NCADA “All American Girl” PSA Reaction

A.A.R.M.E.D. with Facts

My response to NCADA’s Executive Director, Howard Weissman’s post about critics of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse based out of St. Louis, MO.  This post is regarding NCADA’s PSA with the #heroin which premiered locally during Super Bowl 50, yet was accessible nationally via the Internet and social media.

HERE IS THE PSA: Please watch first if you haven’t already:

Dear Howard Weissman,

Forgive my trespasses, but I stand by them. The 2016 Super Bowl marked 50 years of watching “cheerleaders” cheer on machoism and misogyny, 50 years of sexist commercials, and the fact that young girls are not encouraged to play football but instead do their hair, makeup, and cheer on the guys from junior high until the pros. I’m in Cleveland, not St. Louis, but despite that the Internet brought St. Louis’s NCADA and the “All American Girl” PSA for Heroin into my home.

Mr…

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Racist, Far-Right Propaganda and Threats Against Leftists at Georgia State University: What Does It Mean, Who Is Responsible?

No platform for fascists in Georgia…

Atlanta Antifascists

This September and October a large number of far-Right propaganda stickers were plastered around the Georgia State University (GSU) campus in downtown Atlanta in order to claim political territory (see seventy-six photos here). This propaganda spree was meant not only to encourage racist students and those with far-Right sympathies, but also to intimidate students of color–who make up the majority of the student body–as well as leftists. The purpose of this article is to provide context about some of the far-Right propaganda littered throughout campus, and also to discuss who is responsible for the white nationalist campaign at GSU. The final section provides evidence that GSU economics major Patrick Sharp is responsible for the racist campaign.

The Stickers: How to Interpret Common Images and Slogans of the Extreme, Racist Right

  • White Lives Matter

whitelivesmatter-sticker“White Lives Matter” is not only a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The…

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We’re Moving to “Making Noise in the South”!

Content from this web site, formerly the blog host  for my own writing, and all my new writing will be moving to a new independent media collective called “Making Noise in the South” (MNIS). The new site will focus on issues our region faces from a fresh perspective. We realize there’s not just one homogeneous “Southern heritage,” but a rich and diverse blend of cultures and customs that make us who we are — and we plan to honor that heritage.anti-racism2

Topics will include many of the same issues I already cover, like labor history, racism and white supremacy, mental illness, harm reduction, anti-fascism, and gender issues and patriarchy, with a bold new twist.

We’ll also provide in-depth stories, a working-class analysis of gentrification and shifting demographics in the South, connecting struggles across the South, and provide cultural commentary, as well as film, television, and music coverage.

This is an exciting moment. I look forward to collaborating with new writers, media specialists, and regular folks from across the South.

Thanks so much to all my loyal readers and please keep up with what we’ve got going on at MNIS. Feel free to contact me at jeremy.k.galloway@gmail.com to keep in touch.

Peace, Love, and Solidarity,
–Jeremy G

Gainesville Times Picks Up the Ball Other Media Keeps Dropping

Over the last few months, maybe even years, the media has drowned us in stories about a “new” heroin epidemic. That epidemic lingered long before the media took note, but in light of a recent dramatic spike in overdose deaths, it’s definitely wort of attention now more than ever.

Unfortunately, many of these articles come with a nasty side-effect: they cast a dark shadow on efforts to reduce overdose deaths, like medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and harm reduction (a model that seeks to improve the health of active drug users, provide overdose reversal medications, and prevent transmission of diseases like HIV and Hep C). They also, almost always, further stigmatize some of our country’s most marginalized residents: drug users and those struggling to recover.

The Centers for Disease Control considers MAT the “gold standard” for keeping drug users off illicit opiates, but these and other facts about the benefits of methadone and suboxone treatment are often left out of local media coverage.

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Drugs users and those living with mental health issues face stigma that often compounds our problems and cause us to relapse to using drugs or other harmful behaviors. We are more than a label — we are people, with hearts and feelings too.

Instead, they rely on politicians and patients who failed to comply with their methadone programs and claim methadone and suboxone patients are just “replacing one addiction for another” or branding methadone “chemical handcuffs” (as if heroin was somehow liberating?).

They often rely on controversial, and stereotypical, images of scrawny, unkempt “junkies” or users “cooking up” on screen to draw viewers in. In so doing, they further stigmatize at-risk people who are trying to get help — and might even trigger abstinent people in recovery with pictures of heroin, syringes, or other paraphernalia that recall their days of active addiction.

