T.O.D.A.Y. – March 26 (Written By AmbassadorNique)

As I continue down this road towards graduate school many scary truths must be confronted through different avenues of self reflection, conversation and personal growth.’Tis is life I suppose.

Today wasn’t as typical as most days, getting up about an hour earlier to make it to a rescheduled barber appointment where I would start my morning with a fresh haircut and good conversation. My barber who I hadn’t seen in about a month told me congrats on my acceptance to graduate school and we proceeded to talk about life, family, sports, and world events. Watching ESPN’s First Take after a debate about excessive celebration, Skip and Stephen tackled and rarely agreed on the issue the NFL Washington Redskins’ refusal to change the teams name. My barber noted, this year in the NFL an N bomb will warrant a 15 yard penalty, yet a team name will not be changed even though legitimate organizations, tribes and American’s have cried foul. I guess money does change everything. Bad for business maybe?

This made me think more about the narratives of Native American’s here in their own land and how the story is told. What happens when we water down cultures and minimize them to the point where we can say we visited a handful of them, left gifts and opened up a foundation so any harm done should be forgiven similar to what Daniel Snyder is currently in the process of doing. Nevertheless my cut was finished, and it was time for work.

A short talk with a co-worker on future plans about work and graduate school led me to understand that I am seeking employment that will assist my growth technologically and mentally. After this discussion I was on my way to lunch with a recently admitted PhD candidate to talk about funding… So I thought.

I’d heard many great things about this woman and was eager to meet her. Although my initial question about how to fund my graduate degree wasn’t directly answered this woman turned my world upside down, picked me apart, broke my down, and picked me up only to put me back together again. It felt like a conversation with my older brother or father poking at all of the holes in my thinking only to remind me of all the work I still needed to do, and the questions left to be answered. She agreed we’d continue to meet, which I am grateful for. While I had been somewhat mentally deflated I still felt I truly enjoyed the conversation. Furthermore I am up for the challenge and can’t wait to show and prove.

After work I met with one of my mentors and a good friend to listen to Teju Cole speak about the American re-release of his book “Everyday Is For The Thief”. His talk was inspiring and left many new thoughts. For example his assertion that the evolution of art as grown-up’s being to intersect all of our passions into one gave my mind a stir. Of speaking honestly about Nigeria he broke down how the country was built on the corruption that served outside entities and so when the locals were finally independent the same traits had trickled all the way down to gate attendants. America was not an exception, too often our savior complex along with two branches of our government being owned by corporations and lobbyist assured that we were just as corrupt he noted. Two things that will stick with me are the need for American’s to understand that we are equal’s to anyone and everyone with whom we deliver aid or assistance too. As human beings we must always remember this. Teju’s quote that he was “tired of being a grateful African” were words to live by. We must speak truth loud and clear if we ever expect change.

Overall today was a long but life is good.

My Beloved World – US Supreme Court Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor

My Beloved World - US Supreme Court Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor

On Monday, March 10, 2014 I was able to hear United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speak about her life and brand new memoir My Beloved World at the University of Washington’s HUB Ballroom. The event was packed. She gave us many words and lessons to live by and showed us what a world class leader looks like. Although I’m already halfway through her book I really wanted a signed copy. They ran out of copies, but guess who’s face showed up the morning after in the Seattle Times! 😉

-AmbassadorNique

UPDATE: Hurry Up and WAIT! (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Happy Black History Month! We only get 28 days to celebrate so lets make the best of it!

Something I think is cool that you may have noticed is my daily dedication to black history. Each day I will try to celebrate blackness by sharing a photo of someone that has inspired me to be greater.  

As I wait for March to come I look forward to hearing back from the University of Washington’s iSchool program. Accepted or not there are many goals that I would like to achieve in the near future. Since my grad app is now finished I’ve moved on to applying for new jobs. I would like a role that will allow me to receive hands on IT experience that will help me succeed in any Information Management program. 

Along with job hunting I am putting the final touches on my PhotoVoice Eagles With Camera’s project and planning the Meet The Artist Display this month as well. Stay tuned for details.

