Keep on Keepin' on

I'm back in the US of A; but already have the travel bug pretty bad again. So my sole focus is finding the next plane ride (which may be as soon as late July). I also got an opportunity to take the Prime Academy Full-Stack Engineering course. Which is an awesome path toward JavaScript literacy! In the interim, I'm helping a friend jump-start their city-council candidacy campaign; and I've found a few other projects to keep my self busy. Though I'm thinking to start a series of posts about the job-hunt.

Welp, here's to keepin' on keepin' on!

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Where in the world is Canin Applesnacks?

In Medellin for the time being. The political climate in the US unhealthy, and I need to learn Spanish. Or such are my excuses. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to continue working while I am traveling. I'm only a few days in and am feeling my capacity to focus returning. We've been able to get Ross' blog up and running; as well Brady seems to be doing well with recording his music. Yea, we need to get some more shows booked for him, but we've also compiled a fantastic list of venues!!

OMG, and MnActivist received fiscal sponsorship -- which means I've got some work to do. That site seems to be fuddling up, but I've also made some great connections to help change the structure (adding a WordPress component) which is a great opportunity to expand my webdev knowledge. I was always hesitant to learn WP because is it written in PHP, which is not as strictly written as Python. But with time, WP has grown and I'm super excited to return to the platform.

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Drive Slow ... No Matter Where the Road May Go:

MnActivist.Org is up and running. A step in a new direction that has refreshed my sense of what is possible. Considerable work is being made on the publication of a chapbook, while DreamFreely is also experiencing welcome growth. The focus now is on putting one foot in front of the other.

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Raised By Demons

I've typed that description in my Twitter profile. Ubiquitous and casual as they may be, sometimes our profile descriptions speak to truths otherwise inexpressible. From the simple to the intricate, they are reflections of deep waters. Was I truly raised by demons?

There is no love lost between the white male who adopted me, or is racist mother, and I. Though the white woman who adopted me; her mother let me live, treated me as a human being ought be. Though I have seen her daughter pour out more emotional heartache over her physical possessions than a brown child's spiritual, emotional, or physical well-being; and I'm not talking about my own welfare. I don't hate her, but a deep-seeded, lifelong sense of distrust has been inflicted.

Is that enough to call her, them, demons? They are white, to some that is substantial enough criteria; and for which I could place no blame. They are Evangelical Christians, moreover; yet another nail in a demon's coffin. They are not poor. None of these are sufficient reasons to castigate anyone as a demon; so why will the notion not submit to the logic of compassion?

I found the words today: because they have no hearts.

The human heart, when it is open and conversant, allows us to connect with other humans; it is our connection to the world around us. But if we do not have our heart to connect with, we cannot connect to others. In place of our hearts, the vacuum is filled by vanity and ego. Left unchecked, this is how, in my opinion, a demon is born.

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#HomewardBound

There have been quite a few changes since I last actively posted. I got employed! Which is pretty cool. Sure there are still struggles; anytime a brown person enters an environment dominated by white culture obstacles are inherent to the paths forward. I moved out of the house in which I was living; while we're taking the landlord to court! The struggle never seems to end. Though I've also finally received the last piece I need to apply for a mortgage. Maintaining balance is a continual process of acclimation.

Though my heart feels more at peace with the road we are walking. Wikipedia now has a page documenting the intricacies of the language my blood once fluently knew. This has been an incredible revelation. Spanish never felt like my mother tongue, was always awkward; it is the language of slavers! Far too many times I was admonished for not speaking Spanish fluently; I no longer feel any shame. There are a great many other things I know, of which many others may never have even a passing familiarity.

And I am gaining some comfort with this latter allegation. My life experiences have oft been, and seemingly remain, far from normal. Even today, in my daily interactions, the exclamations I receive from people are... I'm happy I am at least making people smile more often than not. I have been blessed with a relatively quick mind, and a warm smile; that is worth more than I once thought. Though from those who covet such attributes; I know not fully now to deal with them. I wish that I could give them my experiences, a price has been paid, and continues to be paid.

Regardless, I am currently listening to music, sitting in a office where I am comfortable (for the most part), with a warm bed, and nourishment to which I will return at the day's end. I'm living with a single mother and her 5 year old son at present; it is a wonderful month-to-month arrangement. She is a multi-racial individual, as is her child; it is a welcoming environment. Tomorrow I will wake with a work to do, and growth to pursue. I'd be a greater fool than I already am, to complain!

