019 Talking to the Youth: Raven Corps Interview

Auntie Nicky and Callie are talking to The Youth today, interviewing Melissa and Cami, two absolute badass young people, from The Raven Corps, a youth-organized activism group. We talk about what Raven Corps does, how people can get involved, what a youth-led, decentralized organization looks like, and their tips for young people growing up in today’s extreme world.

Poppin Off

We acknowledge the recent lynchings in California, and discuss the murder of Rayshard Brooks by police when he was reported for sleeping in his car in a Wendy’s drive-thru, connecting it to the defund/abolish police movement. Then we talk about the autonomous zone that is thriving in Seattle, and report on others that are trying to get established.

Joke

Why do riot cops get up so early in the morning? (See the original TikTok of the joke here)

Main Topic: Raven Corps Interview

Today we are so honored to have Melissa and Cami with us from Raven Corps. The Raven Corps is a youth-powered, anti-oppression organization. Melissa is the co-founder and Portland lead; Cami the Youth Board member and San Diego co-lead.

We chat with Melissa and Cami about Raven Corps – not just what they do, but really focusing on how they are organized and how they manage to be a truly youth-powered organization with the young activists having true autonomy and power in what actions they take; and also how Raven Corps has changed its focus and strategy in recent years to be a holistic anti-oppression organization and to avoid perpetuating a colonizing approach to activism through chapters. We talk about the importance of community support as a young activist and the ways that young people can get involved with Raven Corps or QuaranTEEN, their Slack-based online community for youths aged 14-22 years old. At the end of the interview, Melissa and Cami both have some deeply moving words of advice for young people who are overwhelmed by current events and the general state of the world they’ve grown up in.

We loved this interview and hope y’all do too. Please share it widely with any young people you know or consider making a donation of either money or skills to the organization!


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Transcript

Nichole [00:00:27] So I’m Nichole.

Callie [00:00:30] And I’m Callie.

Nichole [00:00:30] That’s Callie. And you may notice we have two guests today which we are very excited about. So today we are talking to two members of Raven Corps about youth activism and a bunch of other cool stuff. So Raven Corps is a youth powered anti-oppression organization. Melissa is the co-founder and Portland Lead, and Cami is the youth board member and San Diego co-lead. So thank you. Looks like we lost Melissa.

Callie [00:01:08] Yeah.

Nichole [00:01:08] I’m sure she’ll be back.

Cami [00:01:09] She’s just already out. No, I think she is having some wifi issues.

Nichole [00:01:16] There we go.

Cami [00:01:16] There she is.

Melissa [00:01:18] Yo, I’m back. I think I got it figured out this time. It just had a glitch with the music I think but we good, we good.

Nichole [00:01:24] It just slapped too hard. It’s just too much of a bop.

Melissa [00:01:30] Right? Right, it really did it.

Callie [00:01:32] Look at Nichole dusting off these youth terms trying to endear herself to our guests.

Nichole [00:01:36] Listen. I’m just trying to be cool with the young people.

Cami [00:01:41] I don’t even know half of them so it’s fine.

Melissa [00:01:46] Yeah it’s true, it’s very true.

Callie [00:01:47] Oh my god.

Nichole [00:01:50] Ah! So to get started, for those who don’t know, why don’t you tell us a bit about Raven Corps and why you joined?

Cami [00:02:00] You want to start off, Melissa?

Melissa [00:02:03] Sure, yeah. Thank you again for having us. Just FYI I was out really late protesting last night, so my voice is a little bit not so podcast-y. However, yeah, I’m really glad to be here. I got involved with the Raven Corps when I was about 16. I’m now 21, for context. And I got involved when it… The organization was a high school animal rights club when I first got involved, so we’ve come a long way. Now we’re an anti-oppression organization and I’ll talk more about that later. But when I first got involved, it was purely because I wanted to get active for animals. Now, that is not my reason for being involved. But when I was that age, that was my focus and that was the focus of the organization at the time. So I, with a group of other students in the Portland area, co-founded what is now the Raven Corps. And we went through a pretty dramatic evolution over the past five years, from the time that I joined when I was 16 to now. And we’re still evolving. We’re ever-evolving. And, yeah, it’s very, very exciting. And I look forward to many more years with the org.

Nichole [00:03:51] Aw love that.

Callie [00:03:51] Awesome, yeah.

Nichole [00:03:51] And Cami, how about you?

Cami [00:03:52] So, I’m Cami. I joined the Raven Corps a couple years ago. It’s kind of a funny story. My mom originally found the Raven Corps on Instagram and at the time I was still like very early on in my activism life. And I just didn’t feel comfortable with, like reaching out and starting up my own corps here in San Diego. And I like completely forgot about it. I was just like, that’s cool, mom, whatever. And then I found it again, maybe like a year later. And I was, like, really excited about it, because it was this youth powered organization that was like just starting up and I really wanted to be a part of it. And so I showed my mom, I was like, look at this organization. Like, I kind of want to reach out to them. And she was like… Cami. And I was like oooh, that organization. But yeah, so that’s how I found them, through Instagram. And I just yeah, I saw a lot of potential for growth in the organization. Not in like numbers necessarily, but just in, like, our ideas and the work that we’re doing. Yeah.

Nichole [00:05:23] Yeah. I love that. So, Melissa, maybe can you tell us a bit more about what it means to be youth powered and some of those changes that the organization has gone through, and just how you sort of structure the, how decisions are made, what leadership looks like in the organization because they think that that’s really special to Raven Corps.

Melissa [00:05:46] Yeah, yeah, agreed. It is really special and I haven’t really come across any other organizations that have a similar model or philosophy. So, yeah, it’s pretty unique. One thing that hasn’t changed throughout my time with the Raven Corps, probably the only thing that hasn’t changed is like our commitment to genuine youth leadership. And like what it really means to have autonomy as a young activist within an organization while still getting the perks of working with a team. And of course, that’s been an ongoing struggle to try to figure out like how to make that meaningful and how to give all of our youth members say and responsibility while also not overwhelming them with administrative tasks.

Melissa [00:06:47] So we originally long, long ago we had, we had a lot of different ideas and concepts about how things would look when we grew larger in numbers and we kind of prepared our program for that. Like I would say, we stopped doing that about a year ago, but we were kind of preparing our program for like big numbers, worldwide type. But then we kind of had an evolution through discussions about capitalism and colonialism, where we came to a decision that we want to stick with a more grassroots approach. Which honestly caters better to like having the youth voice be heard because of what I was previously saying about like autonomy within an organization while still being able to work with the team. Usually you pick one or the other, you make sacrifices. But we have found a way to allow young people to be leaders and to experience, you know, what it’s like to be a leader, to fall and to get back up, by just simply giving them the resources and the ideas and the networking skills. As well as a support network of other young people who are struggling with the same things.

Melissa [00:08:38] And that is essentially what fuels our youth leadership, is the community and the resources. And currently our model, it’s evolved a lot over the years, but currently our model is entirely youth powered in that we have Ravens and lead Ravens all over the country who work together in groups or some fly solo. And they come up with operations together where they execute a type of action that they’re interested in pursuing and exploring with either themselves or their corps. And they are entirely responsible for their corps, the people within it and how they want it to look and the type of activism that they focus on. So the autonomy is kind of like, it’s very freeing. And the amount of freedom is almost very intimidating, especially for people who are just getting involved, which is where the community support comes in. And I think that is honestly what fuels our ability as young people to be able to engage in this type of critical thinking and activism.

Nichole [00:10:17] That’s beautiful. How do you maintain that sense of decentralization or not colonizing through different clubs while you do have members all over the country?

