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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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Feb 14, 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 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.

Dec 20, 2017

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, Roqayah and Kumars get us all in the holiday spirit with a Delete Your Account Christmas special. The gang discusses why people both love and hate the holidays, and we find out why Kumars thinks holiday spirit should be seized and redistributed throughout the rest of the year. Food is also on the agenda, and in addition to sharing holiday food takes, Roqayah talks about her struggles trying to find good vegan cheese. Also we learn that Roqayah has never had Chinese food, please mock her relentlessly on twitter dot com.

Dec 13, 2017

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, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by longtime activist Amanda Bloom, who is recently back from Puerto Rico where she worked at la clínica Bantiox, a free health clinic and emergency room in the town of Toa Baja. Bloom discusses her decades of work supporting political prisoners from the Puerto Rican independence movement and her recent volunteer work in Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Bloom describes the devastation wrought on the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and why the United States government has left Puerto Ricans with little to no assistance, while at the same time undermining reconstruction efforts. We explore the legacy of United States’ colonization of Puerto Rico and the massive debt crisis that has been imposed on Puerto Rico against the will of its people. We also learn about grassroots initiatives to rebuild the country, and find out what people can do to help residents of Puerto Rico.

You can follow Amanda Bloom and read her updates on Facebook. You can also read about her work in Puerto Rico at Poor Magazine. If you want to support groups in Puerto Rico doing great work, we recommend checking out la clínica Bantiox, Defend Puerto Rico, Resilient Power Puerto Rico, and Boricuá Organization for Ecological Agriculture.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Dec 6, 2017

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 Kaitlin Marone, an at-large councilmember on the New Orleans DSA Local Council and the organizer who thought up their wildly successful Gimme a Brake (Light) campaign. As you can maybe guess from the name, volunteer events are held to fix brake lights in poor communities for free, saving people from costly mechanic bills, traffic tickets, and interactions with cops which frequently destroy lives. Kaitlin is also co-author of the Gimme a Brake (Light) DIY Handbook, released by New Orleans DSA, which has been used by groups across the country to replicate this important work elsewhere. We ask for Kaitlin's thoughts on socialist organizing in Louisiana and the birth and growth of the New Orleans chapter of DSA. Kaitlin shares how she came up with the idea for the brake light repair clinics and describes how New Orleans DSA went about making this idea a reality. We discuss the importance of prolonged, no-strings-attached community service for building trust and building power, and the need for service work to truly reflect the desired priorities of those it claims to serve.

You can follow Kaitlin on twitter at @immerspaetlin. Follow @NewOrleansDSA for more on what that chapter is up to as well.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Nov 29, 2017

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 returning guest host Mariame Kaba sit down with two movement lawyers at the forefront of the struggle against bail and pre-trial detention. Sharlyn Grace is a lawyer and co-founder of the Chicago Community Bond Fund. Marbre Stahly-Butts is a lawyer and organizer with Law for Black Lives and the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table, and was involved in the recent Black Mamas Bailout. Sharlyn and Marbre cover the basics of money bail in the US and the bail bond industry it sustains. They explain recent efforts on the state and local levels to win reforms to the current bail system, as well as the limitations of some legislative efforts that attempt to undermine the institution of money bail. We discuss the Bail Project, a national effort to bail people out of jail that is funded by big-money donors with unclear motivations and limited connections to the communities they claim to want to help. Mariame warns that this effort, while sounding nice, could starve the several dozen existing community bail funds of donations, despite the fact that these existing organizations are better positioned to build power and provide long-term support to those they serve.

You can follow Mariame on twitter as always at @prisonculture. Follow Sharlyn at @SharlynDGrace, and the Chicago Community Bond Fund at @ChiBondFund. Marbre isn't on twitter, but you can follow Law for Black Lives at @Law4BlackLives. If you want to support the Chicago Community Bond Fund, you can do so here, and you can support the National Bail Fund, the coalition behind the Black Mamas Bailout and similar efforts, here. We didn't have time to discuss it on the episode, but you should also check out @Appolition, a really awesome way to donate to the National Bail Fund.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Nov 15, 2017

