Get to Know: Syard Evans

Society & Culture

Tell us about yourself. What got you into politics and how would you define yourself politically (if at all)?

I'm the Deputy CEO at a non-profit disability service provider and a PhD candidate in Rehabilitation Education and Research. I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and a Licensed Associate Counselor for community mental health. I cringe at the idea of defining myself as "political." I harbor a deep frustration for the unavoidable inequalities that lurk in any and all political systems, and I firmly believe that if any person has enough power, financial support, and/or social influence in America to get her or himself elected to ANY office, that individual should immediately be disqualified from holding such a position because the individual is too far removed from the general population he or she is charged to represent. Despite my disgust for politics and traditional political systems, working in the non-profit human services realm for the past 15 years requires that I am an active advocate for individuals I support in every way possible, including politically.

How did you come to be involved with the Hampton Institute?

Say what you will about Facebook, but a friend of mine who I met through Facebook was friends with Colin and reached out to me to see if I would be interested in working with HI. I absolutely was!

What do you think some of the goals of the Institute should be? What does the term "a working-class think tank" mean to you?

For me, HI is about accessibility. Making sure that the ideas and opinions of all who are interested in sharing them are broadcast far and wide, and that the stifling aspects of privilege do not limit the dialogue of progress.

What led you to being in your particular department? What makes you so passionate about that area?

Often when I'm asked what I do for a living, the easiest way to succinctly sum it up is to say "I do life." Working to support individuals with disabilities means working to support individuals at all stages of life, facing almost every challenge and triumph that life could possibly throw at a person. The diversity of the individuals I have and continue to work with is immense and reinforces to me that our culture and societal make up are fascinating. Based on my experiences and education, I firmly believe that our differences offer our greatest opportunities to progress and move forward, if we respect them appropriately. Based on these things, I jumped at the opportunity to chair the Society & Culture department at HI.

What are some of your political goals? What does "the revolution" look like to you?

For me the revolution is all about empowerment, ensuring that every person's voice, sign, or other unique method of communication is not only heard but honored and respected. My work requires that we fight every day to ensure the rights of marginalized individuals are upheld and that access to opportunities is provided throughout our society. Reducing the inequity that is rampant within our society is what I put my energy into every day of my life.

What books and/or authors would you suggest to others?

I recently read "Tattoos on the Heart" by Gregory Boyle, and while Mr. Boyle and I share very different religious beliefs, the view of humanity that he has developed over decades of working to support gang members in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles is probably the closest to my own that I have ever witnessed documented elsewhere.

What media sources do you use to keep up on current events?

I try to be diverse in the media that I consume, remembering that all human-generated content is biased by nature. In order to balance bias with truth, I seek to diversify the input I take in and avoid relying on "go-to" sources that subtly reinforce my own biases.

What kind of music do you listen to? What are some of your favorite foods?

I spent the formative second decade of my life in the 90s; so I have a strong affection for 90s hip-hop, 90s grunge, and 90s rap metal. However, my music needs tend to vary significantly with my moods and current state of mind, and the diversity I enjoy in all other aspects of life is present in the music I appreciate and listen to as well.

What (apolitical thing) makes you happy? What are your hobbies or interests?

I am a competitive amateur Strongman competitor. I enjoy lifting very heavy weights and pushing my body to do things previously assumed impossible.