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60 minutes | Jul 13, 2020
Building a World Without Police and Prisons
Emmanuel Garcia and Jeanne Kracher talk with Eisha Love and Benji Hart about the violence of the carceral system, the experience of being criminalized, and what building a healthy community free of police and prisons would look like.
43 minutes | Apr 15, 2020
Our guests on this episode of Queering Left are activists Page May and Debbie Southorn. Our focus with them will be their work and organizing with young people, particularly #NoCopAcademy. The No Cop Academy campaign is a youth led effort supported by community organizations across Chicago that want to see $95 million invested in communities rather than in a new police training academy on the West Side. Page May is an activist, organizer and co-founder of Assata's Daughters, which creates a space where Black youth can learn political education from Black women and gender non-conforming people. Debbie Southorn works for the American Friends Service Committee and is a founding member of We Are Dissenters, a new group activating students towards anti-militarism and anti-war organizing on college campuses. Page and Debbie talk about the limitations of representation, how identity is co-opted and commercialized, and the relationship of prison abolition and queer politics.
42 minutes | Oct 29, 2019
ACT UP! Fight Back!
Our guests on this episode of Queering Left are long-time activists, Mary Patten and Jeff Edwards, both of who have many years of experience in movements for racial, social, and economic justice. Our focus with them is on their work in ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Mary Patten is a visual artist and a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently involved with the Chicago Torture Justice Memorial project. Mary’s activism goes back decades and includes work in solidarity with South Africa, Puerto Rico, Back liberation and other anti-imperialist struggles. As a result of an anti-apartheid direct action at Kennedy airport in 1981, Mary served one year in Riker’s Island Jail in New York. Jeff Edwards is the staff organizer at UIC United Faculty. Jeff began his activist work in Minneapolis where he too was involved with anti-imperialist struggles such as ending US intervention in Central America during the 1980’s. He began working on AIDS activism while still in Minneapolis and moved to Chicago in 1986. ACT UP Chicago, like many chapters around the country, was formed in 1987. It emerged in Chicago from other AIDS activist work like Chicago for AIDS Rights and DAGMAR. Mary Patten was one of the founders of ACT UP Chicago and she and Jeff met in ACT UP Chicago. Jeff and Mary will discuss how they came to AIDS activism and some of the ways that AIDS activism was informed by their earlier solidarity work.
45 minutes | Aug 21, 2019
Legacy of Puerto Rican Resistance
On today’s episode of Queering Left we will hear from Ricardo Jimenez and Jessie Fuentes, two activists from the Puerto Rican community. To give a brief historical reminder, Puerto Rico was a territory of Spain that, in 1898, was taken by the United States during the Spanish American War. Since the US set foot on their soil, Puerto Ricans have been in struggle with the US colonial government. The US government has attempted to strip the island and the people of their language, culture, resources, and autonomy while committing atrocities against the Puerto Rican people. Starting in 1941, the US military used the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a bombing target and testing site, destroying the sugar cane industry, fishing habitat, and ecology. US pharmaceutical companies have experimented on Puerto Ricans while polluting the waters and environment. Most recently, the US government turned its back on Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Over 120 years of US colonialism, Puerto Ricans on the island and within the diaspora have fought in all sorts of ways to maintain their land, dignity, and independence. Our two guests have had their own distinct relationship and roles in the fight for Puerto Rican independence. Ricardo Jimenez was born in 1956 and moved to Chicago as an infant with his family. He was captured in 1980 and along with 9 others was convicted of “seditious conspiracy” in 1981 because of his involvement with the independence group Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional, or Armed Forces of National Liberation. Ricardo was sentenced to 90 years in prison but President Bill Clinton granted him clemency in 1999. Soon after his release from prison, Ricardo came out as gay. Jessie Fuentes is an activist and educator who came up through the youth programming of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and is a graduate of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School – the Puerto Rican Cultural Center’s very own educational institution. Fuentes has done work around empowering young people in the community, the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, a former political prisoner, anti-gentrification work, and work around the independence of Puerto Rico. Jessie began her political work as the Director of a youth organization in Humboldt Park called Batey Urbano, an alternative space for youth to creatively express themselves through theatre, poetry, hip hop, and dance. Both Ricardo and Jessie are currently active in advocating for Puerto Rico’s independence and with efforts to address the devastation from Hurricane Maria on the island.
41 minutes | Jul 23, 2019
Queer, Undocumented and Unafraid
Emmanuel Garcia and Jeanne Kracher talk with Tania Unzueta and Rey Wences about the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL). IYJL was founded in 2009 by a group of undocumented students fighting against the deportation of co-founder, Rigo Padilla. Believing in the legal system, Rigo attempted to fight his deportation through the courts, but soon was told that he had run out of legal options and he would be deported. IYJL organized a grassroots campaign that eventually won the support of five Congressmen, a Senator, the Chicago City Council, community organizations, and thousands of Chicagoans. Padilla’s deportation was deferred days before he was scheduled to travel back to Mexico. After the successful defense of Padilla, IYJL continued to call for passage of the DREAM Act with different actions, sit-ins, and hosting an annual “National Coming Out of the Shadows” day where undocumented youth from IYJL proclaimed to the public that they were “undocumented and unafraid.” IYJL took inspiration from the radical queer organizers that came before in forming their language, strategies, and tactics. IYJL evolved into Organized Communities Against Deportations and remains one of the strongest voices for immigrant rights in Chicago.
5 minutes | Jul 3, 2019
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Crossroads Fund is chronicling fearless queer-led organizing in Chicago through a podcast named “Queering Left.” Queering Left is series of interviews with organizers who have participated in transformative and visionary Chicago movements and organizations. These interviews will trace how being queer has been defined as a radical political act and how new generations of queer organizers have continued to evolve the definition of queer politics since Stonewall. We hope to illustrate how queer rights are intersectional. Queer rights are women’s rights, immigrant rights, worker rights, the fight for prison abolition, and more. Please visit www.crossroadsfund.org to learn more.
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