Powerful, strong, outspoken, beautiful, foxy, unapologetic, uncompromising…
Pam Grier is the definition of black beauty in showing the strength of powerful amazing black woman. Regardless of race she did it her way and while she may have ruffled feathers she made many of us proud, not only of her, but of ourselves! Black is Beautiful. Thank you Pam!
Genius! Honest, uncompromising, and courage. The ability to make audiences of thousands across racial, gender and social economic lines relate to him at the drop of a dime. The power to make this same audience laugh at the sometimes harsh realities and the ability to make them think. Most importantly the ability to look in the mirror and be honest not only with his self about his self, but with the entire world. Also the ability to change his ways and speak loudly and truthfully about his own pitfalls, growth and enlightenment. Legendary…
Yuri Kochiyama’s chance encounter with Malcolm X in 1963 helped inspire a lifetime of activism.
Woke up with Yuri on my mind.. and asked myself how would what I was doing to progress humanity.
Things aren’t always black and white. Nevertheless injustice is injustice. Even if/when race is not a factor it still stings to know another African American male’s life was taken at the hands of law enforcement. This happens way to often with little or no consequence.
I had a great conversation about identity with a Nigerian graduate student today. The conversation started because she had mentioned that the church she attends here in Seattle had been talking identity, and the significance and the importance of community. I told her that recently I had been thinking about my role in my community. How I am currently struggling to find a community to attach myself to as a young African American recent college graduate now living in Seattle. There is always the excuse of time, but nevertheless it’s personally something I am working on.
I told her that I had been reading Ronald Takaki’s: A Different Mirror lately and learning about the history of migration to America. Her next question to me was one that caught me off guard. Her question was, why are you reading this? And why do you think African Americans feel the need to always hold on and personalize past oppressions? She said she meant no disrespect by the question, but she had gotten in disagreements with friends when she asked them what good could come from it and why they could not just move forward. She felt like it was hurting African Americans more than it was helping them. Ironically I had discussed a similar conversation recently. I’ve been told that holding on to such oppression is a “slave mentality” and that thinking this way just proves furthermore that shackles have been placed on the brains of African Americans without us knowing it.
I am far from an expert in this subject and I can only speak from my opinions, my thoughts, my experiences, and my assumptions. I told her personally I was reading the book to learn more about the country I live in. Everything that I have read thus far have been events that I felt like I should have learned back in middle school. Yet truth is we were only taught surface level facts and white lies.
In my opinion African Americans as a race have been stripped of their connection and importance to this country and to the world through slavery. Slavery may have happened a little over a century ago but I explained to her for African American’s many of our families cannot trace our roots back further than the South.
Psychologically I feel as though this affects us in many different ways. There is a feeling from recent generations that they would rather be considered “black” and not “African” American because they do not consider themselves to actually be from Africa. While I am not one of the people who agrees with this sentiment, I am beginning to understand it. Stories of slavery were rarely passed down to African American families, furthermore the forced migration processes that took place from most of our ancestors was not discussed either. While we all know as a culture this was our contribution to America, most of us do not have specific details or know where our people migrated from before ending up in the south. Therefore, there is no direct connection. For many cultures who migrated to America, while there is still a loyalty to America as home; there is a since of cultural pride when it comes to their country of origin. African American’s are expected to be prideful to a continent they have no family connection too.
I hope I haven’t lost you, Digging even deeper into the subject we discussed travel and location. Things that many of us take for granted like thinking globally. What effect does having a family connection to an area outside of the United States have on a persons mindset. The urge to learn about these area’s, the urge to travel to these areas? Without this connection the bridge has been broken. Not every person has this urge, but I feel like as we get older and start to learn more about identity and discover, the information is a lot harder to come by for African Americans.
On a simpler note, how about the infatuation with “blocks” or hoods or geographical locations. While there is so much that plays into this, could this be a cry of wanting to feel a deeper belonging. Wanting to feel as though they are a part of something? Nevertheless this is their community. While there are China Towns, and Little Italy’s, and Little Japan’s or some sort of the same all around the United States that cultures take pride in, African American communities never get the credit deserved. They have been too often been reduced impoverished neighborhoods through illegal housing practices, corrupt business practices, and a drug infested communities. That’s a whole other conversation.
