October 9, 2008

Not that I'm living by the "stars" but.... [2 good ones in a row]


Thanks again Holiday!

October 8, 2008

My mantra from this day forward...


thanks to Holiday Mathis and the Strib horoscope

October 5, 2008

Saying goodbye to another one of my babies...

It's time to retire my baby (a SONY PD-150 that I've had since 2000 (the day after the "Rage riot" - was filming at the DNC when police shot my 3rd VX-1000))

So now my camera is dead. I've had it refurbished already ($600+), about 3 years ago, so it's over now. The audio board is shot - you can only hear out of one headphone at a time, after a fair amount of jiggling. Now the camera is shooting things all dithered, no matter how many times I clean the head.

See here:



I don't know how I'm going to buy another camera (as I finish grad school) but my fingers are crossed. I don't need anything too fancy. I'd like a Panasonic's AG-DVX100B. Can I borrow $3000?

[and in case you are wondering, gifts are accepted]

May 1, 2008

Thoughts from the Day (courtesy of my favorite band of all time)

Continue reading "Thoughts from the Day (courtesy of my favorite band of all time)" »

April 28, 2008

So much catching up to do...

First a shout out to all the *new* babies:

Clancy's HENRY!
Sonny's SONNY BLAZE! [who isn't that new, but I'm just lagging]
and so many more on the way (not me, but my 1/2 PR/J girl from out west)...

and in baby news of the filmic kind: much love, respect and well wishes to NATHAN. He's (finally, after YEARS of hard work and dedication) is shooting his first feature as we "speak". And, he's shooting on the RED camera. I wish I was in Cali right now!! (besides the fact that it's 90 there, and brick here w/snow flurries this a.m.). But, for real, I can't wait to see this film!

Second, apologies to all those who kept checking my blog to find nothing. No excuses, just lots of work and distractions (it's hard work to be a wife and mother of 2).

I have also been trying to spend more time doing things that fill my soul. My husband said that I seemed to be going down a dark, boring, lonely, and isolated academic road that was way too movie-less. So.... thankfully... the MSP International Film Festival arrived just in time!

I went to see:

PUBLIC ENEMY: Welcome to the Terrordome

It was a trip to go back in time. The most powerful thing about this film (besides PE itself), was the old footage. PE recreating Abbey Road, fighting in the airport, shows with many (primarily white) hands waving in the air. [why is it mostly white kids that check for PE?). The doc could have used more interview footage (I got tired of the intercutting between talking heads [of the same dudes: Henry Rollins, dude from Rage, Beasties, etc] and the same performance footage. The film could benefit from more footage (I wonder if Def Jam owns most of the old archival stuff?), and another tighter edit. Wish I could have directed (and/or edited) this doc. Definitely will go in my archive when it's out on DVD.

THE BETRAYAL (Nerakhoon)

This documentary by my FAVORITE DP in the world Ellen Kuras. This film was 23 years in the making (that's dedication!), and was the first Kuras directed (with the film's subject Thavisouk Phrasavath). Ellen was supposed to be at the screening but she was in CT shooting Sam Mendes' new film = ( But, Thavi was in the audience. He deservedly got a standing ovation when he surprised us with his presence. He led a powerful q&a; I was inspired to go edit. He and Kuras met 23 years ago when he worked as a translator on a film she was shooting about a Laotian family. That family dropped out of the film, but Kuras asked Thavi his story, and the rest is history (literally) shown in this documentary.

How can I find that kind of dedication. 23 years!! [Not that I want to work that long on one film.]



The film is "directed" by Melody Gilbert (Urban Explorers, A Life Without Pain, and Whole). I put directed in air quotes because the doc is actually a collaborative project by Carleton students in a year-long documentary class. Melody was their teacher.

They did a q&a following the screening, and Twin Cities filmmaker Melody gave the space for the students to speak. Then why, I wonder, does she take sole directorial credit for this work? It's troubling.

This is a real concern to me. How can the project reflect an absolute collaboration of the teacher and students, but only the teacher gets directorial credit. I should have raised my hand.

The film was really funny and got my daughter thinking. Mom, she said this morning. I don't think I could go without my computer. And I KNOW, that you wouldn't be able to either!

Full Disclosure: I will be teaching digital storytelling in the cinema and media studies dept (CAMS) at Carleton, spring of 2009. I'm excited! Carleton students, as I've been told are hard-working, dedicated, and passionate. This is apparent in both the video, and in the stories they told post-screening (working through winter and spring breaks to finish the film!).

I've also been watching lots of DVDs:
Juno (aiight; not really worthy of all the hype)
Martian Child [i love john cusack!]
and many others...

I'm going to try to post daily (at least weekly) from now on.. it can be like my "morning pages". (see THE ARTIST'S WAY).

February 21, 2008

What I'm Feeling Today [positive vibes]

February 18, 2008

me 2

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 6, 2008

Quote of the Day

The spirit of opposition is not a creative spirit. Acts of opposition are not creative acts. The goal of healing is not to oppose, which comes from fear, but to create, which comes from hope.

December 29, 2007

The Courage in Self-Portraits

One of the things I'd like to do during this "break" is to go to the Walker's Frida exhibit. When I was in Mexico City (1997), I was blessed to visit her home, Casa Azul. I was taken by the energy in the space, the gardens, and the view of gardens from the window where she liked to sit and paint. I was so inspired. I wish I could look out her window today.

I think I've always been captivated by her courage. It takes fortitude to expose your self, your afflictions, your pain, and even your face. How can someone expose so many details of their life? Why did she paint so many portraits of her self? How did she feel sharing those images with the world? How would she feel now that her image has inspired numerous Halloween costumes? The thing is, once you create it and share it (which is the click of a couple buttons now), you can't control what happens.

I love to watch other people's digital self portraits like the self-portrait projects:

Living My Life Faster - 8 years of JK's Daily Photo Project from c71123 on Vimeo
Visit his website:Jonathan Keller

Visit her website:AhreeLee

Visit her website:RachelCreative

More than just a photo a day, she uses this project as a creative outlet, and a document that she is alive. Of her work, she writes:

Is it art? I’m not sure what anyone else will think but to me it is, along with being a diary, a document of life with CFS/ME, a personal insight into coming to terms with my chronic illness, a sketch of life gone by and with it good and bad

Here's the NYT on the topic:
1998 article: "ART; Documenting an Outbreak of Self-Presentation"
2007 article: "Look at Me, World! Self-Portraits Morph Into Internet Movies"

I like to use some of the stories of gender, identity, and memory in my GWSS classes, like this one:

and this digital story:

I have wanted to do some digital stories, or maybe even a documentary about my life for many years now, but I hate exposure. I guess on some level, I'll share enough on this blog (although a recent comment asked why I don't write much on here any more). Truth is, I was busy living life, and life's struggles, and didn't want to expose any more of pain while I was immersed in it.

I stayed up all night reading this:

This book is a memoir by Walt Jacobs, Chair of Af-Am, and one of my students at IFP. [I hope it's okay to share this detail. I'm guessing since you were willing to share your ghosts/ghostbox with the world, you wouldn't mind if it share our connection...] So Walt is learning how to use video to tell his [powerful] life stories. He found comfort in sharing the details of his talismans, while exposing his innermost thoughts, worries, idiosyncrasies, family secrets, and pain. This is not an easy thing to do.

As I (re)read the book from cover to cover [I'm not sure why I couldn't sleep last night], I thought about my own stories, my ghosts, my demons, and the stories I've kept bottled up inside. Maybe it's time to make my own ghostbox, and unleash the stories. Just need to find the courage...

August 3, 2007

If only minutes earlier...

I live very close to the 35W bridge as much of the U community does. I traveled over this bridge numerous times a day. We were headed home and crossed only a few minutes before the bridge fell to the river. Exiting to home we saw dozens of police cars and fire trucks race past. I saw a police car towing a boat. I told my friend that something serious must be happening, thinking how much the volume of emergency vehicles whizzing by reminded me of 9/11.

Arriving home, I turned on the news. Needless to say, sadness, devastation and also some inspiration.


I keep thinking about all the what-ifs. How would I get the baby unstrapped from the car seat. Would Tiana be able to get out quickly enough from the very back of the 'Burban? Would this? Would that? I talked to her about emergency situations and am even reconsidering the initial no I gave when my nearly ten-year old asked for her own cell phone (most of her friends have their own). We watched the news incessantly and finally turned it off.


Chris Brown is (again) blasting from the living room. We've cleared the furniture for the upcoming 10th bday celebration that will put a dozen sleeping bags filled with pre-teens in my house. I hear the playstation going:


The phone calls and emails filled with concern and love are subsiding. I feel special, important and valuable to a lot of people.

All of this has sparked my energy. There's a reason why I'm here. Thanks to all the heavens, those that watch over me and my children, and the special energy that sits on my shoulder and gets me through the day.

TT passed level 5 and is now in Level 6 swim lessons! Her teacher said she's a strong swimmer and should consider swim team. Why is swim team $75/month? That's $900/year. I'm taking up the collection plate. Please help me help my daughter achieve all destined for her.



Donate to the Rachel is a poor, broke, grad student with an awesome daughter who needs $900 for swim team this year fund!:

Love. Peace. Blessings. Hope.
Tiana and Little Steve a.k.a. "Bubba", July 2007

* * *
It's nap-time right now so I better get working.


November 18, 2006

why is it...

that i've only begun to realize that the sky will not fall if i stop trying to hold it up all by myself?


October 12, 2006

Happy Minnesota Fall!

It's Oct 12th & it's a snowy, bone-chilling 27 degrees in Minneapolis right now:


I'm trying to get writing done because Jr. is truly en route. His head (which feels like a bowling ball pressing on my pelvis) is dropping. Turning in bed is nearly impossible. I spend most of the day hobbling to the restroom (Why rest in restroom? I'm not getting any rest anywhere).

The Dr. called today and no serious complications. I was worried - too much stress with this pregnancy. But, right now all is well and we're just waiting for active labor.

Trying to let my own worries, stress, guilt over all the things I haven't (yet) accomplished in life and focus on all the beautiful and positive:

One of my Mac students made it to the next round for a fellowship I was helping her apply for! You go girl!

One of my current students helped me feel better w/her compliments (she wants to make films & is happy to be in my course this term). It is often so hard to see if you are reaching anyone (especially with large classes) unless a student comes to meet with you. At least I know I'm reaching her (and will hopefully continue to inspire).

Also, wishing I could get on a plane and celebrate your life, PCF, but at least your choice to move to the next level has re-connected a bunch of us UCLA film alumns. RIP love.

... Maybe my next post will be the son. Fingers crossed!

