Part 1 Episode Notes

Back to our regularly scheduled program!

On this grand and glorious day, exactly one year ago (😩), one Bernard Sanders won the great state of California on Super Tuesday. That win, was in no small part thanks to this little lady and her Bay Area team. And in commemoration, Claire's interview is on the docket this week.

So, exactly how does an activist and organizer extraordinaire come to form? Press play and find out! (Also, it doesn't hurt to have a parent who studied the French Revolution for their phD haha)

Part 2 Episode Notes

Now that I think about it, there probably was no better preparation for Claire's entrée into leftist politics (especially in SF) than going to hippy dippy Hampshire College haha

I'm still kind of fascinated that something as simple as a dance party is what got her started. Maybe I should've titled this, "She Partied Into Politics."

Part 1 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:11  
Welcome to What's Left to Do. I'm your host, Janelle. This week we're doing something a little different. We're starting off with a bonus episode for my interview with The Claire Lao. This episode takes us through her family's experience living through the history of 20th century China and the Communist Revolution. Ooh! All right, I'm about to do your intro. Do you know what a hype man is, Claire?

Claire  0:48  
Kind of, yeah, sure.

Janelle Jolley  0:49  
Okay, I'm gonna need you to be your own hype man as I introduce you. I'm gonna give a little intro and then you're gonna say, like, "Yeah!" or something. We're gonna, we're gonna make this-

Claire  1:00  
I'm horrible at being my own hype man, but-

Janelle Jolley  1:03  
We're gonna make this urban. Well, I don't know if you feel like you won the lottery today did. Because today's guest, some just call her Claire. The people who call her that without a pending Captain Claire...

Claire  1:23  

Janelle Jolley  1:24  
Campaign Claire.

Claire  1:26  

Janelle Jolley  1:28  
I ask Claire to be a hype man and that's what- "Ooh! Whoa!" Captain Claire. Campaign Claire. Head Comrade Claire. "I'm giving you notes, I'm giving you instructions, leave out this door and go talk to your community," Claire. None other than the THE- I don't even- I don't even know if I have words in the English language to heap upon you, but, Claire, everyone. Say hi to the people, Claire.

Claire  2:00  
Hey, everybody. I'm a horrible hype man for myself.

Janelle Jolley  2:06  
She tried. I mean, bless her heart. She really did try. If you are one of the 20 What's Left To Do faithful, you've probably- the odds that you have met and interacted with Claire are, mmm, 97%. She is- I don't know, what are the words? You are the consummate campaign manager, community organizer, and I am I'm thrilled to be sitting down and talking with you to learn more about your life and what you see and how you understand things politically right now since you're, at this point, you're like an insider. And not in a gross way. Not like a Nancy Pelosi insider. Like, not a piece of shit, but, you know, one that, you know, we can trust and listen to. So I'm just pleased as punch to be on top of your roof today and getting some natural vitamin D, a little bit of human interaction. My FUPA is sweating underneath these goddamn yoga pants, but I'm gonna stop babbling now. How are you?

Claire  3:19  
I'm all right.

Janelle Jolley  3:21  

Claire  3:22  
Yeah. It's been kind of a weird few weeks, weird month. And also just, like, personally, in slightly challenging time for me as well.

Janelle Jolley  3:38  

Claire  3:40  
My grandma passed away around two weeks ago.

Janelle Jolley  3:43  
Wow, I'm so sorry.

Claire  3:46  
And it's's been quite complex for me emotionally because I have, you know, a lot of feelings about my grandmother. I've actually been writing a graphic novel on her life story, as well as mine, and how it relates to, like, Hong Kong and China. And so I've spent the past two weeks rushing a little excerpt for a brief memoir that could be printed for her funeral?

Janelle Jolley  4:22  

Claire  4:24  
And so it, you know, taking some excerpts from my graphic novel, and then, you know, choosing the parts that are more appropriate for the setting of, you know, a funeral.

Janelle Jolley  4:36  
Sure, sure.

Claire  4:37  
So I just finished the last round of edits right before you got here this morning. Which is why I was like, when you said you were running late, I was like, "Great!" I'm still in my pajamas right now. Like, I haven't had breakfast yet, so...

Janelle Jolley  4:55  
I'm glad that my tardiness didn't throw a wrench in your day. How old was she when she passed?

Claire  5:01  
She was 90. So she lived a really long life. So she...maybe it's appropriate for me to get into her life a little bit.

Janelle Jolley  5:12  

Claire  5:12  
So she was born in 1930. Went to school for three days before the Japanese invaded during the second World War.

Janelle Jolley  5:22  
Yeah, yeah.

Claire  5:24  
She took- she, you know, only ever went to school for three days, but then she basically taught herself how to read and write. And ended up, you know, marrying my grandfather. They were in China, in-

Janelle Jolley  5:38  

Claire  5:38  
In mainland China, in Guangzhou. And they know, it was under Mao at that time, so kind of living off of government rations wasn't enough, and they had a lot of mouths to feed. She actually had given birth her already 5 kids.

Janelle Jolley  6:02  

Claire  6:03  
But her first two...I think her first son died very quickly as a child. And then the second son, I may have, may be mixing up the first and second, but I think the second son was the one who- they were selling secondhand goods to try to kind of make ends meet, like supplement, to just be able to have more of a income to pay for food. And they were- my grandma thinks that because they were using, they were collecting secondhand cloth and clothing, that there was some bacteria or something that infected their son. And so he actually ended up being completely paralyzed.

Janelle Jolley  6:54  
Oh wow.

Claire  6:55  
But anyway, the government wanted to basically merge their private business with, you know, with the state. And they were concerned about that. She kind of- she has all these stories about how she negotiated with the Communist Party Secretary to-

Janelle Jolley  7:14  
So she wasn't a member of the party?

Claire  7:15  

Janelle Jolley  7:16  
She wasn't- was she Kuomintang?

Claire  7:19  
No, she was a regular person.

Janelle Jolley  7:22  
But she had a private business pre-revolution.

Claire  7:26  
No, that would be after.

Janelle Jolley  7:28  
She was allowed to set up her own enterprise after the revolution?

Claire  7:31  
I mean, that's what they wanted- so, at first, people had their own businesses for a while. But I think in the '50s, they basically started collectivizing everything. So it was at that time that they were, you know, wanting to collectivise things. And for her, she, there were several steps you could take. You could turn it to a co-op, and that was kind of the first step you could take. But the greatest honor is for the government know, to merge with the government, basically, merge your business with the government. And she really didn't want to do that. And so she managed to turn hers into a co-op and delay, and then basically planned the entire family's escape to Hong Kong.

Janelle Jolley  8:26  
Because she wasn't fucking with the communists.

Claire  8:28  

Janelle Jolley  8:29  

Claire  8:30  
And, basically, planned the escape over around a two year period, I think?

Janelle Jolley  8:36  
Oh, wow.

Claire  8:36  
Where, like, my grandfather went down with their oldest daughter, my aunt. She pretended to lose contact with my grandfather. People were asking, "Where is he?" blah, blah, blah. She kind of like, "I don't know, you tell me." And then...and people were kind of going after her. And then she came down with my mom when my mom was still a tiny toddler, probably around one year old? And then...her aunt brought my second aunt, or, like, the-

Janelle Jolley  9:11  
Little sister.

Claire  9:11  
Yeah, my mother's sister.

Janelle Jolley  9:13  
So she left behind her parents and her siblings in mainland and was like, "I gotta get outta here. I got to get to Hong Kong."

Claire  9:20  
So she actually, my grandmother had to start working- started working when she was 10 years old. Because her mother was not in very good health, and she basically had to help raise all of her siblings. And so she, at the age of 10, was sweeping up chewed up sugar canes that people would spit out and selling it as firestarters for stoves.

Janelle Jolley  9:50  

Claire  9:51  
So, you know, she grew up in complete poverty, you know, dirt poor. And she really worked, you know. Send the family down to Hong Kong, they eventually, she and my grandpa, started a shipbreaking business in Hong Kong where-

Janelle Jolley  10:10  
Wait, wait, wait. How did they actually get there? Because I've heard other friends of mine who are Hong Kong Chinese in their stories of their parents or their grandparents, and like, some of them stowed away and ships to get there.

Claire  10:21  

Janelle Jolley  10:22  
Some of them- well, that's, like, two of the stories I can think of. So how did they get over?

Claire  10:26  
So, for my grandmother, I don't really know exactly how my grandpa came down, but for her, so she came down with my mom. And she got a ticket to Macau. And this was like, I think, '58. Like, right before the Great-

Janelle Jolley  10:44  
The shit really popped off there.

Claire  10:44  
Yeah, the Great Leap Forward, and where millions of people starve to death. But she went, got a ticket to Macau. She'd describe having inspectors come on board and she actually hid gold. She made gold into a belt and had it kind of wrapped in cloth, you know, around her waist. And inspectors came on board the ship and she immediately pretended to breastfeed my mom, so that she wouldn't get bothered. Exactly. So she did not get inspected. And then, when they got to Macau, she gave my mom to, like a distance family relative, this elderly lady who was a Macau citizen, and so she could go to Hong Kong legally. And she was saying that it costs like $500 to go from Macau to Hong Kong, through the proper boats, and it still wouldn't guarantee entry because it's up to the Hong Kong immigration.

Janelle Jolley  10:45  

Claire  10:52  
She'd say, like, we had a family friend who is Shanghainese. And they got, she got turned back, you know, at the border. So, herself, she got into a cargo ship, into the basement of a cargo ship, and basically was smuggled illegally through. And that was a lot cheaper, it was like 100-something Hong Kong dollars at that time. And she said everybody was vomiting in the cargo.

Janelle Jolley  12:33  
It's probabaly the noxious fumes. It was probably making people sick.

Claire  12:37  
But she was just like, "I was fine. Everybody else was vomiting." And then, then they had- like, in the middle of the ocean, they had to switch boats.

Janelle Jolley  12:48  

Claire  12:48  
And they had to basically switch into smaller speed boats, and they divvied up people. There was a whole operation. Like, divvied up people, like, "You're going to Sham Shui Po, you're going to, you know, this and that." And when she got to Hong Kong, at first she tried to get into a taxi to go to the street where she was supposed to go to, but the taxi couldn't find the street because it didn't really exist. Like, it wasn't actually a road.

Janelle Jolley  13:17  

Claire  13:18  
So she had to go to a family friend to ask them to take her there. And then later on she, you know, met up with the lady that brought my mom over and-

Janelle Jolley  13:29  
Got your mom back.

Claire  13:30  
Yeah, got my mom back, so-

Janelle Jolley  13:31  
And then reunited with her husband.

Claire  13:33  
Yeah, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  13:34  
Okay, alright.

Claire  13:35  
And then once they start running their own shipbreaking business, they basically were taking apart old retired ships and selling parts. And she was especially selling pipes, a lot of pipes from the ships. And she basically ended up running the business because later on my grandpa's health was not very good. And so think about, you know, in Chinese culture, women in shipbreaking business, you know, run- being the boss lady is very, very rare. Yeah, so-

Janelle Jolley  14:16  
Your mom was a communist China-fleeing girl boss in Hong Kong in the shipwrecking business.

Claire  14:23  
Yeah, my grandma, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  14:23  
That's kind of fun.  

Claire  14:25  
Yeah. So anyway, after-

Janelle Jolley  14:28  
She broke the mold.

Claire  14:29  
She definitely did.

Janelle Jolley  14:31  

Claire  14:33  
So, yeah, just after she- so I had been writing a story about her and kind of related to Hong Kong/China politics today and, like, from my own perspective, and so after she passed away, you know, I had a lot of complex emotions.

Janelle Jolley  14:54  
Can you explain some of the complex emotions?

Claire  14:56  
Yeah. So, of course I'm really sad. I went back last...two years ago, two Octobers ago. Like 20- October 2019, she had a stroke. And I was working on the Bernie campaign already at that time. I, at first, was very nervous about asking for time off, because, you know, in order to go to Hong Kong, it's like a, you know, 16 hour flight, I'd have to go for a significant amount of time to make it worth it. I did end up going back. And I'm really glad I did.

Janelle Jolley  15:36  
Of course!

Claire  15:38  
Because then, you know, after the campaign COVID hit.

Janelle Jolley  15:41  

Claire  15:41  
And I wasn't able to go back.

Janelle Jolley  15:42  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Claire  15:43  
I didn't get to, you know, see her again. You know, I'm...very much in tune with the left here. And I've been seeing like-

Janelle Jolley  15:52  
Very much in tune. "I'm very much-" she in the center of it! Go ahead, go ahead.

Claire  15:59  
I've been seeing a lot of groups all over different parts of California reading Mao, and it's definitely very triggering for me. And I found that I wasn't the only one.

