Queer Liberation is Class Struggle

On June 8th, the LGBTQI Working Group of the Albuquerque Democratic Socialists of America will march in the Albuquerque Pride Parade. We do so because we are fierce advocates of both the liberation of queer people and the liberation of the working class. The working class, as so often, is ejected from the message when the language of queer liberation is co-opted by the demands of capital.

Pride festivals commemorate and memorialize the events of the Stonewall uprising fifty years ago.

In 1969, queer people rose up against their pervasive and violent oppression by the state. The rigid enforcement of gender and sexual roles was then intricately connected to capitalism. The damaging hierarchy of classes imposed by capitalism serves the same purposes as the hierarchy of gender identities and sexual orientations. These forms of oppression are each mutually reinforcing, and each powerful forces in dividing the working class and blocking their path to justice. Capitalists did not share the interests of queer people; they wanted to exploit them.

In the years since Stonewall, the corporate outlook on queer people has slowly shifted. In 1992, Philip Morris specifically targeted queer people through advertising in a gay magazine, viewing the endangered minority as yet another opportunity to expand their profit by endangering our health. When they faced criticism of their apparent acceptance of queer people, they folded, responding “we have no plans to advertise… in any other supposedly homosexual publications.” Is this queer liberation?

Fifty years later, the relationship of capital to queer people continues to be one of exploitation. 2019’s Albuquerque Pride is presented by a slate of capitalist interests. Bud Light, a platinum sponsor, has developed an aggressive campaign surrounding this year’s pride month, including rainbow-colored beer bottles. Yet, LGBTQI individuals are significantly more likely to suffer from addiction to substances including alcohol, with binge drinking and problematic alcohol abuse among gay men is about two times more common than among straight men. Anheuser-Busch, then, is solidifying their position of benefiting from the challenges queer people face.

Clear Channel, a gold-level sponsor, is a part of national media giant iHeartMedia, which has faced repeated controversy over its profiting from offensive anti-gay rhetoric spread by its radio talent. Fellow gold-level sponsor HP holds significant contracts with the Egyptian government, which continues to prosecute men accused of homosexual activity. Gap, a brass sponsor, outsources their manufacturing labor overseas and has been credibly accused of employing children and others in sweatshop conditions.

This is not queer liberation. It is rainbow-colored capitalism.

Join the Albuquerque DSA in calling for justice and equality for both queer people and the working class as a whole.

Read DSA’s national statement on LGBTQI rights

Brake Light Clinic

The Albuquerque chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) will be holding a “brake-light clinic” to replace brake lights and repaint license plates for Albuquerque drivers, free of charge. This event aims to help local residents avoid unnecessary stops by police, which often lead to expensive tickets and fines, court appearances, or dangerous interactions. This free clinic will be held on Sunday, March 31st from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM, in the International District at 8016 Zuni Road SE. No appointment is needed.

Tickets for broken brake-lights are a clear example of how New Mexico’s criminal justice system, like the rest of the nation’s, unfairly prosecute the marginalized. For working class and impoverished people, a ticket from the police can be economically devastating, forcing an untenable choice between rent and food or compliance with the law. Many cannot leave their workplace for a courthouse visit, which can lead to a vicious cycle of escalating fines or warrants. And of course, a police stop can be extremely dangerous for anyone – especially people of color and those who are undocumented. In 2016, police pulled Philando Castile over due to a nonfunctional brake light. He was shot and killed almost immediately, without provocation, in front of his partner and his four-year-old daughter. No traffic violation warrants an execution. The most dangerous thing about a broken brake light is not the hazard to other drivers, but the threat of violence by the state.

DSA chapters across the United States have held brake-light clinics over several years, based on a program piloted by the New Orleans DSA. Albuquerque DSA has replaced dozens of brake lights for local residents so far. This upcoming clinic will be the third organized by the Albuquerque chapter, with more expected on a quarterly basis. No appointment is required for drivers to attend the upcoming clinic.

Statement on the Killing of a Guatemalan Boy by the United States

The Albuquerque Democratic Socialists of America has resolved to condemn the killing of an eight-year-old Guatemalan boy at the hands of U.S. immigration officials today, December 25th, in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Our choice of words intentionally contradicts the mainstream narrative regarding the deaths of the currently unidentified boy and seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal earlier this month. Their deaths are not unfortunate accidents but trial balloons for a white nationalist agenda long in process and rapidly accelerating before our eyes.

