It’s become pretty much accepted that California is a bellwether for the rest of the nation, and for good reason. In matters of politics, culture, and more recently science and technology, our state has long been a harbinger of change. As California goes.... well, you know the rest.
This has been especially true in the realm of activism: The Farmworker Movement that began in the Central Valley and was led by people like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong; the Black Panther Party that was born in Oakland and ignited the imaginations of people across the nation; the student-led Free Speech Movement at Berkeley; the long fight for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality. The list goes on. These movements for social equality are historical landmarks, ones that continue to define our collective identity as Californians.
At a time of such intense political and social upheaval, then, it seems pretty rational to look to California for an answer to the question, what next?
It was with that question in mind that we — Fusion’s Rise Up: Be Heard youth journalism program, and our partners at The California Endowment — set out to produce a podcast series, The Brave. Each episode in the series (hosted impeccably by comedian and social commentator Felonious Munk) features a conversation with a different California activist who is leading a movement or broadening our thinking on a social or political issue. You may already be familiar with some of the names, like Alicia Garza, the brilliant co-founder of Black Lives Matter, or perhaps Ivan Ceja, the energetic creator of Undocumedia. Others, we’re pretty sure you’ve never heard of but we think that you should. There are folks like Dean Welliver, a transgender youth activist who is standing up and speaking out in one of California’s most conservative places, Kern County. Or Rida Hamida, a Palestinian-American activist and self-described “California girl” from Orange County who is fighting xenophobia and bringing together Muslim and Latino communities over a shared love of good food (tacos, to be precise).
But what makes these activists and the others featured in The Brave particularly inspiring — and very much of their times — is a shared belief in the power of diversity, a commitment to embracing solidarity with diverse communities and causes, and an understanding that intersectionality is a core strength in 21st-century social justice organizing and movement building.
At a time when we are being inundated, relentlessly, with hateful and polarizing rhetoric and images, these young Californians offer a different worldview. And perhaps, a glimpse at a more just and humane future to come.
For a full listing of episodes and additional material, visit The Brave website, here.