Activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins chatted with Solzy at the Movies about Alt-Right: Age of Rage during the 2018 SXSW Film Festival.
Thanks for joining us. How is your SXSW?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: This is my very first SXSW. I haven’t got a chance to take in everything yet but hopefully I can. I’ve always wanted to come down here for 20 years or so but certainly didn’t have the money or the time. Now I have both—at least I have time! Money, okay…
I almost didn’t make it myself.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: I’m a musician. SXSW has always been something I’ve always wanted to come to and check out the bands. Hopefully, play on stage myself. As you get older, you gravitate towards other things like chasing after neo-Nazis!
How’s that been going?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: Swimmingly, apparently! Unfortunately, in this day and age, we’re seeing now—because of the rise of Trump and all that—that there’s still a lot of work to do. That’s one of the reasons why this documentary is so important. People need to understand just kind of like in detail not just what the work is we need to do but how to do it. Who is out there fighting that fight and trying to make things happen so that we don’t regress too much farther and we start righting this ship and going in the right direction. That’s what I think this documentary is going to provide for folks—a little bit of a blueprint of sorts.
I was telling the publicist the other day after watching the film that I’ve never yelled at the screen more when watching the documentary
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: It ticks you off. It really does. I’m jaded because I’ve been dealing with these characters for 30 years—up close and personal the past 18-20 years. I think when Trump got elected—that was when I said, Ah, brother, they screwed it up this bad. I haven’t been so angry in my life. It’s not so much that I was pretty much angry at the general public about everybody for not noticing the warning signs and not really taking this on when they should have. But now they are. Welcome to the club and let’s make sure they never do this again.
What’s your relationship, if any, with Richard Spencer?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: My group, One People’s Project, were the first ones to write about Richard Spencer. We notice a lot of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Our thing has always been, okay, we’ve got one neo-Nazi—who are his little satellites? We go after Pat Buchanan and find a guy named Jared Taylor. Who are his satellites? There’s Richard Spencer. The thing about these characters in particular is that they are political players in DC. Richard Spencer was tight with a lot of Washington insiders on the Republican/conservative side. So we were really paying attention to him and the things that he was saying at this time. This was in the era when he was trying to pretend he wasn’t a neo-Nazi. We knew better. We were listening to what he was saying and who was associated with. We just kept on documenting it since 2006. We’re the reason why nobody knew who he was in the first place.
I don’t think I heard his name until after—was he the one who did the whole Heil Trump?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: That was when everybody started to noticing him. The thing that’s interesting about that conference is he had several prior to in years past. No one really paid attention to him until that March. When November came around, we started announcing rallies and got the press to come out. That started the ball rolling. Everyone started knowing who Richard Spencer was. They really started to know him when he got punched in the face on Inauguration Day and that became the meme of the century.
I was in the hospital when everything in Charlottesville happened—just watching that footage, my initial reaction was how did they get that close and I just can’t!
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: We knew it was going to be bad. Everybody talks about the police standing down but when you have that many people coming out there that want to kick each other’s behind—that was going to happen. We weren’t out there to kick behind. It was just that they started shoving people around who weren’t touching them. We came to their defense. We knew it was going to be that bad. We tried to warn people but in the name of freedom of speech, of course, they had the right to have their rally. We had the right to respond. It led to what it led to. It’s frustrating but that’s how it went down.
What else has One People’s Project been up to lately?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: One People’s Project, for the most part, has always been an organization, similar to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in which we document what’s going on on the right—the hate politics that’s going on. It’s not just chasing Richard Spencer but it’s also dealing with those who are going after people because they’re Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQ, Black, fighting police brutality—even dealing with labor rights. We don’t deal with that as much but it’s a part of what we do. If there’s any benefit to what’s been going on is that people get to know who we are and people want to come out and help us. Truth be told, we can push this back. People just need to know what’s going on. We’re in the business of letting people know what’s going on and folks are going to help us further their knowledge.
I feel like I have a target on my back with being Jewish and trans!
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: Here’s the thing that gets really twisted. Now you start to deal with folks who are in the so-called Alt-Right, who are neo-fascist, who are Black, Hispanic, gay, Jewish, whatever. It’s like what’s wrong with you! It’s one of the things that really ticks me off. This happened just a couple of weeks ago and they do it so often. As a matter of fact, they did it at the NPI conference. We would call people out for being racists and the protestors would go after them. They’re response, is “I’m Jewish!”
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: So what the hell are you doing here?!? You got the guy saying “Heil Victory,” which is English for “Sieg Heil!” You have people actually Sieg Heiling and you think that declaring that you’re Jewish is going to make things better?!? It just made things worse for you! It also informs us that we’ve got a hell of a fight!
How are you hoping people react to the film?
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: I hope they watch it. I hope they learn something from it. I hope they have a discussion and realize most importantly, the fight will not end after Trump is gone. We’re a lot stronger than we even believe we are. If those two things stay in the forefront of everyone’s mind, we can keep this society stable—at least stable enough until we’re ready to evolve it and not them.
Thanks again for your time.
Daryle Lamont Jenkins: G-d bless. I’m looking forward to seeing how people take to it.
Alt-Right: Age of Rage held its world premiere during the 2018 SXSW Film Festival as a part of the Documentary Spotlight Program.