BRIAN KASORO — a great young leader, one of the best & the brightest

Brian Kasoro

I never felt like I needed this country,
and in turn it gave me the confidence to be myself in it.

We stayed up late nights thinking of story topics, we pooled our money
by draining savings accounts,
we found a printer and we printed a publication.

New American

... we were just some city kids
who were observant enough to realize
that shit around us
was fucked up.

BRIAN KASORO, 25, lives in Brooklyn, New York.

He was born in Minneapolis, his mother was born in Kenya, her parents born in Uganda, and his father was born in Minneapolis.

He is the founding editor and publisher of The Liberator Magazine.

He graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in 2005, after receiving a full scholarship and began The Liberator in 2002.

He also does website design and maintenance.

The mission of the publication is "to help preserve humanity by creating and supporting excellent spaces of dialogue that provide fresh and forceful analysis and critique of art, culture, education and politics."


The New American Dream Trivia Question:

To win a used T-shirt from Mike Palecek's book tour of 2007-2008, be the first one to correctly answer the following. [The shirts are large, black or white, with a variety of anti-Bush messages, probably washed.]

Question: What was the original name of The Liberator Magazine?

a. The Black Liberator
b. The Des Moines Liberator
c. Minneapolis Liberator
d. The Big Apple Liberator
e. The American Liberator
f. L.A. Liberator


NAD: Brian, hello, welcome.

Hi. Kinda cool you think I'm interview-worthy. Thanks for having me.

NAD: Was the magazine started by a group of college friends?

No, a group of friends but not college friends.

I went to high school with Tazz Hunter, and met Gayle Smaller, Kenya McKnight, Marcus Harcus and Mike Clark through community service.

We would meet weekly with a larger group of folks to discuss various problems black folks faced living in Minneapolis.

NAD: Why?

We felt that there weren't any spaces where we were welcome to voice our perspectives on community issues such as drug use and distribution, homelessness, relevant education, access to quality food, healthcare and nutrition, materialism, political leadership and corruption — and not just the regular "they," but also our views on so-called black leadership too.

NAD: How?

We stayed up late nights thinking of story topics, we pooled our money by draining savings accounts, we found a printer and we printed a publication.

We weren't concerned with making money, longevity or building an institution — which I think gave it a strong honest foundation that most folks' projects don't have — we just knew this was a good way to start a new type of discussion in our community, to bring voices to the forefront that normally aren't.

NAD: What was the transition like, if that was the case, from a college project to a "real-life" project?

Not much.

I was really the only one who went to college.

Like I said, we were just some city kids who were observant enough to realize that shit around us was fucked up.

I was the "nerd" kid going away for a while to school.

We saw that as being helpful though, because if anything we figured I'd learn some skills and meet some people that would help improve the publication.

Of course we were inspired by
Frederick Douglass' Liberator and Dan Watts' Liberator ...
that is, we want to be liberated too,
we want to help people liberate themselves,
we want to start the discussions that every community,
every generation, must have about
how to liberate themselves collectively.

NAD: What does the name signify, mean, represent?

We meant for it to be very transparent.

A lot of folks want to be spooks who sat by the door, but folks don't realize that Sam Greenlee's character died in the end, he never saw his project through.

I think we saw folks doing similar things and made up our minds that it was better to just be upfront about what our intentions were.

Of course we were inspired by Frederick Douglass' Liberator and Dan Watts' Liberator ... that is, we want to be liberated too, we want to help people liberate themselves, we want to start the discussions that every community, every generation, must have about how to liberate themselves collectively.

By liberate we meant everything: the way we saw it, people should be free to live healthy, and in that is the freedom that comes with being able to articulate your honest thoughts and views — a person needs to be able to do that to be healthy and self confident — also in that is the freedom to organize and tackle community problems collectively, and of course there's the freedom to all the basic stuff — food, clothes, shelter.

We were the kids of the crack generation. And we saw all the unhealthiness in our community and simply wanted to be free from unhealthiness — so we set out to start a conversation about how to liberate ourselves.

And the conversation continues, with action intertwined.

People say talk is cheap, but we never want to underestimate the power and importance of talk before action.