September 6, 2006

A Hard Day (& Night)

I blame it on the full moon.

Murphy's Law: if anything can go wrong, it will.

Today was stressful to say the least.

My mini-me's bus was nearly 35-40 mintues late. The poor kid, weighed down with first day of school stuff, can barely stand the whole time. I sit on the front steps, trying to be patient. I call the school but they don't know where the bus is. Can you drive her today? Sure, I say, but what about all the other kids that aren't mine who are also standing at the stop? Finally the bus arrives. She has crossed the street and was heading back to me. Turned around and ran to catch the bus. She makes it - good girl!

I ready and prep for class, knowing I'll forget something. I get to campus early with a cart of handouts (syllabi, intro reading, grading rubric, how to post to the blog, use the FMC, blah blah blah) plus laptop, general stuff (like chalk, papers, etc), and snacks (thank goodness for snacks for students!) My cart busts - the handle won't come up, the side breaks through - stupid cart.

No special needs parking near my building. Park closest and start rolling (albeit a little crooked) but I make it to the building. Construction. Fencing encasing the whole back. Have to roll my big pregnant butt and my broken cart up stairs through small area in the fencing that has a crowded opening. Reach the door. Stairs. I muster all my phsycial strength and start a pulling (hearing hubby's voice - DON"T LIFT ANYTHING. DON"T DO THAT! YOU ARE PREGNANT!) but what's a preggie teacher to do on day one?

I get up those stairs and guess what - more stairs. Up or down? Don't know. Have to hobble up, see room numbers (NO SIGN indicating what's where - don't you love construction), then hobble back to get my sad little cart. Of course the room is on the opposite end of the buidling (about where I started outside). Roll around, trying not to crush toes of all the students seated on either side of the hallway, missing almost every.

Get to the classroom & guess what - STAIRS! By this time, I could barely get my swollen feet down the stairs. I call out to students (waiting patiently in their seats - "pregnant teacher needs help!" They help get all my stuff to the front table.

I get things set up. I'm ok, a little sweaty, but ok. Next - no internet. Today is intro to the class using technology (how to use course WebCT Vista website, how to post to course blog, how to post to Moodle glossary). AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I call tech support - busy.

I try to get through what I can - syllabus, some intro stuff. Call tech support. You need to register your laptop DHCP. Great - NO ONE TOLD ME THAT! I was a CLA IT Fellow for 2 years - never had this problem.

My very understanding students are very patient as I try to accomplish some learning (while the tech support people hang on a phone, inconvenietly short-wired to the front of the table) and interrupt with "yes, my IP is..."

I get registered, and still no signal. GREAT. I let the students go - with a list full of things to do (or at least try), since we now are behind on my learning goals. I hate doing that students on the first day. I thought about shifting, and I'll still try (maybe with a shorter lecture next week), so that I can do guided technology exercises. I forget the backup ppt file for my Breeze presentation so I had to add it to this already too long list of this week's assignments. I feel like a crappy teacher.

I love technology and I hate technology.
Love it when it works.
Hate it when it makes me sweat profusely as 60+ students stare at me.

They must thinking: I've got the wack job, pregnant lady, filmmaker teacher this term whose already given us to much crap to do.

I wanted to check to see if anyone dropped immediately - it happens - especially after a day like today.

Onestop is down - SHOCKER!

I leave class and go to Breastfeeding class at the hosptial. Although I did it before (nearly a decade ago), it did NOT come naturally. But, why did I choose the night after the first night of class to take it? I can barely sit in the chair with my big Fred Flinstone feet. I'm post-sweaty and smelly - I know the Dad to my right was like "EWWWWWWWWWWW, this girl stinks - sweat and feet funk", but there was nothing I could do. I quietly asked the teacher for a birthing ball to sit on. I got through it, stumbled to the car, picked up Rachel Jr., got fast food (yuck - & probably why I can't sleep), and made it home.

The baby is exercising his legs or just is mad at me already. Smashing me to the front, pushing me to the left side, pulling me to back, and stomping downward on my vital organs. I can only sleep with sleeping pills and I HATE medicine. This weekend when I was away, I walked into a closet and smashed my face on the wall trying to make it to the bathroom. A minor bump and little accident later, I recover. See why I don't take it. So tonight, no meds and guess what - I can't sleep.

I email students a numbered reminder list of this week's to do's. I make sure the latest IDs are entered into the blog and the Breeze site. What else can I do?

Technology Ped 101: If you cannot connect, try try again or assign it as homework & try again next week. All in all, I'll chock it up to my horrible ped moments list.

The sun is coming up. Maybe I can get in a quick sunrise run to the grocery store - little miss hates school lunch (no shocker there).

I hope today brings a better day.

In my head: It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog..."

September 5, 2006

So Many Things to Be Happy For!

* Vlogger Josh Wolf is out on bail! Read on here.


Read more on Josh's blog The Revolution Will Be Televised

Watch ABC7 News video to learn more about this case.

* I am so loved. Little Rachel ROCKS!!!!

Now I have some new shoes (that fit my big preggie feet & some new gear). See:


* My course starts today and I'm all prepped and ready!

* The sun is shining, my belly is growing & jr. is almost here!

August 29, 2006

Of course it's "Urban"...

Catching up on links on feministing this a.m., couldn't stop laughing (you know that guilty wtf laugh?) at the post about new vocab word - vaginomite. Read here.

This is from the Urban Dictionary, where "YOU DEFINE YOUR WORLD". I would have once thought this great, but now I'm just tired of it. So many offensive terms, so much rap'propriation, so many misunderstandings.


Since I've been writing and revising an encyclopedia entry on gender/gender roles in rap music, I've gotten fascinated by this site of derogatory slang. Check out my tried & true "favorite", chicken:


It's a food, a woman, a woman's body, a woman's body part. So much packed into one word. Sigh.

I wrote an entry on "Hip Hop Terms for Women" for this encyclopedia & included the many forms of chicken (i.e. chickenhead, chickenhawk...) a few years back. It's a great resource for Women's Studies courses. Expensive to buy, but great resource.

August 10, 2006

So Many Things on My Mind...

Tiana is still in Cali visiting her family. With all the new terror alerts and LAX drama, her Grandma and I are very nervous. There's tighter security at LAX but I'm still worried. She's supposed to fly home tomorrow. Her bday party is on Sunday and Monday she's supposed to off to horse camp. Do I have her get on that plane alone tomorrow (she has an unaccompanied minor ticket)? Should she stay in LA longer? Do I out there to go get her? Do I ask her Dad to find a way to fly with her back home? This is overwhelming.

August 8, 2006

On Bodies, Babies and Why Doctors Aren't My Favorite

Last weekend honey and I went to the Science Museum. It's an impressive (and expensive) complex that we've visited before. It's bright (lots of windows, glass walls and natural lighting) and very loud (tons of kids moving in every direction). My daughter loves it there but she's away in LA and I wasn't sure if I wanted to subject her to Body Worlds.

The BODY WORLDS exhibitions are a towering achievement in the field of anatomical science, and an unprecedented gaze at humanity in all its glory and vulnerability.
Read on...

Have you seen this traveling exhibit?

Here's a taste:

The Skateboarder
 Gunther von Hagens, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,

Yes, they are real bodies that people donated to this scientist. He has an interesting and extensive bio (was imprisoned in Germany for two years), developed this plastination process that permanently poses and preserves that bodies, and is currently "designing the first anatomy curriculum in the United States that will use plastinated specimens in lieu of dissection".

It's a tremendously popular expo. We had to buy tickets weeks in advance. Still, there were massive lines and crowds (definitely not honey's favorite). In the main room I felt a strange sense of horror. I was disgusted, intrigued and horrified in the same instant. I tried to look closely and get the scientific value of the project.

I was able to gain some composure by sliding m&ms, from the trailmix in my purse, into my mouth. I looked at the lung specimens. See all you smokers, this is what you are looking like inside (yuck!!!):

Heart and lung specimen of a smoker
 Gunther von Hagens, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,

Heart and lung specimen of a non-smoker
 Gunther von Hagens, Institute for Plastination, Heidelberg, Germany,

But overall I was torn. Does science need this? Does the public want this? Is this for science or gruesome fascination or both?

Toward the back of the exhibit there was a room with a tremendous line. Honey jumped to the side and shook his head no way and went on to the next room. My curiousity kept me in line. I can't remember exactly what the sign read, but it was about pregnancy, fetuses and that the 8 month pregnant body of woman and child died and donated their bodies.

Having just lost one baby (who I still carry in utero while his brother readies for this world), I wasn't sure how I'd react to see plastinated babies and fetuses in jars. I knew that it couldn't be any worse that the anti-abortion crazies at all the rallies I've been to (they love to blow up awful photos and throw nasty bloody meat at activists like me). Still, turning the corner I was admittedly nervous.

The first display was glass boxes housing very peaceful looking babies - 12 weeks, 15 weeks, 24 weeks, 28 weeks. Our son was about 22 weeks when he passed. I stared at this little thing. It looked like a baby. It didn't look like the alien-like blob on the ultrasound screen but a small child-like baby. Instead of making me sad, I somehow felt more peaceful seeing that baby display looking peacefully dead.

The most popular display in the room was the 8 month pregnant mom. I could hardly look at her face (well it's bone, muscle and fake-looking eyeballs but little skin) but I couldn't stop peering into her belly. All of her organs pressed up high above the placenta. I know that feeling for sure! It gets harder to breath every day in fact. The baby was in the head down position, very close to her cervix and pressing perfectly on her bladder. The museum employee saw my hard stares and began telling details of the display. "I believe the mother was dead nearly 6 hours before she was found. A baby can live about an hour off of the mother's body but beyond that, she was unable to live..."

I rejoined honey and we made our way out of the museum. I was happy to be out of there.

August 1, 2006

what drives u crazy?

i HATE when artists call for the 808, mention an 808, or have a shot of one in a video. it's soooo insular and annoying. we don't care. just sing/rap the damn song. why do u need to pay homage to this machine so damn much?

two highly annoyning new ones that come to mind:
the new beyonce/jay-z song "deja vu" - calls for the 808 at the beginning of the song. why? who cares

"bossy" by kelis. such an annoying song. so damn annoying she has to say 808 in every chorus "I'm back with an 808 'cause I'm bossy" and a verse "We gon' keep it bumpin while the 808 is jumpin". why?

LOTS of artists have used it from Bambaataa to the Beasties, but i'm tired of hearing girls call for it on their records.


so what annoys you???

