Post Tagged with: "activism"

KKK Member Walks up to Black Musician in Bar-but It’s Not a Joke

KKK Member Walks up to Black Musician in Bar-but It’s Not a Joke

daryl-davis

Rebecca Savastio on Daryl Davis:

It was 1983 and Davis was playing country western music in an (informally) all-white lounge. He was the only black musician in the place and when his set was over, a man approached him. “He came up to me and said he liked my piano playing,” says Davis, “then he told me this was the first time he heard a black man play as well as Jerry Lee Lewis.” Davis, somewhat amused, explained to the man: “Jerry Lee learned to play from black blues and boogie woogie piano players and he’s a friend of mine. He told me himself where he learned to play.” At first, Davis says, the man was skeptical that Jerry Lee Lewis had been schooled by black musicians, but Davis went on to explain in more detail. “He was fascinated,” says Davis, “but he didn’t believe me. Then, he told me he was a Klansman.”

Most people in this day and age probably would have turned and ran right out of that good ol’ boy’s bar, but not Davis. He stayed and talked with the Klansman for a long time. “At first, I thought ‘why the hell am I sitting with him?’ but we struck up a friendship and it was music that brought us together,” he says.

That friendship would lead Davis on a path almost unimaginable to most folks. Today, Davis is not only a musician, he is a person who befriends KKK members and, as a result, collects the robes and hoods of Klansmen who choose to leave the organization because of their friendship with him.

Full Story: Las Vegas Guardian Express: KKK Member Walks up to Black Musician in Bar-but It’s Not a Joke, and What Happens Next Will Astound You

(via Trevor via Metafilter)

See also: Meeting in Wyo. between NAACP, Klan heads marks history

November 26, 2013 1 comment
Change.org Isn’t a Non-Profit, and It’s Selling Your E-Mail Address to Fundraisers

Change.org Isn’t a Non-Profit, and It’s Selling Your E-Mail Address to Fundraisers

My latest for Wired:

What many people fail to realize is that Change.org isn’t a non-profit organization. Though anyone can set up a petition for free, the company makes an awful lot of money from all the data it collects about its online petitions and the people who sign them. It’s not just a path to The People. It’s a Google-like Big Data play.

In amassing data from its 45 million users and the 660,000 petitions they’ve created and signed, the company has unprecedented insight into the habits of online activists. If you sign one animal rights petition, the company says, you’re 2.29 times more likely to sign a criminal justice petition. And if you sign a criminal justice petition, you’re 6.3 times more likely to sign an economic justice petition. And 4.4 times more likely to sign an immigrant rights petition. And four times more likely to sign an education petition. And so on.

Change.org uses this data to serve you petitions you’re more likely to be interested in. And, in many cases, it also uses the stuff as a way of pairing you with paying sponsors you’re more likely to give money to.

It’s an intriguing business, and as it turns out, a rather lucrative one. But for some, it also toes an ethical line. “We’ve sort of created an email industrial complex where we’ll do anything to get people’s email address,” says Clay Johnson, a Presidential Innovation Fellow who, in 2004, co-founded Blue State Digital, a for-profit consulting company that helped develop the Obama campaign’s finely targeted fundraising system.

Full Story: Wired Enterprise: Meet Change.org, the Google of Modern Politics

September 26, 2013 1 comment
“Adventurism” and Its Historical Failures

“Adventurism” and Its Historical Failures

A good take on certain types of political violence:

It is usually exciting to see reports on insurrectionary attacks on capitalist structures in the news; for example, the recent torching of a fancy-pants car dealership in Melbourne, Australia. An unidentified anarchist cell (unidentified by the corporate media, anyway) has claimed responsibility, although the police are expressing their skepticism that the fire wasn’t an accident.

There is an argument to be made that such actions can inspire and educate the general population, and drive them to take up revolutionary struggle. This notion is encompassed in the idea of the “propaganda of the deed“, a philosophy that emphasizes actions over words, and is usually cited as justification for assassinations, bombings, arson, street battles, and other acts of sabotage and violence.