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, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Blake Simons, an organizer and educator from Oakland, CA. Blake is the co-founder of People’s Breakfast Oakland and also co-hosts Hella Black Podcast which discusses societal issues through a radical Black lens. Blake shares with us how he became radicalized and first got involved in organizing as a student at UC Berkeley. He talks about his role in the Afrikan Black Coalition, a network of Black Student Unions on University of California campuses, and discusses successful campaigns to establish a black student resource center at UC Berkeley and to force the UC to divest from private prisons. Blake also talks about his uncle, Jalil Muntaqim, a member of the Black Panther Party and political prisoner for 45 years, and the impact he has had on Blake's organizing work. We also discuss Blake's current project, People's Breakfast Oakland, which provides meals, hygiene kits, and clothing to houseless people in Oakland, building off of the model championed by the Black Panthers decades ago. We discuss the horrific reality faced by houseless people, even in liberal strongholds like the bay area, and the importance of building alternative structures to support houseless people who will never be served by traditional institutions. We discuss the importance of meeting the material needs of those exploited and abandoned by the state as a necessary precondition to building revolutionary power.

You can follow Blake at @BlakeDontCrack. If you want to support the People's Breakfast in Oakland, reach out to Blake on twitter or donate here.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Nov 8, 2017

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, Roqayah and Kumars are joined by Wendy Parker and Dan Feidt, two journalists who are part of Unicorn Riot, a decentralized, non-hierarchical media collective that started in 2015. Along with other members of the collective, Wendy and Dan have been reporting on leaked chat logs from a white supremacist organization involved in planning the deadly August "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. After learning more about Unicorn Riot's unique approach to journalism, with stories produced collaboratively and horizontally and entirely through donations from supporters, Wendy and Dan explain how Unicorn Riot was able to get their hands on these private chat logs. These chat logs, comprised of hundreds of thousands of individual messages over months, show definitively that the white supremacist group in question has genocidal aims, despite their efforts to hide their goals from public scrutiny. The chat logs, in addition to revealing the vile politics and violent aims of many adherents of this right-wing ideology, revealed a high level of organization and strong commitment to building power. We learn about how Unicorn Riot's work has made its way into more mainstream outlets, and the effect that this and other similar work is having on the ability of these groups to function effectively. Dan and Wendy describe how members of the collective have been targeted by neo-nazis in retaliation for their work, and how they've been able to stay safe. Finally, we get their thoughts on how journalists can use reporting to fight against fascist organizing, without giving groups or individuals a platform that amplifies their evil message.

You can follow Unicorn Riot at @UR_Ninja. You can follow Dan on Twitter at @hongpong. You can't follow Wendy anywhere, because she deleted all her accounts (nice). Check out Unicorn Riot's searchable database of neo-nazi chat logs, and also check out the helpful anti-doxxing guide from Equality Labs mentioned on the episode.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Nov 1, 2017

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, Roqayah and Kumars are joined once again by guest-host extraordinaire Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture on twitter) for an amazing conversation with organizer Opal Tometi, a community organizer and writer who is one of co-founders of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Opal also serves as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).

We learn about how Opal got involved in community organizing and specifically how she came to work at the intersection of immigrant justice and black liberation. Opal explains that one in five immigrants facing deportation is black and black immigrants are more likely to face criminal deportation than any other group. We discuss similarities and differences in the fight for immigrant justice under both Obama and Trump, and the additional difficulties African immigrants face under Trump's travel and refugee bans. We also explore how US imperialism, particularly in Africa, impacts black lives here and abroad.

In addition to discussing Opal's work with BAJI, we also learn about her role in building the Black Lives Matter movement and the Global Network that formed in the wake of the Ferguson, Missouri protests of 2014. Opal also shares what makes her hopeful, and discusses next steps for the world-wide fight for black liberation.

You can follow Opal on Twitter at @opalayo. Follow BAJI at @BAJItweet. Also, check out freedomcities.org, an organizing project building off successes of the sanctuary movement to restructure local communities to protect all marginalized people.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Oct 19, 2017

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Today's episode is on sexual violence and organizing against it, so a major content warning for those listening. We spoke with Jes Skolnik, who has many years of experience organizing around sexual assault. Jes is currently the managing editor of Bandcamp Daily, a contributor to Pitchfork and many other publications, and a boardmember of Pure Joy Chicago, an arts venue and community space for all ages. They have long been involved in pragmatic activism that seeks to rectify social systemic imbalances in material ways for those who need it most, both within the labor movement and outside, as an anarcha-feminist abolitionist. We were also joined by returning guest Alex Press, former labor organizer and current assistant editor at Jacobin and PhD student in sociology at Northeastern University, who's been writing extensively on the Harvey Weinstein allegations and its lessons for responding to sexual abuse.

