Gloria Gonzalez is the youth development coordinator at Youth Justice Coalition. Before joining us at last May’s Zócalo/Goldhirsh Foundation LA2050 event, “Can We All Live in the Best Version of Los Angeles?,” she joined us in the green room to tell us about what she’s reading, motherhood, and her advice for young activists.
Where is your favorite place to go in L.A?
I won't share the location but there’s this very nice view in Boyle Heights, and it's really peaceful—a lot of people know about it, some people don't, but you can see the Dodger Stadium, and you can see the skyline. But overall, it just puts you in a zen, peaceful state.
What’s one of your hidden talents?
I don’t normally tell people I do poetry.
Do you have a favorite poet?
I definitely think Nipsey Hussle was a poet. And everything that he wrote, you know, if you look at his songs, if you look at the lyrics, they’re just very magical. There’s just so many different elements to a life, and living in a Black and brown community.
What's the last book you read?
Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements. That whole series that he has on self-transformation, loving self, knowing self, learning about self—all of those writings I think really grounded me in the work that I do.
Where is your favorite community in L.A. that you chose for yourself?
I don't feel like I chose my community. I grew up in South Central, and I’m very proud of my neighborhood, where I come from—the beautiful, the ugly, all sides of it; it's a consistent reminder of why I'm here, and how doing movement work is a part of the legacy of my ancestors and the people that came before me. And learning to love where I come from. All of that has been a process.
If you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be, and why?
Maybe a zucchini. It’s green. But then when you open it, it's another color, it has a different texture, it has seeds; it's very different in the inside than what you see on the outside. And it's also really good but kind of bland, so you get to add your own spices to it if you wanted to have some fun with flavor. There’s a creative part to it.
You’re wearing an amazing dog purse today. Do you have a dog yourself?
I do. His name is Titan, like the Attack on Titan anime. He's a titan for sure. And I have a smaller dog, I think he might be mixed with a Yorkie. One of my closest friends, she was giving away dogs, and I was like: I will take him!
Mother’s Day is coming up. As a mother yourself, how do you mark the holiday?
I just really want to celebrate the women. And in a way that I don't think we get to celebrate women enough. A lot of the times you have Black and brown women having to do so much work, and sometimes have to experience burnout in order to feel loved and accepted and honored. So really just wanting to do something for them, where they can just have fun, enjoy themselves, talk.
What’s your best advice for young activists getting comfortable with their voices?
For me, it's really about learning self and identity. And remembering that there will be obstacles, there will be challenges. It's actually a rare moment when life feels easy—when you feel comfortable, happy, or just like on top of the world. Most of the times, that won't be 100% of the experience. We have one body, we have one spirit, and we have to take care of ourselves in order to be able to do work and support people. Of course, not in a selfish way, but taking that time to ground yourself and learn about your ancestors, learn about your history, explore where you come from, explore this land, right? Knowledge is power. And I think that's what builds resiliency, it gives people the confidence to say, like, no, I am going to take up the space because I deserve to take up the space. But also as you accomplish things to remember people and always bring people with you to wherever it is that you go.