Show Notes By Victoria Lynn Hall
As I alluded to at the top of this episode, I spent some time on Facebook this week arguing with people on whether “Defund The Police” was an effective slogan. However, I also spent time reading articles about defunding the police, listening to candidates discuss defunding the police, talking to my friends about defunding the police, and, of course, asking Jesse about defunding the police.
The conclusion I have come to thus far is that “Defund The Police” is an imperfect and incomplete solution but an adequately appropriate and effective slogan precisely because it has us talking about the problem of where we are putting our funding and why.
The thing is, there are still people who are arguing about whether the slogan is effective or not rather than talking about the problems it represents or the possible solutions. Some of them argue that people are lazy and won’t see beyond the slogan, in that case I believe we do need a new slogan and that is, “Stop Being Lazy”.
Detractors of social media argue that it has made us lazy, that we have become a culture that relies on memes and tweets for wisdom and information and that our attention spans have been reduced as a result. The problem with those arguments is that it completely ignores that social media isn’t just memes and tweets, that it also offers news articles, blog posts, podcasts, video, photography, art… from a variety of sources and perspectives. More importantly, social media is intended and can be used for human beings to actually converse and connect with each other (though it seems to have taken a pandemic to remind some people of this). If all we are paying attention to is memes and tweets, I would argue the possibility that social media has not made us lazy but that we were lazy to begin with and perhaps we need to take responsibility for that – especially when it comes to matters as serious as police brutality and systemic racism.
Of course, I use the term “we” loosely because not everyone is lazy – certainly not Jesse, who devotes a considerable amount of time and effort to studying our politics as well as sharing and discussing what he learns. I understand that not all citizens have this same amount of time and energy to devote to these tasks. However, I would suggest that whatever time and energy we do have would be better spent listening to people like Jesse than arguing over slogans.
Show notes by Jesse Crall
Police kill approximately 1000 Americans on an annual basis. George Floyd’s murder proved yet another spark to generate outrage toward unjust systems leading to these deaths. We’re unusual in this regard; much of the developed world goes entire years without a single civilian death at the hands of police. In the United Kingdom, police killed 3 citizens last year. And yet…Poverty alone is estimated to kill well over 100,000 Americans annually.
A recent Yale study suggested that 68,000 Americans die every year as a direct result of lacking health insurance. Deaths of despair (substance abuse, suicide) kill an estimated 150,000 Americans every year and that number is only climbing.
Our current focus on police brutality and criminal justice as a whole is certainly warranted. But consider the ease with which political leaders, celebrities and corporations adopted the language of recent protests. Even billionaires can take a stand against police brutality and white supremacy without affecting their bottom-line.
I worry that in the midst of an economic catastrophe, zeroing in on criminal justice allows the most predatory elements of our society to remain unscathed as we approach the general election. Violence begets more violence, whether from citizens or police. And it’s inequality that so often leads us toward the traumas and anxieties preceding violence. We can reform the police, defund the police, demilitarize the police…small gains will emerge in some places while failures and backlash will emerge in others. Because the root causes are likely to remain untreated.
Will any of the political leaders and their donors facilitating growing inequality throughout the country suddenly change their entire political mission? Joe Biden’s promising a return to Obama-era taxation, a period in which inequality was more severe than it was under Bush. The private equity barons financing Biden’s campaign will hardly donate small fortunes to a man planning to fundamentally restructure the economy to curb class stratification.
So governors, mayors and city councils will make promises and take certain measures to limit police killings. After all, Americans murdered by police isn’t any good for business. Some money will go toward schools. Some tax rates will increase and a handful of corporate regulations will take hold. Here and there. It won’t be enough. It’s never enough.
Our politicians are largely debating who can best manage the wealth of a few and the decline of the many. Instead of a cop killing George Floyd in 8 minutes, Neoliberalism can kill him over 20 years. More time for him to deliver food to a local millionaire who tweets #BLM in between complaints to friends about how angry Bernie Sanders sounds.
Rep. Barbara Lee put out an excellent (albeit politically unfeasible) proposal to cut defense spending by $350 billion. Violence abroad and violence at home are connected even if we ignore the former and champion its most vicious perpetrators: https://truthout.org/articles/barbara-lee-unveils-plan-to-cut-up-to-350-billion-from-pentagon/
Earlier this week, I wrote about our new sanctions on Syria and the disturbing silence from Democrats over what’s sure to prove devastating to an already-suffering populace: https://amplifireproject.com/2020/06/18/syria-and-silence/
If you have a question you would like to “Ask Jesse” or have a topic you would like us to explore in a future episode, you can email us at AskJesse@amplifireproject.com
Watch the full episode below or on YouTube where you can subscribe to all of our video content. We would also like to thank Kim D. for contributing her fabulous song, “Corporation Coup” for use as a theme for our videos, you can find the full recording of this song at: https://soundcloud.com/wondergalaxy13/corporation-coup
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.
A Los Angeles native, Jesse Crall graduated from UCLA’s English Department before working as a copywriter, script reader and project manager for an engineering firm. Now pursuing a master’s degree in writing at NYU, he splits his time between Studio City and Manhattan. https://linktr.ee/jessecrall