Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called out President Donald Trump’s border policy on Thursday, saying that her city puts children in college, not cages, referencing immigrant children still in detention.
“This [is a] crazy national moment we find ourselves in where my government is putting children in cages,” said Schaaf at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in San Francisco. “In Oakland, we put children in college, that’s what we’re about.”
The mayor was talking about the power of film, with the release of a new independent film highlighting race relations titled “Blindspotting,” which chronicles the changes in Oakland through the eyes of two streetwise best friends, portrayed by Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.
“I want to give a shout-out to film in general,” Schaaf said, in a conversation with TheWrap’s Editor in Chief Sharon Waxman and Compton Mayor Aja Brown at Dolby Laboratories. “The magic of film, the magic of all of our art forms is what we need in this difficult moment, because it’s a difficult moment — difficult for Oakland as far as speed of change, the rising cost of living, threat of gentrification […] and how we manage it. I want to recognize the power of film for us to move through difficult, uncomfortable moments and the humanity and way that that film lifts up the power and the impacts of implicit bias and institutionalized racism is really important.”
Brown, who has been Compton’s mayor since 2013 and this year announced a run for the U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 44th congressional district, also talked about the challenges of her position given Compton’s reputation.
“Compton has its own personification — we know it for rap culture and crime,” she said. “That was one of the challenges because that was just one snapshot in its 130-year history. I wasn’t a mayor who had a big budget to expand the police department or anything so I had to look outside of my organization to bring resources back. I would challenge developers, retailers and companies, and having people challenge their paradigm because of power of film — that Compton is not the same city it used to be.”
Both women also explained that they’ve faced challenges in politics given their gender. Schaaf said that she was frequently told she was not “tough enough for this job,” to which she said, “I’ve given birth to two children without drugs. I am pleased to say that I have been tough enough.”
Brown also said she has had to combat ageism since she had decided to wait before entering politics because she said she rarely saw young women in the field.
“I assumed I had to be 40. I was always asked, ‘Are you old enough?’ and I would say, ‘I think I am! There’s no age restriction!'” she said. “There are just barriers we have to do break through mentally.”
TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast series is connecting and inspiring the leading influential women of entertainment, media, technology and brands in the key cities where those women work, create, gather, network and connect. All ticket proceeds go directly to benefit women’s leadership programs and gender equity initiatives via WrapWomen Foundation.
Watch the video above.