Over the last three years since I started my radio show and podcast I have received a lot of questions about the name of the show. I thought I’d write up a piece as an explanation in case you’re interested.
Roots and Radicals
The first thing I want to explain are the words “roots and radicals.” The primary reason I chose this was because of the song by that name from the band Rancid. I’ve always been a big fan of the band and that song. Also the album it came off “…and Out Come The Wolves.” The song is about their love of reggae music and the influence of roots music on their sound. There are references to various musical styles and musicians like Desmond Dekker, an iconic reggae musician. When coming up for a name of my show I thought this would be a cool reference to Rancid and their music that had such a huge influence on me.
Another thing about the terms is that they mean the same thing. Often times people associate the word “radical” with a political extremist. But in mathematics to term refers to a square root. It also means “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something.” Or in other words, the root of the matter. I’ve always been interested in the roots of issues, whether it’s related to music or politics. So, I thought the words “roots, radicals” were perfect for my show.
Alright, here’s the one I get the most questions about. I first want to say that when it comes to marginalized groups I try my best to be an advocate. I don’t want to be pious about it, but seeking justice and equality for marginalized people is a core value of mine.
In the last few years we’ve seen a fracturing of our collective politics in America. There is a strong identification by certain people to blue-collar, working-class issues. And many of them see our former president as an advocate for rural folk. I get that. I totally disagree, but I get their perspective.
However, I grew up in rural America. I have a deep and abiding love for the town I grew up in, the state of Nevada, and the rural West. It’s a core part of who I am. I love the outdoors, fishing, camping, hunting, old school country music, driving down dirt roads in a pickup, the whole bit. I used to chew Copenhagen Long Cut. My first job was in an auto shop and I learned how to shoot the shit with the boys, clean up your talk when a customer comes in, and the value of a hard day’s work.
But over the last decade or so these things somehow became synonymous with bigotry. That was always there for sure, but it has become way more intense in the last few years. I think this is a shame because it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be from rural America and still affirm LGBTQ rights. You can still think Black Lives Matter. You can support Dreamers and work for comprehensive immigration reform that validates the lives of immigrants. You can stand against anti-Asian discrimination and violence, and you can definitely stand up for women in all the facets of discrimination they still face.
I understand that people see the word “redneck” and automatically associate it with bigotry. But I don’t want to let the bigots win. I don’t think rural=bigot. I don’t want to give up the things I love because others have decided they “own” the lifestyle. I want to live in the place that I call home, and fight to make it more inclusive. And I don’t want to give up all of my history just because some dudes with Trump flags in pickups want to drive around intimidating people. I want to stand up and resist that. That’s why I made the term “redneck” a part of my show. It’s a part of who I am and I won’t let that go.
I think the comedian Trae Crowder sums things up in a way that I can’t. He’s a talented, and brilliant guy. He come from a southern rural context, which is slightly different than the world I grew up in. But still very similar.