Janelle Jolley  16:15  
No, of course not!

Claire  16:15  
Like, I've met other Asians in politics, who are like, "Oh my gosh, that's really offensive." Here I have my American leftist friends who are like, "American capitalism was horrible," you know, "Mao is great." And then I have my fellow Hong Kongers, who are activists, and, not all of them, but-

Janelle Jolley  16:29  
A lot of them.

Claire  16:41  
A portion, a good portion of them, are like, "You know, Chinese communism is horrible." And right now it's not even communism. You know, "Trump is fantastic."

Janelle Jolley  16:43  
Goddamn, that sounds like whiplash, girl. Shit.

Claire  16:56  
So I was like, in deep depression and anger for, like, a long time.

Janelle Jolley  17:08  
I wish everyone could see her face, right now. Her eyes, like, crossed and twirled together because, imagine being in the middle of that. Like, what? Am I taking crazy pills?

Claire  17:18  
I was burning from the inside. And at the same time, I was dealing with grief. So that's why my emotions were very, very complex.

Janelle Jolley  17:30  
Oh, God, I would not switch places with you, because what the fuck? Wow. Okay. Yeah, it's kind of like that song, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here, I am stuck in the middle." Like, how do you- how do you- what do you say? What do you say to each side? Or do you just not talk to anybody and it's just like-  

Claire  17:51  
Well, I actually-

Janelle Jolley  17:52  
"Bitch, I need a nap."

Claire  17:53  
I ended up writing. It took me about a week. I ended up writing a long, long post on Facebook that kind of summarized a little bit of what we talked about. I didn't go into that much detail. That frustration about it, like, a week after my grandmother died. I kind of- I just, you know, it was keeping me up at night. I was just angry and sad and frustrated all the time.

Janelle Jolley  18:21  
And grieving.

Claire  18:22  
Yeah. And so I wrote this very long post on Facebook that kind of summarized it. Because I felt husband has already heard me too much. And it needed to get out there. And so I posted it on Facebook. I mean, I don't know if that the right people have been, that I want to reach, have been reading it, but at least it-

Janelle Jolley  18:45  
What did- tell me what you said. Because I didn't see- I never get on Facebook, so I didn't see it. So, summarize, or...

Claire  18:52  
Mao wrote a bunch of theory in 1937 when the Civil War, you know, the beginning of the civil war in China,

Janelle Jolley  19:01  

Claire  19:04  
Between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party.

Janelle Jolley  19:08  
And the Nationalist Party were the capitalists?

Claire  19:11  
Yeah, I mean, honestly, I wouldn't say that they- I've actually been reading a lot more about this more recently. Because I also just wanted to learn more about exactly what happened. I wouldn't- they weren't going in, "We are here to defend capitalism, and that's why we're fighting with the communists." At that time, you know, early 20th century China is very complicated because, basically, it was the...they were fighting the Tang Dynasty. So basically, you know, Imperial China was falling, you know. And so there were actually lots of different factions of warlords and everything and wht rose to-

Janelle Jolley  19:57  
So I think it's importatnt to make- so that people understand that, like, the idea- what we understand today as China did- a unified country, a nationalist bloc, did not exist at the beginning of the 20th century. There were, like, there were different, not regions, but regions that had their own... that were kind of- it was kind of balkanized.

Claire  20:16  
Yeah, and it was basically very chaotic. Everybody was fighting each other, you know.

Janelle Jolley  20:21  

Claire  20:21  
Internally. You know, they were, you know, tearing down the Tang Dynasty government. And the two major forces that rose to the top were the Communist Party and the Nationalist party, that basically formed an alliance in an attempt to unify China.

Janelle Jolley  20:39  
Because the Japanese were the-

Claire  20:41  
Well, yeah. And it's interesting, because, yeah, the Japanese first attempt to invade, I think, was in 1931 or '32? I think '31. And the Nationalist Party actually took the brunt of fighting against the Japanese. The Communist Party set up, basically stationed themselves in the rural areas, and largely avoided direct conflict with the Japanese. And they kind of used what, you know, guerrilla tactics, but they also just didn't really fight them. Whereas the Nationalist Party took the vast majority of the casualties fighting against the Japanese because they were fighting in the cities and it was, you know, open warfare. After the end of the Second World War, then the two parties start fighting each other. And, actually, by that time, which is kind of a misconception with a lot of what leftists think. By that time it was open warfare between the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party. And it was not guerrilla tactics, it was just all out, you know, open warfare. So the Communist Party really- their strength was that they built up from the grassroots in the rural areas. They did the land reforms, where they took land back from land owners and redistributed it, which I thought was, you know, actually a pretty cool thing. That's probably, one could argue, one of Mao's great contributions to communism, that, you know, previous to him didn't really exist.

Janelle Jolley  22:23  

Claire  22:26  
Things got, you know, bloodier than I would want them to.

Janelle Jolley  22:30  

Claire  22:31  
But it still wasn't the worst of his tenure. And then the Nationalist Party, they basically didn't really have much of an ideology. And they were very much just a military group that used existing power structures and existing warlords, and got alliances from existing warlords and people with power in different regions of China. Of course, China is huge. And that's how they build their military. And as the communists started gaining power, the National-

Janelle Jolley  23:09  
Power and popular support.

Claire  23:10  
Yeah. Basically, the nationalist infrastructure started falling apart because they didn't have the, kind of, grassroots support.

Janelle Jolley  23:17  
Yep. That's right.

Claire  23:18  
So they fled to Taiwan. And they, however, after a bit, started implementing, you know, democratic elections. Whereas China still does not have democratic elections. So I would say, you know, yes, they had more of a capitalist tendency, in the sense that they supported the elitist structure? But I wouldn't say that it is, you know, the way that we look at America now, you know, with the capitalist ideology, you know, trying to fight, you know, China, Cuba, you know, all these other countries. It wasn't really like an economic, a conscious economic ideology. Here is where I have issue with the left just kind of, you know, glorifying Mao without looking at his legacy critically, because, you know, there was the, you know, the ideals that he espoused to, you know, as, you know, during the Civil War, as he was, you know, wanting to create a communist society, and then there was what actually happened, you know, between 1949 to until his death in '76., for example, we take the land reforms, they redistributed the land, but then within less than 10 years, they basically reabsorb- the state reabsorbed all of the land and they started large state farms.

Janelle Jolley  24:50  

Claire  24:50  
And that basically led to...

Janelle Jolley  24:53  
Millions of people dying.

Claire  24:54  
Horrible, disastrous, you know, agricultural practices.

Janelle Jolley  24:58  
Do you think that it was because of the state's absorption of the agricultural lands, or Mao's ego got fucking away from him, and he stopped ignoring the science and the math of agriculture in order to build- you know what I mean? Like, those are two separate things in my mind.

Claire  25:14  
I think both. Because, okay, here's the main issue I have is that, when you have one person that has absolute power-

Janelle Jolley  25:24  

Claire  25:24  
Their ego definitely starts to take over.

Janelle Jolley  25:26  

Claire  25:27  
And basically, for a long time after that, Mao was just trying to keep himself and the party in power.

Janelle Jolley  25:33  
Yes, yes.

Claire  25:33  
And that was like, you know, what he was obsessed with. And which is what most, you know, all authoritarian, or authoritarian regimes, are and, including a lot of communist regimes. And also, when you run a government that's top down, you are not going to get, you know, the collaborative expertise from different sources. And so I think it was both, like, the way that the government was run that, you know, there are a lot of things. Like, when you have these very arbitrary goals-

Janelle Jolley  26:12  

Claire  26:13  
They were-

Janelle Jolley  26:15  
They were impossible to achieve.  

Claire  26:16  
They were impossible to achieve. People started just faking numbers. And so, and also, you know, there were, like, a handful of major crops that the state would buy, so everyone- but everybody's just, you know, growing those crops. It just, policy wise- and actually, it's not even mentioned in my book, but I'm thinking agriculturally and environmentally, is a very poor decision. And, in the end, people just starved because-

Janelle Jolley  26:48  
Starved to death.

Claire  26:49  
Yeah, starved to death.

Janelle Jolley  26:50  
Tens of millions.

Claire  26:51  
Yeah, exactly. Like more, a lot more, Chinese people starved to death, then Jews that were killed by Hitler-

Janelle Jolley  26:59  
In the Holocaust.

Claire  26:59  
In the Holocaust, you know.

Janelle Jolley  27:01  
In a shorter amount of time, I think.

Claire  27:04  
Yeah, yeah. Because the Great Leap Forward is when the worst of the starvation happened. And it's interesting because, you know, people who are so-called Maoists, like who who espouse to his theory on practice. You know, he talks about, basically, having theory, and then practice, and then revisiting, you know, using the-

Janelle Jolley  27:30  
The praxis to inform your theory.

Claire  27:33  
Yeah. But then, who is making that decision, if it's just that one person or five people at the top that initially set out policy and every revision just are in charge of tweaking it, you're still not going to have a very well informed policy, in my opinion. If you are in, you know, in a government where you're not soliciting the opinion of, you know, a larger public where you're not having different experts-

Janelle Jolley  28:12  
What does that sound like?

Claire  28:13  

Janelle Jolley  28:13  
I said, what does that sound like?

Claire  28:19  
You know, you're- I mean, it is, like, I do see parallels between Trump and Mao. Like, let me just say.

Janelle Jolley  28:27  
I was thinking more broadly, not just Trump, just the American government.

Claire  28:31  
Oh, yeah. But at least, like...I mean, American democracy has a lot of problems.

Janelle Jolley  28:37  
I mean, to put it mildly. What do you think was useful in terms of either theory or practice of the Communist revolution in China? Was there anything redeemable or was it all trash and was all garbage and we should- nobody who calls themselves a leftist anywhere on the planet should even pay attention? Like what, what was... what is something that someone should or could take and learn from or build upon or revisit?

Claire  29:06  
I mean, there are some things that I found interesting that I don't know that I would want to have to the extent that they did, but everyone's life under the Communist Party was under- what is it called? Like, the work units. And I don't think that I would want society to be structured via work units, which is the way that they had structured things. And also the fact that you were basically assigned a career for life by the government, and that's what you did and you had really no say in what you wanted to do with your life. That, I totally did not agree with. But, you know, the work unit guaranteed health care, guaranteed housing.

Janelle Jolley  29:53  
A ration.

Claire  29:54  
Yeah, there were rations. Although, not-

Janelle Jolley  29:56  
During the Great Leap it was not a lot of food.

Claire  29:58  
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it was very limited. But you had, kind of- there was a lot of community being built around there. So, you know, within- you basically lived and worked in a community and there were, you know, activities, sports, all that stuff. There was still a lot of hierarchy, I would say, within that system, and, you know, basically, your comfort and life depended on how close you were to the party. So it's not like there wasn't class, there was still a class. But at least, you know, people had basic things like health care, housing, and a sense of community. So I think that that is something that is worth learning from. And after Mao died, you know, China basically opened up and became- opened up to the free market became more, much more of a capitalist society. And right now, it's basically capitalism to the extreme, except is just run by an authoritarian-

Janelle Jolley  31:01  
Yeah, central planning. Centrally planned capitalism.

Claire  31:04  

Janelle Jolley  31:05  
Is there anything else that you think from the revolution is worthy of revisiting? Or learning from, or building on?

Claire  31:11  
Yeah, I would say, learning from- I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't want our society to be structured by the work units, necessarily. But also with land reforms I thought it was interesting, you know-

Janelle Jolley  31:22  
Interesting, what do you mean by that?

Claire  31:24  
First of all, it's in a rural area. So I don't, you know, I don't think it can be applied- it wasn't applied in cities. But, you know, to basically redistributed the land so that it was more equitable, and most people had...a similar size of land. The way they did it is that the previous land owners ended up having much smaller lots of land, and then the peasants had larger, equally distributed lots of land. You know, I kind of want to see us do that...

Janelle Jolley  32:00  
What do you mean, kind of?

Claire  32:02  
With- well, I mean, with wealth, I definitely want to see us do that. You know, I don't know how logistically it would work in-

Janelle Jolley  32:11  
You don't have to know, but you can just say it.  

Claire  32:12  
Yeah. But I think it's just the concept of taking what the really wealthy owners have, and then redistributing it equally. I think it's very good thing to do. I mean, they had these whole public hearings where they would basically have the community, you know, lash out on different people who, you know, were home, well, land owners, or, you know, kind of the bourgeois, all those people, and it created a very hostile environment. And, you know, a lot of them were executed, you know, ?, so, no, you know, no real trial. And so it became kind of just ganging up on people. And, I mean, eventually, and this is not just with the land reforms, but later on during Great Leap Forward and after World War II, is, like, a lot of people were executed without trial through torture, false confessions through torture, and at some point the party admitted themselves that they felt like the executions were really going overboard. Like, they were executing too many people. And then Mao was like, "Okay, let's keep it to, like, 0.1%." I can't remember, it was 0.1% or 1%.