Melissa [00:10:32] Right? I know, yeah. Still something we’re trying to navigate because inherently, like there is like colonization ties like to everything that we do, to like every aspect of our existences. So we try to, like, walk the line between being aware of that and taking like action to avoid like weird like colonization type outreach, especially now that we’re more aware of that. And while also, like, trying to impact as many people as we can. So we do often try to like use the community building events as a way to decrease our discomfort around bringing people into the fold who we virtually don’t know from all over the country currently. So we have a lot, especially since the pandemic began, we have a lot of online events. A lot of community building through Zoom and that has honestly been amazing for the organization.

Melissa [00:12:12] After we realized that the colonization model is a little bit intimidating and problematic, etc.. Yeah, COVID has honestly been like a growth point for us to become more fluid in the way we communicate online. And it’s yeah, it’s actually been good.

Nichole [00:12:41] Have you two found with the pandemic, with the rebellion’s going on, with everything else that’s happened this year, has there been an increase in interest from young people to find some home like this to get involved?

Cami [00:12:57] I would say so, yeah. Because I think, yeah during, I would say we’ve grown the most as an organization, just like during… I mean, I can only speak from like how long I’ve been in the organization. But since I’ve joined, I would say we’ve grown the most like since quarantine went into effect.

Nichole [00:13:21] Wow.

Cami [00:13:21] Yeah. Because, and I saw someone mentioned Food Empowerment Project. I actually, Claire, the executive director and I, we met up with Lauren, the, that’s her name right? The founder of Food Empowerment Project?

Nichole [00:13:39] Yeah, Lauren Ornelas.

Cami [00:13:39] Yeah, and she mentioned that to us, the idea that like she doesn’t like chapter systems because it’s like colonialist. And I think that’s part of what really got us thinking about that. Like it was, things that are already kind of on like our back burners but she really articulated it. And then yeah, going into quarantine we started, we will probably go into this more later, we started something called the Quarantine Community, and we’ve gotten a lot of just engagement interest from youth through that platform. And, yeah, just like as an organization, we’ve changed so much during this time of staying at home.

Nichole [00:14:31] Yeah, I’m very interested in the changes that the organization has gone through. Could you walk us through, you know, what changes, how were those decisions made, and also what has been the impact to the organization, you know, especially in terms of funding or your economic model? I think a lot of things have changed for you with these changes.

Cami [00:14:58] Yeah.

Melissa [00:15:00] Yeah, are you referring mostly due to the pandemic or like over the past few years?

Nichole [00:15:06] I mean both. I’d be interested to hear, you know, the last few years and then how it was impacted with current events as well.

Melissa [00:15:15] Yeah, yeah, totally. So we had a model like a few years ago that was like similarly a chapter system, but we ran into some problems with like everything inherent in the chapter system, like all of the problems that you run into. Like lack of interest, like scheduling difficulties, follow through and like communication problems, all of that we were really, really struggling with. And it’s important to note at that time we were, I wouldn’t say identifying as an animal rights organization. However, we were heavily involved in encouraging people to eat more plant-based foods for the planet, animals, you know, all of that. And that was essentially our mission until like less, like about a year ago I would say. Honestly, my sense of time is so messed up right now.

Nichole [00:16:34] Same.

Melissa [00:16:34] So like, these estimates could be like completely wrong. I honestly don’t know even what day it is.

Nichole [00:16:39] I feel like it’s just always been 2020.

Callie [00:16:42] I know.

Melissa [00:16:42] I know.

Nichole [00:16:42] Like, we’ve never lived in a different time.

Cami [00:16:44] Yeah. It’s been like 5 years.

Nichole [00:16:44] It’s just always been this year. Forever.

Callie [00:16:47] Feels like we’ve lived through a decade in the last several months. It’s a lot.

Nichole [00:16:49] Yeah.

Melissa [00:16:52] Yeah. I feel like I never quite got out of 2016, like I never quite survived that year and now I’m just like perpetually stuck there. And now it’s 2020 and now I’m stuck here. So yeah honestly I don’t know what’s going on.

Callie [00:17:09] That’s real.

Melissa [00:17:09] But we, we did have like a pretty major transition around the time of the 2016 election and after that to where we’ve really started bringing in more anti-oppression work into what we were doing and became a lot more holistic in the way we thought about oppression. Specifically around the environment and animals, which is what we were primarily advocating for until like 2016, 2017. Again, could, I don’t know if those are even the right years literally at all. But we were focused on effecting positive change and we did a fuck ton of research to essentially figure out how we could be different than other non-profits first of all, that we had seen fail, specifically with the animal rights organizations. Like we, our mission essentially was to collect enough data and understanding about organizations that we didn’t like and didn’t agree with, to where we could build something entirely different and revolutionary for young people. Because we like saw that gap and wanted to fill it.

Melissa [00:18:43] So that is when we decided to change our focus to more anti-oppression instead of focused on plant-based food and advocacy around that, to less single-issue. And that transformation was hard. We lost a lot of people. We lost a lot of funding and we’re still fighting with that today because we don’t quite fit into any community anymore. We are almost too holistic to be functional, which is a good problem to have in a lot of ways. But yeah, with COVID and with our rapidly declining economy and state of existence as a country, we are struggling a little bit to find support within communities that are, like activist communities that are relatively exclusive. So we’ve virtually been exited, yeeted if you will, out of the animal rights movement for being a little bit…

Cami [00:20:09] Not so single issue.

Melissa [00:20:09] Being a little bit too anti-oppression. Yeah. Like it’s, we’ve virtually been yeeted. So we also have not quite made our way in to other like more niche activist communities. Like we’ve dabbled within like the environmental movement and definitely anti-racism and farmworker rights. Like we’ve dabbled in these communities of activists but like, we aren’t able to really identify ourselves with any of them at this point, because we do it all. And anti-oppression and anticapitalism are the goal. So now the struggle as a nonprofit is who is going to fund us? You know, we’re like OK financially but like in the future, going forward, who is going to support us and how are we, how are we going to be accepted and celebrated even though we’re very different. And I think the work we do honestly demonstrates that perfectly. If people would see it and be willing to appreciate, like the power that young people actually bring to these causes.

Nichole [00:21:43] I love that. Um-

Callie [00:21:43] I think it’s so funny, oh sorry go ahead.

Nichole [00:21:45] Go ahead.

Callie [00:21:46] I was just going to say, I just think it’s so funny that, not haha funny, but-

Melissa [00:21:55] I know the type of funny, yeah.

Cami [00:21:57] Yeah.

Callie [00:21:57] That this seems to be a common issue in, particularly vegan, the vegan movement. They are very rigid and resistant to anything that’s like kind of anti-oppression, holistic approaches. But I think even just like nonprofit industry in general, you know?

Melissa [00:22:19] Yeah totally.

Callie [00:22:20] It’s like, and I think it’s because there is, as much as these organizations, a lot of them try to say that they’re trying to, like, change things right, they’re really mostly wanting to uphold the status quo and just make one thing better, right? And I think it’s really unfortunate that this is, like you can’t, we’re not going to have a vegan world if we don’t have, like, an anticapitalist one. And we’re not going to have a vegan world unless we commit ourselves to being, like, anti-racist, you know? And all of these things. And it’s just, it’s so frustrating because you see these big organizations that get so much funding and get so much attention and they’re focused on like one thing. You know, they’ll be focused on like an egg campaign and you’re like, are you fucking serious? Like have you looked around at what’s going on in the world?

Callie [00:23:14] That’s not, I mean, not that that’s, those things aren’t important, but it’s like that’s not really going to like get us anywhere with substantive change. And I just hope that for people listening and for other people that are maybe kind of feeling this way too, that they start to see that like that’s the point. In the same way that, getting political again, in the same way that the Democrats don’t really want anything to change, I think most nonprofits don’t either. And they’re committed to kind of upholding the status quo and having capitalism and just having these executive boards that make a shit ton of money, you know?

Melissa [00:23:54] Yeah.

