Artwork for podcast Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song)
Diana Cleveland Davis (Original, English)
Episode 2425th March 2022 • Si Yo Fuera una Canción (If I Were a Song) • Elisabeth Le Guin
00:00:00 00:55:39

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Their own website:


General, free resources:

The Anarchist Library: /

The Haymarket Riots:

Emma Goldman 

“Living my Life”:

Piotr Kropotkin

 “Mutual Aid”

“The Conquest of Bread”



Greetings and welcome to the latest episode of “Si yo fuera una canción” -- “If I Were a Song.” We are a community-based podcast and radio show, in which people of Santa Ana, California, tell us in their own words about the music that means the most to them.

ELG: I am Elisabeth Le Guin, your program host, and Director of this project.

This project is based on my conviction that we people in the modern world need to learn to listen to one another; and that music, and all it brings us, is the perfect place to begin.

DAVID: My name is David Castañeda, music researcher here for the SYF podcast. I am so happy to be a part of this project, using my scholarly training and my performance experience to bring you the stories, music, and lived experiences of those living right here in Santa Ana.

As Diana Davis reminds me at the very end of our interview, we had met and moved in the same community spaces well before I approached her for this conversation. Because of this, although we do not know one another well, we could be confident of sharing quite a few points of interest and conviction. We explore some of them here.

Within our shared terrain, I found Diana to be a subtle and thought-provoking interlocutor, sometimes making me realize that I had not thought my way through something as thoroughly as I imagined I had.

I hope you enjoy her fine and lively mind as much as I did in interviewing her.


ELG: Okay, Diana, I am really thrilled about this interview. I barely know you. We met when I was tabling at an outdoor event being put on by the local Vietnamese immigrant community, and we chatted and you expressed an interest in being interviewed. Well, I asked you first and you expressed an interest, and here we are! So, why don't we start with you telling me a little bit about what brought you to that event in Centennial Park, where the local Vietnamese community was putting on musical numbers and having tables and food and all sorts of good stuff in support of immigrant rights? What brought you to that event?

Diana Davis: So the event itself was put on by Viet Rise, they are a community organizing event in the rough area of Southern California, and I believe it was a member of another org, Abolition Now, that I stay in communication with, they found out about and they were asked to table that same event. So from there, I just mentioned it to some people I knew and we all decided to go as a group and see what was going on that day. It was billed as a "community networking day" to bring people together and to hopefully create a dialogue about where we should be going forward. So, yeah, I was just really interested to see what was going on that day. I saw a lot of people I recognized, and then I came across your booth. And yeah, the show was, like the concept of it, was so interesting that I was more than happy to volunteer and be willing to come on and talk.

ELG: Ah, that's great. I am so glad to make this connection. This is something that, it's a little bit of a theme that runs through our show or has begun to run through our show, is that there are a lot of activist groups and networks here in Southern California. More than people might think. Let's just back up a little bit, and why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about how it is that you're in this part of Southern California. I don't know, Diana, if you actually live in Santa Ana, but we were in Santa Ana that day that we met. And a little bit about what it is you do, if you feel comfortable sharing your age, that's great, and you know, just to give listeners a little bit of an idea of who it is I'm talking to.

Diana Davis: Yeah, of course. So my name is Diana Davis and I was actually born in Santa Ana, so I've been here in Southern California my whole life. I haven't traveled much, so I'm still here. Twenty six now. And yeah, I work up in Anaheim just doing electronics work. But in the meantime, I try to stay connected and organize different groups just because there's -- especially in the entire time I've been here in Orange County, there's been so much, just, poverty, and so much need, and so much lack of resources to meet those needs, that I've always seen it as very important for us to be organizing and networking and providing programs and solutions to that need.

ELG: How did you get your start? What was the first step that took you down this road?

