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.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Homegrown

"Organic Intellectuals," bell hooks coined it in the preface of Homegrown:Engaged Cultural Criticism, co-authored with Amalia Mesa-Bains. I was standing in the aisle of Marcus Bookstore in the historic Fillmore District, when I read, "people who critically think and engage in dialectical exchange wherever they are."

As every customer found their way to the shop keeper a natural dialogue followed. It was so personal and warm, I couldn't help but try to over hear. I imagined these exchanges had been going on over the last two years I had been coming into the shop. Honestly though, I had never noticed them before. Life as a writer for me, moves at a more leisurely pace, slowing down has helped me to appreciate more of what is around me.

For about two years now I have been taking my former student there about three times a year. She prefers to read the very contemporary fiction. I pick up and show her books I think she should read, and then she rolls her eyes and we laugh. At some point we sit down at the round table and she hands me her stack of books and I hand her some I would like her to consider.

In her selections I look for the message, long over the photos of, 'bling, half dressed women, or thug sexy men,' on the cover I try to see a little about the author. Over the last two years this process has gotten easier. This trip C just handed me one book, and I was surprised.

"Really, I only get one choice?" She smiled, "It is the same author as the last book we bought, and she is an Essence award winning author, the story is about a girl in college trying to leave the street life behind- but she gets tempted." In that moment I knew we had come to an unspoken understanding, she would read fiction with a good message, at least when I was treating! In all fairness to her good choice we got both her selection and the book I had chosen about growing up strong. I liked that it was written by a counselor and served as a sort of journal. C likes to write also.

Although the school had felt some of the books she brought in were too racy and prohibited them during free reading: I took the issue up with her Mom and Grandmother they both said they didn't care what she read as long as she read. I agreed, cultivating reading for enjoyment in today's fast paced digital era is even more challenging than before.

Yet, there we were picking out books we couldn't wait to read...

"I think another way we move towards radical multiculturalism is through engagement and dialogue. Most young people learn about cultural differences in the public schools as they are growing up. But we are still struggling to build educational enterprises where interethnic intimacy can grow, where we can choose to exchange our histories, our similarities, and our differences without it passing through the purifying, manipulating and dominating centrality of whiteness. We are struggling with that now, as it's becoming more and more clear that our ability to build alliances is essential to our survival as people of color."
Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism, bell hooks and Amalia Mesa-Bains, 2006.

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