Nichole [00:23:55] Yeah. Well, and non-profits like function, they have goals that they have to meet. And they have to be measurable and usually they’re annual goals so you can’t focus on like long term projects that might take five years or may not be directly, you know, quantitative. So it’s just a huge, it’s a huge problem. Everyone wants to be in a neat box where they can market in a certain way and show how effective they are. And it’s not where the real work is done.

Callie [00:24:28] Right, yeah.

Cami [00:24:30] Mm hmm. Yeah. We live in a very, like, pigeonholed society. Like, everything needs to fit somewhere. And like, yeah, the nonprofit sector is a bitch. Like I mean, because like, so in the past we’ve always, just to add onto what Melissa was saying, we, like we generally have relied on like large donations from say, like vegan/animal rights charity evaluators or like some sort of donor. But the ideal is definitely for it to be more decentralized. Like we refer to it as like Bernie style, where it’s like just a lot of small donations from like a large group of people, so we can continue to do like the work that we’re doing of just the holistic anti-oppression approach.

Nichole [00:25:23] Yeah.

Callie [00:25:24] Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, we had a friend, have a friend, she is still a friend, who would tell us about this. She, out of college she got really involved in the nonprofit sector and she would, she was explaining to us in the past that they have to set these goals that are very short term and like they almost like work against making long term change just because they have to have something to, like, show for their work at the end of the year, right, for the donors and the grant proposals and stuff. And how it’s like, it’s almost this self-fulfilling kind of failure towards your long term goals, that the way we force organizations to, like, try to get these big-dollar donors, try to get these grants and charitable donations and stuff, like in a lot of ways is kind of the reason why we’re not seeing the kind of massive systemic changes that we need to.

Melissa [00:26:27] Yeah, exactly. And that just perpetuates the entire concept that nonprofits have to be growing every year and expanding and setting up new, you know, here, here, here, chapter system, a.k.a. colonial structure like creepy shit is like with that intention and motivation of getting funding. Because the growth is what those big donors want to see. And yeah, like Cami said, that’s why we’re doing like the more Bernie style type of funding now because we struggled with that in the past. We have in the past had to compromise what we wanted to do in order to stay alive as an organization. And we honestly refuse to go back there for the future of this world. It’s like incredibly, incredibly unethical. And for anyone else who’s involved in a nonprofit who’s stuck there, there’s hope just fyi.

Nichole [00:27:35] I love that. Do you know if any other organizations who are kind of making this transition as well? I’m just wondering if it’s going to be a more common thing as we move forward and it seems like people are getting radicalized on a pretty broad scale right now to get away from this nonprofit model of, you know, just having one big investor, a few big investors that you’re beholden to.

Cami [00:28:03] I don’t know of any. Melissa, do you know?

Melissa [00:28:08] No, I really, I’ve honestly removed myself from a lot of other nonprofits at this point for that exact reason.

Cami [00:28:19] Same.

Melissa [00:28:20] But yeah, we’re always keeping our ears out so if we hear of anyone we’ll let you know.

Nichole [00:28:24] Well, I’m sure you’re gonna be an inspiration for a lot of other organizations, which is really cool.

Cami [00:28:34] I hope.

Nichole [00:28:35] I know, right? I’m curious… Well, let’s start, can you explain to the audience the different kind of, I don’t know what you would call them, but the different ways that people can participate and get involved in Raven Corps as like youth participants? So to be actual participating members or I know you have like the quarantine thing going which has been really successful, so can you tell us about the programs you have going?

Cami [00:29:02] Yeah. So the, we’re basically, Quarantine is basically like an open, not an open house, but like an area for anyone, I believe it’s aged 14 to 22, to come and just find a sense of community. And it’s from there that if you do want to become a Raven then you’ll contact us. You can contact info@theravencorps.org and that is just kind of like, not to be all hierarchal about it, but it’s like kind of a step above where it just, you have more responsibility if you’re-

Nichole [00:29:46] Yeah, it’s more of a commitment, right?

Cami [00:29:47] Yeah. And if you’re part of the Raven Corps, you get to like, you know, help in planning operations, doing the operations, making resources for other youth activists and all that.

Nichole [00:30:03] And what kinds of things does QuaranTEENs do? Like when you’re all hanging out, what sort of activities, what sort of events do you have?

Cami [00:30:11] I mean we have, so Quarantine’s on an app called Slack. It’s very similar to Discord where you can have like a bunch of different channels. So we have… So many channels.

Nichole [00:30:26] Relatable.

Cami [00:30:26] There is, we have one called like Dogs and Donuts for all our cute animal, pictures. We have one that’s like for racial justice discussion. And we have like recurring weekly events. We have book clubs, movie nights. In the book club, actually, the first thing we did was read Racism as Zoological Witchcraft, which should be required reading.

Callie [00:30:50] Yes!

Nichole [00:30:51] Yes! It’s sold out right now, apparently everywhere.

Cami [00:30:54] It’s what?

Melissa [00:30:54] Absolutely required.

Nichole [00:30:55] It’s sold out right now apparently.

Cami [00:30:57] Whaaat?

Nichole [00:30:57] I just saw someone in our Discord said it and I’m like, well, that’s good news! People must be paying attention.

Cami [00:31:04] About time!

Nichole [00:31:04] I know!

Melissa [00:31:04] That is invigorating! Wow, the idea that that many people are reading it right now? I’m like, OK!

Nichole [00:31:10] I know.

Callie [00:31:10] Yeah. I know.

Nichole [00:31:10] But I agree. It should be required reading for everybody. It’s so good.

Cami [00:31:14] Yeah.

Callie [00:31:15] Yeah.

Cami [00:31:15] I think that definitely played a big part in our growth too as an organization. Just having those ideas.

Nichole [00:31:23] Yeah. So quarantine is really like a space, kind of an online space and then within that you have, you might have certain events, but it’s kind of just a fluid place for people to come to like connect and have community?

Cami [00:31:38] Yeah exactly.

Nichole [00:31:38] That’s really nice. That’s so important. I think that’s something we’ve learned through doing the show. We’ve had our Facebook group and we have Discord now. And it’s a funny thing, but I usually tell people that I’m more proud of those spaces than I am of the podcast itself. Not that I’m not proud of the podcast, but I can just tell from going in those spaces and seeing the kind of conversations that are happening and how people are connecting that that is really like where the work is being done. So I think that that, I think that in and of itself is really, really impactful that you guys are doing that and creating that space for people.

Cami [00:32:23] Thank you.

Melissa [00:32:23] Yeah.

Nichole [00:32:23] Especially now when we see people feel so disconnected and feel like they don’t have friends or anyone who understands them. I think to have that resource as young as 14 is really important.

Cami [00:32:33] For sure.

Melissa [00:32:34] Yeah. Yeah, agreed. And that community is what fuels our ability to engage in activism.

Nichole [00:32:44] Same.

Melissa [00:32:44] And that doesn’t mean that every, you know, like that doesn’t mean that everyone involved in Quarantine is engaging in activism. But it does mean that it increases everyone’s ability to engage in activism if and when they feel like they’re able. And you know, another thing we learned, that Cami mentioned, from Zoological Witchcraft is that education in itself and having these tough conversations is activism in itself.

Nichole [00:33:23] Yes!

Melissa [00:33:23] And that is what fuels largely our commitment to Quarantine. And the changes we’ve more recently made to the organization.

Cami [00:33:34] Lots of Quarantines and Ravens, myself included, have said that like Quarantine, our community has been like the silver lining of everything going on because we’re just, it’s just a place where you can come and, like, decompress or vent and just find connection with like-minded yet diverse perspectives and people.

Callie [00:33:59] Yeah, I love that.

Nichole [00:34:00] That’s really beautiful. Yeah. Are the QuaranTEENs, are those done by location, or is it just one central, like everyone’s in QuaranTEEN together?

Cami [00:34:10] It’s just one big old thing, yeah.

Nichole [00:34:15] And we should tell everyone it’s Quaran-TEEN, so it’s a pun. Highly approve.

Cami [00:34:20] Gotta highlight the pun.

Nichole [00:34:21] Yeah.

Callie [00:34:21] Yeah.

Melissa [00:34:25] The Raven Corps is like 90% wordplay, just fyi.

Callie [00:34:28] Oh god!

Nichole [00:34:30] Oh yeah. Which is why you’re on the show!

Melissa [00:34:34] Exactly!

Callie [00:34:36] I’m feeling very bamboozled by all of this pun…

Nichole [00:34:40] All this punnery?

Callie [00:34:42] All the punnery, yes.

Nichole [00:34:46] Can you tell us, so you call your actions or your campaigns, you call them operations. Can you, do you have any operations that you’re doing right now that you’d like to tell us about and publicize?

Cami [00:35:01] Yes.

Melissa [00:35:03] We actually have a lot of operations going on right now, oh my gosh.

Nichole [00:35:08] Alright!

Melissa [00:35:08] Cami, do you want to share some of them?

Cami [00:35:10] Well we have one that’s like corps wide. It’s our first corps wide operation that we launched shortly after quarantine went into effect. Because we wanted to explore mutual aid and how we could all help our own respective communities during this pandemic. And we decided to try to make masks because a lot of quarantine members, or like a few, are good at sewing and making masks from scratch. Which I’m not one of those people, but I’m jealous.

Nichole [00:35:52] Same.

Cami [00:35:52] And so, yeah, we decided that we’ll, like, donate a mask for every mask we sell and that like a portion of the profits will go to like a Black-owned LGBT organization for this month. And a bailout fund. Was there… I feel like there was a third, Melissa? I might be forgetting.

Melissa [00:36:21] I think there is a third, but we haven’t like decided yet. We’re still kind of in the early stages of, like we just are now putting the masks up on our online shop. So we’re still trying to like kind of navigate where the money and the masks are going to go. But, yeah, they’re going to quality organizations, Black-owned LGBTQ organizations.

Callie [00:36:48] That’s awesome.

Nichole [00:36:51] So how if someone wanted to join up with QuaranTEEN or the Raven Corps, how would they go about doing that?

Melissa [00:37:01] I think Cami mentioned before, hit up info@theravencorps.org and you can get a bunch of information from there. We’re also working on revamping our web site. We’re going through a fresh rebranding once again.

Nichole [00:37:23] Isn’t it so thrilling?

Melissa [00:37:23] And it’s going to be great. It’s so thrilling, yeah!

Nichole [00:37:26] It’s thrilling but it’s a lot of work.

Melissa [00:37:28] Once it’s done it’s going to be thrilling. Shit, right now it’s like taking everything I have, draining my soul.

Nichole [00:37:33] Relatable.

Callie [00:37:35] Yeah, we feel that.

Nichole [00:37:36] Yup.

Melissa [00:37:37] Yeah. Y’all know. Y’all really what’s up. Oh, Cami left. She’s gonna come back though. I think it just a glitches sometimes and then the only way to like refresh it is to exit and then come back. But she’ll be back. So yeah, for anyone who wants to get involved, please join QuaranTEEN. Right now it’s only on Slack but we’re starting an Instagram chat because honestly, that’s like more indicative of like kind of the community we’re trying to build. So we’re gonna have both the Discord type on Slack, the events that are going on weekly, as well as the Instagram chat. So we can share posts easier and kind of like have the whole Instagram platform accessibilities since that’s where a lot of activism is happening currently.

Melissa [00:38:28] And so, yeah, just get on our social media and there are instructions there on how to join QuaranTEEN, as well as info@theravencorps.org. And if you want to become a raven, we also have that opportunity. Again, that email is helpful. Yeah, our organization has like a ton of stuff already going on within it. A bunch of operations in different areas and corps wide. We have the mutual aid corps wide. And the coolest thing about the org is that young people who come into it can create whatever operation they want. And that level of autonomy, I think, is what attracts young leaders to our organization. So if you are interested in experimenting with street activism, trying this, working with the young activist who’s done, you know, such and such over here, you can, like, dip your feet into a bunch of different flavors of activism without a huge level of commitment to one. And that’s honestly what is most attractive about the Raven Corps and what’s most exciting for people who are trying to engage in the revolution. I think it’s critical now more than ever to get involved in an organization like this one. Speaking to all y’all young people, watching this podcast or listening, please join.

Cami [00:40:04] Please.

Melissa [00:40:06] It’s vital. The revolution is happening now. And I just was reading an article about how the U.S. government is scared of Gen-Z and they’re putting a bunch of funding towards like-

Cami [00:40:20] Quelling rebellions.

Melissa [00:40:21] All this shit to protect themselves for when we revolt.

Callie [00:40:25] Yes!

Nichole [00:40:25] Yes!

Melissa [00:40:26] Like they know! They know. And I’m like, OK!

Cami [00:40:28] Square up!

Melissa [00:40:28] Y’all know what’s up. You know. You know that you failed us thus far.

Nichole [00:40:33] Yup, and we’re coming. I love it.

Melissa [00:40:33] And we’re coming for you. So if you want to be a part of the revolution, it is the time. Now is the time. Please join us. Just fyi, just putting it out there.

Nichole [00:40:44] My soul just went like, eeee! Like just so happy.

Callie [00:40:51] I know. I know. Yeah, I read an article recently that the Department of Justice or whatever, like actually, they do these like, you know, war game scenarios or whatever. And they actually did one where they basically was like, it’s the 2020’s and the economy’s crashed again. And like Gen-Z is revolting against capitalism and like far left extremist. And I was like…um what?

Melissa [00:41:23] Yeah, call me an extremist again, I love that. Thank you.

Callie [00:41:27] Like which one of you has a fucking time machine. It was like reading what’s literally happening to us right now and I’m like, they were literally practicing and trying to figure out what to do about this. So, yeah, we got them fuckin scared.

Cami [00:41:40] Hell yeah. They better be!

Melissa [00:41:41] I know!!

Nichole [00:41:42] Which is just even more disgusting because it shows you that this isn’t an accident. Like, they knew what they were doing. And now they’re just trying to prevent the repercussions of what they’ve done.

Callie [00:41:53] Yeah, exactly. They knew it would be bad. And so instead of fixing it, they were like, let’s just figure out how to, like, crush the like, absolutely impending rebellion.

Cami [00:42:06] Yes. It reminds of like the whole logic with let’s combat police brutality with more police brutality. Genius.

Nichole [00:42:16] And more funding. We need to give them more money so that they can do more things. And somehow that will make them less violent. OK.

Callie [00:42:27] Yeah. Yeah, I mean, we’ll just pass a rule that says they can’t do like chokeholds or kill people because those things definitely aren’t already laws.

Nichole [00:42:37] Or, my favorite is that you have to let someone know you’re about to shoot them.

Callie [00:42:41] Oh right.

Cami [00:42:41] Oh my lord.

Nichole [00:42:48] That’s gunna really fix it.

Melissa [00:42:51] Y’all last night, you guys have to hear this story. I was walking at the protest. I made this DIY shield out of a shed, it said BLM on it, and it was like, so sexy. I was just like vibing with my fucking shield. And I was with my friend, who is Black, last night, middle of the night. And then three squad cars drove by downtown Portland. If any Portland cops are watching this, suck my dick I hate you. Sorry, anyway. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry girls. Anyway so.

Callie [00:43:22] Don’t apologize to us, we co-sign that!

Nichole [00:43:22] Please don’t. And I just assume that every government agency is watching everything we do now, so they can all suck it.

Cami [00:43:33] You can quote us on that.