Janelle Jolley  32:23  
Let's keep the executions to a dull roar, please.

Claire  32:54  
Yeah. Then the party, people who were in the party, party officials, saw it as a quota.

Janelle Jolley  33:43  
Oh, God.

Claire  33:44  
Yeah. And so they started- like, there would be places where they would run out of people to execute, and so they just started executing people who had, like, defected. You know, they were part of the Nationalist Party, and then they defected.

Janelle Jolley  33:56  
The became communist.

Claire  33:57  
And they, you know, were promised that they wouldn't get retaliated against, but then they still did, because they started-

Janelle Jolley  34:03  
Had to meet these quotas of execution.

Claire  34:05  
Yeah, exactly. And so, you know- and I think a lot of this is, like, Mao didn't really set out for things to turn out so disastrously, but they really did.

Janelle Jolley  34:18  
So, am I understanding you to say that your conflicted views on the positives, or what the lessons that the left should learn from the communist revolution in China that: A. You have to be very careful whenever you have a single charismatic leader around which people coalesce because, kind of, the way power works is that, you know, that person then becomes, you know, very into themselves, their own ego and their ability to wield and reproduce their own power, which isn't necessarily, without checks, is not going to redound to the benefit of the masses. So that's one. Two: We could learn from and build upon, or iterate, or experiment with the way that the work units operated, not that there should necessarily be work units in the same way that there were during the revolution, but, you know, communities- organizing communities socially, and providing for them their basic needs. Like, that is a net positive. And also, land reforms. Like, that is something we should probably learn about more, look at more deeply. However, in doing all of these things, you have to remember that if the decision making power is concentrated in the hands of very few, and it doesn't take into account, you know, everyone, like input from a broad base of people that could, you know, end up trending back into the direction of things you don't- that you didn't foresee or plan for, that will actually hurt people more than it helps. Is that a reasonable summation?

Claire  36:15  
I think you summed it up quite well.

Janelle Jolley  36:17  
Their ultimate power is in, lies with the people. So you must bring them along, you must show them the stakes and where they stand to benefit, and how, if we are to bring about a wholesale change of the society, it will require you and it will require your belief, your support your effort. I can't do this without you.

Claire  36:38  
Yes. I think that was definitely their strength. I mean, in the end, the way that it was run, it was still very much through a top down party apparatus. But initially, when they were organizing, that was a key way to be able to get grassroots and people support. Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997, and they handed it back over to China. There was a sign- a British- a joint declaration. Hong Kong was promised to be run under one country, two systems, which meant that basically Hong Kong was completely autonomous other than they didn't have a military. But we had our own government, you know. Not democratically run, completely. I'm going to get more into that. Hong Kong has its own currency, which is tied to the US dollar. We have freedom of speech, free press, free academia, research, all of that. Very much like the values of, you know, the Western world. And of course, a capitalist, a full capitalist, economy.

Janelle Jolley  37:45  
Fully capitalist. Can I say something?

Claire  37:48  

Janelle Jolley  37:48  
Just really funny. I- my whole...I was, I think I was literally 32 years old before I understood geographically where Hong Kong was. Like, I had an understanding- my understanding from hearing about Hong Kong, it sounded so very separate from China. I thought Hong Kong geographically was like Taiwan. Like, another small island out in the ocean.

Claire  38:14  
At least you didn't think it was Japan.

Janelle Jolley  38:15  
No, no, no.

Claire  38:17  
I've had so many people, where I say, like, in college, I'm like, "Hey, I'm from Hong Kong." They're like, "Oh, I've always wanted to go to Japan."

Janelle Jolley  38:23  
You're like, "Actually, that's not what I said." It's like Florida! It's like, it's just, it's a little peninsula on- so it's wild to me to think that there can be... this idea of a completely separate governmental, financial, social organization on- it is- I mean, it's not considered Mainland China, but it'''s like Flor- it's just a little dangly thing on Mainland China. And I was just like, "How the fuck does do they think that that's going to be defended?" It's not...I don't know. That still blows my mind that this is not considered Mainland China, even though it is attached to the Main- it is on the Mainland! I don't know. It still blows my mind.

Claire  39:07  
That is a very controversial issue. If you-

Janelle Jolley  39:09  
It's so wild to consider! Like, I would love for Florida to not be considered the United States, and they can do their own thing because they're weird. But it's just's right there! What do you mean?

Claire  39:21  
You know, but when you've you've been a colony for 100 years, and there's been a border there, you know, like-

Janelle Jolley  39:28  
That's what we were-

Claire  39:29  
Yeah, I mean, like, Alaska's, ya know...

Janelle Jolley  39:31  
Right, right. It's not even a thing. You're right. Hawaii...yeah, you're right. It's not that different, but it still blew- because my friend was like, "What the fuck are you talking about? It's right there." I was like, "No!" And I was like, "Show it to me on a map." I was like, "Oh, shit! It's right there."

Claire  39:44  
It's right there. Oh, yeah, Hong Kong history. So, you know, Hong Kong has been pretty... and I would say that also very importantly, is that the people of Hong Kong really value things like, you know, free speech, free press. You know, after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Hong Kong was, you know, the only place and geographically Chinese region where, you know... giant memorials with, you know, vigils with tens or hundreds of thousands of people would gather, you know, in Victoria Park, like, giant park in the center of the Hong Kong Island, you know. And that was legal, whereas in China, it's completely censored. And so, you know, Hong Kong was, after the handover, it was promised to be run under one country, two systems. It said- it was also promised to eventually have full self determination. So, a free and democratic-

Janelle Jolley  40:56  
What are those promises backed by?

Claire  40:58  
The joint-

Janelle Jolley  40:58  
Just a gentleman's agreement? Like, "We prom-"

Claire  41:01  
Yeah, they signed it. You know, the two governments signed it.

Janelle Jolley  41:03  
I mean, rip it up! What I'm saying, what is- what is keep- for a place that is geographically attached to mainland China, what- I'm not saying that Hong Kong, the people of Hong Kong, should just throw up their hands, but I'm saying, like, what makes Hong Kong Chinese people think that these things have to be on- it's right- it's China! You know what I mean?

Claire  41:28  
I mean, a lot of people left during, you know, right before the handover, because they were like, "Shit," you know?

Janelle Jolley  41:34  

Claire  41:35  
"This is the end," you know, "we better leave." And then, but then for the first, like, 20...I wouldn't say 20; ten years or so, things were kind of continuing as normal in Hong Kong. You know, there wasn't great drastic change.

Janelle Jolley  41:50  
The agreements were honored.

Claire  41:51  
Yes, more or less.

Janelle Jolley  41:53  

Claire  41:54  
There was one attempt in, I think, 2003, of kind of drafting national security legislation, and that prompted hundreds of thousands of people to go out on the streets, and so they actually withdrew those efforts, only to restart them- or, only, you know, last year, they just...Beijing just top down-  in 2004, it was the Hong Kong government that was trying to draft the legislation. And, you know, people went out into the streets, and they stopped. But last I guess- I'm jumping ahead. But, you know, last year Beijing, you know, the Chinese government just basically top down- rammed down this national security law that would was- had extremely broad language. And it's basically, anyone who has attempts to subvert the government is, collaborating with foreign forces, could, you know, be charged again, you know, for violating this national security law. It's basically, you know, kind of a carte blanche for them to just, you know, arrest anyone. And the court- very important, too, is Hong Kong has had an independent judiciary, which China does not have.

Janelle Jolley  43:28  

Claire  43:28  
But then for the national security law, they basically handpicked particular judges that were in charge of, you know, judging over these cases. And so it's basically a scam. But, kind of, the has-been attempts at implementing democracy in Hong Kong. And that, in 2014, accumulated to the Umbrella Movement, or what is now known as the Umbrella Movement, where people occupied the streets. It's actually influenced by Occupy Wall Street, inspired, and they were called Occupy Central. People occupied basically the highways near the government area for 79 days. And at that time, there were talks about implementing, you know, democratic elections to elect the chief executive, which is, you know, kind of equivalent to president or, you know, the person with the highest power. But then China wanted to pre-screen all the candidates and pre-approve all the candidates, which means it's not a real democracy, because, you know-

Janelle Jolley  44:35  
If they get- Beijing gets a puppet-

Claire  44:37  
Yeah, exactly. And so that led to the big protests. And that effort was basically withdrawn because the people of Hong Kong felt like it was better to not have democracy and fake democracy in name then, you know...yeah, it's better to have just democracy and call it what it is then to have fake democracy in name only. But then- and then in 2019 there was an extradition bill. There were huge protests of 1.2 million people were out on the streets of a city of 7.5 million.

Janelle Jolley  45:27  
That's crazy.

Claire  45:28  
A quarter of the population was on the streets. And remember too that for the majority of protests in Hong Kong, large protests like that, they're extremely peaceful. Like, super, super peaceful. But then, you know, a year later basically, China implemented the national security law, and they basically outlawed any sort of peaceful demonstrations. And when a protest is deemed illegal, the police show up, riot gear, tear gas, all that, and things kind of get hairy, you know? And so here is the other very frustrating thing. People in Hong Kong have been very desperate. They've been looking to the west for help. They've been looking to the US and the UK for help. And people in Hong Kong have been seeing Trump as this savior.

Janelle Jolley  46:22  

Claire  46:22  
Because he is, so far, the only US president- the US president that has stood up most against the Chinese government, vocally.

Janelle Jolley  46:35  
Huh. Uh-huh.

Claire  46:36  
I think it's really important to highlight the values- democracy as an important value?

Janelle Jolley  46:43  

Claire  46:44  
Because I think, as I'm arguing with leftist friends, you know, they seem to take democracy for granted. And sure, like, we don't have a functional democracy here.

Janelle Jolley  46:54  
Hell no.  

Claire  46:55  
But you don't get arrested for simply speaking your mind, like, criticizing the government, you know?

Janelle Jolley  47:04  
Most of the time.

Claire  47:05  
Most of the time, like...

Janelle Jolley  47:07  
Because I be up here saying, "Fuck Nancy Pelosi," every episode, and ain't nobody came knocking on my door.

Claire  47:11  
And we have academic freedom here. Like, you know, universities can do research and publish critical analysis. Yeah, you know, funding and all that. But like, they're not gonna get jailed, you know?

Janelle Jolley  47:25  
Sure, sure. They might get locked out of the academy and lose their ability to make a living, but- which, I don't know, is maybe not as bad as jail, but still pretty bad. But to your point, I take your point. I take your point.

Claire  47:36  
Yeah. So activists in Hong Kong, you know, have, in light of what has been happening there, have been looking, you know, to the US government as a model, when, in fact, they're not seeing the failings of the American capitalist system. And the left in the US-

Janelle Jolley  47:57  
Kind of romanticizes.

Claire  47:58  
In seeing the failings of the US capitalist system are really romanticizing, you know, the Chinese Communist revolution, and all that. And so, I think it's important for both sides to look at both systems very critically and find a way-

Janelle Jolley  48:15  
To contextualize the...contextualize and critique the wins and the failures.

Claire  48:21  

Janelle Jolley  48:21  
And you have to do that, kind of, critically and neutrally. Like, dispassionately is the word I'm trying to look for.  

Claire  48:28  
Yeah, mm-hm.

Janelle Jolley  48:40  
All right, all right. Who's gonna be the first one to give me a hard time about being too tough on Mao? I'm ready. All right back to our regularly scheduled program, picking back up with Claire's story on the next episode.

Part 2 Transcript

Janelle Jolley  0:13  
Hey, hey! Welcome to What's Left To Do. I'm your host, Janelle. For those who know the force that is Claire, it probably will make sense to learn that she was born to parents that studied the French Revolution, among other things. Let's listen to see how her life unfolded from France to Hong Kong to the US. You are not able to, very similar black people, you are not able to talk about yourself starting with you, you have to, you had to, walk us through the history. Which, I'm black, so, yes, that is- I completely understand that, and that's how it should be. So you started with your grandparents and their story. Help me understand how that led to the beginning of your life, the direction of your life, how you grew up, and your story.

Claire  1:11  
I was actually born in France.

Janelle Jolley  1:13  

Claire  1:14  

Janelle Jolley  1:15  
How did that happen?

Claire  1:16  
My parents were studying there. They met at university in Hong Kong, and then they went to France for their PhDs.

Janelle Jolley  1:26  
Okay, hold on. Your dad's- we were talking before about your maternal grandparents.

Claire  1:31  

Janelle Jolley  1:31  
Your dad's parents, I presume, also fled the mainland for Hong Kong?