I say all that, to say this: With their Sunday August 9th story, the Gainesville Times has raised the bar. They relied on none of those dirty tricks and treated the subjects of the story with dignity. They spoke with medical professionals, clinic administrators, and people in the North Georgia community who are, despite the popular myth that no one ever escapes the grasp of heroin addiction, successfully recovering.

I had the great fortune to be interviewed for the story and can’t praise the staff enough for their professionalism. Josh Silavent has a genuine concern for this issue and for those of us facing the stigma of living in recovery that is impossible to miss.

In our era of the 24-hour news cycle, where most outlets rely on tawdry and salacious stories they’ve scraped out of the gutters, it’s refreshing to find journalists who still pride themselves on doing what the news should — sharing the stories of regular people and affording us all an opportunity to have our voices heard.


Special thanks to my harm reduction family at the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, and Georgia Overdose Prevention, and especially to my wife Tori who helped me get on the path to recovery and into the always-exciting world of harm reduction and without whom I probably wouldn’t be here to write this.


If you’d like to take a moment to express your gratitude for this story and the long hours Josh and everyone else at the Gainesville Times put in to making it come together, please reach out to them.


Over the next week, I’ll be writing about my experiences with drugs, my long road to recovery, my adventures in harm reduction, and the work that remains to reduce stigma against those with substance use disorders and mental health issues — and what we can all do to keep saving lives.

Dudes Have Feelings Too. And That’s OK.

This is a response to an opinion piece by Matt Aiken, publisher of the Dahlonega Nugget in the August 5th, 2015 issue:

I don’t envy Matt Aiken’s job. Publishing a newspaper is, I imagine, no simple task. But as a publisher, he has an obligation to present us with information responsibly and sincerely. More than once, now, Matt has demonstrated a disturbing blind spot toward matters of race and gender.

A couple months ago, after the backlash against the now notorious UNG catalog, Matt failed to seek input from any people of color — in response to an issue that clearly affected them. He did graciously publish my critical letter, so I must credit him that.

In the Nugget’s most recent issue, Aiken recounts a trip to see Inside Out with his family. What a beautiful thing, especially considering how many parents neglect to spend quality time with their children anymore.

The problem comes from the absolute fear Aiken displays (so terrible he likens it to being at a horror film!) over being caught crying in public; something a “real” man would presumably never do.

That in itself is problematic enough, but after the incident, Aiken imagines hastening back home to wash away the stink of “emotional tenderness” by performing such “manly” tasks as mowing his lawn with his shirt off.

Gender roles aren't what they once were. In 2015, gender equity doesn't just mean women should make as much as men, but that feminine attributes shouldn't be viewed as weak and - yes, God forbid - a little boy can wear a pink dress and still be tough as nails!

Gender roles aren’t what they once were. In 2015, gender equity doesn’t just mean women should make as much as men, but that feminine attributes shouldn’t be viewed as weak and – yes, God forbid – a little boy can wear a pink dress and still be tough as nails!

While I’m sure this was all meant in jest, this episode reflects a persistent theme of hyper-masculinity that pervades our culture.

At a time when gender norms are being reconsidered, all of us — men especially — have an obligation to be more thoughtful.

Why are we so afraid for our neighbors to see us cry over a film that genuinely touches our hearts? Why must we tightly bottle our emotions, to the point they sometimes explode in a violent burst of anger?

After years of giving thought to these issues myself, I still fight back tears when I speak about close personal issues. If crying over painful memories or touching moments is worthy of shame, what are we doing wrong in this world?

In some quarters, feminism is considered a dirty word. But it’s feminism that poses the tough, sobering questions. Feminism means not only ensuring equal rights for women and demanding autonomy over our bodies, it means liberating all of us from those antiquated gender roles that tie us down.

If a boy wants to play with dolls and wear a pink dress, who are we to tell him that’s wrong? If a little girl wants to roll in the mud and drive a tractor, how is it our place to label her behavior “unladlylike.”

We’re all different, but there’s one thing we all share: feelings. Men have them. Women have them. Even people who don’t identify as either men or women have them. And that means sometimes we cry. Who cares?

Let’s ask ourselves: Who really demonstrates greater strength, the man who hides his tears behind faux-manly yard tools and bare-chested displays of machismo, or the man who cries along with his children and teaches them their feelings are nothing to be ashamed of?

