Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Podcast Episode 9: Troy Davis and the Criminal Justice System

On this episode of the There is No Spoon show, we discuss the recent execution of Troy Davis, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty. Hosted by Reggie Miller, the No Spoon team of Jen Palacio, L'Heureux Lewis, and Fouad Pervez welcomes guests Al Butler and Aisha Mohamedi Richard to the episode. Aisha is a criminal defense attorney and immigration specialist, and Al is the host of the "Al B! in the Afternoon" radio talk show on WURD in Philadelphia. We discuss the incentives in the criminal justice system to prosecute for harsher sentences, the effect of the changing media structure on enabling a move towards tougher punishment, the politics behind the death penalty, the privatization of the prison system, and some of the specifics of the Troy Davis case, along with similar cases of high visibility.

To get more involved in these topics, check out: the Innocence Project, the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Amnesty International, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.

Follow us on Twitter: Al, Aisha, L'Heureux, Jen, Fouad, and Reggie. Download this episode (right click and save)

Music Credits:
Start of the episode, excerpt from: Strange Fruit (For Troy Davis) mixed from Billie Holiday's Recording by LolasChildMusic
Close of episode: Troy Davis Lives Forever by Rebel Diaz.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Morning at Occupy Philly - Guest Post by Ally Nauss

It's a cool autumn morning. The hussle and bussle has yet to begin. I sit on a cold granite slab and sip at my coffee, rub my eyes, and look up through the trees toward the towering building in front of me. Here I am, starting day eighteen in protest against what this building has come to represent. What was once a place to symbolize freedom and a voice for the people now serves as a bitter reminder of what greed has done to our political and economic environment.

A group from Occupy Wall Street has come to see us, pass on information from OWS, and see how we are running things. Word has spread of our growth and of the lack of resistance we have seen from the police and the mayor. Although tension exists, we have remained peaceful and respectful. The police have been amicable and hardly seem a necessary presence here. They nod as we pass, tell us good morning, and carry on with downing their burnt coffee and smoking their cigarettes.

My daughter plays in the children's area.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The MLK Memorial, the Occupy Movements, and Social Justice

I was watching/listening to some of the ceremony this morning at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial here in Washington, DC. It was an interesting assortment of voices. Some reflected on the past, taking a stroll down memory lane. Others were grateful to see Dr. King being honored - even though the memorial may have been built with unpaid Chinese labor, something Dr. King would absolutely demonstrate against (not the Chinese part, but the unpaid part - remember, he was very pro-labor). Some tried to keep the message alive by pointing out that MLK was not some simple "can't we all just get along" man, and that he would be outraged by the growing economic and social disparities in American today. He'd also certainly be protesting the wars. In other words, the timing couldn't have been better, considering the massive October 15th protests the day before associated with the Occupy movement across the globe. MLK was not a docile spiritual leader who made this one famous speech on the National Mall in 1963, highlighted by four special words. He was a  tireless social justice fighter. We get our MLK watered down in America, so I wanted to repost something I wrote a while back about the good Doctor, with the hope that people realize, with the attention on MLK and his memorial, that he would have been out there marching the previous day. The Occupy movements are very much in line with the ideal Dr. King fought for, and ultimately died for. Let us not forget the real MLK in these hard times. Read More >>

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Feel Wrong About Having Columbus Day Off

Happy Columbus Day, everybody. Yeah...it doesn't feel so good, does it? It feels wrong to celebrate somebody who massacred an indigenous population, huh. It feels worse because kids are generally taught that Columbus was some sort of hero, and learn pretty much nothing about the atrocities he committed. Should we be teaching young kids about genocide? Well...at the very least, we shouldn't be teaching them to lionize somebody who did horrible things. Just keep in mind what Columbus actually did. We've known about the specifics, in pretty specific and graphic detail, for quite some time now, thanks to La Casas.

Anyway, I wanted to refer you to 3 things on Columbus Day. One is last year's post about it from me. Two, check out this video from the National History Day documentary competition. It's relatively short (10 minutes). Three, it's high time to rethink Columbus Day.

Columbus - The Hidden History from Nonchalant Filmmakers on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hero Worship - Redux

I got a chance to meet one of my heroes last night, John Carlos, and it got me thinking about hero worship again. Hence, this post. A few months back, we had a great discussion on our podcast, reflecting on our thoughts of Malcolm X in light of Manning Marable's new book on Malcolm. One of the main topics we discussed was hero worship  on that podcast. We talked about what it is to be a leader, and why it is problematic to engage in hero worship - not only is it not what our beloved leaders would want, but it is also potentially dangerous to the movements they seek to help. Hero worship, of course, has happened to many who we admire. The backlash to Marable's account of Malcolm was a prime example. Instead of recognizing Malcolm's flaws as a way to remind us that he was, indeed, human (which should have actually brought us closer to him), there was anger at the idea that Marable would tear down our hero from his exalted place in our hearts and minds. This, of course, had something to do with Haley's Autobiography, which wasn't entirely accurate and definitely separated Malcolm from us.