Back Home From Michigan

just back from detroit / flint, michigan. i added another state to my US travels!

this is a very cool thing that makes me think about where i've been & where i still need to visit:

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

looks like i have so more southern, northern midwest, and pacific northwest to visit. i hope my hubby and i don't turn into an RV couple but he would really like to see the country. he's been to minn, wi, ok, and ca i think.



after nwa airline troubles, a long day and a run in with biz markie (funny story - i was yelling at rental car agents inability to get me a car in detroit - motor city, right???? - and i heard his voice yelling from around a beam that divided the benches i was sitting on. i peeked my head around to see biz yelling into his phone. we exchanged a brief look of shared airport exasperation and continued yelling for transpo). finally i rented a car and made it up to flint, skipping the late connecting prop plane that i hate anyway.


i got to hang with my old buddies organic & todd. they are talking of new zealand and paris for upcoming hip hop film festival tour dates. i'm down!

it was great to catch up (and realize i'm not the only one who got old!) the venue was absolutely beautiful. the flint institute of arts is still under construction but you can get a taste:


my girl invincible made the trip up to flint upon my arrival. she's always a great energy to be around. so good that the next day i drove back down to detroit to hang out at Detroit Summer, a great youth project. This summer they rented space in an AMAZING youth complex called Youthville Detroit. it's a 75,000 sq foot complex with a gym, weight room, tutoring center, audio recording studio, video editing and ton more. it's bit corporate (i felt like a teen going thru the doors & encountering security box), but inside there is great creative energy.


invincible's session was a brainstorm / discussion / song making around issues of community, schools, and social change. the students, partnered with local artists / activists, discussed prompts about violence in the home and on the streets, bettering schools, and community unity. they regrouped to present the break-out sessions (the youth were great - on it - & better presenters than some of the adults). then, the facilitators (both musicians) led a session where everyone jumped on instruments or wrote verses building off of key phrases from the discussions. a 20+ minute freestyle ensued. great time for all! then a driving tour thru the city (why are condos, loft, gentrification and lack of community support/resources what's happening in every black/brown urban space?) detroit needs some of our attention - sendresources, funding, ideas and activist love/support to them! apparently pearl jam did (they funded this summer's activities).

& in flint i was blessed with this gift:

theory is out of flint, michigan. she's a very talented emcee and hip hop mom! her cd got me through multiple flint - detroit drives.


i discovered the games on my ipod. loving music quiz & repeating my new favorite song: Don't Feel Right, The Roots

here's a little taste:

[Verse 1-Black Thought]
Yo, in the land of the unseen hand, and hold trouble
Theorize your game, it's difficult to roll a double
The struggle ain't right up in your face, it's more subtle
But it's still comin' across like the bridge and tunnel vision
I try to school these bucks, but they don't wanna listen
That's the reason the system makin' its paper from the prison
And that's the reason we livin' where they don't wanna visit
Where the dope slang and keep swayin' like Sonny Liston
The money missin' and there's mouths to feed
Yet the brain kickin', thinkin' of a thousand things
Remember back in the days, when the kitchen had eggs
And pancakes, thicken and greens and Kool Aid
When the ‘fridgerator naked then the cupboard is bare
People got to strip naked, stick ‘em up in the air
Wasn't lies when they told you wasn't nothin' to fear
Somethin' don't feel right out here, nahmsayin'? Check it out

It don't feel right, it don't feel right
It don't feel, it don't feel, I can't feel it no more
It don't feel right, it don't feel right
It don't feel, it don't feel, I don't feel it no more
Things don't feel right over here
Lately I ain't been seein' clear
It don't feel right, it don't feel right
It don't feel, it don't feel, I can't feel it no more
It don't feel right, it don't feel right
It don't feel, it don't feel, I can't feel it no more
Seems to me nowadays things have changed
I don't know if I feel the same

[Verse 2-Black Thought]
Look, my eyes open ‘cause I'm really a rocksmith
And when inviting me thoughts, I'm really unboxin'
My main adversary in this silly concoction
Freeze your face like bosilium toxin
If you ain't tryin' to get popped, then give me a option
Helicopters choppin' from Philly to Compton
The Jones is the richest since dismissin' the Johnson's
If you ain't sayin' nothin', you a system's accomplice
It should play with your conscience, do away with the nonsense
I'm overseeing anything within my circumference
This ain't a press junket, I ain't seekin' responses
I stand where the people got the heat in they pocket
You mesmerized by the calm nonchalant-ness
I spit a dart, rub on some John Hitchcock shit
If you ain't speakin' your life, your rhyme's adopted
If it don't feel right, then stop it, you nahmsayin'?

It don't feel right, it don't feel right...

[Verse 3-Black Thought]
Yo, field you work in, weapon producin'
Natural disaster got the planet in a panic
We all gots to make that livin'
Sex, drugs, murder, politics and religion
Forms of hustlin', watch who you put all your trust in
Worldwide, we coincide with who sufferin'
Who never had shit and ain't got nothin'
But most strugglin', and make you wanna run up in the ma' fuckin'
With hots on for a piece of the cake back
I can't work for it, I can certainly take that
I'm fired up, thinkin' about the payback, except
You fuck around and be a enemy of the state, black
Ill, but that'd be too real for TV
It's crazy when you too real to be free
If you ain't got no paper then steal this CD
Listen man, I'll let you know how it feel to be me, it don't feel right...



caught the sunset and nightfall on the twin cities. happy to be home.

time to get ready for baby - 91 days to go. until yesterday all we had was:


but my hairstylist (who i haven't been able to afford in over a year) showed up with a high chair & lots of her friend's gently used clothes, blankets and things like that. people are good.

July 27, 2006

the past, present + future?

sometimes i feel like i've lived many lives. i guess it's because i have. does it make me a "richer" person or just a person who is scattered & can't focus on any one thing for any extended period of time?

i love montages. i often edit them just to get my brain moving so i can edit what i have to edit. maybe i'm just scattered.

here's a short clip that shows glimpses into my scattered past. post-modern dance, rappers, 16mm films, rap videos, dnc protests, b-girls, prison poets. click to watch:



i'm trying to get organized. i have to write. i have to teach again soon.

i've hit the library:



i've always wanted to do this sort of video clip:

i didn't do it this time around & don't think there will be a next time. we'll see.

July 19, 2006

On (My) Summer Movies...

thus far, my summer favorites:


The Heart of the Game - doc about seattle high school's girl bball squad & struggles of teamwork and specifically some of the life complications of darnellia (who desires to play in the wnba and quite possibly has the skills to do so)

finally a film both my honey (an avid bball player/obsessive fan) and i could enjoy together! i most appreciated the filmmaker's dedication. he follows the team over the course of years. i know he must of had hours and hours of footage to edit through. he was a cpa so he's probably pretty patient. i'd love a pass through the footage for a re-edit (less voice over, sorry Luda!) and some more about more of the players, and maybe a bit more of darnellia's pov and her struggles. still, i felt a bit of an outsider just peeking into her life (i know that i am, but i enjoy intimate docs). tho there were a few messages that hit home for me:

the world says: if u get pregnant miss thing (read: young, poor, brown), you will be punished (read: good bye opportunity)

the brown girls (read: unwed pregnant w.o.c.s like me) say: watch me now!


when i was in film school pre-daughter, i was also treated as a rising star: $, opportunites, attention, support. when it was "found out" that i was pregnant i got a pretty cold reaction from most "in power": lost $ (scholarships, free film, recommendations for jobs, etc...). one faculty member who i had worked with thru undergrad (and the one who encouraged me to apply for grad school & nominated me in ((a rarity at UCLA)) called me "oh yah, what's her name, the one with the baby" to a group of my student friends - deplorable.

some of my "rising star" friends weren't much better. one lady - a variety top 5 to watch for - told me to give up. i recall our convo about my pregnancy (while it was still unknown in the dept.):

me: i'm pregnant, due in august

filmstar girl: so, what are you going to do? i mean, when are you going to get it taken care of.

me: ummmm, i'm having it

filmstar girl: so, you're giving up on film school? do you know how many girls would die to go to ucla?

me: i'm not giving up on anything. things are just changing.

filmstar girl goes on to chronicle about her recent abortions and the reasons why she thought that the only way: you just can't be a filmmaker and a mom

me: maybe you can't but i'm not you

we haven't spoken in many years.

i am a filmmaker and a mom but my priorities are being a mom and a filmmaker. i guess this is the compromise she wasn't willing to make. she's still struggling to direct her first feature, and still no kids in her mid-30's. i know kids aren't for everyone but i love being a filming soccer mom.

i've decided to make films as i feel passionate about them. take and give. give and take.



The Devil Wears Prada- i actually really enjoyed this hollywood film. normally i'm rolling my eyes at this sort of film but i could relate with the story and the main character. working for a brief stint for rhino fashion brand and having a job that i thought was my dream job (which really could be a horrific nightmare) and quitting to go back to school, i could do a rachel re-make (hip hop style) of this film. maybe i'll read the book (if someone gives it to me free).

MadHotBallroom popup.jpg

Mad Hot Ballroom
- documentary about New York City kids (black and brown / mostly Dominican / "urban kids") who learn ballroom through the dancing classroom program. they learn many styles of dance and compete against other schools in the program.

the films feels more subtle than other docs i've watched about inner city kids and their struggles. lack and poverty are a backdrop, a subtext, but the smiles, concentration and energy of the kids are at front. how often do you get to see brown kids learning something and really enjoying it. think of the work of professor Tara J. Yosso. she has a video she uses for teaching (well, she will have a newly updated one once i get editing and stop blogging!) that includes clips of chicano/a and latino/a students in classrooms. dangerous minds, 187, High School High (and the list goes on and on) all feature scenes of "bad" unruly students that act like wild animals. so as a "real" story (please remember documentary is a constructed reality), i appreciate that most of the on-screen moments feature brown kids smiling!


Yo Soy Boricua - i love the music YerbaBuena! produced by liz garbus, rory kennedy (a powerhouse team) and directed by rosie perez (who has bothered me my whole adult life, because living outside of NY i've been called rosie rachel cuz of my "accent"). the film is a bit too pbs-y for me (long voice-overs, distant from the subject matter (even tho the film is about rosie's family) and a bit surface. but, i love the section about the forced sterilization of puerto rican women which i will definitely show in a women's studies class. overall, wanted more.


purchases received in the mail (i try to buy other indie doc filmmakers stuff when my rent is paid):
the Abortion Diaries
Searching for Angela Shelton

with family movie watching:
Akeelah and the Bee
Pink Panther
Stick It
Take the Lead
Into the Wild

with honey movie watching:
Dave Chapelle's Block Party
Da Vinci Code
North Country
Last Holiday
40 Year Old Virgin
Wolf Creek
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Every Mother's Son (again)
Panther in Africa (again)

tried to watch:
Munich - fell asleep

want to see:
Quinceanera - two white gay filmmakers cast "normal" people in this story. "As Magdalena's 15th birthday approaches, her simple, blissful life is complicated by the discovery that she's pregnant. Kicked out of her house, she finds a new family with her great-granduncle and gay cousin.
Slingshot Hip Hop - "a documentary film that focuses on the daily life of Palestinian rappers living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel. It aims to spotlight alternative voices of resistance within the Palestinian struggle and explore the role their music plays within their social, political and personal lives."

