60: Fighting injustice with poetry
Saida Dahir grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. At first, she thought she was like everyone else. But by sixth grade, she realized she was different. Her family was from Somalia — she was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled the civil war. The more she tried to fit in, the worse she felt. But in eighth grade, when she met Mr. Brandy, a journalism and English teacher, she began to realize her own power and started writing poetry. By her senior year, she was performing her poetry at protests and rallies across the country, proudly commenting on the injustices she saw all around her.
View all episodes
113: Funky and free-spirited: How a 1970s summer camp started a disability revolution40:32It was summertime in the early 1970s in New York City. Fifteen-year-old Jim LeBrecht boarded a school bus headed for the Catskill Mountains, home to Camp Jened, a summer camp for people with disabilities. As the bus approached the camp, he peered out the window at the warm and raucous group below."I wasn't exactly sure who was a camper and who was a counselor," he said. "I think that's really indicative of one of the many things that made that camp special."Over several years, the camp changed him in profound ways."I, for the first time, understood that I didn’t need to be embarrassed about being disabled, that I could have pride in who I was," he said. "And that it was possible to fight back against the system that was keeping us down."Nearly five decades later, in 2020, LeBrecht and filmmaker Nicole Newnham released on Netflix the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, about Camp Jened and the activism it inspired. "What did we used to say, it was like Wet Hot American Summer meets The Times of Harvey Milk?" said Newnham. "It’s an activist history story. It’s the origin story of a political and identity-based community, the disability community. But it’s also a coming-of-age story and a joyous sort of celebration of youth and disability culture coming together." All incoming undergraduate students at UC Berkeley watched Crip Camp over the summer as part of On the Same Page, a program of the College of Letters and Science. "We had a couple of goals with our film," said LeBrecht. "One of them was to reframe what disability meant to people with and without disabilities. We also wanted to start conversations. I hope that this plants a seed within all of these students that they do talk, they do think differently, and that this is something they hold for the rest of their lives that will make the world a better place."Photo by Steve Honigsbaum/Netflix.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Listen to the episode, read the transcript and see photos on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).
112: How the Holocaust ends28:23Growing up, Linda Kinstler knew that her Latvian grandfather had mysteriously disappeared after World War II. But she didn't think much about it."That was a very common fate from this part of the world," says Kinstler, a Ph.D. candidate in rhetoric at UC Berkeley. "It didn't strike me as totally unusual. It was only later when I began looking into it more that I realized there was probably more to the story."What she discovered was too big for her to walk away.In 2022, she published her first book, Come to This Court and Cry: How the Holocaust Ends. It follows her family's story in Eastern Europe through the war and its aftermath, and queries all the ways we’ve been told that justice was conducted for those responsible for the genocide of European Jews during the war.It then moves into the present, and asks: What position do we find ourselves in now? And how can we truly remember the Holocaust — a systematic murder that some are trying to erase — when the last living witnesses are dying? Is this how the Holocaust ends?"It's not a prescription, but rather a warning: an effort to call attention to the fact that we are in this moment of endings, where survivors are no longer with us," she says. "Undeniably, we are entering a new period of memory. ... We need to think more seriously about what we do with this memory."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo by Pete Kiehart. UC Berkeley graphic by Neil Freese.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
111: Britt H. Young on learning to navigate the world with the body she has18:08At 6 months old, Britt H. Young was fitted with her first prosthetic arm. "The belief was that you would get started on using an adaptive device right away and that would be easiest for you, rather than learning to adapt to your body the way that it is, rather than learning about how to navigate the world with the body you have," said Britt, who is graduating from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in geography on May 15.Born missing part of her left arm, Britt never went to school without wearing her prosthesis. "But when I came home, I would take it off immediately," she said. "And in that way, I was spending countless hours practicing being in my body and learning how to do things my own way."During graduate school, after nearly three decades of wearing a prosthesis every day, Britt decided to stop using it for good."The geography department at Berkeley, it sounds cliché to say it was a safe space, but it really felt like a welcoming space, and it really felt like a good space to be myself."It has been really interesting now going without a prosthesis and experiencing the world in a totally different way and seeing ... not just frustrating designs and inaccessible designs and hostile designs for disabled people or just for people with my body geometry, but for anybody."After she graduates, Britt will be working on a book about techno-optimism, the pitfalls of so-called human-centered design, prosthetics and the future of the human body.