Speaking of the kids, D and I will help fundraise $650 to help send a student from Northgate Elementary to Washington DC this May! If you wan’t to help us leave our names with a donations here. https://squareup.com/market/northgate-elementary-school 

Speaking of Photo’s! I hope to update my seasonal Gallery in my living room and plan on getting one of my photo’s printed on a canvas painting.

Before I forget.. February 18th! 4-6pm at UW we will be screening “The House I Live In” I am really excited to be screening this doc. Check out the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0atL1HSwi8 

As far as AmbassadorNique Productions I would like to get Patches made to make more shirts and beanie’s. If anyone has leads let me know!

I hope to also make time for reading and writing. I am slowly reading the book Of Men We Reaped and Sonia Sotomayor’s – My Beloved Country is next.

I also want to make Digital Stories from the pictures I took this past fall even though my hard drive recently crashed and I lost most of them because I didn’t back it up! BACK UP YOUR STUFF PEOPLE! In more than one place! 

There is much work to be done and time continues to move forward. Keep your back to the wind, your head high, your eyes focused and your shoes tied. Live long and prosper!

-AmbassadorNique 

Committed (Written By AmbassadorNique)

How committed are we in making our goals into a reality? Is it something that we will dedicate everyday too? What is it that we are committed too? What if no one believes?

Yes, our goals will change but with change comes updated blueprints. We must continue to make new friends whom inspire us, and create new partnerships and projects that will take us closer to our destinations. Read everyday, write more and find new ways to articulate our vision.

The Goal 

My current goal is to use technology to create sustainable learning resources and outlets for story telling for all communities but especially communities of color and underrepresented communities. It is my belief that having a sense of identity brings us closer to whom we really are and where we would like to be. The bridge between our dreams and our realities are the resources and opportunities that we take advantage of. Every human being has a vision of where he or she wants to be. I hope to not only reach my goal but inspire curiosity, and deliver the resources and opportunities that will feed it.  

Through technology, photography, videography and digital media, we have the power to share stories. Technology has made the people around us more human than ever. No longer must we assume or categorize the other. With technology we can now share our individualities, our stories, our truths, our fears, our love, our lives.

Upcoming Projects: 

Project 1: Digital Stories

Due: November 10th

By the end of the week I will have created my digital story about why I want to attend the iSchool  This project is apart of a larger project that I am doing at work over at UW. Its very important for me to complete this project because it has everything to do with why I believe technology is so important.

Project 2: PhotoVoice

Due: November 5th – December 18th

I will complete a 5 week 1 hour course with Northgate Elementary where students will create a collage that will answer the question, “How are you apart of your community?” The project will be done with a diverse group of students at an elementary school that is 90% at or below poverty level. This project will introduce students to photography, the importance of identity, the importance of community, and will hopefully spark a new level of social conciseness.  We will bring artists to come speak to the students about their own stories, community involvement, and techniques. The students will be introduced to basic photography, be handed camera’s and told to take pictures of how they are apart of their communities. The students will then create a collage and a caption for their collage. After the project is completed students will share their art with their peers and parents at an art show. Our hope is that our students, their parents and our community will take pride in the art that is created.

Project 3: Graduate School Applications

Due: January 2014

I will be applying to the University of Washington and the University of Oregon’s iSchool’s for Fall 2014 with the same mission. I will fine tune my mission, complete the GRE’s (Dec 21st) and share my plan with as many people as possible. It is my belief that sharing will help fine tune the outcome and place me in front of more resources and networks. Graduate school will offer me an opportunity to create more resources and build more bridges that will bring more technology access and education to all students.

Closing 

My commitment will be determined by my actions. I must continue to surround myself with those who inspire me. It is important to use my time wisely, support the causes that create the world that I would like to see. Spend my time and my money on helping push forward these causes and not getting side tracked with what has become the societal norm. My time and my creativity are my most important possessions. With that said I must communicate better, be wiser, eat healthier, exercise and mediate more and love stronger. I must stay committed. 

-AmbassadorNique 

#CRWN Macklemore

Macklemore // Elliott Wilson — #CRWN (Interview)

I’m going to do my best to make this quick, short and sweet. If you want the long version, we can discuss it in person. First of all.. photo credit to my co-worker Jessica.. Happy Birthday.. This was taken at the Macklemore / Elliott Wilson #CRWN event last night at ACT theater, which I can credit tumblr for letting me know about early enough for me to get tickets to this sold out event. The crowd was packed! With mostly suburban high school students (“Artists do not pick their fans…”).  Nevertheless the event was great!

