What We Need Now: A DISScussion Track

December 16, 2020

A DISScussion Track with Black Greenpeace Staff

Time is a construct, it doesn’t know how to be kind. Or at least that is what we keep telling ourselves every time we feel heated about all the well-made plans we had for 2020. But while most plans were put on hold this year, the forced slow down did help give life to some really great things. This podcast being one of them. And through this podcast we were able to hear and learn what exactly WE NEED NOW to obtain a green and sustainable future. We learned how fighting for the environment is ultimately a fight for Black liberation.

In our first episode we met with Adwoa who shared with us that what we need now is feeling. In episode 2 we met with Youth vs. the Apocalypse who encouraged us to take action. In our third episode Brianna from, the Blackout Collective, told us to get in where you fit in. And in our Season Finale, we hope to impart what we think we need now, in very this moment and going forward.

Though it might not have felt like it… we have come a long way this year so let’s carry the lessons we learned in 2020 into 2021 and continue moving forward with integrity, consistency, and community:

Subscribe to the What We Need Now podcast on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

{Top Left to Right: Lauren Wiggins, Jonathan Butler, Rico Sisney, Ish Herod, Jasmine Conwell}

“We need consistency for the long-haul. We need to remember that it’s not a moment, it’s a movement, one that is built with patience, strength, determination, and an unwavering goal in mind”.

Lauren (she/they) is a Digital Campaigner at Greenpeace and lives on stolen Muscogee (Creek) land in Atlanta, Georgia. Outside of Greenpeace, she volunteers for local environmental justice campaigns at the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, and is the co-founder of a national grassroots art collective (check us out at BeTheGreen.win) that works to creatively communicate the possibility of a just transition to a Green New Deal. She lives for her passion of liberating the oppressed, and connecting people with the fascinating, inspiring, and healing elements of nature.

“We need accountability to the community”.

Jonathan (they/them) is an Artist, Organizer, and Culture Worker organizing to build power in their community, and across the African Diaspora, to affect structural change and empower communities, both in meeting material needs and in long-term policy shifts. With 10+ years of organizing and campaigning experience, Jonathan believes in fighting to give people back their power from corporations and powerful interests and has been doing so through organizations like BYP100, Greenpeace USA, and others. Jonathan believes in utilizing art and cultural organizing as core tools to build the collective radical imagination of what is possible in our lifetime while continuing to make progress on the day-to-day issues we face.

 “It is possible to communicate that ‘this fight is really important’ without saying, ‘this fight is unprecedented’ ”.

Rico Sisney(he/him) is a musician, and organizer from Chicago, IL now based on Ohlone Land on the West Coast of the United States. Rico started with Greenpeace over 10 years ago working to support local efforts to shut down two of the dirtiest coal power plants in the country. Last year, he was one of 22 activists who demonstrated at the Fred Hartman Bridge on the eve of the third Democratic primary debate in Houston calling for leaders to imagine a world beyond fossil fuels and embrace a just transition to renewable energy. As the emcee for Sidewalk Chalk(Ropeadope Records) and the vocalist/keyboardist for House of Whales, an alternative hiphop group based in Oakland, CA, Rico uses lyricism to address injustice, tell stories and imagine a better world.

“A strong focus to make sure the government reflects the diverse country at large”.

Ishmael Herod aka Ish (he/him) has been with Greenpeace since 2011. He currently manages the Talent Acquisition team at Greenpeace and has been working constantly to ensure the organization is bringing in diverse, dedicated people to advance our work and help the fight for environmental and social justice.


“We have to educate ourselves, especially, as we move more and more online, it is imperative that we hold people accountable to the facts, to truth, to not weaponizing data in a way that does not further prop up an oppressive inequitable society”.

Jasmine (she/her) works in the IT & Data Department at Greenpeace and is based on Piscataway Land, otherwise known as Washington DC.

Episode Resources & Further Reading:

Data Feminism by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein

Data 4 Black Lives

Media Justice

Yeshimabeit Milner

Our Enemies in Blue by Kristian Williams

Electoral Justice Project

Peoples Orientation to a Regenerative Economy

Erykah Badu: “…what the powers that be believe”

FULL Episode Transcript:

LAUREN: As we approach the close of another year, it’s good to take a look back at the past to inform what we need now going forward. Some of the best takeaways that we hope that you all got, are the need for integrity, consistency and community. 

RICO: Speaking of which, we brought the whole squad with us for this the season finale of what we need now

Disjointed Unity: The ultimate discussion!

RICO: Today we want to do things a little bit different and let the team that’s normally behind the scenes working on the podcasts come to the forefront and help us closeout season one together. I’m excited. Can we all introduce ourselves, say our names, pronouns, land we are on, and give a little 30 second elevator pitch about who we are beyond the podcast.

RICO: I could kick it off. I’m Rico. I use he/him/his pronouns. I’m on Ohlone Land in the Bay, but I’m from Chicago, Chicago all day. And if you listen to the podcast, you’ve probably heard my voice because I also do the audio and music production that you hear. With Greenpeace, my role, I’m on the Actions Team and I work in the Actions warehouse program. Outside of Greenpeace. I am a musician and recording artist. I will pass it to the legendary Ish.

