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Delete Your Account Podcast

Delete Your Account is a new podcast hosted by journalist Roqayah Chamseddine and her plucky sidekick Kumars Salehi. Every week they will talk about important stories from the worlds of politics and pop culture, both on and off-line, in a way that will never bore you.
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Now displaying: 2018
Apr 19, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

This week, Roqayah and Kumars welcome back two friends of the show, Douglas Williams and Bryan Conlon, also known as @Cato_of_Utica on Twitter. Douglas and Bryan, the proprietors of the Southern-focused labor organizing blog The South Lawn, catch up with Roqayah and Kumars, venting about the media mourning Barbara Bush before sharing their insight into the recent wave of teachers’ strikes across the country. The crew discusses how they negotiate the tension between “meeting people where they’re at” on the one hand, and on the other hand, building an intersectional left in solidarity with all oppressed and marginalized people.

Douglas and Bryan debate the importance of elections, particularly for leftist organizers interested in building a broad movement for social justice. We revisit their 2013 article for Facing South, “Creating a culture of unionism in the South”, and discuss its relevance to the labor actions we are seeing nationwide. Bryan and Douglas also share their thoughts on what people need to be doing to keep up the momentum from these strikes, transforming otherwise isolated labor actions into a mass movement for social and economic justice. Finally, the crew discusses Janus vs. AFSCME, the national “right to work” case that would undercut unions on a federal level, and what will be needed to revitalize the labor movement in the face of that impending consolidation of corporate anti-union reaction. 

You can follow Bryan on Twitter @Cato_of_Utica, and follow both their work @TheSouthLawn. Don't forget to support The South Lawn on Patreon.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Apr 12, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

This week, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble, assistant professor at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and author of the new book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. Safiya calls attention to the built-in prejudices that distort search results and influence the information users can access on Google and other search engines in ways that reinforce structural inequality and bigoted attitudes. The crew talks about how the reliance of companies like Google on human-created algorithms to sort and prioritize search results means that the creators’ racist and sexist assumptions get translated into a new, ostensibly “neutral” or “objective” media form.

Safiya discusses the particular case of Dylann Roof, whose search history led him to the right-wing ideas he said motivated his massacre at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Roqayah and Kumars ask Safiya about laws in Europe that compel companies to restrict access to Nazi propaganda and other hate speech, and get her thoughts on regulating how companies prioritize bigoted content. Finally, Safiya puts forward one model for how a radical search engine might work to both protect marginalized users and ensure that tools of oppression are presented in their proper context.

Check out Algorithms of Oppression here and you can follow Safiya on Twitter @safiyanoble.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Apr 5, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

On this week’s episode, Roqayah and Kumars are joined for the entire show by returning guest Shaun Scott, author of Millennials and the Moments That Made Us: A Cultural History of the U.S. from 1982—Present. Shaun talks with Roqayah and Kumars about Raoul Peck’s The Young Karl Marx, the recent biographical picture that tells the story of Marx’s early career, his friendship with Friedrich Engels, his marriage to his wife Jenny, and the development of Marx’s ideas in the lead-up to the publication of his Communist Manifesto. Opinions differ on the quality of the film. Shaun explains his article for City Arts Magazine, “Identity Politics in The Young Karl Marx,” providing background on Marx’s life and arguing that the film’s perspective demonstrates not only the potential but the necessity of integrating intersectional thinking about identity with Marxist class analysis through social reproduction theory.

The crew argues about how the film falls short, including its narrative focus on the development of ideas and its adherence to traditional biopic conventions. Roqayah and Kumars also discuss other recent depictions of communism, the Soviet Union, and Cold War politics in the recent movies Red Sparrow, The Death of Stalin, and The Shape of Water, and everyone concludes by taking stock of the complexities that arise when cinema takes on political issues.

