I met Lara Lavi through a mutual friend and fellow activist last summer. Lara is one of those bizarrely brilliant people who continually surprises me with the scope of her capabilities. She’s a scientist, a lawyer, an activist, a singer, and a Grammy award-winning songwriter-for-hire who just happens to be responsible for some of my all-time favorite albums. She’s also directed hundreds of music videos, including the one we just released for “We Shall Not Be Moved.” I enjoy working with her because she keeps me on my toes, challenges my assumptions, and is basically always right.
Here is Lara in her own words.
Tae: The “We Shall Not Be Moved” video is about bringing people together across the identity-based lines of division that have traditionally been used to pit us against each other. Can you share with us how you identify, what you need from your co-conspirators for social justice, and who you’re committed to standing up for?
Lara: We identify with the disenfranchised. As artists we are at the bottom of the economic pile most of the time and yet we are hyper sensitive to racially driven social injustice. We seek camaraderie from others, and an understanding that we are all equal in this world and all deserve justice and compassion. Intersectionality is sacred to us.
On Social Justice Role Models
Tae: Who are your social justice role models and influencers? Who would you most like to hear “you’ve done well” from?
Lara: Many of our influences were shot down – such as Martin Luther King. These days, I would like to hear from my peers mostly, as we are trying to create a movement; and although elected officials and religious leaders are encouraging us to band together, it is us as individuals who need to link arms now and be heard.
Tae: What information do you consider when deciding which initiatives, ballot measures, and candidates to support?
Lara: We look to see if their basic motivation is social and economic justice. We look to see who cares about the sick, the poor, the homeless, the children, education for all, respect for people coming to our country as immigrants, as immigrant workers and thinkers have built so much of our country.
We think about how our nation needs to be a world player and not insular, as that is the kiss of death in a world economy. We think about common decency and honesty in a candidate. We have a clear agenda of how we stand on health care, foreign relations, public education, immigration, peace in the world, global warming, medicare and we look for these issues and what the candidates stand for. I look for candidates who are outspoken about this current administration, because this is not my president.
On the Bottom Line
Tae: When it comes to the constant onslaught of outrage from this regime, we all have to consider our own personal bottom lines. What would you get arrested for? What would you put your safety on the line for?
Lara: I would not get arrested or put my safety on the line at this point. I do not think that is productive for me. I have other skills, like bailing out the people who do get arrested since I am a lawyer, or producing videos that are thought provoking and incite people to take action, use their voices, and vote.
Tae: What gives you hope in these troubled times?
Lara: The bulk of the youth voters feel outside of the system and unheard. But some kids are taking action – like the organizers of March for Our Lives, and the 19 and 20 year olds in the alt rock band Gypsy Temple who built their own “rock the vote” with their Make Your Voice Heard Loud and Vote campaign.
This gives me personally hope, to the extent that any of us have hope while the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters are in power.
As part of the launch of the “We Shall Not Be Moved” music video, I’m asking members of the cast and crew five questions about identity, voting, social justice, and hope. I’ll be posting these on my blog in the coming weeks.