June 2022 AEOO Insider Update

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I’m tempted to ignore the horror and confusion and disruption of this month. There are places enough for you to learn about that. Since you don’t suffer from “willful blindness,” let’s at least acknowledge the effect it has on us — the background sound of fingernails screeching on slate. Who can help but be upended by a barrage of shaken rights of voters, women, queers and trans and people of color, of shameful shootings, wars and weapons, and the know-nothing fascism of too many Republicans and Fox News.

How to sort out the January 6th Congressional hearings? On the one hand, highly paid White House insiders admit their low opinions of a president whose lies are “bullshit,” which they didn’t expose until put under oath. On the other hand, there’s the courage of Dick Cheney’s daughter (!) warning colleagues that dishonor will live longer than Trump.

There’s the cost of filling our stomachs with food and our cars with gas, and who isn’t worried about mid-term elections, warnings of violence, and a coming global recession? Did I mention the planet and its rising temp?

With so much at stake, I trust you live as well as you can, cooking and caring, speaking up for justice, taking action that matters to you. Part of that is ignoring as much as you can. Before I wrote this, I enjoyed mashing bananas to make banana bread, and its fragrance floats up to my office now.

Being served a smorgasbord of disasters, it is hard to believe your small helping — your small piece, your small peace — can make any difference, but really, it’s the only thing that can. Read on for some hopeful news and events in good company that might sometimes feel off-subject… but then, that’s exactly the point.

Love and solidarity,
Rickey Gard Diamond, AEOO Founder

Updates from AEOO

How do capitalism, racism, and sexism shape our digital experiences? How can we build a feminist future online?

Find out on Monday at our next Zoom of Our Own conversation — with Communication and Science and Technology Studies scholar Breigha Adeyemo, journalist and DIGITAL SUFFRAGISTS author Marie Tessier, social systems scientist Riane Eisler, and AEOO’s Digital Director Carmen Rios.

The virtual world once felt like it could shape a different future — one more democratic and equitable. But capitalism — as well as its siblings, including racism and sexism — are turning digital spaces into the same corporatized, white- and male-dominated ones we’ve known for centuries.

Join us to explore how lopsided power structures shape our digital experiences — and what virtual communities and digital movements reveal about the potential, still, for a reclamation of the democratic possibilities of technology.

Click here to join us!

Our Public Banking Learning Circle has been such a success, we plan to develop another woman-friendly series on an economic subject women think is important for our future. Take this quick survey and tell us what subjects you want to learn more about!

Several of you took us up on our offer of a single session on May 20, and got to hear from Philadelphia’s Councilman Derek Green about Philadelphia’s new Financial Authority. It will invest and leverage public funds for needed local investments in black businesses, housing, and more. We also heard from Trinity Tran, an organizer of California’s successful legislation, and learned The Indigenous Environmental Network has made public banking a strategic priority.

In June, we heard from Jessica Guadalupe Tovar, who is working with the Clean Energy Alliance in California to democratize local energy by creating local jobs, conservation and renewable energy independence. Her organization is one of the endorsers of California legislation to establish regional public banks for more local investments. Ruth Caplan, an organizer in Massachusetts, explained how she and others like Nia Evans with Ujima Boston began working on state legislation, introduced this year. The Boston Globe’s editorial board considers it a good idea for their state. Why not yours?

(PS: Missed the chance to be part of our current series? No worries! In the coming year, we plan to package the valuable video and digital resources from our Public Banking Learning Circles, along with a new leader’s guide for you to convene a learning circle about public banking in your own community!)

This coming weekend, June 24–26, AEOO will be presenting at an online conference, A Radical Gathering: Cultivating the World We Deserve.

Cynics among you might say we’re doing that already, but AEOO is in good company with dozens of accomplished young activists with bold self-esteem and no-nonsense realism, interested in “getting to the root of our problems.”

Check out the whole conference schedule for uplifts, featuring a dozen sessions, including Your Grain on Capitalism, Reimagining Worker Power, Land and Water Protection, Housing Justice, Keeping Safe, Legal Self Defense, Just Energy Transitions, and more.

Look for AEOO’s Carmen Rios and Rickey Gard Diamond presenting along with Dr. Lucille Eckrich and Ryann Enger of The Just Money Alliance, talking about Economic Solutions that Wage Life, Not War on Saturday June 25, at 2:30–3:50 pm EST.

Click here to learn more and register to attend!

…And that’s not at all! During the weekend of July 8–10, AEOO will participate in a global conference, #NoWar2022: Resistance & Regeneration, Reimaging a World Beyond War.

Our presentation will be on public banking, which can keep millions of public dollars local every year, invested in the world we want, instead of going out of state to Wall Street banks that invest in war, weapons, climate-damaging extractive industries, and lobbyists who support profiteering.

