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Hasan Piker, a highly successful Twitch streamer with a considerable following, has dared to do something revolutionary while advocating for socialist and leftist values: he bought a house in West Hollywood. The internet exploded at Piker over the past few days for what was deemed rank hypocrisy. How dare a working-class socialist advocate buy a home while making statements and money off of these very values?
I might not be a hot socialist Twitch streamer like Piker, but my path towards housing had some similarities. I also became housed while advocating for socialism — and that’s why I absolutely cannot be upset about him buying a $2.7 million home of his own.
Some years ago, I was going through a really rough patch — perhaps one of the worst in my life. I was in the middle of a major custody battle when my sister was found murdered. The financial hardships I endured during that time brought me to a state of homelessness.
I drifted from couch to couch and hunted for safe spaces to sleep in my car. I would try to make the best of things by visiting local coffee shops to work remotely for socialist causes while I hid the fact that I was homeless from most of the people I knew. To my mind, homelessness was something to be ashamed of. Asking and receiving help was something to be ashamed of. That’s what I’d been taught while I was being brought up in a conservative family, and that’s what I chose to believe — even as I struggled to make ends meet as a single mother living in poverty.
Then, one day, in one of those coffee shops, something happened that changed my life forever.
A stranger I met over a cup of coffee dared to do something revolutionary and offered me a spare room and bathroom in their home in another West Los Angeles area, Culver City. That stranger believed in me when no one else did and when all other systems had failed me.
While my political leanings have been toward the left for a long time now, they weren’t always like this. In my past, I am ashamed to admit that I drank the Kool-Aid of conservatism because of my lack of education. It’s what made what later happened to me all the more ironic, and what compounded my inability to ask for help until somebody came up to me and insisted I take it. Folks like Piker, who have helped to make leftist values mainstream, have done a lot for people with similar upbringings to me by talking openly about the inherent worth of human beings and values like equality and compassion.
My life experiences opened my eyes to the problems which could be solved if only folks cared more about systems which empower the working class and help support those in trouble. But if I hadn’t had to experience poverty firsthand, I might never have come to such an understanding — unless I came across someone like Piker who could challenge my entrenched right-wing views.
Piker is using his voice to advocate for good, and I can’t get my head around the anger that he’s made some money while doing it. It’s worth pointing out that considering the cost of housing in Los Angeles, he’s not even that wealthy for the area. Rents across Los Angeles are soaring to astronomical levels, and my view is that if someone has the opportunity to get a mortgage in that environment, it’s an opportunity worth taking.
While I’m not personally a homeowner, I can give folks a bit of perspective. The house I lived in after that coffee shop meeting was located in another West Los Angeles pocket. It looks nothing special from the outside. Yet, had it been rented out in its entirety, it could have made the owner several thousand dollars a month. The owner who housed me was fortunate enough to have bought it decades before, when the housing market was less crazy. He wasn’t wealthy at all, and later found himself faced with financial hardships of his own due to the property taxes handed down to him in the midst of the pandemic. He ended up having to move on — and that tear-down property sold for over a million dollars.
It is not Piker’s responsibility to personally redistribute his wealth; he advocates for systemic change, not full communism. While literal billionaires with enough money to solve world hunger jet off to space, I can’t fathom how any keyboard warrior thinks it’s a good use of their time to jealously attack a Twitch streamer. Meanwhile, Piker has taken the fury of his former fans and detractors and used it to further advocate for the cause, writing on Twitter: “Listen, if you’re mad at me tax the f**k out of people like me.” Amen to that.