My conversation with this young lady was abruptly ended by an interruption. My last opinion was this, even as we strive everyday to be successful, for many African Americans it becomes a stressful journey when you look around and realize that the higher you climb up the latter in this country the less African Americans you see. That internalized oppression can be scary when you are treated like the exception to your race.
In writing this I have more questions than ever. Maybe looking to deeply into oppression is a bad thing. It can easily consume who you are as a person. Personally, I guess I am still in search of truth, and history. I feel a since of social responsibility to know things, and to be educated and speak from factual opinions. I don’t know everything there is to know about anything, but as long as there is information, and books readily available I feel that we have the opportunity to learn and educate ourselves.
Last night the one and only Eddie Huang spoke at Town Hall Seattle. He is currently doing book lectures for his memoir Fresh Off the Boat. Last night he was joined by Seattle’s own Blue Scholars, Sabzi and Geologic. The talk was a good one. I write this in the least critical way. He spoke on topics from his life, culture, identity, technology, Hip hop, and food to critics. Eddie talked about how we as Americans can be so engulfed in our judgments and miss the moments that we are supposed to enjoy while loading pictures of food on Instagram. (Interestingly enough I’ve been having the same feelings and thoughts specifically after seeing the film Jango.) Everybody has an opinion of why they either like or don’t like something but at the end of the day its just art that is to be digested. Hate something or love it, save the criticism for the critics who get paid to criticize.
The one hour Q & A format hosted by Gio (and later the audience) delve into his upbringing in Orlando. He talked about how the city was married to “The Mouse.” This concept never really crossed my mind. Eddie spoke about how Disney World basically left Orlando cultureless. He said there was a danger in having a city being ran by a corporation and used the example like Seattle being married to Microsoft (or Amazon for that matter), or how Portland is to Nike. Eddie noted this concept is dangerous when a corporation gets so big that they become larger than the government itself.
*Disclaimer* Start Tangent…
Interesting enough on the way to the show from Beacon Hill my girlfriend and I were talking about her culture and the diverse background of her parents being Chinese coming from Cambodia moving to Thailand and eventually to America where her father would be assigned a Vietnamese last name and they would eventually attend a Vietnamese Christian church. We spoke about her trying to make sense of it all while creating and forging her own Chinese-American identity that she hopes to share with her younger sisters. Very heavy and a lot to think about, but nothing easy is ever memorable ;).
My girlfriend and I also spoke about the gentrification that is taking place right before our eyes as we passed through Yesler here in Seattle. It’s shocking that large parts of Rainier and MLK have been gentrified and the same thing is happening currently to Yesler before our eyes. Is the International District next? While there is a lot of history, the same can be said about the previous places here in our city. I hope we can all wake up and get active about keeping Seattle’s rich culture before Paul Allen owns the entire city and leaves it cultureless.
The audience Q&A was better than I had expected. Aside from the disappointed female that wasn’t to happy about him having a girlfriend, most of the questions were good. He managed to give good answers to the ones that were not. Eddie said the goal of an artist is to bring the audience into your world and let them see what you’ve created, they will judge it, break it down and indulge, but the hope is that you can let them out so that they can create a world of their own. He compared old school hip hop to the WWF in that it always had its characters that were fun with big personalities and ego’s. There were rappers that had the illest fantacy’s and created their own worlds like Harry Potter books. He compared his cooking style to the likes of a Kendrick Lamar who managed to make the world fall in love with him for showing a different side of a familiar story. A quote that stick with me is, “Always mix some sugar with the medicine to go down because Robitussin is some nasty shit.” His spin on Mary Poppins.
When speaking about food Eddie said that he would tell the youth to put their health first and make them read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (about the Chicago meat packing industry). Understand the impact of a slaughterhouse, and teach nutrition. Most importantly be creative.
Also Eddie was big on JUICING. He reiterated that was what he was into was juicing! He stressed the importance about not being swayed by critics and yelp reviews and to make your own decision about what you like and to learn the real history behind these foods and just to enjoy. So much of his talk could be related to so much that we do in life.
In closing one thing Eddie said towards the end is that he was never afraid of being broke. The thought is an interesting one to think about, because based on your background broke and rock bottom can mean really different things. However, in all definitions that lack of fear and a lot of dedication to yourself and your art is what makes legends. This superior belief in yourself that nothing can stop you is what will fuel your passions. While there may be different dynamics and layers to this, life is nothing without sacrifice, hard work, belief in the impossible, and dedication.
Thanks for inspiration Eddie Huang.