Common Ground#658

Who is for Tenants?

Featuring Holden Taylor, nicolás vargas, Esteban Girón, Khadija Haynes, Isaac KD, Joel Feingold, Johnny Grima aka Ramza, Cea Weaver, and Frank Morales


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Organizer at Brooklyn Eviction Defense Holden Taylor hosts a conversation with organizers nicolás vargas, Esteban Girón, Khadija Haynes, Isaac KD, Joel Feingold, Johnny Grima aka Ramza; Housing Justice 4 All coordinator Cea Weaver; and housing movement leader Frank Morales. We conclude with a poetry reading by Joselia Rebekah Hughes.

In this talk

Read “Who is for Tenants? Towards a City-Wide Tenant Union” in the Brooklyn Rail’s Jul-Aug 2022 issue →

nicolás vargas

Photo of nicolás vargas
An organizer for the abolition of private property, nicolás vargas is a founding member of Brooklyn Eviction Defense (BED) and the Alma Council of Tenants (ACT). In order to combat dispossesory conditions such as gentrification, hyper-policing, repairs negligence, health hazards, rising rents and cost of living, or any such threat of eviction, nicolás organizes class-struggle tenant unions and rent strikes across Brooklyn.

Esteban Girón

Photo of Esteban Girón
A member of the Crown Heights Tenant Union (CHTU) since 2014, Esteban Girón is the union’s delegate to the Autonomous Tenant Union Network (ATUN) and represents the CHTU in the Housing Justice for All (HJ4A), Right to Counsel (RTC), and Rent Justice Coalitons (RJC). He serves on the Tenants PAC Board of Directors and is a member/organizer with Brooklyn Eviction Defense and the Brooklyn DSA Electoral Working Group. Esteban lives in Crown Heights with his husband Sean and their Chilean chihuahua, Salvador (Allende). He is grateful for every day that he and his comrades on this panel get to make life miserable for landlords, developers, and the politicians and policymakers who enable them.

Khadija Haynes

Photo of  Khadija Haynes
As an organizer with the Communist Party USA/Young Communist League, Brooklyn Eviction Defense,Crown Heights Tenant’s Union, Sister’s In The Struggle, and Flatbush Tenant’s Coalition, Khadija Haynes’ heart lies in lifting her community-and all working class people-out of the dispossessory conditions capital breeds. As a Trinidadian born Afro-caribbean woman poet and writer, her life’s work, and ultimate goal, is to help continue lifting the consciousness of the people through the lens of the black radical Marxist-leninist tradition; aiding them in better understanding how their own socioeconomic and oftentimes psychological problems, are directly related to the overall inherently oppressive nature of this system and not a result of individual shortcomings.

Isaac KD

Photo of Isaac KD
A member of the Brooklyn DSA Housing Working Group, Isaac KD is a tenant organizer, trail walker, tale spinner, table turner.

Johnny Grima aka Ramza

Photo of Johnny Grima aka Ramza
Ramza spends his time attempting to organize homeless people. Sometimes helps street homeless people get access to advocacy for the purpose of negotiating for a safe haven bed that isn’t a dorm (note that all safe havens whether single room or dorm are shelters, and all shelters are abusive environments). Organizes small mutual aid distros at Tompkins sq park.

Cea Weaver

Photo of Cea Weaver
Based in Brooklyn, Cea Weaver is the campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All and a member of New York City DSA. She has been a tenant organizer and a housing rights campaigner in New York State for over 10 years. Cea is a co-founder of the Crown Heights Tenant Union and in 2019 she coordinated the campaign to strengthen and expand rent control in New York.

Frank Morales

Black and white photo of Frank Morales
Born and raised in the Jacob Riis projects, Frank Morales is an advocate and participate in squatting of vacant spaces in the interests of creating homes with and for those in need; a life long resident of the Lower East Side and an Episcopal priest and founding member (1975) of the NYC Chapter of Christians for Socialism.

Joel Feingold

Photo of Joel Feingold
Organizer and writer Joel Feingold is based in Brooklyn, NY. Feingold is a co-founder of the Crown Heights Tenant Union.

Holden Taylor

Photo of Holden Taylor
An organizer with Brooklyn Eviction Defense, Holden Taylor is a proud member of the Crown Heights Tenant Union, a Marxist Unity Group (a Democratic Socialists of America caucus) member and, an adjunct professor and a PhD candidate at the City University of New York Graduate Center studying housing financialization and political economy.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Joselia Rebekah Hughes reading.

Joselia Rebekah Hughes

A photo of Joselia Rebekah Hughes, an Afro-Caribbean person in a white T shirt and yellow hat, glasses and red lipstick, body titled slightly, in front of a green hued background.
Bronx-based Joselia Rebekah Hughes is a disabled Afro-Caribbean writer, artist, and educator. She is a poetry editor at Apogee Journal. Joselia’s work hops in the lineage of Black disabled aesthetics and linguistics of access. She uses wordplay, oral traditions, and the archetype of The Fool as measures to question and provoke societal perceptions and values regarding chronic illness, Madness, neurodivergence, and disability. She’s shared work at the Institute of Contemporary Art: VCU, Lincoln Center, MoMA, Leslie Lohman Museum, Bard, Swarthmore, Whitney Museum, and elsewhere. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Apogee Journal, Massachusetts Review, The Poetry Project, Split This Rock, Ocean State Review, and elsewhere.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.