The Politics of Policing
Tracey Corder joins the pod to talk about the politics of policing.
Episode 9: The Politics of Policing
References and resources
Tracey Corder (00:01):
Batman is a billionaire who beats up poor people and collaborates with police. What would it look like if we redistributed Batman’s wealth and was like, you got to get out of here Bruce?
Solana Rice (00:20):
Welcome to Racism is Profitable. I’m Solana Rice, co-founder and co-executive director of Liberation in a Generation Action. I’m joined by my co-founder, co-executive director Jeremie Greer.
Jeremie Greer (00:33):
What up? What up?
Solana Rice (00:34):
Racism is profitable as a pod series of conversations with our friends about our current oppression economy and building a liberation economy. We grapple with questions and we’re not promising any solutions y’all. Today, we’re chatting with the incomparable Tracey Corder, deputy campaign director for the Action Center on Race and the Economy where she focuses on ending policing and incarceration. Tracey, we talked over a year ago for the Forge and today we’re talking about the politics of policing. But before we get into all that, how are you doing? What are you really leaning on to get through all the things…
Jeremie Greer (01:22):
Solana Rice (01:22):
Yeah. All the things that are our world today.
Tracey Corder (01:25):
Yeah. I am leaning on as much joy as I possibly can. That’s FaceTiming my nephews to remember that we’re building something for them. It’s also, just very transparently, I am deeply into a soap opera that I talk about with fierce intensity. Shout out the General Hospital and it’s very nice because I think that there is something that’s really great about world building outside of our current world, to project ideals because it’s really just our values and the way we look at things that we’re able to project and not talk about how awful the Supreme Court is or how we’re looking at the president like, dude, what are you doing? And we can actually talk about these characters on TV. That has been, I think, really freeing in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect.
Solana Rice (02:21):
Yeah. I have to say…
Jeremie Greer (02:24):
Look, what are y’all doing?
Solana Rice (02:24):
I have to say, I follow you on Twitter obviously, and I’m like, “Who is Tracey talking about? Oh my gosh.” It’s true. You are very compelling in these. I’m like, I got to find out what’s happening. I’m like, I will go down a Twitter hole with Tracey Corder. I’m reading a short book about practices to just calm down, so sometimes I just… One of the practice is actually just stand near a tree, put your back to a tree and tell it all the things and give it all the things that you are holding. And it is quite a release lately. It’s just been helpful. I don’t know, Jeremie, you’re still watching General Hospital?
Jeremie Greer (03:15):
No. No I’m not. But since, it’s funny you mentioned that Tracey. So I used to play college football and this is in the 90s, but the only hour as you know, college football player’s life is regimented. So the only two hours of the day we had to ourselves was the time when Days of Our Lives and General Hospital came on. So what you would get was all these uber testosterone dudes arguing about that latest episode of General Hospital. So I’m totally with you. I haven’t watched it years, but that’s it. Right now though, it’s Stranger Things and Ms. Marvel and their stuff.
Tracey Corder (03:57):
No spoilers. No spoilers.
Jeremie Greer (03:58):
No, no, no. I won’t do it. But that is where, and I’m not even all the way through it, but that’s what I’m doing right now. Same thing, Tracey. Yeah. We got to escape into another world because this one is so fucked up. Yeah.
Tracey Corder (04:14):
Mm-hmm. Well I’m going to GH you offline. So we’ll do that.
Jeremie Greer (04:21):
Okay. Well Tracey, to jump right into the conversation. We were, the thing that jumped out to us in thinking about this conversation and the politics of policing. I go right to the State of Union, President Biden State of Union this year. Yeah, this year, January where he did this thing where he is like, we’re not going to defund the police, we’re going to fund the police. And I immediately became very angry because in that moment it was like this president who black activists helped get into office, help get him to be able to sit behind that dais that he was standing behind, he was using all those act… I felt like he was using all those activists in that moment as a way to do what’s been done but the Democratic Party has done for decades, which is basically to use black activists, black voters, black people, and our pain as a way to placate corporate Democrats and moderate Democrats or the people that they feel like they need to bring. And it just enraged me in that moment and it made me feel like we were really far away from where we needed to be politically to move the needle. And I just wonder, what was your reaction or what were you thinking in that moment?
