Sarah Jaffe

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  • fanning photo 2

    If All You Have Is a Hammer

    Sarah Jaffe

    When you sign up, allegedly, to fight for freedom and democracy and you see nothing of that kind being practiced here in the United States, with the mass surveillance and the reach of agencies like the National Security Agency, etc., this is not what you put your life on the line for. When I see someone like Colin Kaepernick refusing to put his hand over his heart and stand for the national anthem, I think people who have actually sacrificed for freedom and democracy really respond well to that in a lot of ways.

  • Clara Donney, a recipient of Meals on Wheels, a program that faces cuts in Trump's proposed budget, with the U.S. Air Force member who delivered her Thanksgiving dinner. / U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Katrina Heikkinen

    Donald Trump and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Budget

    Sarah Jaffe

    One of the things that I am seeing, at least, is a lot of energy. People are energized particularly around healthcare. They are trying to reach out to their representatives. I live in a relatively small rural community and people are showing up at town hall meetings and giving their representatives an earful on these various priorities, like heating assistance for low-income folks, Meals on Wheels. If people were to show up at town hall meetings to reach out to their members of Congress and let them know that they care about these programs, that will probably go a long way. That would probably have a great effect, certainly more than in past years.

  • Kandi Mossett of the Indigenous Environmental Network in the encampment at Standing Rock. / Sarah Jaffe

    So Much Bigger Than Standing Rock

    Sarah Jaffe

    The way that the camp started, first of all, was with the youth. They had a vision and a goal and a dream because of the fact that suicide rates in our communities are so high. It is so devastating that so many kids would rather kill themselves than deal with the hurt and the transgenerational trauma that has happened over the years. When we talk about the camps, we have to include a history of they began and why. It was amazing to see youth like Jasilyn Charger and Bobbi Jean Three Legs and other youth that decided to do these runs, where they ran in their own community—it was just a few miles and they were like, “This is fun. We should organize another run.” That is when they called up and included the Indigenous Environmental Network. We had helped them with their first run, just for food and funding.

  • Megha Anwer and Melissa Gruver are among the organizers of the womens strike in Lafayette, Indiana. / Photo courtesy of Megha Anwer

    Organizing in Pence Country

    Sarah Jaffe

    To those who say that strike is only the luxury of the privileged, that is bullshit. Strike is the most basic form of resistance for the most vulnerable women. It is precisely the most vulnerable women that have come out and demanded their rights over the history of modernity really. People should stop shaming women who strike. The other thing is, of course, it doesn’t matter whether you are liberated or not, whether you are privileged or not. What matters to us is how you are using your privilege. If you have been privileged and you are coming out to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable women, then you are using your privilege right.

  • a group of volunteers hold a banner reading "Lewiston Unites for Human Rights"

    The Growing Grassroots

    Sarah Jaffe

    I am hopeful that if people follow Maine, they might learn some things that they could reshape to fit their circumstances, other folks who are working in rural contexts and in very white and conservative and working class contexts. If people want to reach out to Maine, we want to hear from them.

  • protester being by by two police officers. A tag on his shirt reads "Justice for Janitors."

    Whistle-blowers, Hedge Clippers, and Strikers

    Sarah Jaffe

    A big part of our work is basically saying, “Trump has surrounded himself with these set of players. That is who they really are. Let’s look at all of the way they screw people that are the opposite of Trump.” The way I think about it is, we have to make Trump guilty of every evil and sin they commit. If Trump picked Elaine Chao, then he is supporting fake accounts. He is supporting all these things. On the other hand, anybody who associates with Trump has to be guilty of all of his sins. So, Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan and Lloyd Blankfein from Goldman Sachs like to pretend they are at least social progressives. Gary Cohn who is a Goldman Sachs guy who went over to the administration stood behind Trump when he signed the Muslim ban. We need to hold Goldman Sachs accountable. Goldman Sachs and their people are behind anti-immigrant and Muslim bashing. I think there is a fantastic opportunity to force these contradictions, drive some wedges in the ruling class, and really tell the story about what used to be secret. These are the guys that are running both the economy and the government.

  • Aly Wane speaks at a School of the Americas protest, 2013. / Photo courtesy of Aly Wane

    It Is Just Open Season Now

    Sarah Jaffe

    There is a hypocrisy in being shocked about Trump proposing a border wall when the compromise by Republicans and Democrats included this ramp-up of ICE and CBP and a border wall that was deeply, deeply militarized. I think that is one of the things that we need to pay attention to, especially as we organize somewhat with the Democratic Party is we need to remember that many of these folks have not necessarily been on our side and have compromised our humanity left and right.

  • Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor speaking at an anti-Inauguration event in Washington, D.C. / Photo courtesy of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    Demonstrations for Peace and Bread

    Sarah Jaffe

    There is still the issue of childcare—there is no access to public or state funded childcare. The attacks on public education. The attacks on the public infrastructure. All of these have disproportionate impact on the lives of women. On a very basic level, we need a feminist politics that responds to these issues as the most urgent. I think we saw that the outpouring around the January 21 protest showed that there is actually vast support for a resurgent feminist movement. Part of our objective is to argue for a certain kind of radical politics within that and not for a political agenda that is quite limited and has this kind of narrow goals about the social mobility of women within corporate America as a sole objective.

  • Michael Kink arrested during civil disobedience at the New York State Capitol in Albany June 2013 with a multi-issue activist coalition. / Nathaniel Brooks

    Battles We Have Fought Before

    Sarah Jaffe

    I see someone like Elizabeth Warren, I see someone like Zephyr Teachout, I see someone like Kshama Sawant, I see candidates that can speak out forcefully and directly and link economic interests and racial interests and class interests and get people to stand together. There are people that are going to be able to do this effectively and the moment is ripe for them. I hope that we have hundreds and hundreds of people like Zephyr or Bernie or Elizabeth Warren at the local level that will say, “I am just going to go do this” because it is clearer than ever that conventional politics have failed, that the systems of money and politics are all linked in Wall Street banks and insurance companies and special interests looking out for themselves instead of regular people. Reality has a way of getting in touch with you if you are not in touch with it.

  • Day Without Immigrants march

    Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes

    Sarah Jaffe

    We are unable to make a difference in politicians’ deals but we live here, we make money here, and we spend money here. So we are going to spread the message for the community and be ready in the best way possible. We are not going to go out and make noises for nothing. No, we’ve got ideas, we’ve got the logistics.

  • Desai at a charter signing event

    A Moment of Urgency

    Sarah Jaffe

    On January 28, as protesters rushed to airports around the country seeking to defend refugees and migrants against Trump’s travel ban, taxi drivers with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance took the protest a step further and refused to pick up fares at JFK Airport. The taxi drivers’ strike caught the imagination of the public and even spurred a massive campaign to #DeleteUber after the ride-hailing app lowered its fares in an apparent attempt to break the strike.

  • ICE police raid

    Deportation Nation

    Sarah Jaffe

    I think we sugarcoat it by making it very procedural, but actually, that night she was kidnapped from her family and there are many of us in the community that took action. We had them waiting outside in vigil for Lupita in hopes that the director would have released her. Unfortunately, because of Trump’s new executive orders she, much like 8 million other people, are now high priority for deportation. I was standing on the sidewalk and we started to see vans leaving.

  • David Goodner coordinates a leadership team of rank and file workers and everyday people during a "Fight For A Fair Economy: Make Wall Street Pay" action outside of Wells Fargo in Iowa City. / Photo courtesy of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

    Old-school Organizing in Iowa

    Sarah Jaffe

    There is also a lot of inspiring social organizing in Iowa. It is not to a scale compared to New York City or L.A. or anything, but in 2012 a grassroots community organization named Iowa CCI, bird-dogged Mitt Romney at the state fair and forced him into his “Corporations are people, my friend” gaffe. There was a relatively strong Occupy Wall Street movement here. Bernie Sanders tied Hillary Clinton in the Iowa Caucus and on January 21, the day of the worldwide Women’s Marches this year, twenty-six thousand people rallied at the state capitol in Des Moines, which is the second-largest protest in Iowa State history.

  • Standing Rock Tents

    Standing Rock Is Everywhere

    Sarah Jaffe

    The median income at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is a little over $13,000. There are key issues of healthcare and economic development and education. In many ways, I think the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has really been showing how difficult and how important it is to build unity in support of protecting our larger rights, Indian Country-wide right to protect our sovereignty and that is what the fight in stopping the pipeline was about.

  • ben speight

    The Labor Movement We Need

    Sarah Jaffe

    I don’t blame labor leaders for going to meet with Trump, but I think we should have had a much more deliberate plan for making sure that those that went to meet with Trump were representatives of a broader working class contingent that front-loaded issues that were of concern to our members. The fact is, many of our members, members of color, women and our union sisters, our union members that come from immigrant families, union members that have the concern that their rights are going to be stripped, that their access to workers’ rights on the job is going to be eroded.

