Archive for March, 2008

Save the Date

Facing Race: A National Conference

Define Justice. Make Change.

November 13-15, 2008

Oakland, California

Sponsored by the applied research center

For more info email gacebo@arc.org

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Memories

I dated a musician, with whom I was also fortunate enough to sing at one point.  He is really talented and a great songwriter.  I really admire his work and he plays a mean guitar!  I hadn’t listened to his music in a while because the way in which we parted ways was a little ugly and because it made me too sad for a while to hear him sing.  We used to sing each other to sleep, two insomniacs taking comfort for a period in each others’ spirits.  I miss the person he was to me before things went awry. 

So this weekend I heard a song by an artist that he’d performed with.  So I decided I was ready to poke at that scab and see how bad it would hurt.  I listened to songs I had heard crooned at me and songs that made me cry the first time I heard them before I even knew him.  And it is bittersweet.  I don’t know if I can contact him but his music still moves me.   I wish he could know just that.  His music still moves me and I think it always will.  I was blessed to be able to walk with him a distance, no matter how brief, and blessed to be able to make music with him, and it was sweet. 

The world needs more pink-shoed butchboys. 

Queer POC Summit

I’m so sad that I can’t go but I’m sure it will be amazing! 
University of California at Berkeley’s student group Young Queers United for Empowerment (YQUE!) in collaboration with Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) and members of other respective communities will be hosting the 3rd Annual Queer People of Color (QPOC) Summit at the Berkeley campus on Saturday April 26th, 2008 from 10-6pm.  Last year’s summit was also hosted at UC Berkeley with a successful attendance of over 100 participants.  The organizing committee is excited to have the opportunity of hosting the summit at UC Berkeley again, and we look forward to providing another great even this year.
 
The QPOC summit will gather students, activists, and community members all over California to dialogue around the intersections between race, age, and sexuality.  The theme of the summit this year is: “(re)Generations of Solidarity: Shifting Lenses, Igniting Hearts.”   The purpose of this summit is to provide a safe space where members of the QPOC community can engage in a cross generational dialogue with each other.  By sharing conversations and exchanging perspectives across generations, we hope this will generate new energy and inspire new passion in the QPOC communities.  In addition, along with bringing several members of QPOC communities together, this summit is important because participants will have an opportunity to strengthen social and networking ties between individuals and their respective communities.
 
We write this letter to formally invite you to attend the summit since your presence will be a valuable contribution.  Feel free to invite other members from your respective organization/campus and/or please spread the word.  To register, please send an email to: qpoc_2008@yahoo.com by April 15th with: 1) your name, 2) name of organization and/or institutional affiliation, and 3) number of people if coming as a group.  If you would like to be considered for conducting a workshop at this year’s summit, please send an email for more information. 

 
Thank you and we hope to see you soon,
QPOC planning committee @ UCBerkeley; qpoc_2008@yahoo.com

Work

Since work is consuming so much of my life, I figured I should actually blog a bit about what it is I’m doing these days! 

I am a Youth Program Specialist and Building Bridges Human Relations Camp Coordinator for the California Conference for Equality and Justice.  http://www.cacej.org/

I share a corner office with two awesome colleagues and I have a view of the bay, the Queen Mary, the hills and so many things I love about Long Beach.  I can see the lighthouse from here, walk to it even.  It’s beautiful. 

CCEJ is a “human relations organization dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry, and racism in America.  CCEJ breaks down the distance between people by promoting understanding and respect among all races, religions, and cultures through education, conflict resolution, and advocacy.”  That’s our official mission.  Building Bridges is a three day residential camp for high school students.  They get a chance to go up into the mountains and do some amazing work on self discovery, leadership, learn about forms of oppression, communication styles, and make action plans to take back to their communities.  My job is to coordinate the camp, which is staffed mainly by volunteers, and relies heavily on youth leaders who are also High School students and take a leading role in a lot of the program. 

I also do Human Relations Education and Facilitator training which prepares volunteers, both youth and adult, to facilitate our programs and develop leadership skills, increase their understanding around issues of oppression, and learn about ways in which they can make a difference.

In addition to that I support a program called Talking in Class which takes place on campus at Middle Schools and High Schools and I do a bit of this and a bit of that with other community events.

I love my job.  I totally love it.  I get to work on everything from curriculum development to loading boxes of supplies onto a van.  I get to work with youth volunteers, attend city council meetings supporting queer youth, meet Long Beach VIPs and learn break dance moves at camp.  I love what I do.

This last weekend was camp.  165 peeps up on the mountain.  Oh. Yeah!  It was great!  Except for the snow.  Why exactly did I move to Southern California?? But, the good thing is I drove down the mountain on Sunday and returned to my sunny and beautiful home, snow free of course. 

A few highlights of my weekend:

Youth coming out in groups and in private in response to my own disclosures.

Overhearing a conversation where one young man asked another “What is your racial identity” while they were waiting in line.  It was textbook.  Totally awesome.  The young man was multiracial and great dialogue ensued.  It was so great I wished I had a video camera with me.

Watching a shy young man come out of his shell after he and I got into a massive snowball fight which, of course, I won! 

Seeing a father and son both facilitating in a group and talk about their experiences.

Playing card games after hours in the leadership cabin and totally getting the rules wrong.

