democrats. Terry McAuliffe: the former Democratic Governor and party consigliere,  has spent his career shoving the Democratic Party to the Right, creating exactly the party profile that’s turned off at least a generation of voters. At the Democratic Leadership Council he never saw a lobbyist whose dollars were too blood soaked to accept: Chevron Enron, Philip Morris, Monsanto, McAuliffe found them all a place. When Donna Brazile’s wrote that the Democratic National Committee was run as a slush fund for the most powerful politicians, she was hardly breaking news. The DNC’s run that way for decades, and McAuliffe’s been a central part of that. 

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Resistance and Revolutionary Poetry: Aja Monet

This week on the show, resistance and revolutionary poetry. Spoken word poet Aja Monet talks about free speech, accountability, the poet June Jordan, and the fight for Palestinian liberation. All that, and her new book, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter.


Laura Flanders:So, what does it mean to be a freedom fighter in today's America? What about globally? Aja Monet thinks deeply about the meaning of solidarity and revolution, revolutionary solidarity, you might say. What's it look like, and not just on the page or in performance, but in our lives? She's a poet, activist, recording studio co-owner, and she is an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian people. I'm happy to welcome her to the studio. Aja, welcome to the show.

Aja Monet:Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Laura Flanders: How did you get involved in the work around Palestine and the rights of the Palestinians?

Aja Monet:My first introduction to the struggle for Palestinian liberation was by the name of a young woman, Tahani Salah. She's a young poet who also was a part of Urban Word NYC, which was a lot of my politicized education. I mean, poetry for me was never separate of the political because those are the spaces before this current movement moment where people were talking about black lives mattering and talking about police brutality and sexual abuse and gender violence and all these things. They were speaking out against these things. At the time, it was kind of taboo because you go into a poetry reading and you're like, oh god, they're gonna be talking about this stuff, but now people see what they were doing and what they were trying to do with poetry, and so Tahani was the one that was always writing poems about this, and then I started to read more. Suheir Hammad was writing about it. I learned about June Jordan. So, that was my introduction to kind of understanding.

They said they were victims. They said you were Arabs. They called your apartments and gardens guerrilla strongholds. They called the screaming devastation that they created the rubble, then they told you to leave, didn't they? Didn't you read the leaflets that they dropped from their hotshot fighter jets? They told you to go, 135,000 Palestinians in Beirut, and why didn't you take the hint? Go. There was the Mediterranean. You could walk into the water and stay there. What was the problem? I didn't know, and nobody told me, and what could I do or say anyway? Yes, I did know it was the money I earned as a poet that paid for the bombs and the planes and the tanks that they used to massacre your family, but I am not an evil person. The people of my country aren't so bad. You can't expect but so much from those of us who have to pay taxes and watch American TV. You see my point? I'm sorry. I really am sorry.

 A few years fast forward, I built a relationship with a woman by the name of Maytha Alhassen, who we met at the Abiodun Oyewole's Home of the Last Poets, who's been like a mentor, a godfather to me, and she was doing work on Arab-American, African-American solidarity, and she was helping Ahmad Abuznaid from Dream Defenders do this delegation where they wanted to bring black activists, writers, just influential people to Palestine to see for themselves what is going on and how that relates to the state violence that's going on here, and so she was like, "I think a poet needs to be on the delegation," which was unique for her to insert because most of the people on the delegation were community organizers or activists, and she saw Malcolm X. She studied a lot of Malcolm X's letters, and she would see that he loved poetry and he could quote Arabic poetry and he would talk about a lot how the poetry was a part of how he was politicized, so it was a connection made there.

 

 

 

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F-Word: Weinstein Suggests It’s Time for a Shared Power Index for Companies

So what happens next? Since allegations emerged of years of sexual abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, hundreds of women have gone public about their experiences of men raping, groping, abusing and humiliating them. Some men have spoken up about sexual abuse by men too.

So what’s it going to take to make sexual abuse unacceptable? By now we’ve probably all heard lots of suggestions. Fire some men? Hire more women? That’s probably already happening.

A lot of powerful men have already lost their jobs even before criminal charges have been brought; jobs in media, jobs in business, jobs atop a restaurant chain, atop an Amazon production studio.

Women have a long way to go when it comes to equality in the workplace. At the bottom, many are trapped in low-skilled, poorly protected work. At the very top, women — the majority of the world’s people -  still head only five percent or fewer of the world’s largest corporations.

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Excerpt: adrienne maree brown - Emergent Strategy Grows from Heartbreak

This month marks one year since the election of Donald Trump. The Laura Flanders show released a special report at that time, in which we asked our guests to reflect on social change. How it happens, how it doesn't, what they planned to do the day after the election to keep resistance movements alive, and what they do to support their own spirits. Here's adrienne maree brown.

Emergent Strategies are ways of looking at the world, the natural world that we're a part of and searching for collaborative efforts, like where does collaboration happen, where is a right relationship happening between humans and the planet, between different parts of the planet, and what can we as a species learn about how to be in right relationship with each other and with the planet that we're living on.

