1. The Periphery of Neighbor and Hood- Rando Rant

    I am an almost model minority. And this is my story.

    I am an occasional writer, accidental rapper, comedian by birth, activist at heart, an axiomatic pessimist (or pragmatist depending on how optimistic you are) and educator by nature.

    My family last names could be Pampangan or Irish for “Jack of all Trades-Master of None.” Depending on the day, it could be Tagalog or Scottish for “MacGyver” because we are a people who can jerry rig almost anything given enough binder clips and rubber bands. But that’s another post.

    High performer in school- yet constantly running my mouth. Stormed into the office to demand someone do something about the horrible sub in our Spanish class, but got sent to the counselors office (often) for almost getting into fist fights with one of my life long best friends (a dude) and bickering for the first half of our 90 minute block period.

    I graduated with high honors, got into all 6 schools I applied to for college, but often had to take my finals in isolated settings because I was too distracted/distracting. Maybe I just have undiagnosed ADHD.

    I am an almost model minority.

    The house my parents live in in San Francisco- the top flat of a two story victorian building, owned by my grandparents, becoming more and more dilapidated by the day- sits on the border of two neighborhoods. Two blocks to the right live upper middle class Applers, Googlers and Facebookers who own Audis and get charter bussed down to Palo Alto every day. The neighborhood that used to be called Upper Noe Valley (too hood to be associated with Noe Valley) has been rebranded by non-natives as Stroller Valley, Fairmount Heights and Pierre Valley (‘who the fuck is Pierre?’ asks my father). Aside from the techies, interracial couples- Asian Wife, White Husband or ‘Yoko Johns’ as comedian Rex Navarette calls them- push their blond haired blue-eyed babies with Asian eyes in doublewides. Those without children have four-legged dependents- after all, this is San Francisco where we passed a law to be known as pet guardians, not owners.

    Two blocks to the left of my parents place however- we’re in the Mission. Not completely overrun by hipsters- but certainly not free of them. A few empty properties just 2 blocks away that I’m convinced are meth labs (Thank you Breaking Bad for this unreasonable paranoia) that even several grown men I know run past at night- they do not play. The Safeway around the corner from that house has been the site of MANY a shooting in my life- never gets on the news because 30th street is a no mans land – not quite the Mission or hip Bernal Heights.

    No man’s lands on the periphery are places of privilege.

    But, I’m not silver spoon privileged. I’m 3rd generation Mexican-Irish/Filipino-Cape Verdian/San Franciscan on my mother’s side, and 1.5 generation Filipino American on my father’s side- privileged. Cape Verdian great grandma raised three kids through the great depression on her own. Dad’s dad walked the Bataan Death march in World War II, and then moved to California and picked crops along side members of the United Farm Workers/Cesar Chavez’ crew. That’s the shit movies are made of.

    But our story is not just a ‘survival story.’

    Yes, my parents scrapped together sometimes. We wouldn’t have been able to afford living in SF had my grandparents not inherited the building from my grandpa’s Mexican mother.

    It could get hot on our block- I’ve lived on periphery of all that bad shit kids could get into. On the border of that shit that separates the neighbor and hood. I experienced the kind of trauma you’d find in an after school special but also lived in close proximity to shit that got deeper. Like any city kid, I’ve lost friends to all kinds of ignorance. I’m lucky I’ve never been on the front line and that a handful of protections that kept me from being there.

    I’m an almost model minority.

    Almost, because none of these things disappear. I may wear button downs and pencil skirts from J. Crew (80% of which were purchased on super sale mind you- a Pinay girl does not forget the value of a good sale) but it’s not all gone. I never banged, or got into turf set drama, but I feel weird hanging out on any street lower than 21st, that’s Scrap territory after all. Though I had nothing to do with Norteños- living on this periphery means something, hella years later. It’s like residual Catholicism despite being a recovering Catholic and saying a prayer to St. Anthony when I lose something. At 30 I still find myself thinking- though it’s not like I really find myself in a position to do so- “I do not fuck with Scraps.”

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    Gang-related- sort of- several times removed. Straight A student who did a lot of clown shit. Fought for causes but rode broken tricycles we found on the street down the hall at lunch senior year. Became a spokesperson for random protests on my college campus, thought I could change the world with my writing and whack I mean rap skills. Always have jokes for days. Smoked plenty of ganga, but didn’t start drinking until 4 or 5 months before I turned 21. The one time I did a man made drug- a study one at that - a girl came to my room looking for a dude I used to mess with and introduced herself saying her name was a food item. Like literally, “Hello my name is Apple” or “Tell him Candy was looking for him” shit. I was convinced I’d taken something much harder, because when I left that poor boy a message he later told me he had no idea who I was talking about. I thought “Oh shit, I just seen a ghost.” Turns out he only knew her by her government name. That ‘almost model minority shit’ does not put one above warning labels and doing drugs that aren’t prescribed to us Nik. You’d think that San Francisco upbringing and Asian fear of failure would have taught me better.

