• UCLA Activist-in-Residence

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

The Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center recognize that the work of social change is demanding. It is our objective to help sustain the activists, artists, and public intellectuals involved in this work through the UCLA Activist-in-Residence program. We believe this collaboration will help strengthen the infrastructure of social transformation by providing leaders/activists with the time and space to recharge and to reflect upon a complex challenge facing their communities, while also allowing UCLA students to develop or strengthen their own commitment to social justice.

Goals:

  • Provide activists, artists, and public intellectuals the opportunity to explore or study a complex issue and perhaps to imagine new approaches or scholarship that will improve the lives of people in their community.
  • Increase the participation of progressive thought leaders 1) at every level of government 2) in nonprofit organizations and 3) in groups that influence public policy and grassroots organizing.
  • Encourage collaborative teaching and learning communities that create new models of public scholarship and engagement for students. For example, developing narratives that intersect the personal with political empowerment and link students’ lives to broader social processes, thereby “turning the university inside out.”

UCLA ACTIVIST-IN-RESIDENCE PROFILES

Tanzila Ahmed

Storyteller

Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed is an activist, storyteller, and politico based in Los Angeles. She currently is a Campaign Strategist at the Asian American new media organizing group 18MillionRising.

Taz was honored in 2016 as White House Champion of Change for AAPI Art and Storytelling. She is cohost of The #GoodMuslimBadMuslim Podcast that has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Wired, and Buzzfeed as well as live shows recorded at South by Southwest and the White House. An avid essayist, she had a monthly column called Radical Love and has written for Sepia Mutiny, Truthout, The Aerogram, The Nation, Left Turn Magazine, and more. She is published in the anthologies Modern Loss (2018), Six Words Fresh Off the Boat (2017), Good Girls Marry Doctors (2016), Love, Inshallah (2012) and poetry collection Coiled Serpent (2016). Her third poetry chapbook Emdash and Ellipses was published in early 2016.

Taz curates Desi music at Mishthi Music where she co-produced Voices of Our Vote: My #AAPIVote Album (2016) and Beats for Bangladesh (2013). Her artwork was featured in Sharia Revoiced (2015), in Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s “H-1B” (2015), and Rebel Legacy: Activist Art from South Asian California (2015). She also makes disruptive art annually with #MuslimVDay Cards.

Micah White

Activist Educator

Micah White, PhD is an author, public speaker and lifelong activist who co-created Occupy Wall Street, a global social movement that spread to 82 countries, while an editor of Adbusters magazine.

Micah’s first book, The End of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, was published in 2016 by Knopf Canada. His essays and interviews on the future of protest have been appeared internationally in periodicals including The New York Times, The Guardian, Folha de São Paulo, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He has been a featured guest on major network television shows such as Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, the BBC’s Newsnight and The National, Canada’s flagship nightly current affairs broadcast.

Micah White is a sought after global speaker. He has delivered numerous lectures at prestigious universities—including Princeton, Swarthmore, Middlebury and the University of Chicago—along with cultural festivals and private events in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Indonesia and the United States. Widely recognized as a pioneer of social movement creation, Micah has also been profiled by NPR’s Morning Edition, The New Yorker and in recognition of his contributions, Esquire named him one of the most influential young thinkers alive today.

During his residency in 2019, Micah brought Activist Graduate School to the Institute on Inequality and Democracy by co-teaching a graduate-level course with Ananya Roy on Housing Justice Activism and Protest: Past, Present, Future. The course features a dozen guest speakers from a range of activist approaches to address the housing crisis. This course was recorded and is paired with additional content.

Yusef Omowale

Archivist

Yusef Omowale is director of the Southern California Library (SCL). SCL is a library and archive located in South Los Angeles that documents and makes accessible histories of struggles that challenge racism and other systems of oppression. Founded over 50 years ago, the Library holds extensive collections of histories of community resistance in Los Angeles and beyond.

Over the past 10 years, Yusef has participated within long-standing traditions of collective memory work to document the impacts of policing, incarceration, displacement, and poverty. This archival labor has included political education workshops, campaign support, and offering spaces of healing and material support to ease some of the day-to-day sufferings of late capitalism.

During his residency in 2019, Omowale and the SCL have partnered with the Institute to develop and provide digital curatorial paid internships for UCLA graduate students and Omowale participated as an instructor in the Methodologies for Housing Justice Summer Institute, part of the Housing Justice in #UnequalCities Network, which is housed at the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin and supported by the National Science Foundation. In the fall of 2019, Omowale will collaborate with UCLA graduate students in the Histories and Theories of Planning course to produce public history essays in an effort to work towards an annotated outline of the history of urban planning in Los Angeles, especially of less visible and less known histories. The Southern California Library hopes to share these essays with high school teachers, community residents, and organizers.

Manuel Criollo

Community Organizer

Manuel Criollo is an activist and community organizer with over 20 years of experience in Los Angeles County. He has been on the community frontlines building and leading the Bus Riders Union at the Labor/Community Strategy Center.

Over the past 10 years, Criollo has led campaigns to end punitive school discipline and criminalization policies and practices in Los Angeles public schools. Through member and leader education, Criollo has recruited hundreds of working class grassroots leaders. His organizing work has led to the 95% reduction of citations and tickets to students for minor offenses during the 2015–16 academic school year. Criollo stated, “I want to focus on consolidating, disseminating and expanding our understanding of the punishment, security and policing apparatuses in LA schools and school policing broadly.”

During his residency in 2018, Criollo researched and documented the formation of the Los Angeles School Police Department, creating a timeline of community struggles against school policing, and organizing an organizers exchange on UCLA’s campus.

