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UC Protests…

November 21, 2009

So, I’m sympathetic, really I am. What is it? A 32% hike? That’s huge, it really is. And, I fully realize how inaccessible college already is for so many people, particularly youth of color (as in, all my kids). Only a little under 50% of my Latino and African American boys will even graduate from high school here in lovely California.

I’ve been watching some of the footage today from the protests at Berkeley and feeling nostalgic for sit ins, and at the same time acutely aware of how cheap higher education is here in California, at least compared to my state education. I worked for a year before college, because my parents didn’t want me to go and I had no idea how to (or money to finance the endeavor). Then I went to a shitty community college for two years, and transfered to the state university in Chicago because I didn’t think I could go anywhere else (though now I think that I could have). Hindsight and all that. Regardless, it turned out well. I can see God’s hand in it for sure, and a lot of blessings came out of the entire experience. I think that having to forge my own way through college, financially and otherwise changed me deeply (in a good way). I feel like perhaps students here are a little out of touch though, even my community college was over TRIPLE what it is here. My state university tuition was (I believe) around 15k a year. That’s 5k more than what UC will be AFTER the tuition increase.

I mean, I agree, higher education should be free or at the least vastly more accessible than it is now. Just sayin’ though…you know.

God only knows I’ve been to my share of protests in college. Actually, my first protest was right after the war started (I think) and I marched ELEVEN MILES with a Quaker peace organization, through the campus of Wheaton College, all the while carrying one half of a huge banner through high winds. I couldn’t raise my right arm past my shoulder for a week it hurt so bad after that. That protest was also when I heard Kathy Kelly speak and fell in love with her, and with social justice Christianity.

Owch, my arm!

Kathy Kelly...

I was looking for the photos from that march and started laughing because the amount of protest pictures in my iPhoto library is a little out of hand. Three years of May 1st pro-immigration marches, anti-war stuff I organized, an event against anti-gay folks that involved a late night trip to GayMart for rainbow stickers (and was the first time campus security was called on me, yikes), various other queermo marches, tons of anti-war marches and protests and sit ins, Take Back the Night marches and vigils, and the list goes on. By the time my last Chicago protest rolled around I was feeling kind of burnt out on activism, and particularly burnt out on planning it due to a nasty little activist spat during a training event I was organizing. I remember walking downtown and seeing all these 18 year old running around with their keffiyehs and face masks and wondering what exactly they knew about Palestine…

Marching under the el tracks.

Another May 1st march.

I want to take my kids to protests.

Anti war a couple years later...with Honna I think.

Even I felt slightly melodramatic when the bags came out. Thus I opted for literature organization.

Last Chicago protest. By this time I'd found the real rabble rousers, the marching buddies evah.

Now the only protests I’ve been to in the past few years are Prop 8 ones, and those even felt really hollow to me. Maybe my job has really made me pissy with activists too. I think that, though I love and deeply admire activists, there is a huge under-informed and lazy portion of them. When I was walking through the Castro, down Market and through so much wealth, I can’t help but wonder when the last time some of these wealthy white gay men gave money (or even more so, time) to any organization other than the HRC (sell outs) or something…I wish some of them would come to school with me. Plus, the work for gay marriage that needed to be done in San Francisco was sure as hell not found walking down Market. At my most hopeless I felt like it was a huge (and ultimately futile) exercise in progressives mutual masturbation. I kind of feel like this a lot in San Francisco sometimes. But then, I love it just as much as the next Mission resident. parents got married here! I'm sure they never imagined that their daughter, who was slightly more than a twinkle in their eye upon their wedding day, would one day be standing outside this building...

I’m not sure if this is all coming out of just activism burn out, or if it’s something deeper, because I know that I still love it all…I guess I’m just not as emotionally convinced that we’re going to prevail one day.

First pride...


Oh SL.

November 18, 2009

I think that if I was making a list of the strange things I saw in SL, one thing that would most definitely make the list was the other days sight. One very short and thin old woman, wielding a stick taller than she was, sprinting down the middle of the street after a plump red chicken (and screaming).

It’s really an odd town.

I forgot.

November 13, 2009

How much I love going to bed early and reading. It can be kind of magical sometimes. Particularly when you’re reading cookbooks.

My kiddos.

October 21, 2009

Today was a long day at work.

I stopped by the counseling office this morning when I got to school and joking asked which of my kids were in trouble. It’s always bad when the response to this question is anything but an eye roll. Apparently some kid drew swastikas all over the bathroom. They think that they were mine, because it happened after school near the cafeteria, which is one of our rooms. I hope it’s not one of our kids, but I suspect that it might be.

Last year one of my boys drew them all over his binder. When I sat down with him to talk about it, he replied that he didn’t really know what the Holocaust was, but didn’t really care because he’d learn that next year…in eighth grade. Needless to say, we spent the next half hour looking at pictures taken in concentration camps.

Later, I talked to our gang counselor about a 7th grade girl who is failing all her classes and talking shit about gangs. She also used the phrase “When I get pregnant”…

One of my kids who’s in foster care burst into tears when he got in trouble for sticking his tongue in his cheek, complete with hand gestures at a girl – he broke down sobbing and insisted that if his foster mom found out he’d be sent to a different foster home.

I feel like education reform is too late for these kids, and for generations before them. And for some of them, education might be the only thing they have to break a long ass cycle of poverty (and for some, gang involvement). I also am constantly struggling with how to run a program that is consistently progressive and affirming and empowering to them in a world where they are constantly beaten down. In so many ways these children are treated like prisoners, and our schools resemble prisons. Not only do their parents treat them like that (I got “permission” from a parent to slap her son around), but teachers and administrators treat them like herds of animals. But then, what else are you supposed to do when you have 30 kids in a class? You can’t stop to have heart to heart conversations with them all. You can’t stop the class for a discussion about what math concept they are ALL having trouble with – you’ve got to keep up with the pacing guide! We feed them fake food, laden down with hormones and fat. In the spring we stop classes for THREE WEEKS to do testing! Three weeks of sitting in a desk filling in bubbles! What adult could handle that?

How do you create a space where youth have choice and a voice and at the same time create order, structure, safety, and state compliance…? I feel like so many educators are stuck in a cycle and having to create “safe” (and I mean safe in the most unflattering of terms) classes, but while doing that they give up their politics and dreams for our students. I haven’t learned how to navigate what seems like a huge divide. And I haven’t figured out how to help kids take responsibility for themselves and their education when everyone else in their life is spoon feeding it to them. In order to make it though this education system they must take that responsibility, otherwise it’s far too easy for them to fall between the cracks. In a state where only about 50% of my Latino and African American boys will graduate from HIGH SCHOOL I’m so scared to consider which of these guys are going to by the ones to get lost.

My dad rocks.

October 20, 2009

I came home to this email and video in my inbox.

Complete with mood music!

It’s the best place to fall in love..

October 19, 2009

Via: postsecret

Slightly embarrassing…

October 16, 2009

…that the majority of my favorites on YouTube are either PS 22:

Or camp songs:

Super embarrassing, I know. I think missing Charlie’s wedding is making me a nostalgic for camp in a way I haven’t been in a while.