Alabama “Reporter” Continues South’s Legacy of Trying to Silence Strong Black Voices

Special Note: As of August 25th, this site will be moving. Our new home will “Making News in the South,” an independent media collective covering regional issues from a working-class perspective. See you there!

Race relations in the United States, especially after the recent wave of police violence, the Charleston Church Shooting, and the Confederate flag debate that followed, are more strained now than at any point in recent memory. Far from living the “post-racial” utopia some imagine, we live a nation that continues to oppress, marginalize, and even murder people of color without recourse.

With that in mind, several articles from a news site, “The Henry County Report,” based out of Dothan, Alabama caught my attention. The site, operated by John Carroll, a white commentator and self-described investigative journalist, puts forth several articles targeting leaders and residents of the Dothan area. I live in North Georgia, and I’m no expert on community affairs in Southern Alabama, but Carroll’s attacks on Pastor Kenneth Glasgow struck a particular nerve.

Since the Black Lives Matter movement swept the country in 2014, there’s been quite a lot of white anger directed at black communities. With white Southerners defiantly flying the Confederate battle flag, churchgoers in Charleston being gunned down by a white supremacist, and black churches being burned to the ground, it’s impossible to ignore the South’s long history terror and intimidation of black Americans — and white America’s efforts to silence black voices.

With all the white anger directed at black Americans and the social movements against police violence, it’s clear that something must be done. Strong black voices are rising up in resistance, and Pastor Glasgow’s is one of them. It’s not enough for white Americans to stand on the sidelines and offer token support when our friends and neighbors of color are routinely attacked, murdered, and locked in cages. There’s certainly no room for white Americans like Carroll to attack the people of color leading these movements.

A group of protesters are gathered in front of the Justice Department. Pastor Glasgow's group, The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), and several other groups are gathering in Washington on July 30th in support of the

A group of protesters gathered in front of the Justice Department to speak out against police brutality. Pastor Glasgow’s group, The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), and several others are gathering in Washington on July 30th in support of the “Ban the Box” initiative and to protest police brutality and mass incarceration.

I first came to know Pastor Glasgow during a campaign to organize people incarcerated in Georgia prisons. Georgia is one of only two states that doesn’t pay inmates for their labor. Their work keeps the prison-industrial complex in our state moving along and without it, that system would likely fall apart. Pastor Glasgow’s group, The Ordinary People Society (TOPS), was one of the only organizations involved with this effort.

That campaign saw prisoners mount a peaceful work stoppage and hunger strike in several prisons across the state. The work stoppage was short-lived, but the state took the inmates’ demands for better living conditions, basic medical care, payment for their labor, and fair housing and parole as a serious threat. They retaliated against the supposed leaders of the strike, even beating one of the inmates with hammers (warning: graphic images). Several of these inmates continue to protest their conditions.

Carroll criticizes Pastor Glasgow’s attendance at “drug rallies,” which presumably refers to Pastor Glasgow’s involvement in harm reduction conferences and gatherings, at which he’s often a featured speaker. Harm reduction is the idea that, if people are going to keep using drugs or engaging in sex work, we should at least help to minimize their risk of transmitting diseases like HIV and hepatitis C and reduce the risk of overdose, until they’re ready to stop.

Harm reduction groups like the Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition provide basic medical care and testing and refer clients to counseling when they are ready to quit. They also distribute and educate communities on using naloxone, a life-saving drug that reverses opiate overdoses (from April 2014 to June 2015 at least 262 overdoses were reversed in Georgia alone). The movement has been incredibly effective at reducing disease and saving lives. Criticizing the involvement of those with the most experience in these efforts only serves to further stigmatize — and endanger — those struggling with substance use disorders or mental health issues.

TOPS and Pastor Glasgow have also been involved in the “Ban the Box” campaign, including an upcoming rally in Washington, DC. The campaign aims to stop discrimination, reduce stigma against formerly incarcerated people, and open job opportunities they would otherwise be denied.

The campaign has been successful at having some employers and state employers, including most government jobs in Georgia, remove questions about an applicant’s history of incarceration from job applications, affording them an opportunity to explain their past mistakes and how they’ve improved their lives before the door can be shut in their face. Considering that black Americans are unemployed at twice the rate of the general population, campaigns like this are critical.