Diana Davis: So I think actually it might have been a very religious start, and I don't consider myself religious now, but I was raised Roman Catholic. And one of the institutions I was brought up in is the Servite Order. To sum it up, there was a large group of brothers that had a vision and they were given a mission and it was to serve the needs of people throughout the world. So they sold off all of their goods and they started a monastery and they tried to just go and help as many people as they could. So that organization moved out to Orange County. They have a location in Anaheim, and I -- so, being brought up in that space, it involved me going out a lot onto the streets and community of people who were suffering, suffering and didn't have enough to really survive the way they needed to. So I really started doing a lot of work in that aspect, and -- my reasoning has changed a lot more now, but I guess I could say that was a start of me realizing that those conditions were here in Orange County and they were so prevalent and that they needed to be addressed.

ELG: Wow, I've never heard of that order. How do you spell it?

Diana Davis: So it is s-e-r-v-i-t-e. So it's Latin for servant, and it's the Servite Order.

ELG: So interesting! Many people that I interview for this show grew up Roman Catholic, it's pretty common in Spanish speaking communities, of course, and it's just a very interesting kind of thread that that weaves through a great many of the lives of people I meet here in the inland part of Orange County. -- Something else I just want to chat about with you briefly because I'm, I wonder about your perspective on it. So you said you were born in Santa Ana and raised in this inland part of Orange County. From the outside and in the corporate media, there's an image of Orange County as a kind of enclave of wealthy white folks, which is really substantially far from the truth. And you know, you mentioned going out as as a young person and seeing just how much need and suffering there was on the streets -- and that, if anything, is worse now than it was even 10 years ago. I just, I'm interested in your perspective on this question of what Orange County is for you, as a young person growing up here.

Diana Davis: Yeah, of course. I think in some ways it definitely is an enclave of extreme wealth. But like you said, I feel like there are many perspectives and people who are pushing the narrative that that's all Orange County is, and that it's just an area of extreme wealth, everyone's happy... It's sort of like the idea of that show that came out a while ago, "The O.C." or like the "Housewives of Orange County," or there's all sorts of things that are put out in the media and they only focus on that aspect. And while there are communities out there like that, the vast majority of people in Orange County, I think are actually in -- they are in need or they are close to that. Most people in Orange County are not as well off as those images would say they are.

ELG: Not even close.

Diana Davis: Not even close. Yeah. And it is unfortunate because sometimes I feel like it's not just the image, but the influence and control in the county is often dominated by this very small minority of extreme wealth and the vast majority of us that don't have that, we sort of just fall by the wayside and our interests aren't really looked at, which is why there are so many prevalent problems of wealth inequality. And like you said, too, there's definitely been an increase in that poverty. But it's always been here. And I know even when I was growing up, there were so many stories from people older than me that had lived in Orange County their whole life, of just the people they would see out on the streets and the experiences they were going through. And it's always sort of just been there, but it's been pushed under this guise of the extreme wealth.

ELG: Yeah, and there I think you see one of the really difficult aspects of representational democracy. It's so very easy in the system we have here in this country right now, for wealth to stand in for numbers, as it were, you know, in terms of political influence and in terms of getting resources and in terms of resources being made available to those who need them. If the money is not behind the efforts, it's -- it takes so much work by so many people to to equalize that, I guess.

Diana Davis: Yeah, completely so. That's exactly right. And to your earlier point, even where there's so many different orgs working in Orange County, I think it's because of that, because of that dominance that that minority has, that there's not a lot of efforts put to the majority.

ELG: Yeah. So the grassroots scene here is really something, actually in terms of its variety -- well, the variety of kinds of people that live in the inland parts of Orange County is just astonishing. Just astonishing!

Diana Davis: Mm hmm.

ELG: And then the variety of their needs, and the way those are coming through these many grassroots organizations. I try on the show to, you know, to shout them out as as much as I can.


Just a few words about a couple of the activist organizations that Diana mentions.

