I am the child of first-generation immigrants, and I grew up in Oakland, California, in the 1980s and ’90s, when Oakland was one of the most dangerous cities in the country.
Oakland was the home of the Black Panthers, and the powerful remnants of the Black power movement remained alive in my city even while my neighborhood was being ravaged by the war on drugs, mass incarceration and gangs. My parents taught me the importance of creating something out of nothing. I was always a creative child; art allowed me to create another world for myself in my imagination, where I could be seen in my full humanity.
My experiences also taught me that I could tap into the power of art and culture to bring about lasting social change.
I work on climate issues because I grew up in a polluted community. I experienced sexism my