Jes tells us about their experience organizing against sexual violence and providing material support to victims, including through shelters and rape crisis hotlines, and how being a survivor of abuse impacted their approach to the work. We discuss the seemingly endless stream of new allegations against powerful men in Hollywood and beyond, and our guests give their thoughts on the current moment and whether the current media focus on sexual violence will translate into actual cultural or policy change. We talk about why victims of sexual violence often stay silent, and why victims, predominantly women, have to rely on informal whisper networks to stay safe from abusers. We discuss Alex's piece for Vox on how to formalize and weaponize the whisper network to thwart abuse, as well as her piece for Jacobin on the role that the labor movement could and should play in combatting sexual harassment and assault. Finally, referencing recent examples, we discuss the need for people in left organizations to face abusers in their midst head-on, and to stop making excuses for the bad behavior of their friends. Victims of sexual violence are tired of shouldering the burden of changing our society alone, it is time for everyone to step up.

You can follow Jes on Twitter at @modernistwitch. Follow Alex at @alexnpress.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Oct 4, 2017

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This week, Roqayah misses the interview so Kumars is joined once again by returning guest-host and fan-favorite Mariame Kaba. Mariame and Kumars speak with Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, Executive Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee and a leader in the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL). We learn about how Ash-Lee got involved in left movement-building in her home state of Tennessee before asking Ash-Lee about her work with M4BL. She explains the distinction between the Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter, before discussing several areas of the M4BL policy platform in-depth. Ash-Lee gives several examples of how policies from the platform are being implemented in communities across the country. We learn about the Highlander Research and Education Center, which has promoted grassroots organizing in the U.S. South for the better part of a century. We also discuss differences between organizing in the North and the South, and the importance of southern organizing to building radical power. Finally, Ash-Lee tells us what makes her hopeful, and her thoughts on where we go from here.

You can follow Ash-Lee on Twitter at @hendersonaw0604. Follow Mariame at @prisonculture. Also, make sure to check out Ash-Lee's recent piece on the importance of organizing the South. You can support the important work of the Highlander Center here.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Sep 26, 2017

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 and Kumars spend the intro talking about Kumars finding himself once again targeted by white nationalists for his Palestine solidarity activism. They also talk about UC Berkeley's nazi appreciation ("free speech") week and contrast UC Berkeley's efforts to protect the speech of genocidal racists with their complete lack of effort to protect the speech of leftists.

For the interview, Kumars and Roqayah are honored to welcome Kshama Sawant. Kshama is a proud socialist, member of Socialist Alternative, and a Seattle City Councilmember. She joins Kumars live in Oakland, while Roqayah is, as always, on the other side of the world in Sydney, Australia. After hearing a little about how Kshama originally became radicalized, we learn what defines Socialist Alternative as an organization and how she discovered Socialist Alternative was the right fit for her. Kshama shares with us how she was able to become the only open socialist on Seattle City Council, and how she has been able to effectively push her agenda without other socialists in government. We hear more about some of Kshama's major policy wins, including a $15 minimum wage and an income tax targeting high earners. We also ask Kshama about Bernie Sanders, hearing her thoughts and criticisms of his Presidential campaign, his role in shaping the Democratic agenda, and his foreign policy views. Finally, Kshama shares her thoughts on how people on the left can build an effective alternative to both fascism and neoliberalism.

You can follow Kshama on Twitter at @cmkshama. Check her out on the web and also support other socialists running for city council seats, including in Seattle and Minneapolis

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Sep 20, 2017

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 and Kumars are joined for an in-depth discussion of German politics and the upcoming federal elections in Germany by Julia Damphouse and Loren Balhorn direct from Berlin. Julia is a Canadian student in Berlin and a member of the German Left Party, die Linke. Loren is an American member of die Linke and writes about German politics for Jacobin. After we get our usual political origin stories from our guests, they give us an introduction to each of the 6 major political parties likely to enter the Bundestag or German parliament after the election on September 24th.

Julia and Loren begin with their own party, explaining the roots of the socialist Left Party both in East German socialism and in more recent discontent with the center-left’s neoliberal turn. They explain that the bulk of the disenchantment is a result of the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) increasing abandonment from their working-class base, and we clear up any misconceptions about who is responsible for the death of Rosa Luxemburg. Almost imperceptibly to the right of today’s Social Democrats are Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), whose shrewd movement away from conservative positions has consolidated their power in the face of a feckless SPD.

