TRNN asks people at the US Social Forum how they make real news – produced by TRNN volunteers
Special thanks to the volunteer production team: Bakari Wallace, Lenny Brody, Bruce Perry
TEXT ON SCREEN: On June 22 – June 26, 2010, thousands of people gathered from across North America at the US Social Forum in Detroit. TRNN asked them how they make Real News in their own communities.
KOHEI ISHIHARA, PROVIDENCE YOUTH STUDENT MOVEMENTS (PrYSM): My name is Kohei Ishihara. I’m from the Providence Youth Student Movement. And the way we make Real News is by organizing Southeast Asian youth, mainly Cambodian, Laotian [inaudible] youth in Providence, Rhode island, to fight for social justice. We’ve been recently working on this campaign to build accountability with the police. Right now there’s this agency within the police department called the gang unit. The gang unit has been sort of gang/racial profiling all of these youth, asking for their names, their addresses, making them strip, take their pictures, and putting all of this information in a gang database system, which is later used to enhance their time spent in jail if they’re convicted later.
ASANTEWAA GAIL HARRIS, COMMUNITY VISION COUNCIL: I’ve been working in food justice since 2005. We started farmers markets, buyers clubs, and we’ve worked with black farmers. We’re very much interested in recognizing that there are farmers in the north that are black.
MARIA-ELENA CASTELLANOS, CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS LAWYER, TEXAS: I don’t individually make real news, but I link up with people who seriously are committed to making real news in terms of human rights issues and social justice issues, such as in the case of stopping the jailing of immigrant babies in Texas.
TAYLOR LEAKE, WAKE-UP WAL-MART, UFCW: We—our campaign: trying to get Wal-Mart to be respectful of workers rights, community rights, environmental concerns. We’re here at the US Social Forum, got a workshop that we’ve organized with some Wal-Mart workers. We’re getting the message out about some of the issues of Wal-Mart, organizing local communities to stand up to Wal-Mart and raise their voice and make their choices known to Wal-Mart.
BEATRIZ MENDOZA, BEEHIVE COLLECTIVE: My name’s Beatriz, and I work with a group of people called the the Beehive Collective, and we’re an all-volunteer group of artists and activists and educators and organizers. We do a lot of different projects, but we’re best known for these graphic campaigns where we do storytelling using visuals. So basically we map these complex issues using visuals. We never use humans; we use all plants and animals to tell the stories. And this new poster that we just finished is specifically about mountaintop removal coal mining. All of our work is based on firsthand research. So we spent about two months in the coal fields, so in West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, mostly. And so this is all based, actually, on stories, ’cause I think that the people who are living that daily experience are actually the experts on the issue.
GENERAL BAKER, RETIREES FOR SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE: Right now I represent the Retired Workers for Single-Payer, which is an organization of retirees fighting for health care. I’m here at the Social Forum—I don’t try to make real news. I just carry out struggle in life, and if someone finds that to be newsworthy, so be it.
JEREMY BOYKIN, YOUNG DETROIT BUILDERS: I’m with Young Detroit Builders. It’s a nonprofit organization based here in the city of Detroit. What we do is we help young adults become productive citizens in the community. We’re very community-involved. We help older people that don’t have access to a porch or a wheelchair ramp; we build those for them. We build homes for low-income families. We’re just an organization trying to make things a little better for ourselves and society as a whole.
OLIMATTA TAAL, THE NATIONAL VOTING RIGHTS MUSEUM: My name is Olimatta Taal. I’m the interim acting executive director of the National Voting Rights Museum, originally from the Gambia, West Africa [inaudible] And one of the ways that you make news is by creating your own news. We’re doing a big project in Selma, Alabama. We just got a major financial grant to digitize the museums. And one of the things that we’re going to be doing is purchasing our own media equipment, trying to digitize a lot of the footage that we have. We’re taking footage that we have, creating documentaries and stuff like that. And one of the reasons why the capitalists have been able to control the minds of the people is because they control the media. So when you control your own media, you control the minds, because people develop ideas and values based on what is out there. So if we can control the images that we put up, the words that are represented, and we control the truth versus the lies, then that’s how we make news.
DIMPLE J. RANA, DEPORTED DIASPORA: My name is Dimple Rana, and I’m a cofounder and director of an organization based in Boston called Deported Diaspora. And the way we make real news is we work with families and communities that are affected by deportation, to challenge the unjust deportation system here in the United States. And we also work with reintegration programs in Cape Verde, and also in Cambodia. And most of our work is with green card holders, people who are documented immigrants who are being deported to countries such as Cambodia and to Cape Verde.