Action Alerts and Updates

05/16/2020

ReWatch Party Racial Justice Has No Borders

Black Liver Matter of Greater Burlington Hosted a (Re)Watch Party of:
Racial Justice Has No Borders: Militarization in a time of Pandemic

Town Hall Webinar

More than 1000 people joined the stream live on April 6th, hosted by Marc Lamont Hill, Professor at Temple University. We had a small and engaged group watching the town hall and breaking out into discussions.

We watched sections of the Town Hall including three panels. Local activists and community members watched the panels together and engaged in discussion around the topics that arose and important take aways we noted.

Panel One:
Examining the Impact of The Militarism Here in the US and Abroad

Exploring the Crisis at Hand and the So Called ‘Solutions’ That are being Proposed 51:27 In this video.

Panelists:

  • Hyun Lee – Women Cross DMZ and Korea Peace Now 
  • Mahnker Dahneih- Organizer at Freedom Inc (Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Melody McCurtis – Metcalfe Park Community Bridges (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
  • Hoda Katebi- No War ICampaign Iranian American Writer, Community Organizer (Chicago, Illinois)

One viewer loved that they identified the farcical nature of US rhetoric about the pandemic. Federal government seems to want to take on the pandemic with shiny new tanks, as Hoda said.

We need to try to unlearn how deep American exceptionalism is. It’s deeply embedded in the narrative.

How much there is to be diverted in terms of funding? Good that these women focused on how devastating US imperialism can be. For one viewer, this brought up quotes and writing by Audre Lorde, how similar things are now, and how we need to learn from the past.

Let’s look critically at how left leaning circles buy into this, how US exceptionalism and white supremacy permeates spaces.

USA military isn’t even its physical armies anymore. The empire maintained by fiscal control. US needs to shift to be a solidarity movement with international movements

Blockades & sanctions can be just as violent as armies. Cuba, Iran, Venezuela being shut out of fiscal systems because of Washington & London. Not able to sell resources and other countries fear working with US sanctioned countries.

Panel Two:
What are the harms of Militarism and what solutions are currently proposed?

1:15:26 In this video

Panelists

  • Brittany DeBarros – About Face: Veterans Against War
  • Krystal Two Bulls – Voices of the Sacred
  • Khury Petersen-Smith -Institute for Policy Studies

They talked about how these systems were in place prior to crisis. It stood out when Krystal Two Bulls talked about how the government has criminalizing right to defend rights. Which systems are robust enough to remain post crisis? Krystal talking about militarizing police for the corporate profit. Look at how again and again, they prioritize corporate rights over people’s rights.

Relatives abroad and around the world are vulnerable. They are endangered because of corporate greed, we talked about this and asked, what does our country prioritize?

Reminder of that bumper sticker: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber” What corporate interests are prioritized? Coke is so huge, not because Coke tastes good, but because the US forces it, supports it, also not able to drink safe water. Let’s not forget, profit reigns supreme even during pandemic.

When systems are not where they need to be to support everyone, it requires hero mentality, assuming people will have to step up versus making needed structural change.

Calling essential workers heroes to excuse not getting people hazard pay. Over and over again, we call them heroes but not give hazard pay. It’s so icky and messed up, look at how corporations embrace it – Applebees ads “thank you heroes”.

This displaces blame and promotes the savior mentality— this situation is not new. People who have access “help others” but end up displacing momentum – Basically fighting “Indian Wars” – when people become part of the army, already had own militia.

Don’t forget this history – the birth of US Police Force.  Andrew Jackson got start in fighting in Indian War— This is not new!!! Seminal combat experience fighting indigenous resistance as well as the Mexican American war. 

It can be hard to conceptualize a demilitarized future. Nothing really changes for tribes and recognition. Structurally things don’t change, but need too

Are we going to talk about black and brown and poor people are recruited into the military? History, structures and institutions. What structures are failing?

If indeed, we have collectively embraced notion of being essential right now – what does that mean? People who are essential have to support these failing systems. One viewer thought of times when workers were not wearing masks, they are essential enough to keep working, but not essential enough to be given masks. The narrative is powerful. Corporations like Dunkin Donut “keep America running” as slogan but are they really essential? What does this teach young workers when they are considered essential in this way?

Panel Three:
Why are these harms and failures really happening?

1:35:00 in this video

Panelists

  • Reece Chenault – Justice Before Peace
  • Barbara Ransby – Rising Majority
  • Ramah Kudaimi – War Resisters League – Resisting Airwars Network

Our discussion began with the prompt – what can we envision for a more just future?

Thinking about what we are against and what we are showing up for. We have inherited this system. Neo liberalism and racial capitalism set us up for this crisis. When we do this right, mutual aid allows us to feel uplifted. Not doing for the clout, for social capital, but because of community. We talked about Global reparations, should that be a part of the conversation. Today, we don’t talk much about the beauty of all these countries only the wars. Foolishly, it’s perceived that America is the only country able to handle things. We forget or we see it erased, that every single day people sustain and survive across difference culture. We are stuck in a cyclical industry of destruction. Society wants us to buy into the idea that US needs to save people and help them survive (while simultaneously causing harm)

What can help people see past the empire they live in?

“People have a right to resist their regimes… to be free.”- Rahma Kudaimi

Can we rethink what it means to be in solidarity, no need for perfection and intense planning. People lose their lives in resistance, how do we acknowledge that struggle and how it is worth it? How do we look through US propaganda (what is grassroots revolution?)And how do we move past white supremacy culture that we are subject to and that is normalized in this country? 

Can we get out of the structures and have a different way of living that doesn’t marginalize others. Thinking back to earlier panel with US resource from other countries, start acknowledging that. We need to seeing that we are not an island

Can we have a socioeconomic system not based on zero sum game of invading others for resources and wealth?

Can we remove Roman empire style of wealth acquisition? Recognize this obsolete system and invest in a system not interested in hoarding. We may need the current collapse of supply system, we may need to go swimming in some different water

These panels help, it help to hear from voices of impacted people and community and learning together.


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