Tracey Corder (05:57):
I went through stages. So, the first one was anger, obviously. I remember I stood up, I was watching something like me standing up was going to do something about the situation. And then it was a little bit of disbelief. And I’m so grateful for my group texts, if we talk about what keeps me sane also it’s my group text of activists, of my people who will ground me. I will ground them when they need it, they will ground me. And so Angela Peoples actually really grounded me and she said, “Tracey, they wouldn’t say that if we weren’t winning, we’ve never even heard… They could only push back against you when they see you coming.” And I was like, “You know what, Angela, you stopped me from writing a very angry email right now.” That’s all I can do in the moment. But it’s true. It was very frustrating and I think that we see this from a democratic party over and over again where we are expected to be the good soldiers that no matter what is thrown at us, we are supposed to vote for them because the alternative is too bad to think of. And what we’re seeing is that more people are waking up to this, more people are seeing the government, are seeing the parties for what they are. And so what really we are seeing is the dissent.
Tracey Corder (07:27):
And it’s not saying that people are not going to vote. I think that that is such a myth and that is equally frustrating. I know that, I’m sure y’all are like this too, I serve as a voting guide for my family. I live in California, I haven’t lived in Wisconsin in years and my mom still calls me about what judges to vote for.
Solana Rice (07:44):
Jeremie Greer (07:44):
Tracey Corder (07:47):
So we’re not going to stop voting, but we’re also not going to stop organizing. And so when Joe Biden gets up and says something like this, I can say with full confidence I’m going to push back on this every day of your presidency and then I’m going to do what I need to do on election day. And so for me, that is where I sit and I say, how do I leverage this? How do I help other people get as angry as I am so that we organize? And that’s really where my mind is. Where my head is.
Jeremie Greer (08:20):
Yeah. Because it’s just you mentioned this it’s just taking for granted and then what’s even more frustrating is the roar in the crowd that included black lawmakers. And James Clyburn has said that he feel that his opinion to defund the police is a slogan and not a policy which, I mean, I think that he could go into many spaces we’ve been at Tracey, and we’ll find out very quickly that there’s a lot of policy behind those words. But it’s this organizing we have to do is not just to move what people believe are these moderate folks, but folks that are accountable to us. James Clyburn represents a majority black district in South Carolina. It’s like we have to move people who are actually accountable to us. And so this organizing we’re talking about it’s just so important.
Tracey Corder (09:17):
I mean we also have to move our folks, right? So we have to move people in Clyburn’s district and offer out, because there’s this thing that people say is, Well, black people want more policing. And the reality is that all the people are offered is, do you want police or do you not want to feel safe?
Jeremie Greer (09:36):
Tracey Corder (09:37):
Police are the only thing that are offered as a safety alternative. And so of course you’re like, Well I don’t know, what are you supposed to tell people? But if you say, Well, we are seeing city after city, time after time when you say, do you want police or do you want unarmed mental health professionals to come and respond to mental health emergency? Do you want police or do you want solutions for homelessness? And actually offering out alternatives, then you don’t hear people wanting the police. And so we have to go to districts like Clyburn’s and talk to people and organized with them not as a opposition of Clyburn, but as a proponent of the world that we want to see so that they can then go call their rep. And that’s Clyburn and that’s across the country.
Tracey Corder (10:25):
Because what we know about this democratic party is it’s led completely by people who voted for the crime bill. So we talk about the 94 crime Bill. Joe Biden wrote it. Nancy Pelosi voted for it, that’s our speaker of the house. Chuck Schumer voted for it, that’s our Senate majority leader. So when we say this party is run by people who have been talking about law and order since at least the ’90s, this is not a exaggeration. This is codified in law that they’ve been doing this. And we have to be able to be the formal pushback to say that that’s actually not what we’re doing and that’s not where we’re coming from. And it’s happening across the country, it’s happening in cities, it’s happening as people. But it also is a lot to push back against because everyone is saying it.