Pastor Glasgow has been extremely forthcoming about his past history of incarceration. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, merely surviving those experiences and overcoming a dependence on drugs, is a testament to Pastor Glasgow’s strength and determination. If anyone is fit to speak to these issues, it’s someone who’s been there and made it out.

In a country where 1-in-3 black men and 1-in-18 black women can expect to serve time in prison — and where black Americans who use drugs are far more likely to be convicted and incarcerated for longer than white Americans — demonizing those who have been incarcerated only furthers the stigma and hardships mass incarceration and the “War on Drugs” have created in black communities. Such a perspective is not only misguided, it plays into racist attitudes that portray black men and women as a burden to “responsible” white Americans and echoes tired stereotypes about black Americans and drug use.

The

The “Ban the Box” campaign is geared toward removing questions about past incarceration from job applications so job applicants have a chance to explain their past, and how they’ve changed — before having the door shut in their face. The campaign has found success with many employers and government agencies.

Pastor Glasgow’s experience demonstrates he isn’t just another self-serving, self-appointed community leader. He’s the real deal, with the battle scars to prove it. The work he does is invaluable, not only to black communities, but to all Southerners who are stigmatized and marginalized by past mistakes. His story and his words have inspired those of us who haven’t had a voice and those who would otherwise turn a blind eye to be involved in work that improves the lives of our most at-risk communities and saves countless others.

Carroll takes issue with Pastor Glasgow’s involvement in legal investigations and advocacy for victims of the war on drugs and mass incarceration. Convicted felons are barred from becoming licensed attorneys. Mr. Glasgow makes no secret of this. He isn’t an attorney, nor does he (at least from what I’ve seen) attempt to act as one. In my experience with people who have served time in prison, they are often more informed about the law and the legal process than many lawyers.

He finds fault in Pastor Glasgow sometimes receiving payment for his efforts. It’s unclear, though, why this is inappropriate. Most of us expect to be paid for our work. Fighting our racist and ineffective legal system is difficult work. Attempts to deny a share of settlements from injustices perpetrated by this system — a share much less than most attorneys charge — demonstrates a lack of understanding and reflects the broader sentiment that people of color are less intelligent or poorly suited to challenge the disparate conditions they face.

Carroll also attempts to paint worship services led by Pastor Glasgow as witchcraft. The acts in question refer to church members speaking in tongues, something not uncommon in many religious denominations in our region. I’m Catholic, which is probably one of the most mainstream religions in the United States, and I’ve known priests who consider the ability to speak in tongues a mystical gift that echoes some of the most meaningful parts of the Bible. Portraying this as some dark, sinister ritual not only shows a lack of understanding, it hints at white America’s view of strange and dangerous black religious practices (a perspective that’s even been adopted by some black Americans looking for acceptance) that dates back to the slave era.

the-ordinary-peoples-society

The Ordinary People Society (TOPS) has been active in fighting mass incarceration, advocating for the basic rights of incarcerated people in Georgia and Alabama, harm reduction for sex workers and people with substance use disorders, and the “Ban the Box” campaign.

Through all this, it’s clear that Carroll has a strong bias against Pastor Glasgow. That a white “investigative journalist” would go to such lengths to trash the reputation of a prominent figure in the black community, in a region that has a long history of silencing black voices, is troubling enough. But the fact that he’s dedicated funds that were (according to Carroll himself) granted by groups like the Highlander Center, which played a key role in building ties between rural whites and the black community in the South during the Civil Rights movement, to this cause is shameful. Hopefully the Highlander Center, and anyone else who has considered enabling Carroll’s work, will realize the damage it’s caused and withdraw their support, if they haven’t already.

My political views tend toward favoring the power of people using direct action to collectively improve our communities rather than relying on politicians to do things for us. That being said, if anyone is qualified to serve in any local political office, it’s someone like Pastor Glasgow.

I have no insight into Carroll’s agenda or his motivation to attack Pastor Glasgow, but I do know this: It’s not the place of white journalists and commentators to criticize black leaders who put themselves out there to serve their communities.

White Americans have dictated the appropriate terms of discourse in black communities for too long. It’s time we stop sowing division among black Americans and turn the mirror on ourselves and question the role we play in reproducing a racist, white supremacist society that’s silenced powerful black voices for generations.

As the Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated, people of color are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves and organizing their own resistance to oppression. If we’re not willing to step back and let them take charge in their own communities, we’re merely one more link in America’s long legacy of violence and oppression against people of color.