As an activist and educator, Jared Paul knows painfully well just how much injustice, oppression, greed and suffering there is in the world. He’s worked on campaigns and been involved in protests to help ease the plight of the average worker. He’s traveled the country educating people through poetry, spoken word and music. And, on June 14, he came to Santa Clara’s Studio Bongiorno to continue his mission.
“I’ve been more focused on politics and social justice and being a community organizer/provocative artist that causes dialogue,” said Paul, who performed after Scorpiana X, Jarvis Subia and Lorenz Dumuk of the San Jose National Poetry Slam Team prepared the audience with their poems, and the San Jose Peace and Justice Center and Human Agenda spoke about their programs and how people can get involved within their community to incite change – something Paul himself is passionate about.
“I believe in the American people,” said Paul, “but I don’t really believe in our system – in our economic system. There are themes incorporated into the set [tonight] about growing up working class. I grew up in a Section 8 neighborhood – a very poor neighborhood in of an otherwise middle class town.”
Because of his upbringing and the fact that his current residence is in the middle of two major hotels in Providence, R.I., Paul is a community volunteer for UNITE HERE’s $15 minimum wage for hotel workers campaign. He’s also a fighter for all rights, immersing himself in newsletters and news websites daily to stay up-to-date on all causes. “They’re all equal,” said Paul. “Human rights, labor rights, civil rights – to me, they’re all equal and I think that’s one of the things that Occupy taught us the most, more than anything, is that people are really angry about the way that things are – that there’s really an unfair divide in wealth and it has nothing to do with laziness, and that everybody’s issue is important … No matter how different they are, it’s the same boot on their throat. It’s the same people who benefit from the system.”
Throughout his set, Paul’s message was skillfully woven into his poetic narrative, and his presence captivated and commanded the attention of the packed studio-gallery. And, while some may consider Paul’s views outside the mainstream (although similar views are picking up steam among much of the American people), his set was well received, with many members of the audience choosing to follow Paul to the merchandise table after the show to further discuss, and in some cases debate, any topic.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s never really my first time at the rodeo,” said Paul of interacting with the audience post-show. “People are more prone to fight if you don’t know how to discuss with them … I definitely am always down to listen. I want to listen and let people say what they have to say and then I present my ideas and we go back and forth. Very seldom do I actually get into a fight.”
Paul will perform in San Francisco on Saturday, June 21 at the Honey Hive Gallery (4117 Judah St., San Francisco, 94122). Visit www.jaredpaul.org for more information.