Julia and Loren both weigh in on the Islamophobic, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which seems poised to become the first far-right party to enter the Bundestag in Germany’s postwar history, and discuss whether the US media is right to frame the AfD as a manifestation of “Trump-style” nationalism. Finally, Loren and Julia touch on the CDU’s possible coalition partners, the centrist Greens and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP), and make our predictions about which potential alliance will govern Germany for the next four years.

You can read Loren’s writing on Jacobin and follow Julia on Twitter at @remarksist. Don’t miss Julia’s first appearance on the show as a guest cohost for our excellent interview with Kathleen Brown on the anti-G8 mobilization in Hamburg.

A transcript for this episode is forthcoming. Please send an email to deleteuracct @ gmail to get a copy sent to you when it is completed.

Sep 13, 2017

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 packed two interviews into one show. First we have a short 15-minute discussion with Jon Grant, the former director of the Tenants Union of Washington State. In addition to being a community organizer and housing rights advocate, Jon is running for position 8 on the Seattle City Council as a proud socialist. We learn about Jon's background and bona fides, as well as why he's running for office and what makes his campaign different from that of other politicians. 

Next, Roqayah and Kumars talk to Ro Nay San Lwin, a Rohingya activist and writer for rohingyablogger.com. We wanted to have Ro Nay San on the show to discuss the horrific ethnic cleansing and genocide being perpetrated against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by military and paramilitary forces. We learn about how Ro Nay San got involved in writing and activism, and about the website he runs. He explains the key historical events necessary for understanding the current crisis in Myanmar, including the 1982 Citizenship Law that essentially made the Rohingya stateless. We discuss the staggering scope of the atrocities being committed, with entire villages burned, thousands murdered and hundreds of thousands displaced, internally and externally. We discuss the United States' quiet approval of and complicity in the violence, with Obama lifting sanctions on the Myanmar government as attacks on Rohingya Muslims intensified. We also talk about the false promise of Aung San Suu Kyi, a former champion of the opposition during decades of military rule who has long since sacrificed her principles, as well as the Rohingya, for a tiny taste of power. We discuss what can be done to stop these atrocities, cautioning against calls for western military intervention as well as trade sanctions that would disproportionately hurt the poorest and most vulnerable.

Follow Ro Nay San Lwin on Twitter at @nslwin. Make sure to check out rohingyablogger.com to learn more about what's happening in Myanmar. 

To find out more about Jon Grant's Seattle City Council bid, go to electjongrant.com. If you have the time and inclination to help out on his campaign, make sure to click “GET INVOLVED”. Follow @electjongrant on twitter for updates.

Sep 6, 2017

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, Kumars and Roqayah are taking a much-needed break for Labor Day. After they both say hi to everyone in the introduction, we replay one of our most important and criminally under-listened interviews with KB Brower, an expert union organizer who gave Kumars a crash course in the tools of the professional organizing trade.

KB Brower is an organizer with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, 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.

KB isn't on twitter herself, but you can follow the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals on twitter at @PennaNurses.

To support Harvey relief, we recommend you check out the wishlist that has been posted by the National Black United Front Houston Chapter. You can find more about them on their facebook page.

Aug 29, 2017

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This week, Roqayah and Kumars only stick around for the intro. Instead of the usual interview format, we have a lively discussion between writer and Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher and Lee Fang, investigative reporter for the Intercept, about the morality and efficacy of political violence in our current context. George and Lee definitely do not see eye-to-eye when it comes to this issue, and we will let the discussion speak for itself! Thanks to journalist Joshua Holland for serving as a neutral mediator for the conversation.

Follow George on Twitter at @ciccmaher, Lee at @lhfang, and Josh at @JoshuaHol. Also, make sure to call the Durham Sheriff's Office at 919-560-0897 and demand they drop all charges against the protesters who tore down the confederate monument in Durham, NC. If you haven't listened already, last week we interviewed one of the organizers who facing felony charges for that action.

Aug 23, 2017

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This week, Roqayah and Kumars were honored to be joined by two organizers with the Workers World Party who have been in the middle of recent antifa actions in the South. Taryn Fivek, originally from the South, is based in New York and was in Charlottesville to confront the Unite the Right rally. Loan Tran is based in Durham, North Carolina, and was instrumental in the direct action that pulled down Durham’s Confederate monument in solidarity with the antifascist protesters in Charlottesville. Taryn and Loan share their accounts of those respective events, as well as the wave of arrests and other state repression following the action in Durham.