Follow Shaun on Twitter @eyesonthestorm, and check out his analysis of The Young Karl Marx on City Arts.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Mar 29, 2018

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This week, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Emily Ozment. Emily was born and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma. She is a special education teacher and lead teacher in her department for Biology and Physical Science at Eisenhower High School. Emily is participating in a grassroots effort by teachers across the state to bring funding back to the Oklahoma classroom and win a fair salary for Oklahoma teachers and education support staff. We talk to Emily about the statewide teacher walkout planned for April 2nd, placing it in the context of more than three years of political mobilization aimed at addressing the public education crisis in Oklahoma. Emily describes the dire conditions for both teachers and students, even as massive oil profits in the state are taxed at an absurdly low rate. With low wages forcing many teachers to work additional jobs, experienced teachers are fleeing the state and inadequately trained substitutes are being relied on more and more. Teachers are struggling to do their best in crumbling facilities with outdated and disintegrating textbooks, as the GOP-controlled state government has significantly decreased classroom funding. We talk about planning and preparation for April 2nd, as well as the support teachers are receiving from students, parents, and the broader community. We discuss the recent success of striking West Virginia teachers and the influence that this has had on teachers in Oklahoma, as well as teachers in other "red" states that are considering striking. Emily also talks about growing up in a deeply conservative state, and how her politics have shifted dramatically to the left as a result of what she has experienced teaching in Oklahoma.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Mar 15, 2018

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This week, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Matthew Kenner, author of Geohell: Imagining History in the Contemporary World, and Chris Oestereich, researcher and writer on economics and ecology, for a discussion of the left’s greatest unaddressed challenge in the 21st century: the problem of the contradiction between economic productivity and ecological sustainability. They begin with an explanation of the true meaning of “Geohell,” the much memed concept that has its origin in Matt’s reading of Dante’s Inferno. Matt and Chris give a rundown of the dependence of human civilization on the exploitation of the environment since the advent of agriculture millennia ago, emphasizing the increasing complexity and exploitation inherent in that process. They explain how even left-wing paradigms for development rely on notions of economic productivity that are in conflict with the demands of an environment undergoing catastrophic climate change.

Matt and Chris describe structural and ideological impediments to transitioning to an ecologically sustainable society, and explain the shortcomings of the “ecomodernist” strain of socialist thought that pushes technological fixes to climate change and views a future of “fully automated luxury communism” as not only desirable but attainable. The crew discusses the necessity for ecological economics, which currently lacks influence in the mainstream of the economics discipline, to frame maximizing growth as a principle that assumes impossible levels of energy consumption.

Follow Matt on Twitter @cutasterfee, and Chris @costrike.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Mar 7, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!!

Roqayah is out for the week, but returning guest-co-host Nora Barrows-Friedman fills her shoes and joins Kumars for a conversation with Ali Abunimah, co-founder and editor of The Electronic Intifada. Ali is also the author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine and One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. We discuss several developments in Israel/Palestine since we last spoke to Ali, both on-the-ground and diplomatically around the world, and to what extent these changes are attributable to Trump. Ali shares the story of the Tamimi family, resisting the seizure of land in their village of Nabi Saleh for Israeli settlement construction. Multiple members of the Tamimi family have been killed in recent years as a result of their participation in weekly protests against the settlements. Not long after the near-death of 15-year-old Muhammad Fadel Tamimi, shot in the head with a "rubber" bullet, Ahed Tamimi, his 16-year-old cousin, lightly slapped one of two heavily armed Israeli soldiers as she attempted to remove them from her family's property. Video of the event went viral. Not long after, Ahed was arrested by the Israeli military where she now faces years in prison, and her family members have been targeted for arrest and abuse ever since. Ali talks about how Trump's Israel/Palestine policy agenda is largely in line with the increasing permissiveness for abuse and subjugation of Palestinians that has continued unaltered under Republican and Democratic presidents for decades. Ali posits that the salient difference between Obama and Trump is that Trump is "taking the mask off", dropping all pretense and revealing the ugly reality of Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism. We also talk about shifting public opinion on the question of justice for all Palestinians, particularly among young people, and why recent high-profile BDS victories have pro-Israel advocacy groups running scared, aligning more and more with far-right-wing governments and organizations.

You can find Ali on twitter at @AliAbunimah. Find Nora at @norabf.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Feb 28, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On this episode, Kumars interviewed incarcerated environmental activist Bryant Arroyo, speaking to us from Frackville Prison in Pennsylvania. Bryant has been incarcerated by the state of Pennsylvania for 24 years, and has been fighting to prove his innocence after being sentenced to life without parole. In addition to becoming a lawyer while behind bars, Bryant organized a victorious campaign against a coal gasification plant slated to be built next to his prison. He has taken on other campaigns to improve environmental conditions for Pennsylvania prisoners and has spoken to environmental conferences by phone about his efforts.

