Posts by jamesrtracy

James Tracy is the author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco's Housing Wars and the co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times.

Maggie Gabriel Interviews Sam J. Miller Author of the Art of Starving

MGI’m turning over the blog to my well-read-beyond-her-years niece Maggie Sex_Kitten-768x807Gabriel, for her interview of my good friend Sam J. Miller, author of The Art of Starving (Harper Teen). Starving is Sam’s first published Young Adult novel, but recently it has been impossible to pick up a Science Fiction magazine or journal and not see one of his short stories in it. We can only hope that he doesn’t forget all of his friends when the movie adaptations inevitably come his way.

Bay Area readers will have two chances to hear Sam read:

  • Tuesday October 17th, 2017 7:30pm at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Avenue, He’ll be joined by local favorite, Ananda Esteva reading a sneak preview of her new novel, ‘The Wanderings of Chela Coatlicue,” soon to be published on Transgress Press.
  • Wednesday October 18th, 2017 7:30pm at the Green Arcade Bookstore, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco. With Juliette Torrez (Kapow! Poetry and Comics, Madness and Retribution) Tomas Moniz (Rad Dad) and Michelle Gonzales (Spitboy Rule)

MG: What was the inspiration for Tariq?

SJM: Tariq evolved pretty naturally for me as I thought about who Matt was as a character, and how he was both attracted to and menaced by masculinity and the expectations of how boys should be and act. Manly, confident, athletic men can be threatening at the same as they can be hot as hell! The key to Matt as a character is that he’s wrong about pretty much everything, and that includes thinking Tariq is a villain when he’s really a boy who is good and kind and strong and hurting inside. I also loved the idea of a gay romance between a Muslim boy and a Jewish boy.

MG: How did you come up with the title and the cover art?

SJM: When I wrote the book, its title was RULES OF THE BODY. That’s why every chapter starts with a “Rule”! But my agent felt like it needed a more compelling title, something that stood out from the rest and raised questions in the mind of the reader, and we decided on THE ART OF STARVING before we started sending it out to editors. As for the cover art, I’m in love with it, but I’m afraid I can’t take any credit for it. I was lucky that HarperTeen assigned brilliant art director Jenna Stempel to design it, and she chose gorgeous art by Matt Blease. That’s generally how it goes at the big publishers. Authors have very little say over what goes on the cover of their books.

MG: Do you consider yourself an activist?

SJM: Absolutely! I think there is so much suffering and oppression in this world, and that we all have a duty to fight back against that to the best of our ability. These days, with the government doing so many scary things, we need to be activists in a lot of different ways. Calling senators, going to protests, retweeting people who are trying to expose the truth and fight the good fight. But activism is more than that – it’s about being kind to people who might be hurting, or standing up for people who need it. For my day job, I’m fortunate to be a community organizer at a great organization called Picture the Homeless, where I work alongside homeless people fighting against police abuse and bad city policies that keep them from getting housing. So I get to raise a lot of hell and support a lot of powerful people who are dealing with unthinkable violence and pain from the police, from the government, from their fellow citizens who look at them as less than human – but still believe that they can come together and fight collectively and nonviolently for real social change.

MG: Dogs or cats?

SJM: Dogs! Well, I love them both, a lot, but I am allergic to cats, so I can’t have one.

MG: Do you plan on making more books?

SJM: Every day I’m above ground, I’ll be writing words! I have a novel called BLACKFISH CITY coming out in April – it’s not young adult. It’s set in the far future, after rising sea levels and climate change have transformed the globe, in a floating city in the Arctic Ocean, where one day a woman arrives with a killer whale and a polar bear at her side. And I’m currently working on my second YA novel, tentatively called UNPHOTOGRAPHABLE

 

 

Solidarity With Chuck Armsbury

Please help my good friend and comrade Chuck Armsbury recover from the amputation of his leg. This medical emergency has drained most of his life savings. Your support will help him through a lengthy therapy.

CLICK HERE FOR CHUCK’S YOU CARING PAGE 

Chuck is a lifelong fighter for the human rights of all oppressed people. Born in Kansas, Chuck was the Chairman of the Eugene Oregon chapter of the Patriot Party. The Patriot Party was a national organization of anti-racist working-class white people which emerged from the experience of the Young Patriots Organization in Chicago. They worked hand-in hand with the Seattle Black Panther Party and worked to build principled unity between black and white poor people. As a consequence, he spent years in federal prison on trumped-up charges. After his release, Chuck kept organizing to end the drug war with various coalitions.

When I last spoke with Chuck we joked that he’ll continue to kick-ass with only one leg, and schemed about where to put a secret door in a prosthetic leg to hold certain pain-killers now legal in Washington. He’s not going to let this setback ruin his legendary sense of humor. Let’s let Chuck know that he’s supported and loved by his community.

CLICK HERE FOR CHUCK’S YOU CARING PAGE 

Left Forum Appearances: June 4th 2017

LEFT FORUM June 2nd-4th, 899-10th Avenue New York City

MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND,

DISCOUNTS AND VOLUNTEER SLOTS AVAILABLE! https://www.leftforum.org

 Hillbilly-Nationalists-235x300In 2011, Melville House published Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy.  Hillbillies explored histories of white working-class radicals who organized hand-in-hand with revolutionaries of color in the 1960s and 1970s.  These histories provide clues and sign posts for organizing in today’s world where the racist right has consolidated power and progressives are fracturing around issues of class, race and gender. This year, the Left Forum will bring thousands of activists to strategize about where to go from here..  What better way to begin this conversation than exploring the lives of those street level organizers who built the Original Rainbow Coalitions.