Claire  1:35  
I don't have any stories of my paternal grandparents fleeing, so I think they were in Hong Kong for longer

Janelle Jolley  1:42  
Oh, okay.

Claire  1:42  
They may have emigrated, like-

Janelle Jolley  1:44  

Claire  1:45  
Earlier. I don't know the details.

Janelle Jolley  1:48  
Okay. But they met at uni in Hong Kong, and then?

Claire  1:51  
Yeah. And I will also preface by saying that my dad also grew up in utter poverty himself.

Janelle Jolley  1:59  
In Hong Kong?

Claire  1:59  
In Hong Kong. He was hungry growing up and never had enough to eat. And he always reminded me of that all the time. But anyway, so they met in uni in Hong Kong, they went to France and to Paris to get their PhDs. My dad studying French philosophy and my mom-

Janelle Jolley  2:19  
And French food, I'm sure.

Claire  2:22  
And my mom, the French Revolution.

Janelle Jolley  2:25  
Oh! Okay.

Claire  2:26  

Janelle Jolley  2:27  
All right.

Claire  2:27  
And I was born middle of that. Well, it took my dad 10 years to write his thesis. When I was born, they didn't have much money. They, I believe, took me to daycare. There's government run public daycare.

Janelle Jolley  2:43  
Don't remind me. It makes me so angry when I looked at what the fuckin' French have.

Claire  2:46  
It was wonderful. Like all of woman there were very professional, you know, knew what they were doing. Would teach my mom how to-

Janelle Jolley  2:52  
A croissant everyday after naptime.

Claire  2:56  
That, I don't remember. I have some distinct memories, like, really early childhood memories that nobody else could have told me because my parents weren't there, of being in daycare. And when- because it's a government run daycare system, the tuition is sliding scale. And when I first went there, I think I was like two months old? Like, I was very young. My parents were at the lowest income level, so it was free. And then by the time I left, which was when I was three, because in French kindergarten starts- in France, kindergarten starts at three years old, and there are three years of kindergarten before you go into first grade.

Janelle Jolley  3:35  

Claire  3:35  
Yeah. By the time I left, they were paying the regular tuition, which is like a very affordable, you know, tuition. So I grew up in...outside of Paris until I was seven. And we lived in a, kind of, working class neighborhood with a lot of immigrants. Like, I remember my-

Janelle Jolley  3:58  
What kind of immigrants?

Claire  4:00  
There were- well, I would just say school, the friends in my school, you know, very, very diverse. Some Asian immigrants, some Arabic immigrants, like people who spoke Arabic, I don't know what country they were from. You know, some black families. But it was like, everybody had work. It was very, you know, pretty safe environment for families to raise kids. But, yeah, very, very diverse. And we didn't have too much, but I had- I never felt like I...well, you know, I always had enough to eat.

Janelle Jolley  4:42  

Claire  4:43  
I love eating. So I was always everybody else's favorite kid because I would eat all the other moms' food. But I remember we didn't have a VHS player. And everybody had a VHS player at the time, it was, you know, the 90s, you know. And my parents didn't. So that was the one thing as a kid, I would be like, "There's that. Can we get that?" My mom was like, "No, we can't play it," ya know? But otherwise, I lived a pretty...I lived a very happy life, actually, when I was in France. I really loved school.

Janelle Jolley  5:26  
Did you- were- describe your early childhood in France. Did you learn- did you speak French at- like, what languages did you learn how to speak first? Like, were you able to  play on the street with other kids? Were you, you know, was, I don't know, were you taken by the breezy nonchalance of the French life? Describe that for us.  

Claire  5:49  
I was a very happy child. I spoke Cantonese at home with my parents and spoke French at school. But I started going to daycare at two months, or something, so I was exposed to both language pretty much-

Janelle Jolley  6:05  

Claire  6:05  
Immediately. I did not learn English until much later. And, you know, had a- we had good relationships with our neighbors. I had a best friend from kindergarten, like the first year of kindergarten we met, and then we've been best friends. And so her parents became really good friends with my parents and when we would go on playdates all the time. And-

Janelle Jolley  6:16  
Was she Chinese, or?

Claire  6:35  
No, she was white, French. And her parents were very artistic. Her mom is a film editor and her dad was a musician. And so-

Janelle Jolley  6:51  

Claire  6:52  
Yeah, artsy parents. And we got along really well and our parents got along really well. So we hung out a lot. And we also, you know, we didn't have much materially. Like, I didn't have that many toys or stuff, or any things like that. So I spent a lot of my time drawing on the back of my parents dissertation drafts.

Janelle Jolley  7:17  

Claire  7:18  
Ya know, cuz they had a ton of drafts.

Janelle Jolley  7:19  
Yeah. yeah.

Claire  7:19  
You know, a lot of paper. And so I would have my markers and I would spend a ton of time drawing, which explains why I think I'm now an artist.

Janelle Jolley  7:29  
You're an artist. Yeah, that's right.  

Claire  7:30  
Because I didn't really- I had to use a lot of creativity. And then my friend, Dalia is her name, she also did, you know, her family was not materialistic. So when we played, we did a lot of role playing and making up our own stories, and we'd read comic books.

Janelle Jolley  7:48  
Did you have- were they- do you think the other children around you, looking back, were materialistic? Like, "I have Barbies. I have, lalala," or were, like, was that just not the kind of millea you grew up in?

Claire  8:03  
I think, not really. Like, I think some of my friends had more toys, but in general it was a lot less materialistic than the US. I remember there was a black friend Chloe, who lived a few floors down from the building, that apartment complex I was living in. Like, I'd go down to her birthday, and she would have more toys. But still, it was was definitely not nearly as materialistic as when I later moved to Hong Kong. And I can get into that later.

Janelle Jolley  8:42  
Sure, sure, sure. It was just you born in France? Or was your- I think you have a sibling. Were they born in France, as well?

Claire  8:47  
It was just me. So I grew up mostly as a single child because my sister wasn't born until I was 11.

Janelle Jolley  8:53  
Oh, wow.

Claire  8:53  
So I basically, yeah, grew up as a single child. And I had also good relations with my next door neighbors, because they would come pick me up from school a lot when my parents were busy, had work and stuff.

Janelle Jolley  9:08  
So would you describe your community as, like- would you describe the community you grew up in in France as warm, loving and communal?

Claire  9:15  

Janelle Jolley  9:16  
Oh, okay.

Claire  9:17  
And my, so my dad, the last few years we were in Paris, or-

Janelle Jolley  9:26  
Outside of Paris.

Claire  9:26  
Outside of Paris. My dad had a hard time finding a job, a stable job. He was working as a freelance journalist for a while. And so he ended up going to London to work at the BBC. And that was kind of hard, because, you know, for two years, basically, it was just me and my mom.

Janelle Jolley  9:46  

Claire  9:48  
But my mom would get these museum passes in Paris, and so I spend a lot of weekends in the museums, and I loved it. You know, I would just go to the Egyptian section of the Luvre and just draw from like all of the statues and all that. So, because of that, my family ended up deciding to move back to Hong Kong.

Janelle Jolley  10:16  
Because of your dad's inability, or difficulty, in finding consistent work?

Claire  10:20  
Yeah, and having to do long distance. It was just not working very well.

Janelle Jolley  10:24  

Claire  10:24  
So they they ended up- and also, my grandfather passed away. My father's father passed away when we were in France, and that also was another prompt for him to feel like, "Okay, time to go back to Hong Kong."

Janelle Jolley  10:42  
Gotcha. Where you sad to leave France?

Claire  10:44  
I was very sad to leave France. And school in Hong Kong sucked in comparison.

Janelle Jolley  10:51  
What do you mean?

Claire  10:52  
So in France, it's very much, like, learning is fun. School is, at least for me, school was fun. Like, teachers were nice. They make learning an interesting, interactive activity. Hong Kong is very much like-

Janelle Jolley  11:09  

Claire  11:10  
Yeah, well, it's like cram as much information there, you memorize a lot of stuff, a ton of homework. I had exams four times a year as a first grader.

Janelle Jolley  11:22  

Claire  11:24  
Yes. So, it was so stressful. My vision is horrible now. Like, the first few years when I was in Hong Kong, my prescription would get worse by one unit every six months.

Janelle Jolley  11:37  
Oh, no!

Claire  11:37  
So I needed new glasses every six months.

Janelle Jolley  11:39  
Cuz your eyes were straining from studying-

Claire  11:41  
Yeah. I was really stressed.

Janelle Jolley  11:42  
Oh no.

Claire  11:43  
And it was just, you know, doing homework until 10pm-

Janelle Jolley  11:46  
Oh my god.

Claire  11:46  
As, like, a seven or eight year old, you know? So I hated it. You know, I guess I still dealt with it. And there was a lot of family in Hong Kong. So it was, you know, just different environment. Onto the materialism, I remember distinctly my cousin would come over on the weekends, on my dad's side. So they, actually, both of them came from families of six siblings, or six surviving siblings. So I have a ton of extended family, a ton of cousins. My cousin would come over and he'd be, like, "What, you don't have a new toy since last week?" And I'm like-

Janelle Jolley  11:47  
Since last week?

Claire  12:09  
I'm like, "Why would I get to have a new toy since last week?" And he's like, "I get a new toy every week." And it was just like... and it's funny, because I remember, even at that point, instead of feeling jealous, I was thinking to myself, "You spoiled brat."

Janelle Jolley  12:42  
"Don't be coming over here talking to me crazy, a new toy since last week- hell no! I get new toys at Christmas and the beginning of the school year, shut the fuck up."

Claire  12:52  
Exactly. So, yeah. So it was a very different mentality.

Janelle Jolley  12:57  

Claire  12:58  
Oh, and I grew up without a TV.

Janelle Jolley  13:00  
Even when you went back to Hong Kong?

Claire  13:01  
Actually, we did have a TV when we were in France, it was a very small one that my parents would put the news on. So I was not interested in watching it ever. They actually- we only watch one program called Thalassa, which is like a ocean, kind of sea world, like under the sea sort of program.

Janelle Jolley  13:20  
Nature program.

Claire  13:20  
Nature program. That was the only program I'd watch on TV. And then they just had news. And for them, it helped them at the beginning to learn French and all that. But then when we moved back to Hong Kong, we didn't have a TV. So I just... I learned to play piano, I drew and painted and, you know...

Janelle Jolley  13:27  
Delved into your art when you weren't being ambushed, not ambushed, but-

Claire  13:50  

Janelle Jolley  13:50  
Onslaught of homework. I'm wildly gesticulating right now.

Claire  13:55  
I wonder whether it's because I experienced the two very different school systems? When I was flipping through my- I have this book of records from all my school years, where I can keep certificates and all that. In there, for first grade, I wrote down, "What do you want want to be when you grow up?" In first grade I said I wanted to be an artist and a teacher.

Janelle Jolley  14:23  
Oh, you did it.  

Claire  14:24  
And I did it. And for a while I was teaching, but I remember- cuz I... for still, for a while before my sister was born, I was a single child. I'd say I didn't have as much of a regular community. My parents would work a lot later after we moved back to Hong Kong. And so I was kind of had to entertain myself.

Janelle Jolley  14:26  
Like a latchkey kid?

Claire  14:47  
I basically entertained myself by playing teacher sometimes?

Janelle Jolley  14:54  
Yeah, yeah.  

Claire  14:55  
I would, like, create homework for myself.

Janelle Jolley  14:58  
That is consummate Claire. Oh my gosh.

Claire  15:07  
And then after my- although, after my sister was born, everything kind of changed, and I became a little mom, and I had a fantastic time being a little mom.

Janelle Jolley  15:19  
To your sister?

Claire  15:19  
Yeah, I loved taking care of her and playing with her and, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  15:26  
Well, how would you describe, now as an adult, how would you describe your family's class standing when you were in France versus when you were in Hong Kong? Like, how would you describe yeach of those?

Claire  15:38  
Yeah, I mean, when we were in France, were definitely working class, but, you know, very stable working class. Like, I wasn't worried about, you know, food or-

Janelle Jolley  15:51  

Claire  15:51  
Or housing. In Hong Kong, we were more middle class. Especially as my sister grew older, my parents ended up getting tenure positions.

Janelle Jolley  16:05  
So your parents were professors, when they moved back to Hong Kong?

Claire  16:08  
Yeah, they had some temporary positions. My mom worked on a book for public housing in Hong Kong, which I lost a copy of in the mail, and I'm really upset. I need to find a copy. But eventually they, you know, they became professors. And, you know, eventually, by the time I was in high school, I think? Middle or high school, they got tenure. And so then, you know, we were very much comfortable middle class. But they were always- oh, I should, like, I need to backtrack. They were always politically very astute. And-

Janelle Jolley  16:54  
Tell me what you mean by that.  