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu). Photo by Gabriela Hasbun.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
110: Gericault De La Rose knows who she is and won't change for anyone22:19Gericault De La Rose is a queer trans Filipinx woman, and refuses to change for anyone."Being that queer trans person completely owning herself I hope gives other people permission to be themselves, too," she says. A master's student in UC Berkeley's Department of Art Practice, Gericault explores in her art Philippine mythology and her experience as a trans woman. One time, she dressed up like a manananggal — a kind of monster that detaches from her lower body at night to look for unborn babies to eat — and then slept in an art gallery for six hours. "I look at the manananggal as kind of a metaphor for how society sees trans women — how this is literally a woman detached from her reproductive organs. And what are you as a woman if you can’t reproduce?"When Gericault came out to her parents as trans in her early 20s, they disowned her. For her thesis project, Gericault will unravel huge tapestries with images of her parents' stomachs on them. "It’s about disconnection and severance," she says. "I’m thinking about how much of myself is a part of them and how much of them are a part of me, and it’s kind of this final goodbye."Gericault's final MFA piece is part of the Annual UC Berkeley Master of Fine Arts Exhibition, which opens on May 10 at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Listen to the episode, see photos and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).UC Berkeley photo by Sofia Liashcheva.
109: Ali Bhatti on Ramadan and how his faith guided him through deep loss15:44Yesterday at sunset marked the start of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. For Ali Bhatti, a Ph.D. candidate in science and math education at UC Berkeley, it’s a time to feel closer to God, to break habits and to remember what he’s thankful for. In this episode, Ali describes, in his own words, what the month means to him. He also talks about how 9/11 shaped his childhood in New Jersey, finding his Muslim community at Berkeley and how Islam, and the support of his family and Berkeley community, helped him get through the hardest time of his life.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo courtesy of Ali Bhatti.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
108: 'Be the Change': Purvi Shah on the moments of beauty as a civil rights lawyer40:46In this episode of Be the Change, host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Purvi Shah.Shah is the founder and executive director of Movement Law Lab and a civil rights litigator, policy advocate and law professor who has spent over a decade working at the intersection of law and grassroots social movements.During their conversation, they talk about the nuts and bolts of founding a legal nonprofit in response to current events, and the intellectual and philosophical theory behind “movement lawyering,” a type of lawyering that aims to support and foment lasting social change."It’s not that we have to have all of this stuff, all of these virtues amassed, before we can engage in the work," Nolan says. "Doing the work actually helps us amass what we need in order to do it better.""That, to me, is one of the biggest beauties of being in social justice work: If you’re doing it right, all you have to do is show up and be persistent and committed and have your words, like what you say you’re going to do, actually be what you do," says Shah. "But the work over the years will transform you. It will teach you. And that hope and that imagination, that sense of it’s possible, I think that’s such a powerful thing."Shah and Nolan also talk about when it might be a good thing to loosen your grip on your power, how confidence is a process, and moments that give you chills — in a good way — as a lawyer.This is the last episode of season two of Be the Change, a collaboration between UC Berkeley's Office of Communications and Public Affairs and Berkeley Law. In the series, Nolan interviews changemakers who embody the transformation they want to see in the world. You can find all episodes on the Berkeley Voices podcast.Listen to the episode and read a transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo courtesy of Purvi Shah; UC Berkeley design by Neil Freese.
