Monday, June 8, 2009

NCORE and San Diego: Friday

Friday started off with little difficulties as my group had breakfast at the hotel and went to that morning's keynote speaker.

Keynote Speaker: Ron His Horse is Thunder- Mitakuya Oyasin (We are All Related)
Fantastic speaker. I mean, he had so many stories to tell and just his experiences in life completely astound me. Now from what I remember, Mr. Tasunka Wakinyan is the great-great grandson of Sitting Bull. Not only that but his siblings were a mix of Native American, African American, and Latino ethnicities. Not only that but his was one of the Greensboro 4, Joseph McNeil, who staged one of the first sit-ins in the 60's. Mr. Tasunka Wakinyan also grew up in HARLEM, New York. I mean I just found him so amazing to be at the center of so much greatness. Anyways, he was also talking about how Native American colleges need to have more teachers who are Native American and who teach more about how studies in school can apply to being Native American and the experiences that they do and will go through. For example he told us this story about how there was a trial with these people who wanted this land in the mountains however some Native Americans were outraged because the land had belonged to them hundreds of years ago. The opposing side tried to claim that the tribe had not occupied those mountains and the tribe proved them wrong through Astrology. Basically they could recall the position of the stars from that mountaintop hundreds of years ago, which matched the project position that the scientists had come up with.
I could go on and on about this speaker but he was just hands down amazing.

After the Keynote can that morning's sessions. At this point, I am starting to get greedy so I decide that I want to go to TWO sessions and just go back and forth. I went to both Asian Americans as the Model Minority session and Hip-Hop Criticism: Is Everybody Stupid? Both sessions were fantastic.

Asian Americans as the Model Minority:
In the beginning of this session, the speaker projected various Asian and Asian American politicians, sports players, activists, and all around famous or infamous people. I guessed like 4 correct and knew by face about 6 more (thank you 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30) but I hadn’t heard of most of them.
The speaker talks about what each person did while trying to get the audience to guess. While slightly ashamed, I was very happy to be learning all of this. Then I left this session for a bit so I could go peek into the Hip-hop criticism seminar.

Hip-Hop Criticism: Is Everybody Stupid?:
This session was hosted by this awesome rapper/ spoken word artist Ise Lyfe. I mean this guy was the epitome of cool. Even his style of talking was poetic. He showed us a slideshow of various pictures he had taken that illustrated hypocrisy or something ironic or interesting about black culture and hip-hop culture. One of the most memorable slides was that of a quote by a rapper, Soulja Boy I think, who talked about how the slave owners should get some props because without them we wouldn’t be here to get all this ice and crystal...Yeah. But he was serious. What WAS serious though was Ise Lyfe would even gave us a little performance of some of his poetry and rhymes.

Around this time I headed back over to the Model Minority seminar where they were talking about this book that two Asian American women had written talking about how Asian Americans got good grades and advising the audience how to do the same. Then an argument started about whether this was a good this or not. (Totally paraphrasing right now)

after the seminar I approached the speaker about the Avatar Racebending movement and she told me to definitely email her about it since she was on her way out.

After the morning seminars, our Iowa State group (who were all wearing our I State t-shirts. there was yellow EVERYWHERE) went on a different kind of San Diego tour. The tour was called NCORE Communities Experience Tours, Experience I: Socio-ethnic Communities, Districts and Neighborhoods. A lot of this tour was made up of touring different Sand Diego neighborhoods and investigating the links between the ethnic makeup of that area and the socio economic realities and decisions. For example, a lot of highways were built cutting right across communities of color, restricting and crippling the neighborhood. We went to an area called Chicano Park, which our driver told us: "if you're not Chicano, than you shouldn’t be going there." Much of the park was painted in really vivid portraits and surreal paintings. Azteca paintings and portraits of leaders and activists like Che Quevara. I felt at this time like this was a sacred place that I even felt a little funny about riding next to.
Next we toured the Jacobsen community of which I was really impressed. We were taken to this mall like area where shops and stores had a deeper meaning to them than buying and selling. It was kind of amazing how the entire different racial group that made up Jacobsen each had a representative voice in creating this landscape. And I finally bought my first dashiki in one of the stores as well as chowin down on some carne asada with Jose. They had an open square where different huts were representative of the population that built them. One of the things I was most impressed with is how this community basically had a goal to be completely self-sustaining where all the jobs and money flowed within the neighborhood. It made me envious even because my own neighborhood Hyde Park is a self-proclaiming interracial haven. However, the class disparities are very obvious and the watering down of cultures has not skipped over Hyde Park either. In Jacobsen though, it seemed like everyone was not encouraged but demanded to be themselves, whatever culture they were a part of. They gave themselves the individual spaces to represent and keep their cultures alive, well, and most interesting, distinct. Whatever mixing there was, there wasn’t a lost of character or dilution of culture. And I envied that a little. Which made me wonder how it played out from day to day.