Claire  16:54  
I actually went to my first protest right before I turned one. During the Tiananmen Square Massacre, in Paris, basically, my parents were active in a community of Hong Kong, you know, there was a community of Hong Kongers in Paris, and they organized marches in support of the students that were on a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. And then, of course, you know, the tanks rolled in, and all that. But, so, I don't actually remember any of it. But my dad keeps telling me like, "You participated in your first protest in a stroller." And so after we got back to Hong Kong, we would go to yearly protests. We would-

Janelle Jolley  16:55  
In commemeration of Tiananmen Square?

Claire  17:38  
Yeah, we would- every year on June 4, we would go to the vigils at Victoria Park in Hong Kong to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre. And then on July 1- I think that was, like...I think-I can't remember when was the first year we went, but definitely, in 2003, when they were trying to establish the first national security legislation, we participated in that. July 1 is the day of the handover. It's like the Hong Kong SAR, a Special Administrative Region establishment day. So we go on these big marches. And every year, like, these would be things. Like, July June 4, and July 1 were just in the calendar, we go march.

Janelle Jolley  18:42  

Claire  18:42  
And because my parents came from more working class background, my dad, especially. My mom, by the time she was in high school, my grandma's business was, you know, doing well, so they were able to buy a TV by the time she was in high school. So that was a big deal at that time. But my dad grew up, like, really poor. And so my dad would keep reminding me how he grew up, so I was very conscious of how lucky I was and how-

Janelle Jolley  19:18  
How did- in what way did you, now as an adult, in what ways do you think you felt lucky as a child because of those stories that your dad told?

Claire  19:27  
I mean, I've felt grateful that I could eat what I want to eat, you know? That I lived a rather comfortable life, you know?

Janelle Jolley  19:38  
You didn't have to work in order to help the family survive. Was that a part of it?

Claire  19:42  
Exactly. Yeah. And my parents were always very willing to spend money on education. And, actually, that's probably the thing that they spent most money on, on me and my sister, is education. My parents also let me have piano lessons because I said I wanted to learn piano. And thinking back I was like, "Wow, that must have been a big purchase for them," for them to buy a piano.

Janelle Jolley  20:11  

Claire  20:11  
Like, pianos are expensive.

Janelle Jolley  20:13  
Yeah, they are certainly not cheap. Uh-huh.  

Claire  20:16  
So they were willing to invest in that. So, yeah, I'd say like, I grew up being, you know, comfortable and aware that I was lucky.

Janelle Jolley  20:31  
Did you- how would you describe your parents' politics while you were growing up, using contemporary language?

Claire  20:47  
I'd say my dad was always a little more radical, but they're definitely very progressive. I don't know if they's hard to call yourself a leftist in Hong Kong, because if you call yourself a leftist, then it's like pro-

Janelle Jolley  21:05  
Pro-Mainland China.

Claire  21:06  
Mainland China. So, but my dad's professor in Paris, like, before his PhD, he and his wife were part of the Communist Party in France, and they were actually involved in the underground resistance against the Nazis and helping to protect Jews.

Janelle Jolley  21:27  
Oh, wow.

Claire  21:28  
I think that they're, you know, that definitely progressive leaning in terms of their...

Janelle Jolley  21:34  

Claire  21:35  
Social, economic ideology. Politically, it gets more complicated in the context of Hong Kong.

Janelle Jolley  21:42  
Gotcha. So, but let's, just so that the mostly American listeners, except for Simon, "Hi, Simon," would understand their politic. If you were if you were able to transpose your parents on to the American political landscape, how would they be understood?

Claire  22:02  
I mean, when...

Janelle Jolley  22:03  
Or put them into the American political landscape.  

Claire  22:04  
Yeah, actually, maybe to contextualize, like, since Bernie, since 2015, I have obviously got super involved in Bernie. My dad was like, "Of course," you know, "That makes total logical sense." My mom was hesitant in 2015-2016, because she doesn't really follow American politics closely.

Janelle Jolley  22:17  
Because they don't live here.

Claire  22:30  
They don't live here.

Janelle Jolley  22:32  
Okay. We'll get to that point.

Claire  22:33  
Yeah. And she sees Hillary Clinton on the news all the time, because she was Secretary of State and when you're international, you know, when you're another country, the Secretary of State is always on TV. You know... but by 2020, or 2019, they were both like... my mom actually encouraged me to work on the Bernie campaign.

Janelle Jolley  22:57  
Right on. Okay.

Claire  22:59  
We can-

Janelle Jolley  22:59  
We'll get there.

Claire  23:00  
Get to that later.

Janelle Jolley  23:01  
I guess, talk to me about your teen years, since we're up to that point. Like, what is life like for you, did you, you know, sneak and dye your hair blonde just to rib your parents?

Claire  23:12  
No. My mom said that I never was a teenager. I think I went from childhood, and then my sister was born and I became an adult. So I... yeah, I was basically being a little mom. I did start getting politically conscious. I remember 911, and then the war in Afghanistan. And when Bush was talking about starting the war in Iraq-

Janelle Jolley  23:19  
How old were you around this time?

Claire  23:49  

Janelle Jolley  23:51  
Around 911, or?

Claire  23:53  
The Iraq War, when the Iraq War was-

Janelle Jolley  23:56  
Poppin off.

Claire  23:57  
And I actually started talking to my classmates, and I was like, "Let's write a letter from our class to President George W. Bush and tell him to not go to war with Iraq."

Janelle Jolley  24:12  
How did you understand that time as a teenager in Hong Kong? Like, how did you understand those events, that time? Like, try and remember back and think of how you thought about it, what your reactions were to this- like, take me to that time.

Claire  24:30  
911 was horrifying. Like, I remember- so we didn't have a TV at our apartment, but we lived close to my uncle in the same building as my uncle who is, like, the floor above. And basically, I think my aunt called us, like, "Come up here now," you know, "A plane just drove into the World Trade Center." So we went up and wached the TV, and, I don't know, we were shocked. But then I just remember, you know, seeing images of the war in Afghanistan in the newspapers, and the horrors of it. And I also started being kind of environmentally conscious. And just felt like war was a horrible thing. And why are we going to war?

Janelle Jolley  25:27  
When you say, "we," what did you mean?

Claire  25:29  
I guess, the US. I mean, I don't think I've really had much of a conscious relationship of, like, what is the relationship between Hong Kong and the US? But, I guess I always see myself more of a global citizen. And so I didn't feel...I felt like I had a responsibility to the world, you know? And I think I still feel that in some ways, which is why I do the work that I do, even though I'm not a US citizen, you know?

Janelle Jolley  26:13  
Oh, I didn't know you weren't a citizen.

Claire  26:14  
I'm not.

Janelle Jolley  26:14  
But I guess that makes sense.

Claire  26:16  
Yeah. And so, yeah, I was just like, "We shouldn't go to war." And so I worked with my classmates to write a letter, and then more and more of my classmates wanted to get in on the letter. And so it kind of became a piecemeal, really poorly written a letter that we sent to the White House. We never got a response, so it's okay.

Janelle Jolley  26:39  
Sure. Sure, sure. But you felt compelled felt prompted to action that, even though, you know, I'm a teenager in Hong Kong and I'm, you know, an ocean away, this doesn't seem good. Like what, you know, 911 seemed scary, even though I'm not in America, that just seems scary. And then the resulting aggressions after that, that seems like something we shouldn't be doing.

Claire  27:07  
Yeah. I just remember seeing images in newspapers of, you know, Afghan women and children-

Janelle Jolley  27:14  

Claire  27:14  
Like, in rubble, you know?

Janelle Jolley  27:16  
Yeah, that's right.

Claire  27:17  
Just heart wrenching.

Janelle Jolley  27:19  
Of course.

Claire  27:21  
And then I was also getting more environmentally conscious at that time. Like, the air pollution in Hong Kong started getting really bad because of the industry in Gwangju, like, and Guangdong, like, and China really building up, and so a lot of pollution blowing down into Hong Kong. And then the area- so I lived on top of a hill. It's funny because it's like, in a way, pretty luxurious because most people in Hong Kong are in these giant 40 story buildings and we actually lived in a six story building on top of a hill. It was nice because it was next to a funeral parlor and there was a crematorium nearby as well, and Hong Kong people are very superstitious-

Janelle Jolley  28:18  

Claire  28:19  
And so it was deemed as not a very-

Janelle Jolley  28:22  
Good place to live.

Claire  28:23  
A good place to live. So we lived there and I would walk down the hill to the bus stop and to go to school. And for a while it was this beautiful hillside with greenery and I would wait, you know, next to this little woods, you know, for the bus. But then by the time... I don't even remember when. I think it was late middle school or early high school, they just started to completely just removing the entire forest.

Janelle Jolley  28:58  

Claire  28:59  
And they later on built a highway, but I got to enjoy the time when it just became a giant construction zone.

Janelle Jolley  29:06  

Claire  29:06  
And waiting for the bus there instead of next to a lovely wooded area. And so I started also becoming more environmentally conscious at that time. And so I started doing artwork that was anti-war. I remember distinctly, that was either late middle school or early high school, when I took this Chinese New Year treats box that had two layers, and I kind of had one side, it opened up into a left and right top box had one side representing war and destruction. And then the other side was, you know, a nest and nature and life, and linking the two together, the bottom was, like, through art, you know?

Janelle Jolley  30:03  
Mm, deep. That's deep.  

Claire  30:08  
Yeah, so, and then I did paintings about lik...I did a painting called A Sunny Day In Hong Kong, where it's all gray because of air pollution, you know?

Janelle Jolley  30:18  
Oh! Did you have an understanding of politics outside of being horrified at the war and your burgeoning, you know, environmentalism? Like, what was- did you have a politics in addition to that, or outside of that?

Claire  30:30  
I mean, in the awareness of, like, Hong Kong politics. But I would say, I didn't really have politics regarding US politics.

Janelle Jolley  30:42  

Claire  30:43  
And I didn't really have that much of a class analysis at that time.

Janelle Jolley  30:48  
Really? Even though there's such, again, from what I understand, which may not be accurate since you grew up there. But you didn't have a- you didn't have a sense or an opinion on the stark divide between, like, the haves and the have-nots in Hong Kong?

Claire  31:05  
I mean, I-

Janelle Jolley  31:06  
It's pretty stark.

Claire  31:07  
I think I was aware, and I was aware that there were people who lived in really poor conditions in Hong Kong. And that, you know, I was really lucky. So it gets a little complex, because I also, you know, I was aware, and I'm trying to figure out, like, when things happened in my consciousness. But, like, I was aware, for example, that, you know, mainland Chinese people would come down to Hong Kong and buy apartments in cash.

Janelle Jolley  31:44  

Claire  31:44  
And so housing was really difficult for Hong Kong people. I think by late high school I was aware of that kind of stuff. I don't think I really analyzed it in a very conscious-

Janelle Jolley  32:01  

Claire  32:02  
You know, capital- "This is because of capitalism," like, I don't think I had that analysis, but I was definitely aware of, you know, inequalities and how it affected people's lives.

Janelle Jolley  32:14  
Did you have a perspective, or a context, or a consciousness, or a language around the migrant labor... the sheer amount of migrant labor that is, like, that kind of makes a lot of Hong Kong work?

Claire  32:36  
Well, definitely- so, for those who don't know, in Hong Kong... Hong Kong is a weird place. Work comes first, so people work like crazy. They don't spend time with their families. And then there's a really large labor force of migrant workers from Southeast Asia and the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia; women who come to Hong Kong and work as basically domestic maids. Like, live-in maids. Actually, my family had one, too. And it's very common for-

Janelle Jolley  33:15  
Oh yeah.

Claire  33:15  
For families in Hong Kong to have at least one. The really rich people have multiple. And because otherwise, there's no public childcare system. So you know, what are you going to do? Like you're going to- and the workplace doesn't...account for your time with your family, so you're working, you know, 12 hours a day. And so you need somebody to take care of the kids, the family. And these migrant workers are being paid very low wages. There are basically minimum wage ordinances around it, but- and these migrant workers are live in with their employer, so they- the employer is supposed to provide all of their daily necessities, except for Sundays when they get the day off.

Janelle Jolley  34:08  
Wow. Just one day a week?

Claire  34:10  

Janelle Jolley  34:10  
Oh, wow.

Claire  34:10  
One day a week off. And so theoretically, their wages know, they only needed to spend their own money on Sundays. Everything, you know, else should be covered. And many of them send money back to their families. It's- actually, like, every helper that we've had is always the oldest of the siblings, and she's just, you know, sending money back for the rest of the family. And, you know, my family has always treated our helper really well. But-

Janelle Jolley  34:46  
That's what you all refer to them as, helpers?