We learn how Bryant was able to organize hundreds of fellow prisoners at SCI Mahanoy in Southeastern Pennsylvania to oppose and eventually prevent the construction of a coal gasification plant nearby. Despite strict rules against circulating petitions, Bryant was able to get 402 prisoners to send identical, individual letters to Mahanoy Township Supervisors, joining with some local residents and environmental groups to stop construction of the plant. Bryant discusses how he was moved from medium-security SCI Mahanoy to the maximum-security SCI Frackville prison as a result of his activism.  Despite repression like this, Bryant hasn't been deterred from his work, and he tells us about his current efforts combatting black mold and critically contaminated water at SCI Frackville. Bryant talks about the serious health problems Frackville inmates are experiencing as a result of being forced to drink contaminated water, and the evidence he has uncovered showing that prison officials were aware of the contamination issues and failed to act. Finally, we ask Bryant for his thoughts about the censorship of Worker's World newspapers in Pennsylvania prisons, as a result of their coverage of the #OperationPush prison strikes in Florida.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Feb 21, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars interviewed DC-based DSA organizers and accessibility advocates Conor Arpwel and Matthew Sampson. Conor is autistic and is a writer and law student doing internal accessibility advocacy for Metro DC DSA, and is a member of the steering committee for DSA’s Disability Working Group. Matthew is a deaf graduate student at the Urban and Regional Planning program at Georgetown University and also the founder of a group called Deaf Urbanists, which aims to educate the Deaf community about modern urban planning, and encourage the community to be involved with the city’s planning and growth. He is active in local government in DC, and is involved with the Transportation and Public Infrastructure committee for his neighborhood. Matthew was also joined by Claire who assisted with interpreting the conversation. We learn how Conor and Matthew found themselves organizing with DSA, and what accessibility means to them in the context of left organizing spaces. We discuss the challenges associated with surviving in a world that is hostile to disabled people, as well as serious impediments toward reaching universal accessibility under capitalism, even in the most well-meaning of leftist spaces. Conor and Matthew explain that accessibility isn't a thing that can be given all at once, but instead a gradual process of doing better, with the responsibility being collectivized to the greatest extent possible. We explore how some of the ways the framing of socialist organizing as a project of appealing to "normal people" often implicitly, sometimes deliberately, marginalizes the concerns of disabled people and and other minority groups on the left. We also talk about an essay Conor wrote about passing in the context of disability, and an essay by Sara Nović about the desire of many deaf people to resist assimilation into mainstream culture. Finally, Matthew talks about how the lives of deaf people in Russia were radically transformed by the 1917 revolution, with deaf people living and working together, controlling their own communities, factories, culture and destiny in a way that is hard to imagine under modern capitalism.

Follow Matthew on Twitter at @riotpedestrian and follow Conor on Twitter at @Arpwel.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Feb 14, 2018

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On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars interview Joe Piette, a Vietnam veteran, retired postal worker and union member, and member of the Philadelphia branch of the Workers World Party, or WWP. He has been active in left organizing since returning from the Vietnam war. We talk to Joe about how his time in Vietnam led him to not just oppose that war, but all US imperialism around the globe. He talks about how he got involved with Workers World, which at the time was the only organization to consistently show up, even in the dead of winter, to leaflet and protest induction centers where those drafted into service were taken. We ask Joe about WWP's work supporting prisoners across the country, and discuss abuses faced by prisoners, particularly in Joe's home state of Pennsylvania. We also discuss #OperationPush, ongoing prison strikes and commissary boycotts in Florida, spearheaded by the prisoners themselves with support from the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, The Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, and other organizations. Joe talks about how recent WWP coverage of #OperationPush has been banned from prisons in Pennsylvania, allegedly for inciting criminal activity, despite there being nothing illegal about a prison strike. Finally, we discuss ways for people to support both striking prisoners in Florida, as well as prisoners in Pennsylvania and elsewhere who are having their reading materials censored.

Check out ways to help striking prisoners in Florida here. To support Pennsylvania prisoners facing censorship, send complaints to Department of Corrections, 1920 Technology Parkway, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050, call 717-728-2573, or email ra-crpadocsecretary@pa.gov.

