Ear to the Pavement

Exploring politics and social movements

A podcast by Allison Lirish Dean

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Episode 17

September 16, 2020

The Antiracist Movement and the Class Question, with Bill Fletcher, Jr.

The tension between race and class that continues to bedevil the American left flared up recently when a talk that prominent scholar Adolph Reed was slated to give to the New York City chapter of DSA was cancelled. The skirmish created such a ripple it was covered by the New York Times. But what really lies beneath this dustup? Author and labor activist Bill Fletcher, Jr. reflects on how the left handles differences within its own ranks, whether the antiracist movement really has a class problem, the need for both allies and comrades (and the difference between the two), and what needs to change if the left is serious about building real power.

Episode 16

August 22, 2020

Deconstructing #MeToo: JoAnn Wypijewski on Sex, Power, and the Politics of Fear

In Episode 16, the third in a series about books related to #MeToo, Allison talks with NYC-based journalist JoAnn Wypijewski about her recent book, What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About #MeToo: Essays on Sex, Authority, & the Mess of Life, published by Verso. In this collection, spanning thirty years of reporting on scandals from Abu Ghraib to the Harvey Weinstein saga, Wypijewski reveals our tendency to flatten complex stories in pursuit of villains and victims, in the process forging a "poisoned solidarity" that actually undermines the possibility of true social justice.

Episode 15

May 12, 2020

Deconstructing #MeToo: Yasmin Nair on Catch and Kill

In Episode 15, the second in a series about books related to #MeToo, Allison talks again with Chicago-based writer, academic, and activist Yasmin Nair about Catch and Kill, Ronan Farrow's 2019 book reconstructing his efforts to report the Harvey Weinstein story. Nair brings her decades of experience at the intellectual intersection of gender and politics to Catch and Kill, which is at once a chronicle of the Weinstein scandal, a story about journalism itself, and an attempt by Farrow to redraw his own complicated family story. But what kind of a #MeToo narrative does this book weave, and, at the dawn of a new decade, are we standing triumphant in the movement's victories, or in its crumbling ruins?

Episode 14

April 3, 2020

Repurposing the Webs of Infection as Webs of Connection, with Mindy Thompson Fullilove

In Episode 14 of Ear to the Pavement, Allison talks with professor and author Mindy Thompson Fullilove about how her past work on public health crises such as 9/11 and the AIDS epidemic is informing her current thinking about the coronavirus pandemic, and why we need to "remember, respect, learn, and connect" in these difficult and frightening times.

Episode 13

March 16, 2020

Snake Emojis, South Carolina, and the State of the Sanders Campaign, with Bill Fletcher, Jr.

In Episode 13 of Ear to the Pavement, Allison talks with author and labor activist Bill Fletcher, Jr. about the Bernie Sanders campaign's victories and mistakes, why Sanders failed to win over black voters in the South, the Sanders-Warren rift, and where the progressive movement needs to go from here.

Episode 12

February 16, 2020

Deconstructing #MeToo: Yasmin Nair on She Said

In this episode, the first in a series about books related to #MeToo, we talk with Chicago-based writer, academic, and activist Yasmin Nair about She Said, the 2019 book by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Nair situates She Said within the current journalism economy, as well as within the messy politics of #MeToo, and provides trenchant analysis of the book's strengths and shortcomings. Nair also recently talked with Trevor Beaulieu on the Champagne Sharks podcast about the Influencer Industrial Complex.

Episode 11

August 15, 2019

How today's politically ineffectual billionaire CEOs make the corporate elites of the 1950s look like moderate pragmatists.

In his 1956 book The Power Elite, sociologist C. Wright Mills painted a disturbing picture of U.S. society in which a small group of people at the heads of corporations, government, and the military exercised increasing control over important decisions affecting the country and its citizenry. In episode eleven of Ear to the Pavement, we talk to sociologist Mark Mizruchi, author of The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite, about how Mills' classic has held up over time, and what light might it shed on the current crisis of inequality in the Unites States in which three men — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — own as much wealth as the bottom half of Americans.

Episode 10

December 21, 2018

It's not just HQ2. Amazon has been stealing public money from the start.

The billions in tax breaks Amazon is slated to receive for its new headquarters in New York and Virginia has been big news lately, but for tax policy watchdog and Good Jobs First founder Greg LeRoy, Amazon's HQ2 is just the latest chapter in the company's long history of gaming the U.S. tax system. In episode ten of Ear to the Pavement, we dive into the myriad ways Amazon has been dodging taxes from day one, the consequences for local economies and the public services we rely on, and what we can do to rein in the tax-break-industrial-complex that funnels taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations that don’t need it.