Melissa [00:43:33] Yeah I know right? Yeah, seriously. So they were driving past, these squad cars, and then they saw us. And so I was trying to shield my friend Bailey because she’s Black. And instead, they fucking drove onto the sidewalk and almost hit us with their cars. And I was like, about to shit my pants, of course. And they all came out and they had their guns out. And so we, like, had our hands up and we were like, don’t fucking shoot, don’t shoot. And this guy comes up to me, this police officer, and he says, we’re not here to arrest you. We’re just here to take anything that could be used as a weapon. And he grabs my shield. And he says this could be used as a weapon. And I was like, oh, my fucking shield that I’m using to protect me from the weapons that you are throwing at us? Your citizens?!

Nichole [00:44:34] Thank you.

Melissa [00:44:35] Are you kidding me? And so I was just like, I went off, you know. I was really popping off and there were like ten cops, three squad cars, lights a blazing, like guns! Like for me with my shield. And I, yeah, I just lost my shit on them. But a perfect example, like they, they’re, y’all are being paid overtime?

Nichole [00:45:00] Exactly.

Melissa [00:45:00] For what? Taking your citizens shields and tear-gassing the shit out of us? Putting just like chemical burns on like the faces of the children in your city? Fuck 12. Sorry, I just had to tell y’all that.

Nichole [00:45:12] And then fucking arresting the people who are videotaping you doing that shit? You pieces of shit. And still having your fucking job and still getting to be out here being a fucking maniac. Yeah. Yeah that whole like, we need more funding for more training, it’s just so Neoliberal obviously. Which to me is like-

Melissa [00:45:38] Yuuppp. Frickin centrists. Y’all, what are you all doing?

Nichole [00:45:42] Yeah. It’s like they’re gunna use that money for training but it’s gonna be more fucking military, crowd control, like anti-insurgency training. Not like how to de-escalate a situation or not kill people for no reason.

Cami [00:45:58] Right?

Melissa [00:45:58] Yeah, it’s like more oppression will do it right?

Nichole [00:45:59] Yeah, exactly.

Melissa [00:46:00] Like, more oppression will fix the problem, right?

Cami [00:46:02] Obviously.

Nichole [00:46:02] Yeah, we just need to further empower them and then eventually they’ll be so grateful for all that power that they’ll be nice. Because that’s how power works.

Callie [00:46:12] Absolutely.

Nichole [00:46:15] Especially someone who’s inclined to abuse power. The more they amass, the nicer they get. That’s how, that’s how that works. Naturally.

Melissa [00:46:25] Naturally, yes.

Nichole [00:46:26] Well, I saw we had one question so far. And someone asked if you’re national, which I know that you technically are. They were talking about being in Indiana and saying that there’s nothing around that’s really like this. So just more broadly, how would someone go about maybe starting this in their own area if they wanted to? And where can they find out where there are, I don’t know if you call them corps or whatever, that you could join today that exist.

Melissa [00:46:59] Yeah, we have opportunities that exist. I don’t know that we have a corps already happening in Indiana, but we are definitely accepting new Lead Ravens at the moment. And you also always have the option to fly solo, especially if you’re in a rural area. That’s been a pretty popular option with those of us who like aren’t around a lot of young people our age with the same like, intense anti-capitalist like belief system.

Cami [00:47:31] Mm hmm. Don’t have the same fire in their bellies.

Melissa [00:47:31] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. There are still like, options for you, which is why an online community and support system within the Raven Corps can be so helpful. So yeah, I recommend to anyone who’s interested, get in touch with us and we will definitely find a spot for you within the organization that works for everyone.

Callie [00:47:56] Awesome. And how do they do that again?

Melissa [00:48:00] It’s a email, info@theravencorps.org. But you could also get in touch with us through any of our social media.

Cami [00:48:07] Yeah. Like you can DM the main page also @theravencorps on Instagram.

Nichole [00:48:11] Perfect. And I’ll make sure links to all of that are in the show notes for anyone watching or listening. Well I have, as my final question, do you two have any kind of general advice for young people who are maybe a little overwhelmed about getting into activism or a little overwhelmed about what’s going on right now? And just whatever you’ve learned over the years about how to process all of this and get involved and kind of find your voice?

Cami [00:48:43] I would say, just like, fucking mobilize.

Melissa [00:48:50] Yes!

Cami [00:48:51] So I’ve been to quite a few of the protests here in the San Diego area, and there’s so many young people at these protests. And it’s, like it’s very inspiring to see that, like everyone is just taking action. And of course, that’s not just something that, it’s not just protesting on the streets, because not everyone has the ability to do that. Like, that’s something I can no longer do just because of the place that I work at. But there’s so many things that you can do. And something that I like to tell myself, and tell friends, is that like you can feel hopeless, and there is still hope. So you can still like, yes, it’s OK to feel overwhelmed and hopeless and defeated. And there is still hope that we can create a better world. So that’s, like you’re able to hold both of those things, you know?

Melissa [00:50:02] Yes, yeah.

Nichole [00:50:03] That’s beautiful.

Callie [00:50:04] Yeah.

Melissa [00:50:06] I will also add on hopelessness, I struggle constantly with hopelessness. I would honestly argue that about 90 percent of my body mass is hopelessness. It’s severe. It’s a really significant problem that I deal with, especially within activism. But something I learned recently, like too recently, is that the oppressor uses hopelessness as a tactic to keep you silent. And that is like the most empowering thing I’ve ever heard, because conquering, doing whatever you can to conquer your own hopelessness is an act of resistance. And that is like arguably the best investment you can make in your ability to engage in activism. So doing stuff for yourself to essentially just feel empowered and feel capable of creating change and reminding yourself that you indeed do have the ability to create change. And the reminder also that the oppressor doesn’t want you to believe that. So, yeah, that has been life-changing for me and I hope that’s some good advice for y’all as well.

Nichole [00:51:35] I mean, I think that’s good advice for anybody because honestly, I’m like almost twice your age and I deal with the same feelings all the time. The way you describe that, feeling like your body’s 90 percent hopelessness is just so fucking relatable. Like some days I just feel heavy with it, like I can’t get out of bed and I can’t move. You know, everything just feels really stuck. And I know for me, part of why I continue to do the show is that it’s almost a compulsion because it gives me something to like, structure my ideas and my… I don’t know, it just gives you a way to feel like you need to turn up because people are there, you know, whereas if you’re disconnected, it’s too easy to just let the hopelessness take over, and then you, and then the oppressor wins.

Callie [00:52:26] Yeah.

Nichole [00:52:27] Yeah.

Cami [00:52:27] Yeah.

Callie [00:52:29] Absolutely.

Cami [00:52:29] Crush capitalism. Crush colonialism with your hope.

Everyone [00:52:35] Yes!

Nichole [00:52:39] I love that. Wow. Well, what a way to close it, you two.

Callie [00:52:41] Yeah.

Nichole [00:52:43] Those are like memeable moments. Highly quotable.

Cami [00:52:48] Hell yeah!.

Nichole [00:52:48] So I just want to thank you both so much for coming on. And you’re welcome back anytime. This was a great conversation.

Melissa [00:52:57] Thank you guys so much for having us.

Cami [00:52:59] Yeah, love the show.

Melissa [00:53:00] Beautiful. We’re such fans of the show. That has just been so exciting.

Nichole [00:53:05] Which is so cool.

Cami [00:53:06] It’s been a blast.

Callie [00:53:06] Yeah. Well we’ve been wanting to have the Raven Corps discussion on, the work you guys are doing-

Nichole [00:53:10] Forever.

Callie [00:53:10] Yeah, for so long. So yeah, thank you so much for coming on.

Cami [00:53:17] Here we are! Thank you.

Melissa [00:53:17] Thank you so much you guys.

Callie [00:53:20] Yes.

Nichole [00:53:20] I know.

Melissa [00:53:20] Wow. Well I hope to see you soon. Have a great weekend.

Callie [00:53:20] Bye bye!

Nichole [00:53:21] Alright, bye!

Cami [00:53:21] Bye.

Melissa [00:53:23] Bye!

Callie [00:53:26] All right.

Nichole [00:53:28] Cool.

Callie [00:53:29] Yeah.