107: 'Be the Change': Nazune Menka on creating the course, Decolonizing UC Berkeley45:35In this episode of Be the Change, host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Nazune Menka.Menka is a lecturer at Berkeley Law and a supervising attorney for the campus’s Environmental Law Clinic. She is Denaakk’e from Alaska and Lumbee from North Carolina. In fall 2021, Menka designed and taught a new undergraduate legal studies course called Decolonizing UC Berkeley, and she taught Indigenous Peoples, Law and the United States at the law school in spring 2022.During their conversation, they talk about how to bring a decolonial lens to education, and about the joys and challenges of being a trailblazer who is pushing against the inherited wisdom and mythology surrounding UC Berkeley — "a place we love deeply and, therefore, as James Baldwin said, claim the right to criticize and to call to higher levels of intellectual and moral honesty," Nolan says."This can be a unique space, right?" Menka says. "The university — it is a place of power. I know that. It's important that we are able to understand that if you have a voice, if you are in the room, you should use it."They also get into how instinct can be a particularly powerful gift when you're part of a subordinated community, and storytelling as a portal to individual and communal healing.Season two of Be the Change is a collaboration between Berkeley Law and Berkeley News. In the series, Nolan interviews three changemakers who embody the transformation they want to see in the world. New episodes will come out every week on Wednesday as a special series on the Berkeley Voices podcast.Listen to the episode and read a transcript on Berkeley News.Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small; UC Berkeley design by Neil Freese.
106: 'Be the Change': Khiara M. Bridges on claiming her voice as a prominent Black woman51:41Host Savala Nolan, director of Berkeley Law's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, interviews Khiara M. Bridges. Bridges is a professor at UC Berkeley's School of Law and a powerful public intellectual who speaks and writes about race, class, reproductive justice and the intersection of the three.During their conversation, they talk about the process of Bridges claiming and using her voice as a prominent Black woman. And they discuss the complexities of presentation and adornment for members of marginalized communities — especially in academia — and about approaching work with a sense of liberation, creativity and hustle."Those things that I do to adorn myself, a lot of folks are going to read them in light of my identity as a Black woman," says Bridges. "So, my nails become read in a particular way and my tattoos will become read in a particular way. And the way that I wear my hair, you know, and my septum piercing, in a particular way. And I'm comfortable with that. I'm happy with that. And I feel that that affirms my identity as a Black woman."Nolan and Bridges also talk about getting comfortable with the Socratic method, and what it feels like to start law school with no idea what's going on or what you've gotten yourself into, but ultimately finding your way.Season two of Be the Change is a collaboration between Berkeley Law and Berkeley News. In the series, Nolan interviews three changemakers who have started something that wasn't there before, and that makes the world a better place. New episodes will come out every week on Wednesday as a special series on the Berkeley Voices podcast.Listen to the episode and read a transcript on news.berkeley.edu.Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small; UC Berkeley design by Neil Freese.
105: 'Be the Change': A podcast that aims 'to remove the mystery of making change'20:30Embodying the change you want to see in the world can feel ... well, intimidating. Impossible, even. But Berkeley Law's Savala Nolan wants to help us all figure it out — one step at a time — in her podcast, Be the Change. "We're talking about transforming the world and being the change and these very lofty concepts," says Nolan, director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice. "But I hope what they see is that big, lofty concepts really contain lots of little, teeny, tiny steps that are repeated and built upon over time."In season two of Be the Change, a collaboration between Berkeley Law and Berkeley News, Nolan interviews three changemakers who have started something that wasn't there before, and that makes the world a better place. "I wanted to contribute something to the community that would help folks really be brave," says Nolan, "and think about their lives and their gifts and their work as things that are full of possibility and as things that are potentially really, really expansive and transformative."New episodes come out every week on Wednesday. Savala's next interview is with Khiara M. Bridges, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Law and a powerful public intellectual who speaks and writes about race, class, reproductive justice and the intersection of the three.Listen to the episode and read a transcript on news.berkeley.edu.UC Berkeley photo design by Neil Freese; photo courtesy of Savala Nolan.