Sunday, March 15, 2015

You don't do anything about it, that's violence

GUEST: Naomi Jaffe, long time activist and a founder of the New York State Prisoner Justice Network, talks about the education and coalition building that are necessary in changing a racist system of incarceration in the US.

Naomi and I tried to sort out how organizations can take on our racist criminal justice system. Groups in NYC turn out to be more focused on individual aspects, like stop and frisk, lack of legal representation, and prosecutorial misconduct. Upstate groups, like our own End the New Jim Crow Action Network, tend to embrace the many facets of racial injustice that lead to what we see above.

Should we also consider the everlasting wars that the US orchestrated over the last several decades? Naomi thought that imperialism is a form of racism, and that to rob and kill people in the Third World brought with it an heightened sense of racial mistrust and hatred in America. We talked about the war on Muslims being waged in our media and in our national security agencies.

Naomi wanted to leave out her history in the Weatherman, and of course, I did. Too bad in a way, because the radical organization was formed after the police assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton in Chicago. Perhaps it was the failure of the radical left in the 1970's that allowed the "new Jim Crow" to creep back into our political system.
We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That's really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don't do anything about it, that's violence.                                                                                -Naomi Jaffe
Too many people after the 1960's sat home and did nothing, for years and years, while the police state that is America rebuilt its system of oppression.

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