July 10, 2006

Links (of my emotions)

I'm really happy to read this - NO MORE UNCUT!

I'm really excited to see this - Heart of the Game
except review says: Documentaries should ask questions, explore subjects and universalize the story. "Heart of the Game" does none of these; it's too much game, not enough heart.
Still, I think it will be a great teachable moment.
May be good for this class I'm teaching in the Fall.

I'm really intrigued about this - short film made of just STILLS


I'm doubtful about this - Now that Lil Kim is Free Will She Fight For Other Prisoners?

I'm trying to feel content reminiscing about timing, listening to-
"Say Yes" by Floetry

I'm energized listening to this - YerbaBuena


I'm happy to be finally working on my entries for the ladies crew, check us out:

June 27, 2006

(Re)Start Blogging (Again)

I'm trying to wake up, I both literally and figuratively. I smell the coffee (literally), and what a happy and comforting smell it is to me. I had (tried) to give up coffee but now the jury is conflicted (so coffee makes you pee more often, I'm already having to go every few minutes), so coffee is back in!!! There's something about a morning cup that helps shake the cobwebs loose and gets me focused and ready for the day.


I'm printing off drafts of every seminar paper I've written since enrolling at the U. Man, I'm into the second ream of paper. Who knew I'd actually written so much? I didn't! I've finished coursework and am trying to assemble 3 papers for my exams. Roughly they are 1- feminist theory 2- feminist methods 3- topic of my choice. Seems easy, right? Wrong. All the papers I'm considering blend a bit of each. My advisors (who are great and very supportive) have suggested I just write and then we'll make sense of it all and get me through these exams. I still have no idea of dissertation topic but the point right now is to just get through this exam process. My girl (I'm so sad you moved away OCB buddy) is finishing her diss as we speak and will defend in August. GO GIRL!

I've been on a very bumpy and unstable road the past few months (that's why I haven't blogged). We became an official and serious we, and got pregnant with twins. After too many foot-long needles, ultrasounds, and blood tests we learned Baby B wasn't doing so good. Many tissues and doctor appointments later Baby A is flying solo, is healthy, moving tooooo much, and is expected in the Fall (due date is halloween - isn't that weird). We are getting married soon. Started to plan a wedding - found a dress I like (and thought I could squeeze my rapidly expanding body into), picked my favorite local photographer, and found a really beautiful place to have our ceremony:

the peace (rock) garden, minneapolis

... but then reality of life, bills, stress of exams, and the fact that we'll soon have another mouth to feed. We've decided to marry and do a ceremony/party later (after we get a house, a mini-van for soccer mom (yes, me!) or at least when I'm less stressed and overwhelmed. I'm fixated on a house. I love our place and it will be fine for a new, small family member but man, I need a master suite bathroom. Our bathroom is the farthest possible point from our bed and that's killing me. I've had sooo many near misses lately.

Tiana became a Jr. Girlscout after a year of Brownies. Was very cool. This summer she swims everyday (except Sunday, every soccer mom needs a day of rest). Lessons outside and in. Soccer 2x a week. Hoping to go to Rock Camp in July (her favorite music teacher Mike teaches keyboard, guitar, drums and things like that). T is begging to go to "School of Rock". Then, August is her bday and then sleepaway horse camp. I'm definitely nervous about her first time away (she's only 8) but she's told me to calm down and let her go.


Many amazing things going on -

Asia and Medusa will be here SOON! B-Girl Be is happening this week! I didn't curate this week (too much on my plate) but as a founder and fan of women in hip hop, I'll be there for every minute of it!


Full Schedule is HERE!

Nobody Knows My Name is out on DVD in Japan!

Time for swimming lessons now. Can't slow my roll...

February 8, 2006

Dare to Be Powerful 2


today i got a message on my myspace from an old "friend". a friend of my baby daddy's sister really. she ended her note to me asking, when are you going to bless the world with another film? that's been ringing in my head since i read it. i never really thought of my work as a blessing to the world. i've struggled with finishing my recent projects. it's hard to finish things you don't ever want to end. does that make any sense?

with my camera, i captured moments in time that are alive for me. both ctt and the spg represent very important moments in my life. and if i finish them soon, probably my career too.

it's not that i've been idle. i've helped organic finish his blessing. i've spoken, toured, traveled, studied, loved, filmed, mom-ed, and organized. still, there's been something holding me back. not me, but my filmmaking. there was a post-rhino/return to my baby-daddy moment that sucked out all the life and vision in me. so many things have rejuvenated that and made life alive again. still, i've been moving in baby steps. i've channeled my energies on other things.

but today me started again. it started with my favorite class with my favorite "mature" ladies. my honey peeking at me thru the window, making sure i'm ok, making sure i'm motivated. he worked out hard too but always keeps an eye in my direction.

so i'm at my new favorite coffee shop and audre lorde came into my head. i remembered she had a dare to be powerful quote and i found it. maybe it will inspire you too.

February 1, 2006

back in business (on life, links, and hair)

it’s been too long since bloggin. the bloggin/living balance is hard to achieve. big changes. big life stuff. beautiful steps. waking up rested which is more important than i could have imagined.


organizations i respect: juxtapostion arts,intermedia arts, pctv, hip hop associationthird world majority, tumi’s, eastside arts alliance, juice, yo, the painted bride and so many more orgs that are near and dear to my heart. the vision: a multimedia multiplex for shooting, editing, multicam tv studio, audio recording suite, dance space, aerosol/graf spaces, classrooms, screening rooms, library, archive... for youth, for re-entry community, for arts, for living, breathing and creating...


signed up for some courses. unraveling the mystery of light this AMAZING photographer is teaching. also a memoir startup course at the loft. if i've learned anything about myself, i know i need some discipline and creative space to take the big next steps i dream about.

been writing in my journal all the time. got a big purple one and a pocket size. quotes that i’ve jotted lately:

social change begins with the revolution of the mind: when people change what’s in their hears, they will change their conditions (not sure)

believe nothing no matter where you read it, or who has said it, not even if i have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense (buddha)
dance as though no one is watching you love as though you have never been hurt before sing as though no one can hear you live as though heaven is on earth (sousa)
we cannot learn without pain (aristotle)

academically, taking steps. a few incompletes to finish. a couple papers to write. FMC is doing beautifully! need to update this page – sad really. have lots of great blogs, photos, videos and power point presentations to put up on the page. will get to it shortly.

the book is being published! contracts are being signed. i’m writing my intro. happy that i’m taking steps. want to put out my own books. it’s all happening.


and finally on hair. my girl mara gave T and I great haircuts. she’s still in school but is nasty with the scissors. tiana is very happy with her hair. see:


i’ve always had hair drama. always rocking a crazy juyorican fro. or red fraggle’s do (yes fraggle rock). i love braids and thankfully my baby is a braider. still i love nothing more than a hot press (it takes about 2+ hours to really lay this hair down) but it’s worth it. and the reason i’m so fixated on hair is because today i get to see my favorite show again!

about a year ago i was blessed to attend the final rehearsal of hot combs: marking one brand of oppression by the ever fab kimberly morgan. the show is open again. see it!

December 13, 2005



let your soul fly high above
let your words travels across lands
let us live on your words
change is possible, even if they don't care

rest in peace

November 23, 2005

in the FMC (isn't it a holiday yet?)

tiana and i are in the FMC today. had to teach a workshop for some students (who are doing blogs, websites, ppts, and short videos for WoSt 3102). great ideas, great students. would love for my students this term to do some great mixed + multi media projects.

here's me today (looking EXHAUSTED cuz i'm packing for the move!):

and fixing the camera, pressing the quick flick button (oops):

and tiana playing millsbury and singing hillary duff (yeah! radio disney online! my favorite is hearing : mom, did u know that hillary duff owns 100 pairs of shoes???!!???):

and i jumped on her computer and snuck a flick on her cam. she's wearing a headband that she is in the process of making by tying felt strips on the band (cute huh?):

November 8, 2005

Election Day. What do u stand for?

so few people (in the media and in larger society) care about this:

so i'm still on the journey, campus to campus to discuss this:

and to encourage ladies to aspire to, and get skills (filming, writing, painting, speaking, studying, dancing, whatver...), to avoid being this:

people rally and get these taken down:

and cnn headline yesterday:
"what's up with the snowman?"

paris is burning, literally.

my guys got icr-ed for wearing hats inside cuz it's a securty risk.

i'm getting a headache as images pass in my head. how could we so quickly forget this:
yes, lil kim in a burqa on the cover of OneWorld magazine.

time to get the day started.

November 4, 2005

about 25 years ago...


25 years ago i spent most of my time with my face buried in my mom's lap. i walked under her long flowing skirts. i didn't talk to many people (except mommy, jen, kate, mimi and a couple other friends). and now i can't shut up.

guess i'm making up for lost time.

up next:
gettysburgh college. nov 10th. info here
univ of az @ tucson. nov 14th. info here

October 23, 2005

gimme a beat

trying to get DVD of nobody for Japan finished. need to finish a little editing and a bit of transcribing (for subtitles). working on music permissions. not having a terrible time of it, but still it's a bit of stress. then, reading2-pop to discover FCP sync issues i'm having lately (which i still haven't been able to figure out. still working on it. but, reading this, i get a major headache -

The Hidden Cost of Documentaries

By 2-pop Staff

Oct 20, 2005, 13:05

An article in the New York Times by Nancy Ramsey explores "The Hidden Cost of Documentaries." The unexpected costs of clearing music rights can send small budgets skyrocketing. That was the case in "Mad Hot Ballroom," a documentary that follows New York City children as they learn ballroom dancing.

During filming, one of the children, Michael, received a call from his mother and the ringtone on his cell phone was "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from "Rocky." EMI Music Publishing, which owns the rights to "Gonna Fly Now," wanted $10,000 to use those six seconds.

Producer Amy Sewell ended up negotiating the cost with EMI down to
$2,500. (Total music clearance costs for "Mad Hot Ballroom," which featured songs of Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, came to $170,000; total costs over all were about $500,000.)

Today, anyone armed with a video camera and movie-editing software can make a documentary. But can everyone afford to make it legally?

Click here to read the complete article.