We're filming this in September, and this comes through a week where there were three hurricanes, an earthquake, a potential tsunami, there was flooding, there's droughts, there's a fire raging the entire West Coast. At the same time all the news is coming out of the White House is devastating for our folks we have people who are like "DACA is the thing that has kept my family together the thing that has allowed me to be in the place that I'm from". Everything feels like it's so heavy and so intense and how do we survive this moment, it doesn't feel like we can. And Emergent Strategy posits actually all of these changes, these are something we need to figure how do we embrace and also how do we shape them. So Emergent Strategy is really life moves towards live, longing moves towards longing. And if we're not also organized towards what we really want and what we long for, we will always settle into just reacting and trying to stop something bad from happening.

The trick of this book is that everything you need to know is on pages 41 and 42, and on page 50. If you just read those two pages, or you can look at page 15, page 15 also basically has the entire thesis everything about the book is right there.

This Octavia Butler quote "All successful life is adaptable, opportunistic, tenacious, interconnected and fecund. Understand this, use it, shape god."

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F-Word: Catalan Crisis or Capitalist Crisis? What’s happening in Spain is not only about ancient history.

It’s been a challenging time for the commentariat, with self-determination struggles breaking out in obscure parts of Europe. From Scotland to Catalonia, independence fights have pundits scuttling for the history books. Noble cultures, ancient grievances. The last time many people heard the word  " Catalonia "  it was on the cover of a screed by George Orwell. And just what was that Spanish Civil War about, anyway? 

It’s not easy boning up on Europe’s fusty history, but if they didn’t  dig deep into the ancient past, the pundits just might have to look at the more recent sort.

What if the crisis in Catalonia had as much to do with 2008 as 1978? With the crisis of capitalism, as much as the crisis of the Spanish constitution?

The roots of the Catalan crisis are culturally specific , but the fact that it’s breaking out now, isn’t all that esoteric. Corruption has so corroded the relationship between the governed and their governments that all across the capitalist world, democracies are at breaking point.

Catalan independence comes in many flavors: some separatists are eager to rid their affluent region of its responsibilities to Spain’s poorer parts. Immigrants, it should be noted, weren’t permitted to vote in the  independence referendum. Others, inspired by the progress of Barcelona under its community-organizer mayor, Ada Colau, imagine a region reclaimed, and remade from the bottom up, with free healthcare, quality education and decision-making by popular assembly.

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Excerpt: Rosa Clemente - People Shouldn't Have to be Resillient

Rosa Alicia Clemente is a community organizer, independent journalist, and hip-hop activist. She spoke with us on the urgency of aid to Puerto Rico and what rebuilding differently looks like.

Laura Flanders:You're just back. You got back literally this morning as we're speaking. What's on the top of your mind that people need to understand about what's going on there?

Rosa Clemente:That every day people are dying from lack of water, and sometimes the movements and organizations and progressive, well-meaning folks want to talk about the next step, but there is no next step. Water is truly life, and the adage given to us by our indigenous brothers and sisters has never felt so intensely immediate in Puerto Rico right now.

Laura Flanders:We're talking four weeks? After--

Rosa Clemente:Four weeks as of today.

Laura Flanders:So here's the reality check part. You and I talked before you went, and I said, "If we go, we want to talk about rebuilding different."

Rosa Clemente:Yeah.

Laura Flanders:You can't rebuild different if people are hungry and thirsty.

Rosa Clemente:Yeah.

Laura Flanders:And don't have the basics. So you're a rebuild different person.

Rosa Clemente:Yeah.

Laura Flanders:You're an independista going back long time. What do you make of the situation? How do we move forward and not just be begging for crumbs, the same old crumbs, probably from the same old people, who have their sights set on taking over the island?

Rosa Clemente:Yeah, I don't think we could even think about that right at the moment in Puerto Rico. I mean, everyone we talk to said, "Forget about all you United States people talking about cancel the debt, the Jones Act, where Puerto Rico's going to be in a week." The everyday, normal life of a Puerto Rican now exists of always standing on lines for everything. You don't get more than $200 on an ATM. The unemployment rate's going to hit 80 percent. 80 percent of people will not have jobs. There are no jobs.

Laura Flanders:Although there could be obviously.

Rosa Clemente:People are now, before Irma, without paychecks. Remember, people were without electricity before Irma. All the electricians we spoke to said, "There's no way this grid is built in six months." People might be without power for a year. Schools will probably shut down for a year. Colleges are not reopening. Unless movements are ready to get on the ground right now and deal with the immediate, there is no future for Puerto Rico. Not saying that Puerto Ricans don't want a future, but again you don't have water, power. People line up at the airport to text message. There's no form of communication on that island.

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F-Word: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

In our era of extreme capital accumulation is it any wonder that media capital  accumulates extremely?

And what do we know about capital? It’s a social relation of power.

If you’d never thought about power and media and capital before, there’s a good chance the subject’s crossed your mind in the last twelve months. Maybe it was the presidential election, brought to voters by for-profit corporations that put clicks and ratings above all other values.

Maybe it’s the creeping and increasingly creepy power of social media.  Our society’s silent censors, I read recently that Google and Facebook channel 70 percent of all the traffic that goes anywhere near any news site.  It’s no wonder, then, that propagandists use social media to for anti-social purposes. They make it easy.

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