.W. Kamau Bell Grilled Mayor Schaaf Live Last Night

Topics included Uber, E. 12th Street, displacement, and the meaning of "tequity."

Last night, for the fourth installment of Kamau Right Now!, political comedian W. Kamau Bell had an incredibly awkward conversation with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. During the KALW radio segment, Schaaf joined Bell on stage in front of a packed house at Oakland Impact Hub for a segment literally called “An Awkward Conversation with W. Kamau Bell.” 

Bell began by reading Schaaf tweets that he received from fans after he announced that she would be a guest on the show. In the posts, fans lamented that although they love the show, they would not be able to attend because they dislike Schaaf so much. Bell followed up by asking if she felt like she was in a “hot seat,” to which Schaaf replied that she knows she can’t make everyone happy and that she feels like she’s doing “the right thing when everyone’s just slightly unhappy.” 

But judging by the consistent heckling and hissing from the crowd, the audience seemed a little more than just slightly unhappy about the topics being discussed.
Bell went on to grill Schaaf on the housing crisis, Uber’s imminent arrival in Oakland, an affordable housing proposal for the city’s East 12th Street property, and the meaning of “tequity” — a word the mayor often uses when talking about equity and tech. He mentioned that he’s been trying to move to Oakland, but can’t find a place to live, saying “Can you help me in any way? I don’t need the key to the city, just a key to one apartment.” 

After hecklers in the crowd yelled out about the city’s attempted back room deal to sell the East 12th Street parcel to a developer intending to build only market-rate housing, Bell asked Schaaf why the city council decided to go with a developer that is going to build a mix of affordable and market rate housing as opposed to only affordable housing. “The Urban Core proposal will do way more to prevent displacement of Oaklanders than the so-called Peoples’ Proposals,” said Schaaf. “Way more.” 

Bell later played the mayor a clip of Center for Media Justice director Malkia A. Cyril likening her to a pimp because she uses made up words like “tequity,” and asked what the word meant. Schaaf’s initial response was, “The great thing about making up words is they can mean different things to different people.”  

Subscribe to the podcast here, or listen to the full episode below:  

And here are some recaps and live tweets from the heated conversation:


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