    My mom was not a tiger mom. Nor were my parents helicopter parents. I was privileged however in that I had parents who advocated for me. When they couldn’t, I lived vicariously through the work of all the white parents and upwardly mobile former activists now successful members of the brown community moms & dads who advocated for my peers. Even though I had communities who supported me- and the gang of classmates I was in school with from K to 12- there was room for error, if I so chose. I didn’t have to though.

    By origin, I fit the Model Minority and Non-Model minority archetypes- shit Filipinos do not a top rank in the Asian/Pacific Islander world receive. But I ain’t a nurse. I do not play piano. I’m a product of bilingual education- not as an English language learner, but as a native English speaker learning Spanish. My grammar and spelling be jacked sometimes. Unless I’m using slang, in which case it’s intentional… son… hella. I bombed the SATs. Back when they were only out of a 1600. I don’t even think I broke 1200. As an ex once noted: I’m an Ethnic, the test wasn’t set up for me to succeed (how thoughtful of him right?). But I had the extra curriculars. The personality. The 12 thousand racial lineages and was the San Francisco girl looking at East Coast Schools. HELLO AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, so nice to meet you since you left the University of California system, where I got in for being in the top 5 percent in my class (of 80). Luck.

    True blue San Franciscan, I bleed black and orange, and if you cut me my guts are red and gold. I ride or die for the SF Giants, and I have the most dysfunctional relationship with the SF 49ers. Also- um…Warriors in the post season?! 3 post seasons in a row for our teams could lead to an aneurism for me this year. We’re damned lucky.

    But we need to stop seeing it like that. I need to stop seeing it like that. During the 2013 Superbowl, completely SHOCKED that these dudes were able to get this far, I kept yelling, “Play like you’re more than just lucky to be here.” Sending Kaepernick all the mixed kid magic I could muster, ‘more than just luck’ became a refrain. People of color are always told we ‘should feel so lucky’- but our work can’t go unnoticed. We earned this shit, and we need to act like it. Good reminder not just the 49ers, or the Giants, or the Warriors but for myself.

    A brown girl who’s first generation American- product of public education- and went to one of the 7 sisters on scholarship- I am more than just lucky to be here. I’ve worked to get here. My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents worked to get me here. My community worked to get me here. I’m lucky I never got jumped into a gang. Lucky I never got jacked for my Jordan’s and damned lucky I didn’t let starting college the week of September 11th- in upstate NY no less- ruin me. But progress didn’t come without work.

    I’m lucky having AIDS education engrained in me since early elementary school, and a general fear of STDs/ boys depending on what age we’re talking about- kept me from being a young mom. Luck was what got me the resources to know better – working at being informed and independent is what helped me make smart choices (or instill fear, whichever you like).

    I was too smart to fail, too committed to being ‘right’ or knowing everything to not study. Felt I owed something to those who worked to get me here. Maybe it’s that Asian Guilt, or maybe even that Catholic guilt for not attending church at least on Christmas. “It takes a village. We were raised by a tribe. Don’t shame your people.” All that good stuff.

    I’m an almost model minority.

    Growing up in the periphery has meant not only negotiating racial borderlands ala- Anzaldua, but also making decisions- conscious and otherwise, about which side of this line to be on.

    The periphery is a safe place. A place to hide. Full of protections, but also uncertainty. A place where tribes feel divided. Where door knocker earrings aren’t retired but saved for ‘going out’. Where pencil skirts out number minis. Peripheries are spaces where a class clown can get straight A’s. Peripheries are where people who have non-profit hearts, but low-level government jobs can thrive. A borderland where multiple borders collide. Some days it feels suffocating. Other’s liberating. The choice to decide which day it will be, can at times be the only comforting part of occupying such a space. Having the choice at all, and knowing it’s not just luck that propels me to the side that is most to my advantage, is the the real privilege.

    I’m an almost model minority, and that is my story.

