Monthly Favorites List: May 2021

The Irish Worker’s Monthly Favorites List is a collection of books, films, songs, and other media as recommended by our staff members, with the goal of highlighting a range of media for our readers to learn about different issues and see new perspectives on political issues. Let us know your thoughts if you read, watch, or listen to anything on this list throughout the month!

Books

Justice for Some by Noura Erakat 

This is a must read for anyone wanting to explore new approaches to understanding justice in Palestine. Noura Erakat proposes that law is a question of power, but that power too can be used. This is where the emancipatory function of law can take place: through the work of “legal actors,” correct applications of international law can serve as a cause to freedom for a nation where justice for so long has failed. Professor Noura Erakat recently spoke about Justice for Some in conversation with Law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell at the University of Notre Dame. A recording can be found here. 

Our Word is Our Weapon by Subcomandante Marcos

Selected writings from a leader of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico. The Zapatistas are an indigenous liberation movement fighting against neoliberalism and the devastating effects of NAFTA on their communities. Ranging from essays describing the issues plaguing indigenous communities in Chiapas to old legends of creation of the earth and why we are destined to seek justice, Our Word is Our Weapon is both thought-provoking and inspirational.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

Pedagogy is simultaneously a commentary on the modern mainstream model of education — the “banking model of education” — and a theory-based outline of what constitutes true liberation for oppressed peoples. The core lesson: the desire for liberation must come from the people themselves, and oppressors must both recognize their role in perpetuating oppression and truly become one with the oppressed in pursuit of a society beyond structural and cultural violence. Freire draws on his own experiences working with illiterate adults to write this foundational book in critical pedagogy.

Music & Podcasts

“Under the Devil’s Knee” by Tré Burt, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell, and Sunny War

In the aftermath of the trial of George Floyd’s murderer, it seems only fitting to reflect on the state of affairs in the United States while listening to Tré Burt’s “Under the Devil’s Knee,” a heart-wrenching account of Floyd’s life, as well as Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor. This song reminds listeners of the lives these three individuals, and any other person murdered by the police, led prior to their deaths — a reminder much needed when many reported narratives about them are focused on their killers or on video footage of their death.

“Solidarity Forever” by Pete Seeger

In honor of May Day earlier this month, a labor song classic is much needed. “Solidarity Forever” was originally written in 1915 by Ralph Chaplin, an organizer for Industrial Workers of the World, after he was inspired by workers’ solidarity at the Paint Creek–Cabin Creek strike of 1912 but, like many labor songs, is edited and adapted to account for the changing circumstances of the fight for workers’ rights. This song calls out the capitalist hierarchy of the United States and reminds all of us of the needed solidarity that the government has worked hard to limit.

“How ‘Communism’ Brought Racial Equality To The South” episode of NPR’s Tell Me More segment

This episode of Tell Me More is an interview from 2010 between host Michel Martin and historian Robin Kelley about communist organizing in the post-Reconstruction era for Black Southerners. While not included in many history books, communists played a significant role in the civil rights and labor rights movements, using grassroots strategies to gain power. Kelley also talks about the ways that the southern communists protected their community members from cruelties such as water shutoffs or evictions, and about his book “Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression”.

Art

I Witness Silwan, Who is Watching Whom?

In light of the HRW report utilizing evidence-based analysis to call Israel an apartheid as well as the current ongoing Nakba that continues to terrorize Palestinians in diaspora and Palestine, it is important to recognize and learn from creative outlets for liberation. One such collective is I Witness Silwan, an intersectional art project supporting the longstanding fight against dispossession. Murals depicting the eyes of local and international leaders, activists, workers, and more, are scattered across the hills of Silwan, East Jerusalem.

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