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TEDxMinneapolis: McFail Salon

It's always an interesting time when I exit the walls called my bedroom; and Friday evening was no different. I attended the local rendition of a TEDx Salon; which as was explained, was to be a scaled down version of the larger TEDx, or TED "experience". They're real big on branding in the TED scene. You can't even throw a TEDx event unless you've attended the main TED event; tickets go for over $5,000 and you have to apply because they "actively seek out leading thinkers and doers across a wide range of fields". Super 'sclusive!

This evenings TEDx event brought together 4 presenters and was topically focused on sound. There was a vocal coach who spoke poignantly about the magical ability of the human voice. How our own voices uniquely reverberate through our bodies, and in this capacity serve as instruments for healing! I came to rely upon singing as a means to get me through trials and tribulations in my own life. How both the words and melody combine to provide affirmation of self amidst chaos. Singing is a means to both acknowledge one's autonomy while remaining connected to the larger whole of humanity. Was a great talk to hear given.

The next talk was given by a gentleman named Toki Wright. He is a bit of a local celebrity; respected rapper, activist and most recently, professor of hip-hop at McNally-Smith School of Music. I was a good three beers deep by the time his talk came around; so I don't remember much of it. I think he talked about how music can provide both a means to escape immediate surroundings and relate to other stories.

I met Toki many years ago, I can't remember if he dated a friend's sister or not; they were involved in Yo!TheMovement for a time together. Along with a few other local notables. Either way, we also shared a teacher from the University of Minnesota General College. A formative individual who taught a class called Multicultural Relations. It was an introduction to anything and everything activism, and raised my own expectations for Toki's empathic capacity. Needless to say, time and again he has disappointed me. Without regaling the negativity; up next was actual music: a flute, a cello, and a beatboxer! That was worth the price of admission to me.

Lastly, for me at least, was Dr Roger Dumas! My old high school computer science lab attendant. I know, I have no respect for people it would seem. His talk was basically a pitch for people to listen to the records again, because the static inherent to their recording actually facilitated a more complete listening experience, as affirmed by science. Not really a mind-bender, but sufficient to make the rich, mostly white, people in the audience feel nostalgic for the time-being.

Now onto what was interesting, to me at least. I met the kid of a VP of the McPhail School, and his mother! Sat right next to them too. Later in the evening the kid and I spoke. Naturally the conversation delved into politics, in which I asserted the idea that most people of our generation thought that marijuana should be legalized. To which he countered, for medicinal use only. I was a bit taken aback; where the hell did this conservatism come from, I wondered?!? I should also mention, he worked at the school as well.

So let's get this story straight; daddy is a VP at the school, and in all likelyhood, because of this, you've got a comfy job; wherein which you think that marijuana should only be accessed by doctor affirmed patients. Sounds like uneducated privilege born of inexperience to me! Meh, moving on.

I also met a Colombiana. She is a student at the University who sought an opportunity to volunteer; and connect with a local academically minded scene. A pleasant individual to be sure; I was quick to discern she was wise to the game Minnesota plays. I was a dangerous character with which to be seen fraternizing. As a brown male, often alone in large groups of people, I'm more often than not seen as a threat, based purely on stereotype. Later, when we exchanged Twitter handles, her white friend was beside her; also a student. The friend seemed fairly taken-aback when I mentioned that I actually had a relationship with President of the University as I involved myself with the state legislative processes last spring, and have been active for quite sometime at the school as well. Damn, foiled the stereotype again, had not a coherent channel for them to turn!

Here is the kicker - on her, the Colombiana's, name placard, the topic about which people were encouraged to ask her about was "Columbia". Yup, you read that right! What was infuriating is that, rather than apologize, or seek to amend the oversight, she was told that it was spelled that way for the phonetic ease of Minnesotans!!! HOLY WHAT THE WHITE ARROGANCE!!

Overall, the evening was a success, I got drunk and have a few more funny stories to tell. I discerned that Toki is a pompous putz; though, as in his words, "everyone has a good side." Minnesota is a vain culture, and navigating it means negotiating inflated egos. I'll let the rest of the context slide for the time being, and conclude this post by reminding folks that Colombia, the country, is spelled with an "o"; and that it is incredibly offensive to attempt to justify the misspelling of one's homeland.

Better luck next time TEDxMinneapolis!

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SF498 Reaction to Testifying

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Welcome to Suburbia [Video]

When white kids run because they've legitimately never seen a pain of color up close.

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