  2. Ok. #sfc #happyfriday

    Ok. #sfc #happyfriday

  3. The “I haven’t written a Damn Articulate or Thoughtful Thing in Months” Mini Rant

    Number of drafts in my tumblr: 2

    Number of drafts in the notes on my Smart Phone: 4

    Number of ‘journal entries’ with more than 2-3 word sentences: 1

    Number of ‘journal entries’ with only 2 word sentences: 8

    Number of emails written to myself with ideas about what to write: 5

    Number of tweets or fb posts about SF Bay Professional Sports teams and their post season runs: Infinity. 

    Priorities, Magtonic. Priorities. 

  4. i feel out of sorts.
    i need to write
    i need to laugh till i pee with a best friend
    and i need a nice boy to buy me dinner
    or a sandwhich
    anything but a burrito
    this is my hierarchy of needs.

    — me this morning to a friend. (b/c a burrito is the most informal/everyday food in SFC)

  5. Pro Ranters Discuss SF 49ers/Green Bay Game, Joe Buck, Drake, Colin Kaepernick & Mullatos

    Texts during the game last night with my homie who’s Seahawks are breaking his heart right now… (FYI there’s some shit interwoven that may require some Drake translation, and some stuff about my dad who he calls uncle cause my dad felt he needed to add his opinion too… Mag Familia just be like that sometimes). 

  6. Confession: I am a Romosexual- SF Giants World Series Champion has an Opinion Rant…

    I know that national coming out day has come and gone, but I need to come out. I need to come out as a Romosexual. Now I wish that i could take the lead on coining this term but alas I cant. In fact, I don’t even know who did, but this is how I came to find out about it, and for those of you unwilling to click that there hyper link, I am in fact referring to Sergio Romo- not Tony Romo-, closing pitcher for the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.

    Yes, it’s because of World Series fever, yes its because of a million other little things, but right now, it’s mostly because of this picture.

    Colorlines, has been doing a great job of covering and mobilizing folks to stop using “Illegal” to describe our numerous undocumented workers, families and children. But this photo, is a separate statement in and of itself.

    Athletes often take on random campaigns for someone suffering a disease, like that kid, with that thing, that Brian Wilson and Cody Ross did that Dynamite video remake with. Or for someone struggling due to a natural disaster or for the very-very sad story of Bryan Stow, the Giants fan who was beaten bruttally during the first SF Giants/Dodger game of the 2011 season, right after we’d won our last world series championship.

    But more over in the last few years, the SF Giants have been the team to actually speak out about more political issues, like being the first major league team to support the It Get’s Better Campaign.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1TcD95kmGQ

    Maybe it’s because we’re in politically minded, left swinging San Francisco, maybe it’s because they’re just different people. The Giants have been seen by Major League Baseball, and the rest of the nation, since their 2010 victory, as misfits, outcasts, weirdos. All true, Romo himself not excluded from those descriptors, but now this.

    Sergio Romo, in his own, insane, particular, specific way, has tipped the scale and made a significant statement about not only his politics, but important politics for the Bay Area, for California, and for our nation right now. The Phoenix Suns did it when they spoke up a bit in response to Arizona’s insane immigration SB 1070, but this directly puts a Latino face, to assumptions, and attaches a major league name.

    As a proud native of SF and a die hard Giants fan and CHICANA, I couldn’t be more proud. Border issues, immigration issues, the I-Word- are realities for so many here in CA, in SF- and yet we don’t talk about them in any serious or public way, except at ethnic studies conferences or other activisty-hippy private communities we brown folks participate in. This is excellent mainstream attention. Romo’s speech today spoke to a theme the SF Giants org has been running with for a while, “Together We’re Giant” and his statement in itself is Giant. It says, we’re San Francisco, and that’s what’s up!


    Cross posted at Barnacle :http://blog.barnacle.is/2012/11/confession-i-am-a-romosexual/

    Updated: Here’s the speech itself, with implicit references to the dream act. At least that’s what we’re letting ourselves believe. 

  7. An Open Letter to the SF Giants Organization & Mayor Lee from an SF Born Educator

    Dear San Francisco Giants Organization and Mayor Lee,

    As a born and bred, black and orange bleeding, native of the city of San Francisco California, my joy in our 2012 World Series victory is a bit tainted.

    In 2010, thinking the SF Giants World Series Championship, was a once in a life time occurrence, I reluctantly let this complaint slide. But now, wrong as ever- and happily so- I have to say something.

    You’ve put a significant portion of your population between a rock and a hard place this week by allowing the ticker tape parade to take place on a school day. By profession I have to report to work, it’s wrong to skip out on a school day. By birth I cannot imagine being in a single other place then Civic Center, celebrating with the rest of our city.