Once the bus started rolling through the wealthy white neighborhoods, my eyes started getting heavy, and by the time I opened them, we were back in downtown san Diego on our way to Old Town. As we passed we saw dozens of restaurants and one restaurant in particular where a woman was outside making food. Whatever they were making smelled amazing. So anyway we got back to the hotel at around 4pm.

After a quick rest in the hotel room, we went to the seminar on green living and how white the lens it when it is carried out. The New Color of Green: A Collective Voice of Change. Mostly what was talked about was how most of the time, whenever living green is brought up, most of the people leading and following it are white and why that is. Now I will admit I have forgotten some of the details about the lecture but I do remember how Mr. Jerome Ringo the host talked about how white the green movement is and how to interpret and live it for the rest of the masses. Pretty good lecture, even if a little dry.

After that, we Iowa state students had our daily meeting on what we learned and felt that day. Since I'm doing this about two months later, I can’t remember what was said. Yeah.

Anyway for dinner, some of us felt like going to the gaslamp district so I suggested going to a Thai restaurant. With that, some of us decided to go to Royal Thai while many of the guys chose to watch the NBA playoffs at some sports bar. *Cue eye roll*
so we go and chat while waiting for our food. Mostly we talk about college, dating, and stuff. And me and Liping mooned after the cute waiter :D. after a rather mediocre dinning (and some trouble over tipping) we leave the restaurant. I decided though that I could wait no longer, I HAD to go to Ghirardelli's for some chocolate. No one but Jeff, wanted to come with so we headed over to the chocolate factory. After a mint chocolate Sunday with EXTRA dark chocolate hot fudge we both head back over to the hotel just talking about school and stuff. So we're crossing the street by the hotel when some guy who was speeding down the road actually realized, hey, he actually has to stop for pedestrians (imagine that!). As he instead, weaves around us, he yells something out of his window. Since I’m a trained Chicagoan, I knew that whatever it was, it wouldn’t be good so I basically attempted to ignore him but I did here the word "crossing". I look next to me at Jeff and he looks pretty pissed off but mostly surprised. I asked him what the guy in the car said and Jeff told me that the guy had yelled, "the Mexican crossing is that way". I was mostly really peeved that someone would really be that stupid to say something like that. We started talking about what trouble that guy would have been if he hadn’t have been in a car, then I suggest that we both do the EMT stress technique thing to calm Jeff down. Then I started feeling angry at my self for not doing more and not feeling more angry than what I was actually feeling which was confusion. I wondered what made him pick Jeff to harass and not me. I mean really, I'm just as easy a target. Why not pick the black girl instead of the latino guy? And I was angry that I couldn’t feel more pissed off instead of just really irritated that we had to run into an idiot like that.

Anyway we both went back into the hotel where we met up with the rest of the NCORE people. We had missed the powwow but the dance was just starting. I go back to the room change, chill for a bit, then went back downstairs to see if they were playing any decent music. Unfortunately I was unpleasantly surprise. For a conference that was about issues dealing with race and ethnicity, the music was pretty substandard and one sided. Mostly mainstream rap played by the time I was down there. I attempted to liven things up by playing some oldies like Candy by Cameo and This is How We Do It and it was pretty cool for awhile to get some of the older people involved (electric slide included) but it went back to the rap after awhile. I tried suggesting some samba or salsa but the DJ claimed that they had played that earlier. So I said whatever and went back upstairs to get some sleep

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