F-Word: After Brexit, Blexit - Putting Your Money Where Your Life Is

You’ve heard of Brexit, but how about Blexit?    

Brexit’s what the British public voted to do when they felt the European Union wasn’t serving their best interests.   

Blexit’s what some Black residents of the Twin Cities have decided to do to free themselves from the city’s white-dominated financial institutions.

A week after Philando Castile was murdered by a police officer, residents formed the Association for Black Economic Power. At the time, Minneapolis had no black-led banks or financial institutions, even though it had plenty of black residents. Instead, the banks they had took money out of the black community in charges and fees but put little back even after a criminal history of redlining, foreclosure, and predatory lending. 

Now the Village Trust Financial Cooperative, a Black-led credit union, is due to open its doors next year to do things differently. 

Meanwhile, a coalition of grassroots and advocacy groups in New York is campaigning for their own sort of exit: from Wall St. 

In the heart of the world’s financial capital, The Public Bank NYC coalition is pushing for a municipal public city bank – one owned and operated in the public interest.


They figured out that the pensions of teachers, firefighters, and other government workers amount to a hefty sum – $194 billion – yet only two percent of all that is invested in the economically strapped places where many of those workers live, and only one percent is invested in the public infrastructure on which they depend. The rest goes to private funds, managed by private money managers, who, over a decade, pocketed more than $2 billion in fees.  

This June 5, 2018 – the day the city council is scheduled to adopt its $85 billion budget – the Public Bank NYC coalition will be on Wall Street asking the question: what if those billions were deposited in a public bank that served the public interest instead of the private ones like Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America, which serve their far-flung shareholders?  

It’s an idea whose time seems to have come: #BankBlack #BankPublic. After years of being told how poor they are, all sorts of people are wising up to the fact that they might be richer than they think, especially if they put their money where their lives are. 

You can read more about Blexit at NextCity.org, and learn about Banking For Justice at neweconomynyc.org; or you can listen to or watch an upcoming discussion on the Laura Flanders Show.



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EXCERPT: Community Wealth in Freddie Gray's Neighborhood of Sandtown

Community organizer Dominique Stevenson takes the LF Show on a tour through Tubman House, a community farming project in Sandtown, Baltimore. From a vacant, rundown lot to a thriving urban farm, Tubman House is addressing the issue of food apartheid in Baltimore and revigorating community wealth building in that neighborhood.

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Making Data Shift Power: Bex Hong Hurwitz and Rashida Richardson

Self-driving cars, biased algorithms, and a social media quiz that scrapes your data -- it seems like the only tech headlines we have are about disasters. But what about the original promise of tech -- to innovate and empower? This week, Bex Hong Hurwitz, a Data & Society fellow and Rashida Richardson of the AI Now Institute, join me to discuss the subversive and democratic potential of technology, and how we harness it. Then, we talk to Kayleigh Walsh from the UK-based tech cooperative Outlandish - a model that centers on empowerment and sustainability. All that, plus a primer on how to secure your digital networks.

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EXCERPT: Spatial Justice and Socially Conscious Architecture


Liz Ogbu: I think now we're seeing in a lot of cities the process of gentrification, which has sort of been synonymous with the displacement of poor residence by wealthier new comers as the city which was abandoned as people moved out to the suburbs is now being seen as sexy again and people are moving back in and we're once again seeing a pattern where the poor end of people of color are being displaced. It's not that these areas don't need new services, new resources, new housing, but we should figure out a way to allow people to have the capacity to stay in their homes and in those communities rather than saying we're going to repeat the cycle of displacing people again.

Deanna Van B.: Gentrification and incarceration. You can't get section 8 housing if you've been formally incarcerated. And then in Oakland, there is no section 8 housing so people end up homeless. If you're incarcerated, you come back, people are already being displaced, you can't get section 8 housing so you just end up in the streets. In Oakland, our tent cities are blooming. This specific project is less restorative justice and more restorative economics.

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EXCERPT: "We believe housing is a right, and that communities are more important than commodities." - Gianpaolo Baiocchi

Laura Flanders: Housing affordability and power by design, this week on the show Monique George of Picture The Homeless and Gianpolo by Yorkie of the New York University Urban Democracy Lab, argue that a truly just housing policy requires a shift in power. Then from our Ted Women's Series, two architects who are combating the effects of gentrification and serving low income communities through innovative design. It's all coming up on the Laura Flanders Show, the place where the people who say it can't be done, take a back seat to the people who are doing it. Welcome.

Housing stress, it's a part of life for millions of people. If someone isn't experiencing it, they likely know someone who is. So states a new report by the Homes For All Campaign of The Right to City Alliance. Decades of leaving matters of housing to the market or to politicians or landlords just isn't securing housing for everyone who needs it. A new land ownership structure just might help. Models exist here and around the world. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has put some financing behind new community land trusts, the British labor parties housing plan includes a million new homes and affordability to find by prevailing incomes not rents.

In many places is an election year, so by why criteria should housing policies be judged? Our guests know this topic from the inside out. Gianpaolo Baiocchi is director of the Urban Democracy Lab at NYU and the lead author of Community over Commodities Report, I just quoted. Monique "Mo" George is the Executive Director of Picture The Homeless, which was very involved in this report. She also describes herself as a proud product of public housing herself. Welcome both of you to the program, glad to have you. When you say Communities Over Commodities, what do you mean? Gianpaolo.