Folks forget that the most important actions in the eyes of Dr. King and Kwame Ture were the workshops they had while mobilizing communities — and in those workshops, they talked, talked and talked some more.

NAD: Do you also write for the magazine?

How often do you publish? How does it work? How do you pay for it?

I write when I can.

I've had less and less time to write as the publication has gained readers and writers though.

We publish bi-monthly right now.

Admittedly, we miss an issue occasionally.

We have a couple of bases around the country.

We work a lot via satellite.

We raise funds from our readers and we all pitch in when needed.

NAD: Would you like to choose one of these to answer, elaborate on?

I don't ask this to make fun. I ask because I really seek the answers.

Are UFOs real?
I'm open to the possibility, but don't care enough to spend the time and energy required to actually find out. If they want to talk to me they'll find a way. Their the ones with spaceship technology, after all.

Did we land on the moon in 1968?
Who is we? I've been taught that U.S. astronauts did, so I think they did.

Did Bush knock down the towers?
I think when Mos Def says that in this song, he's really saying that he suspects that Bush did so indirectly, which can be true depending on how you frame it.
Did he contribute to motivating such an act?
I can see that.
Mos is wisely framing 9/11 in a long view perspective, suggesting that it's the result of a long term foreign policy that has caused misery around the world ... and he's just suggesting that misery just doesn't sit and stay miserable, it branches out and affects ... he's suggesting that "chickens always come home to roost", "what goes around comes around", etc ... and I think those are some of the greatest lessons I've learned in life ... in which case, maybe we all knocked down the towers.

Was Paul Wellstone's death an accident?
I have no idea. I was suspicious though.

Is Bigfoot real?
I have no idea.

Is there a God?
God means many things: a perfect, omnipotent being; the force of a perfect omnipotent being; a powerful human or ancestor; a very handsome person.
All of those things probably exist somewhere.
Surely a creator or creative spirit or force exists, because we observe things that have been created everyday.
I've no problem seeing that spirit in my parents, family, and in other things and people around me.
My hope is that those who can't see such a force in the obvious places like their parents or family or community, will be able to see it in something.

... What makes you think that?
Like I said, I observe things that have been created everyday. I choose to believe that there is a motivation behind the creation that I observe, if even the simple striving of life to live and die.

NAD: Do you find hope in Obama?


Hope and politicians don't mix historically.

I'd feel foolish if I ignored that.

I find excitement in him though, because of how different things are just on a surface level with him as President, and because I see the excitement he inspires in others and you can never ever hate on that.


I was so happy on election night, not really because I was happy for Obama but because I was happy that the people around me were so happy.

Dancing in the streets and all.

I said so to my dad when I called him.

He told me, "that's just who you are."

I'll take his word for it.

I'm all for parents helping their kids figure out who they are.

He also said that he would have liked for some members of our family who have passed away to have lived to see this happen.

I can really understand that desire — at the end of the day it's not that different than the Vikings finally winning the Superbowl, or how Red Sox fans probably felt when they finally won a World Series after all that time.

Like those moments, with Obama, what's most important is to keep it in perspective, allow yourself to smile and enjoy the moment without being blinded by the moment.

NAD: If so, do you think it will be more difficult to be "for" something than it was to be "against" Bush?

How will you maintain an edge?

I think that's a question better asked to the Jon Stewarts of the world.

NAD: Your magazine has great, color covers. Is that your personal touch?

Some are the work of some very talented artists who believe in what we're doing and contribute their work.

Some have been my ideas.

But we recently brought on a great art director, Joseph Lamour, and we've worked great together.

I've just always wanted to make shit right
in the world and in my surroundings.
I went to school for political science
because I thought it'd help me
get a better understanding
about what is wrong with my community.

NAD: Please tell us more about yourself, the things you have done, what you would like to do, what you did today.

What is your passion?

What do you absolutely have to get done by the end of next year or you will puke your guts out.

I'm a kid with a humble, strong and self-secure East African mom — she was born in Kenya but her parents were from Uganda and her step-mom was from Tanzania so she calls herself East African — and a wise, thoughtful, smooth and soulful Minnesotan dad.

