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Humorless Queers speaks to Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture), organizer, educator and curator. We discuss the #FreeBresha campaign, the fight for reparations in Chicago, the #Medicare4all campaign, art in social movements, and “social movements as a form of collective art making.”
Kaba has worked with young people for over two decades in various capacities (as a teacher, mentor and organizer). In 2009, she founded Project NIA, a grassroots organization with a long term vision of ending youth incarceration. Her work has extended from the classroom, to community-based settings, and to the streets. She currently organizes with Survived and Punished.
MENTIONED ON THE SHOW:
Kaba’s piece for the Poetry Foundation, “Imagining Freedom,” where she writes “ poetry can’t end state violence but it can lift our spirits so that we might live another day to fight for more justice.”
Lifted Voices – an action oriented organization aimed at defending the lives and rights of women and non binary people of color.
Creative Interventions – a space to re/envision solutions to interpersonal violence.
This episode, we are thrilled to interview Mariame Kaba (@PrisonCulture), an educator and organizer based in Chicago. We discuss the “absolutely quotidian and mundane way” that white supremacy manifests in our society, how we arbitrate terror in the wake of Charleston, how Afro-pessimism describes our current predicament, and how the homes of black Americans have always been fair game for the state—from Batterrams in L.A., to warrantless raids in NYC, to raids that persist in Chicago today.
We also discuss why, even though Chuck Todd should TOTALLY quit his job, unless we shift the media’s allegiances, someone else will just pop in to take his place and replicate the same conversation.
In addition, Alexis discusses one example of how racial prejudice makes its way into policy. We’ll dig into the GOP’s hatred of “disparate impact” theory, and how conservatives have long been fighting, both in the Supreme Court and in Congress, to make racial discrimination in housing even harder to prove than it already is. Here is a good summary of Rep. Scott Garrett’s two amendments, to two different appropriations bills, to try and block disparate impact theory from being used to enforce Fair Housing cases. The vote breakdown of Rep. Garrett’s amendments can be found here and here.
“Housing affects your chances of being robbed and shot as well as your chances of being stopped and frisked. And housing discrimination is as quiet as it is deadly. It can be pursued through violence and terrorism, but it doesn’t need it. Housing discrimination is hard to detect, hard to prove, and hard to prosecute. Even today most people believe that Chicago is the work of organic sorting, as opposed segregationist social engineering. Housing segregation is the weapon that mortally injures, but does not bruise.The historic fumbling of such a formidable weapon could only ever be accomplished by a graceless halfwit—such as the present owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.”
Alexis mentioned the essay by academic Robin DiAngelo “White Fragility,” which states that white people “often confuse comfort with safety and state that we don’t feel safe when what we really mean is that we don’t feel comfortable. ”
Mariame mentioned that “we can’t leave it at those arguments about white fragility. White fragility has as its counterpart black un-humanness. We cannot see black people as human beings that that sentence [Chuck Todd wrote, in response to criticism of the segment, “Meet the Press should make all viewers uncomfortable at some point or we are not doing our job”] could be uttered by Chuck Todd.” And she discussed a number of Afro-pessimists, who discuss this black un-humanness at greater length, including:
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Credit Where Due
The theme for this show is the song “Missing You” by Jahzzar, also know as Javier Suarez. You can find his work at betterwithmusic.com. And the font for our logo is by the graphic designer Marisa Passos. And the image at the top of this post is by Emory Douglas, who was the Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party.