Tag Archives: Hip-hop

A Good Way to Start the Month

4 May

These last three days included marchers, a photography challenging perceptions of the API community, funky music, compost kings with children reigning, and Cambodian hip-hop performers.

May began with International Workers Day. MIWON organized one of the 7 marches that were spread through out Los Angeles to call for immigration reform and workers rights. Placita Olvera was the final destination for marchers who began mid-day in Echo Park.

Demonstrators unveil a "human billboard" at La Placita Olvera area in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 1, 2009 during a march and rally for immigration law reform. Organizers are urging passage of an immigration law that provides a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Sign reads "Workers First." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Demonstrators unveil a "human billboard" at La Placita Olvera area in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 1, 2009 . Sign reads "Workers First." (AP Photo/Damian Dovargane)

While at Placita, I found myself by accident at the Chinese-American Museum. Asian Roots/American Reality is an exhibition of 92 photographs by Corky Lee, a photojournalist capturing the passion and activism of the API community. The photographs tell many brilliant stories of families, workers, immigrants, and movements spread over a 35 year period. Take a free tour and learn some inspiring history that will add to your consciousness


Police Brutality Victim, 1975. New York City, New York. (Corky Lee)

Saturday night I ended up dancing at FUNKYSOLE at the Echo. A brilliant production that hosted atleast 6 djs, including Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch, and a female guest DJ from Bakersfield, spinning classic funk music from the 60’s and 70’s to a crowd that had every body jumping, grooving, and even break dancing.

Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch

Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch

Sunday I made it out to the Wild Oats Organic Garden in long beach for a Children’s Day Celebration. It was a perfect day to open the vegetable and flower gardens for children to play musical chairs to the drum beats of SKIM, blow bubbles, and enjoy song and poetry.There were also workshops for parents and delicious vegan food provided Food Not Bombs Guerilla Chapter. This event was organized in part by Sumiko Braun, a mother whose intention was to provide a safe and creative space to celebrate children and their free spirits.

Food Not Bomb chefs serving what they do best, vegan justice on a plate :)

Food Not Bomb chefs serving what they do best, vegan justice on a plate 🙂

Joe, the "Compost King", amidst mountains of rotting veggies, helping to keep landfills with less waste, and gardens with nutricious soil. Special thanks to MaryBeth and Jeidi for sharing the garden.

Joe, the "Compost King", amidst mountains of rotting veggies. Special thanks to MaryBeth and Jeidi for sharing the garden.

Girl graciously blowing bubbles...

Girl graciously blowing bubbles...

My highlight was seeing Tiny Toones, on tour through 4 major U.S. cities performing Hip Hop all the way from Cambodia. An empowering and inspirational performance of emcees, break dancers, dj’s, and graffiti artists came together for a fundraiser to continue providing free health and educational services for children in Cambodia.

Brilliant photograph by Jen May (www.jenmayphotography.com)

Brilliant photograph of B-Boy Homie by Jen May (www.jenmayphotography.com)

The founder, Tuy Sobil, was raised in Long Beach spending his daysas a b-boy. Sobil was deported to Cambodia after being caught up with people and in places he should not have been. Children in  Cambodia found out he had mad skills in break dancing and naturally sought him so he could teach them. He soon began to teach break dancing to children who were in need of a positve role model.  In this story, Hip Hop saves lives, again.


B-boys and B-girl Diamond (front), she is an inspiration to all Khmer girls to become break-dancers too. (photo from tinytoonescambodia.com)

Emcee lyrically performs about ancestors, victims of the genocide, youth culture and ... his motorcycle

Emcee lyrically performs about ancestors, victims of the genocide, youth culture and ... his motorcycle

Mother connects to his son, Tuy Sobil, whom she has not seen since his deportation. She expressed her pride in tears for the work he has inspired in the children of Cambodia.

Mother connects to his son, Tuy Sobil, whom she has not seen since his deportation. She expressed her pride in tears for the work he has inspired in the children of Cambodia.

Youth Leadership is alive and moving!

1 Mar


Since I do not watch much T.V. and can not afford cable, I primarily watch two shows; The Simpsons and the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. I am a fan of Tavis Smiley because his interviews are honest, insightful, intellectual, political, and funny. Half the time I do not know who he is interviewing, but I still watch it because I learn a lot from his guests and from Tavis as a television and radio host. I would be on his production crew in a heartbeat if given the opportunity

So driving around L.A., I began to see the bus stop ads for the State of the Black Union on Feb. 28. Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. I registered online to attend but then I came across a scheduling mishap. So I couldn’t go…and just when that happened, I received an email to register for the Young Scholars Forum at USC from one my favorite informants/organizer/homie, Diana Flores, Program Coordinator at the Southern California Library (the PEOPLE’s Library). It was a pre-event to the SOBU hosted by Tavis Smiley.