Solana Rice (11:21):
Yeah. Tracey, what you’re saying reminds me that these conversations are deeper conversations than just knocking on a door and saying, do you want police or do you not want police? Because we’ve got to get into the details of what folks are actually facing. It’s not just I don’t want my car to get stolen or I don’t want folks to be homeless. There are a myriad of things that we are trying to solve with police where police don’t belong because police don’t actually create that safety. So it seems like we have to have time and relationships to really have those conversations with people in districts. And it seems like folks are having, you and I were on a call last week and it seems like folks across the country are having those deeper conversations. Are you feeling like they’re making headway in their communities around the fears? Because the fears that people have are real, right? Community shootings, mass shootings, school shootings, those are all very, very real. And it does, just like you said, it seems like we have to reconcile that that reaction of needing police to keep us safe it’s not right with the future with no police or prison. So it’s really about those conversations. I’ve heard people having those conversations and how are you feeling it’s spreading?
Tracey Corder (13:11):
I think that people are doing so much work that feels invisible because there’s this big, what are people doing? What’s on the billboards? And then what are the conversations that people are having in their neighborhoods? So I think about what happened, I’m from Milwaukee, I don’t live there anymore, but I still work with organizers there. And so I think about a group BLOC, right? Black Leaders Organizing Communities. And Angela, who’s the ED sends her folks out every day election time or not and the question they ask on doors is what would it look like for your community to thrive?
Solana Rice (13:50):
Tracey Corder (13:50):
And it’s not about a candidate and it’s not about an agenda, it’s about asking people what they need. And in that conversation they also tell people and you know that your police department that we spend this much on our police. And then you flip that and then you find folks like African American round table with Markasa and Devin who go out and they’re tabling at festivals. They have a pie chart with the city budget up. So people are getting it everywhere they go. And you can see that, you can see that they’ve been able to pack out city council meetings, but these are not the things that are picked up in national news. What’s picked up in national news is the negativity. It’s never that organizing work that happens. And then there’s even, I think, other ways, because when we talk about abolition specifically, when I talk about abolition, I’m not just talking about getting rid of police, I’m talking about the presence of all of the things that we need. And so there was a conversation that a friend of mine was having and it was, I don’t know if y’all saw this whole thing, it was around a TikTok around whether you should feed someone else’s kids. It was a whole conversation.
Jeremie Greer (15:04):
Oh yeah, yeah.
Tracey Corder (15:04):
Are you all familiar?
Jeremie Greer (15:09):
Yeah. It was the one with the dad that showed up with McDonald’s to… Yeah, yeah, I saw that.
Tracey Corder (15:10):
Yeah. So he showed up with McDonald’s for his kid, but not other kids. And it was all these conversations about whether you need to feed other people’s kids. And so a friend of mine, she actually had abolition conversations there. It wasn’t about police, it was about, Yo, what are we talking about? Are we saying that we not going to take care of people babies? Because then these are going to be the same kids that y’all say are bad kids or who are robbing folks or who are whatever because they don’t have their needs met. So what does it mean to build community if we’re not even taking care of our kids siblings and cousins, you know what I’m saying? And so even that is an abolitionist conversation and we don’t talk about that enough because how do we get to a world without police if we are not feeding each other’s babies? And so I think that on every level there are interventions to be made and on every level there are organizers who are making those interventions.