ISH: Alright thanks for that introduction Rico. My name is Ish, Ishmael Herod. I use he/him pronouns. I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. Alumni of the famous illustrious Howard University. I love saying that even more now that our Vice President is going to be a Black woman who also went there. I am on Piscataway Land and I work for Greenpeace in our HR, People and Culture Department team. Now I’ll pass it over to Jasmine.

JASMINE: Awesome. I’m Jasmine or Jas. I work in our Data Department, our IT and Data Department. I am based in the Washington, DC area, also known as Piscataway Land. I use she, her, and hers pronouns. Um yeah, that’s me so here’s Lauren. 

LAUREN: Hey y’all, I’m Lauren. I use she/they pronouns. I am in Atlanta, Georgia, also known as Muscogee Territory. Stolen Muscogee Territory, let’s be real. And I’m on the Digital team and I’ll kick it on over to Jonathan. 

JONATHAN: Hey all, my name is Jonathan. I use they/them pronouns, I’m your fave nonbinary baddie. Currently with y’all on unceded Piscataway Land. I’m an artist, culture worker, organizer. I work at Greenpeace as a campaigner. And yeah, love all things, emo and anime. And I’m here with y’all today and excited. 

JASMINE: So we began our season talking about environmental justice, the connections between the different forms of exploitation and the need to balance urgency with slow movement building.

LAUREN: And next we discussed youth leadership, the history of voting rights, and the power of art in movements. 

RICO: And then last month was all about nonviolent direct action and we interrogated what nonviolence means and talked about different forms of resistance that Black folks have taken in pursuit of liberation. We also briefly talked about 90 Day Fiancé

JONATHAN: And yeah, we learned a lot together and it was really great to hear from the folks who are doing some amazing work on the ground. And it just really says a lot that we were able to have these discussions and bring those to you. So it was a great experience of the season. 

RICO: And so we’re going to talk a little bit about some of those overarching themes and hear from all of the folks in the team about what they think we should be focusing on right now in our movements and in our work. But first, a quick break.


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LAUREN: Welcome back y’all. So we’re going to start off with asking Rico a really crucial question. 

RICO: So what’s the question? 

LAUREN: In your humble opinion. What do we need now? 

RICO: Yeah, mine isn’t profound. It’s nothing super deep. It’s pretty cliche actually. We need to know our history. I think that 2020 and into 2021, we’re dealing with so many challenges, so many monumental shifts, so many things coming to a head that we need that long term perspective to understand where we are right now. And by we I mean specifically Black people. I mean people of color or people of the global majority. I mean Indigenous folks. I mean the progressive movement more broadly. Because this is a big moment and both for our successes and for our challenges, we need to kind of have that full story. So for example, “defund the police” sounds way less radical and “reform the police” sounds way less reasonable when you consider that we’ve been making incremental reforms, going back to basically when the slave patrol was the police, or when police were used as muscle in places like Chicago or Tammany Hall in New York, right? Like we never had an overhaul you know, we never threw that out and started over the problems that we see today are embedded, right? They’re not new. And similarly, we need to know the full story for our successes like knowing about Shirley Chisholm, the first African American major party presidential nominee, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination in the 70s is a part of understanding the significance of President Obama or the significance of Vice President Elect Harris. Ya know, Vice President Elect Harris is the first Black Vice President and the first female Vice President. But it wasn’t until people on social media incorrectly referred to her as the first POC (person of color) Vice President that I learned about Charles Curtis. And I don’t know about y’all, but that was the first time I heard about the Vice President under Hoover who was a member of the Kaw Nation. And so I think that when we recognize that Charles Curtis and Shirley Chisholm are part of that story, it informs how we move forward and even how we talk about what’s going on right now. Like you can emphasize current fights or current successes without downplaying the past. It’s possible to communicate ‘this fight is really important’ without trying to say, ‘this fight is unprecedented.’ Similarly, you could say Donald Trump is racist. You could say he’s a bigot. He’s bad for democracy, saying all kinds of things without saying Donald Trump is the first racist president ’cause not only is that obviously false and kind of lose some credibility for you, it doesn’t help us overcome the issue. So the folks that are doing really inspiring work in the activist world and in the arts world tend to have a really deep understanding of history, And our guests are no exception to that. 

ISHA CLARKE (excerpt from episode 2): Every single big social movement was led by mostly young people. I mean, if you want to go like young young, there was the Birmingham Children’s Crusade where it was literally middle and high school students who walked out of school. And had a significant impact. There was the Black power movement that was started by two Laney College students and then had many middle- I mean high school students that were joining and really being the spine of that movement. You know. So like this is a new young people are the people who consistently push the change that is needed in society. 

BRIANNA (excerpt from episode 3): When I think about Direct Action, sure, it’s like Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman (who is the og on the direct action), but then there are a bunch of ancestors whose names we don’t know. Then there are the folks that we do know, right? For there is A. Philip Randolph, there is Bayard Rustin, Diane Nash, all the way through we got the homies of SNCC. Then you have the Black Power era. We got the Black Panthers, who have very particular forms of Direct Action, right? And then even like through the 90s right? There were other forms of Direct Action and people were coordinating things on a mass scale. So it’s a lot to pull from, but some of the things that feel most important to me to remember are the kinds of everyday forms of resistance and Direct Action that our ancestors took on this land in order to be disruptive to the systems that brought them here and held them here against their will.