The guests give their takes on the state of right-wing reaction and left-wing resistance today, explaining how the Workers World Party’s political practice is both informed by the long Marxist-Leninist tradition and committed to centering the struggles of the most oppressed, including the incarcerated.

Follow Taryn on Twitter at @fivek and Loan at @ntranloan. Visit Workers World Party’s website to learn more about getting involved, and contribute whatever you can to support Workers World Party’s continued efforts on Patreon.

Aug 15, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah discuss the so-called "Unite The Right" nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the murder of comrade Heather Heyer and injury of 19 others by a nazi terrorist in a car ramming attack. We play a short interview with Peter Moskowitz, New York-based journalist and author of How to Kill a City who you'll remember from our last episode. It just so happens that Peter was in Charlottesville where they witnessed first-hand the rally and counter-protests, including nearly getting hit themselves in the car ramming attack. Peter and Kumars discuss how the lack of any substantive Truth and Reconciliation process in the US following the Civil War led us to where we are now, and how something resembling Truth and Reconciliation must be achieved. While it is unlikely to look like the Nuremberg Trials for everyone, it's possible that mild bear macings, loss of employment, shunning by family and other carefully considered tactics could serve a role.

After our discussions of Charlottesville, we move on to a conversation about the recent Democratic Socialists of America national convention with two amazing guests. First, we are 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 in February 2018. Shaun is also a member of the Seattle chapter of DSA and served as a delegate to the convention. Our second guest is Katy, better known as @kid_mao on twitter, appearing on the show for her first but hopefully not only time. She’s was a member of the ad hoc steering committee for the Boston chapter of DSA, before moving to Connecticut where she started a DSA organizing committee in rural Northeast Connecticut, known as “Quiet Corner DSA”. She attended the recent convention as a delegate for the Boston chapter. We get Shaun and Katy's takes on the various outcomes of the convention, including strong resolutions on prison/police abolition, BDS, reproductive justice, and anti-harassment. We talk about how DSA has come this far this fast, dramatically shifting positions on topics including imperialism and international solidarity, as well as ways it still needs to improve in the coming years. We also get Shaun and Katy's takes on DSA Cop-gate, and discuss whether and under what conditions ex-police or ex-soldiers should be allowed into Left spaces.

You can follow Peter at @ptrmsk. Follow Shaun at @eyesonthestorm and Katy at @kid_mao.

Please donate to support the family of Heather Heyer and other victims of Nazi terror:

https://www.gofundme.com/our-sisters-keeper-heatherheyer

https://www.gofundme.com/united-cville-victim-relief

https://www.gofundme.com/natalie-romero-medical-fund

https://www.gofundme.com/49l4x3c

 

Aug 8, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah are joined by two very special guests: Peter Moskowitz, New York-based journalist and author, and Shanti Singh, a housing rights activist in San Francisco and a leader of SF DSA’s newly launched Housing Committee. We go deep into the issue of gentrification as it is explored in Peter’s powerful new book How to Kill a City. Using the cities of New Orleans, New York, Detroit, and San Francisco as examples, Peter guides us through the many stages of gentrification, from the arrival of the first gentrifiers seeking out a cheaper home to global corporate real estate speculators buying entire neighborhoods. Peter describes how this process eventually transforms working-class communities into stretches of usually vacant vacation properties for the world's mega-elite. Shanti describes her experiences combating gentrification in San Francisco, where gentrification is especially pervasive and destructive, and where activists have relatively few tools at their disposal for fighting back. We discuss how government policies exacerbate housing scarcity and drive prices ever-increasingly higher, disproportionately driving people of color and poor people from neighborhoods they've called home for decades. Gentrification is not an issue that is only impacting coastal elite cities like San Francisco and New York, it is only a matter of time until it comes to a neighborhood near you (if it hasn't already). Peter and Shanti argue that housing is a universal right that should become a bigger priority for left organizers.

You can follow Shanti on twitter at @uhshanti. Follow Peter at @ptrmsk.

Aug 2, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah are back together at last! They have fun in the intro talking about the relationship woes of various Trump accolades, and Kumars predicts an increase in the number of relationships that will be ruined by politics in the future.

For the interview, Roqayah has a great guest co-host, George Cicciarello-Maher, meaning that an even luckier Kumars gets some much-needed time off. George teaches at Drexel University in Philadelphia, assuming he hasn’t been fired since we posted this. He is also the author of We Created Chávez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution and Building the Commune: Radical Democracy in Venezuela.