Nichole [00:53:30] We did a live stream interview, that’s a milestone.

Callie [00:53:33] We certainly did.

Nichole [00:53:36] Pretty cool.

Callie [00:53:37] Yeah.

Nichole [00:53:39] So I think Callie has a joke, but she’s gonna let the internet tell it.

Callie [00:53:47] I do, yes. So we’re switching things up today and I have a joke, but you know I’m not actually going to tell it. So, but I thought it was just like too too perfect. So let’s see here.

Male recording [00:54:15] Excuse me. Why do riot police get up early? Do you guys know? The riot police? They get up early to beat the crowds.

Callie [00:54:39] One of my favorite parts is the fact that the other cop was just like laughing, like you could just see his, like, shoulders shaking from laughter. I fucking died. Yeah.

Nichole [00:54:56] Callie loved that one. I was like, well, you tell it then.

Callie [00:55:00] Yeah. As much as I hate jokes, I will always stand for a joke about cops.

Nichole [00:55:09] This is what I’ve learned, if I ever want you to like the joke has to be about cops or bootlicking. Then I’ll get your approval.

Callie [00:55:18] Yeah, I mean it’s a good, good way of going. I know Birdie, I, Birdie just said, “The cop made me laugh harder than the joke.” That’s exactly how I felt like seeing the first cop go like, do that. And then the other cop who appears to be a black man just like fucking dying. Like you know that he was just, yeah, that fucking killed me.

Nichole [00:55:43] Yes. So we’re doing reverse format today as well. So that was basically our main topic. We just did a joke. Callie is going to thank some of our patrons, and then we’ll talk about some of the news that is going on right now. And then we’ll do the after-party, as usual for anyone who wants to hang out.

Callie [00:56:07] Yeah. Mm hmm. OK, so we have some new Patreons… Patreons, patrons to thank today.

Nichole [00:56:17] Yeah, it’s confusing.

Callie [00:56:18] So, Jess, Lauren, Nadia, Jazz and Nikki are all new patrons. So thank you so much. And then Danekron increased their pledge. I hope I did not butcher that name.

Nichole [00:56:38] Aw, thanks.

Callie [00:56:38] So thank you so much to all of our new donors. Your support just means the world to us, especially right now with everything being so tight and so many worthy causes for us to be giving our dollars to. And your support of queer anarchist radical leftist media just makes us so happy and helps us continue to do the work that we are doing. And as you can tell, expanding in all of these different ways that we are trying to grow right now. So thank you so much.

Nichole [00:57:12] Yes. Thank you, everyone. Cool cool.

Callie [00:57:16] All right. Our increased pledge donor is watching and just said I did say it right! Yay!

Nichole [00:57:23] Alright! That’s always nice when that works out.

Callie [00:57:27] I know, that just made my day.

Nichole [00:57:29] This is the beauty of the livestream. It’s what makes it so fun.

Callie [00:57:33] I know.

Nichole [00:57:36] All right. So, unfortunately we have some really tragic news to cover so content warning for another police murder and white supremacy and all of it. And then I’m going to end on something that’s slightly more hopeful just to try to, you know, leave us on a better note.

Callie [00:57:56] Yeah. Yeah and before I say it all, I just, you know, again want to emphasize, like Nichole said, strong content warning for racial violence and deaths. Unfortunately, there are several that we’re going to be talking about today. And also I just, we want to just let you all know that we try to be very cautious in the news that we share. There is obviously importance with sharing stories and making sure that people are aware of what’s going on. But we also know it’s a fine line to not just like be adding to the trauma and just be constantly like, this violent thing happened, this violent thing happened. So I’m going to try to kind of go quickly through some of these details and not go too far into it. Because I think there’s some important things that we should discuss and obviously, we just want to, you know, show our solidarity and grief with the family and friends that have lost these folks. But, you know, like I said, we just want to clarify that we get that it can be a lot and we don’t just want to be like heaping more bad news and trauma on to everyone.

Callie [00:59:06] So in California, within the last couple of weeks, within 50 miles of each other, two black men have been found dead. Malcolm Harsch from Victorville and Robert Fuller from Palmdale. Their deaths are under investigation, but both were found hung from trees near city buildings. It’s been weird to try to find any official information about this. One of the cases, the sheriff’s department I believe, the law enforcement came out pretty quickly and said that they don’t suspect any foul play. In fact, I think both cases, they’re going with kind of an unofficial, like we don’t suspect foul play and that they think both deaths were suicides.

Callie [00:59:58] But I just have to say, I’m not a fucking reporter, I’m not a journalist, but in my non-expert opinion, it appears very strongly that both of these men were lynched. I think the fact that they were both in cities that were close to each other, they were both found, I mean, hung from trees near official city buildings. I call bullshit. So that’s obviously incredibly sad and upsetting. There’s been, both of them were trending on Twitter yesterday. I’m hoping that the increased pressure and the family and friends have been pushing for an actual investigation to look into this because they don’t believe that these men killed themselves.

Callie [01:00:49] And then in our next story, again, same content warning applies. Y’all probably heard about this, this was all over the interwebs and Twitter, especially yesterday. But 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was murdered by police Friday night in Atlanta. Cops were called on Rayshard because he was sleeping in his car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s. Cops gave him a field sobriety test, which he supposedly failed. They’re saying he failed it, but I don’t fucking trust any cops, so. And the cops tried to arrest him. There was a struggle. It appeared they, the three of them were all kind of wrestling on the ground in the parking lot. So we don’t exactly know what happened from the time that they, like, found him in his car in the drive-thru to when a witness in a different car actually started filming when they were struggling. Rayshard was able to break away from the cops taking one of their Tasers with him. He was then shot by the other cops’ taser as he was running away. He then turned back towards them while they were chasing him with the taser in his hand. And the other cop fired several shots, killing him.

Callie [01:02:10] So, I… It’s hard. Like yesterday, I just, I was so fucking upset as I’m sure a lot of you were/are. This is exactly, and the reason we wanted to bring this up today beyond just, you know, wanting to show our solidarity with the people of Atlanta. Apparently they fucking burned that Wendy’s down last night. So, good for them, and had a massive protest. I believe the cop who shot and killed Rayshard has been fired and the police chief has also stepped down. But this is like such a good example of why the police need to be abolished.

Callie [01:03:02] Like, I don’t know why he was sleeping in his car. It could have been that he was intoxicated. It could have just been exhaustion or a medical condition. And, yes, it’s inconvenient that his car was in the drive-thru lane blocking traffic. And that brings up questions of like the fact that he drove there and whether or not he should have been driving at that point. But this is, this was someone who needed help. This is someone who could have been dealt with in a nonviolent way. You know, they could have helped him, they could have called a tow truck instead of the police. Like they could have had his car moved. They could have had a mental health professional or a social worker type person show up and help get him out of his car, you know, make sure he was okay medically. Maybe he just needed to sleep it off. But there was no reason why this needed to turn violent. There was no reason why they needed to be shooting him with tasers. And there was no reason why they should have shot him, especially as he’s running away. He was running away from them and they shot him.

Callie [01:04:12] And I saw way too many fucking comments where people were like, oh but he took their taser and had it in his hand, he could have shot at the police. It’s like they were shooting him with the taser. So, like, it’s violent when he does it but it’s not violent when they do it? We don’t owe police our obedience. That’s not how this works. Like, they don’t get to kill us just because we disobey them or just because we act out. Like that is so fucked up.

Nichole [01:04:45] Yeah, I mean, it’s incredibly fucked up. And I think something that we need to be aware of as well that I’ve read recently is that we talk about things like social workers or other alternatives to police. And that is true, right, like, these are people who could provide a better solution to situations like this. But we have to understand that the way the system is currently structured, that social workers, EMTs, all kinds of care professionals, are actually in league with the cops and tend to be part of this carceral kind of system that we have. They can play as much of a role in getting people imprisoned or put into dangerous situations as anyone else.

