BrownTown spills the tea on surveillance capitalism and talks abolitionist tech with Alyxandra Goodwin, who is recently organizing the #StopShotSpotter campaign in Chicago. In part one of this two-part episode, the gang unpack surveillance in various forms from policing to social media while unpacking the many intricacies and insidious ways it controls our lives from the most intimate to the most systemic.
Alyx and the gang quickly digs into the relationship between social media tech surveillance and large corporations, stating that these industries are moving faster than state regulation can keep up with or can even understand (see Zuckerberg vs. Congress). Alyx unpacks her article The True Dilemma: Silicon Valley, Race & Profit while BrownTown turns the surveillance conversation to the prison-industrial complex (PIC). As capitalism's output is always profit above all, we see the PIC's usage of surveillance to further the protection of that profit on top of uplifting the anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and the overall quell of dissent that it was founded on.
BrownTown and Alyx sift through numerous related topics with surveillance and social control at the forefront, centering the current Chicago campaign to cancel the ShotSpotter contract with Chicago Police Department (which several other cities have done). LEFTOUT comrade and writer Todd St. Hill's article Where Counter-terrorism Got Us adds weight to the turn of surveillance in the U.S. after 9/11 as we reflect on the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan and the new departments and machines of surveillance that it yielded. David transitions the conversation out by asking about media narratives and pop culture's role in furthering copaganda and acceptance of new technologies without interrogating the unaltered violent systems that they often embolden. If technology is a mere puppet, surveillance capitalism and the prison-industrial complex is the puppet master. Originally recorded September 15, 2021. Listen to Part Two!
Alyx is currently a Deputy Campaign Director on Policing and Incarceration at the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), organizes with BYP100 Chicago, and is a co-founder and writer with LEFT OUT Magazine. Her writing and activism are centered around the momentum and challenges of building Black power and self-determination. Her work at ACRE currently focuses on the relationship between the finance industry and policing, racialized capitalism, and how they exacerbate oppressions.
Mentioned in episode and other information:
CREDITS: Intro soundbite from SoapBox's Stop ShotSpotter PSA edited by James Edward Murray and outro song Feds Watching by 2 Chainz ft. Pharrell. Audio engineered by Genta Tamashiro and Kiera Battles. Episode graphic by Ellen Hao from South Side Weekly's Shot Heard Round the City article.