ADWOA (excerpt from episode 1): One of the things that I really feel grounded in is that Black people, African people, have a relationship to the land that is global, right? We were taken to unimaginable places that we’ve never been to [laughter] and somehow learnt with the wisdom within our bodies how to navigate those lands; how to build retreat spaces within those lands, how to build hiding spaces in those lands. So this happened across what we know as America. It happened, across the Caribbean. It happened across South America, Latin America. And so in Jamaica specifically, you have in the middle of the country a mountain range [laughter] that creates difficulty in navigation, right? It’s very difficult to navigate the terrain because of how adverse, steep it is. Our people said upon seeing the mountain range that we’re going to figure out how to get to a place within that range where the British cannot find us. They cannot capture us, their machines, their guns, nothing can penetrate this mountain range. And so they created strategies where they would leave the coastal regions and find refuge in the mountains and they have been there for hundreds of years. Until this day there are still villages, marooned villages, in Jamaica that have been able to preserve their culture and preserve their traditions.

RICO: I’ma pass it over to Ish. In your humble opinion, what do we need now? 

ISH: For me, it’s probably a strong focus to make sure the government reflects the growing diverse country. at large as we know, like the median age for the US is 38. Yet, this last election, we were still choosing between 2 old white men well into their 70s and a lot of them are making decisions around the planet’s future and the people that are affected the most are those young people, so it’s not really much of a surprise that 65% voters under 25 voted for Biden as opposed to Trump, who was working to just dismantle as much as he can and it just seems that the majority of the two parties on both sides have just kind of lost touch with what’s really happening in America amongst many different groups in regards to racial justice and systemic racism, public health with the coronavirus and climate change, and we need to see a change from the old way of politicking. Like literally almost three centuries old ways of politicking. And we’ve just been used to that, and we need more refreshing ideas that people can actually get behind and get excited for. Like one of the things that kind of sparked some of the most excitement was when the squad ran for office and I’m talking about Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Like that was a lot of– a lot of just really excitement around that. And when we get these candidates like a Joe Biden which I’m still happy that he won over Trump, but it’s not nearly as exciting as like seeing a real shift in where the country is headed. So I feel like we need to kind of focus on getting more diverse as a government as well. Yeah, I’ll pass it right over to Jonathan. 

JONATHAN: Word, word word word word. Um, so I I kind of struggled with this question, because I feel like there’s a lot of things that we need, right? Also, it’s still a Panorama outside and AKA pandemic, and there’s a lot happening. But one thing that really resonated with me as I really like reflected back on this season and things are happening in my personal life, is that there really has to be a greater call to accountability to Community. I really don’t believe in this lifetime that like we accomplish anything great by ourselves. I don’t think anything great is accomplished by an individual or one organization. It actually takes all of us together working towards something and then it also takes us being willing to be held accountable to like, do better because we’re all imperfect now. No one actually does this perfectly. It’s really important for us to get better, and I feel like that’s kind of one of my major critiques (ongoing, you know?) around the failures of the nonprofit world, and like these big national organizations who will kind of just like see something like the election cycle and swoop into Pennsylvania. Because you know,  it’s a swing state or whatever, but not understand that there’s folks in Pennsylvania. Those folks in Pittsburgh and Philly who were like doing amazing on the ground work and just kind of erasing that labor because they’re not actually accountable to the community. There just accountable to their donors, they’re accountable to their, their social media feeds, or, you know, whatever you know, person on you know, media pundits are giving them airtime. And so I think what really is important for us is to understand that we have to have better structures? I think we’re seeing that at the local level at the grassroots level. But I think there has to be like…better structures for holding these big organizations and nonprofits, in particular, accountable. The fact that you’re raising like millions of dollars and there are folks in Flint who still don’t have clean water…. . six plus years later, right? Like why is that a thing, right? I feel like there’s too often that we boast of a lot of these examples without really understanding and really being informed and led by folks on the ground. And one thing that like really hit home for me is, as I mentioned in the intro, I’m a campaigner for Greenpeace and part of my work was to do base building and work around the election. What we saw as we were building those relationships and doing work at the state level was that there was a lot of amazing work happening in Georgia, shout out to Georgia. All the people in Georgia. But there’s a lot of amazing work happening that was being like overshadowed by like the DNC and these other like large organizations who weren’t understanding that like as people were just saying like these kind of blanket statements around like stay away. Like just like you know, really not respecting the way that people choose to organize. Understanding that people on the ground like ignored those things and actually went out to their communities engaged in mutual aid, gave people PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) so they could stay safe. Were taking people back and forth to like different community events so folks can get tested. And we’re actually like engaging in this like accountable process to what their community needed. While these national organizations were just kind of again shade no shade, just with the Twitter fingers, right? You know? And so for me, it’s just like. It all really comes back to those things, like the Jemez principles at Greenpeace, we follow those principles, plus we have an Indigenous peoples policy really thinking about like Indigenous and BIPOC folks and who is actually leading and represented in our work. And I feel like national organizations have to do a better job of that because people on the ground who are most directly impacted by these things know what’s going on. They know how to organize their communities, and they know what keeps them safe. And I feel like we have to do a better job of listening to that. 