I’m not going to deny that I am not emotionally roused by such actions, especially when they take place in the West. The dearth of radical political action in the United States makes it very easy to want to cheerlead violent actions by clandestine groups. However, we must keep a cool and logical head when it comes to theorizing and practicing radical politics, and analyze specific tactics from an empirical and historical standpoint is crucial. History shows that the propaganda of the deed has typically failed to drive any kind of real emancipatory struggle. From the Weather Underground in the US to the MEK in Iran, insurrectionary actions devoid of any mass organizational politics has always failed to rouse the general population to revolution.

(I’ll henceforth refer to this phenomena of militancy without the masses as “adventurism”, a somewhat pejorative term that was popularized by Lenin to distinguish individual acts of violence from actions taken by a popular organization or community).

Full Story: Kurukshetra: “Adventurism” and Its Historical Failures

September 12, 2013 1 comment
We shouldn’t be protecting ourselves. We should be protecting each other.

We shouldn’t be protecting ourselves. We should be protecting each other.

Tim Maly on self-defense in the security state:

“Protect yourself.”

This may well be the defining motto of our times. No one is to be trusted; it’s a dangerous world out there and if you can’t be bothered to take basic steps…

Well, everyone gets what’s coming sooner or later.

The watchword is self-reliance. They’re coming to take what’s yours, so you’d better be ready. Federate your email, buy a generator, make sure you’ve got good locks, and for God’s sake, carry a handgun. There are monsters in the streets and some idiot is arming them.

But how to defend against the errors of the masses unwilling to take care of themselves? Every message in my outbox is in some fool’s inbox; plain as day, as if I’d sent it straight to PRISM myself. NSA-proof? Not without a massive shift of collective action undertaken by a society of people who’ve spent the past decade or so dumping as many photos, feelings, and fantasies online as time and bandwidth would allow. Why not? I certainly did. It’s nice to have friends.

Full Story: Weird Future: NSA-Proof Your Email! Consider your Man Card Re-Issued. Never be Afraid Again.

August 19, 2013 1 comment
Pentagon Bracing for Public Dissent Over Climate and Energy Shocks

Pentagon Bracing for Public Dissent Over Climate and Energy Shocks

Nafeez Ahmed writes for the Guardian:

Why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three.

Full Story: Guardian Earth Insight: Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks

(via Brainsturbator)

July 13, 2013 0 comments
Interview With Ai-jen Poo, Founder Of The National Domestic Workers Alliance

Interview With Ai-jen Poo, Founder Of The National Domestic Workers Alliance

Guernica interviews Ai-jen Poo, founder of the National Domestic Workers Alliance:

The project grew out of work within CAAAV, where many of the Filipina domestic workers who were organizing had worked in Hong Kong as domestic workers before coming to NYC. In Hong Kong, there are domestic workers from all over Asia, there are Indonesian workers, Filipina workers… It’s a multinational situation, and everyone works under a standard contract. There are set hours, guidelines, wages, and standards that are enforced. When the Filipina domestic workers came to the U.S., many were surprised to find so little protection and that in fact, domestic workers are excluded from a lot of labor law protections.

It was obvious to them that they couldn’t win better conditions alone, that they would have to develop a project with all domestic workers in the field. I had experience with multiracial coalition building and our organization already had that ethic, but the workers themselves also felt it was a natural next step to figure out a way to organize together as an entire workforce, which became Domestic Workers United.

Full Story: Guernica: The Caregivers Coalition

Interestingly Poo never uses the word “union” to describe the NDWA.

February 4, 2013 1 comment
What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

Pamela Haag writes about a paper published last fall in the American Political Science Review about ending or reducing domestic violence against women globally:

Out of this herculean research effort, Weldon and Htun conclude that the “mobilization of feminist movements is more important for change than the wealth of nations, left-wing political parties, or the number of women politicians” in a country, according to the APSR press release.

