Community Forum 8/19: Answers to your Facebook Questions

Do you accept that there are people that wish to harm American lives, or American principles, who can be dealt with in no other way than a "kinetic solution?"

There’s no question about there being individuals and factions that want to do the US harm. The US has generated many enemies. When you commit massive crimes around the globe becoming the target of various forces is inevitable. Some around the world see the US as an enemy of the people and the greatest threat to world peace, but that sentiment is not rooted in a natural hatred of this country. Rather, it is a consequence of the lived of experience of being the victims of violent us aggression in the form of war, subversion and other activities. The way we reduce the number of enemies is to have relations with governments and people around the globe that are based on equality, respect, a mutual recognition of their inherent value as human beings; we have to be committed to peace and peaceful relations. I think we will see a reduction in the number of people who want to do harm to the US when human rights is the framework through which we interact globally. I encourage everyone to attempt to try to understand the role of their government in this world--especially if you identify strongly with the United States. Understand that our leaders are doing terrible things in your name, and if you are not aware or not opposing, then you become complicit in the crimes of your government. Reducing and eliminating relations that create enemies in the first place should be our first order of business.

What can a teenager with little to no genuine political experience do to become more engaged with progressive activism at a local level?

What I’d love for teenagers to do is not just be involved in electoral politics but every teenager should be involved in the life of their community and join organization--whether or not they are able to vote. Understanding that it is only through the collective that we can make process. I think we should all ground ourselves in knowledge. Read as much as you can, but also figure out how you can contribute locally. Remember that even though it’s important, voting is only one aspect of political participation. What’s more important is for us to be involved in what is a long-term struggle for freedom and human rights. We all need to engage in that fight--with teenagers and young people leading the charge. We won’t win our liberation next week, next year or four years from now--but we are making significant change and I believe that the next twenty years is going to see a shift in how the world operates. I truly believe that people 30 and under are going to experience fundamental changes that we have all been fighting for for decades.

In freeing the Americans who are in prison for nonviolent crimes, how do you ensure a smooth transition back into the public? Will they receive retribution?

I believe that we need more community organizations that can help build the capacity of people who are coming back into society, and yes, this includes various forms of retribution. We have to remember that being imprisoned is not only physical-- but mental, emotional and spiritual as well. The chains that keep people confined in prison don’t just magically disappear once they are on the outside. The reentry process is one of the most difficult transitions for the formerly incarcerated and lack of support is one of the primary reasons why so many people end up back in prison shortly after being let out. Prioritizing federal funding for education in prisons is critical; overcoming stereotypes is important; creating green, living-wage jobs for these people is important; and just re-embracing people back into the community is important. Again, I feel that finding holistic community-based solutions is a step in the right direction. A one-way bus ticket and $60 is not going to cut it.

Can you talk about the gravity of climate change and the relationship with impoverished communities and, especially, human rights around the world and here in America?

People recognize that climate change is a reality that disproportionately affects people of color more than anyone else both here and around the world. I had a chance to see the consequences of climate change in colombia. I noticed that a beach that I’ve been going to for 20 years has completely disappeared in the last few years as a consequence of the rising ocean. If we don't get a handle on the unrestrained impacts of capital, the real question of whether or not we’re going to have a planet or living conditions that humans can thrive in, is going to be something we have to grapple with. Part of the green new deal is dealing directly with environmental issues and it is a central concern of the green party and a central issue of the Stein/Baraka campaign.

How do we make ANY change, and get both of you massive support, when they just steal our votes? How do we go up against election fraud?

This is a really good question. We may not have huge, widespread instances of electoral fraud, except of course for the dramatic example of Florida in 2000 when the supreme court stepped in to stop a recount of the vote, effectively giving the presidency to George W Bush. What’s more concerning about the electoral process is not so much the fraud but the exclusion--the fact that so many states, especially after they did away with the voting rights act, have put into place laws that make it more difficult for poor people and Black people to particulate in the electoral process. That is just as worrying as the fraud. The fraud is that people who should have the right to participate are being denied that right to participate because of these artificial barriers being erected.