ASH (excerpt): And so when we talk about what can we do, what can be done? How can we overcome? I think we can actually point to the examples that folks in places like Flint and Cancer Alley have taught us right which are to keep amplifying what’s happening to keep the awareness high and to keep making folks voices heard about what’s happening to them in those experiences. Because we’re talking about something that is impacting folks over generations.

JONATHAN: Yeah, that’s that’s what we need now and then tomorrow and the next day. Yeah, and I will pass it to Jasmine. Jasmine. What it is? What it do that we need now. 

JASMINE: So what I personally need now is not all expenses paid trip to a spa, but I think what we all universally need is data literacy. And for those that might not know, data literacy is having the ability to discern data as information. So that just means taking datasets numbers, all that kind of stuff, and drawing conclusions through careful analysis with data. It’s not only about how it’s being collected, but it’s who’s collecting that data. But who dictates how clear and helpful the picture we can draw from a particular data set is pretty gravely important that we’re all are able to look at data and see beyond what’s being displayed, because data touches, impacts, and informs every aspect of our lives. So being able to understand data to receive the implicit bias that goes into that and reclaim it is deeply important to liberation work. So historically, data represents those who collect it. So for example, if we think back to the 2016 elections and how inaccurate the polls were at predicting Trump’s win, it wasn’t exactly the polls were inaccurate, it was more in part because the data failed to account for non-college educated white people, which some would say is like a pretty huge oversight and more recently still we saw on these data visualizations of the 2020 electoral map and it was showing like large swaths of red in the middle with blue like framing it. Which makes it appear as though the country is extremely divided and that’s just the type of map that was being used to create that visualization, so it’s important to understand that these visualizations were intentionally selected most likely to distort reality and paint a picture of division. Because division sells paper, sells news anyway, so a more accurate reflection of that electoral map that we saw in 2020 could have been gained just by switching the type of map that was being used to a graduated symbol map. But you have data literate. Literacy to help catch these things into correct them. So being data literate ensures that there’s data integrity. We have to educate ourselves, especially as we move more and more online. It’s imperative that we hold people accountable to the facts, to truth, and to not weaponizing data in the way that does not further prop up oppressive, inequitable society. 

RICO: Yeah, 100,000 million percent to what you just said. Half of that was brand new to me. I definitely need to increase my data literacy. I think honestly, I think we should do a whole episode on it. And with that I want to pass it to Lauren. 

LAUREN: I’ma I’ma punt it to you in the in a way Jonathan. You, you said you said something about the peace on accountability, which I think directly ties into my main theme of what we need now, which is about consistency. We need to remember that it’s not just about a moment, it’s about the movement. It’s about building this movement with patience, strength, determination. In an unwavering goal that we keep in mind throughout through episode one of I remember Adwoa, elegantly speaking about how we need slow movement building, in contrast to urgency alone. 

ADWOA (excerpt): I kind of desire a merge between urgency and intentional slow movement building, where there are actions, there are mobilizations, but we spend as much time in conversation. We’ve spend as much time building care networks, mutual aid networks, which has been because of COVID, increasingly important. But I think on a personal level when I think about what I invite people to do. Is. Capitalism creates a crisis of not feeling. You know, because it’s too to see oil in the ocean, to see oil in rivers, to understand, to see air in your city, smog, smoke, air pollution toxic to smell the you would have to lose your sense of feeling to be able to be OK with that right? And so one of the things that I’ve really been doing is sitting down with the Earth, with ancestors with the trees, with the birds and trying to listen and feel. What is this actually happening to us? 

LAUREN: So I’d also add to that by reminding people that urgency is great at igniting the fire, but we have enough fires in my humble opinion, and we have a hard time sustaining the first responders who are willing to go out and stay in the smoke until the fire is no longer a threat because we’ve grown so accustomed to the instant gratification that our society you know is used to right? Like you know, through stuff like quick turn around shipping, notifications on our phone. Just the programming that capitalism propagates through its very existence. I think at this point we have to take a step back and even with the pandemic at hand and realize that like…it’s time to jump into action and remind ourselves that it’s about consistency. And look, I want to completely recognize that consistency is not eas– easy even in my own life. I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be, you know, like it…Right? But one of the ways I keep my head in the game is by remembering that the opposition (to whatever it is in in movement building) that opposition is working day in and day out to make their goal a reality. And their progress toward it has to be consistent, or else they’d be irrelevant, right? And we wouldn’t be fighting this. So I want to say that like they’re– they’re obviously locked in their own goals. They’re driving their force for profit, for exclusivity, for elitism. And it’s up to us to continue the fight that’s necessary to take that down and you know… 

Positive Note: One of my biggest inspirations to how I think and even how I move in this society, is Miss Erykah Badu. And if y’all don’t know her music, please check her out. See, I’ve been listening to her since I was like 7 in my parents car. We would be traveling all around the country and we constantly had her albums on repeat so she honestly has just been a big inspiration in my life. And…yes. And on a recent interview, I remember she said something to the point of: “no matter what we believe, what the powers-that-be believe will affect us.” And, that’s something powerful also just coming from a person who’s in the artistry world. Like she, she was inadvertently saying, like “y’all need to go vote.”