Watching members of the Pacific Islander Dance club perform one of their dances in the community celebration and incorporate other campers as well.  They were awesome!!!!!

Learning some new moves from my favorite krump dancer and a righteous b boy. 

Getting to see overnight growth and realization in campers regarding their own racial identity.

Sitting in a room full of Latin@s and talking about our experiences.  Hearing young people processing their experiences and figuring out what it meant for them to be latin@s and figuring it out for themselves.  I felt so proud of mi raza I literally choked up a few times.

Getting to spend time with some people I really enjoy and admire.

Throwing snowballs at the buses as they left, and the driver who slowed down so for increased accuracy. 

And, of course, getting back home.  Parking the van in the driveway and crawling into the house after an exhausting weekend of work well done. 

It takes a few days to fully recover but it’s worth every minute.  That’s what I do for a living. I empower young leaders, I learn from them, I encourage them to grow, and I further my own growth.  I get to talk about the ‘difficult’ subjects surrounding social identities and social inequality on a daily basis with people of different races, backgrounds, and ages.  My work life is consistent with my personal politics, aligned with the ways in which I seek to make change in the world and the ways in which I walk in the world daily.  I am blessed.  I’m also really fucking tired! LOL

“You can’t balance the budget with cuts alone!” Action Alert

LOS ANGELES, CA. – A coalition of people with disabilities are planning a press conference and protest outside the Los Angeles office of Governor Schwarzenegger on 300 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles on Friday, March 14th, 2008 at 11:00 am to decry the proposed State Budget Cuts aimed at significantly hurting the disabled, seniors, school children, and poor families. 

with severe disabilities. The Governor proposes to cut the number of hours per month that an IHSS recipient can receive domestic services. This program provides people with disabilities with essential homecare services that allow them to stay in their homes and out of institutions.                             Do not balance the state budget on the backs of our poorest, most vulnerable seniors. Reject the proposed cuts to services. Seek a balanced approach to solving California’s budget problem, a solution that includes revenue increases. This proposed State Budget Cuts should also take this burden into consideration, as this will directly affect our communities with the promise of hardships to come. This does not solve the problem.

 

April 18th Tickets are on Sale!!

http://www.southcoastchorale.org/concerts.htm

A Queen’s Cabaret will be a fabulous show!  If you are in SoCal or know someone who is, or if you plan on visiting… tickets are on sale and I can tell you already the space we’ll be singing in is GORGEOUS.  Can we say alabaster? OMG luxurious beautiful, regal… yep.  A fellow singer summed up as I drooled over the pictures “that just made you wet didn’t it?” 

Oh. Dear.  Queers.  Queens.  On the Queen Mary.  Singing.  Cabaret.  You simply don’t want to miss it!

Sometimes I stand alone

I still stand firm. 

And I’ll discover friends and allies where I least expect them.

I will stand firm. 

I will not be silenced.

Coffee!

Why yes, I am posting this at 10PM but I’m in a coffee shop so well, yes, I’m posting bout coffee! Although I should be cut off by now prolly. eh. whatever.

 I have been hanging out at the local queer coffee shop and the more I do the more I feel like I am living in some perverse, weird, and sometimes ludicrous rerun of friends.  Okay, ocassionally just plain ole boring but that comes with the territory. 

Yesterday was a gloriously beautiful sunshiney southern california day so I got to hang out outside and paint for a few hours.  That was fun.  I got to check out some hawtties, get aproached by some asshats, satisfy some children’s curiosity to see what the lady was painting, and generally just be out in the sun doing something I love.  While there I also got to do another of the things I love: eavesdrop.  I was mostly absorbed by my painting but every now and then the fragments of conversation piqued my interest enough for me to tune in.  That or the fragments of conversation got Really Fucking Loud and hard to ignore.  I know all about all kinds of people’s drama and gossip.  I know who’s sleeping with whom, who wishes they were sleeping with whom, who has a new job, who’s unemployed and asking mum and dad for money, who turned tricks for money, who fell of the wagon, who needs to clean their house… I don’t know who these people are but I know all kinds of lives for them and I imagine what I don’t know, fill in the details.  IT’s fun to be new in a place and not really know the score. 

Even so, the Friends motif returns as I run into well, friends, at the cawfee shop even though I hardly know anyone in this town.  It helps to know the barrista, not only cause he’s a hottie and a future houseboy but well, because he knows all of lb. And so I can sit on the couch and talk for hours with a friend, I can run into random people I know, I can join random conversations, or just do my own thing.  So much better than being a regular at a bar.  And it’s fun to share life on a plush couch with caffeine.  It’s fun to just kick back and belong without even knowing very many people.  Nice to chill.  Nice to get to know the cast of characters.  Fun to explore.

I find myself getting bored with bars lately. I mean, I love to dress up and go to a club (and I did get new HOT HOT HOT Red shoes) but lately it’s just loud and crowded feeling.  Maybe coz I’m mostly going by myself and don’t have anyone to be loud and crowded with at present LOL  And going with friends isn’t much better since conversation is impossible.

In addition to my new coffeehouse habits I’m becoming addicted to lattes.  There’s a locally grown coffee shop in my work building and they make THE best lattes there.  Yum!

Am I being yuppified? Oh noez! 

I think I’m safe so far but I’ll watch for the warning signs.