VietRISE tells us on their website that the organization “advances social justice and builds power with working-class Vietnamese and immigrant communities in Orange County. We build leadership and create systemic change through organizing, narrative change, cultural empowerment, and civic engagement.”

is migration took place after:

ounded in Florence, Italy, in:

nations’ housing crisis. In:

COVID and insanely spiraling housing prices are factors, of course. But another is, precisely, the lack of hospitality and compassion. A very common misconception equates homelessness with mental illness and drug addiction – something far from the truth – and on this basis, seeks to actually block the construction of affordable and transitional housing.

Orange County’s record in this regard is particularly egregious, as has recently been scathingly documented in “Imperfect Paradise,” a podcast produced by LAist Studios at radio station KPCC. I highly recommend it.

ELG: But the objectives of this show are a little bit more in the direction of how Art weaves together with people and their needs and their wants and their aspirations. And that sort of, that is going to now bend us a little bit in this interview toward talking about the songs that you chose, which are very interesting songs! Diana, why don't you introduce your first song, the one that you chose that represents where you come from, in whatever manner you choose to interpret that idea of "where you come from?" Why don't you introduce that song to our listeners?

Diana Davis: Yeah. So the first song I picked to represent that was 4 Non-Blondes, "Dear Mr. President." And I was sort of thinking for a while of what I should be going with to represent that. Like I tried really hard, I'm like, "Oh, I should find artists that literally write about Orange County," and I'm like, "Oh, that's more retroactive then. I should have something that more defined growing up in Orange County." And I know one song -- it was actually my mother that absolutely loved it. Well, she loves their whole album that they did, 4 Non-Blondes. So I grew up listening to them quite a lot.

We were talking about this contradiction of what Orange County looks like and what it's presented as versus the reality. And I feel like one of those things as I grew up in Orange County that really helped me realize that, was the perspective that I was hearing in songs similar to this. And I felt like it was really speaking to the reality of Orange County rather than what's put out. Like the TV shows we were talking about earlier.

ELG: Yeah. You chose well, because, what is it she says over and over again in the refrain of this song? It's like, "What a wonderful country" or "What a wonderful city." Is that the phrase?

Diana Davis: Yeah, I think she shifts back and forth between "What a wonderful country, What a wonderful city -- and the world's burning it down."

ELG: Yeah. And I mean, you could read that as ironic, you could read it as bitter, you could read it as just...mourning...

Diana Davis: I think so, it could be viewed as as almost a mourning because there's such beauty and depth and variety, like we've been talking about, in Orange County, and unfortunately, it's not given the care and nurturing that it requires, and unfortunately, that leads to a lot of unmet need.

So literally, you know: "What a beautiful city, what a beautiful country." What a beautiful county we live in. But the actual beauty in it is just being destroyed slowly.

ELG: Wow. Okay, let's listen to it.

Diana Davis: I'm excited!

ELG: [chuckles] Me too.


ELG: Okay. Yeah, that's a powerful song.

Diana Davis: Yeah, there are parts of it that I was even thinking almost highlighted what we were talking about earlier. It's the line of, "One day I'll have lots of money, and I'll have to give it up for this rich society." And here, obviously, we have so much wealth and we can consider not only our society, but our county as "rich." But we're constantly needing to give up what we have for the others that don't have enough.

ELG: Right. Wealth inequality. You know, it makes me ask myself -- kind of a rhetorical question, but worth asking anyway, I think -- Can any society be considered rich when its wealth is not equitably distributed?

Diana Davis: I think in some ways it can, but in other ways it can't. So, in a society where so much is concentrated, especially when you even consider, like, global wealth in that way, you could say, "Oh yes, this is a rich country like, look, look at all the mansions we have in Orange County. Look at all the privilege and all of the services and all the amazing things." But you're completely right. Can we call it a rich society when the vast majority don't have enough?

