Tribute to Kabir Kapur

Tribute to Kabir Kapur

By Nicole Valentino and Diana Wear

Kabir Kapur left an indelible mark on our RPA community when he died at the young age of 30 years old. He died of complications following an asthma attack that progressed to cardiac arrest. We are deeply saddened by this loss. Yet while we are bereft with his death, we are also left with some wonderful memories and profound lessons.  Kabir was a longtime, active member of RPA. Over the years, he worked on a number of committees and action teams including the leadership body of the RPA, the Steering Committee, as well as Membership and Council Action Team. He also participated actively with the Communications Team meetings urging coverage of relevant issues.

Kabir had a brilliant mind and he was astonishingly well-read. He was also generous with his knowledge and used it in the service of his devoted activism. Many know that Kabir was an SF Giants fan. Beyond his simple love of sports, he also devoured sports analyses, particularly enjoying political sportswriter Dave Zirin’s astute books and articles. Kabir could talk circles around many arm-chair sports enthusiasts. 

Kabir also made significant contributions to several electoral campaigns—elections were his passion. He worked tirelessly on Jovanka’s State Senate campaign as well as on Eduardo’s local Mayoral campaign. Kabir was a big picture visionary. He could imagine what was possible, and he aspired to do what he could to make this vision a reality. He had the essence of the politics and philosophies down, and he was a wonderful rabble rouser. Kabir wasn't detail oriented and he worked best with those whose skill sets complimented his and vice versa. In this way he was able to contribute in many meaningful ways that will not be forgotten.

Kabir found camaraderie in the RPA. In ways that may parallel relationships with his family of origin, we too admired and appreciated Kabir for his many gifts, even as we were challenged by him. We, too, sometimes had concerns about his unpredictability, his restlessness, and his impulsiveness. We know that Kabir was generous, helpful, honest, and passionate. He could also be relentlessly stubborn and volatile. He presented us with his full humanness, and we weren't always ready for it.  

Although Kabir was larger-than-life in some ways—he was tall, boisterous, animated and he could be intimidating—those who knew him well know that he was also kind, gentle, and lovable. 

Like many of us, Kabir struggled with some emotional difficulties. He was a strong advocate for healthcare for all, a fighter for access for all and he had to vigorously take on the health care system to attend to his needs. Although Kabir found support from the various people who cared about him, it wasn’t always enough. Nor were we always equipped to manage some of Kabir’s needs. Political organizations like ours often attract people like Kabir—brilliant individuals who more likely do not settle into mainstream jobs or lives, yet their talents are often recognized by non-traditional organizations that can be more flexible and accommodating.  

For us at RPA, we’ve welcomed big personalities, passionate, sharp minded, enthusiastic volunteers like Kabir into our membership. Some of us are more practiced at managing personal difficulties than others. When the inevitable interpersonal and organizational challenges have arisen, some we have handled well, some we haven’t. It is our intention to do better in the spirit of community and solidarity with one another.  

Kabir’s life among us presents some cautionary tales for our organization. As we broaden our net to be more inclusive, we will be increasingly challenged by members who share our vision but may operate differently. It might behoove us to get better trained for the multiplicity of issues that people bring to our organization. We believe that Kabir’s way of thinking and moving in the world made him a bit like a round peg forced to fit into a square hole. 

When all is said and done, what we know is that Kabir was more than we can share in the words on this page. He was more than simply qualities and traits, those we enjoyed and those that were challenging.  A Zoom memorial held shortly after Kabir died brought nearly 150 people to remember, mourn and tell stories about how he had marked their lives. Those testimonies captured that among other things, Kabir was a comrade and seeker of the best that politics can deliver. His reach was deep and wide, and it will long be remembered.