March 30, 2022

Please help us reach out to many, many more people—potential donors, of course, but mostly San Francisco voters—to stop the recall of District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

This recall effort is riding on a wave of right-wing fueled recall elections, especially in CA (governor; SF school board, LA DA).

It’s being bankrolled by out-of-state Republican money (primary one man who also funds Mitch McConnell’s agenda), and they have already spent over $1.4 million just to get it on the ballot.

Despite the recall’s talking points, this is a Republican effort—the recall is endorsed by the SF Republican Party, while the Democratic Party has taken a stand against it.

Conservative, establishment interests are threatened by the groundbreaking criminal legal reforms that Chesa Boudin is implementing, and they are investing millions to overturn the will of San Francisco voters, who resoundingly elected him in 2019.

During his short time in office Chesa has already followed through on the campaign promises that got him elected. Some of his many accomplishments:

~~Ended cash bail, a classist policy that allowed the wealthy to buy their freedom while others languished behind bars

~~Reduced the juvenile jail population by over 50%

~~Created an independent innocence commission to ensure that no innocent people remain wrongfully incarcerated

~~Held police accountable: bringing charges against the officer who shot and killed Kieta O’Neill; the first time in generations that charges have been brought against an on-duty police officer.

~~Increasing public safety while making our criminal legal system more just for all San Franciscans—since taking office in 2020, crime in the city has decreased in almost every major category.

Because of this success, the Republican PACs behind the recall effort will continue to spend millions on their campaign from now until the June 7th election in an attempt to overturn the will of the people and take the city backwards. And right now we are at a massive fundraising disadvantage. We need our supporters to give what they can now so that  our campaign can be successful in June, and we will be able to continue doing the work to make SF safer and more just. In this heated fight, we will need to reach every voter in San Francisco, to educate them about the work Chesa is doing, and overcome the false narrative of fear-mongering being pushed by the big money opposition. Every dollar that we raise now will help us reach more voters.

G to for more information, to get involved in the campaign, and to donate: 


Will Smith Did a Bad, Bad Thing

March 29, 2022

Slapping Chris Rock was also a blow to men, women, the entertainment industry, and the Black community.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Mar 28

When Will Smith stormed onto the Oscar stage to strike Chris Rock for making a joke about his wife’s short hair, he did a lot more damage than just to Rock’s face. With a single petulant blow, he advocated violence, diminished women, insulted the entertainment industry, and perpetuated stereotypes about the Black community.

That’s a lot to unpack. Let’s start with the facts: Rock made a reference to Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, as looking like Demi Moore in GI Jane, in which Moore had shaved her head. Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from alopecia, which causes hair loss. Ok, I can see where the Smiths might not have found that joke funny. But Hollywood awards shows are traditionally a venue where much worse things have been said about celebrities as a means of downplaying the fact that it’s basically a gathering of multimillionaires giving each other awards to boost business so they can make even more money.

The Smiths could have reacted by politely laughing along with the joke or by glowering angrily at Rock. Instead, Smith felt the need to get up in front of his industry peers and millions of people around the world, hit another man, then return to his seat to bellow: “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.” Twice.

Some have romanticized Smith’s actions as that of a loving husband defending his wife. Comedian Tiffany Haddish, who starred in the movie Girls Trip with Pinkett Smith, praised Smith’s actions: “[F]or me, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen because it made me believe that there are still men out there that love and care about their women, their wives.”

Actually, it was the opposite. Smith’s slap was also a slap to women. If Rock had physically attacked Pinkett Smith, Smith’s intervention would have been welcome. Or if he’d remained in his seat and yelled his post-slap threat, that would have been unnecessary, but understandable. But by hitting Rock, he announced that his wife was incapable of defending herself—against words. From everything I’d seen of Pinkett Smith over the years, she’s a very capable, tough, smart woman who can single-handedly take on a lame joke at the Academy Awards show.

This patronizing, paternal attitude infantilizes women and reduces them to helpless damsels needing a Big Strong Man to defend their honor least they swoon from the vapors. If he was really doing it for his wife, and not his own need to prove himself, he might have thought about the negative attention this brought on them, much harsher than the benign joke. That would have been truly defending and respecting her. This “women need men to defend them” is the same justification currently being proclaimed by conservatives passing laws to restrict abortion and the LGBTQ+ community.

Worse than the slap was Smith’s tearful, self-serving acceptance speech in which he rambled on about all the women in the movie King Richard that he’s protected. Those who protect don’t brag about it in front of 15 million people. They just do it and shut up. You don’t do it as a movie promotion claiming how you’re like the character you just won an award portraying. But, of course, the speech was about justifying his violence. Apparently, so many people need Smith’s protection that occasionally it gets too much and someone needs to be smacked.

What is the legacy of Smith’s violence? He’s brought back the Toxic Bro ideal of embracing Kobra Kai teachings of “might makes right” and “talk is for losers.” Let’s not forget that this macho John Wayne philosophy was expressed in two movies in which Wayne spanked grown women to teach them a lesson. Young boys—especially Black boys—watching their movie idol not just hit another man over a joke, but then justify it as him being a superhero-like protector, are now much more prone to follow in his childish footsteps. Perhaps the saddest confirmation of this is the tweet from Smith’s child Jaden: “And That’s How We Do It.”

That’s How We Do It

The Black community also takes a direct hit from Smith. One of the main talking points from those supporting the systemic racism in America is characterizing Blacks as more prone to violence and less able to control their emotions. Smith just gave comfort to the enemy by providing them with the perfect optics they were dreaming of. Many will be reinvigorated to continue their campaign to marginalize African Americans and others through voter suppression campaign.

