Corey Matthews is the chief operating officer of Community Coalition, the South L.A. nonprofit founded by Rep. Karen Bass. Before participating in the Zócalo/Esperanza Community Housing event “Is South L.A. Forging a New American Identity?,” he stopped into the green room to share stories about riding mini bikes, the books he’s read this year, and what’s inspiring him at the moment.
Where was your favorite place to go growing up in South Central?
Going to family members’ homes. I have a lot of cousins, and so we would get together and go to one of my uncle’s houses or something like that and play.
What was one of your favorite ways to play?
I had a mini bike. Mini bikes are kind of like dirt bikes, but they’re smaller, and a lot of the high school and sometimes junior high kids, boys mostly, had them. Mini bikes, go-karts, and dirt bikes, and then you ride around the neighborhood.
What’s the last good book you read?
I have my Kindle on my phone, because I’m one of those kind of people who like to read in the middle of the night. It was [scrolls phone] Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour. It’s an interesting take on Millennial men of color in sales tech-type of jobs, and the experiences they have—feeling this weird draw to the type of work they’re doing, but also feeling a little bit isolated, too. I really enjoyed it. That was probably the best book I’ve read this year thus far—I’ve read 30 books this year. It’s my thing. I have a 2.5-year-old, and I have a 15-month-old, and so we have lots of sleepless nights. In the middle of the night, they get up for various reasons, so I just have my phone off to the side to read.
What’s your favorite book to read to your kids, or a favorite thing to do together?
My oldest loves to read—from My Brown Bear to The Pout-Pout Fish to all of these different books that we like to read together, and then with my baby—he just makes me laugh. I’m very soft with him. But I like to pick him up, and I like to dance and sing to him every day.
Do you have a guilty pleasure TV show?
When [my sons] were first born, because they’re babies and you don’t have to have a filter on TV screen time, I used to watch, like, terrible shows. When my oldest was born and I was on paternity leave, I binge-watched Shameless. The second show that we sort of fell into was Weeds. And the reason why we fell into Weeds was because if you finish Shameless, they recommend all these other shows.
What’s the last thing that inspired you?
The virtual graduation celebration for high school students. President Obama was there. It was nationally syndicated. And that was really inspiring because my heart feels for everybody navigating COVID, but it especially feels for people in critical transition times.
I cannot imagine what it feels like to be a 12th grader and not have the prom experience and go through all those things. Even with college, you get in, but you can’t actually go that first day in person and live in the dorm and do all those crazy things that you do when you’re a freshman. It was really nice that they did that, and that they had so much showmanship from celebrities to really come out and talk to students. That was inspiring to me, and other very good acts of kindness, acts of service throughout COVID-19, because it shows the humanity of people. We’re all dealing with something that is uniquely specific to this particular era. And we’re all, for the most part, scared straight about COVID. It’s pretty unifying.