And my, you know, and also to add to that interpretation, I think she was saying it’s not just about the presidential election itself, it’s also about the Senate, the Congress, the Public Commissioners, the sheriffs, like it’s about sustaining your involvement in democracy. Right? Because like they all hold power. Again, she said it’s about what the powers-that-be believe, because it will affect us. I live in Atlanta. Atlanta, where you know the Senate race is going down. It’s kind of like the site of everybody’s talking about it, not just in the US, but…I was listening to BBC recently. They’re talking about Senate race in Georgia. And you know, all I see, actually, when I drive in the city is “Vote one more time.” And it’s stoking this idea that people need to be more consistent. Like don’t just vote for president. Like we have a lot at stake here. Um? And, just like–Trump’s leadership or you know, excuse me, let me not be that generous, his authoritarianism. It’s authoritarianism excuse me. Authoritarianism ignited a– it ignited a lot of people to vote and I would even say in a similar vein. We know that the murder of George Floyd sprung a lot of people into action as well. And to me, the response that we saw from that moment allowed us to to transition into the necessary long-term work that we needed in order to eradicate the systems–to work to eradicate the systems that validated such an injustice as his murder. And you know, a big shout out to Movement for Black Lives and numerous other organizations that worked with them and worked in tandem–tandem to to be a model of what it looks like to create a call to defund the police. And for also just meeting people in a crucial way and motivating thousands of people to lead Juneteenth celebrations across the country and build an amazing project which I think is continuing, continuing right now. It’s called the Electoral justice project and they’re doing so much more in between and I just want to say that like Movement for Black Lives, for instance, is the model of what consistency looks like. They turned a moment into a movement.

RICO: We’ll be back with more after a quick word from our sponsors.


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LAUREN: So I just want to also kind of circle back to the fact that like the people clearly have a blueprint. The people that keep on getting marginalized, the people that are left behind, the people whose long-term needs…

JONATHAN: It’s a blueprint.

LAUREN:  Yes, come on blueprints! There are blueprints. And one of the things I want to actually encourage our listeners to check out is a Peoples Orientation to a Regenerative Economy, repeating: peoples orientation to a regenerative economy. And it’s a great framework, in my opinion, where I believe in 2019, frontline community members came together in a big summit, basically to talk about climate and economy. What the green New Deal is about. But also how it can be a really effective Green New Deal? Because let’s be honest and frank, if we can be real, you know no egg shells here. Green New Deal is still deeply entrenched in capitalism, which is…

JONATHAN:  Come on. 

LAUREN: Problematic. But but this particular. Orientation to regenerative economy. In my opinion it it took the time to sit communities down collectively and separately. ‘Cause again people, white folks, If you’re listening- sorry. People of color are not a monolith. We’re not. And it took the time to look at us collectively and separately and examine each of our needs and the community spoke.

JONATHAN:  But can we pull that out though? Could we pull that out? You said what? You said “take the time.” And I think that’s like really what I like wanted to get at. And I think it’s also kind of like what Ish wass getting at with, like “Who is in the room? Who’s at the table?” and what Jas is mentioning in terms of like, “What are we actually looking at? Are we looking at the right things?” Is like for me… and I didn’t mention this before but a little bit more detail about the Georgia situation is that with our folks in Georgia, it was the fact that like when, again folks are trying to GOTV– get out the vote work. Trying to get people registered, all that stuff and it’s great. But once we kind of finally started taking the pandemic seriously, which was what like March? mid-March? Like when the US– like the whole world was taking it seriously since like December 2019 and we were hella late to the train. But like, once we find started taking it seriously within the US– and like lockdowns and these other procedures start happening, Folks knew that we still had to register folks and do all this stuff for the election. But on the large scale, a lot of like– the larger political parties just were kind of like, ‘Shut everything down.’ And the fact is like a lot of our community members in Georgia, knew that like rural Black folks and rural white folks in Georgia like still needed food. Still needed to get registered to vote. Still needed all these things. And they ignored it. You know they got all the little letters on the official letterhead and all that stuff. And I’m not gonna put nobody’s business out there. But let’s just say, you know folks got some letters. And it’s just the fact that like they saw that, and they saw like there’s a, there’s just a powerful entity saying, ‘shut everything down. ’cause of the pandemic.’ And rather than operating from a place of fear, they took the time to like actually go to their communities. Obviously folks were, like, masked up, wore PP, were doing the right thing, but like they still engaged in like mutual aid to get there Community what they needed. Because like you know? It’s one thing to be in Atlanta. It’s another thing to be in rural Georgia. Where like you, you gotta travel, you know you gotta travel, travel, get somewhere and that’s what I’m talking bout. Accountability is like, I think kind of to your piece about capitalism is like we take we, we try and move too fast rather than taking the time. But um, you know I ain’t gonna say nothing. 

RICO: What you just made me think of –what you made me think of is you– know you can’t be accountable to a community you’re not apart of. I don’t know if you all know Khafre, he used to work for Greenpeace. Khafre James. He now runs Hip Hop for Change but he has this saying like: “There’s no Black people store. They don’t do that anymore.” So If you want Black people in your campaign, you can’t just sign up an organization and expect that those people are now going to turn out. You have to build with them overtime and it really goes back to that Adwoa quote. Slow movement building vs. urgency, because the way a lot of campaigns are run is like: we need this tomorrow. We actually need this three months ago and it’s counter to actually being in community. So I just wanted to lift up what both of y’all said. 

