20 Questions: My Thoughts on Climate Reparations, Unionized Cows, and My Baby Boy’s Favorite Song

2. What is one thing you wish the general public knew about your work at Movement Generation?
We believe that climate justice and Black Lives Matter and migrant rights are all the same fight. Which is why we fight on all those fronts.

3. If funding were no object, what would you do?
Grant climate justice reparations to the people of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans to rebuild their homes, their neighborhoods, their levees, and the bayous of Louisiana.

4. What do you see as the greatest challenge your community is facing?
The Bay Area has the most millionaires per capita in the country. We also have the most homeless people. It’s called inequality. And it’s destroying our poor, black, and immigrant communities.

5. What is the strongest asset of your community?
The Bay is full of beautiful resistance. Not just activism, but creative and artistic working-class activism that is loud, proud, and gorgeous.

6. What’s your favourite way to procrastinate at work?
Watching clips from last night’s Warriors game.

7. If you weren’t doing this kind of work, what would you be doing?
Be a radio host on my hometown station WPFW back in DC.

8. Favourite film?
Oooh, it’s a toss-up between “Do the Right Thing” and “The Princess Bride.”

9. Favourite song?
“Wear Clean Draws” by The Coup. Of all Boots Riley’s radical verses, my favorite is this simple and still politically-minded advice to his newborn daughter. Maybe this one hits because I just had a baby, and clean underwear sounds like socialist utopia to me.

10. Favourite activist?
Right now, it’s the #Frisco5 who led a 17-day hunger strike outside the San Francisco police headquarters to fire the police chief because of rampant police murders. They totally changed the game in town, and the chief will be gone any day now. [Note: Three days after this interview, Chief Suhr did in fact resign in a major community victory.] 

11. Favourite historical figure?
Emma Goldman. Feminist, anarchist, Jewish immigrant rebel, and inspiration for my son’s name.

12. What did you eat for dinner last night?
Pepperoni pizza and organic kale. That basically sums up my my life.

13. If you could give $10,000 to any organization besides your own, which would it be?
Voces de la Frontera. Based out of Milwaukee, they are the rockstar immigrant rights organizers folks on the coasts don’t know about.

14. On what occasion do you lie?
When I watch the news and tell myself everything’s going to be alright.

15. What do you think is the greatest social issue of our time?
The combination of hyper-capitalism, white supremacy, and environmental degradation that globally we call climate change and locally we call gentrification.

16. What do you think needs to be changed the most in our world?
Besides #15? Let’s see, we need to change the fact that corporations can cross borders, Pepsi can cross borders, internet porn can cross borders – but flesh and blood people are arrested, deported, incarcerated, and sometimes killed for trying to find a safe home for themselves and their families.

17. What book are you reading right now?
“Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type.” It’s a kids book about a group of cows that unionize their farm for better conditions. My son loves it, although I’m worried he might now try to rise up against his mom and me.

18. What is the guilty pleasure television show that you watch?
Game of Thrones, what else? But I don’t feel guilty about it. GoT is a metaphor for climate change. (Google it. Oh wait, I just did that for you.) Plus, it has dragons.

19. What’s your favourite online resource for news and for fun?
For news: New York Times, ColorLines, Twitter. For fun: The Onion, Boondocks reruns, SnapChat.

20. Where would you like to live?
I’d be down to spend some time in Puerto Rico. Also Guam, the Virgin Islands, and basically every U.S. colony that deserves freedom and has nice beaches.

21. Bonus Question – What is your personal motto?
“Politicians use the truth to tell lies. Artists use lies to tell the truth.”

And yes, I stole that last one from V for Vendetta. I don’t think Guy Fawkes will mind too much.

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