When New York congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and rapper Princess Nokia interviewed each other over Zoom this week, as part of Rolling Stone‘s Fridays for Unity video series, they were quick to point out how much the internet loves to joke about the similarities between their appearances.
“I’m looking at my twin!” Princess Nokia exclaimed.
“My boyfriend was joking that when we tweet about this, we should say, ‘Have you ever seen me and Princess Nokia in the same room at the same time?'” AOC said.
Jokes aside, the two of them were ready to dive into a serious discussion on their shared roots in the Bronx, their views on creativity, and the state of U.S. politics writ large ahead of this year’s tumultuous presidential election. Both women divulged stories of the hate and vitriol that they’ve been up against in their lives, whether it was in their childhood upbringing or from anonymous strangers online.
“I really do believe that you and I do very similar work,” Ocasio Cortez said. “We both take our experiences growing up and the communities that we love to really shape our worldview in a political way. Your music is political, but it’s … also philosophical in who we are and how we deserve to exist in the world. But at the end of the day, we are uplifting our communities.”
“It’s so wonderful and celebratory when you come from a marginalized place … and you allow your ideas to create ripples,” Nokia added. “A small ripple can truly create a longstanding effect … Creating a ripple allows people to feel seen.”
The two also discussed the rampant condescension toward youth and youth culture — “as if we aren’t aware of the world or know what we’re talking about,” AOC says — and how to handle bullying in their respective worlds. “You get to a point where it’s so bad that there’s a very clear choice in front of you: You’re either going to believe all these horrible things about you or you’re going to choose yourself and believe in yourself … When you grow up without having a lot of those models in front of you, you question if it’s even possible.”
Toward the end of the interview, Princess Nokia bestowed her praise on AOC’s ability to maneuver within the toxic halls of Congress. “You are going toe-to-toe with a lot of scary people,” she says. “You are literally in extremely intense overwhelming surroundings talking to people that have completely distorted views that are cursing at you, that want to humiliate you, that want to provoke you so they can create this angry brown trope that is a systematic way to oppress women. And you’re kicking butt and you’re making a lot of fragile people trip over themselves.”