+ + +

what do you think? should artists donate to poor doc filmmakers? should poor doc filmmakers pay because every artist deserves payment?

how should we deal with music and music rights for our docs? i understand that artists need to get paid for their work (i'm still trying to advocate for this for my own photo and video work - i still get tons of "can you", "will you" / i have no $ calls (tho i am doing a much better of saying "no" or "fuck u pay me", depending on the situation). still, many artists in my opinion, should contribute for the exposure and promotion. i've done that with my videos for years. freestyle has lots of my footage in it and mixtress x (and i still have never met dante, the director, in person). dante called and said he was making this doc about female djs and heard that i had footage of kuttin kandi, symphony, dj shortee and a few others. i made him some dubs, he sent some blank stock as an exchange and it's been all good.

+ + +

what i keep listening to:

"outside the box" - miri ben-ari from "the hip hop violinist" album

love this girl! i wish she had more tracks on this album WITHOUT fabo-loon and the other [c]rap clowns. she has skills and i love to listen to her on those strings

"planet (remix)" - desdamona off of her album the ledge (produced by sly & robbie)

this is one of the songs that i really want on my japan DVD, we shall see. (fingers crossed)

"act too... love of my life" - the roots featuring common
(even tho this cover SCARED me for real!)

check some of the lyrics, it's how i been feeling lately:
"Yo, yo I was speakin, to my guy 'Riq and
How she was desperately seekin to Organize in a Konfusion
Usin, no protection, told H.E.R. on _Resurrection_
Caught in the Hype Williams, and lost H.E.R. direction
Gettin eight/ate in sections where I wouldn't eat H.E.R.
An under the counter love, so _Silent_-ly I _Treat_ H.E.R.
Her Daddy'll beat H.E.R., eyes all Puff-ed
In the mix on tape, niggaz had her in the buff
When we touch, it was more than just a f**k
The Police, in her I found peace (like who?)
Like Malcolm in the East
Seen H.E.R. on the streets of New York, trickin off

Tried to make a hit with H.E.R. but my dick went soft
Movin weight, losin weight, not picky - with who she choose to date
To confuse the hate, with her struggle I relate
Close to thirty, most of the niggaz she know is dirty
Havin more babies than Lauryn, she started showin early
As of late I realized, that this is H.E.R. fate
Or destiny that brings the best of me
It's like God is testin me
In _Retrospect_ I see she brought _Life_ and death to me
Peace to us collectively, live and direct when we perform
It's just coffee shop chicks and white dudes
Over H.E.R. I got into it with that nigga Ice Cube
Now the fight moved to in life, makin the right moves
Besides God and family, you my life's jewel
Like that y'all

+ + +

i've been really sad on some "hip hop is dead" shit. after a few bad "hip hop festivals" and bad club experiences in the last few years have me feeling like everyone needs to go home and work on some shit. like asia says on some strictly skills type ish. go home work on some beats, push that pen across that pad and let's reconvene in a year or two. maybe there will be less money and less ego and something i can really feel. i need some damn tissues.

then i get my copy of We B*Girlz and i feel more hopeful. not just cuz my face is printed on those pages but cuz there are so many girls out there doing it, strictly on some love. we need some more love like this.

asia's daughter yasmine is growing up so beautifully. this is the future. thanks to yahweh. eternal is my word.

October 10, 2005

sixty one.


sixty one years ago this earth was blessed with my old Earth. my mother was an incredibly beautiful, sharply aware, stronger than i can even know, and protected herself under an armor of prescriptives.

born in san juan, puerto rico. raised on the streets of spanish harlem. died in middletown ny. ashes - interned at arlington national cemetary in dc with my father (he's was military and a war vet) and a piece sitting a top my dresser near this photo (above). i thought i had to keep a piece of her, she couldn't rest in one place because, like me, no one could hold her down. she may have come off to strangers as quiet, subservient, a dutiful wife... but she was a women whose ideas and strength traveled.

her death certificate doesn't even say the right day because no one can pin you down. your story is still unwritten. it is remembered by many people in many different ways. i think about telling my version often but have enough conflict with blood i think. still i hold the memories and filmed moments. knowing i will speak on it all soon.

so today i remember. holly and phinny haircuts on the back porch. power walks through randall hikes. more than a decade of days of our lives - the time of the day when no questions, comments or needs would be addressed. sitting on the floor in the bathroom while you bathed. tuna caserole. dancing in the kitchn with the dogs. those 7 layers bars and sex in a bowl. the way you dressed. the way you laughed. the last movie we saw together - why do fools fall in love? the frankie lymon story.

i'm becoming just like you. i talk to tiana the way you talked to me. i cook one meal and we eat it for days. i won't buy unless it's on sale. i buy basics - clothes that can all mix and match. i need comfortable shoes. i need good friends to talk on the phone too. i laugh loud. i embarass my daughter in public. i dance with the cats. i sing stevie wonder loud and off-key. i love fully and completely. i have little patience but stand with a smile. i shrug off embarassment. i believe in myself.

thank you mom. i remember you today and always.

October 5, 2005

feeling blessed

tiana and i are acutally ready for school, early! we've got 20 minutes to spare, so i blog. this is not like us. well, since it's raining in our living room (don't ask, i move dec 1!!!) we are both eager to get out of here today.

was honored and blessed to be a guest speaker yesterday in hip hop performance class at macalester. the course is co-taught by leola johnson (she's written extensively on racism and misogyny in rap and has book about iceberg slim) and harry waters jr. (he's been in lots of tv, film and stage shows and even got a gold record for singing "earth angel" in back to the future soundtrack). great students, great questions. good to see hip hop being taught at the college level by folks who are invested in discussing many facets of the culture - including women and hip hop feminists like me!

read cnn. not good. so not good. and lately the ny times has had 2 articles about prison. this one and this one.

i am thinking through some coursework on the representation of prisons in popular imaginations - on tv, in film, in books... ill get it together and maybe somewhere progressive like macalester will allow me to teach it. we'll see. ill post some ideas and hopefully ill get some good ideas and suggestions from you all.

tonite - eve ensler's "the good body" one woman show. am bringing a handful of my macalester students. will probably have something interesting to say following the show and q&a with ensler. not my favorite - vagina monologues is soooo flawed and what i want my words to do to you - like she's staging a broadway show in prison. ill get it together and do a full post about that too.

also, am looking for some great third wave feminist blogs / sites. please, please please post some links. i've got the "popular" ones but am seeking more of what is out there.

September 28, 2005

too much and too little

i've been doing too much (as usual).

transcriping nobody for this festival . thanks to martha & mona. check the hip hop association and that they are doing.

my course is going well. great students, great conversations, never enough course time (of course). peep our blog. the latest posts on the un/use//full/ness of feminist theory. i've been relaxing making banner for each posting assignment prompt, like these.



i know, call me the computer nerd that i am (and strive to be). or call me gadget girl or gidget or penny (for inspector gadget). why not? my loved ones do.

i've been sad about Andrea and feeling like i can barely take care of my health and my own right now, but want to do more. can you?

i've been sick my stomach, literally, about this. apparently it's federal D.O.C. to secure and abandon when any "natural" disaster strikes. i can't stand this. i have to find this policy and go up against it. hard. there has to be human rights violations in this. you can't leave 2 million Americans locked and secured to die. but this is Amerikkka, so i guess that you can. just call it "public safety" and democracy. my heart hearts, literally.

in Amerikkka, you can't show photos of US coffins draped in flags. but you can swap murder victim photos and war tragedy for porn . GRAPHIC IMAGES LIKE THIS: (not for the faint!!).


i also read about this today. kevin liles, one of my most hated men in the rap induststry is " one of the best people in the entertainment industry," said (this poor, misled, misguided student whose gotta know hip hop from the screens and the magazines... man. this "man" slammed he into a wall in 1997 at the wake up show, to prevent me from filming foxy brown and kurupt the night b.i.g. died. the love birds were holding hands and kissy kissy. fox wasn't fully dressed - bright and shiny blue spandex and her hair was barely done. he was protecting her but i was also many months pregnant and very visibly showing. i was filming for sway and them. official business. don't know if ill be able to stomach reading his book. in this industry and this country money = success period. i just don't see it this way.

+ +

there's a poet (who used to live in cali but i don't know where she rests these days), faith santilla, who has this amazing poem that has a line that goes something like "profit before people, unless they make you some". if i can find her, ill try to get permission to post audio of her piece up on here. she's amazing. i guess she's still out there, doin' it.

+ her bio - Faith Santilla is a community organizer for Search to Involve Pilipino Americans and a Member of the Balagtasan Collective, a group of young pinays and pinoys dedicated to uplifting our people by way of hip-hop, art and the spoken word. She is currently the reigning champion of the first ever 92.3 the Beat's Poetry Slam, and a spokesperson for a new campaign promoting community activism spearheaded by Rock the Vote.

you can HEAR her HERE

+ + +

on a more positive note, we got a new place & i am very excited! finally a place in the minneap that can fit all of our things. dec 1! too bad movers are too expensive. what to do. do you have any suggestions? let a sista know!


+ + + +

hope this is the beginning of regular posting again. i miss it.

September 24, 2005

mama said life would be this hard...

so i've been too busy to blog and had to find a new apartment. the rain needs to stay outside and off of my favorite things. been too sick, coughing up lung chunks and shit. figured out my illnesses began when i moved in this place. so i found a spot and i'm moving out dec 1. can't wait.

so i've been feeling american disgust. this photograph from cnn shows a bit how i'm feeling.


sad, tears, post-flood drops, reflecting and refracting the stories and images. my comfort, privilege, and access to resources at the hands to so many people's absolutely disgusting behavior and values. and i still can't believe how we have all failed the NO. my baby still has gotten no word from his baby, joseph. he wrote a beautiful poem about it - we're drowining. as soon as it's "finished" ill post it here (maybe as an audio clip of love love).

rosa got locked up for recording and distributing the truth. gotta love my girl. i still got to get on the hip hop mamas flick, starrring mi hermana rosa, por supuesto!

been talking about getting married. i'm already a johnson, granny listed me in "the" book under j, but i'm terrified of that institution. wedding ring the resymbolization of the noose. Marriage was a transfer of property. Husbands would noose their wives and lead them through town to show off their property. A noose isn't the most convenient and over the years it transformed into a ring (some cut from thimbles). "...bands signified a binding legal agreement of ownership by their husbands, who regarded rings as tokens of purchase." Read on, and on - "In early Egypt, the ring was linked with the supernatural, a never-ending band linked with eternal love. For the Romans later, the ring's acceptance by a young lady was a binding, legal agreement and the girl was no longer free. Today we accept the ring as part of a religious ceremony when we marry in church." I rarely "accept" anything as just part of the deal. I'll keep you posted.

i just loved this photo on cnn off beat images today. want to feel like this. young, free, colorful...


