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Thank you to this episode’s sponsor! UH has a phenomenal social work program that offers face-to-face master's and doctorate degrees, as well as an online and hybrid MSW. They offer one of the country’s only Political Social Work programs and an Abolitionist Focused Learning Opportunity. Located in the heart of Houston, the program is guided by their bold vision to achieve social, racial, economic, and political justice, local to global. In the classroom and through research, they are committed to challenging systems and reimagining ways to achieve justice and liberation. In 2022 they will continue their ongoing series, Eyes On Abolition that explores abolition as practice and as a critical framework to bring about change, and invite you to join them in April when they host Becoming Abolitionists author, Derecka Purnell. Go to http://www.uh.edu/socialwork to learn more.
In this episode, I talk with Jasmine Banks, who is the Executive Director of UnKoch My Campus, a national campaign that investigates and exposes how right-wing billionaire Charles Koch and his Koch network influence education, both in higher ed and K-12. Many of you who follow the podcast already care about racial, social, economic, and environmental justice, care about multiracial democracy, but do we always know the hidden influences of the agenda that opposes all of this, utilizing right-wing think tanks, research, and targeted campaigns? Jasmine explains what the Koch network is and how, through multi-million-dollar contributions, they promote ideas and policies that suppress voting rights, question climate change while actually advancing it, deny the reality of COVID, attack workers’ rights, and are behind the wide-spread efforts to ban any discussion of slavery and systemic racism in schools by attacking critical race theory and the 1619 Project. She shares that Koch helped fund the January 6th attempted coup and that multiracial democracy is truly at stake. UnKoch My Campus has released reports of how the Koch network carries out its agenda and those reports are available on their website. Jasmine explains how UnKoch My Campus works with students who organize to challenge the Koch agenda. She explains how the ruling of Citizens United treated corporations like people and how there is basically unchecked financial influence corporations have over elections and legislation. Policy folks often say we need to “follow the money” and Jasmine does a phenomenal job in breaking this down. Jasmine also shares how she got into this work and talks about working as a therapist. I hope this conversation inspires you to action.