The interview was GREAT! It was over 2 hours long, of great questions, great journalism, charisma, truth, honesty, some awkwardness,  music business and life GEMS! Macklemore is an Outlier [see Malcolm Gladwell] (Ironically the title track on the Heist is 10,000 hours). Lets be honest he’s white, grew up with money, had the opportunity to make life altering mistakes young, and old, travel the world young and old, from what we were told never had a 9 to 5, had a solid foundation and his rock bottom was his parents basement of their suburban Seattle home / rehab in Canada / Art school in NYC. These are not shots, this is what we were told. This definitely does not take away from the fact that he is super talented, has an ear for music and put in his 10,000 hours… the faith he was required to have in his ability, the drive and dedication. However, it’s another example of how we are all unique and products of our environment. The decisions two people make will have different consequences depending on the circumstances and their backgrounds. Mack was honest about his contradictions, his fears, and his love hate relationship with consumerism.

Macklemore also touched on two very important subjects, the first being that Same Love was the most important song he’s ever written. He said it didn’t matter that it wasn’t number one or didn’t sell as many copies, but that it was being played on the radio and people are forced to think and talk about marriage equality. He’s not the first to talk about it, but mainstream radio play across genre’s people have to give it up. The other issue he spoke on was how much his race impacts his success and his openness about speaking about this sometimes taboo subject. All in all even though I witnessed it live I look forward to watching the YouTube when it comes out. I’ve always respected Macklemore’s grind and passion, regardless of what cards life dealt him, he’s playing his hand and has created a life most of us can only dream about.  RESPECT.

-AmbassadorNique

Comfort is the enemy of dream chasing (Written by AmbassadorNique)

Its been awhile but I’ve been vlogging and journalist.. here’s a blog!

Japan countdown: 14 Days!

Okay so I had this long post written in detail but I’ll give you the short story. Last night I re-watched my old DomoVlogs from when I lived in Japan (circa 2010), how they were maybe to honest, ignorant and immature. This led me to listening to old songs I made back in the day. Hearing how unpolished ignorant about happiness, money, love and life was a bit too real. While I still have a lot of growing up to do, I am not ashamed of past thoughts, but more importantly today I want to write about comfort.

Comfort is something I feel like most people aspire to achieve. Like success, comfort is relative and someone’s ceiling is another person’s floor. We were sold the dream that if we go to college and cross the finish line we would receive a piece of paper, a decent job at the least and be able to live comfortably. These were the bare minimums. I cannot say that this is not true, because with some help from my family, I was able to make this happen after a year or two. However, recently comfort has become my worst enemy.

If you have been following me you know my 3 goals this year are Good health, education and better financial decisions. Comfort costs a lot of money and can be time consuming. Its something that we strive for but once I figured out that settling down, buying a house, getting married, and having kids wasn’t the life for me, life had to be re-evaluated. Not that there is anything wrong with that life, its just not for me. I always wanted the freedom to express myself, and share my art with whomever would watch/listen. Aspiring for comfort also meant doing things I did not want to, and looking for acceptance from people that don’t necessarily matter. We find comfort in the things we buy, nice clothes, cars, art, furniture, acceptance etc. Not understanding to maintain this comfort we will dig us deeper and deeper into a life that we do not control. Rather a life that is controlled by our income, and outsiders.

From what I understand most Americans have the ability to sign a promissory note to get a loan for college, can finish undergrad, sign up for more loans go to graduate school, and make a living working somewhere that will pay them a decent if not good salary that will allow them to payback their loans with interest, put a down payment on a house, a car some nice toys to live…. Comfortable. I get it, people just want to be happy and by no means do I look down on these people, because I too at one time or another wanted to be these people. Now… nothing scares me more than becoming one of these people. I know for a fact this was not, and is not MY dream.

I HOPE I HAVN’T LOST YOU!