I'm a software test engineer and 1 of my greatest fears is our lack of government around internet technologies. Many of us have witnessed the unethical nature of Googles search algorithms designed to promote Hillary. There's been a movement around using alternative search engines, but most pale in comparison.So my question for you is -- how do we change this? How do we get people in government who are computer scientists who can unravel these systems so we can protect our rights to privacy and free speech?

I believe that as a society we have to come up with policies that will protect our rights--WE THE PEOPLE. I don’t see government leading this charge. Instead I feel that the progressive tech community and others have answers and have created viable solutions to the issue of privacy and freedom digitally. What’s sad is how little attention these programs/ideas/suggestions get. I think the responsibility of government in this case is, to the extent they can, get out of the way. We already know that the government does not have a true interest in the free flow of information. Their primary function in this role has been to discover and create ways to monitor and profile us virtually--just like private companies. The internet is a marvelous tool but it has now become commodified, so that the kind of profiling that’s taking place in order to persuade you to engage in mindless consumerism, has now become part of everyday reality of the internet. We have to acknowledge that and continue to use it for searching out alternative information, sharing ideas and building community around the globe and continue creating tools that encourage us to be liberated and free thinking people.

What are your thoughts on ways to improve k-12 education?

I think that the concerns many people have around k-12 education are legitimate. Such as how do we ensure that all young people have access to quality education? One of the ways we can do that is by addressing the unfair way in which education is funded in the US. Right now school districts are dependent on property taxes and what that results in is wealthy citizens having well resourced schools and poor and working class districts having very little resources. So we have a structural contradiction and we have to address that--because things are not equitable. We can address that by 1) having federal funding policies that allows the federal government to transfer funds to those districts that are underfunded because of their inherent income disadvantages, 2)  We need to return the ability of communities to control their curriculum and create an educational experience that corresponds to the needs of the community. We have to decentralize the process of creating knowledge-- knowledge that is grounded in our own cultural and historical experiences. I think it’s important especially for oppressed people. 3) Redefining the role of teachers and the profession is vital in our society. We have to ensure that teachers receive excellent training, including advanced graduate training. We need to restructure these programs where people become instant teachers after a few weeks of training and then are usually placed in poor, low-performing school districts. Creating a culture of respect for the teaching profession can help lead us in a better direction, finally 4) Collectively, we need to reverse policies that push our young people out of schools. Policies like zero tolerance create an atmosphere of militarization for our children. Our schools should be places of learning not a forum to teach our youth how to respect authoritarian leadership. It’s a step that will help us to break the school to prison pipeline, which seems to be the central mission of education in some of our communities. 

Do you accept that there are people that wish to harm American lives, or American principles, who can be dealt with in no other way than a "kinetic solution?"

There’s no question about there being individuals and factions that want to do the US harm. The US has generated many enemies. When you commit massive crimes around the globe becoming the target of various forces is inevitable. Some around the world see the US as an an enemy of the people and the greatest threat to world peace, but that sentiment is not rooted in a natural hatred of this country. Rather it is a consequence of the lived of experience of being the victims of violent us aggression in the form of war, subversion and other activities. The way we reduce the number of enemies is to have relations with governments and people around the globe that are based on equality, respect, a mutual recognition of their inherent value as human beings; we have to be committed to peace and peaceful relations. I think we will see a reduction in the number of people who want to do harm to the US when human rights is the framework through which we interact globally. I encourage everyone to attempt to try to understand the role of their government in this world--especially if you identify strongly with the United States. Understand that our leaders are doing terrible things in your name, and if you are not aware or not opposing, then you become complicit in the crimes of your government. Reducing and eliminating relations that create enemies in the first place should be our first order of business.

If we legalize marijuana on the federal level how can you directly impact individual states? Also, will you and Dr Jill push for clemency for all current and former marijuana related convictions?

Clemency? I would think, yes. Locking up people for low-level offenses of possession and use--that’s a no-brainer. Imprisoning people for nonviolent drug offenses is a waste of taxpayers’ money. I’m glad to see the US moving away from the immature effort to try to control the personal use of marijuana (albeit a slow move).