This summer, we’re joined by Louis Lin, a new graduate of UCLA. Here’s why he came to EOI:
As an undergraduate, I studied economics and international development, but consistently found that the most interesting and important classes for me were in departments outside of my majors. It started with a seminar my freshman year that introduced me to critical race and gender theory, critiques of European humanism, and the politics of decolonization and liberation. Asian-American Studies courses taught me about community organizing, the historical alliances between Asian communities and other groups in social struggle, and the insidious forces that I see undermining those solidarities today. Chicana/o Studies courses taught me about a history of imperialism in the Western hemisphere, indigeneity and ‘border consciousness,’ and new contexts for organizing and resistance brought on by globalized neoliberalism.
But music was as foundational to my politicization as the seminars. This began after finding the militant, pro-people music of L.A.-born and Oakland-based rapper Bambu, and through him, Seattle-based hip-hop duo Blue Scholars. In their track “Bayani,” Prometheus Brown weaves beautiful and heartbreaking poetry describing not only a view of Seattle from the bottom looking up, but also from the eclectic and uprooted gaze of a child of immigrants, while producer Sabzi has the audacity to use a rain stick in the instrumental. Through Blue Scholars’ music, I grew a desire to live in their hometown.
I originally found EOI by googling “Seattle think tank,” and applied for an internship, envisioning it to be a way to learn about and practice research and knowledge production, on topics that interested me in school, in preparation for future graduate studies. In the long term, I want to be involved in the production of knowledge that speaks to power from the bottom, and that can materially serve marginalized communities. In this way, I want to do work on the continued project of liberation in our communities on multiple fronts. My internship here is an important practice.
During school, I was trained mainly to use economics as a methodology for thinking about policy issues. However, I felt that the classes I took rarely forced us to apply theoretical concepts or models to issues that I really care about, with exceptions that I remember dearly. I want to work on projects here that can force me to think both analytically and creatively on theory and real peoples’ and communities’ situations. My favorite professor recently let me borrow a book titled Transnational Conflicts: Central America, Globalization, and Social Change. The author, William Robinson, writes that the goal for social science research is to find the general in the specific and the specific in the general. In this way, I want the internship to teach me to think simultaneously on local and global scales.
During my time as an intern, I will work on researching the possibility of building a publicly owned bank in Seattle or Washington State, and helping Development Director Sam Hatzenbeler with planning and preparing for EOI’s annual event in October.