New Orleans to Alexandria, Louisiana (Written By AmbassadorNique)

What is this place? The beautiful, the ugly, the gift, the curse

Since birth Id heard tales about Alexandria. This is where my parents called home. Some memories happy and others not so much..

We were told to be thankful that we did not have to grow up in poverty and were fortunate to live the life we lived. Nevertheless every Saturday regardless how they feel about each other both my parents route for the LSU Tigers and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday’s. Depending on the week you may even smell delicious gumbo coming from the kitchen.

Although My fathers father died When I was just 2 and a half, I’d always known he was very smart and I found out sometime last winter he even attended college in Arkansas where he was raised.

Fast forward years later I am now 27 and a half and have made quite a few
More trips down south to Louisiana

Last year I was able to visit my uncle in Angola for the first time ever, and my brother hosted this thanksgiving in New Orleans.

Just 2 weeks later my lovely girlfriend and I would come back to New Orleans to celebrate her birthday for an entire week.

While we did everything from eat binese and po boys to go on a swamp tour, have lunch with a friend whom we randomly ran into on the flight down, to the French quarters market, burbon street, and the river walk; our 3 hours each way road trip to Alexandria louisiana was by far my favorite part of the trip.

We’d stop in opololusus to buy boudan while discussing life and our future.

The trips purpose was to see my grandmother and interview her about her life, our family, the origins of her moral compass and values and whatever else she’d share

I also wanted to show Diana where my family had started and properly introduce granny to the young woman I love dearly.

We’d get to Alexandria around 1 and Id first meet my fathers oldest sister aunt glen standing in the door way. I’d have to go next door to meet granny at the church where she was assisting them in wrapping up a fundraiser where they’d been selling gumbo all morning. I’d notice folks under what my father refers to as “the tree”.

We’d meet my grandmother in the middle of the crossings of 17th and Reed. She’d point out that this was the same block that she’d been born and raised. She told us stories of how my grandfather moved back with her after she had gotten sick and they’d raise their kids here. She’d point out the four churches in a one block radius, abandon houses and some history of the neighborhood.

Diana and I would later talk to my uncle and look through pictures my grandmother had gotten out for us. I’d also have the opportunity to interview her on camera and ask her about her childhood and upbringing.

On our way back to New Orleans that night I began to think about the importance of community. No matter how much money you have or where you live, our participation in our community can be vital to our survival. My grandmother stays in Alexandria because she feels important to that community.

I am thankful to have her and I am thankful for her acceptance of Diana and our relationship. Love is love.

AmbassadorNique

IMG_4929

IMG_4944

IMG_4950

Advertisements

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We? Session One

PhotoVoice Eagles With Cameras: “Project on Identity” Who Are We?

Session One

Wednesday was my first day back in front of a classroom of children since my Japan English teaching days. Honest, I started off a bit rusty, I was nervous, tight and a bit on edge. As the class went on I’d like to think my performance improved. The students were there to learn and have fun and I hope that’s exactly what they received out of it. A HUGE thank you to my assistants, Diana, Jessica, Jackie, Domonique, Mr. Stowell and a parent I never had a chance to introduce myself too.

We started off with an overview of the project as a whole and moved into trying to understand how complex identity can be. It was my goal to inspire interactions and dialogue. There were no wrong answers.

The students really seemed to open up during the slide show session where we discussed perception and what stories photo’s were telling. We used everything from the historical photo of JFK in the drop top, Martin and Malcolm’s first meeting and Ali’s triumphant stance over his opponent. I also found current photo’s as well, LeBron James dunking as the Laker team sits back in awh, pictures from the Egyptian revolution, Malala, and a photo from the typhoon in the Philippines. I was surprised at how engaged they were and while I knew they were smart, but still some of their answers blew me away.

Above all the best part for the students seemed to be going into other classrooms at the school and take pictures of other students hard at work, capturing the identity of the classrooms and the entire school. Hands on for the win!

It is my opinion that when we speak about social change it starts from within with identity. Next week we will examine their photo’s and dig deeper into their personal identities and allow students to write out what they believe represents them, their school, and their community. We will also start thinking about what pictures students will want to take for their projects. Stay tuned.

***CREDIT****
The idea for calling the project Eagles With Camera’s was inspired by Prometheus Brown (Blue Scholars) and Thig Nat’s (The Physics) Rappers W/ Camera’s. Northgate Elementary Eagles.

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions
www.AmbassadorNique.com

PREVIOUSLY:

My PhotoVoice Project at Northgate Elementary (Starting November 13, 2013)

Lately… (Written By AmbassadorNique)

Man, I feel like I’ve been flooding the blog with posts lately. I guess it just means I am inspired more than ever to share the great things around me. Life is good and a little over a half a month in I am still on my mission to better health, a vow to continue to be educated, and to make better financial decisions. Some of my goals were re-arranged but ‘tis is life and as with anything adjustments must be made. 

 

As I mentioned in an earlier post my Japanese language class was canceled 2 weeks ago, and the Masters program that I had been waiting to apply too turned out to be not as great as I once thought it would be after sitting in their first informational. I opted out of starting a GRE prep course next month, and decided to start a less expensive one that started this past Saturday. This program saved me money and fit a lot better in my schedule. So instead of focusing on Japanese my main focus now is this exam. My biggest challenge now is relearning and memorizing math concepts that I have not had to use or see in YEARS! (HEEELLLLP!!) IMPOSSIBLE is nothing right? At the end of the day I can either make excuses and complain or I can face this issue head on! 

 

I’ve been reading a good book that was given to me by my friend Kim called, The Slight Edge. She would be a bit disappointed to know I havn’t gotten as far as I would have liked, but I will continue to read it today for quite some time I hope (as I wait for my GRE prep book to come in the mail from Amazon since I ordered the wrong year last time).  The book so far is good and touches on ways to stay disciplined and be successful in life, relationships and financially which is what I am about!

 

I’ve been going to the gym and its working out really well. My ease back into the routine is getting better. I recently had a fail moment where I went to eat out friend. After eating it I felt so disgusted that I now vow not to eat fried chicken again. At least form that establishment, Grandma’s ONLY!!

 

Today I was afforded the opportunity to attend a workshop called Nothing About Us Without Us done by Seattle community organizers John Paige and my friend LuLu. The workshop was done very well! Sadly we didn’t have much time so we were unable to go into greater detail about a lot of things. Nevertheless I really enjoyed being there and learning many new things and seeing a few old faces whom I was able to catch up with as well. I was able to get a real sense of what’s going on in the community and it seems that as much of a progressive city as Seattle is their has been a racial undertone for quite some time that continues to get ignored. One of the most interesting discussions was the discussion of red lining (in short.. the way blacks and other people of color were kept out of living in  what was supposed to be “desegregated” housing). We talked about how it still goes on today with fraudulent housing loans from banks, lack of employment, affordable housing, and gentrification. 

 

I had a great conversation last night with a good friend of mine who is from LA about African American communities, racism, classicism and education and how they play significant roles in what’s going on today. We both agreed that while there are leaders out there a lot of times they do not get the deserved credits, but instead society has a tendency to refer back to figures like Martin Luther King and not look deeper into the present leaders or the women that actually were the backbone of the civil rights movements and movements going on today, or any of the other key players. 

 

Sorry if you made it this far I know it was very random, but hopefully if you’re still reading you’ve learned something and you care…

 

-Ambassador