#NJRR Live: Activist Musicians: Revolution You Can Dance To
Welcome to #NJRR Live!
We open up tonight by thanking everyone who supports us, including the August Agency, The Coffeehouse of New Jersey, and Blissful Infusions. We are also grateful to all of our co-hosts for bringing their perspectives to #NJRR Live. This week, we welcome back Lark as guest co-host.
Practice What You Preach
When you sit at a table at a union grievance meeting, it is important that you can represent workers without fear of retaliation from management. Whether you’re a CEO or you dig ditches for a living, you’re on the same level. A recent NLRB ruling removed protections for union stewards and other officials that restricted employers from disciplining workers when they were acting as union officials. The sad part is, in Brian’s case the Communications Workers of America Local 1033 argued for these restrictions, saying that because he spoke out against a bully boss he should not get his job back. Management loves to poke union reps into fights, then play the victim. Now the NLRB has given them another weapon, but in Brian’s experience is that when it works out for unions, they sell out.
Union labor, which is supposed to be dedicated to protecting the rights of the people, instead came after Brian’s rights of free speech and the rights of stewards to have protected concerted activities.. He had dedicated years of his life to them , but 1 union president felt threatened by him and leveraged massive resources to fire him, lie, and cover up the truth. Most big unions do not give a shit about workers anymore. Brian is much happier working with his at #NJRR, where he is surrounded by comrades and can practice the real values of respecting workers rights
More Liberal Bullshit in The Hawkins Campaign
Brian saw the same hypocrisy on the Howie Hawkins campaign. Brian was removed from the Green Party Presidential campaign just 4 days after the candidate received GP’s nomination via email. In a bizarre and time-consuming situation that ultimately benefited no one. After years of dedication to organizing for GP, the Hawkins campaign still cant explain why he was fired in a hail of lies from the campaign manager. Dispute resolutions and complaints about his treatment simply went un-responded to.
Howie Hawkins makes claims of caring about labor while campaigning, and even wear union labels, but he was never a union steward or served, and he doesn’t practice respect for labor in his own organization. For example, if you care about workers’ rights, you don’t underpay your workers, giving some of them 500 dollars a month for full-time work. You don’t classify them as contractors when they’re doing essential work. And you give them just cause when terminated, regardless of employment status. But that is how he lets his campaign be run, stress and internal party fighting have dominated this run.
The Green Party of New Jersey, many of who have worked for years on this media platform and in organizing won’t even ask questions of the campaign on his behalf, instead choosing to cover up the obvious abuses by campaigning around NJ with Howie and avoiding the conversation. Brian intends on staying Green and organizing, but the will not be supporting party leaders who don’t put safe spaces and respect for labor on their list of priorities. He remain absolutely puzzled as to why GPNJ abandon stated values, and refuses to hold the Hawkins team accountable in any meaningful way.
Mental health is a major issue in the activist community, and the Green Party should learn to take it more seriously by providing safe organizing spaces and learning to deal with stressful environments. The Green Party decided campaigning was more important, just like every liberal Democrat Brian ever met. So our Senior Organizer decided to put together a show on Mental Health in Activism instead, live your values comrades.
#NJRR Live Welcomes Lark
With boundless positive energy, our comrade Lark joins us tonight, voicing her support for Brian and her sympathy for his frustrations. Parties need to practice what they preach. Lark confirms what Brian says, saying that these types of incidents are discussed frequently in activist circles.
Lark brings us information on a concerning global movement that is nothing new. Eugenics was made up by people in power for the purpose of control. Control who? Anyone who is not able-bodied and white. First, eugenicists isolate the people that are not ideal. Then they control their bodies. This country has a history of sterilizing incarcerated Black, Latinx, and Chicano women. This also relates to COVID-19. Minorities such as Chicanos are dying of this virus at several times the rate of white people.
If you don’t study history, you may be surprised to learn this, however, it’s nothing new. This is the result of a deep-seated problem in our country. Peer-reviewed articles promoting racism have been published in America. Eugenics has always been used to justify racism and genocide. For as long as eugenics has existed, it has been operating at a disturbingly official level in society. For example, The American Eugenics Society interacted with the Catholic church to form ethical standards around applying eugenics in society.
Eugenicists view being Black as a disability. In 1937, huge numbers of Puerto Rican women were sterilized as part of a eugenics program. By the 1970s, over a quarter of Native American childbearing women had been sterilized. White people have been controlling people of color right down to controlling their population numbers, thus allowing them to be a people large enough to benefit off of but not large enough to take a successful stand on its own against oppressors.
