Finding a party to call home

Why I joined the Freedom Socialist Party

October 2018 — Kristina Lee at a march supporting San Francisco Marriott strikers. PHOTO: Nancy Reiko Kato / FS
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I think I’ve always been a socialist. Even when I identified as a liberal and was a registered Green, I felt our system was unfair and wrong. Growing up, I’d encountered homeless folks while helping my mom at her school. Seeing the disparity between those who had nothing and those with obscene wealth seeded my belief that politics should be used to specifically help people.

Pushing boundaries. Being eager to change the world, I decided to leave the “liberal bubble” of San Francisco to challenge my political beliefs. I wanted to ensure they were sincere, and not, as my father insisted, a product of growing up in a liberal area. I enrolled at Sacramento State, both for the opportunity to work within the system I hoped to change, and for the exposure to politics outside of the Bay Area.

I studied political theory, debated with political organizations ranging from the Tea Party to the Spartacist League. My plan was to secure a government internship which would allow me to start fixing the world’s problems. I dove into electoral politics with the No on Proposition 8 campaign, pounding the pavement to convince voters not to ban same-sex marriage. I joined the Progressive Alliance that worked within the Democratic Party to get more liberals elected.

I began to truly understand that the world I hoped to build — where people had their rights respected and their needs met had to happen outside a system where the pocketbooks of wealthy benefactors ruled.

I returned to San Francisco to help my boyfriend care for his mom and transferred to San Francisco State. I saw a student-initiated-and-run class on Marxist and Revolutionary Feminism, and immediately enrolled. It was my first encounter with the history of working-class people of color and socialism in practice. It broke my brain in the best possible way, introducing me to socialist ideas such as mothers should be paid for their work in the home, to non-academic works on socialism, and the histories of non-European socialist revolutions.

As a biracial (Black and Chinese) woman, who was searching for a group that connected the liberation from sexism, racism, and homophobia with the need to be liberated from capitalism, it was important to learn about socialist feminism. It made me feel like there could be a place for me within it — I just needed to find the right party.

Moving forward. While this class was life-changing, I wasn’t spurred to action. I was still under the illusion that the only way to make change was through the political processes I’d been studying.

Thankfully, Sam Rubin, a dear high school friend invited me to a Freedom Socialist Party BBQ. I met my future comrades and got a Freedom Socialist subscription.

Reading the newspaper and getting to know the wonderful, diverse and intergenerational members of the Bay Area Branch was a revelation! Not only was I meeting a bunch of people who lived socialism, they were fun folks whose revolutionary feminist program aligned with what I’ve always believed.

Participating in branch meetings, having exciting conversations, and learning about the rich history of the party led to an invitation to be a panelist on a post-Trump election panel. My viewpoint as a Bernie Sanders supporter was welcomed. In helping me prepare my remarks, party members asked me the hard questions that made me realize the Democratic Party was not going to change from within. They reminded me that politics are bigger than the two-party system. I could fight for the things outside of this system, alongside a militant and motivated party of comrades. As a younger comrade who is newer to Left politics, I’ve been encouraged to contribute politically. I’m pleased to use my skills for revolution.

Since joining, I’m privileged to work with comrades from around the world on issues close to my heart. I’ve fought fascists, helped organize amazing events, and written about historical radical activists of color that I hadn’t known about. The Freedom Socialist Party is the political home I never thought I’d find. I’m beyond thrilled to be part of it.

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