Project Dissertation

I moved to this fabulous city three years ago mainly to; be near an airport for travel, be able to not trade my stilletos for trainers, and to finish my doctoral studies in four years. Yes, that pretty much sums up my priorities at 30. So now I am ABD with nine months to go and San Francisco is no easy city to ignore. Although, I would argue that each experience that deters my academic writing is really just needed inspiration. Welcome and I hope you enjoy...

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Bilingual, Bicultural, and Dual Citizen. J School B.A., M.A. in High Incidence Disabilities, & ABD in Education.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Having a Voice

Unless, you are growing up Black, Asian or Latina/o you have no idea how hurtful it is to hear commentaries about your community flooding the airwaves with entitled authority. Growing up in suburban San Fernando Valley, I remember seeing the emergence of the street laborers at the major intersections. They looked familiar to me, like the men I had seen working their land, or businesses back in Mexico, the working class that kept the republic going.

On the carpool to the private Catholic High School I heard the following, “Go home beaners.” I was shocked; remember telling them hey, they are Mexican, like me. “You are different, not like them.” No, I am just like them.

This exchange fueled an editorial I wrote for the high school paper. Commenting on how language was powerful and should be used thoughtfully. How stereotyping and name calling was, offensive, hurtful, and ignorant. This was 1990, my editorial was highly edited and I was given an ultimatum. Remove the word ‘beaner,’ or go unpublished.

This was the Journalism advisor and the principal talking to me in a big dark office. I said, I would not change the word. I still remember that first taste of being voiceless. It was unlike the nurturing bicultural environment I had been raised in. I did not have the heart then to tell parents about the visit to the principals’ office, it was with their own hands that they were paying the full yearly tuition.

In college, as I was enterprising stories for the paper, I thought I could write about things that I never read about. The concerts, the organizations, the traditions, the experiences I lived but their reporting lacked. It was a hard if rare sell.

I found comfort in public radio, micro radio, and alternative media- only. Devoted much of my efforts to that medium which I felt covered the content I wanted to read about, and was happening all around me.

This was before I could subscribe to Latina magazine or Tu Ciudad magazine. Google Mexico did not exist either, so getting the latest news meant watching Spanish language news (which is another article and has always been very good to their community). Before my counterparts blogged, Loteria Chicana and Pachucoville to name two. Before I was on multimedia artists Harry Gamboa Jr’s ‘Virtual A List.’

Main stream media was a segregating, not unifying force in the 80’s and 90’s.
I wondered if things had changed for today’s youth?

Sitting with 6 of my students today, I asked them about their own media and technology usage. My convenient sample of 6 consisted of; 2 African American girls, 2 African American Boys, 1 White boy, and 1 Asian boy. They are all between 15 and 17 years old and attending a small non-public school where half of the student enrollment is eligible for the free and reduced lunch program.

I asked how many had cell phones? 1 girl and all 4 boys did.

Who used text messaging? 1 girl and 2 boys said they did.

Who had a Myspace account? 1 girl and 3 boys did.

Who had a computer at home? 1 girl and 3 boys did.

Where else did you use the computer? School, community access programs, the library, work, and from the cell phone, they replied.

Who had MP3 players? 2 girls and 3 boys did.

Who had a blog? 2 boys did, both on Myspace and one additionally on SF Gate.

Who listened to podcasts? 3 boys did. One boy responded to another students puzzled look, “It is where you can download and listen to independent radio shows, music and artist.”

I asked them if they considered the technology and media they used to be an alternative media source? “Yes,” they all responded in unison. One girl explained:

“The T.V. and news does not talk about the stuff you want them to talk about…They just cover a little of what I am interested in, before jumping to the next story.”

I think what they are saying is that it doesn’t matter where they; see it, hear it, read it, or download it, as long as they are able to relate to it. It seems things have not changed that much after all.


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