Claire  34:49  

Janelle Jolley  34:49  
Hm, okay.

Claire  34:50  
Domestic helpers.

Janelle Jolley  34:51  
Sure, sure, sure.

Claire  34:52  
Sometimes, yeah, people say maids. There are families that treat them horribly and treat them as servants. And, you know, there have been a lot of incidences of assaults-

Janelle Jolley  35:08  

Claire  35:09  
On helpers. But, anyway, I was definitely a very aware of that, that class and race-

Janelle Jolley  35:18  

Claire  35:19  
Distinction. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  35:20  
Interesting. So did you, when it was time, did- before we get to college, what did you...did your parents have a goal for you in terms of your life? Like, what was your- did you have an understanding of your parents' dream for you growing up?

Claire  35:39  
Well, they were unlike the traditional Asian parents because they went to France and studied philosophy and history, that are not subjects that make you money. So they were always, like, do what you want.

Janelle Jolley  35:55  
Oh wow! You got that freedom?

Claire  35:57  
Yeah. And that's also why they were very encouraging of the arts. You know, they let me you know, learn piano, they- I actually started taking painting lessons when I was 12. And so, they were very encouraging. So, when I was applying for college, actually, I kind of, it was... I never visited any schools, you know, cuz I was in Hong Kong and I applied to schools in the UK and in the US. I applied to a bunch of liberal arts colleges, not really knowing what I was doing. And my mom- so my mom, actually, she runs a general education program. And so she's really into developing the whole human, you know, and that educational philosophy. And so, I applied to Hampshire College, Smith College and a bunch of other places. I applied to Yale, too. I didn't get in because I asked my interviewer what she thought of George Bush. I mean, I don't know that that's the reason why I didn't get in-

Janelle Jolley  37:08  
No, it probably was the reason that you didn't get in.

Claire  37:09  
But I did do that and then I saw the expression on her face, and she was like, "You know, with Yale, unlike Brown, my friends at Brown, who are all liberals, at Yale, it's a very politically diverse place."

Janelle Jolley  37:23  
Oh, fuck off.

Claire  37:24  
So, anyway, I had no idea at that time, like, the US politic.

Janelle Jolley  37:29  
Yeah, sure. I mean, how were you supposed to know? And why wouldn't that be a salient question to ask when, you know, where the whole, not the whole world, but a lot of the world, is involved in this fucking massacre of the Middle East?

Claire  37:40  
Yeah. I just knew that George Bush went to Yale, so I wanted to ask what Yale felt about George Bush. But she didn't like that question.

Janelle Jolley  37:47  
No, she did not appreciate that.

Claire  37:50  
But anyway, like Hampshire College, is this small, progressive, leftist, experimental liberal arts college.

Janelle Jolley  37:59  
Where is that?

Claire  38:00  
It's in western Massachusetts.

Janelle Jolley  38:02  

Claire  38:03  
And it's actually part of the five college consortium with Smith College. And UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Mount Holyoke.

Janelle Jolley  38:12  
So it's not a Seven Sisters?

Claire  38:14  
No, it's like five colleges. So the Seven Sisters is all women's college.

Janelle Jolley  38:19  
Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

Claire  38:20  
Five Colleges Consortium is, like-

Janelle Jolley  38:22  
A Massachusetts thing.

Claire  38:23  
Yeah, geographically, all in the same area. And there are, like, free buses that run between the schools and you get into one, you can take classes in the other ones. That's where- that's how I met my husband. Or, he was hanging out in my school. But anyway, Hampshire is this really experimental education kind of place. And my mom- and I got a scholarship from them. And my mom was like, "Wow, you applied to this jem without knowing it." Because I was, like...I saw that they had a huge amount of students involved in the visual and performing arts. And I was like, "Oh, that sounds great." I forget now, it's like 56% of students in visual or performing arts, or something, and most schools', like, 7 or 8%, you know? So, I ended up going there. I loved it. It was-

Janelle Jolley  39:16  
So you got a full ride as an international student?

Claire  39:19  
Not a full ride. So it was, like it was a partial scholarship.

Janelle Jolley  39:21  
Okay. So in- and your parents were able to handle the rest of the cost? Or you had to-

Claire  39:25  
Yes, yes.  

Janelle Jolley  39:26  
Take out loans?

Claire  39:26  
They saved up, like,  as soon as they were able to start saving money, they started saving money for college. For my schooling, my and my sister schooling. That was number one priority for them.

Janelle Jolley  39:39  
And what was the experience like going from living in Hong Kong to living in Western Mass with all of these, you know, weird freaks?

Claire  39:48  
It was a huge shock.

Janelle Jolley  39:49  
Sure. Tell me about- describe how. Like, what are some of the funny stories, or interesting stories you remember?

Claire  39:55  
I was cautious, so I brought a sleeping bag with me.

Janelle Jolley  39:59  
What the fuck did you bring a sleeping bag for, Claire?

Claire  40:01  
Because I didn't know what was expected. And for two weeks-

Janelle Jolley  40:05  
You didn't think we had beds in America?

Claire  40:07  
Well, I didn't have sheets when I got there and there were no sheets at the school. And the nearest mall was not walkable. You had to drive and no one had cars; I didn't have a car. And so for two weeks, I had no sheets and no pillow. And I was so happy that I brought a sleeping bag with me, because I had to sleep in my sleeping bag on the mattress.

Janelle Jolley  40:29  

Claire  40:29  
But, you know, I didn't know what to expect and they didn't make it clear. Like, I think in the US people know that you have to bring sheets and a pillow, but I didn't know that, you know?

Janelle Jolley  40:41  
Did your parents come with you to move you in?

Claire  40:43  
My dad came with me. But he-

Janelle Jolley  40:45  
He didn't know.

Claire  40:45  
He couldn't drive. He doesn't- you know?

Janelle Jolley  40:48  
Sure, sure.  

Claire  40:48  
So I, you know, grew up in Paris and Hong Kong, like no one drives. My parents don't know how to drive, you know?

Janelle Jolley  40:53  

Claire  40:54  

Janelle Jolley  40:54  
It's public transit.

Claire  40:55  
Yeah, public transit is amazing in Hong Kong and in Paris. Like, actually reliable the train comes every two minutes, you know, like, there was that. And then there was going from Hong Kong, which is socially pretty conservative place, to the hippie school, you know?

Janelle Jolley  41:15  
You gon' have to park right there for a second because I know some wild stories. You can pick what, but I'm going to press it till we get to a good hit. Like, did you wake up one morning and it was, like, a nude breakfast on the quad? Like?

Claire  41:30  
Like, more, kinda... I know it's nothing to a lot of other people, but imagine a girl that has never talked about sex, you know, her entire life up until that point.

Janelle Jolley  41:41  
That's right.

Claire  41:42  

Janelle Jolley  41:44  
Go ahead, go ahead. This about to get good.

Claire  41:46  
You know, they're, like, playing "Never had I ever-"

Janelle Jolley  41:50  
And you're like, "I have never ever never-"

Claire  41:54  
So, like, I don't know, like an hour into the game, all my fingers were still up because it all just...everybody was, like, "Have you done it with a teacher before? Have you done it in a public bathroom?" Like, all these things. And I was just in shock.

Janelle Jolley  42:14  
Wait, wait. So you didn't date as a mini adult, not teenager-teenager in Hong Kong?

Claire  42:21  
I did not.

Janelle Jolley  42:22  

Claire  42:22  
I wasn't- I was just not really interested in any of the guys at my school. Like, I had friends, you know. I had friends I would hang out with some of them. But, like, I was not interested-

Janelle Jolley  42:34  
You weren't, like, making eyes- you weren't making eyes at the fellows. You weren't trying to, like...

Claire  42:36  
I mean, I had a couple crushes at certain points, but I-

Janelle Jolley  42:43  
But very innocent, like-

Claire  42:44  
Yeah. And I knew logically that they weren't the right fit. I just like, "Oh, he looks attractive, but I- we're not gonna be a good fit." So I never actually dated anyone.

Janelle Jolley  43:00  
But you get to Hippie Ville and yo hand still up, "I ain't never done it with a teacher. I ain't never done it in a bathroom, in a park, in the dark."

Claire  43:07  
And I'm like, "I don't even know all of you," like, "I just met all of you," you know? And then, so the worst part was, like, halfway through, somebody says, "Well Claire, you're doing really well here." And I was just like, "I've never had boyfriend?" You know? And there are girls saying all like, "What? He wasn't my teacher, but he was cute," you know?

Janelle Jolley  43:34  
Absolutely not. Slow down, Miss Thing. Okay.

Claire  43:38  
That was a huge shock. That was a huge shock.

Janelle Jolley  43:40  
How, on that tip, cuz this is always interesting, I mean, you don't have to answer if you don't want to, but how long did it take for you to get comfortable with the relative liberal sexual environment at college versus like, what you'd come from? Or, like, did it take a long time? Or was it like, by Christmas, "Yeah girl, all my fingers' down."

Claire  43:49  
Well, then I started dating. I actually met my current husband first weekend of college.

Janelle Jolley  44:08  
She's like, "It's me and you. I gotta work on this game. Let's go"

Claire  44:12  
I wasn't, you know, in any rush. But he spotted me at a house party, or dorm party, sat next to me. We talked about Hong Kong-China politics the entire first evening, you know. And then two weeks later, he was on campus again and I decided we had to talk- I had to ask him about George Bush and where he stood on George Bush.

Janelle Jolley  44:38  
That's exactly right, sir.

Claire  44:40  
And we were, like, we were...we loved talking. Like, we would just talk for hours. And so... then the rest is history, I guess.

Janelle Jolley  44:51  
So he's the only person you dated since being here?

Claire  44:56  

Janelle Jolley  44:57  
Oh, okay. Listen, if it works, it works.

Claire  44:59  
And, I mean, I guess I was still not... I still didn't engage in talking about my own sex life. I was also part of an acapella group and there were a few people there who loved talking about- okay, the application to the acapella group is, if you animal...I don't remember the phrasing, but basically, like, if you had to have sex as an animal-

Janelle Jolley  45:30  
I don't have time.

Claire  45:31  
What animal would it be?

Janelle Jolley  45:33  
Why is that relevant?

Claire  45:34  
To the acapella group! It was a question there. So anyway, I felt very uncomfortable with that.

Janelle Jolley  45:40  

Claire  45:40  
But, so there were some members there that loved talking about- it would be like, "I just go laid last night." And I'm like, zip.

Janelle Jolley  45:47  
Right.Y'all ain't got to know all my business! And I don't need to know yours. We're here to sing. I don't need to know about your lusty lyrical life.

Claire  45:57  

Janelle Jolley  45:57  
Ew! Yeah, okay.

Claire  45:59  
So, I mean, I still, like... I got used to hearing about it, I just didn't really participate in it.

Janelle Jolley  46:05  
You didn't participate. Yeah. Right. My business is my business!

Claire  46:08  

Janelle Jolley  46:08  
Thank you! We can talk about George W. Bush, actually. Your college experience in the US, how did that continue to develop, mold, shape your outlook politically? Or your political understanding, or your politic, or however you want to answer that question?

Claire  46:29  
So Hampshire is definitely a very left place.

Janelle Jolley  46:33  
Left or liberal?

Claire  46:35  

Janelle Jolley  46:36  

Claire  46:37  
James Baldwin taught at Hampshire.

Janelle Jolley  46:40  
Oo, yes!

Claire  46:40  
Like, we were...yeah, like, I definitely remember taking my classes in the first year of my college and just talking about the US interventions in Central and South America, and all that. So it's left. It's critical of U.S.-

Janelle Jolley  47:00  

Claire  47:01  
Yeah, imperialism. Everything like that. But it was kind of a crash course for me, because I knew nothing about Latin American history when I came here. Well, I mean, I we talked about the Cuban Missile Crisis, you know?

Janelle Jolley  47:18  

Claire  47:18  
Like, in high school. But I knew nothing about the US. interventions and-

Janelle Jolley  47:26  

Claire  47:27  
Yeah, coups and the rest of the Americas until I went to college. But I guess a lot of Americans don't either.

Janelle Jolley  47:34  
Yep, ding ding ding. That part. Uh-huh.

Claire  47:37  
But, yeah. I'd say, though, that I still didn't really develop an acute understanding of American politics, in terms of, like, Republican Party. I knew the Republican Party was worse than Democratic Party-

Janelle Jolley  47:51  
Because you knew George W. Bush was a Republican.

Claire  47:53  
Yeah. My husband was a Ralph Nader supporter.

Janelle Jolley  47:59  

Claire  47:59  
We actually went to see Ralph Nader in 2008? Was that 2008? Yeah, it must have been 2008 when he was running for president. I was...I think I was just taking everything in. And I remember that I liked hearing Obama talk, like he was impressive.

