Dear friends and family near and far,
When I graduated from UCLA, I told my classmates that I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do with my life, but that I was going to change the world. Today, I graduated from Columbia Law School with the same goal in mind, but now with a clear strategy and toolset to achieve it.
A systemic analysis of society’s problems—whether exploitation, discrimination, or environmental degradation—reveals that their most central cause is economic injustice. That is, we tolerate the unjust social effects of our current economic system because it is believed that there is no alternative. Instead, our reigning economic paradigm—corporate capitalism—and its ensuing political system—corporate statism—constrain the parameters of politically acceptable debate and structurally prevent any meaningful and lasting policy solutions beyond superficial change. Therefore, in order to achieve social justice, we must replace our current economic system with one that allows for it.
That is why I am taking my legal education to Detroit, Michigan to work as a fellow for the Center for Community-Based Enterprise. While there, I will be providing technical legal assistance and strategic support to working and faith-based communities to develop worker-owned cooperative enterprises, or businesses that are owned and controlled by workers and operated for their benefit.
In so doing, my hope is to not only empower communities to achieve economic self-sufficiency. But, by building a robust cooperative ecosystem imbued with a culture of workplace democracy, also demonstrate a viable alternative economic system of a solidarity economy over corporate capitalism, and thereby lay the foundation for eventual sociopolitical transformation from corporate statism to economic democracy.
I view my efforts at the grassroots level as an integral part of the larger “New Economy” movement that is advancing an array of approaches to remake our economy so that we as a society can not only achieve prosperity, but do so in a way that is inclusive, equitable, and sustainable.
It is a privilege to even be able to choose what to do for a living. It is a joy to be able to pursue one’s passion. I am therefore grateful beyond measure to everyone who has supported me to reach this momentous day. In various ways you have all nourished me to persevere, challenged me to grow, and inspired me to aim higher. Thank you.
And now, with gratitude in my heart, education in my brain, and fire in my belly, I enter the next chapter of my life more excited than ever that I, and we, can actually change the world after all. I know that I will be seeing many of you along the way.
May 22, 2015
New York, NY