I like football, I love my planet — grass, swimming, camping and stuff like that.

I'm a technology nerd who begged his parents to get AOL when it first came out and have been a Internet head ever since.

I've just always wanted to make shit right in the world and in my surroundings.

I went to school for political science because I thought it'd help me get a better understanding about what is wrong with my community.

But I learned more outside of class than inside.

I'm not a slacker though. I always got good grades.

School wasn't always easy but I always did good at the end of the day. As and Bs.

I wanted to make my parents proud of me and they were honest with me about their inability to afford college, so I knew my best chance was to pay for it myself through scholarships.

I was a jock and a rebel in high school.

Captain of the football team, homecoming king, student body president, all that high school shit.

Sometimes the identities seemed contradictory but I thrive in that position.

My dad really instilled the idea of balance in me, which makes me comfortable with difference.

The first thing I did as student body president was move to abolish the Robert's Rules of Order because I thought it limited who could participate in the discussions.

I got elected because in my speech I said that if the staff and teachers really cared about us they'd work for free.

My football coach suggested I apologize after, but I never did.

I think I had a big advantage because I had a dad and I had a mom who introduced me to a world of self security by giving me a direct connection to a strong culture outside of the United States.

So I grew up with a chip on my shoulder as it related to my view of America.

I never felt like I needed this country, and in turn it gave me the confidence to be myself in it.

Then on top of that, my dad always talked things out with me and though he is a very spiritual dude, he's also a very rational one who gave me the confidence to critique things and ask questions and decide things for myself.

Like, our family is Christian in that we believe in and try to follow the principles articulated by Jesus in the bible, but they never made me go to church.

They let me decide my own relationship with God.

I actually helped publish this newsletter in high school that had various student contributions.

I was on yearbook and the adviser was the adviser for the school newspaper too.

He was kinda uptight and I wasn't motivated to contribute to the school paper because it seemed like a clique. So we started our own thing.

We also published stuff like student rights and responsibilities, teacher rights and responsibilities.

I think that had something to do with The Liberator being created a few years later.

I remember reading a lot about the Black Panthers around this time, Bobby Seale's "Seize The Time"... I borrowed that book from the school library and never brought it back.

A few months later I was driving around town with a Marcus Garvey flag hanging out the window of my mom's car listening to dead prez.

I'll always remember my pops asking me, "if you know who you are, do you need to shout about it?"

At first I was defensive but later on I got it.

When I got to college I pretty much turned into a hermit, the juggling of different roles in high school probably just exhausted me.

And I expected a bunch of black radicals at Howard and got a bunch of black bourgeoisie in training, aside from a handful of great friends — most of whom are like family now.

I just went to class, helped publish The Liberator and got up and talked with a few serious friends about books and ideas over meals and in library basements.

I don't think I went to a party until my last year at Howard. I worked for a while at a Civil Rights lawfirm in D.C. as a way to help me decide if I wanted to go to law school.

It was a great experience, but I realized — from working on cases and from talking with attorneys of color — how uninspiring the slow process of legal reform is.

You don't feel like you're really changing people's lives in an intimate way.

I could sense regret in most of them.

The one brother who worked there advised me not to go into law. I guess he saw I wasn't inspired.

I'm thankful for his honesty.

I'd always wanted to focus more on The Liberator and finally I built up the courage to quit my job and use my skills in web development to pay some bills and dedicate the majority of my time to the publication.

New York seemed like the place to be to get the most bang for your buck in terms of making strong connections, and the Howard experience had me dreading returning to a place like Minnesota.

So now I'm living in Brooklyn as a independent publisher with a great team of friends as colleagues.

Kamille Whittaker, Melvin Barrolle and Stephanie Tisdale are sorta like the new wave of Liberator energy.

They've really helped take it to another level with their enthusiasm and outreach.

It would have probably died out without them.

At the end of the day though, I think we all just want to live in a community that truly loves and understands us, an honest, educated, forgiving, brave and humble community.

Besides hanging out with friends having a few drinks, and aside from The Liberator, I'm helping create collective spaces ... potlucks, study groups.

I think there can never be enough of these types of spaces.

They're more important than protests, writing your congressman, all of that.