I know I just painted a really black and white picture. Everyone’s wants something different and I do my best not to judge. Furthermore by no means do I want to seem hypocritical when I apply to graduate school next year. I was like most people who graduated college in this race to change the world, get paid for it to buy toys and gain “success”. What is success if you are not doing what it is you want to be doing? “Victory to me is when you spend your time right…” Success is having the freedom and power to do what we want to do with your time. Vanity will not get me closer to that, a student loan will not get me closer to that, and unless it’s get a degree I want even a Masters degree will not get me closer to Freedom! To me life is about experiences and the more comfortable I live, the less life I will experience. There are those who would disagree, and would argue children are the greatest gift in life, and money will afford you those life experiences, but personally for me right here right now at 26… hard work, opportunity and artistic freedom have provided me the greatest experiences I’ve had thus far.

SOLUTION!

I made a vow to never complain without coming up with a potential solution. My solution is to continue to scale down my life, continue to be realistic with myself about what it is I need to do. Money is not everything, but it IS important. Also important is knowing your worth (but that’s a completely different discussion altogether). Saving money is even more important. Most of the people I grew up around didn’t inherit anything with any sort of monetary value. Some of them were lucky enough to inherited culture, traditions and family heirlooms. But the solution for me is to create that tradition, create that culture. I hope my road to Fuji inspires my future children, nieces and nephews, and their children to carry on tradition to go climb Mt. Fuji like my father did in 1988/’89. In my opinion the best way to hold myself accountable to creating my art and staying on my path of creativity, education, good health and better financial responsibility  is to avoid living comfortable. Comfort is the enemy of dream chasing.

Stay focused stay hungry,

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions

Thoughts After Reading “Who’s Afraid of Post-Blackness?” By Touré (Written by AmbassadorNique)

This book was recommended to me a couple of weeks ago, and I am glad I picked it up. I’d seen Touré on television on numerous occasions but had no idea of his written work. In the book he was able to reflect on his own experiences and those of other influential blacks. I thought the book stayed very relevant to the times, while discussing the harsh realities of growing up black in the 60s and 70s while not slighting the struggles of today’s black youth and young men and women. Yes there are many resources and opportunities available today that our elders could have never dreamt of, however; obstacles and barriers still exist. When speaking of today’s institutional racism he stated “the death of your self-esteem by 1000 cuts can still lead to the murder of your soul.” This to say the most racist thing to ever happen to you won’t be blatant, and you probably will have no idea of its existence (i.e. you don’t get the promotion because of your race etc.).

The book was filled with interviews from successful black people that spoke candidly about identity. While speaking about the inequities of our society Chris Rock added, “The black man’s gotta fly to get to somewhere the white man can walk too.” While Paul Mooney noted that “We complain about racism but we don’t wish to change costumes.” This quote was interesting to me for a few different reasons. One, because I agree, secondly; because while recently in Los Angeles visiting the Fung Brothers we had a long conversation about race when David came to the same conclusion. Black-American’s and Asian-American’s have many things to complain about, but neither side would want to trade places with any other race on this planet. I suppose the pride that comes with the culture is deeper than the struggle. While I feel we all wish to end most of the struggles, we never lose sight of the pride that comes with history and culture.

It is my thought that we must look at the story of what it means to be black from a different angle. Reverend Al Sharpton stated, “We are not victims we’re victors.” From the depths of slavery and oppression, which were key elements marked in American history, black folks were brought together and created community. It takes community and unity to survive through trials and tribulations. Black movements for equality ere deemed radical for being more blunt and direct regarding their feelings about the system and what they wanted, while other movements focused on peace and non-violence. This is not to say one way was better than another, but personally I believe both were necessary. In a way it shows how different we are as people. Everyone views the world through different lenses.