Jeremie Greer (16:15):
Wow. And I haven’t fully this has not worked out and that’s why we’re here so work this stuff out, which I’m glad you brought it to that place about are we feeding our babies? Because I constantly know… The thing in my mind that comes to me is that the police exists in order to protect property and particularly the property of those people that hold a lot of wealth. And the feeling is that these people have this storm the gates mentality. We got all this wealth and if we don’t protect ourselves or create this force to protect us from those who don’t have it, they’re going to storm our gates. And I try to work out in my mind that well, distribution of wealth in a way in which everyone is fed, everyone has some modicum of financial security or ability to thrive, which I think is a great way to put it. Is that in and of itself an answer, which means that we’re not actually having a safety conversation. We’re having an economic conversation about the distribution of wealth of this country. And I always [inaudible 00:17:36].
Tracey Corder (17:33):
Jeremie Greer (17:38):
Yeah. So I’m struggling with how do I bring that heady ass conversation that sounds like it should be had with all these economic thinkers down to a place where you could have it in the barbershop or the hair salon or on TikTok. What is the work to get it there? That’s what I struggle with constantly.
Tracey Corder (18:03):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean I think of every conversation as an abolitionist conversation. I’m sure you could ask my family about that and they’re tired of me. But I finally got my mom to say, “Maybe we should defund the police.” So I feel like that’s a win. But I think that it is everywhere all the time. And you have to just figure out where are the times when you interject. It’s so funny when you talk about the barber shop. I grew up in a barber shop. My dad when I was younger owned a barber shop. So I would be there all the time and hearing conversations I probably had no business hearing, sweeping up the floor and getting tips. And so I got really clear as to, you got to learn how to talk to people and it can’t be in theoreticals and it can’t just be in this really academic way that even I sometimes get caught up in talking about. Right? It has to actually be in, are we feeding each other babies? It has to actually be in, are we taking care of each other enough that these things won’t happen?
Tracey Corder (19:13):
So I think of even when I talk about police with my people and I hear them and I affirm everything they’re saying, it’s scary out there. Things are happening. I can’t give you data to tell you there’s not a crime wave if you feel like you were unsafe. So I have to listen to what you have to say and then I have to reflect back, okay, but how do police help that? And I have to keep asking that question, okay your car got stolen how would police help that? They couldn’t. They’re the people who come and take notes. So let’s work backwards. How could we have avoided that? What do we need to do in our communities? What needs to happen in our communities to avoid that? So yeah, it’s economic conversation 100% because if everybody had the money that they needed, you’d have less car theft. But the other side of abolition is not a utopia. So it’s also how do we take care of each other? Who is the OG on the block who was like, what you doing? Because they used to be my parents who fed everybody, who people would come and use our washer and dryer, I remember my father passed I remember comforting people in the neighborhood who would come to me crying and be like, I’m going to miss your dad so much because this is what he did for me.
Tracey Corder (20:34):
So who are those people in our neighborhoods who were supporting and uplifting and making sure they have what they need so they can continue to be these pillars for us. And so I think to your point, it’s an economic conversation, but it’s also understanding that even on the other side of that it’s not a utopia so it’s also a social conversation.
Solana Rice (20:54):
Jeremie Greer (20:55):
Yeah. I love that.
Solana Rice (20:57):
And I want to bring this back to politics. So when we’re voting in November, when we’re voting every November, when we’re voting in the primaries, whenever we’re engaged or however we’re supporting candidates or people that are running in our communities, what should we be looking for? I know that I’m looking… So I live in Oakland, I think you do too and we’ll have a mayoral race and we’ll have some city council folks. And if they’re not talking about housing and making sure that everybody is housed, they don’t have anything to offer me. What are things that folks should be looking for the at least signal that we’re headed in a direction that can actually support thriving in our communities?
Tracey Corder (21:55):
Well one of the things, and I’ll just say this plug this really quick. I love the Oakland House ranked choice voting. And that makes me feel so good about how I’m able to vote my conscience. But I think it’s ultimately for me, I know that there is not one politician that’s perfect and who holds all that we want or need for our communities. They just couldn’t, by virtue of trying to be a part of the system whether the system is harmful to us, they couldn’t hold all of that. So I’m also looking for the people who are willing to change. I’m looking for the people who are willing to be responsive to us. I don’t know if y’all remember in 2020 I was a part of a formation called Black Woman For and we endorsed Elizabeth Warren in the primary. And one of the things that we said was accountability not perfection. And so an example of that for her was that there was all of the candidates, they spoke about the death penalty and it was something about the way she talked that we just couldn’t get down with as a formation. And so we called her out and we called her in.
