News

Breaking the deportation machine, with Maria Castro

Last week, February 8, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos went to her yearly check-in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Phoenix, Arizona, something she has done every year since 2008, when she was arrested in a raid by notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio and convicted of using a fake Social Security number to work (and pay Social Security taxes that she would never be able to collect). This time, instead of being sent home to her family, she was loaded into a van and deported to Mexico, despite a group of her friends and family and supporters placing their bodies in the way of the van. Her 14-year-old daughter had to pack her things for her; she, along with her brother and father, would be staying behind. Maria Castro was one of the people putting her body on the line to try to prevent Garcia de Rayos’s deportation, and she talks here about what will be necessary to prevent more families like Garcia de Rayos’s from being split up.

It is important to be grounded in community first and foremost. I think it is very easy to identify an action. Like one we did a couple of years ago, we jumped in front of a bus and made national news, but what is important is identifying the needs of our community. In this moment, our communities are being kidnapped out of their homes, out of workplaces, off the street, and we need to do whatever is necessary to protect them and make sure that we are being safe and bold and brave and in some spaces, depending on the conditions, in some of the more liberal states, you may be able to do more and you should do more. That is what is required of us. In some places, it may look like sitting in front of a bus. In other places, it may look like locking down some facility. In other places, it might look like vigils and creating sanctuary spaces. It all depends on the setting, but what is vital and necessary is that you do something.

Up at Truthout.

Up at In These Times.

Up at Moyers & Company.

Up at The Baffler.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Criminalizing dissent in “middle America,” with David Goodner


The news that several bills that would make certain protest tactics into felonies has sparked fears of a crackdown on dissent, but Iowa organizer David Goodner says it has also sparked organizing in response.

Stuff like what happened at Berkeley, that is going to be controversial. I think we also have to realize, at least in that sense, confrontation won. When we went to the airports all over the country and confronted and there was really the risk of shutting down these major airports, these major centers, again, of economic activity, we won major concessions from the Trump administration on his bad policy. The Women’s March, having millions of people in the streets, there may not have been a clear cut victory, but I think it did energize and mobilize people to realize that we can win when we stick together, when we develop a mass movement strategy, and when we fight like hell.

We need to take that just as seriously as we take the concerns about property destruction or about people with masks on and how that might look to Middle America, as well. I think people here in Iowa want to stand with somebody who they know is fighting for them. They are not going to care so much about ideology if they can see that there is a movement that has their back and is going to defend their interests. People are going to sign up and join it.

Up at Truthout.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Standing Rock is everywhere, with Judith LeBlanc


Judith LeBlanc of the Native Organizers Alliance spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. and remains part of the movement taking the resistance at Standing Rock around the country, from divestment campaigns in Seattle to a Native-led March on Washington coming soon.

No matter how strong capitalism seems to be, it is inherently full of contradictions and therefore masses of people, when organized, even if not the majority, can have an impact. We have organized this alliance, joined a coalition that involved many, many groups – faith groups, as well as divestment groups and environmental groups like 350.org – in doing a serious of actions in the last few days to pressure the seventeen banks who are invested in Energy Transfer Partners to meet with the tribe. To divest, but to do so on the basis of meeting with the tribes and understanding what the issues are and the impact the pipeline can have. We have also had tremendous numbers of people, I can’t remember the figures of people who closed their personal accounts that were in some of the seventeen banks. It has given many people the ability to say, “Amen” in their personal lives, to live a life that is actually in sync with their beliefs that we all have a role to play in saving Mother Earth.

Up at Truthout.

Up at In These Times.

Up at The Baffler.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Teaching to resist, with Jesse Hagopian

Public schools have been a bipartisan battleground for years now, with teachers’ unions taking attacks from elected officials at all levels as part of a broader movement to “improve” education by handing control over it to private companies. Donald Trump’s nominee to run the education department, Betsy DeVos, is a stalwart of this privatization drive, never having met a public school she liked (and barely, as many have pointed out, having met a public school at all, since she neither taught in any nor attended them nor sent her own children to them). But teachers around the country are organizing against privatization, and gaining support from parents and students. Jesse Hagopian is one of those teachers.

I try…to have my classroom be a place that facilitates dialogue, that allows the kids to discuss the fears and anxieties that they have when they hear Trump’s plans for banning Muslims, for deporting immigrants, all of his atrocious sexual assault exploits, his fear-mongering and hatred and bigotry of all kinds. The students need a place to talk about it. I try to facilitate that, as well as letting them know my classroom is a safe place. On the door, all the teachers on my hallway have put up signs that say, “This is a safe place for our students and a place where we will oppose homophobia and sexism and racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia.” We want to communicate that message clearly with our students. Then, we also have to do it in the curriculum. It is so critical that our curriculum is talking back to the textbooks, which too often just glorify American history without engaging kids in critical thinking about the real challenges and forms of structural oppression that have been perpetuated throughout US history. We have to allow them to dig into the curriculum and into the history to figure out how we arrived at a moment like this. It’s really crucial to helping support them right now.

Up at Truthout.

Up at In These Times.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Striking against Trump, with Luciano Balbuena and Veronica Mendez Moore

As Donald Trump was preparing to take over as President of the United States, Luciano Balbuena was preparing for something else: a strike, along with his coworkers who clean Home Depot stores in the Minneapolis area. A member of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Luciano talks about why strike against Trumpism.

We are trying to put a stop to the poverty wages. Donald Trump, he supports these low wages and he has said that he doesn’t think workers deserve better wages. He is a person that is very racist against Latino workers. So, for all of these reasons, that is why we are coming together tomorrow.