The United States public can be likened to a schoolteacher who believes whichever student comes and tattles first. The media will run with headlines before confirming them and people jump to conclusions without fact checking. The president has been able to get so much by the American public by taking advantage of this gullible tendency. For example, he has been quoted on tape as admitting that he downplayed the coronavirus intentionally even though he knew the danger.
This is the last episode of #NJRR Live for the month of September as we prepare to come back better than ever in October! This Saturday at 10:00 AM EST, we will be sending you off with a mental health coffeehouse with La’Tesha Sampson! It is so incredibly important to keep an open mind and have open conversations about mental health. Set a reminder for our event, live tomorrow at 10:00 AM on Facebook!
We want to thank everyone who supports us, including the August Agency, The Coffeehouse of New Jersey, and Blissful Infusions. We are also always grateful to all of our co-hosts and guests for bringing their perspectives to #NJRR Live.
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The Coffee House (Edison NJ) & Blissful Infusions
Mani Mostofi and Infinite Skillz
#NJRR Live now welcomes Mani Mostofi, a musician from the band Racetraitor, which is an anti-racist metal band. Brian saw Racetraitor in concert about two years ago and he was hooked instantly. Mani, like many other artists, questioned how he was using his platform to help activism when the uprisings in Minneapolis began. Mani takes pride in creating heavy metal music that brings attention to critical racial issues in our country.
Watch the video on YouTube!
We also add to our panel Jeremy Writt, also known as Infinite Skillz. If that name looks or sounds familiar, it is probably because we have featured his music on our show many times, or you may be a Tampa Bay Devil Rays fan! Since becoming disenfranchised with the Democratic Party after getting “Bernt”, he is all about grassroots democracy, and he has made this his own in his music. He uses his music to communicate what his party, the Green Party, stands for. His song “The Ten Key Commandments” dedicated to GP’s 10 key values.
Art and Activism
Mani shares that he is often asked to speak at rallies and that there is a symbiotic relationship between being an artist and a communicator. He describes himself as having always been a political artist, no matter what that looks like for him. Sometimes it might be a poem, others a song. Activism is incredibly important to Mani but his true passion is creating art.
Mani feels that talking about issues in a creative way allows him to best explain issues and also to explore them adequately without getting burned out. He finds that his skills translate into activism. Mani testifies that art allows him a space to process things personally and express his activist ideas to the world. Art soaks into the soul and sense of self. Music helps define people; many find their music taste to be central to their identity.
For Infinite Skillz, his catharsis comes during the creation of his songs and he is recharged by the energy that he receives on stage from his crowd’s enthusiasm. Brian shares that Infinite Skillz’ music helped him out of what was a difficult time personally. Meanwhile, Lark is a satirical poet. She finds it easier for herself to be political in the arts. For her, being a Black woman has meant that society expects and wants her to focus on Black women’s issues.
Rejecting Single Stories
Although Lark cares deeply about these causes, this is far from all that she is. She refuses to accept such a narrow definition of herself. Through her writing, Lark is able to refute such narrow-minded ideas by communicating that she is passionate about many different types of causes.
Infinite Skillz rejects the idea of the singular story of the Black person in America. He saw a lot of the same type of rags-to-riches story in the hip-hop that he listened to growing up. There’s nothing wrong with this story but it should not be the only Black narrative that gets attention in music media. For example, Infinite Skills expresses gratitude to his parents because he never personally lived in rags. He grew up in the middle class and now he makes music that tells his own story and sends his own messages. If you listen closely enough, you can hear some of his activism in his music.
Mani’s compilation record, Shut It Down Comp, contains 46 songs for ten dollars. That’s basically a quarter per song. All of the proceeds besides the small fraction is taken by Paypal and Bandcamp go to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you want to contribute and get some samples of some legit underground music, check it out.
To find Infinite Skillz, you can visit his website, infiniteskillz.com. He encourages readers to visit the website. Lark has a magazine called Public Intellectuals coming out. Lark suggests that it is easy to Google her and find her various self-described mini-projects. As for us, we can be found
Don’t forget to donate to independent media if you can! We promise that every cent goes to good use. Thank you all for joining us for another week of art and activism. We’ll see you next time on #NJRR Live.
-Leah Giannantonio, for New Jersey Revolution Radio