Tracey Corder (23:02):
And then after both of those things where she got on the phone with members of our coalition and listened to why that was wrong, she came out and changed her position and said, this is what I’m doing. This is what I would do differently and put forth a policy position that reflected it. So I couldn’t just say, well she said this one thing that was wrong, I won’t support her because that’s not possible for our politics. But it’s about who is willing to move. For me saying that you want to dismissing community support for police funding is a no go for me, talking about homeless people as if they don’t have dignity is a no go for me. And it’s how do we force you to change the conversation and how do we hold you accountable both on the campaign trail and as you’re elected.
Jeremie Greer (23:59):
Yeah. Tracey, I wonder if you can talk a bit about, because some of what I think a candidate today may struggle with is there’s the stuff you can get done now because the politics for it are there and then there’s this vision for the future that is more transformative and more moving towards a vision of abolition. And I wonder what should people be looking for as they think about how candidates balance that and what they’re saying? So, where people… Because what I don’t know quite what to do with, just to be honest and frank, is there’s a lot of, well that’s not really… That’s just a reform and that’s not abolition, therefore I can’t support it or I can’t support you. But there are people who are like, well let me try to get this thing done now because it can happen and I’m with you for the thing in the future. What could people think about as they kind of… Because I feel like some people might get stuck in that debate and just be paralyzed with, I don’t know what to do.
Tracey Corder (25:02):
Jeremie Greer (25:04):
Yeah. I just wonder what your thinking is about.
Tracey Corder (25:06):
Yeah. I mean I think a lot about Mariame Kaba’s book, We Do This ‘Til We Free Us and she has a whole checklist of what are reform reforms or what are abolitionists reforms. And that’s my checklist. Is the thing that you’re offering something that reinforces state violence or reinforces the state but changes tinkerers around the edges over here? And that’s something I can’t support. So I think a lot about when we talk about taking police out of traffic stops, we start talking about cameras and we start talking about a surveillance state. For me that’s not an option. That’s not a reform that I want to support. So we have to start looking at what are the reforms that we want to support and how do they take power from the state and put power into the community. And that’s my rubric.
Jeremie Greer (26:05):
Can we talk a bit about some of what’s happened as progress, excuse me. I’m from Saint Paul, Minnesota, so Twin Cities. That’s where I’m from originally. So also Midwest. I got family in Milwaukee, Tracey.
Tracey Corder (26:20):
Jeremie Greer (26:20):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. My dad’s from Milwaukee, but grew up in Saint Paul and just this last election in Minneapolis, there was ballot initiative that was about defunding the police and creating another office that is responsible for public safety. And it got 40% of the vote. It didn’t win, but it got 40% of the vote. And I was recently on a panel, and I’m not going to name who was on the panel, but it was all black folks on the panel and there were some panelists that were saying, that was a failure because we tried to move too fast. We tried to push things too fast, and because it failed, it’s going to set things back. And I thought differently. I argued, someone that being from Saint Paul and knowing that black folks are a really small minority in the larger metropolitan area, but a major population center within Minneapolis. And that there’s a lot of that Midwesternized racism that happens in a place like Minneapolis. And that getting that type of vote is actually huge progress. It actually performed better than I would’ve thought growing up there.
Jeremie Greer (27:42):
And I wonder if we could talk a bit about, where are we seeing these beacons of light of where some of this is pushing through and people are starting to see and have different conversations? And to the extent that you can, and shout out to Black Visions in Minneapolis, one of the organizations that was-
Tracey Corder (28:03):
I was just going to say.