Janelle Jolley  48:26  

Claire  48:28  
But I didn't really have strong opinions about that election at all.

Janelle Jolley  48:32  

Claire  48:33  
I was like, in a bubble and like, trying to... absorb things.

Janelle Jolley  48:42  
Was your bubble...and we're talking 2008. Was your bubble critical of Obama, or just completely focused on something not the hype of the 2008 election? That's an airplane.

Claire  48:57  
I will say, actually, so I went to study abroad back in France during the 2008 general election. So I would say I was not even really plugged into all that was going on in the U.S. that much until Obama got elected. And I remember distinctly, the day after, getting out of the subway and this African dude, just screaming, running down the escalator. And there was just, all of a sudden, like, it was- it- I remember the person who was running the program saying, all of a sudden it went to being him being ashamed of being an American, to thinking- feeling like it was cool to be an American.

Janelle Jolley  49:43  
Wait, the- wait, who was ashamed?

Claire  49:43  
THe person who was running our study abroad.

Janelle Jolley  49:47  
Oh, okay. Gotcha.

Claire  49:48  
You know, like, being somebody living in Europe.

Janelle Jolley  49:51  
Oh, I see.

Claire  49:52  
Previously they were ashamed of being an American, and then when Obama got elected, you know-

Janelle Jolley  49:57  
It switched for him.

Claire  49:58  

Janelle Jolley  49:58  
Okay. Okay.

Claire  50:00  
And then I would say that for the remainder of my college years, I did not follow American politics very closely.

Janelle Jolley  50:11  
Hm! Okay.

Claire  50:12  
I think that after I graduated, I started paying more attention. So I stayed for a year because my visa allowed for one more year.

Janelle Jolley  50:24  
You stayed for another year and still went to school, or you just hung out around campus?

Claire  50:27  
Jut hung out. Not around campus, but nearby.

Janelle Jolley  50:29  

Claire  50:30  
I lived in North Hampton, Massachusetts, which is where Smith college is, so it's kind of like a lesbian town. It's really-

Janelle Jolley  50:38  
And by this time you're okay with it, because you done been through it with the acapella group.

Claire  50:41  
It's so nice! It's like San Francisco, but less pretentious. And like a small town, you know?

Janelle Jolley  50:50  
Lesi northeastern town.

Claire  50:51  
Yeah, it was really nice. But anyway, I was- like, I started to watch Democracy Now. And I- that's when, actually, when I- 2010 was when I first heard about Bernie, when he did his eight hour filibuster on the Senate floor to speak against the Bush era tax cuts. And that's when I heard about Bernie. And I was like, "Oh, this is a cool guy." Like, that's awesome. And I think at that point, I was, like... yeah, I was aware that he voted against the Iraq War.

Janelle Jolley  51:25  
Which we've all fuckin that's not even a litmus test 2020, which drove me crazy. It's like, Oh, we've completely forgotten...forgotten about that. Okay, cool.

Claire  51:37  
I knew that, you know, the US love going to war. I was against that. I knew that, you know, interfere- like to interfere with other governments. I didn't really know...I guess I didn't really know the extent of how bad the Democratic Party was?

Janelle Jolley  52:00  
Because your initial understanding was, like, Republicans, real bad, George W. Bush, but you hadn' hadn't yet developed a thoughtful or deep critique of the Democratic Party?

Claire  52:16  
I guess, also, I just didn't follow it closely enough. Like, I knew Bernie was cool. And I think I remember Barbara Lee being the only one who voted against the Afghanistan war.

Janelle Jolley  52:27  
Yeah, mm-hm.

Claire  52:28  
In Congress. But I guess I didn't know enough about, like, the Democratic Party, who was involved, like, you know? I mean, I think by later on, I definitely heard about Obama's immigration policies. But I would say at that point, 2010, I knew that the US government was not great.

Janelle Jolley  53:00  
That's putting it very mildly.

Claire  53:01  
But then, yeah, I just- I think I just didn't know enough about the Democratic Party, how things work-

Janelle Jolley  53:07  

Claire  53:07  
Until 2015.

Janelle Jolley  53:09  
Gotcha. So, what year did you graduate college?

Claire  53:12  
It was 2010.

Janelle Jolley  53:14  
2010, you graduate college, you spend an extra year in Lesbian Town, USA, where Smith college is in Massachusetts, and then what were you doing with yourself during that time? Were you working? Were you-

Claire  53:26  
I was teaching at a high school, a Waldorf school.

Janelle Jolley  53:31  
Oh, a fancy school!

Claire  53:33  
Yeah. I was teaching art classes there two days a week. And then I was working in a art supply store.

Janelle Jolley  53:41  
Oh, right on.

Claire  53:42  
It was- I loved that year. It was so great because I was basically working three days a week, I think, at the art supply store? Three or four- I think so. Three or four days a week at the art supply store. And then two days a week teaching art, but then it's basically half days because I'm only teaching one course. So I still had time to work on my own art. Rent was dirt cheap.

Janelle Jolley  54:09  

Claire  54:09  
We were probably in...thinking back, like a illegally dangerous apartment that was not up to code. We were living in the attic and there was definitely no fire exit. If there was a fire we would have been dead.

Janelle Jolley  54:23  

Claire  54:24  
But our rent was $300 a month and that was split between me and my then boyfriend, now husband.

Janelle Jolley  54:31  

Claire  54:31  
So even though I wasn't making a lot of money-

Janelle Jolley  54:34  
And you were living in a deathtrap.

Claire  54:35  
Yeah. I was really happy. I mean, I had housemates and there, you know, at certain points housemate issues, but, like-

Janelle Jolley  54:42  
But it wasn't super tight. Like, you could make your rent, you could buy your food. You could either pay for a car or a bus ticket around, you were able to pay for art supplies. You had time to do your art. Like, things were good. You didn't want for anything.

Claire  54:57  
Yeah. I biked around and there were buses. Yeah.

Janelle Jolley  54:59  

Claire  54:59  
So it was fine.

Janelle Jolley  55:01  
It was just a cool, chill year.  

Claire  55:02  
Yeah, exactly.

Janelle Jolley  55:03  

Claire  55:04  
It was great.

Janelle Jolley  55:05  
Hm! Was your then boyfriend, now husband, was he still in school?

Claire  55:10  
He was finishing, yeah. He was finishing- he was, like, double major, try to take on too much. And he was doing lab work. So his year was maybe not as good as mine.

Janelle Jolley  55:21  
Sure. But you was chilling.

Claire  55:23  
But, yeah, we weren't- we both enjoyed really living in Northhampton and just, yeah.

Janelle Jolley  55:28  
Okay. All right. And so where did you...what did you end up doing after that? Like, how did you go from- how did you go from a $300 death trap to living in a, you know, probably $3,000 a month not death trap in San Francisco? Like, what was your- how did you make your way out here? Or, what were you doing in between?

Claire  55:48  
So, yeah, I actually went back to Hong Kong because my visa was expiring. I was like, "I can't stay in the US." You know, in order to get a work visa, your employer has to prove that they can't hire somebody local to do that work, and I was just teaching. They weren't going to do that.

Janelle Jolley  56:05  

Claire  56:06  
And working at an art supply store. So I went back. I was there for maybe about a little over six months, when my boyfriend joined me there.

Janelle Jolley  56:18  
In Hong Kong?

Claire  56:19  
In Hong Kong.

Janelle Jolley  56:19  
Oh, that's so sweet!

Claire  56:20  
Yeah. He ended up going back and forth because his mother was ill at certain points, and then his job wanted him back. He was like- he was gonna take a job in Hong Kong, but the salaries are so low in Hong Kong. Taxes are a lot lower, but salaries are also a lot lower. So if you take a Hong Kong salary but you have to pay us taxes, there's gonna be nothing left in your paycheck.

Janelle Jolley  56:43  
Wow, wow, wow.

Claire  56:44  
So he ended up staying with a US company and working remotely for a little bit, but he had to go back and forth. For me, I taught French for a little bit at the Australian attraction school. And then, I was like a teaching assistant there, but I was basically teaching, because there were four different levels in one classroom. And then I became the artist in residence, one of the artists in residencies at the school that I had gone to before. It was, you know, a private international school. And I was there for almost two years, a year and a half? And then we got married, and-

Janelle Jolley  57:28  
In Hong Kong?

Claire  57:28  
In Hong Kong. And we thought that- we did some research into how to get back to the US. And we thought that getting married in Hong Kong would be faster than me trying to apply for a fiance visa in the US. This was around the time of the government shutdown, and all the stuff. It ended up taking a year and a half, after we got married and started the visa application process.

Janelle Jolley  57:55  
For you to get a marriage visa?

Claire  57:57  
Yeah, to be able to get here. Like, to be able to take a plane to the US and not get turned back at the border.

Janelle Jolley  58:02  
Oh, okay. So you're saying- I just want to make sure I'm understanding this. You're saying you got married in Hong Kong because you thought, per your research, you're like, "Okay, this will be easier or quicker than me first getting a fiance visa and then getting a marriage visa in the US."

Claire  58:21  
Like, basically, yeah, the fiance visa would allow us to get into the country and then get married here. But for, you know, looking at the research, it seemed like the fiance visa might take a long time. So we thought that it would be faster to get married first and then apply for me to be able to come to the U.S.

Janelle Jolley  58:37  
I see. But it took a year and a half for that to happen.

Claire  58:40  
Yeah, yeah. And I actually resigned from my job because I was like, "Well, it's the end of the school year. That makes sense. Like, I don't want to- I probably will be going in the fall, and I don't want to go mid school year. So, you know, I'll just resign." But then it took another year- it wasn't until the fall after that, that I finally got my visa. And so I actually was there through most of the Umbrella Movement in 2014. And so saw a lot of what was happening. And that was the same time as the Black Lives Matter protests of that time. And by that time, I think-

Janelle Jolley  58:48  
In Ferguson?

Claire  59:19  
Yeah, in Ferguson. And I was actually seeing a lot of parallels.

Janelle Jolley  59:25  
Huh. Explain to me what you mean.

Claire  59:27  
Well, people are out on the streets, you know, trying to get their voices heard. For the most part when, you know, people are let alone, the protests are rather peaceful. And then the police shows up and uses brute force, riot gear, tear gas, pepper spray, and then it gets, you know, things get violent and the media portrays the protesters as violent. And, you know, the government saying like, "You guys are lawbreakers. You're doing illegal things."

Janelle Jolley  1:00:00  
Thugs. Hooligans.

Claire  1:00:01  
Yeah. And then we're like, "But we're protesting a legal system that doesn't work for us," you know? The law is not just that's why we're out here. So yeah, I was seeing a lot of those connections between Hong Kong and what was going on in the US.

Janelle Jolley  1:00:20  
Mm, interesting. And you-

Claire  1:00:23  
What is interesting too, is that I saw, you know, 2019 going into 2020 coincided with the second wave of Black Lives Matter protests, too. And so I was, again, seeing all these connections. I would say that I don't think I really had a deep, deep understanding of black history and the experience until... I mean, I knew about slavery, but in terms of the, just the systemic racism that happened between the supposed end of slavery to today?  I didn't really have a really good understanding of it until after college.

Janelle Jolley  1:01:06  
What did you- what was it pre-college? In your own words- don't censor yourself. What was it pre-college and what- how did that change? And what was it post-college?

Claire  1:01:16  
I mean-

Janelle Jolley  1:01:17  
Was it just kind of a generally amorphous understanding?

Claire  1:01:20  
Yeah, it's just like, "Oh, there was racism, and there was slavery, and then there's racism, but then...and-"

Janelle Jolley  1:01:27  
And both those things are bad.

Claire  1:01:29  
Yeah, Exactly.

Janelle Jolley  1:01:30  
And that's bad.

Claire  1:01:30  
Yeah, exactly. But I, yeah. I think probably- I think the first wave of Black Lives Matter movement led me to really understand how fucked up the system is. And-

Janelle Jolley  1:01:44  
In your words, tell us how you understand how fucked up the system is?

Claire  1:01:47  
Well, the, you know, the criminal justice system. Like, obviously, black people being incarcerated at much higher rates. You know, housing, segregation. You know, Jim Crow. I didn't really understand what Jim Crow was until later, you know, even after, you know, slavery was abolished. I think, also...yeah, I started watching more. I think I watched 12 Years a Slave and it was just so... the emotional impact was a lot deeper. And then just, you know, basically, segregation, and then into today's, just, system that is made to keep black people out. So, I would say that by late 2014/2015, you know, I had a better understanding at that time. In 20- so, I moved to San Francisco. We were in the Boston area for nine months, and then we got evicted. Basically, the landlord sold our apartment. And we were just like, "Okay, what now?" My husband was hating his job, wanted something different. We came and visited his brother out here. And we're like, "Whoa, San Francisco is so cool, so beautiful." And this naive two of us were like, "We're gonna move out here, because why not?  We don't like where we are, we got evicted." And we actually got evicted. Like, we were told by the landlord, he was selling the apartment while we were visiting here. And so we're just like, "Let's just move here." And then a few months later, his brother's roommate was leaving. And so we're like, "Perfect," like, "We're gonna move here, you know, there's a room open. And we'll stay here for a few months before we find, you know, a place of our own." And we never did.