Nichole [01:05:31] So as we’re going through this abolition movement, we need to be aware that it’s more than just the police that needs to be, either abolished or like the police need to be abolished, period. But there are other systems that will need to be reformed, changed, broken apart. Like there’s going to be a lot more work. We can’t just say, oh, the police are gone and so things are fine now. Because we live in a carceral country. Like all of these care systems are still tied into incarceration and punishment and we still have all of these things that are criminalized. So it’s a whole system reform that needs to happen.

Nichole [01:06:21] And we just have to keep our eye on the ball with that, which sucks because it would be nice to think that we already have people in place who could be that soft spot, that care, you know, that step away from this violence that we’ve had ingrained in the system. But unfortunately, it’s part of the system that is violent and that does criminalize these behaviors. There is no reason someone sleeping in their car should be arrested. There just isn’t. Whatever the situation is, that person needs care. Like you said, maybe they were fatigued, maybe they’re drunk, maybe they have some kind of health or mental health issues. But none of those things should be criminalized. And yet now a person’s dead. For what? For what?

Callie [01:07:07] The problem is, is we have, and I love that you brought all that up just now, because part of the issue is that the police are obviously the biggest perpetrators of this system of punishment and incarceration that we have. But so are the other, like, care and support organizations as well. You know, social work, a lot of times it is about like looking out for people and punishing them, you know, taking children away from homes. And just not doing things that are really for the betterment and care of people. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when kids should be removed from certain situations. But this is the problem. Like not only do our institutions think about…

Callie [01:07:56] Because the issue with him is that the cops were like, this is a person who broke the rules, who is causing a disruption, and must be punished and arrested. Instead of like, oh, this is an issue. We have someone who, for whatever reason, is asleep in their car in an unusual place, who’s blocking… Traffic, I guess. And needs to be dealt with, right? And then you have all these people like viewing this video that are commenting like, oh but he fought back and you’re not supposed to do that. Oh, he took the taser and he’s not supposed to do that. And all of these things that they’re like, oh if you just have, like, complied. And we have internalized a mentality that, like, we, it’s what we talk about all the time. It’s the bad daddy, right? It’s that like we are under these strict set of rules and if you don’t follow the rules, basically anything that happens to you is your own fault. Instead of like we, our organizations, our structures if we’re going to have them, need to be set up to like help life.

Callie [01:09:03] And Nichole, as you always talk about from The Funky Academic, our government should be there to help us like plan, right, and be safe. And that means, like, if something goes wrong, if someone’s having a problem, they’re there to help and support and solve the problem. Not just like punish people for stepping out of line or having a problem.

Nichole [01:09:26] Yeah, and not solving from a place of authority. But solving from a place of just being able to have resources and dispatch those resources. Right, like we were just talking about this in book club. This whole idea of leadership and authority and how like a lot of leftist spaces are kind of, have vilified leadership because of wanting to be decentralized. But really, if we look at authority, and this was in the Thought Slime Q and Anarchy series, but he said, you know, like unearned authority is the problem. But you simply having maybe knowledge or expertise or access to something, and that can make you an authority, that doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

Nichole [01:10:15] And that’s how we need to look at like government as we move forward, whatever we want to call it, too, because I know, like for a lot of us, we don’t even believe in government. But when we look at leadership and when we look at whatever we might have in place of government, it really is just about allocating resources, coordinating things, knowing who has what skills and being able to get those people to where they need to go. It’s really like an administrative effort. It should not be this violent law enforcement. Right. That’s where it all goes wrong. And that’s where like you were, I think you were getting to is that, and you’ve said it before like, if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Like with law enforcement, I mean, the name of it is eve,n it’s skewing your perspective to just see if something, someone is doing something wrong and then they need to be punished. It’s not about let’s understand the situation here and what this person needs.

Nichole [01:11:24] Because I even read that the car was blocking the drive-thru but that people could still drive around it and get their, they could still order and they could still pick up their order. So it’s literally just people had to drive around it and now a man is dead, you know? Because that was such an inconvenience to everyone, right? And the way that we look at people. Like we don’t see a car parked like that and have concern, we get angry because it’s irritating us. It’s making our day slightly harder. So this complete just disconnect and destruction of community care is something that we all have to address together. Systemically, but also like individually.

Callie [01:12:05] Yeah. I mean, people are mad that he like, he broke the order of things. Right, his car was in the way. It was a problem that needed to be solved.

Nichole [01:12:15] And it’s like, but was it?

Callie [01:12:17] Right, exactly.

Nichole [01:12:18] Was it even?

Callie [01:12:19] And the cops shooting at him, they’re like, well he was, you know, he took a taser and he was pointing it. And it’s like, but the cops are only supposed to shoot if their life is in danger. Like, you literally have people arguing, and I don’t believe in cops having guns anyway. But I’m just saying, like, even the people that are trying to argue they should, it’s like that’s for their own self-defense. Their lives were not in danger. They shot at him to punish him.

Nichole [01:12:46] Yep. Exactly.

Callie [01:12:49] And that’s the mindset that we have to break, along with abolishing the police, as long as defunding the police and reinvesting in other care organizations. It’s about changing this, like, obedience mentality. You know, it’s focusing on restorative justice. It’s focusing on like making people heal and whole. And solving issues at the root instead of just like this person fucked up, anything that happens to them is like justified, you know?

Nichole [01:13:20] Yeah. And I tie it in heavily to rape culture as well. We’re never going to dismantle rape culture as long as we live in a situation where total compliance, depending on someone’s position, is expected, and at times fatally punished if not. Like, what the fuck does that say about all of us and our bodies and our lives, right, and our needs? Someone can come and just tell you, and because of the clothes that they’re wearing, you have to do whatever they say. And if not, they can kill you. And everyone else is going to say it was your own fault. So yeah, Fuck 12, to quote Melissa.

Callie [01:14:06] FUCK 12.

Nichole [01:14:09] And just yeah, our hearts like, we both were having a really good day yesterday and like we ended up having to test out a bunch of stuff with audio and video. And then we both like caught up on the news and just were… Like, yeah. I want to see if we can get The Funky Academic on to talk about this stuff. But his talks about plans has just really made me think a lot about, not just the government… Kind of like not just the systemic ability to make plans, but also I have become so much more sensitive to the fact that, like, nobody who gives a shit about what’s happening right now can really make any plans even for their day. Like I’ve had so many days where I’m like, OK, today is the day that I X, Y, Z, right, and do something that I need to do to like function properly as an adult human. Or that I need to like, feel better, you know, or take care of myself and like tend to my chronic illness. And then I see the news and it just all goes out the window.

Nichole [01:15:18] And it’s just made me really sensitive to the fact that, like, that’s how these vulnerable communities have lived for generations. For centuries. You can’t, I just, I think it’s so important for us to understand, like, you can’t make plans for yourself. You can’t really move forward and achieve or take care of yourself or take care of your community when every day is just this assault on you constantly.

Callie [01:15:47] Yes.

Nichole [01:15:49] And that’s part of the hopelessness that Melissa was talking about, right? The part of like this systemic, like the system wants it to be that way. The news functions that way, right, to like, gear us towards things that are upsetting and scary and violent to keep us in this state of feeling like everything is just so overwhelming that we can’t step into our power and we can’t overcome it. But as we’re seeing from these rebellions, I think we’ve hit that tipping point where we are stepping into our power and we are at least going to make our best stab at overcoming it. You know, I don’t know if this is going to work or not, but it seems like we finally have mobilized and gotten to the point where we see what they’re doing and those of us with privilege see what they’re doing and have said, enough.

Callie [01:16:46] Yeah, well, I don’t know if you intended it or not, but that is a brilliant segue way into your news story.

Nichole [01:16:56] I didn’t intend it, but I’m just so fucking professional now that I just, I like, channeling the, you know, the universal, like my professional chakra is wide open.