ELG: Yeah. Don't even have close to enough. Yeah, I'm going to let that rhetorical question just kind of hang there because I think it answers itself as rhetorical questions tend to do. And I think it's pretty clear where each of us stands in in relationship to it.


rt but successful career from:

It turns out that there is quite a number of songs in both English and Spanish that address Presidents directly. They are completely different from one another, enumerating injustices in all styles of music with tones that range from light sarcasm to bitter irony. It’s almost a sub-genre.

A mashup of 4 “Mr President” songs:

Gloria Trevi, Aníbal Sampayo, Pink, & Los cojolites

But perhaps none of these quite pack the apocalyptic wallop of the Dr Strangelove image with which 4 non-Blondes conclude their song:

Oh my god, the Bomb has just dropped

And everybody climbed right on top

Screaming, “What a wonderful country!”

Music clip, “Dear Mr President”

ELG: So just thinking about the sound of the song. You know, that's it's a pretty powerful message, there's some rage behind it. It's ... There's actually kind of a spacious feel in just like the way the song moves through time. And that, for me, is a really interesting combination because I think of, for instance, like punk, where the rage is, of course, often very evident in the lyrics and in the manner of singing. And it's also, you know, you have that typical punk bassline that's just going dum dum dum dum dum dum dum dum, you know, and this isn't like that. It's like really spacious.

So is this typical for them or is this song unique in this way? Or tell me a little bit about your perspective on it?

Diana Davis: I think it is a little bit typical. Because unfortunately, they only ever made one album, so that's probably why you haven't heard more of them. But I feel like it's really interesting because it brings like a ... Like you said, a spaciousness, but almost like a casualness, and like a light melody through it all. But it starts to peak at certain aspects, and I feel like that almost highlights, like you were saying, the rage behind the lyrics even more when it peaks there. Like when it talks about having to give things up for society, or how everyone just goes along with what's going [on] -- like at the end when she's talking about the drama, the bomb going off and everyone just jumps on screaming how great the country is. I feel like that peak suddenly breaks the sort of the spacey melody of the rest of the song, and it really drives home like you were saying, like the the poignancy and the rage behind the lyrics.

And of course, this is, what,:

Diana Davis: I believe this song was released during Clinton's presidency in the early nineties, and it did tie in with, I believe, I think it was the Gulf War? Just conflicts going on in the early nineties. And I feel like, like you're saying, there's definitely almost a[n] acceptance and a reverence of combat and tension and war that's so common today, that I feel like you could see back then as well.

ELG: Yeah, it's not like it wasn't already there.

Diana Davis: Mm hmm. But I definitely agree. The song seems a bit too relevant. A lot of the time.

ELG: [laughs ruefully] I'm afraid so. And as with so much protest music, it's like, "Really?" You know?

Diana Davis: I remember, I did play this song a few years back when I first started at the job I have now, and it was just starting with Trump's presidency, and I remember I played it on my speakers and someone made a comment of, "Oh, why are you always criticizing the president?” I'm like, "Do you know when this came out?" [both chuckle]

ELG: Wow, yeah, that kind of brings it home. There's a line in there that really grabs me, and I want to try to see if I can get at why it grabs me so hard. Where she says, "Mr. President, won't you lend me a future?"

Diana Davis: Mm hmm.

ELG: "Won't you lend me a future?" And ... Yeah, I guess that just gets me because, well, I work a lot with young people, I'm a university professor, and ... And it's just very present in my mind how people of my generation have handed such a raw deal to people of your generation, and it's just that, just the idea of -- I mean, that is such a bitter line: "Lend me" -- it's not even, "Won't you give me, my birthright, which is a future." It's like, lend me a future. And the whole idea of -- that this is something that would have to be paid back at some point. It's just ... That line really grabs me.

Diana Davis: I think especially so, the line following that does as well. I believe, she says, "'Cos you'll just get it back in the form of the little blind woman on the corner."

ELG: Hmm.