LAUREN: Jasmine, I want to talk a little bit about data and how that applies. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of data and like, it truly being applicable and led by the communities that it affects is Data for Black Lives which don’t quote me on this, but I believe was started by a Black woman who attends MIT. She’s just phenomenal in all the ways. And she started this great conference and I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts around that. 

JASMINE: She is phenomenal. Insert name I can’t recall at the moment. 

JONATHAN: Yeshi. Yeshi, shout out to Yeshi and the Data4Black Lives Squad. And also shout out to Data 4Black Lives DMV. OK, I’m done. 

JASMINE: No, that’s perfect. I think that there’s two things happening. I think that there needs to be like more of these, like Data4Black Lives and Media Justice. I think there needs to be more focus on reclaiming data, especially minority data. I think that is a big push. I think that’s how I see more organizations coming up, or they might already be out there and like they just need more support and more funding. So I think that is one thing, but I also think there’s another track, which is like data coming into other movements-at-large too and being more of a presence. So you need to reclaim your data. But we also need to be making data more of a focus like. There’s so much we need to do and especially because so much is online and it touches every aspect of our lives. Data should be collected by the people that it’s impacting, because it can get away from you and they can manipulate that data in harmful ways. I feel like maybe Jonathan might know more about data for Black lives than I do. Jonathan, can you tag team this with me? Do you have anything to say? 

JONATHAN: Yeah, no, I think I think for me, and again I don’t want to speak for what you were offering, Jas, is like what I kind of here…like I see like 2 veins right? There’s like 1 vein were like data is being captured and collected in like inaccurate and problematic ways and people are just like interpreting data like all wrong, kind of like what you were saying earlier is the fact that like people were just like Hillary or bust, there’s no possible reality in any of the galaxies that Trump could win in 2016, right? And then it’s like, didn’t have that accurate data to like understand the support he was actually pulling. I think like there’s the other row or it’s like the fact that like — Communities are like getting overlooked, right? And so, like when we think about like data collection like the Census right? And we are, in a Census year, is like the fact that like…There’s this big campaign from the right wing, if y’all remember to like scare, undocumented folks into like not taking the Census and if you don’t take the Census, you’re not able to like, get like the zoning permits, like adequate funding for schools and all these things right? That impacts your community. So, that’s kind of what I was hearing from what you’re offering, ’cause I feel like…yeah, that’s super important to like consider when we’re thinking about like the fact that like we have to like, understand the value that you know…I think we think about like ‘likes’, right? You know we got them ‘likes’– what they do on the Twitters? I haven’t been on Twitter in many years, but you know. But you got all these things right? And all that stuff is actually data. It’s actually–it like holds a lot of power when we think about– Especially for bipoc folks. 

RICO: And you know, can we just shout out the census? Thank you for bringing that up. Shout out to all the Census workers and specifically the enumerators, the people who go door to door and like follow up for people who didn’t fill out the census. I did that job 10 years ago and it was hard then, especially in communities of color ’cause people– like they think you’re the police, they  think your ICE, I can’t even imagine doing it in 2020. So shout out to the people who are doing that work is it’s not easy, but it’s so important for programs and policies and things like that  that impact us. 

And Ish, earlier we were talking about having diversity in leadership and diverse representation. One of the things that came to mind for me was that cliche of “not all skin folk are kinfolk” and how sometimes we get tokenization instead of representation and it might be someone who looks like from a particular community, but not necessarily invested in that community, or have that community’s interest at heart. And obviously not all blacB folks are a Monolith. We’re not all gonna have the same ideas of what policies to enact. But there is a concerted effort, it seems to kind of give us one instead of the other. I just want to hear your thoughts on that. 

ISH: Yeah, I mean like you said before, “All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk” like I’m talking to you Daniel Cameron. Like there’s a bunch of people out there that. Yeah, I can’t even just keep a straight face and say that, but that’s very real. Like there’s a lot of trust that goes into our community when we see people that are actually in higher positions and we want them to actually do right by the Community. And that will be  very, very important to know that people do have our back because we are often facing a system that historically has not. So to kind of see that is– really gives us a sense of hope. So I really think it is important to kind of have more representation because it is a diverse country. There are people with many different ideas. I don’t agree with all of their ideas, but we want to make sure that we can get as many people to look like us as we can. Like in the last election, like, Democrats lost a lot of seats because like one like there wasn’t that same excitement that I was talking bout around like the squad and then Republicans actually brought some faces that did not look white. And then people were like, well I’m not going to vote for the same old same old, same old and then started voting for people that did look a little different. Now I think representation is important because it is definitely inspiring to kind of know that there’s a pathway for you to get there. Like you mentioned earlier about the census and I was like, “Yo, when we were growing up,If someone knocked on my door and was talking bout Census, my mom would have told me to close that door so quick like there was no way.” We had– It was like a mistrust in that system. Like a lot of people that work for the government  a lot of people that work for the Census were ran by old white rich people. And we’re like, ‘They’re only gonna harm the community. Not really help it. So why am I going to put my name on this?’ Because there was so much mistrust. But when we’re in this space where we’re like, “Alright. There are people that are looking like us that are people that are feeling that we should actually be a little bit more progressive,’  people get excited about that. When there’s people that are actually like looking like us talking about like the stuff that… I know Jasmine was mentioning earlier about the data for Black lives. Like I don’t think people would have missed huge demographics that people would have needed to win the elections because we’re always constantly looking to see other different identities being represented because our identities have been ignored for so long. So we don’t want that to bite us. In the, butt to be completely honest. We gotta really, really check all the facts. So it’s really, really for me like about who is in the room, because people that have been in the room for as long as they have been are always looking one way. And what’s going to benefit them, not necessarily what’s going to benefit the entire community, and I feel like we still don’t have that as much as we like. 