Jeremie Greer (28:06):
… big in pushing that there. What are we learning from that experience that we could really, really take into future conversations about this?
Tracey Corder (28:16):
Yeah. I mean, definitely shout out to Black Visions always. I have a hat from them that I still rock even when it’s a little too warm for a hat. Abolition on my mind. I actually was able to go to Minneapolis for that GOTV. And so I don’t know how anyone could have been around that campaign and around what they did and say that it was a loss. This was mobilized black folks. This was talking about our issues, getting them in the public light. This was having door to door conversations and building something where over 40% of people who hadn’t even thought about something before believe in you now. You can only build up from there. So I think that there were people who wanted folks to lose. And then when the thing didn’t pass, then started calling it a loss. When in politics in any other regard, we don’t do that. When candidates lose the first time, people run again. Barack Obama got rocked when he ran for office.
Solana Rice (29:20):
Jeremie Greer (29:21):
Tracey Corder (29:21):
Right? And so the idea, this is trying to undermine what is actually a progression for activists. To get our issue on the ballot period is a win. But I get beacons of hope from Elisabeth Epps in Colorado just won her State House race as an abolitionist, amazing, amazing, amazing person and who we have to wrap our arms around and support because people are not happy she’s in that office.
Jeremie Greer (29:53):
Tracey Corder (29:57):
West Hollywood just defunded the police by a little bit. Not a little bit, I don’t want to say that. It was huge. It’s a huge victory. And they’re really talking about invest divest frame of taking from police and giving directly into community empowerment. But you should have seen the articles that were framed around it. It was like, “Despite the surge in crime, the police are defunded.” And I’m like, and what you really could have said is, despite having a record number of police, they could not stop crime.
Jeremie Greer (30:30):
Stop crime. Right.
Tracey Corder (30:37):
That’s what we didn’t see.
Jeremie Greer (30:37):
Tracey Corder (30:37):
Right? And so that’s a beacon of hope for me. A friend of mine, Mandela Barnes is running for Senate in Wisconsin and he is facing a lot of dog whistles from the Republicans and from other people who are also running for office. And to see the amount of people who are squatting up behind him and able to say, this is unacceptable. Just because we have done politics this way before, just because things have gotten nasty before, does not mean in 2022 we’re still going to do it. And though that’s not necessarily abolitionist thing, it’s definitely a beacon of light for me when I think about our politics and how we move forward with them. I think about Alex Goodwin, who is my good friend from ACRE, I learned from her so much. And she’s running a campaign against ShotSpotter, which is good detection technology that not only doesn’t work, but also it doesn’t work. You know what I mean? And so having… She had the CEO on the ropes. We are having conversations that we’ve never had before and that gives me hope.
Jeremie Greer (31:56):
Yeah. Alex is dope. Best kind of work.
Tracey Corder (31:59):
Jeremie Greer (32:00):
Solana Rice (32:00):
Tracey, you casually mentioned rank choice voting.
Tracey Corder (32:05):
Solana Rice (32:06):
I want you to say more about it, at the risk of getting too wonky, but I’m really curious about how you see rank choice voting as being a part of being able to vote your values. Right? And maybe even part of an abolitionist trajectory. I don’t know.
Tracey Corder (32:28):
For me, growing up in Wisconsin, we would have elections the way we… I actually ran for office in Wisconsin, didn’t win as evident by me sitting in Oakland. But my primary dead of winter February, my general election also very cold April. April.
Solana Rice (32:54):
Tracey Corder (32:54):
And so when you talk about voter turnout, in February, it’s so small.
Jeremie Greer (33:01):
Tracey Corder (33:01):
And in April and a spring election, it also isn’t that much. So even just on the surface level of not having primaries, like having one vote makes it more representative. So for me it’s like the more people get a say. And there’s also this thing that happens where if you vote third party or you’re not down with whatever party, people say, you throw away your vote. And with rank choice voting, I’ve never felt like I threw away my vote and I was able to say, you are good and you’re my number one, but I’m also okay with you winning and I’m okay with you winning and for these reasons, one, two, three. And that has always just felt really good for me. I don’t know, I have to think more about abolition, and I think more people should say things like that. I don’t know. Let me think more about that. Because I question what abolition means in the current context of our politics. If and how we can vote our way there.