Gianpaolo B.: So in this report we wanted to take stock of the discussion we've been having among social movements and advocates of housing, and think from a sort of big picture way, what do we stand for? And what kind of housing do we want? And it came down to a values question. We believe that housing is a right, and we believe that communities are more important than commodities, which is to say, we want to think about the right to housing first before talking about public policy discussions about what works and what doesn't, sort of ... The title says it. It's a values question. We believe housing is a right and we think that thinking outside of the market structure is really important.

Laura Flanders: Now, values have been mostly tied with buy and sell values, the commodity value. Where has that brought us? How do you describe the situation that we're in Mo?

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F-Word: What if Ida B. Wells Depended on Facebook?

If Ida B. Wells had depended on Facebook, would we ever have had a National Lynching Memorial? 

Two stories collided in my head this week. One of which was the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama—this country’s first major effort to confront the vast scope of the racial-terror lynchings that ravaged the Black community under a pervasive, prevailing culture of white supremacy. It is the first because, until now, that same majority culture of white supremacy hasn’t wanted to look. 

At the memorial, a special place is set aside for Ida B. Wells, the crusading journalist who forced Americans to pay attention to these murders. Over a lifetime made shorter by repeated attacks, she documented and publicized the killings, collecting names, dates, and descriptions.

She wrote editorials for various newspapers, but her longest running outlet was her own, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, which she edited and published until it was burned to the ground by her critics. And this is where the opening of the memorial intersects with another important story from this week.

Would Wells’s Free Speech ever have made it into my news feed on Facebook? I doubt it because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced May 1st in a meeting with media executives that his company had started ranking news organizations by trust. 

News sources that score higher will be promoted, while those with lower scores will be suppressed. 

As he put it, “You’re not going to be able to bridge common ground in society if people don’t have a common set of facts.” 

To determine trustworthiness, the company plans to survey its two billion users about the sources with which they’re most familiar and best recognize. 


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Workers, Wildcats and Labor Organizing

Laura talks to SEIU International President, Mary Kay Henry (of Service Employees) and labor journalist Sarah Jaffe about worker wins, challenges, and some new models for organizing. Then, a conversation with Palak Shah and Michelle Miller on a new online platforms that's helping labor activists cooperate and win.

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After Maria: Self Determination in Puerto Rico


What's in store for Puerto Rico's future? More disaster capitalism, or solidarity economics?

While the lights have come back on for most, 8% of electrical customers are still waiting. The conversation in other media seems to be shifting to the social crises that are emerging -- but for many basic supplies, services and medical care are still nowhere in sight.

And let’s not forget that some people are pushing to privatize everything from education to the power grid.

In the massive gaps left by our official response, individuals, communities, and organizations are stepping in. A few people who are stepping up join us: Edna Benitez and Damaris Whittaker are from the Middle Collegiate and Fort Washington Collegiate Churches respectively. They’ve been organizing trips to help bring essential supplies to Puerto Rico since the hurricane it. Amy Tidd is with the National Nurses United and has been to Puerto Rico with 2 delegations since Maria. She’s joining us from Bangor, Maine. Plus, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz on what she calls the generous and reaffirming show of support from Americans that have shown support for Puerto Rico.

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Lana Abu Hijileh: U.S. Has A Double Standard on Human Rights in Palestine and Israel


Listen to the full F-Word with special guest Lana Abu Hijileh and more when you download our podcast.

Lana: What we saw in Gaza over the past two weeks [of April] -- I think people of Gaza after almost more than 11 years of a blockade that created a humanitarian crisis that's now chronic, coming out and saying enough is enough, and the world needs to see what's happening in Gaza and try to find solutions. It is, I would call, a freedom march. The food security has deteriorated, real poverty, and the highest unemployment levels are among youth.

Even the private sector that we thought at least could keep Gaza going is disintegrating, cannot handle this type of closure anymore. The water and sanitation situation is becoming really on the edge of what I would say, a catastrophe. And of course, the underlying reasons are historic, but also with the energy crisis, with the lack of electricity supply on continuous basis -- I think now it's down to almost four hours a day that people in Gaza get electricity. And almost 90% of the water is not up to the WHO standard. It's saline contaminated.

So even with the poverty, people now have to pay for drinking water and other kinds of household resources, which they cannot afford. I was there about two weeks ago assessing the water situation and I was really struck by how we are now on the brink of a total collapse of the system. I went into the communities that have been effected directly by the three, four wars over the last ten years and the blockade. And literally, they have nothing. Naïve me, I thought it broke them. And then, I left the Thursday before the march, watching the news and seeing those thousands and thousands of woman, youth, men, old, young, marching peacefully. I was like, Lana, you're mistaken. You really didn't get it. And that's why I say, wars do not break the soul. And I say that the people of Gaza strive for freedom, for real change, a positive change in their lives. So despite how we think that the forgotten people have been broken, the forgotten people are still there. And they need to be recognized.

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F-Word: We Need Local Media For Our Health (Not Sinclair!)

It’s easy to freak out about what’s on local news. But what about what’s left out?

The last spasm of scandal hit money media this week when a brilliantly edited video of lots of local tv anchors speaking in unison hit social media.

As we’ve reported here before, local stations owned and operated by central monopolies are often required to air nationally-created content. As their budgets are small and their options are few, they do as they’re told. And so it was with the anchors on dozens of stations owned by the conservative Sinclair Broadcasting Group last month, when their corporate parent required them to read from a script apparently sent down from head office. Ironically, the script was all about news and trust.

So-called must-carry content is usually news or alerts or more worryingly, commentary. Sinclair’s owners are GOP donors, close to the Trump administration. One of their commentators is a former Trump scriptwriter. That’s bad enough. What anchors received last month was a must-read.


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