Racial Capitalism with Saqib Bhatti

Uncover the disturbing realities of racial capitalism and state violence with host Koki Mendis and Saqib Bhatti, co-executive Director of the Action Center on Race and Economy (ACRE). Bhatti’s insights illuminate the distressing crossroads where austerity programs, mass incarceration, and a negligent police state meet. Throughout the conversation, Bhatti exposes the dangerous influence of rich corporations on public services and their contribution to the rise of a racialized policing system. Technologies like ShotSpotter, which, despite its claim to detect gunshots accurately, are not only rife with inaccuracies, but also operate on the myth that more policing leads to flourishing and safer communities.

The second part of our dialogue pivots to the disruptive impact of rideshare giants Uber and Lyft on the taxi industry, and the consequent fallout for the predominantly immigrant workers who previously made their living as full-time taxi drivers. Bhatti provides unique insights into the ensuing destabilization and the worrying trend of private equity firms buying failing corporations and profiting from their debt. 

As the conversation wraps up, we underscore the power of labor, renter, and debtors unions, and deliberate on the substantial role unconventional unions can play in amassing collective power against wealthy corporations. 

Don’t miss out on this enlightening discussion around these pressing matters!



(0:00:26) – Racial Capitalism, Policing, and Precarious Work (10 Minutes)

We discuss ways in which over policing and mass incarceration uphold racist wealth and inequality and strategies available to us on the left to contest power and advance redistribution. We explore how austerity programs that reduce social safety nets and inflated budgets for incarceration and policing have created a relationship of criminalizing people instead of providing support and care. We look at how wealthy and corporate interests have used their political power to stop taxation and investments in public education, parks, public health, public transit, and broadband access, leading to the rise of policing systems and entire industries that seek to capitalize on these issues. We analyze the example of ShotSpotter, a giant microphone AI technology placed in Black and brown communities, which is supposed to detect gunshots, but has a high rate of false alarms.

(0:13:44) – The Gig Economy, Regulation, and Labor (8 Minutes)

We explore how Uber and Lyft have upended the taxi industry, leading to an oversupply of rideshare drivers and creating an unfair competitive advantage. We discuss the implications of this, from workers relying on the taxi industry to feed their families to the corporations avoiding responsibility for their employment conditions. We further examine the related trend of companies being bought out by private equity firms, which can lead to workers losing their pensions and benefits while shareholders profit. 

(0:21:54) – Organizing for Structural Change (12 Minutes)

We explore how organizing labor, renter, and debtor unions can help build worker power and solidarity across economically marginalized groups and how withholding our money can disrupt powerful corporations. Finally, we consider the role of non-traditional unions in amassing and aggregating collective power to fight against wealthy corporations.


Racial Capitalism, State Violence, Austerity Programs, Mass Incarceration, Policing System, ShotSpotter, Uber, Lyft, Taxi Industry, Private Equity Firms, Anti-CRT, Critical Race Theory, Labor Unions, Renter Unions, Debtor Unions, Economic Interests, Collective Power, Wealthy Corporations. 

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