Diana Davis: Because even if we're not given that future that we should deserve, that opportunity to live a pursuit of happiness, and to contribute into our communities, the reality is we're still going to be there. The end consequence of not being lent a future is still going to be there.

ELG: Well, I had not taken it that far, but, I see what you're saying, and I think you're right. Oh, my goodness.

Diana Davis: Yeah, it's quite a song.

ELG: It's quite a song, and I have to say that this is quite a band and a message to be growing up with. That's ... That sounds to me like an unusual household that you grew up in.

Diana Davis: Yeah, my mother loved 4 Non-blondes and my father loved Linkin Park. It was an interesting combination. [ELG laughs] Oh yeah.

ELG: Oh my goodness. And the Catholicism was the other thing you shared about your upbringing. That's quite a mix.

Diana Davis: Yes, always -- that always pervaded all of it.

ELG: That's just amazing.

Diana Davis: So it was that and church music! Yeah.

ELG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. And never the twain shall meet. Oh my gosh.

Diana Davis: They try. They try at Youth Mass. But it never gets to that point.

ELG: Yeah... I'm glad to hear that they try.

Diana Davis: Yeah, they do try. They do make an honest attempt. [laughs]

ELG: Yeah. You know, and I wonder if well, frankly, if more of the activist piece were brought right in, if that wouldn't be a little bit more effective...

Diana Davis: I think it would, actually, because I think that's what -- and I don't want to commentate too much on, like, youth music, youth church music -- but I feel like at least in my experience, it was the style and melody and instruments of the songs. Just without any of the context.

ELG: Mm, yeah. I sometimes listen to Christian radio, particularly when I'm on road trips and stuff. It's very interesting because you've got a lot of these musical values. You know, a lot of it sounds like rock. And some of it's actually pretty decent rock, you know?

Diana Davis: Yeah, because I would definitely say everyone involved, in my experience in my church growing up, were all extremely skilled musicians and even outside of church music where some, like had published albums and songs.

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Davis: But then the context was just changed around to reverence, virtue and worship. So, you know, if that's what you want as context, then that's great. But like you were saying, when that context is ripped out from a lot of the ... what makes those songs so powerful to begin with, then sometimes they feel lacking. And at least growing up, I felt like they did a bit.

ELG: Yeah, yeah. Just speaking about the rock genre, the way rock and protest and resistance and rage, they're all connected, you know? Yeah, and as you say, when you kind of yank out the protest and resistance and rage, and put a different kind of lyrics in, it is a very strange fit, to my ears anyway. But anyway, that's going in a different direction, I think, than you yourself are going now. Let's pivot here to thinking about your second song. The song that is pointed toward your hopes for the future. And if you'll be so good as to introduce that as well to our audience, and we will also listen to it.

other countries, I guess late:

ELG: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. As indeed it is.

MUSIC CLIP #2: Rebel Díaz, “American Spring”

ELG: I didn't know about this group before you introduced them to me and ... Thank you! They're doing really interesting work in the world. They're one of these hip hop collectives that seems to be pretty dedicated to actually encouraging youth to make their own music as a way of actualizing them -- galvanizing them politically. Pretty interesting work! A real kind of grassroots music making and grassroots use of music.


olitically centered since the:

Nueva Cancion movement of the:

Rebel Arts Collective” in:

Rebel Diaz continue to make music, perform, and spread their message of resistance and social change even to this day.

ELG: How did this group come to your attention? When did you discover them?

them. So I think in the year:

ELG: Mm hmm.

Diana Davis: And yeah, I think what particularly pulled me to them is, like you were saying, is how much they actually were focusing and centering on community and individual development, and saying, you know, I think the last, the very last lyric of this song especially points to that, of "This is only the start.” It's the start of individuals and communities realizing their own power and realizing that they need to take their own autonomy in their own hands. And there are several ways to do that. Like, they have a lyric that goes something like, "Organize, march, protest, sing!"