    I mean really… 11am on a Wednesday? Not only am I conflicted personally, but appalled. Point blank- KIDS WILL NOT GO TO SCHOOL. I’m fortunate, I don’t actually work in schools, but I do work for the school district. I won’t have to spend the next two days convincing students that while our win is great, but that cutting school, even though this is only SF’s second win since moving from NY, is NOT acceptable. I won’t have to spend my day convincing students that, if they are suddenly “sick” on Wednesday, we won’t know that they’re really at the parade.

    But plenty of my friends and family members will.

    Instead, my office will be scrambling to cover vacancies for all the teachers who don’t have the same moral compass I do. Instead, I’ll be a few blocks away hoping somehow we can swing an early lunch or some kind of trip into the crowd to see if i can barely see the top of Vogelsong’s head or something. If anyone calls out, we’ll all know where to find them.

    I get that there’s a sense of urgency, in that let’s do it now, while it’s fresh- We can’t wait until Saturday! But really during the school day? You’re robbing not only 55,000 students (yeah, this is public school only, I don’t have any idea how many private school kids there are, nor am I really concerned if they miss a day given the whole achievement gap…) but a ton of people who work for the VERY city we all call home from sharing this experience. Scheduling this parade on a school day is an open invitation for kids to cut school, when we otherwise have LAWS saying they NEED to be there.

    I dutifully serve the city of San Francisco every day. I’ll be serving soup or handing out blankets as a disaster service worker if we ever need it. I am a proud third generation San Franciscan who would not trade my experiences growing up, nor now living here for anything. Multiple generations of my family have settled and stayed in San Francisco because it’s SAN FRAN-EFFING-CISCO. I’ve dreamed of working in City Hall itself, hated the Dodgers since I could talk and participated in or been at almost every Carnaval parade since I was born. I remember my first game at Candlestick as a Giants fan, and my first Niner game when the power went out against the Steelers last year. I still call Cesar Chavez, Army Street. I’m that serious.

    So Mayor Lee, and SF Giants I am so disappointed, and honestly sad that we can’t figure out a way to make this something we could all share together, across demographics- this whole post season further proof that we are bound by something really unique here. Please consider this- just in case we make it to 3 trophies.

    I mean hell, I know it’s not an issue with permits.

    Love,

    Niki

    As a point: A good friend, mother and also educator pointed out that the parade will be held on Halloween, a day when much of our learning is side stepped by all of the foolishness of the day. I agree, a lot of learning is lost on Halloween anyway, but kids are still supposed to be in school and it doesn’t make it any more okay. Now granted, her kids are smart as shit and might learn more at the parade, who knows. 

  8. Dear Oakland- Let’s call a Truce: World Series Rant

    Dear Oakland,

    Our east bay cousin we see and bond with only rarely. Our adversarial feelings toward one another, while founded in so much, are totally things we should be putting aside from time to time. Especially times like now.

    Yes, SFC natives hate on the bridge and tunnel shit, we call parts of Oakland hood, and fear for our lives at Raider games. But we love your music scene, outdoor festivals and restaurants.

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    Yes, you hate on our attitudes, our elitism and when Dave Chappelle said heading into Oakland he was sent off from SF with a nice goodbye and welcomed to the Town with a “WELCOME TO OAKLAND BITCH”. But you love our various parades and the fact that you can find a reason to be naked any day in the City.

    It’s nearly impossible to like both the Niners and the Raiders, its true.

    And though we historically have had our own Battle of the Bay World Series, I think it’s time we call a truce, and Rally together as the Bay. Oakland, I know you’re not the type of cousin to ride coat tails and ask for money when we win the lotto, and so I think it’s time.

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    I’m sorry if you’ve felt like us SF Giants fans are rubbing it in your faces (drawing above as done by my homie Josef), with our FB posts, tweets and wardrobes exclusively of Orange and Black, but honestly, I’d expect nothing less of you. I know you are ride or die A’s fans, there would be Green and Yellow all over the place. In all honesty- and I know it might be too little to late, I’ve been trying to rub salt into the wounds of my Yankee fan friends, who forget, NYC is not the center of the universe. Never meant to hurt you Oaklanders in the process.

    So this is me, extending my hand on the morn of game 4. Let’s call a truce and show this nation that east coast bias is BULLSHIT and that the BAY knows how to play.

    I would do the same for you, unless we’re talking about the Raiders- you chose that path, and can’t be helped.

    Love, Magtonic

  9. SF GIANTS IN FIRST PLACE!!!!!!! Nothing is better than a sweep over the Dodgers.