Challenging Inequality, Power, and Violence with Rachel Locke

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Challenging Inequality, Power, and Violence with Rachel Locke
About The Episode Transcript

We're diving into 2024 with Rachel Locke, the Director of the Violence, Inequality, and Power Lab at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. She's here to untangle the connections between societal violence and inequality. It’s more important than ever, especially at the start of a wild election year.

We tackle the challenges caused by the power plays that keep violence and unfairness going. We're not buying into simple stories – we know real solutions come from understanding the complicated mix of issues causing conflicts. Our talk reveals the tough reality of these problems and how the VIP Lab is committed to making real changes in a world that's loudly calling for reform.

Finally, we shine a light on the difficulties women and women of color face in politics. The rise in harassment against public figures makes us wonder about where inclusive governance is headed. We discuss what recent studies say about how this kind of bullying challenges mental health and political involvement.

(0:00:08) - Exploring Workplace Inclusion and Humanitarian Work

Personal updates, Felicia’s purple hair, and an interview with Rachel Locke on her career journey and creating a better world. (0:08:13) - Exploring Violence, Inequality, and Power

Nature's violence and inequality are intertwined, highlighting the importance of addressing power dynamics in the VIP Lab's interdisciplinary approach to applied research. (0:20:39) - Recognizing Complexity in Power Dynamics

Power dynamics, complex issues, and binary thinking hinder social justice efforts in addressing violence and promoting change.


(0:32:04) - Threats and Harassment Against Public Officials

Nature's alarming increase in threats and harassment towards local officials, particularly women and women of color, may undermine gender balance in political representation. (0:36:21) - Harassment's Impact on Officials' Mental Health

Public officials face gender-based harassment and threats, cope with limited support, and find therapeutic value in sharing their struggles.


(0:55:51) - Amplifying Voices and Embracing Possibility

Nature's joy, partnerships for change, personal growth, and the upcoming election year's potential for our future.

0:00:08 - Felicia Jadczak Hello and welcome to the she Geeks Out podcast, where we geek out about workplace inclusion and talk with brilliant humans doing great work, making the world a better and brighter place.

0:00:18 - Rachel Murray I'm Felicia and I'm Rachel, and let's get into it 2024.

0:00:24 - Felicia Jadczak Here we are. How are you, how's your year been?

0:00:31 - Rachel Murray Well, so far, my year has been just. Actually, the first day of the new year has been amazing because I went to the San Diego Zoo, which is always the light and an amazing wedding on the beach, so off to a good start. Off to a good start. But back at it. Today we're recording on January 2nd, so fresh, it's 2024, fresh Baby of the year. Exactly. How about you? I'm so excited, I want you to talk about your hair.

0:01:00 - Felicia Jadczak Oh, yeah, so we're. We're switching back to audio, so sorry for everyone who wanted to watch us, but I just was telling Rachel, before we started hitting record, that I dyed my hair purple again. So it's not fully purple, but purple streaks, as I used to have my hair before the pandemic, and I kind of got out of it because COVID and I wasn't, you know, getting my hair done. But I had a moment I got my haircut, maybe like a month or two months ago, and I was talking to my hairdresser and I was like telling her about how I used to have my hair really short and like all this stuff. And then just at this moment where I was like, oh, I could just totally do this, it's really easy.

It's really fine, and so I booked the appointment. I'm the kind of person where, if I go to get my haircut, you know a lot of times, when you check out and you pay them, they're like you want to make your next appointment, and I'm always like no, thank you, you can't get me that way, and so I was like yes.

0:01:57 - Rachel Murray I will make an appointment.

0:01:58 - Felicia Jadczak It's a really good idea, so I did and, yeah, it makes me really happy. And you know, I'm wearing a hat right now because I've been trying not to wash my hair too much, so thank God for working at home and not being on video all the time.

0:02:11 - Rachel Murray Well, I love the purple. I'm a big fan, as you know, and I've seen it purple and green and all the colors. Yeah, I've seen it in many colors many times pre COVID, which is just a wild time to think about that. We are here in 2024 and it is still a very, very different world than it was in 2019. Yeah, you know well, I won't cast dispersions, I won't judge it, just is what it is. It's just different.

0:02:41 - Felicia Jadczak No, I think that's exactly the way to put it, like it's just a different world. And I think I don't know about you. I feel like for me, a lot of the past couple of years, I was thinking like, oh, I got to get back to like the pre COVID lifestyle or whatever, and you know anything. Now I'm just kind of like okay, never going back there again. For many reasons, and some of them are good, some of them are not so good, and that's okay. So how do we make it work for us right now? Yeah, who moved my cheese?

0:03:05 - Rachel Murray I love that mindset. Who moved my cheese? The change is hard and here we are.

0:03:12 - Rachel Locke But it is constant.

0:03:13 - Rachel Murray It is constant. Nothing stays the same. Yeah Well, should we just like get into it? Let's do it. And by getting into this I mean getting into our guest. Yeah.

0:03:23 - Felicia Jadczak So it's incredible. Yeah, so it's a great guest of the year.