Click here to check out the sessions and get your ticket!

Updates from the AEOO Community

Top Gun, or Schlock Gun? Author and military expert Pat Elder has joined with WILPF-US Earth Democracy Committee to create a website on toxic chemicals at military bases near you. It’s worth knowing about for its inclusion of resources, local studies and organizations to help. Elder recently sent out a remarkable essay, titled “Top Gun Maverick, a Counter Narrative.”

In it, he quotes its star, Tom Cruise, talking to Indiewire in 1990 about his misgivings about the original film he made in 1986, playing fighter pilot, Captain Pete Mitchell: “Some people felt that Top Gun was a right-wing film to promote the Navy. And a lot of kids loved it. But I want the kids to know that’s not the way war is. That’s why I didn’t go on and make Top Gun II and III and IV and V. That would have been irresponsible.”

Elder dryly comments: “That was 32 years ago. Men change their minds about things.” He goes on to quote Eileen Jones’ review in Jacobin: “Is it any use pointing out that the first Top Gun was a ludicrous piece of shit?” She describes its new plot: “Maverick is sent to Top Gun training school as a teacher, an assignment he doesn’t want and isn’t qualified for but succeeds at brilliantly.” Scenes were shot aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and also at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Central California, land severely contaminated with toxins documented in tens of thousands of environmental records on its base website. Maverick was released on May 23, and days later, June 3, website environmental records disappeared, Elder reports. He likens these methods to Nazi propaganda.

We Can Dig It! Instead of joining the chorus trying to scare us with inflation, maybe we could slow down and think about the victory gardens our families grew back in the days of rationing….AEOO Advisory Board member Ellen Brown has ideas that can help.

The Big Business of War. AEOO founder Rickey Gard Diamond’s latest column in Ms. Magazine reviews men’s weird romance with the Greek alphabet’s last letter, which means “the end” and “war.” Omega defines silly logos, ersatz masculinity, and big bucks. Deadly weapons get names fitting for video war games, American men record a song about Zelensky’s Iron Balls and wrestler Kenny Omega wears feathered fancy boy costumes. She writes, “Last term, even before Ukraine was invaded, Congress outdid itself, upping the ante on Biden’s proposed $753 billion for defense and national security. Thinking that too dinky, Congress increased it to $782 billion….”

An Elephant in the Room. Rickey also wrote an op-ed for her local Vermont paper about the Pentagon’s latest request for 2023’s budget, and yes, it’s even bigger. “The Pentagon Needs an Audit, Not an Increase,” she says, calling on Sen. Patrick Leahy, soon to retire, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, to resist another Senate stampede to raise the ante, and instead make DoD accountable. Its details could be useful for your own Congressional letter.

Resources of Our Own

Juneteenth and Economic Justice. This week marked Juneteenth, the annual observance of the day — two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation — when enslaved persons in Texas finally claimed their freedom.

“This weekend’s Juneteenth holiday… should also present America with a challenge: How to address the deep economic disparities that, more than 150 years later, still divide the nation by race?” Rhonda Vonshay Sharpe, economist and founder and president of the Women’s Institute for Science, Equity, and Race, asked in an op-ed. “One part of the solution,” she writes, is to “get more Black people involved in crafting economic policy.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights also called for progress, not just commemoration. “As you know, the legacy of slavery and the failure to address harms stemming from it have resulted in vast racial disparities between White and Black people in virtually every sector of life — including the ability to accumulate wealth; access health care, education, housing, and employment opportunities; receive fair treatment in the criminal-legal system; and much more,” the organization and its partners wrote in a letter to President Biden. They outlined several steps they want the White House to take in advancing racial justice and economic justice, including closing Medicaid coverage loopholes, permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit, canceling student debt, and creating a commission to study reparations proposals.

These calls to action are even starker this year against a backdrop of commercialization of the date. “Juneteenth was made a federal holiday in 2021, and since then, American companies have quickly moved to make a profit by selling new goods and services targeted to Black consumers,” Keisha N. Blain wrote for NBC News. “While those businesses look to make money, the newly recognized federal holiday ought to serve as an opportunity for all Americans to acknowledge — and pursue redress for — the centuries of economic exploitation of Black people and the continuing impact of economic inequality. “

Farah Tanis, executive director of Black Women’s Blueprint, laid out powerful visions for a future in which Black women — and therefore all of us — are truly free during our Zoom of Our Own Conversation about Feminist Economic Futures. Click here to access resources from and watch the replay of this important dialogue, which also features Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, the LBJ School’s associate dean for civic engagement, and Karen Bassarab, senior program officer with the Food Communities and Public Health Program at The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

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