September 11, 2005

feeling the sun shine

i woke up to the sound of my love's voice. i couldn't open my eyes. tired from last night. not yet ready for this day and the piles to read on my desk. i lay and just listen. breathing life back into my body with each word. it changes everything when u find someone who can do that without question. things are getting back in the rhythm, back in synch.

listening to floetry "sunshine"

sitting at the desk. house quiet. daughter still sleeps. baby kittys at my feet.

You know sometimes we ummm, we don't recognize our dreams inside
our reality and uh other times we're not aware of exactly
what's real ya know we walk around day dreaming but the
sunshine, the sunshine always is.... and I

I just wanna see my lovely sunshine(Sunshine)
I just wanna bring back all of my blue skies
And if you take away my rainbow I will cry (cry)
Give me back my sunshine

thinking about yesterday. picking up the newest homegirl. riding up lyndale to show her PINK's piece at Intermedia. driving by there was smoke and movement from the parking lot. turns out it was MSP freestyle painting. beautiful to pull back into the lot and see it going down. one lady approached, hugged and said, "painting now is so different than painting at B-Girl Be. that's happening again, right?!!?" moving again, slowly but moving.

then off to AfroFuturism. See this show at the Soap Factory. last night opening was blessed by I Self Devine. he blessed me with updates, ideas and just good vibes and connections to build futures. sandy from IA, hernub, j otis powell, michelle spaise (photographer), carolyn from SASE , a former student from Macalester, and so many more. lots of video installation, photography, painting, sculpture, mixed media. got me thinking.

and floetry sings:
Dreaming my state of being and I see you smiling youi're so
happy just laughing and standing strong I'm missing you right
here Listen to my tears I'm waking up to skies so gray
Needing you to brighten up my day

Ok listen catch your breath cool out you need to calm down
(that's right)
Concentrate don't go making all your time run out
See your ok it looks much worse than it really is,
and you'll pull through come on you know how we be doing this
It's me and you yo, you promised you can't pull out now,
We're friends for life so you can't just sell me out
We shared a lot but you know we'll see just so much more
Our wedding day and the children that we prayed for


I used to depend on your rides to show me the way that I should
My reality is blurry I'm afraid of being all alone
Your light has been my guide throughout the good and bad
I wish that I had spent a little more attention to my one and
only sunshine

Listen, I'd never leave you yo, I sweared on my grave
Damn what's that I'm feeling dizzy kinda getting faint
But it ain't nothing didn't sleep that much last night
From watching over you but none less I'm cool I'm fine
I said I'm feeling fine so back up off me I'm alright
I'm here to see my friends and what's up with that blinding
Said I don't need to lie down I don't need your help right now
What's up with all the noises all the running round
You've got it wrong I'm not the one who needs the help in here
Yo, what's up with you, you're crying I see tears
Yo, what's going on don't leave please don't take her out
Said I don't understand I'm kinda feeling scared now
I said it's getting hard to breathe getting hard to see
I'm not too sure anymore what's going on with me
Please bring her back connect me talk just one more time
But it's too late the last exhale is mine

and so this beautiful day blesses me with much sunshine. inhale. exhale. take a step foward. eyes open. chin up.

September 9, 2005

oh no she didn't

is this true? please tell me it ain't so.

was reading allhiphop this am. (i know, i know, i need to leave the rumors alone, but it's like when there's a car wreck and you can't help but look). so they post:


Im not going to let that old bird off the hook. Of the people down and out from Hurricane Katrina, she said, Most of these people were underprivileged anyway, so this is working out well for them. THAT IS A DIRECT QUOTE. That big manly-looking old woman what is her major malfunction? Now, we have to ask ourselves how far does the fruit far from the "bush?" (YUCK!) Cut and paste the below link in your browser if you want to hear it for yourself.

so then i listened HERE -

could someone else please listen and tell me it ain't so. tell me the rumor boys are getting political, stirred up by the new chuck d song or kanye's words.

+ + +
racism, classism, privilege, ignorance... more soapboxin to come in future posts...

+ + +
the love of my life was estranged from his son a year ago. baby mama drama complicated by many factors. they moved from chi to NO. we recently got a phone number for them, he spoke to her briefly but his son wasn't home. disaster strikes and now they are m.i.a. we cannot find his 12 year old son (HAVE U SEEN JOSEPH ANDERSON, 12 or his mother, ROBIN ANDERSON, 30??? last seen in NO).

every time there is a shot of kids on cnn we stare at the tv. there was a 12 year old boy whose parent's died in the flooding but he was able to crawl out of the roof and swim to safety. i watched the screen intently at him, wondering could it be?? but his name was deamonte, it wasn't joseph.

and now this audio clip to start my day? wtf? i was listening to my new theme song (Golden by Jill Scott) and prepping for my class and popped on to read the rumors. i don't feel like the world is golden. it's hard right about now, to live life like it's golden but im going to try to listen to jill as she sings:

I'm taking my freedom
Pulling it off the shelf
Putting it on my chain
Wearing it 'round my neck
I'm taking my freedom
Putting it in my car
Wherever I choose to go
It will take me far

Living my life like it's golden (Repeat)

Verse 2:
I'm taking my own freedom
Putting it in my song
Singing loud and strong
Grooving all day long
I'm taking my freedom
Putting it in my stroll
I be high-stepping ya'll
Letting the joy unfold

Living my life like it's golden (Repeat)

Verse 3:
I'm holding on to my freedom
Can't take it from me
I was born into it and it comes naturally
I'm strumming my own freedom
Playing the God in me
Representing His glory
Hope He's proud of me!

Living my life like it's golden (Repeat)

+ + +
then i find out my new, lovely and amazing super-intern straight from Sweden was stopped and questioned for 2 hours at the border. the man tick tick ticking away at the computer asking her about me and with each reply he shook his head like "yep, we been watching her".

i am not sorry for my work trying to change the world. i am not sorry for having assata love, being down with the black panther party, or my n.o.i. family ("As-Salaam-Alaikum" DM mi hermanito), the Puerto Rican political prisoners, the Vieques movement (shouts to Kahlil and Eli!), working in solidarity to change incarceration (people not prisons!!!), and on and on. you can't corrupt the hudson river, you can't lock up my love for life, you can't keep angela down, you can't shut up kanye, and you cant' stop my roll - CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP!

+ + +
so i am off to teach class. i think i'll begin the session playing this song. and im going to just try to keep on fighting those who think God punished us and help people recognize we (as US citizens) can't be crushed - not by rain, not by pain, not by poverty, not by bars, not by books, not by teacher's dirty looks. we won't stop.

when i live my life like it's golden ain't nobody who can stop my shine.

September 3, 2005

it's been a long time coming...

i haven't posted in too long. too much life to live. too much sickness. too many struggles. the distance was necessary but slowly and steadily i rise again.

a year ago exactly, my cousin's pops sat me down at a labor day bbq and told me about a tidal wave that would devastate. he said that wouldn't be the end. he said the shifts from the tidal wave would flood our coasts. the tsunami happens. and now katrina floods NO. i have to call him and see what we are in for next.

so the world is ticking. tick -> struggle - tick -> hunger - tick -> sadness - tick -> disatisfaction - tick -> devastation. so please step up to the mic right now. grab the channels that you have. if you feel the need for change you need to take it into your hands, pass it to the next person and start (re)building brick by brick.

glad to see kanye spoke his piece

On LIVE TV West said: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!

> > > > without some justice there will be no peace. that's my word.

but for the meantime it's back to the grind. back to mac and a new circle of students to build with. back to wost and my lab. i was there recently to help build some course websites and get prepped. sent a massive email to all those entitled to use the lab (which opens to the Women's Studies community this tuesday at noon) and hopefully people will use it and help realize my visions for the Feminist Media Center :: lots of blogs, vlogs, videos, powerpoints, websites, photo slideshows, visionary papers, and anything else we can create. see me in my happy place:

sitting in the FMC, loving my lab

ayana, new FMC lab attendant, breaks it down for helen

eileen shows amy, women's studies dept. chair, the ropes

giving kandace some help

so if you are on the U campus, drop in & say hi.


the Feminist Media Center (FMC) is located in 428 Ford Hall on the East Bank.
the FMC is open MWF 9am - 1pm and TR 1pm - 4pm.

see you there!

July 30, 2005

chaos isn't good for your health

i am always moving in fast motion. rarely do i write things out by hand because my hand can't keep up with my head. i am an idea person. i have tons of them. visions and master plans that i write down in my little moleskin notebook. but rarely can i accomplish all the i dream. that's normal, yes. but if i actually slowed down and followed through more i would accomplish infinitely more. so i take a deep breathe, and try to listen to itunes as it plays:

India Arie - Slow Down

So far from where I started out
So far from where I wanna be
Listening for answers in the wind
But can't find a rock to plant my feet
Looking for love in all the wrong places
Down on my knees and now I'm praying for patience
I know there's gotta be a better way
In the back of my mind I hear my momma say

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby

Thinking the faster that I go
The faster (that) I will reach my goal
The race is not given to the swift
But to the one who endureth
I thought that all my obstacles were behind me
Walking around like I'm made out of diamond
I tripped and fell and it remindedme
Move over and let my angels guideme

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby

Sometimes you gotta be still
Before you can get ahead
Be still
Ask the universe for help
Be real
You can't do it all by yourself
Ah, no no
Sometimes, sometimes you gotta be still
It take some time to reach you and they
Be still
Take some time to clear your space
Be real
Chaos isn't good for your health
Ah, no no, ahhh
Cuz I'm breaking things and losing things
I lost my cell phone again the other day
Now, I don't wanna live this way, no
In the back of my mind I hear my mama say

Slow down, baby you're going too fast
You got you hands in the air
With you feet on the gas
You're 'bout to wreck your future
Running from your past
You need to slow down before
You go down baby
(slow down baby)
Slow down (baby)
You're going too fast
Slow down (baby)
Feet on the gas
Slow down (baby)
Run from your past
Slow down baby (4x)

July 29, 2005

and the road...


so i'm in DC for a screening and a talk that i did the other nite at provisions library. they are a great space and an amazing resource for the community. it's a library with an extensive collection about hip-hop, art and activism - books, DVDs, music, and other collections. it was nice to see gwen's book with my photo on such prominent display.


i met dru ryan - amazing guy. he's one of the founder's of the journal of hip hop. he handed me a copy, but i haven't yet had a minute to crack it open. i'll prob post about it when i have a minute. i also taxi-ed to the hood to talk to a group of dru's students who have been in a summer camp/job core type program all about hip hop. the cabbie wasn't too thrilled about taking us out there, i actually had to do the money flash and tip trick to get there on time. and i had a feeling that his company wasn't gonna be too eager or quick to come back for me. so as we got close i wrote down the number to a hood taxi company to scoop me up after the day. they did, but we're just as unhappy to drive me back to dupont circle to the B&B so i had to do the same money wave and tip. it all worked out, but man, i couldn't imagine moving thru so many hoods in one day without any ghetto travel experience.

now we are at my brother's house. tiana is with aunt natasha sewing clothes for her doll, little t. i'm trying to get some much needed work done and maybe some rest. later we will head to the movies for a little tim burton.