0:03:26 - Rachel Murray So who are we talking to? Well, today we are talking to the incredible Rachel Locke. She is the director of violence, inequality and power lab at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. It's worth giving you some more context. She's really amazing. Her decades of work experience expands humanitarian development, peace building and urban violence work, including her time at the International Rescue Committee, the International Peace Institute and US aid. So for those who don't know, the United States Agency for International Development, her commitment to finding peaceful solutions to truly hard issues is unwavering and we learned so much from her, and I hope that you fully enjoy this incredible, inspiring interview. Well, hello, felicia, so lovely to see you again and welcome Rachel Locke to our lovely little pod.

0:04:25 - Rachel Locke Thank you, happy to be here Yay.

0:04:31 - Rachel Murray So I want to get right into it, because we've got some juicy questions ahead of us. But before we get into them, I would just love we both love to ask the question around your origin story what sort of got you into this humanitarian work, what's your career journey? And we'll go from there.

0:04:47 - Rachel Locke Great. So thanks for the question. I will attempt to not be long-winded in my answer of it, but it does go back to my, I would say, my teenage years and my upbringing. My grandparents were very influential in my life and on both sides they were very, in their own ways, social justice oriented and minded. I one time had this idea of riding across the country on a motorcycle with a partner and living in the woods and my grandfather looked at me and my partner and he said she has work to do. She can't go be a hermit in the woods and kind of go hide from the world. And I think I was 18 maybe at the time.

But I've always just felt a sense of responsibility to be sort of an active, actively engaged in the world, in a way that helps to try to make the world a better place. And I also have experience of my grandparents who had family that fled Europe during the Nazi era say to me the states all we've got, from a sort of government perspective, democracy, and democracy as articulated through government and state structures is the best thing that we have, and never trust it fully, because if we don't keep an eye on it it can do horrific things. And so I have this deep, abiding belief and value in participatory democracy and government for and by the people, and also this deep skepticism and also belief that we have to be active and engaged residents and citizens in order to hold our government to account. So that's sort of the basic background.

When I was in my early, my late teens and early 20s, I had a few experiences which I won't go into, but that really made me look much more outside of the US to how the US presents itself in the world and so, knowing I wanted to be sort of involved in some way and social justice work and you know it sounds trite, but it's true making the world a better place I really felt like the way that I could make a contribution to that was beyond the US borders, and so that's where my humanitarian career started. I started working with the International Rescue Committee and then I circled back to wanting to focus more on the US and we can talk more about how that transition happened later, if it makes sense to do so. But very much see the US and how it has both been a positive influence in the world and been a very negative influence in the world, as have other countries. Right, we're not unique. We just have over size influence for a variety of reasons. So that's my semi succinct origin story.

0:08:11 - Felicia Jadczak I love it. I should dig into so things that I'd love to have you talk a bit more about is your involvement with the violence, inequality and power lab, and so could you talk a little bit about what it is and how it came about.

0:08:27 - Rachel Locke Yeah, so I've been working on issues of violence, and I'm going to use that term broadly. So I mean both interpersonal, lethal violence, homicide. I mean conflict, violence between countries, within countries, a civil war, the violence that is systemic, so the poisoning of an entire city's water system, for example, in such ways that causes immediate and lasting damage to generations. I've been working on variations of violence for 20 plus years 25, but we won't get so really specific beyond that and in all forms of violence, almost without exception I'm hard pressed to find an exception and no one's been able to bring one up with validity Inequality is correlated with violence, and by inequality I mean a variety of different forms of inequality.

So very often in technical arenas, when you speak of inequality, people immediately think of economic inequality. But the fact of the matter is that it may not be economic inequality that's correlated with a particular form of violence. It may orient more around gender and gender inequality. It may orient more around political access and influence, so sort of the elite and the non-elite, and who controls the systems of the state, who has the ability to influence the system of the state. So there's social inequality and of course, within society and across society, people hold multiple different identities and there's multiple different communities and power dynamics shift Right. So I can be very powerful in one setting and very with a very diminished voice in another setting, but relative to others, I still could hold a relative power position across all those settings. So this is why.

So inequality is highly correlated to all forms of violence. We inserted the word power because we want to make it clear that when we're speaking about inequality, we're really speaking about various different dimensions of inequality that manifest as different ability to influence the systems and the actions and the behaviors of others, which is power. So that's why I put those two words in there and then we put violence in there, because very often in the broader work of peace building, there is a desire to talk only about peace, and that's great and I support it. But if we don't talk about violence and if we're not really concrete and specific about how violence manifests, by whom against whom, then it is very hard to make practical, measurable, real, meaningful progress, and so I prefer to speak about violence. A lot of people prefer to speak about peace and that's again that is their choice, and thank God that we have people who are holding up the signs for peace constantly.

I come at it from a slightly different perspective. So we launched the VIP lab in gosh just under two years ago, january of 2022, in order to create a space where we are bringing together, across disciplines and across countries and communities, people who are really focused on this issue of power and inequalities, not just in diagnosing what's happening when we're talking about violence, again, whether we're talking about intimate partner violence in the US, or whether we're talking about group or gang violence in El Salvador, or whether we're talking about interstate conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Those are just three examples that we wanted to create a space where the central focus was inequality and power, and so that's what we've done, and we have multiple different areas of work. We've just launched a fellows program, which is really exciting, but we're pretty unique, I would say, not just in the country but in the world, of having this focus and approaching it in the way that we do. So it's exciting, I think.

0:13:39 - Rachel Murray That was amazing and I think it's. I think I can speak for both, for fellowship, myself, when I say that you know we agree with everything that you articulated and thank you so much for really being specific around the language choice and why you chose it. I have a follow up question to that around the timing Was the timing not intentional? But do you think that there was just more of an appetite for this research and this work given what's happening in the world? Or was it sort of like, hey, what do you want to do, rachel? Do you want to just like, do like? How did that? How did that manifest?

0:14:17 - Rachel Locke Yeah, so, yes, I do think there is more appetite, and this is another reason we put power into the equation. So when you speak with technical you know technical experts or policymakers, you get pretty quickly into the details of okay. Well, if you're talking about inequality, how are you defining it specifically? How are you measuring it? What databases are you using? What quantifiable measurements did it? And it becomes completely divorced from the popular conversation among, quote, unquote non specialists or non experts who know what it feels like to live lives of fear, who know what it feels like to be under the thumb of systemic repression or violence, and who, very articulate, very often articulate that as a sense of, I am powerless or we are powerless to change this situation, or we have all the power but no one is listening to us. So we know what to do, but we don't have the power to influence, and so we put power in there, also, in addition to the reasons that I just gave, also because we are an applied research center, and so the Crock Institute for Peace and Justice is an applied research center. Everything that we do is in the interest of applying knowledge and research to the world right in a practical way, not just within the halls of academia, and so it was important to use language that resonates with the people who are directly impacted by the types of violence that we're talking about and, as practitioners, directly trying to do something about it.

And to your question about timing in 2019, in 2020, we saw some of the largest protest movements, not just in the US but around the world, that we've ever seen before. There was this huge sort of swell of energy of people to take back their streets, their institutions, their systems in such ways that all of those places responded to the interests, the needs, etc. Of the residents themselves and I'm using residents as opposed to citizens intentionally to include people who may not have citizenship here. So the timing of that gave a lot of hope. At the same time, there is a very real and strong move around the world in Argentina's election results two days ago. It's an example of this towards strengthening authoritarian and authoritarian leading governments, and so it's and I would say that's true at the national level, but also at subnational levels so creating more energy and space to uplift some of the ambition of some of the protest movements and sustain that energy over time in the face of this groundswell of forces that would seek to undermine and destroy those movements was part of the timing, for sure. And also so yes to your question. And also again, having been in this field for 25 years, the powers that be, at least from a sort of foreign assistance and I would say also a little bit from the international industry and I'm using quotes, sorry they're over here of peace building perspective, often doesn't want to talk about inequality, in part because it is dominated by people who are more powerful.

If you take a sort of 10,000 or 30,000 foot perspective, and even when it is, it's much, even when it is accepted and there's been a shift for the better in this way, it's much easier to do that diagnostically or analytically. You know you can analyze power differentials. It's very hard to answer the. So what right? What can you do about that? Right, because once you start to shift structures, and power structures in particular, it can create conflict, it creates tension. If you have a power vacuum, you have people vying for power and that creates conflict and tension. And so going from the analysis to the so what, what do you do about it? Is really really hard, and there are other things you can do on the margins that are, frankly, a little easier, and so there's a I think there's a practical reason why people shy away a little bit from these conversations, and that was true five years ago and 10 years ago, 15 years ago so from that perspective it wasn't a timing issue. But from the previous perspective, it absolutely was a timing issue.

0:20:07 - Rachel Murray I so appreciate that. I want to make sure that I give Fulish a chance. If there's anything that you wanted to add or ask.

0:20:14 - Felicia Jadczak I think you have a question you want to ask next, Rachel, but I'll just say I appreciate that fixing of it, in particular on the timing part, because obviously there's current events you reference the elections and things that are happening right now that impact, of course, the work you're doing and, you know, taking that sort of bird's-eye view of history and time, you're like, of course it's a great time. There's never probably not a good time to talk about these things.

So I really appreciate that because it's something I've been thinking about a lot around how, in these types of conversations, part of the difficulty is that, you know, we say this phrase a lot in social justice circles. I'm sure you've heard this before too. But speaking truth to power, and I think that you know, given the nature of this work, it's such an underlying you know, sometimes unspoken dilemma or conflict that the very people who are part of the problem are trying to undo the problem, or not, as the case may be. So it's very nuanced, for sure.

0:21:18 - Rachel Locke Yeah, and I mean, am I allowed to just reply to that?

0:21:20 - Rachel Murray Yes, of course, the only rule.

0:21:29 - Rachel Locke And it's complicated.

I mean I know people hate it when you say that, but it is complicated, like I've been in rooms with people who do group or gang violence intervention work right, and these are often not always, but often men who themselves have been involved in street life and who do incredibly difficult and oftentimes traumatic and straining and stressful and also really like skillful work to try to interrupt cycles of violence and what and I've been in rooms with, with some of these individuals before, appreciating all the work that they're doing and within the ecosystem of a community, of a city, let's say they are amongst the least powerful from a standard, a couple standard measurements, economic measurements, sociopolitical measurements among the least powerful in that community.

But then when you introduce a topic like gendered violence or violence against women, how they respond to that is often its own example or manifestation of the often male dominated world of violence and corruption vis-a-vis the role that women play, not just in that world but in that community or society in general, and you see it come out and manifest. So there are these overlapping layers my apologies of power, and there are people you respect hugely who do amazing work, who also sometimes use their own power position vis-a-vis others in ways that are highly concerning and some of that has to do with the trauma and bearing witness to patterns and how that influences behavior but the complexities and the layers. I was in a conversation with somebody recently and they spoke about the matrix of power relations and I thought, yes, that's perfect right, because we all hold these differently, in different ways, depending on the space that we're in, and it requires us to just pay attention.

0:24:12 - Rachel Murray I think yeah. So what I'm hearing is the problem is humans. Humans are the problem Humans.

0:24:19 - Rachel Locke This is why I have two dogs. That's all I was saying.

This is tough not to crack. I actually think the problem is the human brain, the human brain's desire to simplify. I actually think that's the problem. I think humans have the amazing capacity to do remarkably generous and amazing things for one another. The human instinct for community is different than a lot of other animal species and it is a beautiful thing. It can be a beautiful thing, but when we slide towards or are seduced by the kind of brain's desire or interest to simplify, that, I think, is where we get into trouble. Rather than human being the problem which I know is a joke, I do think the desire to make really complex things which we can all have conversation, just because it's complicated doesn't mean we can't discuss it right. But when we want an easy answer and when people shut off listening because they only will pay attention to the easy answer, that, I think, is when we get into trouble.

0:25:43 - Rachel Murray Yeah, you're right and talk about simplifying. That was totally what I just did. So well spotted.

0:25:50 - Felicia Jadczak Why is it and I think that's part of the problem is that layer of recognition, right and into the simplification aspect, or the point rather, I think a lot of times we simplify into a very binary us versus them conversation and I was just talking about this this morning with my therapist like relationship dynamics, me versus the other person or whoever it is, and I think part of the problem is that when we fall into that simplified dynamic, we lack the nuance, we lack the clarity, we lack the understanding that we're not like the end all be all, best person or right is, and I think that's part of it exactly is that like it is. Definitely you have to have at least some awareness or recognition that it isn't so simple in order to move past that, that stage of existing in.

So I guess, is kudos to us, because we have at least recognition of this.

0:26:55 - Rachel Murray Well, and I think, and yeah, and Rachel correct me if I'm wrong I mean it just seems like it's just really hard to be nuanced and thoughtful and logical when there is so much fear, and I think that fear seems to be the overall dominant, like dominating, that thing that's happening in your brain when power goes awry and inequality exists and creates violence. It just seems like that's.

0:27:30 - Rachel Locke I mean not only all of that yes, right, yes, 100%. And not only all of that, but there are incredibly smart and well-resourced people who understand all of this, who are spending a lot of time and energy in creating systems of disinformation that literally manipulate and leverage this desire for simplicity in such ways that reinforce this polarization, in such ways that reinforce othering demonization. If you live in this place, you're a bad person. If you say these words, you're a bad person. If you read these books, you're not just a bad person, but you're evil and you're trying to indoctrinate. Right? Not only is it hard in the past of times, but I have to say this is part of the frustration that I have.

Those of us who are trying to work on this are doing it with whatever that I'm so bad at expressions, but with Scotch tape and number two pencils, right. And the people who are manipulating these systems have billions of dollars and powerful people who are supporting them. So here we are with our Scotch tape and our little scratches of paper and trying to wave the flag. It's kind of a little bit like climate change work, going back years and decades. Right, you had these massive companies, fossil fuel companies, who were really leading the conversation and creating systems and literally destroying the Earth. And then you had these scientists that were like, listen, give us some resources, give us some attention. And it's hard because the systems of disinformation that are manipulating this desire for an easy answer and using fear to your point as a way to do that. I mean it goes the 2016 election period right. The way that then candidate Trump was talking about crime was completely not accurate. Right. In many of the places he was talking about he was factually incorrect. It did not matter, because he painted a picture of fear and then he gave an easy solution to it. And if you can do that and you have resources at your disposal, then you've won.

And I don't want to sound alarmist, except that I actually think we're in a pretty alarming time, and so the need to really focus on all of the different capacities that are going to be essential to invest in to help people disentangle the manipulative, the propaganda, from the real and the honest and the truthful, is huge. I mean, the underinvestment in US school systems for decades is part of this. The way that we All of the investment in social media platforms that are reducing, not increasing, their checks on disinformation, and we've seen very recent examples of this with Twitter X and Elon Musk. These forces are massive and they're highly influential and we all collectively need to really kind of steal ourselves for years and years of pushing back against this. We are some of those dystopian fears that people speak about. They are not going to remain in movies and books. They are going to be our lives and, in fact, we're already seeing it, so we need to be talking about it much more, I think.

0:32:04 - Rachel Murray Well, this is a very safe space to articulate those fears and I think it's a perfect lead-in to get back on track to these questions that we sent you. I know it completely went off and I actually had a follow-up to what you said, but I'm like no, rachel, you got to stop. Stop it. So I learned about you through an article that was written about some of the work that you did, particularly around. It was on the threats of violence in San Diego, or both in San Diego toward its elected officials, and I found it a little unsurprising. But I'm glad that there's a research that many people believe harassment and threats have increased and people are less likely to speak up due to threats. I believe women were more impacted. Women of color in particular were more impacted. I'm curious. I have a couple of questions, but the first one and if you want to expand, by the way, on any of the research or if I've done any of that any disservice, please do so, but I'm curious to know if there's any findings that surprised you.

0:33:08 - Rachel Locke There were two findings that surprised me the most, so I'll get to them, but let me just do a quick primer on the research itself. So you got it absolutely right. We did our first round of research just in San Diego County. We're actually doing our second round. Right now we're expanding to Riverside and Imperial counties and then we hope next year to expand even further within California.

We included five different categories of electeds, all local. So city council, school boards, mayors, board of supervisors. 75% this is the tagline, 75% of all our elected officials. Local elected officials experience threats and harassment as part of their public service, not just as people living their lives. Half of those experience these threats and harassment on a monthly basis or more frequently. So these aren't one off events, these are. This is a regular kind of experience for elected officials and I can talk in a lot more detail about it.

But the two things that surprised me One, not only so women subjectively reported twice as much threats and harassment than men. This is not surprising. This tracks with national data. We're the first study of this kind in the nation, in that we've taken one geographic area and looked across a range of different office holders. But there are similar national studies either that have looked at specific offices or taken a couple of offices and done surveys. So what surprised me was women subjectively report twice as much. Objectively, looking at Twitter data, women actually received three to four times as much threats and harassment in the objective data. So women are getting more of this. They're getting it worse. So what they're getting is more vitriolic, it's more personalized, it's often of a more sexual nature. It's often directed towards their family members. That was not surprising. That we anticipated seeing. What was surprising is we asked about whether people had considered leaving public office as a result of the threats and harassment. Twice as many women so 60% of all female identifying office holders in San Diego County had considered leaving public office as a direct result of the threats and harassment, compared to roughly 30% for men. So we've done all this work to try to diversify and at least on a gender level, get equal representation in political office between men and women. And now, because of this phenomenon, twice as many women as men are thinking about leaving the offices that they have been elected to hold because of threats and harassment.

That I knew there'd be a disparity. I didn't know it's going to be that big. That surprised me and I should say that I'm not including race and what I'm talking about here because our sample size was simply too small. So while we can say some, while we can say a lot empirically about gender, we can't about race, which is part of why we're expanding our sample size with our geographic expansion.

The other thing that surprised me was just how much people spoke about the normalization of this, that this is sort of expected now when you become a public official and many people said I wouldn't recommend public service to anyone who doesn't have a really tough skin, really thick skin, because it's so bad the amount that you get and also that the normalization that people spoke about was coming from peers. So you look to those around you as signals for how you should act at the ballet, at the grocery store, at your preschool, whatever. You look for social cues, and so newly elected office holders are looking to their peers on a school board or the city council to how they react to this vitriolic behavior. And what some people said is how their peers react is yeah, it's normal. It's normal to be followed home. It's normal to get text messages threatening your life for the life of your family.

Now what we're doing with this round of research is digging into that a little bit more, because my hypothesis is that that's a coping strategy. People don't quite know what to do about it and the institutions are trying. You know, we have various organizations in San Diego County National Conflict Resolution Center, adl, the prosecutor's office or the DA's office or the city attorney's office. There are actors who are working actively in the space but, frankly, there needs to be a lot more. And so when you're facing a challenge and you don't know what to do with it and let, instead of becoming overwhelmed by it, you say okay, I'm just going to deal with this, right, and that's a part of the normalization and the coping strategy.

The very final thing, I know I said two things. I'm going to cheat. I did all the interviews. At the end of almost every interview, I was thanked, not for doing the research, but for giving people the space and by people I mean our elected officials the space and time to talk about this, because they said this is so awful, this has affected me so much my life, my mental health, my ability to sleep, my stress levels, whether I go to the store at certain hours or not but no one's talking about it and this was therapeutic. So having a key informant interview, you know as a research, was therapeutic for some of the people that we spoke to, because it gave them space to talk about something that was devastating to their lives and they didn't have any other place to talk about it. That was surprising to me and, frankly, a little bit shameful that we're not creating more space to talk about it. So those were the three things that surprised me.

0:39:51 - Felicia Jadczak Oh, my goodness, you know, as you said that last piece, rachel, I was reminded of a similar ish experience that I had myself when I started getting into the. I work back in the day, this is what maybe 10, 15 years ago and I started out by working in the big tech company and I was doing what we would now call ERG work for the women's software engineers, and I had some really similar conversations, not so much around like the physical violence and the threats, but just around, you know, discrimination and prejudice and all this stuff. And these women would come to me and tell me these terrible things that were happening. And then I would say, like, how can I help, support or is there someone I can escalate this to? Or why are you telling me this? Like, how can I basically help with this? And a lot of times they would say the same exact thing to me.

I just wanted someone to know and it really hurt because I was like I'm not a therapist, I'm not a business person, who I wasn't a nature person, and they just wanted to be heard, and so that really just made me think of that, as you were sharing such a basic need. But sometimes that's. It's such a terrible situation, but the fact that you're even talking to folks about this is so important.

0:41:07 - Rachel Locke Yeah, but did I freeze?

0:41:09 - Rachel Murray No, I think it was Felicia that froze.

0:41:14 - Rachel Locke Oh, there we go, you're back.

0:41:15 - Felicia Jadczak You're back. Yeah, sorry folks, I'm having bad internet issues today. So Okay, geez, but you didn't lose too much of what I was saying there.

0:41:28 - Rachel Locke I think we got most of it. Yeah, I mean what it signals. I mean your example, and also what it signals to me is just the amount of trauma. Right, that's. This isn't. This isn't just some like jerks at a school board meeting. This is society sort of accepting that those that we've elected to make really hard decisions for ourselves, our families, our kids, etc. Are facing trauma on an almost daily basis as part of this very often unpaid role that they've been elected to do.

We had a community conversation because we had multiple public forums where he presented our research and asked people to help us shape recommendations, and a public official came to one of those and she had to leave After about 15 minutes. She was so triggered and so upset by the conversation that she literally couldn't remain in the room. And I have listened. I've worked in humanitarian settings and organizations. Back in the day when you and I was one of these people, you were in a war zone, seeing, you know, the worst of humanity and hearing guns every day and hearing violence every day, and there weren't a lot of mental health resources.

And you normalized it. Oh yeah, there was some shooting tonight, like we just went about our dinner and you know you normalize it because you can't do anything else, there's no one to talk to about it. That's changed in that sphere, but I think we haven't really taken on a full appreciation of the extent of this yet and so we're not. So this normalization thing is really concerning.

0:43:10 - Rachel Murray Yeah, I mean, if this doesn't get resolved, this just further destroys democracy. I mean, it is just absolutely. It's so important to get this message out is one of the reasons why I'm so excited that we get to have you on here to talk about it, because I want to amplify this. I know Flusha does as well, and I know that we are all solutions oriented folks. This does feel like a really big rock to push up a hill, but I am curious, because you did mention some solutions in your research. Are there any that you would like to share now for folks who are feeling a little despondent, like I am at the moment?

0:43:51 - Rachel Locke Don't feel despondent. Okay, feel activated, like we have a problem. We need to change it right, like you know if you're, I don't know, I'm not a parent, but I am an aunt and I'm a dedicated one if my niece or nephew came home from school they're older now, so this is a hypothetical and I hope that won't bother them. But let's say they're 10 and they come home from school and every day they're being bullied and I was like, oh, it's just awful, like I'm so despondent about this. I know parent would not do. I mean, you wouldn't do nothing. Right, you would do something. You would feel a sense of despondency and despair and hurt and you would also go to the teacher, go to the principal, have a conversation with the parent. Right, there are all these things that can be done, and I think that's true in this case too. Right? So we have solutions in the report, which is available on our website, that are solutions for elected officials themselves that range from documenting everything, because there's a lot of non documentation happening. Most people just document once it starts to become a criminally prosecutable event, and that threshold is very high. So what we're saying is and this isn't us, this comes from recommendations from us and others. Document everything because you can start to then have demonstrated trend if things lead towards criminally prosecutable prosecutable or if there are other things that you can do outside of the criminal legal system. So documentation, literally having space to talk about this.

The Brown Act in California does make some things difficult because there are certain restrictions on how elected leaders can gather together and what they can talk about without the public present, and this is all due to transparency regulations and transparency interests. But many people did say that the Brown Act almost made it harder to talk to house based to talk about what's happening. So there was some suggestion for revisions to the Brown Act. There were suggestions about how to better engage with institutions of the criminal legal system, whether that's police or, again, the prosecutor's office and your respective jurisdiction. But then there's a lot that non electeds and non institutionally affiliated folks can do so.

So you're showing up at your school board meetings or your city council meetings demonstrating what is and is not okay. So you show up to a city council meeting. The person next to you is a jerk and you say to them hey, can you know, is there another way that you can say that? Right, so you're having community re articulate the norms of behavior in an informal way not only can help to demonstrate what isn't is not acceptable, but we heard from electeds that would give them. It would make them feel, would give wind in their sales. It would make them feel that the community is standing with them, because they often feel like they're on the dice and somebody is spewing this some of its really hateful stuff and the other people in the audience are just sort of sitting there like right.

So there's a lot of bystander work that can be done by people who just show up to these meetings. So showing up in general is important because what's happening right now is the fringes are the ones that are showing up and they're increasingly organized. So if you seed the space to the fringe, they take the space only because the non fringe the majority of people who really want kind of adult, mature exchange of opinion, even if people disagree with each other, aren't showing up, and so the fringe element is taking the space. So we have different levels of recommendations for different audiences essentially, but the bottom line is everyone can do something.

0:48:32 - Rachel Murray Can. Can I ask a follow up question? So I'm curious for folks that are particularly women that are interested in running for office for local office right now, what would you say to them run?

0:48:51 - Felicia Jadczak run away or run.

0:48:56 - Rachel Locke I mean it's fair. You know I don't know how personal we're allowed to get here, but I hold an identity that's under attack right now in the US with the rise of anti semitism.

My partner holds an identity that is often faces a disproportionate amount of criminal justice, criminal, legal, criminal justice system attention, and there are people that think that the two of us, as a the fact that we are partners, so each of our identities are potentially under threat by themselves and by being in a partnership with each other. That's an affront to social norms. So if I were in a certain place and had certain fears, I would do a real risk assessment. Do I feel like running for office is more valuable than or not more valuable, but is worth the risk that I will take on because of these dimensions that already place me at risk, and I think everybody should do that. So I say Ron, it was a little bit facetious I think everyone who is interested in running should do a real risk assessment because the risks are real.

I also do think and we've had some conversations with statewide, like the California Women's List, but also national, like Emily's List and others organizations that are focused specifically on getting more women to run for office and the point is that they do a lot of work in helping women to run for office and gain office. They need to continue walking with women once they're in office, and supporting them, particularly in the face of this vitriol and this hatred, and I think there's a move more towards that which is positive. So I would say run, run for office, not away, if you've done the risk assessment, and also push those organizations who should be supporting you and helping to protect you to do that and advocate for yourself, advocate for others, but don't seed the territory, don't seed the space. Beautiful, that's what I would say. Yeah.

0:51:34 - Felicia Jadczak Thank you for sharing that. It's so important. I know Rachel Murray has a lot to say more in terms of your involvement with some of the orgs, which maybe we'll talk about that in our outro to this piece, but I'd love to get one or two more questions in in our time left. So you started to talk a bit about identities and I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about identity-based mass violence in cities and what that means and why it's so important for people to understand what impact that has on all of us.

0:52:08 - Rachel Locke Yeah. So this is one of these topics that we're working on within the VIP lab. That can get really technical real quick I'm gonna try not to do that, also, just seeing the time that we have left but the basic again, the tagline is almost always again. I can't think of an exception to this when you have mass violence and I don't mean that in terms of the US definition of a mass violence event, which is for more people killed in a single incident. I mean a broader and I'm not putting a quantifiable figure on that, but we're talking hundreds or thousands, right? Whether it's systemic, so whether it's the Flint water crisis, or whether it's acute, so whether it's the Shrevenitsa massacre or the Rwandan genocide, the people who suffer from the violence very often suffer because of particular identity markers, whatever they may be, whether it's their ethnicity, their race, their religion, their economic standing within a community, and so the identity-based mass violence work is trying to help us to recognize just how identity is shaping the ground or the narrative through which mass violence events both take place and are allowed again, with my air quotes to continue. So the Flint water crisis would never have happened in La Jolla, right? That's for a reason of power, of influence, of money, of race, et cetera.

And the broader context of this is that almost always when you have a mass atrocity, people think about it as a singular, spectacular event. Right so, a massacre of tens of thousands of people that take place in a month or a course of a few months. But there are antecedents to that that create the groundwork, if you will, that set the tone for that. The Rwandan genocide was not the first instance of mass slaughter in that country. There had been cycles of it, for example. So the identity-based mass violence is trying to bring together our atrocity prevention colleagues with people who focus on urban violence, so this is all oriented around cities. To try to be much more clear about expanding our notion of what atrocities look like, bringing attention to the identities that suffer atrocities, including slow burn, atrocities that create the space for a spectacular, if you will, atrocity that to take place that could result in even more deaths and almost irreversible, or at least centuries-long irreversible changes to social systems and lives and wellbeing.

0:55:51 - Rachel Murray Oh my gosh, rachel, that you don't do light work and I know we've only got a few minutes and I honestly think we might need a part two, because we have some really big questions that we do not have time to get into. Because, as much as time is a social construct, we still abide by it, just on your feet.

0:56:14 - Rachel Locke Natalie, I do have a meeting. I don't have to be precisely on time, but I need to be relatively quick.

0:56:20 - Rachel Murray We honor that. So we'll just do really quickly we gotta get at least one of these, one of our standard questions, out there. So it's what are you currently geeking out about? And it can't be anything that we talked about.

0:56:37 - Felicia Jadczak I know it's a question you'll have to answer this whole hour.

0:56:42 - Rachel Locke You think you know the thing. I don't even know if this is considered geeking out, but the thing that because I work on really hard stuff, I need things in my private life that are like silly and bring me joy. So I spend a lot of time thinking about what my dogs eat. Sounds ridiculous, wow, like lunch, breakfasts and lunches and desserts sometimes and dinners oh yeah, they're well taken care of that.

Have like today they got blueberries and they get. So I spend a lot of time researching and thinking about how to make my dogs bowls.

0:57:29 - Rachel Murray I feel like good, but also sometimes a little bit pretty and fun, I mean I feel like, if you know, if we believe in reincarnation, these dogs must have done something incredibly wonderful in a previous life and also, they both were adopted and one had a pretty rough beginning to her life.

0:57:49 - Rachel Locke So I'm just trying to make amends for what some not so nice people did to her, Okay don't make me cry For welfare.

0:58:03 - Rachel Murray Good, good, Well. And then the only other final question is you know, I think, where can people find you? We'll make sure that we'll put all of that information in the show notes, Perfect.

0:58:16 - Rachel Locke Sorry, are you asking where people can find you?

0:58:18 - Rachel Murray Oh, yes, I think I know, but you can just articulate it yourself.

0:58:23 - Rachel Locke So if people can Google the violence, inequality and power lab and we should come up, they can also look for the Croc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. So that's the Institute within which we sit. We are based in San Diego, but we actually have folks based in other places as well, so, and we really have a local home, but also are pretty nationally and internationally located with our partnerships. We do everything in partnerships. We don't do anything alone. So we have great partners that we work with around the world. But, yeah, bip lab and we should come up. Thank you so much, rachel. It's been a delight.

0:59:11 - Felicia Jadczak We'll definitely have to have another conversation. Yeah, this was fun, thank you so much Thank you.

0:59:15 - Rachel Locke Wow, that was inspiring.

0:59:16 - Rachel Murray Felicia are you ready to run for office? Yes, not at the moment, but in the future. I'm ready and I'm here for it.

0:59:21 - Felicia Jadczak Love it for you. So, speaking of future, with my amazing transition, there we are at the beginning of a fresh new year, as we touched on in the beginning. So this is our first episode of 2024. We have a couple of great interviews coming up this season for you. We're really excited. But one of the things that Rachel and I were talking about and thinking about for 2024 is what is our word of the year gonna be? Because we're influencing in all the best ways, and I think that's what we have to do, so we thought about it a little bit. So I'm actually gonna ask you to go first, rachel, because I think you've thought a bit more about this than I have. But what's your word of the year gonna be for 2024? Well, thank you for asking.

1:00:05 - Rachel Murray Yes, it's been interesting seeing other people sort of say what's their word, what's my word for the year, and I will say I've started to think about this last year. For me it's amplify, because I really it's one of the reasons why we love doing this podcast is just amplifying the incredible voices of people who, frankly, don't really get heard. So that's my word. I want to do more of that for 2024. Bye.

1:00:31 - Felicia Jadczak I love it. Let's amplify all over the place. In conjunction with that, my word is gonna be emergence, because I feel like I'm beyond perseverance, I'm beyond trying to figure it out, I'm beyond just surviving. I really want to emerge into the next phase. And so I think, in conjunction with amplification, just really think about how to start pulling it all together and moving into whatever comes next. And it's an interesting year, it's an election year. You will better believe that we will talk a lot more about that in upcoming podcast episodes, because that's a topic that's near and dear to the work, to us personally, and it's really important overall. But I think there's a lot of, you know, there's a lot of possibility. That's why I love the beginnings of years, because I just think there's so much possibility, there's so much room, so much uncertainty and I think there's a lot of opportunity for us to amplify and move into whatever this year has to come.

1:01:32 - Rachel Murray I love that.

1:01:32 - Felicia Jadczak It has to come our way.

1:01:33 - Rachel Murray I love that and it's funny that you said that about, like you know, the new year. It's just so much room and so much possibility, and this is when I say this is why I'm a morning person, because nothing bad has happened, yet. And you've got the whole day to make it great. I'm such a nerd. I'm so sorry for anyone who's just turned out.

1:01:48 - Felicia Jadczak So, basically, what you're saying is that this is the morning of 2024. It is the morning of 2024. It's the very early sunrise, the new dawn, exactly.

1:01:58 - Rachel Murray It's a new dawn, so I just want to encourage you lovely listeners to follow Rachel Locke in all the places. You can find more information in the show notes. She really is incredible doing just so much really important work, and I think it's a great way to kick off 2024.

1:02:21 - Felicia Jadczak Agreed. Thank you so much for listening. Please don't forget to rate, share and subscribe. It really does make a huge difference in the reach of our podcast and, by extension, our work. Also visit us on YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date on all things SGO and our website, wwwchickexoutcom. Happy 2024. Happy 2024.

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