The Year Is Half Gone, But the Millennium Is Just Starting

In continuing to point to the unifying logic underlying struggles for racial justice, public health, and climate sanity, I’ll share, today, a webinar, two short book excerpts, and two excellent recent podcast episodes.

First, I encourage everyone to check out the “South Asians in Defense of Black Lives” webinar that Equality Labs hosted last week. Every participant was uniquely impressive, and it was a privilege to hear them speak (and in conversation with one another). One take-away quote, of many – this one from Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the Equality Labs founder: “When we confront the police, we confront the state.”

Second, pulling again from Sonia Shah’s 2017 book, Pandemic, I quote (from page 106, relative to the 1832 cholera pandemic): “[Another] containment measure that New York City failed to implement continues to falter today: prompt public alerts regarding the arrival and spread of the disease.” Shah goes on to write (on page 123) that: “Cholera riots date back to the nineteenth century. Across Europe and the United States, paroxysms of violence fanned out in cholera’s wake,” a claim which, like that regarding the failure of “containment measure[s]” has eerie resonances with our contemporary moment (in which the violence is being perpetrated largely by the police/state, but in which seismic political upheaval is general all across the land).

Third, the Hot & Bothered interview with Patrick Houston of New York Communities for Change (which was instrumental in the passage of New York City’s landmark Climate Mobilization Act in 2019, and, more recently, in the defeat of the proposed Williams Pipeline project) offers many nuanced insights into effective (climate) organizing in New York. As Houston put it: “If we’re an organization about addressing racial and economic injustice, we can’t not take on the climate crisis, especially here in New York City, where so many of our members are […] frontline to the climate crisis.”

Finally, I found the episode of The Red Nation Podcast on “Fighting settler fascism” harrowing, moving, and deeply funny all at once. In recent weeks, but also for a long time, I’ve looked to trace, from where I sit, the connections that unite struggles for racial, environmental, and climate justice, and against authoritarianism and fascism. The distinctions – as is generally the case with categorical labels – are arbitrary, and the four artifacts above offer further signposts marking the unity of the struggle for a life-affirming politics and pointing the way towards a just, sane, livable future on Earth.

Postscript: We still have to be very concerned about COVID-19 in the United States. Also, the first of the potentially life-destroying prosecutions of protesters have begun in New York City. The cases in question, in my view, point to the fundamental confusion, about which I’ve written previously, regarding the nature of this uprising.

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