Roqayah and George are joined by Coromoto Haraba, a translator and journalist based in Caracas, Venezuela. She’s an anarchist who has been supporting the Chavista movement since 2004 when the right-wing tried to depose president Chávez via referendum. At the moment, she works for Telesur, but speaks to us in her personal capacity about what’s been happening on-the-ground, including with recent Constituent Assembly Elections and what they mean for the future of the Venezuelan people. We learn about the roots of the current political crisis, and about the street protests gripping Venezuela. We talk about legitimate critiques of the Maduro government while also debunking several baseless opposition talking points. We discuss violence committed by the state, but also highlight racist lynchings of Chavistas by the opposition, ignored in international media. Coro and George explain the significance of recent Constituent Assembly elections, leading eventually to a rewriting of the Venezuelan constitution. Coro and George also give their thoughts on how the Chavista movement survives continued and escalating aggression from capitalists.

You can follow Coro on twitter at @coritoj. Follow George at @ciccmaher.

Jul 25, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is joined by returning guest-co-host Nora Barrows-Friedman, reporter and associate editor for The Electronic Intifada. In the intro, Kumars and Nora discuss the latest developments in Israel/Palestine as well as Roqayah's triumphant return to the show!

For the interview, Kumars and Nora welcome Jeff Stein, Congressional reporter for Vox, where he reports on politics, policy, and activism. He is also the former editor and founder of the Ithaca Voice. We wanted to talk to Jeff about the reporting he’s been doing on healthcare and other issues of relevance to the Left which happens to be some of the most valuable work coming out of a mainstream outlet. We first learn about what got Jeff interested in the worlds of politics and journalism, as well as the way he approaches his work. We ask Jeff about his coverage of the defensive fight against the various iterations of Trumpcare, as well as the offensive fight for single-payer/Medicare for all, and why he is one of the few journalists who is covering these issues so thoroughly for a mainstream outlet. We also talk about the activist groups engaged in these fights, most notably ADAPT, and the impact they are having.

Aside from the healthcare fights, we also talk about the new Democratic slogan which Jeff revealed to the world (A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages) and whether it will resonate with anyone. We also talk about new legislation that would criminalize participation in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Jeff tells us about a conversation he had with ranking Democratic congressman Eliot Engel where Engel didn't seem to have a problem with criminalizing speech he didn't personally agree with.

You can follow Nora on twitter at @norabf. Follow Jeff at @JStein_Vox.

Jul 19, 2017

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On this episode, Kumars is joined by guest co-host Samantha Jacobs, a Chicago-based comedy writer and member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Become a Patreon subscriber to hear our premium After Hours episode with Sam, in which we run the gamut from her PSL work to socialist memes, rap, and standup comedy. In the intro, we talk about the People's Congress of Resistance, a project of PSL and other organizations that Sam has been organizing around, as well as the health care debacle.

For the interview, Kumars and Sam talk to Sofía Gallisá Muriente, a Puerto Rican activist and artist who works mainly with video, photography, text and installation. Sofia's work has been displayed at the San Juan Poligraphic Triennial, Teorética, the Walker Art Center and the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires. She’s currently one of the co-directors of Beta-Local, a non-profit supporting art and critical thought in Puerto Rico. After learning about how Sofia became involved in politics, we learn the history of Puerto Rico's transition from a US colony to a "free associated state", a gimmick designed to relieve scrutiny of Puerto Rico's lack of sovereignty while still facilitating exploitation by US companies. Sofia explains how the current crises gripping Puerto Rico, caused or exacerbated by the US government, are rooted in the legacy of colonialism and enshrined in Puerto Rico's own constitution. Puerto Rico owes over $70 billion to foreign investors, money it is constitutionally required to pay back before it can spend a penny on social services. We also learn about the often overlooked $50 billion needed to fund Puerto Rico's pension system, as well as steep Medicaid cuts and loss of tax breaks affecting the island. We discuss the recent referendum on statehood vs. independence vs. status quo, boycotted by over 80% of the country. Sofia explains that no side of the debate has a plan for how to deal with the current crises, making the statehood vs. independence question less relevant. The only thing that is certain is that prevailing institutions will never save Puerto Rico, and alternative, grassroots structures must be built to weather the storm.

You can follow Sam on Twitter at @comradeSammy. You can check out Sofia's work at her website.

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