These two pages were probably my favorite in the book. Ironically in the same conversation with the Fung Brothers, David asked me if I thought the notion of black men always feeling the need to “keep it real” or be “authentic” was holding us back from achieving economic success. While, my first thought was YES among other things, when answering questions that require me to speak to my identity based on race I have to think about the answer and what other things may be implied in the question. Eventually I agreed, however I pointed out that there is probably a laundry list of items that can be added to this list. Furthermore, that being Chinese-American male’s whom often speak about their racial identity they had to understand why black men may fear being emasculated. Especially living in a country where Asian males in general have been emasculated by the American media. I believe somewhere in the middle is where we should be, between wanting to keep our identity, but also being able to turn DOWN enough to gain success without sacrificing whom we are. While we should not stop wearing hooded sweatshirts, we should also be aware of the harsh consequences. There are consequences to losing your identity and comfort, however, there are also consequences for not caring and/or not knowing.  Admittedly those are hard realities and hard sentences to write because do we embrace the hooded sweatshirt and tell people to embrace identity, or do we tell them to dress differently to make others around them comfortable and success will come. What if success doesn’t come? What if instead of being uncomfortable about your hooded sweatshirt your skin color makes them uncomfortable? THIS cannot easily be changed. Nevertheless I do not have the answer, but one must find their own.

Furthermore the 2 pages really touch on the fact that race is socially constructed, our true identities should not be. We can be whoever we want to be, and should never let something like race stop us. Society tells us we can be black or we can be successful, but we can’t be both. Because although we can act like we don’t know what the term “acting black” is, we all really do. When did acting black become being ignorant? That’s a whole other can of worms. The fact that in order to be authentically black one has to be in poverty, or in close proximity to the ghetto is ridiculous. Before I place blame or point a finger at anyone I will look in the mirror and fix myself. For me that’s where it starts, and educating the people around us about how unrealistic these standards can be.

In a society that’s still in the beginning stages of this digital age keeping it real and being authentic won’t get anyone too far for too long. We now have easier access to take advantage of free resources and opportunities. While we encourage each other to be ourselves remember the internet is a footprint that cannot be erased permanently.

In closing President Barack Obama spoke to young black men in his recent commencement speech at Morehouse College. “Don’t take a vow of poverty, but it’s poverty of ambition to think only of the goods you can buy versus the good you can do.” As black men continue to do great things and open doors everyday as they have always done, there will be those who complain about the resources and opportunities we do not have, and there will be those who take advantage of the ones that we do to create the unimaginable. At the end of my conversation with the Fung Bro’s we all anticipate what President Barack Obama will do after office. We are more than confident that he will continue uplift the black community, which will in turn inspire the world. We must all continue to do our part, stay educated, stay focused and keep looking up!

Cheerios ad starring interracial family very UNbold (Written By AmbassadorNique)

There are a few reasons why I care about the recent controversy over the new Cheerios commercial. One reason is personal so I will get it out of the way first. This reason is the fact that I’ve been dating outside my race since Middle School, and I too may one day have bi-racial children. How could anyone see this beautiful child caring about her father’s heart (the leading cause of death in African American’s is heart disease MESSAGE!!!), and turn into a conversation about a black man having children with a white woman.  WHAAAAT?! I’m pretty sure bi-racial children have been present in American History since before President Thomas Jefferson (oooops… lol). Furthermore, are we really afraid of interracial relationships in 2013? I thought we moved past that saga decades ago! The crazy part is this “bold” commercial is so NOT bold, Clarence Thomas would look at it and ask, “what’s the issue?”

We’ve seen television shows that have touched on interracial relationships since I Love Lucy, but I’m not sure we have seen a mainstream product advertise outside of the norm. When it comes to advertising have we only integrated people of color in stereotypical roles? The angry intimidating black man, the black woman singing or dancing for Cheese burgers, laundry detergent, chicken wraps? The over sexualized latina / Asian woman? The nerdy Asian male? Hmmm….

In closing I understand the move by cheerios to hide the comment section from youtube, however I hope they will issue a statement in support and stand behind their commercial. While I understand the move to hide the comment section from a business perspective, from a social perspective I think it stops the dialogue, and hides the truth of how people may feel when their able to leave comments anonymously. Maybe in the future cheerios will actually make a bold statement that people aren’t ready to address! (apparently they already have… :shrugs: ) I can think of a ton of examples, like the emasculated Asian male actually getting some shine, representation of LGBTQ parenting, religious statements other than Christianity and Catholicism. At the end of the day people just want to be happy and be themselves. Lets learn from other people’s ignorance and our own. The accept and promote the inclusivity that we will need to embrace one another’s differences. Isn’t that what diversity truly is? Let’s all find our true identity and embrace the identities of others, we’ve all got a lot to learn about one another something that doesn’t fit in the box.