  • Undocumented Students: You are not alone

    Justice in—and from—the Classroom

    Sarah Jaffe

    It really helped to expose the fact that there are a majority of us in the school district that see a much bigger purpose for education than just preparing our students for a low-wage job or shipping them through the school-to-prison pipeline, that we want education to be about empowering our students to create a better future.

  • JFK airport Rally

    Dispatch from the JFK Refugee Rally

    Sarah Jaffe

    I’m at JFK Terminal 4, where hundreds of people and growing every minute are here to denounce the unconscionable and unconstitutional executive orders that Donald Trump signed yesterday and that now are tearing families apart here at JFK Airport, we know of at least twelve people who were detained overnight. One is now free, and everyone’s here to cheer the fight for the remaining refugees who have been detained here at JFK.

  • BYP100 protestors were among those who created a blockade at Donald Trump's inauguration last week. / Democracy Now

    Putting Our Bodies on the Line

    Sarah Jaffe

    I am not sure how someone goes from the Women’s March to direct action, frankly. I think the thing that would be closest would be the arrests that happened in Washington [against the Keystone XL pipeline]. That was people who decided to get arrested for climate change. Maybe that might be a thing that they could do. Because I think that the 350 action reached a similar population of liberal, New York Times-subscribing, majority-white people who aren’t seeing themselves as activists yet, who would actually take action to do something. I am not sure if the Women’s March is there yet, in that sense, but I think that is an avenue to go.

  • Home Depot Strike

    Justice for Janitors

    Sarah Jaffe

    If workers don’t work, our economy doesn’t work, their communities don’t work, and it begins to break down for the corporations. I think the strike is such a critical tool because it really is a tremendous amount of power that workers have. The bosses spend hours and hours coming up with strategies to teach workers that their voice doesn’t matter and that they have no power and that they just need to follow the rules and listen to the boss. Our job is critical to help people understand how much power they actually have and that the strike is the most powerful tool they have to be able to use their voice and their power.

  • Sarah Jaffe talks with Erin Mahoney of National Womens' Liberation. / Photo courtesy of Erin Mahoney

    Beyond the March

    Sarah Jaffe

    We need things, like national free childcare, paid parental leave like they have in other countries. Two years in these other countries! A minimum fifteen dollars an hour for all women, no exceptions, all sectors of the workforce. We want to save Medicare and expand it to national healthcare and national childcare. We don’t want to be picking up the slack for programs that are being privatized by the Republicans.

  • Artwork courtesy of DisruptJ20

    Trump Interruption

    Sarah Jaffe

    We are doing a lot of non-violent direct action trainings. Then, on Wednesday, we are doing a queer dance party at Mike Pence’s house. Thursday there is an action at an Alt-Right Trump inaugural ball called the Deploraball, trying to shut that down. Then, starting on Friday morning, which is the big day, we are having blockades go into action at all the checkpoints around the inauguration parade route and to get into the viewing area.

  • Kali Akuno, co-director of Cooperation Jackson, a project advancing a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi through a network of worker-owned coops. / Photo courtesy Kali Akuno/Cooperation Jackson


    Sarah Jaffe

    Once it was clear that he had won the Electoral College, he was going to be the next president of The United States, a point that I raised was “Now we need to prepare to be ungovernable.” That lingered in my head. It is a phrase that I remember picking up from my younger days, from the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s as part of their non-compliance strategy. So, drawing on that historical memory is where that phrase came from. The general idea of the project is to start propagating ideas on how to build and resist this incoming regime. There is a focus on Trump, which is necessary, but I think we miss the boat if we don’t really look at the Republican controlled Congress, the Republican controlled Supreme Court, which is now an inevitability, and if we don’t look at the fact that Republicans control two-thirds of all of the state governments.

  • Sarah Jaffe

    Irish Exceptionalism: The Nationalist Left

    Sarah Jaffe

    Coming to Ireland from the United States, particularly the United States in 2016 under the looming shadow of Trumpism, the latest incarnation of a nasty right-wing populism that wraps itself in the flag and scapegoats… Read More »

  • moorestreetprotestNiamh

    Unexecuted Ideas of an Irish Republic

    Sarah Jaffe

    There is still no government in Ireland, more than nine weeks after the general election knocked down the ruling coalition that had imposed Troika-mandated austerity. This means that Enda Kenny, after losing the first vote… Read More »

  • An Irish anti-EU poster from 2010. / Sarah Jaffe

    Getting Your Irish Up

    Sarah Jaffe

    As Ireland heads out to the polling booths today to vote in a general election, the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916—the doomed rebellion that kicked off the war for Irish independence from… Read More »