I woke up early and headed out to the forum. I was given a ticket with a center front row seat with my name on it. The auditorium was filled with young people from elementary school students with their teachers to graduate students. It was an awesome sight. I did not have a camera or recorder but then I bumped into another amazing organizer, Leo Grandison of UCSC, and he let me borrow his camera (Those pictures are on their way… Thank YOU!!!)

I went to my front row seat and there was a guy with fancy, professional cameras who sat next to me. I figured he was a journalist/photographer of sorts. So I asked him about it and he says, “Oh, I work for a small company called the Associated Press.” I gave him the weirdest look and responded with, “SMALL????” He laughed and re-explained himself, maybe he thought I didn’t know who the AP was. Hello! They only write every other news piece that gets regurgitated over and over by every other news media outlet. Then he said, “You never know where life is going to take you, I went to school to get a law degree, and look at what I’m doing, I’m not using my law degree at all”. Well I definitely understood what he was saying, I can relate, you can’t deny yourself of your passions and creative endeavors and so we both concluded simultaneously, “It’s about your passion”.

Then the forum began… with a NAVY commercial… BUU!!!!! They sponsored the whole thing and I went in for free, ok that’s cool, but did they have to plaster their name everywhere… Then a group of four kids came out called ONE… and I laughed, “Who opened the door to them?” I kept wondering why they didn’t find a musical group more profound instead of talking about being at the bar, and they’re not even 21. They were a trendy poppy hip hop group from L.A. If it wasn’t for their cover of, “That girl is poison…” and their ending remarks about no dream is too far fetched, I would not have accepted it. Call me a critic, y que.


Then Tavis came out. He introduced the moderator for the forum,  Dominique Di Prima . She is the woman who hosted “Street Science” on 92.3 The Beat in L.A.. Now she hosts and produces “The Front Page” on KJLH. She asked some excellent questions from the panelists (also someone to take notes from) and asked about youth leadership, activism, hip hop culture, reclaiming expression, and optimizing our community endeavors during this era of Obama.


The panelists/speakers were also amazing. They were on point in terms of being motivating and pushing the audience to really believe in our fullest individual and collective potential. I was impressed by all of them but I was especially impressed by:

Professor Alia Sabur, she is off the hook and the youngest professor in the world teaching mathematics and engineering. Her passion, is simply learning. She spoke about the challenges of being a leader as a woman, who’s short, naturally soft spoken, and young. I was inspired and reminded by her words that anytime you are doing something that you are not suppose to or expected to do, there will be people who do not like that. 

Tricia Rose, she use to teach at UCSC, but now she’s a professor at Brown University in the Afrikana Studies Department who writes about Hip Hop culture. She was very reaffirming in reminding us that Hip Hop is not something that belongs to corporate America. She said, “take it back, because it is our cultural expression that enables us to become our fullest.” She also said something funny that she calls the Hip Hop trinity, which is the gangster, pimp hoe complex that mainstream corporate hip hop suffers from. So for all the Hip Hop in the underground, we need to break ground, we’ve have been politically intellectually and lyrically depriving the masses. 

Jurnee Smollet is an actress (the Debators) whom I did not know of before but I gained a lot of respect for her because throughout her career, beginning at 13 years of age, she has stood up for her values. She is the youngest board member of Artists for a New South Africa which is a non-profit dedicated to combating HIV/AIDS, advancing human rights, safeguarding voting rights, and empowering children orphaned by AIDS. She was very involved with the Obama campaign and gave a lot of insight about the youth being responsible for Obama’s success. 

Maria Teresa Peterson is the founding director of Voto Latino. She was great. After another speaker talked about how young people are “seen, but not heard”, she made the point about how in Latino culture and in the over-all immigrant community, it is young people who have always been looked towards for leadership, knowledge, and translation. We have been listened to, we have been put in uncomfortable situations where we have to interpret to get things done for our family. I really appreciated her acknowledgement. She also mentioned how the historic immigrant marches were fueled by teenagers who sent text messages and myspace messages about walking out of school and participating in the movement. 

I was very inspired and re-motivated about where we are as a people in the movement for social change. We do need to take advantage of this era because we do not have one Malcolm X or one Rosa Parks, we have hundreds. Obama is not Jesus, but from his campaign to involve people at a very grassroots level, we can really keep going longer ways. I have a lot of faith in us. I have a lot of faith in young people. I love my youth whom I work with and I am very dedicated to their growth, even though it is they who teach me a lot every time I meet with them. I am a young person myself and this forum confirmed how everything I am doing at a creative level in voicing my mind and experiences through art, blogging, social networking, radio production, and now film, is what I need to be doing to contribute to our movement. I am documenting our movement and I do it with honor and privilege. I am blessed. And I can not deny this.

I am a powerful person in my own right. So I gotta keep doing what I am doing, following my heart and my passion.