Like Kwame Ture said, organize, organize, organize.

Then organize some more. If you can't find a organization that suits you start your own. I'd like to have a family in the type of community I described.

I try and make everything I do be toward that. Anything that's not towards that for me, is hopefully towards helping someone get that for themself. But it's a long process.

Encouraging people to be honest and being honest is a long process in itself and that's often just the first step. So sometimes I justify being selfish with how honestly I express myself as an elementary step towards community.

I could use some tact sometimes though. But I refuse to rush any of the necessary steps of building trust and building community. I'd rather have no community than have community without true trust and love.

So I really feel like we have nothing to loose, there's no rush because if we don't do it right we're better off not doing it.

It has to be done honestly and organically.

I don't want to be a maroon.

I want a community to love and protect.

NAD: Who killed Martin Luther King Jr. Who killed Malcolm?

Or, does it matter? Or, should we forget about those things in the past and move on?

People with power killed them both.

People with power tend to be the most stubborn people in the world.

Stubbornness will make you justify almost anything to protect your interests.

I think the specific "who" doesn't matter.

What matters is that we always remember that power concedes nothing without struggle and sacrifice.

Now more than ever, with President Obama wielding power, we should cling to that truth.

Not that we want their power but because creating the communities we want always seems to threaten people with power; and we ought to be clear about the lengths people with power will go to in order to stifle organized communities when they feel threatened.

NAD: What else would you like to add? What else should I have asked?

Please insert a link here to something you would like linked to, with a brief tag re: where that link goes:


Trivia Question Answer:

The Minneapolis Liberator



THE New American Dream Feature Interviews

If you search the archives below, you will find, in a sort of order [last to first], interviews with:

Brother Raymond, walked from Denver to D.C., for truth

Korey Rowe, one of the producers of Loose Change

Dave Zweifel, editor of The Madison Capital Times

Cathleen Howard, expatriate, from Tucson to Mexico, to pursue her dreams

Sander Hicks, Brooklyn radical entrepreneur, writer, publisher

Joe Bageant, America's blue-collar author

Frida Berrigan, a lifetime of faith, hope and love

Denise Diaz, brewing up a revolution, at The Ritual Cafe in Des Moines

Deanna Taylor, Green Party activist, teacher, in Salt Lake City

Rossie Indira-Vltchek, writer, filmmaker in Jarkarta, Indonesia

Nora Barrows-Friedman, Pacifica reporter in Gaza

Delaney Bruce, Friends of Peltier

Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs

Michael Sprong, South Dakota Catholic Worker

Brian Terrell, Des Moines Catholic Worker

Bob Graf
, One of the Milwaukee 14

Loren Coleman, Bigfoot researcher

Monty Borror, Sci-Fi artist from Virginia

David Ray, Great American Poet

Jack Blood, radio show host, in Austin, Texas

Danny Schechter, A Real Reporter

Bob Kincaid, host, Head-On Radio Show

Tony Packes, Animal Farm Radio Host, Keeping An Eye on Big Brother

Richard Flamer, Working With the Poor in Chiapas

David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Truth activist author

Barry Crimmins, U.S. comedian, author, social activist

Bret Hayworth, political reporter for the Sioux City [IA] Journal

Lisa Casey, publisher of website All Hat No Cattle

Joe & Elaine Mayer, activist couple in Rochester, Minnesota

Fr. Darrell Rupiper, U.S. priest revolutionary

Whitney Trettien, MIT student, Green Party activist

Meria Heller, radio show host

Phil Hey, professor, poet

John Crawford, book publisher

Steve Moon, Iowa Bigfoot researcher

Carol Brouillet, California social activist, 9/11 Truth

Russell Brutsche, Santa Cruz artist

Kevin Barrett, professor, radio show host, 9/11 Truth activist

A'Jamal Rashad Byndon, social activist in Omaha

Chris Rooney, Vancouver, Canada Catholic Worker, website publisher

Marc Estrin, political novelist, from the left

Peter Dale Scott, poet, professor, author, activist

Anthony Rayson, anarchist zine publisher, works with prisoners

Alice Cherbonnier, editor of The Baltimore Chronicle, an independent newspaper

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