#NJRR Live: A Lifetime at War As Americans: Veterans for Peace

Welcome to #NJRR Live!

Good evening, everybody, and welcome to this week’s episode of #NJRR Live. Thank you so much for joining us tonight as we stream live on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter! Although politics are difficult and politicians suck, New Jersey Revolution Radio is not all about talking smack on politicians. We know how important it is to appreciate art and activism, so if you have any art — music, writing, photos, etc., that you would like featured on #NJRR Live, please let us know. You can reach out to us on any of our social media platforms or by shooting us an email.

Trahern and Leah

Speaking of social media, tonight we are bringing on a special guest, writer Leah Giannantonio (that’s me!) I’ve been running NJRR’s social media accounts for about a week now and it’s been exciting. This is my first job out of college, so it’s really cool to be able to apply the skills I’ve learned at my university to promote a media company. Also, I genuinely care about the stuff I do, and I enjoy it regardless of the fact that I get paid. We have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, so follow us on all of those outlets to see what we’ll be putting out.

Joining us again tonight as co-host is Trahern Crews. Trahern has been an activist with the BLM movement in Minnesota since 2015. Before that, he was a campaign manager for Green Party candidates. Today, as co-chair of the Green Party, his activism focuses on issues such as racial justice, housing, transit, criminal justice and prison reform, and more. 

Conservatism and Concentration Camps

Brian asks Trahern to tell us how he felt about the election. Trahern replies that essentially,  a vote for Biden is a vote for Trump and vice versa. He doesn’t see much of a difference, particularly regarding the causes that we are fighting for as activists. Trump doesn’t want to defund the police and neither does Biden. Democrats gained political power from the BLM movement and then decided to abandon the movement when it was convenient for them. Democratic officials said that they were going to get rid of an ICE detention center, but now that Biden has been elected, they’ve backtracked and are now claiming that they can work better with the Biden administration to maintain these concentration camps.

Trahern notes that some of his comrades are happy about the Biden win and he does not want to rain on their parade. Indeed joy sustains activism so it is beyond important to claim victories where we can. However, we can’t stay idle. The fact is now that concentration camps will be staying open because Biden is in power and something has to be done about that. The Bush administration has announced support for Biden and there is talk of Mitt Romney being in the cabinet. Such associations display a slip into conservatism; this hardly the revolutionary leadership that we need.

Green Party Concerns

Brian remembers his time working for the Green Party. When he joined, he earnestly sought to make a difference by supporting a revolutionary cause.  However, he was disappointed by an unprofessional and incompetent staff at the Howie Hawkins campaign, who were unable to organize effectively. There were many examples, including, ironically, labor issues. Brian’s revenge has been to nickname Howkins a “potato head”, but his humor comes from seeing a campaign doing more harm than good for a party he spent years of his life supporting.

Brian maade a lot of personal sacrifices to support the Greens, even going to jail with a few at the VMA protests in Newark, but ultimately GPNJ leadership decided to promote the Hawkins campaign rather than stand behind him and the media work done here at #NJRR . Trahern offers an apology on behalf of the Green Party, calling for a debrief about what can be learned from this previous campaign. He believes that growth within the party can create a momentum of positive energy that could result in real change. Part of growing a grassroots organization is grassroots media coverage.

Cannabis Developments

I come onto the show live once again to discuss my favorite topic, cannabis. As New Jersey continues to progress towards the dream of having a weed shop on every corner, Governor Murphy today announced his appointments to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Dianna Houenou, a Black woman from East Orange, has been selected to be Chair of the Commission. 

This looks really good. As a disabled woman and as a decent human, I am always deeply glad to see minority populations get the opportunities they deserve. However, Brian notes that Phil Murphy and the Democratic Party are great at playing performative politics. We will have to wait and see where this all goes once the cannabis legislation is in motion for real. Ideally, the legal market will operate in a way that benefits the communities that have always sustained the cannabis industry, even when it existed as a black market. Until that happens, we cannot say we have seen social justice in the area of cannabis legalization.

Veteran Tales

For now, we live in a state where even veterans like Brian pay $60 for a legal eighth from a dispensary. But alas, that is how we thank our veterans. Brian shares that he would prefer not to be wished a happy Veterans Day. Instead, he tells a story about his veteran grandfather. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II, and one of them always carried a spoon with him whenever he was on recon duty. This was because he wanted to be able to appreciate the world cuisine as he fought in places like Italy, where the Nazis always stole the utensils from the buildings they raided. 

World War II was one of the very few wars that the United States was justified in entering, and we had to be dragged in at the end kicking and screaming. Brian’s grandfathers fought Nazis to defend humanity. Brian views his time in the Persian Gulf as time that he spent defending the profits of oil companies. Trahern expresses concern about the Biden administration’s advance into power because he knows that some of the people that will be making decisions will be the same ones who put Brian in that position all those years ago. 

Military Reality

Brian suggests that rather than wishing him a happy Veterans Day, people vow not to serve in the military and to tell their kids never to serve in the military. Some people join the military in genuine hopes of serving America. Especially in the modern age, those people are often sorely disappointed. Many people join the military for financial reasons or because they had nowhere else to go in life. The reasoning behind enlisting is often different across class lines. 

Brian remembers being aged 18 to 22 and in the military, recalling that his brain was definitely not fully developed and he did not understand the potential consequences of his situation. “Young Brian didn’t realize he was in a war zone!” Brian encourages people to think hard about joining the military, what that choice entails for their life, and what they will really be defending. 

Thank You, Goodnight, Send Us Stuff

This Friday, BLM Minnesota will be having a food drive at 999 Selby Avenue in St. Paul, where they will be collecting food from 11AM to 1PM. The following day at the same time, you can pick the food up if you are in need. Visit the BLM Minnesota Facebook Page for information on upcoming rallies and more. If you’d like to donate, their CashApp tag is $BLMMN. 

If possible, don’t forget to send us stuff! We aren’t picky. Memes, art, money, we’ll take it! Send New Jersey Revolution Radio a message on any of our social media if you’d like to get in touch. Until next time, everyone, be safe and stay well.

-Leah Giannantonio, for New Jersey Revolution Radio

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