As for the damage to show business, Smith’s violence is an implied threat to all comedians who now have to worry that an edgy or insulting joke might be met with violence. Good thing Don Rickles, Bill Burr, or Ricky Gervais weren’t there. As comedian Kathy Griffin tweeted: “Now we all have to worry about who wants to be the next Will Smith in comedy clubs and theaters.”

The one bright note is that Chris Rock, clearly stunned, managed to handle the moment with grace and maturity. If only Smith’s acceptance speech had shown similar grace and maturity—and included, instead of self-aggrandizing excuses, a heartfelt apology to Rock.

I met Will Smith when I appeared on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 28 years ago. And I’ve been to his house. I like him. He’s charming, sincere, and funny. I’m also a big fan of his movies. He’s an accomplished and dedicated actor who deserves the professional accolades he’s received. But it will be difficult to watch the next movie without remembering this sad performance.

I don’t want to see him punished or ostracized because of this one, albeit a big one, mistake. I just want this to be a cautionary tale for others not to romanticize or glorify bad behavior. And I want Smith to be the man who really protects others—by admitting the harm he’s done to others.

JOY & Justice!

March 23, 2022

45) Joy and Justice: Collaborating toward Freedom

We live in a time and a place where the cage has become naturalized, where punitive, punishing measures are the “normal,” “common sense” responses to any harm or despair. Crushing cruelty deletes care and support. We’re joined by two powerful thinkers and life-long freedom-fighters: Beth Richie is head of the Department of Criminology, Law, and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Erica Meiners is a professor of education, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Northeastern Illinois University. They have worked together for decades, most recently on a book they co-authored with Gina Dent and Angela Davis: Abolition. Feminism. Now. 

Bonus: At the end of this Episode, Light Ayli discusses her insights into the underlying horrors of war based on a classic novel she recently read for school. Dazzling.

Free Speech in the Classroom: Conflict and Contradiction

March 18, 2022

In 1963 a young volunteer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) wrote a short proposal to create a number of Freedom Schools throughout Mississippi in order to revitalize and refocus the Black Freedom Movement. While Black youth were denied many things—decent school facilities, honest and forward-looking curriculum, fully qualified teachers—the fundamental injury, according to the proposal, was “a complete absence of academic freedom and students are forced to live in an environment that is geared to squashing intellectual curiosity, and different thinking.” The challenge was “to fill an intellectual and creative vacuum in the lives of young Negro Mississippi, and to get them to articulate their own desires, demands and questions.”

This revolutionary proposal is as relevant today as it was 60 years ago. How shall we respond to the desires, demands, and questions of young people in classrooms today? What contradictions and conflicts, complexities and controversies emerge when we consider free speech in the classroom?


March 17, 2022

Imagine a state so afraid of what its own people might discover and conclude that it outlaws free and open discussion in public schools.


March 16, 2022

Imagine a country so ashamed of its history that it punishes teachers if they dare to teach that history.

A Grim Anniversary

March 16, 2022

A reminder from comrade/brother Mike Klonsky:

As long as we’re talking war crimes, as we should be at this moment in time, I need to point out that today is the anniversary of the My Lai Massacre.

On March 16, 1968, a platoon of American soldiers, sent on a “search and destroy mission,” brutally killed as many as 500 unarmed civilians at My Lai, one of a cluster of small villages located near the northern coast of Vietnam.

On orders from Lieutenant William Calley, they acted with extraordinary brutality, raping and torturing villagers before killing them and dragging dozens of people, including young children and babies, into a ditch and executing them with automatic weapons. In addition to killing unarmed men, women, and children, the soldiers slaughtered countless livestock, raped an unknown number of women, and burned the village to the ground.

The massacre reportedly ended when an Army helicopter pilot, Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, landed his aircraft between the soldiers and the retreating villagers and threatened to open fire if they continued their attacks.

The events at My Lai were covered up by high-ranking army officers until investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story in November 1969.

Rest in Power

March 6, 2022

From the People’s Law Office Family,

Dennis Cunningham, our dear friend and 50 plus year comrade in the struggle for justice and human rights, died today. He was an inspiration for, and one of the founders of, the People’s Law Office, and a mentor and role model to all of us and to many others.

He represented with creativity and militancy, Fred Hampton and many other Black Panthers, the Attica Brothers, Judy Bari, Puerto Rican independentistas, Rasmea Odeh, Geronimo Pratt and many others. He brought his improv experience at Second City to the courtroom and to his brilliant written advocacy.

Dennis  was one of a kind, and will be deeply missed by all those who knew him and loved him. Special condolences to his wonderful children, Delia, Joe, Miranda and Bernardine, his three grandchildren, his brother Robbie and his nieces and nephews. 

Rest in Power our Good Brother

La Luta Continua!

March 6, 2022

March 6, 2022

On a fresh morning fifty-two years ago today, Diana Oughton, Terry Robbins, and Ted Gold, sweet, sweet friends and dear comrades, lost their lives in a notorious explosion in Greenwich Village, New York. I remember each of them: Diana’s grace and intelligence and passion, Terry’s courage and energy, Teddy’s wisdom and wit. Take a moment for them, and remember, too, their commitment to fight with all their being against war and racism, and remember, too, their sacrifice, their dedication, and their hope for a future fit for all—a time of joy and justice, powered by love.

Next Sunday’s NYT Magazine

March 2, 2022