SUNDAY JUNE 4TH, 10AM, ROOM 1-127: LEARNING FROM WHITE LIGHTNING, OCTOBER 4TH ORGANIZATION. ORGANIZING THE WHITE WORKING CLASS IN THE 1970’S AND TODAY 

Philadelphia’s October 4th Organization (O4O) worked in the Kensington and Fishtown neighborhoods and played an important role in the coalition which ultimately denied the racist Mayor Frank Rizzo a third term in office.

In New York City, White Lightning provided a left-wing analysis to drug addiction and drug treatment, supported the Young Lords, the Black Panther Party and other militant community groups in the takeover of Lincoln Hospital, and inspired by the politics of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, the BPP and the YLP, focused on organizing the white working class in the Bronx.

Panelists: Sharon McConnell-Sidorick, October 4th Organization, Gil Fagiani, White Lightning Dan Sidorick, October 4th Organization Moderator: James Tracy, Co-author Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times

SUNDAY JUNE 4TH, 3:50PM, ROOM 1-127 REMEMBERING BOB LEE, PEGGY TERRY AND THE ORIGINAL RAINBOW COALITIONS

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Bob Lee who passed away in March, was a member of the Illinois Black Panther Party and was dispatched to build the “Original Rainbow Coalition” with the poor white Young Patriots, Young Lords the Panthers and Rising Up Angry.

downloadPeggy Terry was a white southern migrant worker who broke from a Klan family history to work with the Congress of Racial Equity and Jobs Or Income Now, while mentoring new generations of activists in Chicago. This panel of people who knew and worked with Lee and Terry will explore their political legacies and the lessons they hold for those energized by the Black Lives Matter, immigrant defense, and anti-Trump movements.

Panelists: Jakobi Williams, author From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago,  Melody James, Jobs or Income Now Community Union Hy Thurman, Young Patriots Organization Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, Global Women’s Strike Moderator: Collen Wessell-Mc Coy, Kairos Center NYC

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Left Forum: Remembering Bob Lee, Peggy Terry and the Original Rainbow Coalitions

AT THE LEFT FORUM SUNDAY JUNE 4th, 3:40pm John Jay College New York City

ROOM 1.125

Must be registered Discounted admission available http://www.leftforum.org

Bob Lee who passed away in March was a member of the Illinois Black Panther Party and was dispatched to build the “Original Rainbow Coalition” with the poor white Young Patriots, Young Lords and Rising Up Angry.

Peggy Terry was a white southern migrant worker who broke from a Klan family history to work with the Congress of Racial Equity and Jobs Or Income Now, while mentoring new generations of activists in Chicago.

This panel of people who knew and worked with Lee and Terry will explore their political legacies and the lessons they hold for those energized by the Black Lives Matter, immigrant defense, and anti-Trump movements.

Panelists:

Jakobi Williams, From the Bullet to the Ballot The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

Melody James, former member Jobs or Income Now Community Union

Hy Thurman, Young Patriots Organization

James Tracy, Co-author Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times

Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, Global Women’s Strike

Moderator: Collen Wessell-Mc Coy, Kairos Center NYC

 

 

Freedom Budgets

Thanks to Rooflines, the blog of the National Housing Institute for running this piece a co-authored with Gordon Mantler about the Freedom Budget for all Americans, authored by longtime civil rights activist and March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin, was a “step-by-step plan for wiping out poverty in America during the next 10 years.” Written in 1967, it offers a counter-balance to debates about Trump’s first budget. Roundly criticized at the time for being too moderate, most of the proposal’s ideas would be considered far-left by today’s standards of discourse. (In the United States, at least.) Take a look here:

Where Do We Go From Here? Toward a New Freedom Budget.

For further reading: A Freedom Budget for All Americans: Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today by Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates.

 

 

Poor Whites & the Black Panther Party

14721628_10208059266495646_4584833943452439742_nThis recording was made at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. The panel “Poor Whites & the Black Panther Party,” packed the the conference room at the Oakland Museum of California. There are a ton of critical issues discussed here around the intersections of class, race  and gender in contemporary organizing.

Panelists: Marilyn Katz (Jobs or Income Now!) Chuck Armsbury (Patriot Party) Hy Thurman (Young Patriots Organization), Amy Sonnie (Co-author Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times)

Moderator: Chance Grable, UC Berkeley.

Listen here:

 

About half way in, an excerpt from the documentary American Revolution II was screened. You can watch that here:

 

It’s Going Down Interviews with Armsbury and Thurman

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It’s Going Down.org has posted excellent interviews Chuck Armsbury (Patriot Party) and Hy Thurman (Young Patriots) exploring the histories of their organizations and the possibilities of multiracial alliances in left politics. These interviews provide an welcome antidote to the liberal scapegoating of poor and working-class white people for the rise of Trump. These long interviews are well worth the listen.

Visit these links: