Episode # 68: From Dungeons to Revolutionary Focos with Destine Phillips, Denzel Burke, & Tommy Hagan from the R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative

It takes a lot to change the world, and because we live day-by-day immersed in what is—the world as such—imagining a landscape much different from what’s immediately before us requires a combination of somethings: seeds, surely, desire, yes, effort, of course, always effort, idealism and romance, maybe, necessity and desperation at times, and a vision of dazzling possibilities at other times. Occasionally what’s required is the willful enthusiasm to dance out on a limb—and, of course, we all do better when we’re holding hands with others out on that limb. So I come back to our steady watchword: Organize!

I’m joined by three extraordinary organizers and activists, Denzel Burke, Destine Phillips, and Tommy Hagan, leaders of the  R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative. R.E.A.L. was founded in 2018 at an Illinois juvenile prison where both Denzel and Destine were incarcerated. They had discussed the idea of launching a program that organizes and builds power with people like themselves who’ve been through the criminal/legal system. They envisioned an organization run and directed by those who have experienced and understand what it’s like to have been in the streets and faced periods of incarceration, but they also envisioned this organization working towards the dismantling of conditions like poverty and the lack of social supports that lead to violence, and incarceration. You can also find them on Instagram @realyouthinitiative or online at realyouthinitiative.com.

R.E.A.L. Youth Initiative is sending a delegation of formerly incarcerated young people and organizers from Chicago on a trip to Palestine through Palestine Trek (PalTrek). Given that the cost of going will be prohibitive for their delegation without crowdfunded support, they are seeking to raise $10,000 to send seven members of REAL on a fully funded trip.  

They are asking for donations to be sent either directly through their fundraising website or through Cash app (@realsolidarity) or Venmo (@realtraveling). They greatly appreciate your support in helping make this trip a reality for their delegation. 

Featured Poem:

For Sophie, Rita dove

Free write:

What can we do together to rise, like a phoenix, from the ashes, to make the gun-smoked and broken world brighten with use?

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