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The People’s War – Episode 34: Culture, the “war of ideas” and the Black Power movement

2020 has been a year of African resistance – resistance to police violence, poverty and mass incarceration.

This episode looks at the role that culture plays in the “war of ideas” – how books, movies and music can express the worldview and serve the interests of the oppressor or those of the oppressed.

image1-3.jpegAundrey Jones, Ethnic Studies doctoral candidate at UCSD

He earned a degree in African-American Studies from UC Riverside and has done extensive research on black cultural expression, policing and mass incarceration. His doctoral project, “A Dream Eclipsed: The Cultural Politics of War and Carcerality in Black Los Angeles” argues that “Los Angeles…signifies not only a geopolitical region enabled through war, but an entity whose total socioeconomic structure has depended on the preservation and reproduction of discourses of war” and makes the case that the Cold War, the War on Poverty, the Vietnam War, the War on Drugs, and the War on Gangs were all wars on Black people.

Curtis.jpg

Curtis Howard, early Crips member who was incarcerated for decades in California prisons.

He is a writer, blogger, public speaker and activist from San Diego, California.  One of the earliest members of a local San Diego Crips set, Curtis spent decades in various California prisons including Salinas Valley and Pelican Bay.  He is the author of the popular book Cellmates and Cellouts, a collection of stories of life on the streets and behind bars, and the forthcoming book Crips and Politics. Curtis recalls the books found in the prison library that influenced his political development, including on Malcolm X and Assata Shakur.

Both organizers, with the “All of Us or None” ex-prisoner advocacy organization, discuss the political and psychological impact of:

  • Movies – Hollywood’s “Blaxploitation” films of the 1970s, American Gangster, L.A. Rebellion films, 3rd Cinema
  • Authors – Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Iceberg Slim, Donald Goines, Chester Himes, Walter Mosley
  • TV shows – Cops, America’s Most Wanted, First 48, Lockdown, Scared Straight

 

 

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