And like you were just saying, all of these different forms we put into either action or art to express and actualize not only our existence, but our resistance to this oppression.

ELG: Yeah, and something I found really encouraging in finding out more about Rebel Díaz was that -- I mean, as hip hop groups go, they're really long lived. They've been doing this for well over 10 years. And they, you know, if you look at their website, they're still doing it, they're still doing live events and kind of showing up where protest music is needed, and doing their thing and teaching the youth. And, you know, that's really encouraging to see this kind of thing, that there is actually something very positive about what they represent, I guess I would say.

Diana Davis: Yeah, it's definitely not just the publishing, creating of just the music on its own, but the echo and ripple effect that's felt out by individuals hearing that and thinking about those ideas and concepts and saying, "OK, what do I do then?" It's not a question of, "Oh, I just take this, like, information and media in, but how do I transform what I'm doing?"

ELG: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That magic moment where being a passive consumer of music suddenly becomes something so much more.

Diana Davis: Suddenly, you're called to be active instead of just passively consume the next album.

ELG: Right, right. And it seems to me that this group's -- really their main focus is on creating that magic moment and not on having quote-unquote "careers" as hip hop stars, you know. Very, very encouraging stuff. And as I'm sure you know, there are groups and teachers here in Orange County that are doing very similar initiatives with hip hop, with young people. Of course, all of this has been a bit -- you know, it went a bit dark during the pandemic.

Diana Davis: It's hit a bump!

ELG: It's hit a bump.

Diana Davis: But still alive!

ELG: Still alive, still very much alive. And the fact that, you know, a home studio is not out of reach for people anymore, or at the very least, a community studio. That a lot of the equipment you need to make this music happen is -- it's no longer high end, incredibly expensive stuff. You know, that has really empowered so many people, and you hear such, such interesting things coming out of the community.

Diana Davis: It's been so decentralized from what existed before, that you have so much more of an opportunity to, like you were saying, just either find a community space or even get what you need in your home to actually create and express, but then also share and then continue pushing it and have others hear it and give you feedback or reactions.

ELG: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it's a -- I think the whole concept of of "underground music" is -- it's really undergone a change, you know, because it's, as you say, it's very decentralized now and and it's more just like, to find this stuff you just got to be kind of determined because there's SO MUCH out there.

Diana Davis: Yeah, that's the other side of it, is, there's just a flood of media and information and art now, too.

ELG: Yeah. And finding the stuff that you know, really floats your boat, that really speaks to you, that that takes some determination, I find. But of course, just talking to people and saying, “So, you know, what have you been listening to lately?” And then -- that's how I found this group, is through talking to you. And yeah, I'm downloading their stuff and it's going to go on my personal playlist, and...

Diana Davis: That is especially something I love about this podcast, actually, is how much it encourages that, and how much it brings different perspectives and experiences to be shared.

ELG: That's what I love about it, too. Thank you, Diana! [laughs] Yeah, I mean, there are really quite the range of kinds of music that do this work in people's lives, you know, that summarize or express where they come from, and gives that sense of a future. So tell me a little bit more, then, about the future you envision and, you know, if this song is speaking some of that for you, of course use the song, but... Where do you see yourself? I want to ask you, where do you see yourself in five years, where do you see yourself in 20 years?

Diana Davis: Wow. Well, I hope to still be alive in five and 20 years.

ELG: I hope so, too.

Diana Davis: But I'm not really ... I'm not really sure! And honestly, because I hear this same question get asked a lot of people my age, in their twenties today, and I feel like a lot of people ... There's a lot of uncertainty of where we're going to be going forward. But almost -- if I could expand it, and I hope I would then be included in this -- but I would hope going forward, people have more autonomy in their lives. And that they have more of a say in what goes on around them. So I guess, I personally would hope that the things [that] would change in five and 20 years is that, I have more control over my environment and my community. And that I can be a more positive change compared to what we have now.