Veronica Mendez Moore, executive director of CTUL, also joins us to talk about CTUL’s ongoing organizing, targeting the biggest of the big corporations, and workers’ role in challenging Trump’s labor department nominee, Andy Puzder.

That is the engine of our economy. If workers don’t work, our economy doesn’t work, their communities don’t work, and it begins to break down for the corporations. I think the strike is such a critical tool because it really is a tremendous amount of power that workers have. The bosses spend hours and hours coming up with strategies to teach workers that their voice doesn’t matter and that they have no power and that they just need to follow the rules and listen to the boss. Our job is critical to help people understand how much power they actually have and that the strike is the most powerful tool they have to be able to use their voice and their power.

Up at In These Times.

Up at Truthout.

Up at The Baffler

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Interviews for Resistance #4: Legba Carrefour and #DisruptJ20

In addition to the massive Women’s March on Washington planned for Saturday, January 21, organizers from around the country with leadership from D.C. residents are planning a “festival of resistance” on Inauguration Day itself. Interview #4 looks into what to expect all day in D.C., and what’s already gone down this week (think queer dance party at Mike Pence’s house).

One of the actions we are doing, the permitted one at Columbus Circle at noon on Friday, we are doing that as a festival of resistance. We have got a flatbed truck with dancers from a local gay club, a bunch of drummers, I think a student marching band or two. I think the role of celebration is really important because a lot of people after the election were very down on themselves. I think it is important to remind people that there is a lot of joy in politics, actually, when you take politics to the street.

Up at Truthout.

Up at The Baffler, with audio.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Interviews for Resistance #3: Erin Mahoney

The strike remains one of the most powerful weapons that ordinary people have, and one feminist organization has decided to try and build on recent women’s strikes in multiple countries to take a similar action in the U.S. I spoke with Erin Mahoney of National Women’s Liberation:

We have got nearly 5,000 signatures so far and they are coming in by the hundreds every day, of women signing up to say that they will be striking from doing emotional labor in their household. They will be striking from their paying jobs. They will be striking from fake smiles, from making things run smoothly, from laundry to childcare—a whole host of different things that they are striking from. It is really moving to see the reasons why people are striking and also the breadth of work that they are striking from.

Up at In These Times.

Up at Truthout.

Up at The Baffler.

Interviews for Resistance is a syndicated series of interviews with organizers, agitators and troublemakers, available twice weekly as text and podcast. Previous interviews here.

News

Interviews for Resistance Launch!


Since the election, I’ve been flooded with questions about what happens next. People who, before November, thought that protesting was useless are now declaring themselves part of the resistance. And yet when you peruse social media, the most pervasive vibe is fear, often coupled with despair.

Thanks to years of being a labor and social movement beat reporter, I also see lots of people who are organizing, who are fighting, planning, and raising hell. But their stories were getting lost under the persistent drumbeat of horrifying news.

With that in mind, in the continuing spirit of Necessary Trouble, I’m launching a new project. Partnering with several excellent news organizations, I’m doing a syndicated series of “interviews for resistance,” which will be available as articles and as podcasts, with organizers, agitators, troublemakers, and thinkers about what comes next. These are people who have already been doing the work that has just become more necessary than ever, around the country, and they will cover a wide range of subjects and geographical locations.

There is an alternative to despair. Resistance is more than just sharing the scary news.

My first interview is now up, with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson and Ungovernable2017.

We need to recognize that in a number of different instances, folks who actually want to see something different constitute the majority. There were the majority of people who voted against Trump if you just look there. On a deeper level, this is something that I think we need to look at more profoundly and try to address: the 50 percent of voting-age adults in this country who typically don’t vote. I don’t think that is apathy; or not all of it. I think there is a growing dissatisfaction with the façade of democracy. People feel that “Whoever I vote for, nothing fundamentally is going to change. Their economic policy is going to be what it is. A lot of the fundamental questions around society are not on the ballot. We are restricted from being included in any serious discussion of democracy and what we can vote on, so why should I vote?” I think that is begging for some more fundamental, deeper and systemic change that I don’t think the electoral strategy and the electoral focus that we — in this case being the left — have been so oriented toward touches upon.

Up at Truthout.

Up, with audio, at The Baffler.

Thanks to my partner publications for taking a chance on this project: The Progressive, In These Times, Truthout and the Baffler. Thanks to Laura Feuillebois for her transcription skills. Thanks to the Nation Institute, for the backing that makes it possible for me to do this work. And thank you to everyone who fights.

News

A Diary of Protest for the Days to Come: Review at The Indypendent

Michael Hirsch at the Indypendent had the first post-Trump-election review of Necessary Trouble and concludes that trouble is, yes, even more necessary:

Perhaps, but we knew a Clinton administration would be no springtime in paradise. Neoliberalism is an uninspiring alternative to Trumpism, and the neoliberal order is cracking up, even if it is doing so in a manner few imagined possible. A finely written book such as Jaffe’s is not just a palliative of hope: The stories she reports of people building power through struggle offer a healthy direction forward.

Read the rest at the Indypendent.

News

The Revolution Will Be Intersectional: Labor Journalist Sarah Jaffe Writes of a New Radicalism

The excellent Katie Klabusich reviewed Necessary Trouble at Rewire. This came out before the election, but remains relevant:

As someone who got involved, in part, because I could see that I wasn’t the only who was frustrated and wanted better, Jaffe’s thesis that this is a “new time” resonates with me.

If she’s right—and I think that she is—we’re at a precipice, which the outcome of next week’s election will only amplify.

“Anger continues to simmer just under the surface, and occasionally, when enough people are angry enough to overcome their reasons for holding back, it explodes,” writes Jaffe.

Read the rest at Rewire.