redwave

Safia Albaiti

I’m a Yemeni, a Muslim, a socialist, and a member of the New York City Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. I currently work on a number of freelance projects connected to Arab culture and community, including a Palestine literature festival and translation work. Some of my main activism has been in anti-war organizing and around Black Lives Matter and trying to link intersectional demands to emerging struggles.

Those are my commitments in this new and growing and exciting movement for socialism in this country, and I believe WBAI is an important institution for a new generation looking to amplify its struggles for a better world. Much of the left and working class struggle remains segregated in multiple ways. Programming by leftwing media must serve as the glue that can help cut against the segregation we experience in our societies, whether that is a question of race or national origin. Working class communities need their own institutions, and I would bring my experience working with various grassroots groups, around anti-militarism, Palestine, Arab community advocacy and immigrant justice to try and revive interest in making WBAI a platform people support.

Answers to Candidate Questionnaire

What experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the local station board to advance the station's mission?

I bring language skills, cultural competency, specialized knowledge in the Middle East, a network of connections in grassroots activism in New York City and nationally and experience as a socialist organizer doing political education, with a knowledge of ways to reach communities and bring particular political concerns and issues into a broader tent of struggles.

What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?

WBAI really stands out for its commitment to independent leftwing coverage and centering the work and voices of Black people and other oppressed communities in ways that even the new socialist revival doesn’t. This must be preserved and expanded, because there is a real need for more of this programming within our movements and it reflects the continuity and importance of WBAI’s heritage.

What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?

It is unfortunate that WBAI has had progressively lower ratings than at any other point, and that this fall in support has led to a protracted debt crisis. I believe this situation can be turned around through a really intentional focus to maintain the best of WBAI’s programming and reach out much more ambitiously to bring in listeners that represent much of New York’s multi-racial and immigrant communities that could invest in supporting the station if they saw more representation in its programming. If elected to the Board, I would do my best to advocate for programming catering to New York’s Arab population, and other communities in the city. I believe WBAI can succeed in getting a major boost from the new socialist revival in media and I also believe WBAI can be a bridge to those communities not yet a major part of this revival.

Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.

My top priorities would be to expand WBAI’s listenership among sections of New York’s population that currently don’t see it as a valuable public institution they can invest in, support and tune into. I want to find ways to expand the representation of Arab, Latinx and other populations on our programming, given that only about 51% of New Yorkers only speak English at home. My other priority is to commit to regenerating WBAI’s internationalist legacy for new times in an increasingly authoritarian world, through culture and political programming. WBAI used to be at the very heart of groundbreaking international coverage, and I believe it can take necessary step to transmit and maintain this valuable history and legacy for newer listeners. I also want to find ways to bring on important podcast creators on to WBAI to provide coherence rather than fragmentation in the new world of socialist and radical podcasting and radio.

Sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit operation. What are your thoughts on how the board can help to improve the station's financial footing?

I am concerned that private corporations will leverage WBAI’s debt in order to compel it to sell off its assets, even while radical ideas are being popularized among millions of people for the first time in a generation. I believe there is a way out to keep WBAI public and independent, and that will have to come from reviving demand through expanding its membership and base in the current socialist movement and through partnering with unions and other grassroots membership based organizations to see an investment in WBAI as an investment in their own work and struggles. I also believe that WBAI must deepen its connections to previously unreached segments of the multi-racial and immigrant working class population, through programming that caters and speaks to their needs, histories and demands.