May 17, 2023
Interviewer: RAFAEL KHACHATURIAN. Social justice movements are often defined by high-visibility moments that succeed in crystallizing new attitudes and enlarging the scope of national debate. What often follows, as media scholar and activist RACHEL KUO explores in her work, is a slow death by a thousand cuts: co-optation, backlash, internal discord and lack of resources, and the sheer capacity of pervasive state and corporate propaganda to reset the status quo. In her wide-ranging discussion with political theorist Rafael Khachaturian, she recounts lessons from recent high-profile movements, in particular Black Lives Matter and the interwoven abolitionist pushes against policing and incarceration. While disheartened by, for instance, the way that violence against minorities – not to mention the seat of American government – gets used to reinforce state violence and surveillance, she draws hope from the dedication and creativity of activists, emphasizing that the most important work happens outside of the media spotlight.