“The world I see right now is a world full of hope, it's people becoming more and more active, posting more and more on social media, regarding activism and how people can get involved and educate themselves on issues that they're connected to, that they're inspired by, that they are interested in. The world I'm fighting for is a world where urban oil drilling is read about in books and they think it was ridiculous that it went on for so long. It's a world where nobody is being denied the right to breathe clean air, that everybody has access to this basic human right and everybody has access to safe drinking water.” — Nalleli Cobo, environmental justice activist
“The world that I'm fighting for is one that advocates for the rights, resources and livelihood of the people in our community who've been historically and constantly marginalized. I'm fighting for a world that prioritizes unity and empathy and making sure that our communities place importance on uplifting, liberating one another.” — Ruby Ibarra, M.C., poet, director and scientist
In this episode, host Tonya Mosley hangs out with two Wise Ones, Alex Aiono, a musician, podcast host and YouTube star, and Jelani Anglin, founder of Good Call NYC.
Anglin grew up in New York and experienced a run-in with the law as a teenager. “That's a story that many young Black males have had,” says Anglin. “And if they don't, then a relative or someone they know has that story.”
While working in tech, he noticed that it was being used to connect the world but wasn’t helping his community. “I joined an incubator and we interviewed many folks that spoke about problems with policing, and that was really the starting point,” says Anglin. What emerged was Good Call NYC, an emergency hotline that connects people who are in police custody to free legal help and alerts loved ones of their arrest.
Anglin says this summer, the team of seven experienced massive growth. “Rest in peace to George Floyd, it took bad policing for us to actually be utilized within the communities when that's what we initially created for,” says Anglin. “We got over 2,000 calls in the space of a week, and we didn't miss a call. Our lawyers were taking naps in alternating shifts in order to make that happen.” Outreach over the past four years has allowed Good Call NYC to become an important resource in New York and readily available for the 2020 summer of uprisings.
The world Anglin is fighting for? “I think I can only think about this simply: I'm fighting for a world where Black lives are valued,” says Anglin. “I'm fighting for a world that understands that our inalienable rights, the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness are for everybody and not just for a certain few.”
Alex Aiono also experienced his passions converging with social justice this summer. His new album, The Gospel At 23, reflects his upbringing in a small, very tight-knit community rooted in religion.
“I think as a musician, you always want to release it on the quietest moments so that you can make as much noise as possible and you stand out. And when you're in the middle of a pandemic, racial injustice, elections, legends dying and all of this madness that's happening, you almost feel like, ‘Man, I don't want to put something out,’” explains Aiono. “Especially when it's these things that are important to you. I just got to the point where I said, ‘Whoever needs to hear this album, it's going to reach them... If it's a slow burn, it becomes an iconic piece, even if that’s just for me and my mom.’”
Aiono says the world he’s fighting for is one where Americans adopt a collective mindset, caring for and thinking about what’s good for all of us, versus our own needs and pursuits.“That's not the world that I would ideally live in,” says Aiono. “So the future and the world that I’m fighting for is one where we are caring more for each other.”
We conclude this power-packed show with Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate in the United States. In a 2019 New York Times interview, Gorman said in addition to her passion for poetry, she’s also considering a presidential run—in 2036.
Here’s one of her recent pieces:
We are here,
Holler all the black girls.
Us, dark daughters
In a long chain of silence.
Hope flocks to the poet
Like female ants rallying round
Their queen, black bodies
Carrying histories three times our size.
Our words will strip you
Raw till you glow like pennies
Scraped of the memory of being owned.
We are hope,
Howl the youth,
Those who aren’t lost for words,
But lost without them:
That lettered pulse and heated evasion.
Our writing is a stretched-out baptism,
A type of yoked rebirth.
We are the ones who know:
Where there’s smoke, there’s a poet,
Where there’s a poet, there’s a fire,
Bright as a bloodied blade.
We will be here,
We will be heard,
Hark the poets
In a long ring of resistance.
We are brown as a plum pit
And smooth as red river clay.
Our color is no longer anatomy
Nor aesthetic but an arsenal. Holy.
Wholly, and simply, our own.
A transcript of this episode can be found here.
Jelani Anglin, Founder of Good Call NYC
Alex Aiono, musician, podcast host and YouTube star
Tony Delarosa, Filipinx activist, poet, manager at Teach For America in Miami
Amanda Gorman, first U.S. Youth Poet Laureate
Nalleli Cobo, environmental justice activist
Althea Goss, member of The Radical Monarchs
Ruby Ibarra, M.C., poet and director
Leah Penniman, food sovereignty activist, co-director of Soul Fire Farm
“The often-overlooked reasons why young people don’t vote” from Vox
“Young Activist Pushes To Lower Voting Age To 16 As 'The Logical Next Step' For Gen Z” from NPR
“Could 2020 be the year of the young voter?” from MPRNews