July 26, 2005

my spot.

my girl issued a call [assignment for the day!] to create my sanctuary, to write it down. so here goes:

* * *

sanctuary P Pronunciation Key (sngkch-r)
n. pl. sanctuaries
A sacred place, such as a church, temple, or mosque.
The holiest part of a sacred place, as the part of a Christian church around the altar.
A sacred place, such as a church, in which fugitives formerly were immune to arrest.
Immunity to arrest afforded by a sanctuary.
A place of refuge or asylum.
A reserved area in which birds and other animals, especially wild animals, are protected from hunting or molestation. See Synonyms at shelter.

* * *


my spot in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realm is my spot (a la RaeSpot). in the physical it is my apt - stacked with computers, books, DVDs, sounds of my daughter playing and singing on her kareoke boom box, it is the constant phone calls ("this is mci worldcom with a call from a mn..." those of you who know, know.), the smell in his locks, wrapped around my fingers as i write and edit. and most especially, when the camera is in my hand....

it is also in the larger physical places that i am a part of. the community of hip hop heads, the community of bloggers, and vloggers. it's in my inbox - the quick response i got from the call i issued yesterday to find T-Love. she was once lost but is so found now. living in paris with a beautiful son, named after her favorite artist. my sacred place is in the space where i can hear her music, hear her music, and hear her music. it is in my mailbox when love letters arrive, it's in the piles of poems that arrive from them.

mentally, my sanctuary is in that creative space. when i start to edit and the piece just appears to me. a beautiful narrative flowing out of disjointed fragments and sound that pops. it's when i start writing and just can't stop.

emotionally, it's when i can let the drama go. when i can just be happy because i am happy. i love so hard and am so loved. i want for not, really. it's when i can turn off the sounds of the haters who hate just cuz im happier than i've ever been.

spiritually, it's in all of the above, wrapped up into me, and floating around with me on my back, on my shoulders, in my hair. it's the luv, the love, and the peace that i have right now. it's creative, full of life energy, full of ideas, excitement, and full of me.


July 25, 2005

That Teacher...

everyday people ask me why i am bothering with this PhD. every other day I ask myself the same thing.

i want to teach. i love teaching. with my M.F.A. i was able to teach video production at uc irvine. that was a great experience, but limited in the future possibilities. i was only allowed to teach the production series - 2 semester long course, and nothing more. i want to teach more than production. i want to teach courses that innovate the boundaries of theory and practice. both is necessary and integral to making films.

i'm obessessed with personal stories, narratives, memoirs. i love to hear people's stories. i think that's why i love blogs and vlogs so much. it's much more provoking to me then what i pay for on cable.

i am sparked to write about my thoughts about teaching because i recently got an email from the teacher that changed my life. middletown high school, late 80's/early 90's. fred put a camera in my hand, literally. in his class - electronic english - started with lots of rap videos (i remember trusty and l.o.n.s. "oh my gosh, oh my gosh", sliding down a railing). i wasn't an environmnentalist nor did i think about much beyond my immediate circle of vision. but fred connected me into a powerful world and helped me unleash my own voice. what resulted then, continues today.

with a camera in my hand and the belief that it's not just about my vision of the world, i teach and i learn. i try to inspire my students while training them in the tools of my trade.

fred found me (again) through this blog. i hope he starts a blog soon. i want to see his students put their videos on a vlog. it's easy and free - free blogs and unlimited video, audio and photo storage

July 9, 2005

i need some inspiration. point blank. period.

i look at this photo of tiana i took at the moa aquarium and want to feel this way. i want to look at somethings with such awe, wonder and interest. please help me.

my homegirl has a song that says "i need some inspiration..." i keep hearing it in my head. playing over and over. my stolen, well borrowed mantra.

i have all these papers and book chapters to write but i'm having trouble just getting started. too much on my plate but somehow not enough inspiration. i've been turning to blog, phlogs, and vlogs. lately this is what's been helping a lil bit:



lynn has been on blogcation (read: vacation from blogging), but i often go visit to check and then hit up her lynn's amazing links.

and blog retiree kris ex too. i feel abandoned. i miss him greatly but at least he left links behind.

some vlogs:
Joan's vlog

demand media collaborative vlog

chuck's vlog

karmagrrrls' vlog

an artist documents her walk thru LA

so please, please please leave me comments with links to the blogs, phlogs, and vlogs that inspire you.

July 5, 2005

mad contradictions...

yesterday a few phd friends and i tried to work. we read, we chatted, listened to music, took a couple notes, and i wrote a couple more pages on a paper that is long overdue. my daughter was getting so excited watching people park in front of our apartment to go to watch the 4th festivities on the mississippi. i told her we would go watch the fireworks at 10pm and coerced my girls to join us. so i popped in the corporation so we would have super pro-american blood pumping in our veins at the fireworks display (not).

so the state goverment is closed, people can't agree and many are just out of a job, but let's celebrate by blasting rockets in the sky.. "the rockets red glare" and all that crap. there's war going on, people are dying, people are starving (let's raise awareness, not $) - what???.. these are crazy, mad, contradictory times.

helen's face turned from the normally happy helen to a perma-frown. the dvd of the corporation flashing intense stories of lies and deception before us. ayana just kept shaking her head. with the exception of just being too damn long at 2.5 hours (can we say episodes??), there some really powerful stuff in there. i think i may show clips of it in my 3rd wave theory/practice/activism course - the stuff about the young women in a sweatshop, the purchasing of h20 (yes, even rainwater) in a bolivian town by a san fran company, and maybe some of the milk or pfizer stuff... good way to think about the messiness of feminist analysis - not just the gender, race, class, sexuality checklist the students are over... it's messy, many things are imbricated in the systems that keep so many people oppressed. reminder: feminism is not just about women, it's a social change project working for a more just world...

okay, i gotta write my paper. about the Stillwater Poetry Group (SPG) and how writing resists systems of domination and institutionalization... how working with these men is a feminist/social change project.

and this am, i tried something i've seen mj do - put honey in my coffee. i added a dash of cinnamon too! pretty good. better than white processed sugar. trying to live better and healthier.

it's 8am and tiana was supposed to be at summer school at 7:30am. the kid is exhausted. we stayed up almost to midnite post-firework excitement. well, not excitement, but sitting on the stoop outside in the cool evening air. we watching the hour-long parade of cars exiting my neighborhood. they were clogging up the road. it took nearly an hour for them to drain out onto the highway. the fireworks display was only 10 minutes and pretty wack. minneapolis is a real city - and i read that they spend $1000 per minute - but no big red, white and blue finale, no american flag (thank God, really).

so as we sat on the stoop, watching all the cars passed. i realized i knew the name to nearly every model that was passing. the traffic was so slow that we looked at the side of the car for a minute and a half, then guessed the maker and name and then checked as the car slowly passed. damn, i have been branded (just like they say in the corporation). i knew every SUV, mini-SUV, and most every van and station wagon - there were a lot of mid-size cars that i couldn't name. prob cuz my aspirations were always the big, fly escalades, navigators, audi station wagon... all the things i can't afford and prob would feel too conflicted to drive. oh the contradictons in one person.... so for now, ill just keep rolling my little hyundai. they are all gas guzzling pollutors, but im not ready to give up driving.

April 1, 2005

toes to toes...

listening to tupac "all i need in this life of sin, is me & my girlfriend"... i feel him, except i need to make the rachel remix - "me & my laptop". anyone who knows me, knows that i can't live without technology. my friends make fun of me because i sleep with my laptop, literally. i fall asleep with the laptop on the pillow next to my head. i can't remember life before my mac. i hate to leave the house without a camera, an ipod, something that requires batteries. had a messed up phone but got a new one (t-mobile is the best!) my new phone records 10 sec videos. recorded princess psycho:82862772bb56.jpg and then caught the squirrels on the roof next door. they were getting it on. squirrel porn. weird.

am calling t-mobile to configure this new phone to get me online thru bluetooth. it's also a switchover hassle when i get new toys. thankfully t-mobile's customer service is "fast, fun & friendly" as per corporate standards (unlike sprint [i still hate u claire] and att [the worst devilsh company in the world - 7 hour hold times for operators]). im still trying to make it up the help tier levels (im currently holding at level 2, needing a data specialist (i think that she needs to be a level 3 or 4). a real voice answers he phone.

all is fixed. my ability to connect my laptop stopped at red lights makes me feel that at every second i can be connected to the world. its sad that it takes battery power to make me feel connected but that's just how it is right now.

my sick child laying to my left. her leg is stretched out just enough so the tip of her toe is against my leg. her insurance that i can't slip back out of the bed to go back to my desk. i'm dying to edit and i need to because the gallery opens april 22 - tooo soon. but now she's awake and watching re-runs of er (my kid loves cartoons, full house, and ther fresh prince of bell air [she thinks they are new shows that i know nothing about] but she also loves er, law & order and csi). the more i try to shut off the tv, the more she wants to watch it. it's hard to say tv is bad when i spend so much of my life editing videos to put on tv. looking at her feverish little brown body i can see how sick she really is. her whole body is covered with little fever bumps. poor thing. but she's happy to be in the mama bed, toe to toe touching is always comforting. she is my mini-me and little t is her mini me.
my little t Image.jpg
and her lil t f9b3b35d1900.jpg

still my mind is on the footage. it is amazing - women rapping, writin', spittin', spinnin', flowin'. images of women from around the world - ny, la, seattle, sf, nyc, chile, argentina, minneap/sp, puerto rico... and the looping video of graf walls painted by women around the world. overwhelming. already it's 40 mintues and it's not nearly done.