Peace,

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNIque Productions

Connecting the dots (Written by AmbassadorNique)

This feels different… This past weekend while spring cleaning I had an epiphany. Forced to think about life, and wondering what could I be doing better to achieve different results than the ones I was getting, I came up with a solution. The issue reached its peak Friday morning when I received a denial letter from the University of Washington’s iSchool for their mid career program. Obviously I was a bit angry and down, but realistically  I definitely applied knowing I didn’t have the years expiereince they were looking for in a ”mid career” student. This is definitely not to say that I couldn’t hang with any other student in their program intellectually, or that my perspectives and experiences could not provide them with new outlooks. I knew I was taking a shot in the dark, and unfortunately I missed. At that point you can either stop shooting and go home, or you can continue to map out a way to make things happen.

What was my epiphany?

My epiphany was I don’t need anyone to validate my vision or my aspirations. Paying $30K+ for a piece of paper is not a down payment on happiness. In my opinion happiness is something we make happen for ourselves. There are things I could be doing NOW to get to where I ultimately want to be.

Furthermore, I started thinking more about identity, and how I’d been blogging my truths and my life under an alias in order to protect myself from those who wouldn’t agree, or take offense to my truths. Was I afraid to share? What would people think? What if I had gramatical errors? lol

I guess through my journey of finding out who I really am I became someone whom could care less about who found my gramatical mistakes, who was offended, and whom just didn’t agree.

Naturally when I separated my government name from my beliefs, it was for acceptance, thinking about the consequences if someone with power found my blog posts on social justice and discussions on race and fighint against institutional oppression? At the time I was unemployed, I just wanted to be someone a job would hire! Wow, how wack is that? I would be embarrassed  but this is my truth and I KNOW that I am not the only one who was hiding.

Great women and men stand behind their words and their truths. They are students and life long learners able to admit what it is that they do not know. My goal is not to be famous, or even to change the world anymore. Today, my goal is to tell my story, tell my truth, express my opinions and find out more about myself. So today I merge my brand with my name and I stand behind my thoughts, my passions, my words, as a progressive and forward thinker. Yes, I still have a lot to learn, but who doesn’t? I predict I will use language that could offend, I will say things that may be incorrect or inaccurate, but I wont be the first and I am sure I won’t be the last.

Today I know who I am, and I know the power of my words, do you?

-Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions

Discipline (Written By AmbassadorNique)

With so much internet content it’s hard to stay focused and not become distracted by procrastination. I catch myself getting caught up in the lives of others. YIKES I need to fall back immediately!

Tonight I will be turning in my graduate school application. More so than anything I’m just excited to be done! Fingers crossed that I am accepted, but prepared to re-apply and apply to even more programs if I don’t.

Speaking of getting caught in other people’s lives, I finally had a chance to watch the 30 For 30: Fab 5. What a story. The up’s and the downs and turns. It’s interesting to hear about their lives after college and professional sports. The level of support they were able to show each other and how they never omitted their identities. The level of prejudice they were forced to overcome was huge. Unfortunately the story is not without scandal. Anyway, this was very well put together, and ironically the year the sanctions for the banners were lifted Michigan attends the NCAA championship game .

I need to work harder on my discipline. I have been doing better at educating myself. There is a new book I’ve been neglecting to read called Makes Me Wana Holler, that I must return to the library by the 12th. My workouts have been going okay, but I need to create a better routine. The weather has been very UNmotivating.

Money wise the coming of spring means everyone wants to reconnect. This means lunches, dinners, coffee’s, smoothies ect. I am trying to balance this out and stay on a budget. I just bought a new mattress that I’ve been looking around for, for about half a year. I found a deal but it’s still a big purchase. I’ve been forcing myself to cook more. Groceries are not cheap, but I do a good job of stretching dinner into lunch. I also found a good place for fruits and veggies.

I need to do better at writing down my goals and re-evaluate where I want to be, what I want to accomplish. I feel I am in a very safe boat going slowly down stream.

I guess another way of looking at my current situation is I’ve finally accomplished applying for grad school and now that I’ll have more free time, its time to get back to business DISCIPLINE!

-Ambassador