Angela Nicole Walker is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she currently lives. She is a socialist who has been involved in various social justice fights. She served as the legislative director for the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 for two years, and was recently the community campaigns coordinator for a local nonprofit. She ran against Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke in 2014, securing twenty-one percent of the vote as an independent socialist. She is the mother of one child, and the grandmother of three and a proud advocate of public schools.
1. What got you involved in politics and when did you become a socialist?
I got involved in politics as a much younger person, petitioning with other high school students for a Black History class at our school, which we won. The first big mobilization I was involved in was a bus trip to Tallahassee, Florida to demand a vote recount in 2000. I would say that I have been a socialist most all of my life, even when I didn’t know what socialism was, exactly. I have always believed that people are more important than money, and that the environment is not here to be exploited.
2. Who are some of your favorite economists, intellectuals, and activists?
Some of my favorite activists include everyone involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement, Assata’s Daughters in Chicago, Youth Empowered in the Struggle here in Wisconsin, my friends here involved with Idle No More…so many amazing people that I look up to. My favorite intellectuals include bell hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw, Dorothy Roberts and Angela Y. Davis. I don’t have a favorite economist.
3. What are your thoughts on preventing near term human extinction?
I believe socialism can be a huge help in making the shift in priorities that is required to slow humanity’s race to extinction. I firmly believe that Earth will heal herself if she is given the respect that she deserves and the time to do it, and that the greatest threat to Earth’s health is human greed. If we make the switch to alternative fuel sources, this will help. If we end deforestation, it will help. There are so many things that humanity has to be serious about ending before we can talk about our future on this planet. As it stands now, under capitalism, we don’t have a future. Earth will be rid of us.
4. How do we wrangle power out of the hands of the rich and gain a people’s state?
There are a lot of layers to the question of taking back power from the rich and creating a society that respects the planet and people everywhere. I think the first thing that has to happen is that people have to believe that they have power, and that their human rights are not given by any state. People have forgotten that they are born with rights, and that chief among those rights is the right to dignity and self-determination. Those rights are not conferred by any government, they are the inborn rights of all living creatures. People need to be reminded that they have rights, that they can exercise power simply by deciding that the current system is a threat to their dignity and self-determination, and joining with others who feel the same way, refuse to cooperate with that system. For me, it’s the most basic and the hardest thing to get people to believe, that they don’t have to go along with the capitalist system that exploits them. There are alternatives, they are working, and people need to know about that. I believe that’s the first step to getting power away from the exploiters, by reminding people that they are powerful.
5. What is some of your favorite radical art?
Anything that Favianna Rodriguez creates I love. I am also in love with the work done by Amanda Avalos of Milwaukee Beautiful, and the street art being done around the world that illustrates the people’s fight for freedom and dignity.
6. How do we combat sectarianism?
I believe that we combat sectarianism by uniting around issues that matter to all groups involved in the fight for liberation. Make the issues the central focus of our work, as they should be anyway, and work cooperatively to address those issues. Leave the egos to the side.
7. How do we fight against burn out?
One way we fight burnout is by doing whatever self-care and collective care we can. We have to know that it doesn’t make us “better” or stronger activists to deny our basic needs and to ignore our health. We have got to check in with ourselves and make sure we are emotionally, spiritually and physically all right. We have to do the same for all the folks in our networks. We need to tap out when we can’t do more or go any further, and take the needed time to rest and heal and reflect. The struggle is not going anywhere, we have to make sure we marshal all of our resources to be able to be in it.
8. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned about organizing?
I have learned that organizing is not an overnight thing, that many people will not be receptive to the idea that the conditions they live under can be changed. Not immediately. For me, organizing is staying with people, making sure that they are all right, being genuinely concerned that they’re all right. It’s reminding people of their own power, even when it seems that they’re not listening or receptive. It’s knowing that they may never be receptive, but that the information has been shared, and they can access it when they choose to. Organizing is the essence of frustration.
9. How will technology such as 3D printing and automation change how we discuss the means of production?
I think we will need to talk about who’s creating the programs for 3d printing, and who’s running the automation, and how owning those means of production will look and should look. Who’s benefiting from these technologies? Can they be effected cooperatively?
10. What organizations or events would you like to promote?
I would like to shout out Youth Empowered in the Struggle, MPower Theater (I’m in a dope play on the 16th of July), Assata’s Daughters, and all the folks out there who are individually doing what they can to make necessary change.