and it's almost the close to another semester. after this term (fingers crossed that i can catch up and finish all the papers that are due), i will only have one more class for my minor (american studies). then it's written exams and oral exams. i need to sort thru what will serve as "my project". very loosely i am looking at art (specifically film/video, music, performance, poetry) as tools for social change (at least transformative pedagogy). i will either write (and produce a part multimedia dissertation [dvd probably] about all the "sites" that ive been working with: stillwater men's prison poetry group, st. paul central hs: central touring theatre company, b-girl be (and all my work around women in hip-hop), and a new project about hip-hop/activist moms. i will either focus the disseration on one focused site or i will write a chapter about each of these "case studies". the companion dvd would feature footage/scenes/clips that illustrate the points in the chapters.

the moms piece that i'm working on (well, doing a few interviews under a blanket IRB for my American Studies research class with Jennifer Pierce [who rocks!]. i have been interviewing amazing poets, singers, rappers, and just all-around beautiful and creative women, like Sarah White of Traditional Methods it is a very personal and very difficult project. i have plenty of my own "issues" and feelings about motherhood, the balancing act, being a hip-hop family, the images and lyrics on commercial tv outlets. i want to "Take Back the Music" but i don't think moms in hip-hop should be limited to the spaces/places they are discussed now - there is either the reverance (like tupac, biggie and any other famous male rapper's mom) or the many variations of young moms of color (the hoochie, the crackhead, the welfare queen...) who can't raise sons. for me, it's time to expand these caricatures, and broaden the narratives of mothering in hip-hop or as part of the hip-hop generation.

lately ive been wondering why artists either: "grow up" into "more respectable" women (salt & peppa, madonna) [mom's can't be wild and sexual?] / don't share their stories of motherhood (Rah Digga) / disappear (Hurricane G, Bahamadia, Lil Mo, Michel'e, Jaguar Wright / get screwed by labels (Toni Braxton - did u see her VH1 special?) and on and on.... i want to interview moms who are what i call hip-hop moms. not just rap music buying consumers but women who are cultural producers, educators, activists - rappers, poets, painters, beatmakers, filmmakers, bgirls...

my wish list of artist & activist interviews (which is still just a first thougt): Lauryn Hill, Hurricane G, Rah Digga, Jaguar Wright, Bahamadia, Salt, Peppa, Pri da Honey Dark, Kim Osoria, Misa Hylton-Brim, Solange, Toni Braxton, Jada Pinkett Smith (she plays at Medusa's knappy at the roots sometimes), Asia One, J-Love, Rosa Clemente, Delores Huerta,La Bruja, and elders: Afeni Shakur, Sonia Sanchez... so many more.

the project is still in major infancy. i'm not sure my clear lines of inquiry (yes, my research questions). i don't know if this project should focus on personal narratives of mothering - how each mom tells her own story, what is relevant to her and her life experience (i would like to get funded to put cameras into women's hands to document their lives. maybe have the videotape their lives, maybe have them blog or share photos). somehow connect our stories through thematic threads.

still, the spark - to tell my story, our stories - in a way that hasn't been told (at least as i haven't heard), is what is important to me. in nobody knows my name i interviewed lisa, a hip-hop mom (the wife of click tha supah latin and the mother of his children). people got angry at me. who is she? why does she matter? how is she a women in hip-hop? even just from my own life experience helping a man in the industry (being the woman behind every retail report, every marketing plan, every project proposal, but no one ever knowing my name or that i even existed in the business), i know how many women are unpaid managers, are marketing specialists, are promotional masterminds, are making big things happen without credit and without compensation. behind every rapper is a mother, sister, cousin, girlfriend, wife, partner who is helping make the show run. i want to hear these stories. i want to share these stories with the world.

"i'm hungry and i don't want soggy cereal. i hate how it sticks to the bowl flat" she calls. i have to put down the laptop and get this girl something to eat. only 2 more hours until the doctor. hopefully some antibiotics and she'll be hanging off the cieling [literally] again.

March 14, 2005


I'm always feeling so blessed when a new netflix arrives! I remember living at a time when I would have to literally borrow, beg and steal to get access to films that weren't Hollywood action films. So now that I can list docs that get mailed to me automatically (my waiting list is hundreds of films long) and then a send one back and a surprise arrives (cuz I've forgotten what's on my list).

Today's surprise - what a blessing! A Panther In Africa

Official Synopsis:
On October 30, 1969, Pete O'Neal, a young Black Panther in Kansas City, Missouri, was arrested for transporting a gun across state lines. One year later, O'Neal fled the charge, and for over 30 years, he has lived in Tanzania, one of the last American exiles from an era when activists considered themselves at war with the U.S. government. Today, this community organizer confronts very different challenges and finds himself living between two worlds - America and Africa, his radical past and his uncertain future.


I just finished watching the piece and so many things are floating in my head, in my body, in my heart - love, committment, heart, relationships, community, struggle. This is the story of a Kansas City man who once aspired to be a street hustler. In the piece he speaks very candidly about his former life as a pimp exploiting young women, his life (shotgun in hand) with the Black Panther party, his conviction for transporting guns across state lines, his flee to Africa, his life in Tanzania as a community organizer...

There are some scenes that stay with me. His beautiful wife, Charlotte, left the US at 19 with him. She seems at peace and at home with him in Tanzania now 30 years later. She runs the whole organization, and acknowledges her blessings. In one scene she is ill, with bronchitis and malaria (they contract malaria 2-3 times per year) and still she sees the positivity and wouldn't trade her life to go back to Kansas City. They left loved ones, he has children, and a life but they have built something transformative together.

In another scene they bring two young African-American men from Kansas City (one says something like, "I didn't think I'd get this cuz I didn't have the best grades, I was in jail...". They seem overwhelmed upon arrival. After some days they seem to find their rhythm, rapping for the African audience, and teaching them to ball. There are many things said and also much that goes unsaid.

Later in the film Geronimo Pratt arrives, builds a house with his beautiful wife and has blessed the O'Neal farm with a deep well that gives water to many. The Panthers mission to build and transform communities is there.

I sit and meditate on what we can do to build, rebuild and transform ourselves. How can we live and breathe positive energy? How can our education (and my own role as an educator) be transformative? I used to read bell hook (critical and feminist pedagogy - Teaching to Transgress, Teaching for Community, and her inspirations like Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed - and try in my everyday practices to teach to transform here and now. This seems increasingly difficult as the structures around me (yes the U) becomes increasingly corporate.

Unfortunately, many of my students run through the classroom with a checklist (you know the list of requirements to graduate), enrolling (for the most part) to get credit and keep it moving. The motivator is only money. I love expensive things (and things more expensive than most) but money is not my motivator, it is simply a means to an ends.

I am alive, living and breathing to be taught and to teach. In tenth grade a teacher, Fred Isseks, saw something in me. He cared enough to tell me to take his class. He put a camera in my hand and I've never put it down. I do what I do because I want to tell stories that haven't been told (or at least told the way that I see it). I try to listen for the silences, the pauses, the screams, and the energy of luv life.

So being on spring break - vacation?!? - nope. I'm hitting the Final Cut Pro. It's getting close....

March 10, 2005

WE > Can't Stop! Won't Stop!

This Tuesday was International Women's Day. To celebrate Desdamona, me [Rae], and MJ [hip-hop journalist, former editor of The Source, Complex, Stress, and 4080 hip-hop mags] hosted "B-Girl Radio" on kfai for Speak out Sisters! International Women's Day. We played Mystic, Ursula Rucker, Invincible, Lauryn Hill, Erykah, Queen Latifah and so many local Twin Cities ladies - Sarah White [formerly of Traditional Methods], Dessa of Doomtree, Pavielle, and Desdamona. You can hear streaming versions of the show on kfai. It was a great experience (although I hate to hear my voice and I get nervous speaking in public). We even had callers - one [a man] who asked if we had a regular show.

Also last weekend Jeff Chang (!!!) came to speak at Intermedia Arts. His book is amazing! You need to cop this:


It was a long evening - I screened keepintime [a short by photo B+] and freestyle: the art of rhyme [a feature length doc by organic]. Tiana [my 7yr old] was buggin out, grabbing the mic out of my hands, but that's how it goes sometimes. After I sat back in my seat, Jeff leaned back and said, "My son does the same thing". I really do need to get it moving on this hip-hop moms movie. Well, I've been thinking more and more that it needs to be a hip-hop parenting flick. Rarely, if ever, do we get to see our lives and our stories reflected on screen. That's what I do what I do.

This Saturday I'll be in Milwaukee for Women's History Month, Women Without Borders Film Festival. I'll be speaking at 7 & 9pm I think. Who knows. I'm not in charge of my schedule when I travel. I just go and try to build with as many people as I can.

Last night I got a call from a young woman in Milwaukee from Gumbo TV [an Emmy award-winning youth produced TV magazine show with 100,000 viewers] produced throught the Strive Media Institute.

Strive's mission:
Strive Media Institutes program enhances the business world, not only by preparing students for media-related careers, but also by giving them the reading, writing, and communication skills they need to succeed in any profession. Through partnerships with existing industry professionals and local university faculty, Strive Media Institute has developed a comprehensive curriculum in three fields of mass communication: print journalism, integrated marketing communications, and film and video production. Using mass media as a tool, Strive Media Institute prepares students for careers as future journalists, editors, producers, and communications professionals by teaching them interpersonal communications skills that will transfer to any career field.

I plan to build with these students and see what's what. I'm really interested in not teaching in the academy and rather building or working with an arts organization to create spaces for youth to create. My dream is a building that has a TV studio, edit suites, recording booths, theater for screenings, poetry, and performances, art gallery... not unlike Intermedia but with a bit more technology. I think there's hope for me and my dreams...

So now I better write my papers because that's what's paying the bills and helping me keep hope alive.

March 2, 2005

getting too busy

Tues March 8 3-4pm
celebrating international women's day

i haven't been blogging as i should. just posting where i will be. recently "nobody" has screened in sweden (popcorn festivals plus), and this week is germany. there are also classes across the US and in Canada that are using the film in women's studies, feminist studies and in hip-hop coursework. if u need a copy for your library or want to rent -
they do have a community rate for purchases so don't get discouraged by the high academic rate, they are a great feminist distributor....

so upcoming
march 12 at univ of wisconsin, milw
women's month film festival

april 7 university of chicago
hip hop & feminism conference

june 4 intermedia arts, minneapolis
as part of B-Girl Be: a celebration of women in hip-hop

and then hopefully some work screenings of other work -
am editing (when i find the time between 4 classes, curating B-Girl Be, working at IT Fellow for Women's Studies at UMN, living, breathing, and mothering...) doc about Stillwater Poetry Group (SPG). AMAZING! i've shared some rough cuts at Macalester College, UMN, and at some corrections education conferences. well received!

i was also shooting Central Touring Theater HS company from St. Paul, MN Central HS - also AMAZING kids. will update more as i get it together

so for all you bugging me to blog, here it is!!!

more later,