Solana Rice (34:15):
Yeah. Say more.
Jeremie Greer (34:16):
Solana Rice (34:17):
Can we vote our way to abolition?
Tracey Corder (34:20):
I would say no. But I would say that we can help vote to create conditions and put forward leaders that are more open to our ideas. So even going back to 2020 when we endorsed Elizabeth Warren, Elizabeth Warren’s politics do not 100% aligned with mine. They never could. Right? Not somebody who’s running for president. But I felt like this is a person who will pull every lever of power possible to get us closer to where we need to be. But it would never be abolition because that’s against the actual job.
Solana Rice (35:06):
Tracey Corder (35:06):
Yeah. So I think you can be an abolitionist like Elizabeth who is in office, but I don’t know what it means to govern as abolitionist.
Solana Rice (35:17):
This sounds like a compelling conversation for another time. What does it mean to govern as an abolitionist? And how do we support those that are in office to govern that way?
Tracey Corder (35:30):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. And how do we bring more people? Right? Because it’s one thing if you have a block of, not even abolitionists, a block of progressives, that’s different than having one lonely progressive in office.
Jeremie Greer (35:43):
Well, it’s also trying to, in governing is how do we create the conditions as a society where not just… Of course, we want all black people to feel safe and some of that’s the economic part of it. But then also it’s like how do we get to a place where black people aren’t seen as the ones out here creating the discord, the unsafe conditions. Because that’s really, all that dog whistle racism you talked about is what is driving people’s kneejerk reaction to, we need the police. Because they have police in the suburbs, not to police the suburbs, but to keep the dangerous black folks out of the suburbs. So it’s like what does it take within? I love your going down this road because what does it take to create the conditions in which black people, brown folks, people of color are not seen as this danger to society? And that would seem to be a huge step towards getting to a place where we’re saying, no, we don’t need the police to go, because that’s really the role that they seem to be playing.
Tracey Corder (36:55):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean, another Alex quote. Two things is, police are the muscles of racial capitalism, and that our public safety shouldn’t be for profit. And so there’s so much profit to the name of this podcast in policing in public safety. We see people enriching themselves off of the notion that we should be watching each other, that where we are is not safe. So that’s what you see in the Amazon Ring. That’s what you see in a ShotSpotter.
Jeremie Greer (37:27):
Tracey Corder (37:28):
Right. That there should be some profit motive in our public safety when we know it shouldn’t.
Jeremie Greer (37:36):
Tracey Corder (37:37):
But I also say, taking it back to where we started with dreaming. I’m working on a project with Sherry from a participatory budgeting project called New Black City. It actually came about because I was talking with her about this idea I had about defund Batman. And so I would ask people like, what do you know about Batman? What is one thing y’all know about Batman?
Jeremie Greer (38:06):
He’s a billionaire, philanthropist. Yeah.
Tracey Corder (38:09):
Right. Solana, what’s one thing you know about Batman?
Solana Rice (38:15):
He looks into the sky to know when he needs to go the plane.
Tracey Corder (38:18):
Yeah, when you need him. Right. When in actuality Batman is a billionaire who beats up poor people and collaborates with police. And so what would it look like if we redistributed Batman’s wealth and was like, “You got to get out of here, Bruce.”