The authors found that these vibrant and autonomous feminist movements were the first to articulate the issue of violence against women, mobilize political will against it, and catalyze government action. Other organizations, even those with progressive leanings, tended to sideline issues perceived as being only relevant to women. [...]

This is heartening news. There’s a tendency to feel hopeless in the face of the Big Trends and the analyses of the violence and degradation against women as collateral damage of what feel like almost insurmountable “larger problems” and social pathology. For example we sometimes think of violence against women as mostly a by-product of economic development and educational opportunities, or lack thereof.

Conversely, there’s a consoling tendency to think that once these economic conditions improve, violence against women will diminish naturally, as a happy consequence of other social changes.

This research concludes that the work of individuals in civil society not only makes a difference, but makes the difference in comparison to other potential but more indirect levers of social change, such as having left-leaning parties or more national wealth. Write Weldon and Htun, the “effects of autonomous organizing are more important in our analysis than women’s…representation inside the legislature or the impact of political parties. Nor do economic factors such as national wealth trump the societal causes of policy making. Although these intra-legislative and economic factors have received a great deal of attention…they are inadequate to explain the significant changes in policies on violence against women. Civil society holds the key here.”

Full Story: Big Think: What Do You Know, Feminism Really DOES Work

January 30, 2013 0 comments
How Mesh Networks Connected Sandy Victims To The Outside World

How Mesh Networks Connected Sandy Victims To The Outside World

Becky Kazansky writes:

Through a mesh network first launched in November 2011 through a local nonprofit, residents after the storm were able to alert people to their needs over social media and check up on relatives. Access is limited and the network could, at the time, support only about 100-150 connections simultaneously. But in the wake of a disaster that created a new camaraderie in Manhattan around cellphone charging stations and free wifi, New Yorkers can appreciate that when the neighborhood goes dark, even a scrap of a link to the outside world is better than nothing.

Full Story: TechPresident: In Red Hook, Mesh Network Connects Sandy Survivors Still Without Power

Via The Doctor, a volunteer with Project Byzantium, a Linux distribution that includes mesh networking out of the box. The Byzantium team also helped out during Sandy, as noted in the article.

My interview with The Doctor is here.

See also: Government-less internets

December 7, 2012 0 comments
One Of The Northwest Three Released From Prison

One Of The Northwest Three Released From Prison

Salon reports:

24-year-old Portland anarchist Leah-Lynn Plante was imprisoned for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury. Like two other Northwest activists incarcerated earlier this year, Plante had not been charged or convicted with a crime but was nonetheless jailed for her silence.

Plante’s support network announced Friday that she was released from federal prison a couple of days ago after spending a week in solitary confinement. The announcement says that information is scarce and that Plante, having believed she would face 18 months behind bars, is too traumatized to speak to the media.

Salon: Grand jury resistor Leah-Lynn released from prison

Background:

The Stranger: Political Convictions?

Grand Jury Investigation Targeting Pacific Northwest Anarchists Dates Back to March 2

October 27, 2012 0 comments
Occupy And The Politics Of Trash

Occupy And The Politics Of Trash

Occupy Oakland, before and after

These images may seem exhaustive, even redundant. But that is the point: across the world, from New York to Paris to Melbourne, designating entire encampments as trash was a common tactic of municipal governments and their police forces. The ability to designate, and then forcibly treat, another group’s possessions as trash is a show of power, and is particularly ideological in nature.This is just not a case of clearing areas as efficiently as possible. Even objects of obvious worth, such as libraries, laptops, backpacks, and kitchen supplies, were indiscriminately trashed.

Full Story: Discard Studies: Tactics of Waste, Dirt and Discard in the Occupy Movement: A Photo Essay

(via Metafilter)

And remember:

September 28, 2012 1 comment