Wednesday, May 23, 2012

UCSC SOAR Alumni Poem

The Universe exists within ourselves
The Universe exists within ourselves
The Universe exists within ourselves

At the impressionable age of 17 years old
I looked outside instead of looking within
Now Imagine looking into the universe and not feeling connected to anything
No stars, No suns, No moons, No gallexies....
For many 1st generation college students
Our first impression of UC Santa Cruz is like
“Yo this is nice, the air is fresh and the deer are cool
but this is not me because I cannot see me
I don’t feel this place
I don’t understand these people
and after a few weeks,
get me as far away from this place as possible!”

UC Santa Cruz was truly a mystery spot
A blank canvass where I needed to explore my identity, 
my voice, my history, my purpose
The question was how, 
how could I do this in a place 
where I felt disconnected to the universe?
How could I create the universe that had the stars, 
the suns, the moons and the heavens that I am use to? 
How could I find dreamers who saw nightmares? 
Who turned nightmares into dreams? 
Who were real and I could talk to, 
I could listen to, I could laugh with and cry with...
and most importantly create a universe as vast 
and as diverse as we imagined it?

SOAR was my permanent pen
the type that has all colors on it
all I had to do was press on one
I choose to press on them all
yes, I was ambitious but I was raised in the streets
and one thing you learn about in the streets is survival
as a result I was embraced by the universal family
a community that welcomed my genuineness 
and commitment to the liberation of us all

The Filipino Student Association
helped transform my street rage
into a community leader

Rainbow Theater
put poetic paint brushes all over my body
so that every time I moved
I could create the world I wanted to see
the artist becoming in me

I learned how to organize the youth
with APISA and FSA
we brought hundreds of young Asian Pacific Americans
to UC Santa Cruz

I met powerful women
who helped me dismantle the patriarchal prisons embedded in my masculinity
These women did it with love, with care, with an understanding
that men and women need to work together
to free ourselves from the culture of oppression

My mind began to develop stronger political consciousness
as I attended events by the Black Men’s Alliance
such as the Geronimo Pratt speech,
a former Black Panther minister of defense
who served over 25 years as a political prisoner

To John Trudell’s poems about being a Blue Indian
and the war against first nation peoples
organized by the Student Alliance of North American Indians.
I learned that despite centuries of struggle
we still must hold onto our culture
with every breath we take
I learned this by attending SANAI’s pow wows
and being close friends with the student organizers

I lived with two gay brothaz
who treated me like a real brotha
who had my back when I felt like I was falling
who helped me see nothing wrong with homosexuality
who helped me be a better brotha to my two real gay brothaz
who eventually came out of the closet
once I graduated from college

MeCha helped me understand the concept of Aztlan
and the racists, anti-immigrant legislation in Proposition 187 & 227
that we needed to educate ourselves about and fight against
MeCha also taught me how to move in the Cumbias
I found a strong network of sisters who always had my back!

Together we formed Measure C
the first campaign to establish a student run retention center
which laid roots for Engaging Education or E (2)

This was the universe I was looking for
It was real, it was colorful, it was beautiful

we invented the term medical marijuana
you know the santa cruz high life
don’t act like you don’t know
unless your Bill Clinton and you don’t inhale
pass the dutchie pon de left hand side!

Outside of organizing with each other
we celebrated with each other
we partied together
we understood the 500 year war against indigenous peoples
therefore we took advantage of those moments
those rare and precious moments
to live, to laugh, to cry and most of all dance together

It was about relationships
beyond the classroom
It was about friendships
It was and always is about family
beyond blood lines
family that sees the struggle
with the same eyes
feels the pain of injustice
with the same heart
hears the cries of history
with a revolutionary mind
to participate in the fight for life
the fight for peace
the fight for representation
the fight for justice

So pass the blunt
make a toast
and spread the California love
in the mystery spot of our universe
Good ol Santa Cruz

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