Jeremie Greer (38:42):
Tracey Corder (38:42):
And so, we came up with this idea. I mean obviously we had to switch the name Batman because we’re not trying to get sued by DC. But it was this idea of, what are the conditions of a Gotham or what are the conditions of black cities across the country? Because no matter where you’re from, the conditions within your black city are really similar. Like Detroit and Oakland and Milwaukee and St. Louis, these are very similar conditions. Baltimore, similar conditions. And what would it look like if there was a big intervention point where we were able to rebuild them? It’s like a new black city. Yeah, so we are doing these workshops across the country to talk about that. We’ve done one in Detroit, we’ve done one in New York, and we really are asking visionaries and artists to talk about this and to build this out and maybe build a comic book around it or a podcast or whatever. But what is the thing that we can do? What is this world building that we can do? Because I think some of our biggest creativity comes from world building.
Tracey Corder (39:46):
There’s a reason that movement folks love Octavia Butler, right? Because we’re able to think about our current conditions and we’re able to read about current conditions and then also think about future conditions. And it helps us stretch our imagination because if it could happen in the world that we imagine, we could ask ourselves why it can’t happen here.
Solana Rice (40:08):
Tracey, I have a concluding question for you.
Tracey Corder (40:11):
Yes. Tell me.
Solana Rice (40:12):
If you were to create a General Hospital subplot or a major plot about abolition… For one thing, I hope you’re already working on this.
Tracey Corder (40:25):
You know I am.
Solana Rice (40:34):
What would it feature? Tell me about it.
Tracey Corder (40:38):
First of all, it would defund the soap opera police department. And we would have people actually go do things that make people safe. I was thinking about this around Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I tweeted Mike Schur, he never got back to me. And I was like, “For the last season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, you should disband and defund that precinct and have them go work at the DMV because that keeps me safer.” That’s what I would like for General Hospital. Go ahead disband and defund the Port Charles Police Department and put people in positions that keep me safer. Lifeguards, drivers Ed instructors, after school program coordinators. Let’s actually create some real safety.
Solana Rice (41:38):
And is there real healthcare in General Hospital?
Tracey Corder (41:43):
No, actually no. No, it’s not. And the hospital is actually run by rich people. So why don’t you redistribute that wealth and give us healthcare for all, Medicare for all?
Solana Rice (41:56):
Well, you’ve heard it here folks. General Hospital writers, you need to hire Tracey Corder obviously, for more viewership and for imagining a new world where we all have healthcare and our basic needs and safety and without police.
Tracey Corder (42:11):
There you go. That’s my new bio.
Solana Rice (42:20):
Tracey, thanks so much-
Jeremie Greer (42:22):
Solana Rice (42:23):
… for joining us today. I hope to see you around town.
Tracey Corder (42:27):
Solana Rice (42:28):
Tracey Corder (42:29):
Thanks y’all for having me. It’s always a great time to be anywhere with y’all virtually and hopefully in person at some point.
Jeremie Greer (42:36):
Solana Rice (42:36):
Jeremie Greer (42:36):
Solana Rice (42:38):
Exactly. Anything that you wanted to talk about that we didn’t talk about?
Tracey Corder (42:44):
That’s such a heavy question. There’s always things. Get involved. In order to build the world that we want to see, it takes all of us to build it. So get involved and use every conversation as an abolitionist conversation.
Solana Rice (43:02):
And where can people follow you? Where can people follow New Black City?
Tracey Corder (43:07):
Yeah. You can follow New Black City at newblackcity.us. We have a very cute little Google site. And you can follow ACRE at @ACREcampaigns on Twitter. And you will get all of the really amazing work that comes out of ACRE, which is all, in my opinion, abolitionist work. You’ll get to see all of that there.
Solana Rice (43:32):
Fantastic. Thanks, Tracey. I hope you get some time to-
Tracey Corder (43:36):
Jeremie Greer (43:36):
Solana Rice (43:37):
… chill and find joy.
Tracey Corder (43:39):
You too. Bye.
Solana Rice (43:44):
Take care. Thanks for listening. For more information, check out our list of episode resources and visit us at liberationinagenerationaction.org. Shout out to our producer and audio editor, Nino Fernandez, the design team at TrimTab and the LibGen Action communications team. Like what you heard? Help us make some noise by telling two friends about the Racism is Profitable podcast. Until next time y’all. Peace.