Yvonne Yen Liu

Solidarity Economy Researcher

Yvonne Yen Liu is the co-founder and research director of the Solidarity Research Center, a worker self-directed nonprofit that advances solidarity economies. Over the last decade, she has authored participatory research projects on alternative economic practices in partnership with low-wage service workers, migrant farmworkers, incarcerated workers, and indigenous communities. Her research has led to the $15 minimum wage increase in Los Angeles, which is a $5.9 billion boost for over 720,000 low wage workers. Her work also contributed towards the decriminalization of street vending, a $504 million industry plied by 50,000 microbusinesses on the streets of Los Angeles.

She serves on the board of the United States Solidarity Economy Network and co-convened a cohort of Asian American community-based organizations who are building worker cooperatives to increase community wealth and to empower their members.

As part of her residency in 2018, Liu explored the history of solidarity economies in the Asian American immigrant and refugee experience, to find lessons from past economies, based on mutual aid and cooperation, to guide future community economic development and forge collective economic agency. “This fellowship provided me with the opportunity to deepen a participatory research project aimed at lifting up the history and contemporary practice of solidarity economies by Asian American grassroots communities.”

Funmilola Fagbamila

Playwright

Funmilola Fagbamila is an activist and community organizer with more than eight years of experience in Los Angeles County. She has been an organizer with Black Lives Matter since its inception, centering its work on policing, mass incarceration, and the overall physical health and wellness in poor black and brown communities. As the Arts and Culture Director for Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, Fagbamila’s work sits at the intersection of blackness and freedom. While she was a graduate student in UCLA’s African American Studies Department, Fagbamila also worked with a number of campus and community groups, primarily organizing around student rights, promoting faculty and student solidarity, and hosting educational events on the increased privatization of public education in California.

Fagbamila explains that her “scholarship explores the complexity of black identity and ideological posturing in the context of Western world.” During her residency in 2017 she produced a curriculum and hosted campus workshops on the topics of inter-ideological communication and intracommunal difference. Fagbamila also completed her stage play, The Intersection, based on engagement across ideological communities.

Lisa Hasegawa

AAPI Advocate

Lisa Hasegawa served as the Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Development (CAPACD) for the past 15 years and recently stepped down in December 2016. Prior to National CAPACD, she was the Community Liaison of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans Pacific Islanders at the end of the Clinton Administration. For her entire career, she has worked at the intersections of civil and human rights, housing, health and community organizing. Lisa is committed to leveraging her cross-disciplinary networks across the country for UCLA students, faculty, and larger community. Returning to the Asian American Studies Center (AASC) as Activist-in-Residence was a homecoming for her. While she was an undergraduate at UCLA, she started her career in community activism through an AASC internship at the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture.

“We are in a very challenging period for Asian Americans Pacific Islanders, undocumented immigrants, communities of color, low-income and queer communities,” said Hasegawa. “I look forward to facilitating lively dialogue and concerted action among networks of activists, advocates and practitioners, together with students and faculty.”

As part of her residency in 2017, Hasegawa documented achievements and challenges faced during the Obama Administration. She also engaged students, faculty and community activists in dialogue about how strategies have fallen short, and took stock of policies that can be strengthened, preserved or defended.

APPLICATION

The 2019 residency takes place during the winter quarter from January 7 – March 31, but Residents may extend their appointment through the spring quarter which ends June 30. Each Resident receives a part-time UCLA appointment, a $7,500 stipend, and may receive up to $2,500 in research support through expense reimbursement (e.g., to host workshops with UCLA students and community residents, to hire a UCLA research assistant, etc.). In addition, the Residents receive office space at the Luskin School of Public Affairs, paid parking and campus access to UCLA Library research facilities. This residency does not include benefits. Two fellows for the UCLA Activist-in-Residence program are selected: one for the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and one for the Institute on Inequality and Democracy. Interested individuals may apply for only one of the following fellowships:

 The Institute on Inequality and Democracy: This fellowship is funded by the James Irvine Foundation established to bring scholar-activists to the Institute who will undertake social movement research and pedagogy directly concerned with equity at the urban scale—preferably in one or more of the following themes: Housing Justice in Unequal Cities; Debt and Predatory Financialization; Policing and Incarceration; and Decolonizing the University. The fellowship requires activist fellow to have student engagement through workshops, class visits, public events, and/or community meetings or field research.

• The UCLA Asian American Studies Center: This fellowship is made possible through the Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee Endowment in Social Justice and Immigration Studies. The fellow will focus on addressing social inequality in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities by participating in a variety of events, such as presentations, class visits, workshops, panels, activist projects, video projects, and Center meetings.

The UCLA Activist-in-Residence program is designed for people who are at least mid-career and who have demonstrated leadership in nonprofit and community-serving organizations.

Interested applicants must:
• Be 18 years or older.
• Live and work in the Los Angeles region.
• Be available part-time during the residency period (January 7 – June 30, 2019).
• Currently work full-time or have recently held a senior leadership position at a community organization or government agency that works with underserved low-income, immigrant, and/or communities of color.
• Be committed to working for social justice.
• Be committed to building a cross-disciplinary network of leaders and scholars.
• Present a clearly articulated statement about what the Resident hopes to gain from the fellowship and what issues s/he plans to explore. For example, how resources would be used for reflection and renewal, in addition to working on and addressing a complex challenge in her/his field.
• Be able to converse in English and/or provide a translator for all group meetings.
• Not be a current university student or employee.

Applications are now closed. Please check back in the fall for information about the 2020 residency.