RICO: I want to highlight for our listeners that you are the talent acquisition manager at Greenpeace, so you are literally one of people whose job it is to get more people in the room. And I think it’s dope that, you know something that you’re passionate about is what you also working on. It’ss pretty cool, pretty cool. 

JASMINE: Piggybacking off of what Ish just said about needing diversity and representation, how it matters, I also think that kind of translates into data as well where we need to have diversity of thought. So like, putting those people in the room. So when you think about lik–one of my favorite examples that is discussed in Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, it’s a book that was co-authored by Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein. They give–list and example about how when they actually tested for cars, how when they test for safety, they usually test with men. So therefore when it comes to like road safety, a lot more non-men actually end up dying in car crashes that should be non-fatal because it wasn’t tested for them. So that’s just like a way of like kind of emphasizing like how the data actually has real impacts on people’s lives and the fact that like we need to have that diversity in data and who’s in– sitting in that room and who’s making those calls and those decisions. So yeah, so I definitely agree with needing that representation and you need it everywhere. There could probably never be too many people represented like there’s just–we’re also very different. That, yeah, I think it’s important and it really has great impact on, you know, the quality of life that you have. 

RICO:  What was that book? 

JASMINE: It’s called Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. It’s really good. Good read. 

JONATHAN: Y’all can’t see me, but I’m waving my church handkerchief at that Jasmine thank you. Thank you so much. 

RICO: And of course Jasmine works in data at Greenpeace. So again, it’s like you know the thing that you that you see as I something that the world needs is something that you’re actually doing in your work, which is pretty dope.  

LAUREN: Oh yeah, and I wanted to add another piece about like the importance of diversity of experience. Like you said, Ish, all skin folk ain’t kinfolk. And I’m just thinking a lot about– like right now it seems like Republicans are pitting this narrative where they’re like, oh, we’re diverse people. We find people who have a similar thought process as us, a similar, maybe experiences as us…. Maybe they grew up in a conservative household. Maybe their parents were financially set, if you will. And I just, I just. I keep on thinking that like maybe it’s about us  making sure that, like the people who we are bringing into office, have a diverse level of experience– financially, experiences maybe around the world. We need people who have been outside the US. You know? Just…I don’t know. I just just a wealth of background of yeah, background differences is like super important. 

ISH: I love that you said that, too. Because it is extremely important. Like one of the things about continuing to grow as a diverse country is the different sets of opinions, different sets of personalities that we have, to avoid the same pitfalls that we continue to fall in. ‘Cause history does repeat itself. And if we continue to like do things in the same old way without opening ourselves up to new directions, we’re going to keep. Going back in the same cycles over and over and over again, 

RICO: My old pastor used to say, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you get.” He didn’t sound like that. I made him sound like I added like an extra 20 years to this man’s life. I apologize that was bogus

ISH: I was like is this an old man from Texas? That’s exactly what it sounded like

JONATHAN: You know–you know what you sound like? You sound like the guy from the Great Debaters. Y’all remember that one? What was that like 05…06? Yeah, 

LAUREN: Who? Denzel? 

JONATHAN: No, no the old guy from the school. Oh I wish I remembered his– 

JASMINE: Forest Whitaker?

LAUREN: Oh Forest Whitaker.

JONATHAN: Yass yes! 

RICO: Word so I did want to end on a positive note. 2020 is over and it has been…we all know what 2020 has been, but 2021 is here now and we got a new president. We got some vaccines on the way, so I want to hear what y’all are inspired by or what you’re hopeful for in the new year. 

ISH: I’m just really hoping for continued action in 2021. I was actually excited about the action that did come out of this past election cycle and just people really getting out on the ground and really just talking about how important things like Green New Deal, things like getting Trump out of office was. One, like after the election results were counted and it was finallly in Biden’s favor, I like stepped outside and it even felt like the air was different so I was even like motivated to kind of do more. But I think there’s just like more motivation to actually get out and do stuff. So with everything that’s happening right now and it’s going to start in Georgia in January. So like 2021, I just like that energy. Like there’s a buzz right now because we’re getting one racist out of the office and really really trying to make sure that we get a good push. Like I’m excited about what’s coming up, particularly the Vice President. Obviously, because she is a Black woman. So that’s something that I’m really excited to keep going with in 2021 keeping that continued movement happening. 

