WBAI (99.5FM), Pacifica’s New York affiliate of their nationwide network of independent community radio stations, has launched their first live programming effort with the phenomenal national radio personality, Bob Law. On Saturday, March 9, “From the Streets with Bob Law” aired for the first time live at Sistas’ Place, a landmark coffeehouse on Nostrand Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn which features renown African-American jazz cultural artists and grassroots national and international politics facing Black people today.
Bob Law was joined by co-host/guest Ann Trip of WBLS “News and Views” and executive producer, researcher and “voice” of the nationally-syndicated Black History Minute (United Stations Radio Network), where she profiles the historic, cultural, political and social milestones of African-Americans. Their special guest, Jade Arrindell, M. Ed, is the founder of “Victory of the People Movement” established in 2017 as an extension of her commitment to undoing racism work within the U.S. educational system.
The theme of the broadcast was economic sanctions as a weapon for grassroots people against corporations. Law also focused on the emerging generation of Black youth and their participation in politics in our community. The live broadcast opened the discussion to a large, eager community audience that filled Sistas’ Place to voice their own views. The glaring issues facing our community were gentrification, affordable housing, systemic mortgage foreclosures, education, and mediocre political leadership who are not fighting for the quality of our lives.
He opened with a question to Ann Trip: “We are seeing the results of the blue wave in the midterm elections where younger people are making a dent and making things happen in politics nationally and right here in New York City. But I wanted to get your ideas about the emergence of the younger generation, Black people under 40, and how you measure their significance.”
Trip said, “In some ways they’re being over measured, people outside our community and don’t know our community, don’t know what is going on. But it’s wonderful to see the emergence of this action and I saw a lot of it the first time Obama was running for election. They wanted to vote and be counted. There are some really bright minds out there that I’m so happy about.”
“The problem is,” Trip continued, “though they speak about what I like to hear and want to do the right thing, some of them are a little disrespectful of the older people. A lot of the people who vote for them are older people who are registered to vote. We haven’t really gotten a lot of young people in our community to register to vote. That, I wish, would change. I would also like the young people who are running to know that their votes are coming mainly from older people. They say ‘I like that young brother, I’m going to vote for him.’ I think it needs to be a collective obviously, and Jade would have an answer to that. In think more young people need to know that their vote matters. If we hadn’t voted for Obama, he would not have been president.”
“But that is not the way the Black vote is characterized,” Law replied. “What they say is that the Black candidate cannot win with just the Black vote. That we have to reach out to other groups. They leave out the fact that you can’t win without the Black vote.”
Jade Arrindell, an “[un]apologetically Black educator” from Crown Heights, Brooklyn who is involved in Democratic Party grassroots organizing, said, “There are a lot of younger Black candidates running for office now but they are not operating under a Black agenda. Many of our Black politicians are heavily engaged in the political scene in democratic clubs run and organized by non-Black folk and are politically obligated to them.”
Norman, a middle aged gentleman in the audience, stated, “We have Black faces in high places, but once they get into power they just go along to get along. They are scared to use their power for the people who voted to put them in office. We are living in an economic system that is called capitalism. At the base of that is the almighty dollar. Marcus Garvey told us ‘You have to own.’ Black businesses thrived in our community when I was growing up. We owned homes. Gentrification is really robbery. They are offering us pittances for what we own.”
Law tied the question of power, leadership and respect for the needs and concerns of the Black community to his economic plan. “Black people spend over $1.2 trillion annually in this country and don’t get any return on our money. I wonder how effective economic sanctions can be by way of influencing economic and social policy. U.S. corporations get tremendous revenue from our community.”
He cited the “Respect Us Campaign” being launched by the National Congress of Black Women to rid the airwaves of disrespectful, hateful music. Pop artists like Cardi B, Kanye West, Nikki Minaj, 21 Savage and others have been targeted because their lyrics exude hate against Black women and often the Black community.
“If we target certain companies, particularly fast food restaurants and department stores, we can withhold our money long enough to affect their margin of profit. Direct action with economic power can influence legislators, policies and businesses that disrespect our community and hinder the quality of our lives. We must use every weapon we have to affect change. Our money is key,” Law concluded.
The next WBAI Live broadcast of “From the Streets with Bob Law” will be held Saturday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Church of God and Christ, 221 Kingston Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.