Callie [01:17:09] Oh my god.

Nichole [01:17:11] My crown chakra is just, all coming in.

Callie [01:17:16] All right.

Nichole [01:17:17] All right. I love how Callie will let me get so far and then she’s like, enough.

Callie [01:17:21] Because I, it’s so entertaining.

Nichole [01:17:28] Until it’s not. And then you’re like, all right. So the last story today. This is kind of like, it’s kind of hard to find real reporting on this, people are talking about it. So anyway, I’m not going to say this is most detailed coverage, but I just kind of wanted to let everyone know who hasn’t heard that there is an autonomous zone in Seattle’s Capitol Hill. They’re calling it CHAZ. So the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. And it’s inspiring, there’s some other ones popping up around the country. So there was one, they were attempting to establish one in Asheville, North Carolina. I did hear that one got busted up by cops so I don’t think that it was successful. They’ve had one in the U of the Chicago Police’s headquarters, and National… National. Nashville, Tennessee has occupied the Capitol Grounds. Buffalo, New York is occupying Niagara Square, and Philadelphia is occupying the Von Colln Memorial Field.

Callie [01:18:40] Dude, I had no idea!

Nichole [01:18:40] So again. I know. I guess the first night is the most dangerous and the most difficult to sustain. So I’m not actually sure how many of these were able to make it past like their first night, because this tweet was from like two days ago. But it’s really fucking amazing, honestly. Because what these autonomous zones are doing, so they, first of all, the Capitol Hill one at least in Seattle has been overfunded. Like, they actually have too many supplies and they’re asking people to divert those supplies to other, to the other areas or to, you know, divert funds to other funds.

Nichole [01:19:22] But what they’re doing is they’ve kicked the police out. No police are allowed. And they’re functioning as essentially an anarchist utopia, right, our dream. Where they’re just self, a self-sustaining community. So they have markets where people can go and get food that they want. There’s no money that you have to pay, everything’s free. So everyone within the community is taken care of. There’s medics who go and take care of people and check on them. There are people who are comfortable with de-escalating situations and dealing with anything that might be physical. So they’ve been in there taking care of that. So it really is just kind of a self-sustained little community.

Nichole [01:20:06] And it’s really important because it’s such an amazing model for how this can actually work and how it does work. When you get the cops out, crime goes way down and people do figure out how to take care of themselves. And it just disproves so many things like the tragedy of the commons. Like you don’t have people in here who are trying to steal a bunch of shit. You don’t have people who are taking all the free things. Like people want there to be enough for the community. And so, you know, you have this kind of natural, this natural organization that happens. And obviously people are like intentionally organizing. But I’m just saying, everyone who’s in there, it becomes this sense that you’re all there together, you’re a community, you have each other’s back. And so all of these things that we think, we hear oh if there is no government people would just be stealing and looting and murdering and doing all this stuff. And it’s like or they would just be chilling out and like playing music and being full because they have food, and just like hanging out with each other.

Nichole [01:21:17] So they’re doing all kinds of cool stuff. Like they have, they’re playing the 13th, they’re playing the documentary. They do an outdoor screening on like a makeshift theater that they made. So they’ve been playing 13th. They’ve been having speakers come in and talk about, you know, police violence. And then yeah, they just have people like sharing food and playing music and dreaming of a future. They’re all talking together about, like how they could create a more equitable future for everybody. So it’s a pretty amazing thing and it’s really amazing that other areas are trying to do this as well. And I hope that we see at least a few more able to pull it off, even though, like I said, it’s pretty difficult to do.

Nichole [01:22:07] If you go to their website, they talk about, they don’t request reform, they demand abolition. So they’re demanding that the Seattle council and mayor defund and abolish the police department and the criminal justice apparatus. And they say this means one hundred percent of the funding goes away for those things. They demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control. So they demand between now and the abolition of the police department that the police be prohibited from performing homeless sweeps and they demand an end to all evictions right now. And then they demand the people of Seattle proudly support Black-owned businesses. So they demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the education curriculum. So all my love to them. And, you know, and just something to leave us on a bit of a hopeful note is that this kind of radical, you know, self-organization is happening and that it is just fucking possible.

Callie [01:23:20] Yes.

Nichole [01:23:20] And that it fucking works.

Callie [01:23:22] Yes!

Nichole [01:23:23] It works really well.

Callie [01:23:27] Punctuated. Every. Word. I love it.

Nichole [01:23:34] Yes. And Callie, you had a very cute and apt kind of analogy for this sort of thing. Would you like to share it with the audience?

Callie [01:23:44] Oh my god, I totally forgot about that.

Nichole [01:23:46] I didn’t!

Callie [01:23:48] Sure. What did you just do?

Nichole [01:23:52] I said my third eye’s open. I’m telling you, it’s all, well, sorry third eye’s here.

Callie [01:23:57] Oh, that’s your totes professionalism coming?

Nichole [01:24:02] Yeah.

Callie [01:24:03] Yeah, so I had kind of a funny anecdotal story the other day, remembering something from my childhood. So I have a younger brother who’s like a year and a half younger than me so we’re very close in age, and we would fight a lot when I was growing up. We were both in karate and we were always each other’s sparring partners, both in karate and at home. And he took a lot of pride in just kind of needling me. I mean, to be honest, he still does. He loves to just fuck with me, but. So anyway, we would fight a lot as kids and I was remembering the other day how, you know, those moments were like your parents like either leave you with a sitter, or once we became, you know, kind of old enough to be left on our own for very short periods of time. My brother and I would always like kind of form this like instant solidarity, and it would usually like only last when it needed to. Like, the minute my parents were back, it was like all bets were off again.

Callie [01:25:10] But there was something so… There would be this like kind of unspoken understanding whenever we needed to kind of step up and be a little bit more mature, or take care of each other or, you know, just take care of stuff while my parents were gone or when there wasn’t a sitter around. And we would just, like, work really well together and kind of form this like, partnership and care. I mean, my brother and I, I joke a lot about how we, like, teased and picked on each other, but there’s obviously a lot of love there and a lot of support. But it came out the strongest kind of in those unspoken moments when it needed to, you know? And it just reminded me a lot of kind of the principles of anarchism and like an anarchist society and how when there wasn’t this, like, authority figure that let us just kind of like lean into being chaotic and picking on each other and fighting. When that was kind of gone and we needed to self-regulate, we did.

Callie [01:26:17] And there was a lot of like I just think very fondly of that. And it reminds me of what we could probably, that that’s like in us as a people, I think, and how it’s such a small kind of silly example. But I could see that happening on a broader scale when we don’t have this, like, oppressive authority figure over us. I think it does kind of create this like, hey, we’re now in this together and we can figure this out. We can take care of each other.

Nichole [01:26:50] Love that.

Callie [01:26:51] Yeah.

Nichole [01:26:53] I think that’s a beautiful way to end this show. Thank you all for listening. If you’re interested, we livestream podcast episodes on YouTube every Sunday at noon Pacific time. And we also have our town halls on Thursday at five p.m. Pacific Time where we just kind of, it’s more relaxed and it’s more engaging with the audience. So we talk about whatever’s on our mind and we take comments and engage with whoever shows up and it’s really fun. So you can find us on YouTube just by searching Bitchy Shitshow, we’re the only one.

Callie [01:27:34] Absolutely. And if you watch us live on Sunday’s after we finish the recording, like right now the podcast episode is coming to a close. But if you’re watching live, we’re going to hang out with y’all as we do every time and just kind of chat and be a little bit more silly and fun and relaxed.

Nichole [01:27:56] Yeah.

Callie [01:27:56] So if you watch us live, that’s a perk that you get.

Nichole [01:28:02] Yep, you get to be part of our self-regulating community.

Callie [01:28:06] Absolutely. All right y’all, we will talk to you next week.

Nichole [01:28:11] Bye-bye.

Callie [01:28:12] Bye.

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