Real Change News: Introverted Socialist

Kshama Sawant

(The following was originally published in Real Change News.)

Kshama Sawant helped raise the minimum wage. Now she wants more affordable housing. The City Councilmember says she’s shy. But that won’t stop her from taking on affordable housing and SHA in particular.

At 5 p.m., on Sept. 23, at a protest planning meeting at NewHolly, a Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) mixed-income neighborhood, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and her staff looked pretty disorganized. An SHA informational meeting about Stepping Forward, a proposed program that would significantly raise rents on thousands of SHA tenants, would soon begin, and Sawant’s team had forgotten markers to make signs. They had even forgotten tape to hang up the signs. The protest planning meeting was sparsely attended: five SHA tenants, five Socialist Alternative members, a representative of Radical Women, a union organizer, one unaffiliated guy, an interested passerby and Sawant. Fifteen people.

There were stacks of leaflets in five languages: Somali, Tigrinya (Eritrea), Amharic (Ethiopia), Spanish and English. Sawant’s staff had printed up hundreds of signs with one of three slogans: “Tax the Rich,” “Stepping Backwards” or “No Rent Increase.” There were also small “chant sheets” with suggested slogans to shout out during the meeting.

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