JASMINE: I think what I’m most excited about is something that I’ve started to see a little bit more of personally at least this year, which is community and mutual aid. I think, especially maybe because of the pandemic. I just think that a lot of people–like I’m choosing to see the positives and not all the other examples of the negatives here. But like I think people have really stepped up to help each other. Like I’m seeing so many people, you know, donating to each other and kind of just passing the plate around and helping out however we can, and I think it’s been really beautiful and I hope we see more of that. Like we have to have each others’ backs. ‘Cause clearly our government does not. 

And honestly like this is going to sound kind of maybe messed up a bit, but like..I kind of hope that we like this pandemic and I think the way that the government has responded has really kind of kicked people maybe a little bit into like being awake and hopefully radicalized them a bit more, even if it’s just like in smaller ways. But I think that like it’s kind of been…It’s hard to say like this has been good, but like I think it has been…some good has come out of this really ****** ass time that we’ve had, so that’s what I’m hoping. 

JONATHAN: Yeah, and just piggybacking off of that, I’m actually hoping for continued crisis of morals. Shout out to Momentum Community Trainings, if you have ever been to that, talking about the moments of the whirlwind and like having a moment of crisis in morals ‘Cause like, similar what Jas is saying, is like– and it is a positive thing for us. Stay with me. It is ’cause like the pandemic really revealed how broken the system is. And like Ish was saying, it activated people, right? And that was so energizing for me. Especially with some of the work that I do outside of Greenpeace with fighting criminalization and working on decarceration work right? And understanding that the fact…I don’t know if folks kind of saw the meme that was going around, but there was like this meme that was saying like, “if you find yourself having a hard time staying in confined space, and not having a lot of access to do things, how do you imagine people in solitary confinement feel? Right? When we think about the stories of Natasha McKenna or think about the stories of Kalief Browder, right? And like the fact that just like this moment has like caused so many of these things to come into crisis, but from crisis comes opportunity to be better and change. I do hope for vaccines. I would like outside to be legal again. I want to see my friends, but like yeah I think even more so, I’d love for folks to continue to be activated, continued to be able to really understand the world we live in and how we all can contribute. Which I also think was a slight plug. A theme from our season is like how we all can like contribute in different ways to being better. 

RICO: The things that I’m most excited about would be a renewed appreciation for stuff that we definitely took for granted prior to the pandemic. Just basic things like artistry. Like being able to go hear live music, that kind of thing. And similarly, I think that kind of– the paradigm we’ve been living under for a long time is like, “can we just stop him from making things worse?” That we can now get back to as a collective, more of a focus on like what are we building? And to like build on the foundations of organizers like Black Visions Collective in Minneapolis. Like able to take what seemed like, to many people, “This is an immediate thing. This is a June thing. This is a George Floyd thing.” And they’re like, “OK, but we’re going to build on the work that we’ve been doing in the Community for years, and we’re going to make this moment something that will pay off.” Like the activism that we’re engaging in right now will pay off for years, and I think the same could be said for some of the mutual aid networks that people built in 2020. Like that stuff is still going to come in handy, so I’m looking forward to like both appreciating all the things that we didn’t get to have in 2020. And also like really building on some of the long term structures that came about this year. 

LAUREN: Finger snaps in a Z-formation to everything that has been said. I…y’all literally touched on pieces as I was thinking about what I was going to say. Like y’all touched on pieces of everything I wanted to say, but I guess I want to kind of go a little metaphorically here. I’m really excited about this renewed sense of hope that at least I’ve been feeling. I definitely know we have a long way to go. But I look at it kind of like the world’s greatest roller coaster. Like you know, you get that momentum right after you go over that big–that big heap. You know that big, the biggest hilll. And then you gotta go down. But then there’s a bunch of loops, and turns and twists and and you know, like you’re about to go into all you gotta go in through all these different trials and tribulations, if you will. But you got over the biggest hurdle, and I think that was getting Trump out of office and. You know, hopefully moving into a new renewed sense of self. And again, we’ve just like–I think it’s about harnessing this momentum and figuring out what we’re going to do after it. 

RICO: Today you heard from the entire creative team behind the podcast and that’s… 

JASMINE: Jasmine Conwell 

ISH: Ishmael Herod 

JONATHAN: Jonathan Butler 

LAUREN: Lauren Wiggins

RICO: AND me Rico Sisney. We also want to thank Ash Williams and Alice Newberry along with our season one guests Adwoa Addae, Isha Clarke, Dulce Arias and Brianna Gibson. Our logo was designed by Saif Widemen and this season you heard music from me as well as Sidewalk Chalk and House of Whales. We want to thank Maggie Ellinger-Locke, Travis Nichols, Kaitlin Grable, Jayne Worth, and Ryan Schleeter for their support. And last but not least., thank YOU for listening, subscribing and sharing. Please continue to do that and let us know what topics you’d like to hear us discuss or campaigns we should amplify in the future. To learn more about any of the things we discussed on the show, text: “WHATWENEEDNOW” to 877-877 and that’s all for now, but we’ll see you next time on… 

JONATHAN: What we need, 

RICO: What we need,

JASMINE: what we need, 

ISH: what we need, 

LAUREN: what we need, 

ALICE & LAUREN: What We Need Now.





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