We must also mention and condemn the U.S. government’s long history of imperialism in Guatemala and Central America. American military and economic actions have been directly responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans and the displacement of well over a million more.
Immigrants and refugees are being denied their agency and freedom of movement, and more and more frequently being killed, by a government illegitimately established on stolen land. We reject this state of affairs and insist on the dismantling of CBP, ICE, and the white nationalist and imperialist structures plaguing the global community.

Endorsement of New Mexico Open Primaries

In the State of New Mexico, those voters who have chosen not to select a major political party (referred to as “decline-to-state” voters) are currently prohibited from voting in primary elections. In today’s political climate, many voters do not feel that any major party represents their interests. However, those voters who choose not to align with a major party are effectively disenfranchised, prevented from having their say in a critical step of the electoral process.

The New Mexico Open Primaries campaign is working to restore full representation of decline-to-state voters by allowing individuals not affiliated with a major party to vote in the primary election of the party of their choosing. This initiative, now filed in the New Mexico House of Representatives as HB 93, will lead to more competitive elections with better representation of New Mexico residents, instead of major party donors. Most importantly, it will reinforce democratic representation: voting at all stages of the electoral process should be a right of every citizen, not just those citizens who support a major party. No voter should be required to declare their membership in a major party in order to enjoy the full right to the ballot box.

By consent of the December 2018 general meeting, the Albuquerque DSA endorses New Mexico Open Primaries and HB 93. Direct action to support HB 93 are in planning now. If you are interested in joining us in supporting this important reform, join our mailing list for more information.

Statement on the Health Security Act

We, the Albuquerque Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, have chosen to endorse the New Mexico Health Security Act. Establishing single-payer healthcare will benefit all New Mexicans, including and especially those unserved or underserved by private insurers. The current healthcare system disenfranchises poor and working peoples for the sake of profit; a public option will provide an affordable alternative. We believe that healthcare is a right, and support the New Mexico Health Security Act as an important step towards ensuring all New Mexicans can access that right.

For more information on the New Mexico Health Security Act, visit nmhealthsecurity.org
For more information on Central New Mexico DSA, visit abqdsa.org
And for more information on the Democratic Socialists of America in general, go to dsausa.org

Endorsement of National Prison Strike 2018

We, the Albuquerque Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, have voted to endorse the 2018 Prison Strike and announce the organization of a solidarity action in support of the strike to take place on Saturday, September 1st at 6:30 pm. The action will be held outside the federal courthouse at 4th & Lomas in downtown Albuquerque.

The demands of the incarcerated individuals participating in the strike can be found here. Our support for the strike, be it in the form of work stoppage, refusal to eat, sit-ins, or boycotts, is driven by our principles as socialists. Our action is intended to express the following:

1.       The recognition and affirmation of the humanity and rights of all incarcerated individuals.

2.       A call that the national demands of incarcerated people protesting their conditions be met immediately and without repercussions.

3.       An iteration of our vision for a world without prisons.  The demands currently made are but breathing room to organize and make increasingly larger steps on the way to the abolition of the carceral state. There is nothing utopian in our aims; a world without prisons is a requisite for true freedom.

4.       Our intention to highlight the disturbing lack of media coverage given to the prison strike at both a local and national level. Particularly as modern-day prison slavery is an extension of chattel slavery, one of the greatest injustices the world has ever seen, it is appalling to see the public kept unaware of this struggle.

5.       The promotion of an understanding of the broader connections between the struggle of incarcerated individuals and those on the outside. Prisoners are workers, prisoners are disproportionately working-class and non-white, and the exploitation of prison labor is being used to prop up cheap prices of consumer goods for the sake of profit.

As socialists, these are our intentions, and we will fight on the outside for our comrades on the inside. For the abolition of prison slavery, for the abolition of the carceral state, and a truly free world.

In solidarity,

Albuquerque DSA

Text of Speech Given at Albuquerque May Day 2018 at Morning Side Park

First of all, I want to thank all of you for showing up on this International Worker’s Day.