Janelle Jolley  1:04:03  
A few months turned into a few years.

Claire  1:04:05  
Over the past few years, there have been a lot of elderly Asians being attacked.

Janelle Jolley  1:04:11  
Oh, wow.

Claire  1:04:11  
And just, you know... it ranges from hate crime, to what can be classified as hate crime, explicitly, like, you know, racially motivated, to just, you know, robberies and assaults. But there have been a number of really high profile cases. And actually, there was just one about a week ago.

Janelle Jolley  1:04:33  
Yeah, I just saw someone talking about that on Twitter.

Claire  1:04:35  
Yeah. Of, just, elderly Asian getting brutally assaulted. And so the community feels really unsafe. And when I brought that up, we got backlash. We got a lot of backlash. And people were like, "Oh, you know, we're just going after Chesa." You know, one of the questions a person had was like, you know, "What is Chesa doing about it," who is the district attorney. And of course, you know, his office has its own limitations. But I was like, I think, you know, his office could probably do more to reach out to the Chinese community. And they have been doing a lot more recently. And I mean, he's only been in office for a little over a year.

Janelle Jolley  1:05:17  
And they're going after him. The moderates are trying to get him get him recalled.

Claire  1:05:21  
Oh, yeah. But I was like, you know, you need to do very direct outreach to the community, otherwise, that narrative is gonna take over.

Janelle Jolley  1:05:31  

Claire  1:05:31  
But we even got a lot of backlash within progressives saying, like, we're going after him, like, oh, how much of this is just people on Next Door complaining about, you know, car break ins and, you know-

Janelle Jolley  1:05:46  
Petty theft.

Claire  1:05:47  
Yeah. I mean, there has been a increase in home invasion. And there have been people who have been trying to say, basically, "Well, you know, there hasn't been an increase in hate crime in the Chinese community," like, "They're basically just overreacting," and blah, blah. And-

Janelle Jolley  1:06:17  
That's not helpful-

Claire  1:06:18  
That's really not helpful. You know, whether there is an increase in hate crime or not, which is in itself is difficult to quantify, because a lot of these are not being classified as hate crimes, because they're robberies and, assaults and robberies. It's also just not helpful for the- if you want the community to come along with you, because they have a legitimate concern, you know? Like, these things actually happened. And, you know, like, 80, something year old grandma being beaten to a pulp and left next to trash cans, bleeding, choking in her own blood is very different from somebody complaining about their packages being stolen on Next Door, you know?

Janelle Jolley  1:07:03  
Right, right. The magnitude of the situations are very different.

Claire  1:07:06  

Janelle Jolley  1:07:06  
And if you let the... if you let the 80 year old grandmother being beaten thing, if you minimize that for long enough, then the community's gonna completely shut you out and not listen to anything you have to say, because you had nothing to say when we were dying.

Claire  1:07:21  

Janelle Jolley  1:07:22  
That sounds like- ahh! Here we go. That sounds...there are parallels to that and other communities in this country that are not Asian communities, so I'm trying to generalize as much as you're saying.

Claire  1:07:36  
This is, you know, obviously happening while we're talking about defunding the police, and a lot of people in the Asian community are very wary of that, because they feel like, you know, they're not safe. But the thing is, having more police officers isn't gonna necessarily reduce that kind of crime, because you're not going to have a police officer on every single block. Nobody wants that.

Janelle Jolley  1:08:01  
And also, if you're going to- and I don't know if- I don't know how this would be done, and I don't know, because I'm not as intimately familiar with this community as you, but would it not be beneficial to help- to do the work of helping them understand that there are there are economic predicates to what is animating their fear around crime? You understand what I'm saying?

Claire  1:08:23  
Yeah, absolutely. I think a lot of people just want to jump to the easy conclusion. I mean, okay, the pandemic has made things a lot worse for a lot of people. But it's only making already existing systemic problems worse.

Janelle Jolley  1:08:41  

Claire  1:08:41  
Like, these problems have been around-

Janelle Jolley  1:08:43  
They've been there.

Claire  1:08:44  
For so long.

Janelle Jolley  1:08:45  

Claire  1:08:46  
And the reason there's crime here, you know, is, like, there are communities that have been completely decimated for generations.

Janelle Jolley  1:08:56  
That's right.

Claire  1:08:56  

Janelle Jolley  1:08:57  
That's right.

Claire  1:08:57  
You know, a stimulus check is not going to solve the problem.

Janelle Jolley  1:09:01  
Right, right, right. And I don't mean to restrict the... remedy to a stimulus check. I think it- the remedy is in a broad, persistent, redistributive economic agenda. Because again, there are...I'm a materialist- there are economic antecedents to all of the ills and inequities that we experience, and if you are going to reduce or eliminate them, you cannot have people living on their knees.

Claire  1:09:39  

Janelle Jolley  1:09:40  
That's, so it's- so it's's that easy, and it's that hard.

Claire  1:09:44  
Well, yeah, I mean, it's kind's like, "Duh," that's the society we need to build.

Janelle Jolley  1:09:50  

Claire  1:09:50  
But then, you know, how do we get there?

Janelle Jolley  1:09:52  
How do we get there? Right.

Claire  1:09:52  
And it's, you know, everything from stopping the incarceration of black and brown bodies, because we have have generations of families that have suffered with, you know, the consequences of incarceration. It's, you know, having an education system that actually invests in poor communities of color, because, you know, we all know that rich white neighborhoods get better schools and poor black and brown neighborhoods get worse schools. It's, you know, having stable income for, you know, everyone, health care for everyone, you know, having all of these things, you know, that are, you know, should be no brainers but, you know, we don't and we have been for centuries, you know, been exacerbating these inequities. And so, you know, how do we fix it now? Like, how do we step by step go to fix it?

Janelle Jolley  1:11:00  
That's a big question. And it's not- it's a big question, which is why I started this fuckin' podcast- it's a big question and it doesn't have just one answer. So, I'm not looking for you to like, "Here's the PRD for rebuilding society," like, no, that's not how it works. But, so what are what are some- what are some- what could be some of the answers? You said, community organizing. I- yes, that makes sense. What are some of- in the coda to the community organizing piece is understanding the various communities within the, you know, geographical community you live in. Understanding- being able to speak to them in terms that they understand about concerns that- about concerns that they have, in order to be able to mobilize them to some, you know, collective action to better those circumstances/our circumstances. So, yes, that makes sense. What are some other ways that people can think about continuing on the...continuing on the work that would push us toward and beyond even a Sanders agenda?

Claire  1:12:23  
I mean, for people who are already kind of doing the organizing, I think, building coalitions is very-

Janelle Jolley  1:12:32  
Tell people what you mean when you say that.

Claire  1:12:35  
So, the left is horribly splintered. We are always arguing with each other, we always...let disagreements build into bigger, bigger disagreements. We argue about methodology, you know, we argue about, you know, "You shouldn't be doing this, this is the better way of doing things." There are lots of different organizations that focus on different things, you know, and we really...need to be thinking about how we advocate for things, whether it's electorally or, you know, whether it's a candidate or ballot measure, or just, you know, policy or community work that will benefit everyone, the entire community, and we need to make them see the connection. So for instance, let's talk, you know, say safety, because we talked about that as an example. Like, we need- it's easy to say this, but...a lot easier said than done. But we- I think, you know, there needs to be more interaction between the Chinese community and the Black community and the the Latinx community. Like, right now, there's a lot of animosity, especially in San Francisco, between those communities. And if we're able to bring these different communities together and explain like, "This is how the system isn't working for any of us, and this is how-"

Janelle Jolley  1:14:29  
For any of you. Yeah.

Claire  1:14:31  
We're all better off, you know, then we can get work done. Because it's like, well, if we arrest more-

Janelle Jolley  1:14:42  

Claire  1:14:42  
Black and Brown people, we're continuing this broken carceral system that continues to tear families apart, that is going to continue crime, and that's going to, you know, continue.

Janelle Jolley  1:14:56  

Claire  1:14:57  
Exactly, and so-

Janelle Jolley  1:14:58  
That's going to redound to no one's benefit.

Claire  1:15:00  
And it's what needs to be done. It's not- I don't have the solution on how to do it. And I know organizations that have- are starting to do that work. And I've been, you know, talking to them more and want to see what we can do to help. But, I mean, I think it just starts with creating space for people to listen to each other and hear what their experiences are.

Janelle Jolley  1:15:30  
Don't be so precious about your corner of the left or progressive world, put your ego down, we're all, you know- I was gonna say something really inappropriate. We're all trying to work towards something better- watch yourself, Janelle. So, like, maybe take- one concrete step that you can take is working with people that on paper, you think that maybe you don't want to. Not in an abusive way, like this person, you know, "I'm gonna, you know, go befriend, you know, some proud boys," not like that, but just like, "Okay, I believe- I want to work towards social housing- increasing, establishing and expanding social housing in California and this-" insert the fill in the blank, this group that has that as one of their central foci, "Though I take issue with maybe their name or who they've endorsed in the past or whatever, like, I'm going to throw my hat in with them and work with them along these lines, because this is a collective long term project and I can't be so precious or provincial, about, you know, my brand of leftism."

Claire  1:16:40  
Precisely. Especially when, you know, a lot of folks share common goals. We just have different methodology, work with different groups and communities, and so, you know-

Janelle Jolley  1:16:51  

Claire  1:16:52  
Yeah. Like you said, you can't be so precious. One thing, and I know this is really difficult and I kind of, you know, notice this over the past, well, years of organizing so far is, I want us to be better at listening to each other. And I want us to be better at trying to step in other people's shoes, because I've seen so much the left, within the left, with each other. And just people fighting, people assuming that the other person has bad intentions, people canceling, you know, each other when they've done something wrong. Because we are all, like- you know, you've heard the Berniecrats bylaws, but the reason why I wrote those bylaws is that we should be approaching organizing as a constant learning space. And...

Janelle Jolley  1:18:04  
Yeah. Yeah. And not demanding- not demanding some amorphous ideal of perfection. Like, there is, like, even- there's room for people to be human and fallible and fuck up. And to demand perfection, or to hold someone to this ideal of, you know, being without sin, that doesn't leave space for someone to grow, get better course correct. Yeah.

Claire  1:18:36  
Yeah, exactly. Like, "Great, everybody has been now, you know, amputated. And, like, we can't-" you know? We're just so completely destroying each other, and I've seen that on so many different occasions.

Janelle Jolley  1:18:52  
Yeah, that's right.

Claire  1:18:52  
And, you know, creating space where we can have healthy discussions and be critical of things and be critical of each other without...feeling like we're attacking each other, you know? Because there's, like, on one hand, you know, we want to be creating a safe space for people where people feel comfortable. On the other hand, I don't want to be like, "Oh, you know, no criticism allowed." Like, you know-

Janelle Jolley  1:19:23  
Of course you should be able to withstand a little bit of criticism, even from people, you know, that you think you are of like mind with. Like, that's not going to kill you. And actually, it probably will sharpen- it'll sharpen you.

Claire  1:19:34  

Janelle Jolley  1:19:35  
So, like, let's calm down with that.

Claire  1:19:37  
Exactly. So it's on both sides. It's like, you know, let's...enter conversation in good faith, be respectful for each other, and don't take everything personally, you know?

Janelle Jolley  1:19:50  
That's right! That's right! Don't take everything so personally. And, I mean, we all have our days and, you know, whatever. And we can end up sliding into that, but, like, not everything is violence directed toward you. Sometimes, you know, sometimes people just are just talking and and they're not-

Claire  1:20:06  
They're not thinking.

Janelle Jolley  1:20:09  
They're not thinking, they have- they don't have any malicious intent behind it.

Claire  1:20:11  
Or they don't know your experience. They don't understand that something is triggering to you because they've never experienced what you've experienced, you know?

Janelle Jolley  1:20:17  
That's right. But that- but then you don't have to then paint that person to be Satan.

Claire  1:20:21  

Janelle Jolley  1:20:21  
It's like, relax. I'm still hollering at the mental images of home girl and that sleeping bag and being scandalized during Never Had I Ever when she first got to college. Poor Claire. Okay, episode two is up tomorrow, where we learn how she made the near seamless transition from artist to organizer. Okay, bye

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