SOAPBOX Gala 2018: Getting to Know Rinku Sen


On May 22nd, Rinku will be honored by The Laundromat Project at their annual SOAPBOX gala in New York City. SOAPBOX brings together hundreds of New York's most influential people to raise funds that support local artists using their work to create social change. Over the next month, we'll be profiling Rinku's fellow honorees, artists and honorary gala chairs to get to know them and their work.

Rinku Sen is a writer, political strategist and innovator of solutions for racial justice. Five questions to understand what makes Rinku tick:

1. Who is a person in history that inspires you?

Harriet Tubman. Who would she not inspire?

2. How did you get started in the work?

When I was a sophomore in college, my friends Yuko and Valerie tried to recruit me to a racial justice rally the next day. When I said I wasn’t into it, they said: “You’re not a girl anymore, you’re a woman now.” And “you’re not a minority, you’re a person of color.” There was more, but basically they told me I had to grow up, expand my horizons and deal with reality. I went to the rally. To my surprise, there I felt the fullest sense of belonging since emigrating from India at five years old. I had found my people. I discovered that I love living in multiracial community and that such a thing could be built and held. We won many changes on our campus that year, for students of color and for women. Once I learned that organizing leads to winning, at least more often than doing nothing, I was all the way in.

3. Who is your community?

My community includes all lovers of justice. The inner circle is mostly people who also love fighting for justice.

4. What is your superpower?

I can put words together in combinations that make really complicated ideas easy to understand.

5. How do think art can do more?

Art can help us love the questions as much as we love the answers. Every answer generates new questions, so we can’t stop loving the questions when we think we’ve got an answer. Also, people constantly have questions and loving their questions is key to loving the people themselves. As Grace Lee Boggs writes, "Loving your people and loving questions are, I believe, the two most important qualities that an individual needs today to help create the new kind of politics we need to bring about fundamental social change in our country. Even if the people of our respective communities or of our country are acting in ways that we believe are unworthy of human beings, we must still care enough for them so that their lives and ours, their questions and ours, become inseparable.”