There has been considerable thought on what we, the Central New Mexico Democratic Socialists of America, wanted to say today, but sometimes it helps to speak directly from the heart.

The 21st century began in chaos and the time we live in is one of tumultuous change and progress, some of it good and some of it bad. We are facing challenges that our forebears never thought were possible. We are facing challenges that few people ever thought of planning for.

We are a generation that came out of one of the worst economic collapses since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, caused by rampant capitalist greed. We are staring down the barrels of fascism, automation in manufacturing, and corporatism. Our rights to organize inside and outside our workplaces are increasingly being challenged. We are seeing a new wave of right-wing, white supremacist terrorism in our communities. Racists, bigots, and authoritarians no longer have to wear pointy white hoods, they wear red baseball caps.

The time for fear is over. We are standing up, straightening our backs, and fighting back. We are protesting and counter protesting. We are making our voices heard. We are still organizing, and we are doing it well. For the first time in decades, it is socially acceptable to publicly identify as a socialist, an anarchist, a communist, a leftist, or a progressive, and we have to take advantage of this opportunity if we want to build a better world.

The world is in turmoil, but in that chaos, we can shape a better society, we can bring order into the disorder, we can give people hope, we can forge a better world out of the ashes of the old. Our new direction is no longer to rehash old grievances, fight old fights, seek revenge on old enemies, but to take on the future with hope in our hearts, wisdom in our heads, and a will and a drive to do better for everyone.

Automation is a scary thing for many of us because it upends a supposed “natural order” of things. It challenges us to think differently about what we want direct our personal labor towards, it changes our plans for the future. We are not luddites, we understand that technological advancements are a natural thing but there is hope in this area, proposals for Universal Basic Incomes and Job Guarantees are seeing new light and new support. Furthermore, proposals for higher wages, better benefits, and Universal Health Care are also in the works for many communities and the nation.

However, it is one thing to have our bread but we as people in a modern world also need roses. We need happiness beyond the 9 to 5 office job. We need art, culture, and most of all we need meaning in our work. We want to chase our dreams, take big risks, and find satisfaction in the direction of our lives. For many of us, the new wave of activism has provided new meaning in life. We want to do more than increase company profits by percentage points for the rest of our lives.

In this new era, we can shift the emphasis from living to work to living for our passions. We can recapture the idea of being a “renaissance” person, someone who is endlessly passionate about a plethora of topics, ideas, hobbies, and projects.

In this new world we can build a democratic economy, one that values us instead of profits. Workers are more productive, happier, and more creative when they are not alienated from the products of their labor. The worker needs to be more attached to their labor and they need a say in what their workplace does to them, for them, and with them. We can build a better economy that truly serves our desires and passions and not our greed and pride.

Today, I ask you to join us and commit to building a better world, building a better, more democratic economy as an attempt at reaching not only for our bread but for our roses as well. Thank you all for your time and enjoy your evening.

Condemnation of Albuquerque Journal

In the February 7th, 2018 issue of the Albuquerque Journal, a highly racist, offensive, and xenophobic cartoon by Sean Delonas was published in the Editorial section. In response to this, we, the Central New Mexico Democratic Socialists of America, are calling for the resignation or immediate termination of D’Val Westphal, Editorial Editor of the Albuquerque Journal, and the ending of any contract between the Journal and Cagel Cartoons, a cartoon syndicator that optioned the offending cartoon.

Westphal’s reasoning for publishing the cartoon was explained in a staff written article published on the Albuquerque Journal’s website the following evening. She explained that the goal of the Editorial page was to inspire debate and challenge reader’s opinions. We feel that the decision to publish the cartoon demonstrates poor judgement, lack of integrity, and a lack of basic human compassion towards members of her own community.

In an era where the President of the United States of America can openly call Mexicans rapists and thugs, and his Chief of Staff can call Dreamers lazy, this type of cartoon is not shocking. We denounce the Albuquerque Journal’s flagrant disrespect of Dreamers and immigrants. These types of cartoons only seek to enforce and further imprint racist, xenophobic, and repugnant stereotypes of the most vulnerable members of our community; they do nothing to inspire debate or conversation, only condemnation and distrust in traditional media