Follow Joe on Twitter at @pastpostal65 and check out his writing for Workers World.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Feb 7, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars welcome two guests for a wide-ranging discussion on topics including new media, celebrity and branding on the left, and call-out culture. First we have Liz Ryerson, a Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, musician, designer, critic and host of the podcast Beyond the Filter, which deals with digital media and especially new media - the newer the better - from a left perspective. We are also joined by returning guest Shaun Scott, a Seattle-based independent filmmaker and author of Millennials and the Moments That Made Us - A Cultural History of the U.S. from 1982—Present, due out this month. Liz discusses the reactionary tendencies and radical possibilities of video games, and how they influence and reflect society at-large. We also discuss the dual phenomena of celebrity and branding in rapidly expanding and heavily-online left spaces. Drawing off Shaun's recent writing and Exiting the Vampire Castle, an essay by the late Mark Fisher, we explore these phenomena and the importance and pitfalls of calling-out our comrades.

Follow Liz on Twitter at @ellaguro and read her awesome piece about the world of Doom modding on Waypoint. Follow Shaun at @eyesonthestorm and read his recent defense of call-out culture.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Jan 26, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars discuss workplace sabotage as radical praxis with returning guests Bryan Quinby and Brett Payne, fan favorites and hosts of the anarcho-comedy show Street Fight Radio out of Columbus, Ohio. Brett and Bryan share stories of monkeywrenching from their own lives and from their listeners, and Kumars discovers that “salting” is not just what happens to the street after it snows, but also an organizing tactic that involves getting hired at businesses with the aim of unionizing the workforce. The crew breaks down Street Fight’s campaign against the right-wing shipping supplier Uline, as well as a OSS field manual with tips on how to effectively infiltrate enemy institutions. They discuss workplace slowdowns, whistleblowing, Uber, Nathan for You, living your politics and why it’s necessary to see bosses as the enemy.

Finally, Brett and Kumars dish about their experiences seeing Lana Del Rey in concert, and arrive at the definitive leftist critique of their mutual celebrity crush.

Follow Bryan on Twitter @MurderBryan, Brett @BrettPain, and the official Street Fight account @StreetFightWCRS.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Jan 17, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On this episode, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by two guests, both of whom have been on DYA before. First we have Peter Moskowitz, a journalist and the author of the book How To Kill A City, which explores the gentrification of US cities. Peter recently wrote a piece for The Outline called "Protest fatigue syndrome: What to do when activism burns you out" that combines research and reporting with discussion of Peter's own personal battle against burnout. Peter shares their story, picking up where we left off when we last spoke to them in the wake of Heather Heyer's murder in Charlottesville. We learn how Peter was able to overcome protest fatigue through self-care and reprioritizing the unglamorous day-to-day work of community organizing over the spectacle of street protests. To help provide some expertise on this topic, we are also joined by Megan Clapp, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology whose work focuses on trauma, anxiety, and depression, with an emphasis on LGBTQ issues. Megan discusses how shame and trauma contribute to burnout and shares some helpful tools for keeping us healthy, happy, and fighting.

You can follow Peter on twitter at @ptrmsk. Follow Megan at @MemeVVitch. Also, don't forget to check out Megan's blog. Listen to Megan's first appearance on our show. Check out Peter's past appearances (1 and 2) as well.

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Jan 10, 2018

If you want to support the show and receive access to tons of bonus content, subscribe on our Patreon page for as little as $5 a month. Also, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes. We can't do this show without your support!!! 

On today's episode, Kumars and Roqayah were joined by photographer and journalist Alexei Wood. Alexei was one of 212 people arrested and charged over the J20 Trump inauguration-day protests from almost one year ago. He and five other defendants, all facing decades in prison, were recently acquitted of all charges. Alexei shares with us what happened that day leading to the mass arrest, and what he's been dealing with for the past year fighting these charges. We discussed the other 188 defendants still in limbo, with prosecutors signaling that they intend to pursue convictions on at least some of the original charges. We talk about the collective defense strategy adopted by a majority of the defendants, with over 130 of them signing on to a statement decrying the political nature of these arrests, refusing to cooperate with prosecutors or other law enforcement, and refusing to accept plea deals. Finally, we discuss the importance of building alternative institutions on the left to support those engaged in direct action and to mitigate the chilling effects of state repression.

You can follow Alexei on twitter at @LexShoots. Make sure to check out the J20 collective defense page and support the remaining J20 defendants however you are able. 

A transcript for this episode will be provided upon request. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

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