On this episode, Kumars is joined by returning guest-co-host Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura, @Rrrrnessa on twitter. They begin the show talking about Trump's bombing of a Syrian airfield and the media's predictable sycophancy. Arnesa discusses her personal experiences as a Bosnian war refugee and how those experiences inform her opposition to US military intervention in Syria.
Kumars and Arnesa then interview Megan Clapp, a Ph.D. Candidate in clinical psychology whose clinical work has been primarily centered on trauma, anxiety, and depression, with special focus on LGBTQ issues. She’s currently working on her dissertation which focuses on the relationship between shame, power, and abuse - and is collaborating with other mental health folks in Chicago to develop more radical psychological practices. Kumars and Arnesa ask Megan about her background and how she became interested in left politics and activism. They also discuss a main focus of Megan's research and writing, the positive and negative roles of shame in left movement-building. Megan introduces us to reintegrative shaming, a concept within restorative justice that attempts to use shame to shift people toward less reactionary political positions, without burdening them with unresolved shame that can have dangerous consequences. Megan also explains the subtle difference between empathy and rationalization, including the importance of the former and danger of the latter when dealing with abusers. She also talks about the risks empathy can pose to many, particularly the victims of abuse, and the necessity for others to attempt to understand what motivates and molds a person who engages in an abusive behavior, so that we can more effectively prevent and subvert abusive tendencies within all of us. Finally, Megan talks about the role of trauma in the development of radical politics, and encourages left movements to deal with the reality of trauma among its ranks in an open, honest, and non-judgemental way.
On this episode, Kumars is first joined by his friend Sara Jafary, who grew up in Iran before moving to the US shortly before 9/11, to talk about her experiences in both countries. They commiserate over their shared experiences, including having their names butchered by Americans on a daily basis.
Kumars then interviews KB Brower, an organizer with the Pennsylvania Association of School Nurses and Practitioners, the independent nurses union in Philadelphia, which has a long history of rank and file militancy and social justice unionism. Before moving to Philadelphia, KB organized contracted out workers and students with AFSCME 3299, and before that, she ran domestic campaigns for United Students Against Sweatshops. She got her start in the labor movement with SEIU 1199 New England, where she learned about building majority social justice unions that aren't afraid to strike and win. KB gives Kumars and our listeners a crash-course in organizing best practices, based off of a two-day training she recently held. She discusses key components of the internal structure of any successful community or labor organizing group, and ways to grow your organization. Kumars and KB talk about where power comes from, and go over the concept of power mapping, including identifying and recruiting natural leaders. KB explains the basic ingredients of an organizing conversation, including identifying issues that resonate with the person you're talking to, agitating them, and giving them a plan to win. KB explains how to deal with difficult questions through affirming the point-of-view of the questioner, answering their question concisely, and redirecting back to the issue the questioner cares most about. We discuss the idea of the "biggest worst", an area where our organization is lacking in strength and has the best potential for improvement. Given limited time and energy, focusing on biggest worsts will result in the generation of more power than focusing on areas where we are already strong that don't have much room for growth. We also talk about turning an issue into a campaign that not only achieves your goal, but also grows the power of your organization. Finally, KB stresses the importance of having both majority participation and a broader conception of social justice so that you have both the power to win in the short-term while remaking society to make those gains long-lasting.