Episode 9

September 20, 2018

Corporate America is embracing racial equity. Should we cheer them on?

Social justice non-profit PolicyLink has documented how a focus on racial equity has led to more business success for companies like PayPal, Prudential, and Gap, and they’re using these examples to convince more corporations to embrace racial equity. But where does this approach to racial justice come from, and how far can it take us? In episode nine, PolicyLink Founder and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell and author and labor activist Bill Fletcher, Jr., unpack the argument that racial equity gives companies a competitive advantage, and what it means for our politics.

Episode 8

April 23, 2018

Living on 90% less energy: Can we do it for climate justice?

Of all of the things there are to worry about in the Trump era, climate change is at the top of the list. But the failure to act effectively on climate long predates Trump. In episode eight of Ear to the Pavement, Anne Peterman of Global Justice Ecology Project argues that by promoting market-based solutions such as carbon trading, a series of American presidential administrations have not only failed to address climate change, but have also helped enrich corporations at the expense of poor and indigenous communities worldwide. What we really need in order to solve the climate crisis is a collective effort to transform society. But how might this happen, and what would a truly sustainable world look like?

Episode 7

November 16, 2017

Everyday radicals: What #TheResistance can learn from the League of Revolutionary Black Workers

In too much American political discourse, race and class are treated as separate issues, when they’re really integrated. But what does a politics that truly deals with both look like? The League of Revolutionary Black Workers has an answer. Formed in 1969 and lasting only a few years, the League was one of the most politically sophisticated movements in American history. In episode seven of Ear to the Pavement, Dan Georgakas, author of Detroit, I do mind dying, explains why the League is so relevant to our current political moment.

Episode 6

September 15, 2017

Take Back the Land beat Bank of America. Here's how they did it.

In episode six of Ear to the Pavement, housing organizer Rob Robinson recounts his journey from homelessness to the housing movement, and explains how Take Back the Land, an organization he co-founded, used radical organizing to successfully fight the corporate forces that helped create the foreclosure crisis. Robinson is currently a volunteer organizer with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), and is connected to housing and land movements in Europe, South Africa, and Brazil.

Episode 5

May 2, 2017

Do we need a Breitbart of the Left?

Since Trump was elected, Left independent media outlets have been on the rise. Current Affairs Magazine is at the forefront of this movement. In episode five of Ear to the Pavement, Current Affairs founder and editor, Nathan J. Robinson, talks about the experiences that led him to start his own media organization, the importance for the Left of getting out of the elite media bubble and reaching a broad audience, and the crucial ingredients for building an effective progressive media.

Episode 4

April 5, 2017

The urgency of community media in an era of noise

In episode four of Ear to the Pavement, documentary filmmaker and teacher Louis Massiah talks about the importance of using media to focus attention on the concerns and experiences of ordinary people. One of the country's most important and celebrated pioneers in the field of community media, Massiah is Founder and Executive Director of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, a media arts center which has been around since 1982. The center's mission is to help communities in the Philadelphia area learn to make media both as a means of artistic expression, and as a tool for progressive social activism.

Episode 3

February 22, 2017

Revisiting Root Shock in an age of mass displacement

As more and more people are displaced by gentrification, war, deportation, economic instability, and other forces, the concept of "Root Shock" is as relevant as ever. In episode three of Ear to the Pavement, psychiatrist, author, and scholar Mindy Thompson Fullilove revisits her classic book, Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It. Well before it was an accepted idea, Fullilove documented how people's ability — or lack thereof — to put down roots and shape their communities influences not only individual mental health, but society as a whole.

Episode 2

January 23, 2017

Inauguration special, unpacking Trump

In episode two of Ear to the Pavement, we present an extended interview with planning scholar, author, and activist Tom Angotti about his personal reaction to the rise of Donald Trump, how we got here, his biggest concerns, and how progressives might respond. This interview delves further into themes Tom covered in his November piece in Progressive City, Trump: What can progressive planners do?

Episode 1

November 13, 2016

The Brooklyn Wars with Neil DeMause

In episode one of Ear to the Pavement, Allison Lirish Dean speaks with New York City-based journalist and author Neil DeMause about gentrification and development in Brooklyn, and his new book, The Brooklyn Wars: The Stories Behind the Making of New York's Most Celebrated Borough.