ELG: Mm hmm. Well, you said that really well. There is this kind of feeling that things are just heading toward something, and whether it's a great mountain that we all have to climb together or a cliff that we all have to jump off together, I'm not certain [laughs] It depends a little bit who you talk to, I think.

Diana Davis: Yeah, I feel like there's a lot of pessimism that sometimes comes with that question. Just because it can ... It can seem so big. Because it's not an individual question, really, it's almost a societal question. And I feel like sometimes -- especially with songs like this, bringing it back to the song! -- that while there can be such pessimism in it, there can also be this glimmer of hope, of, "No, things can change, that people can take back control of their lives." And our conditions won't just be dictated to us. We'll actually create them, and we'll contribute to them, and we'll build on them and improve them. Instead of them just being handed down to us.

ELG: You're absolutely right, I mean, that is both a collective dream and necessarily a personal dream. Autonomy starts with the individual, it has to. With this show, with this podcast, through this series of in-depth interviews with individuals, getting people to really open up and think hard and speak deeply about their dreams and their hopes, I think the very act of articulating these things is really important, because once you've heard yourself say something like that, you're not so likely to forget it or move away from it. I don't know...

Diana Davis: I think you're completely right, though, and that's the very necessity of art. It's the very necessity of expression.

ELG: Mm. Say a little bit more about that, yeah.

Diana Davis: Umm...So in the way that we put ourselves forward, and our ideas and our perspectives, that's the vital importance of us -- I guess if I was to use the same language, to us to have art and for us to have expression. Because I guess almost like what we were talking about earlier, it can be almost just like a new societal handing down of conditions or things like that. But this song almost highlights the interesting binary between that, of, it's not just a new societal order, and it's not just a new individual order, it's the combination of both of those. It's the individual expressing itself more. And that reaches the societal level, and our societal expression then starts to reflect all the unique individuality of everyone. And I guess that goes back to the concept of the song of the "American Spring" and popular movements, because it wasn't just a new order of things that -- look, you know, it's, "We'll say it's different, but in the same way it's, you know, the same old stuff." It was more of people literally going out into the streets, going into their jobs, going into their places of worship and saying, "No! Like, we want to have space, not just for a group that's going to represent us, but we want individual space. And that's how we want to come together and organize and share this experience we live through."

ELG: Are you familiar with the history of anarchism?

Diana Davis: Yes, I would say so.

ELG: Yeah. Because you're basically talking about anarchism in its pure form. The word gets misused so much, and it has been turned against the people who most want to practice it, I think. But you know, if you go back 100 years and more to the folks who were first really theorizing anarchism, they're basically talking about what you're talking about [chuckles]

Diana Davis: Yeah, to call back to a previous episode of the show, because like I said, I checked a couple out and I really loved it -- I think it was the most recent episode. One of the songs shared was by a group that called themselves Emma Goldman. And that was in reference to the, I believe it was Polish or Ukrainian immigrant Emma Goldman that had moved to the U.S. at the end --

ELG: She was Russian, actually, but yes, but yes. Yeah, that's awesome that you're, like, going back to --

Diana Davis: Yeah, it's really interesting, too, because I guess I didn't expect to connect it on this level, but even in the song, one of the things that the artist is talking about that we should be personifying and remembering and honoring is, like, the Haymarket martyrs. And this was a ... You could call them an anarchist and working class movement that was in Chicago in the late 19th century. And the thing that radicalized Emma Goldman actually so much, that started her career of activism, was coming to America, and one of the first things she saw were the Haymarket martyrs and the Haymarket incident.

ELG: Yeah, yeah. And I mean that that just weaves in very, very nicely. I can't resist this, but the song "American Spring,” the YouTube version of it was videoed at protests in Chicago over NATO, and various global efforts that do not benefit the individual and do not point toward the anarchist ideal, which is, as you said, autonomy.

Diana Davis: Yeah.

