Marisa Handler lived in South Africa until she was twelve. Both her parents are Jewish liberals and they actively opposed South Africa’s racist apartheid system. Their values heavily influenced Handler during her formative years. Perhaps she was destined to become an activist as early as nine years old while attending Camps Bay Primary School in Cape Town.
One day during recess, a pre-adolescent queen bee named Joan, held court on the playground and asked several peers whom their parents were voting for in an upcoming election. One by one, the other students answered “Nats,” meaning the longtime ruling white supremacist National Party. Eventually, Joan turned her scrutiny on the self-conscious Handler who whispered “PFP.”
The PFP were the Progressive Federal Party that preached equality and represented a constituency of white liberals. Joan proceeded to interrogate Handler and asked if she really wanted to turn South Africa over to the majority blacks she called “stupid.” Fearfully, Handler held her ground and the foundation for a future activist was established: she had demonstrated the fortitude to take an unpopular stand and subject herself to ridicule.
Now thirty, Handler is a well-traveled and seasoned veteran in the pursuit of global justice and peace. Her book, Loyal to the Sky: Notes From an Activist (Berrett-Kohler Publishers, Inc.) is a stirring memoir about her personal evolution and experiences. Handler’s journey spans the playground in Cape Town, relocating with her parents to Los Angeles at the age of 12, Berkley University, Israel, Nepal, India, protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement in Miami, Ecuador, Peru, protesting the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City and talking with soldiers in Fort Benning, Georgia.
Handler has worked as an organizer in the global justice and peace movements as well as written about socio-politics and globalization. Her work has been published in Orion Magazine, Tikkun, Salon.com, the Earth Island Journal, Alternet.org, Bitch Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicles. Currently, Handler resides in San Francisco where she is also a singer-songwriter. She plays regularly around the Bay Area and her album Dark Spoke is currently available on CD.
Handler agreed to a podcast interview with me and among the topics we covered were her book, music, work, spirituality, life experience, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Hindu/Muslim tensions inside India and the overall quest to achieve global justice. Please refer to the media player below.
This interview can also be accessed for free via the Itunes store by searching for Intrepid Liberal Journal.