ELG: So yeah, there is this sense that things tend to repeat themselves. And of course, they have to repeat themselves a lot before real change happens. It's the nature of history, I think. I am more than impressed by your ability to chart a path through all of this with such clarity. It's really impressive to me!

e when I was talking about in:

ELG: And asking it in this really kind of fresh new way, which -- man, you go back and you read like Kropotkin, who is my personal favorite --

Diana Davis: I love "Conquest of Bread." It's a great book.

ELG: -- Yeah. And you know, it's just, it's so... It's raw, it's fresh and it's really smart. And that stuff is ... Yeah.


The anarchist Emma Goldman has been almost a regular guest on our show! Diana refers back to our Episode #9, in which Kahlo Quinn chose music by the group Emma’s Revolution, named for Goldman; and in Episode #10 Abel Ruíz and I discuss her as well.

She was a charismatic figure who tends to capture the imaginations of US Americans because she did so much of her anarchist activism in this country; but she came from a robust tradition of communist and anarchist organizing in Eastern Europe and Russia.

otr Kropotkin, who lived from:

It is a uniquely positive and generous view of human nature; we might understand it as a scientific version of the “hospitality and compassion” espoused by the Servites.

ELG: Well, this is just a delightful conversation! I have just really enjoyed getting to know you and your unique intelligence and the wonderful positive strength that you are bringing to what you're doing in the world. I wish you every kind of success with your dreams and with your efforts, and let's please stay in touch.

Diana Davis: I would love to actually, I would love to talk to you more.

ELG: Yeah!

Diana Davis: I know we did actually meet at the event, but I think we did meet previously at El Centro as well. You were doing something with --

ELG: Oh my god, I have such an awful memory for faces --

Diana Davis: [both laugh] Oh, you're fine, I do it the same. But it was so great meeting you there too. And you talked so much about the need of community involvement and community communication, because you were talking about Radio Santa Ana and those sort of things.

ELG: Oh, OK.

Diana Davis: Um, but yeah, I would love to keep in contact and I hope we do!

ELG: Yes, yes. And this time I will not forget your face or your voice.

Diana Davis: Good to know. [both laugh]


Santa Ana is wonderfully full of activist youth. Many of the young people I’ve interviewed for this show have been extraordinarily committed to social justice and to changing the established order of things, and Diana is another.

It’s admirable and it’s hopeful, of course. It’s also sometimes appalling and touching to hear the calm matter-of-factness with which people in their twenties face and name the possibility that they won’t have a long life or a comfortable “future,” as Diana does when I ask her where she might be in 20 years.

That moment, even think more than the rapport we shared in this interview, has stayed with me, haunting me. There is much to do to save the world, and our time is so limited.


Would you like to know more?

On our website at, you can find complete transcripts in both languages of every interview, our Blog about the issues of history, culture, and politics that come up around every song, links for listeners who might want to pursue a theme further, and some very cool imagery. You’ll find playlists of all the songs from all the interviews to date, and our special Staff-curated playlist as well.

We invite your comments or questions! Contact us at our website, or participate in the Si Yo Fuera conversation on social media. We’re out there on FaceBook and Instagram. And then there’s just plain old word of mouth. If you like our show, do please tell your friends to give it a listen. And do please subscribe, on any of the major podcast platforms. We’ll bring a new interview for you, every two weeks on Friday mornings.

Cynthia Marcel De La Torre, and Wesley McClintock are our sound engineers; Zoë Broussard and Laura Díaz hold down the marketing; David Castañeda is Music Researcher; Jen Orenstein translates interviews to and from Spanish; Deyaneira García and Alex Dolven make production possible. We are a not-for-profit venture, currently and gratefully funded by the John Paul Simon Guggenheim Foundation, UCLA’s Faculty Grants Program, and the Herb Alpert School of Music.

For now, and until the next interview—keep listening to one another!

I’m Elisabeth Le Guin, and this is, “Si yo fuera una canción -- If I were a song…”