Brain Dump: Race Relations from NYC to Cambridge, MA

Hello, hello!!!! It has been a while since I have posted text versus image. I find tremendous value in both, given the amount of imagery we are bombarded with daily, whether by a commute, a web page or even a coffee cup I believe the surge of image drive journalism is no coincidence. As I write this post, I remember days posting from a small desk in West Harlem surrounded by a square of vaseline in fear of any bed bugs returning while I listened to the Mexican Herbal shop in the basement play ridiculously loud music. I remember nights being woken up by a helicopter because some fugitive ran on top of the buildings and couldn’t be found. 

I remember lifting my air mattress to use the rest of the space I rented to paint because that small room was where I slept, wept, ate, and dreamt. I love music, however the Mexican Herbal Shop turned into a suspicious ‘night club’ at night. We’re talking loud music at 4AM and I’m an early riser. So I have this beautiful memory of counteracting this music with loud Puerto Rican beats at 6AM while they were trying to go to sleep. I knew the majority of neighbors who were having a cafésito benefited form the experience as I heard their music too. What I loved about the community was an unspoken level of respect. If you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you, and everyone would come outside to their stoops.

In my present neighborhood, neighbors keep to themselves, and you’ll see the occasional beer pong. When I walk down stairs with my roommates, all of us, women of color we recently had an awkward moment where our neighbors turned down the rap as soon as they saw us because well, they are all white wearing neon bro gear. It’s OK to like hip-hop bro, just have the decency to say hi to your neighbor outside of this awkward moment. I miss the loud music of West Harlem, the fruit stands, but I don’t miss the lack of air quality and barriers to adequate housing. I am still seeking a neighborhood and feel like I occupy that space at Cambridge Community Television where the staff and fellow producers know my name. 

I struggle with housing in the Cambridge/Somerville area, but I can breathe well. I don’t have to use Clorox to scrub my floors anymore. While I played loud music to bug the basement neighbors, I never had any one follow me up the stairs. In reality, I was really the one enjoying this music. When two young men tried to enter the building saying they had to see their cousin, but didn’t know what apartment he lived in, I slipped into the Pakistani grocery next door and told the guy what happened. He in turned looked out for me, and told one of his customers to look out. There was a mutual level of respect, but non the less there was still violence blocks away and sometimes just steps. I find it very common in my present neighborhood that people don’t look at each other anymore, it’s a survival for the fittest attitude and the fittest are the elite with mortgages. We live in self-serving people-hoods versus neighborhoods.

I recently had an experience in the local coffee shop that bothered me. I never went into this space, and there was a visible difference between the service given to me and the service given to the man behind me. We ordered the same drink, it was served in two different cups, and when I had a question about the size, the woman at the counter went downstairs. These are moments of racial discomfort. I’m in a cafe with all white people, and even though my skin is light by virtue of my features and clothing, I am not easily categorized, and I know now as an adult that it makes people uncomfortable. I know by virtue of my presence I have made peers, classmates, and predominately White people uncomfortable. I don’t fit into a box, and Puerto Rican was taken off the census in the 50′s. So by a carefully calculated choice, we are being threatened as a population in regard to representation. The largest Hispanic populations in the America are Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. However, I am not an immigrant, I am a migrant with a multicultural identity. This is hard to understand, not talked about, however I have felt it all my life with stares and exclusion. I am proud to say I am a bullying survivor.

Community is rare in a growing society that bases itself on primping online personas. I am guilty of such a task, however not in a deceiving way. I am extremely selective of the material I place on Facebook and I don’t tweet, yet. The impetus for both is professional background checks. If you tweet, regardless of your account status, your tweets remain their forever. My life and identity transform while there is a core essence of who I am that remains consistent and illuminated brightly when I feel safe. In a highly competitive environment, and in a world where violence against women is still a global crisis, I am OK with being the most authentic in person and living my purpose at my job and in the Cambridge Community Television Studio when I tape Café con Cass. The Executive Director of the station values free speech and knows her first amendment rights, and that makes me feel incredibly safe. They know I’m different, and they love it and gave me a space to express it. I am so grateful to their fostering a sense of community. 

I want to die a natural death where my spirit transforms and my body returns to ashes and the oceans, not where I’m locked on a Twitter feed. This may be controversial for professional reasons, however I do not see myself as being on a platform that will outlive Coca-Cola. Not yet at least. In the digital age, I have found the generation who first developed the Internet to be unforgiving with content. If we are held to the standard of our actions at 13, then what room is there for growth? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of schooling? We no longer die at 35 thanks to modern medicine and health regulations. I have personally felt this paralysis in the job search. Given my talent artistically, I am often asked what am I doing in an office. In an interivew, you can’t say – paying my damn bills because I’m a single woman whose first generation making my own history. You have to say something more applicable to the function of a job like, the opportunity to grow. I recently however, give my show Café con Cass, crossed the Internet thresh where I am now googleable. I am very proud of the content I have chosen to make public and I am proud that I am starting to explore race in a new way as it relates to my identity. I am Puerto Rico USA, from an island where race is only noticeable by shades, not by countries. We are a port, and Commonwealth but no man including American came to conquest the island with women and children. Of course, there is a bit of America in all us, Africa, Spain, Ireland, and so-on. 

As I reflect on the events of Winter, I also send blessing for the Spring. Happy Spring Equinox. The change has brought many transitioning thoughts and reflections. Of all the races and countries, we still orbit on the same planet Earth and can see the Sun and Moon from every angle in the world.

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Valentine’s Day Desktop Dump 2.14.2014

 

 

 

 

Images mean a great deal to me. In a digital landscape where I am consistently bombarded with images and re-reporting of news I created a new personal practice called the Desktop Dump to share images that provoke my interest and I would also like to have for the future. It’s not hoarding, it’s not scrapbooking, but a reminder to the little artifacts I’ve discovered along the way that effect my brain and heart.

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John Lennon’s glasses, the day he was shot.

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The changing tide: seafoam with gentle hues.

 

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Musings on Photoshop, I have pineapples on my mind….

 

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I spent New Year’s Eve alone. I consider the holiday season to have started on Thanksgiving and for the first time I traveled by myself to see friends in Colorado. The season was non-stop and by December 31st, I wanted to recharge and give thanks. I also wanted to meditate on a New Year’s Resolution or intention since I understand some resolutions take a lifetime to fulfill. I want this year to be about Forgiveness. Self-forgiveness, forgiving the past and the many spaces in between.

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Emotional Check-ins.

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::love::

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There’s an image that is tattooed in my brain from my last trip to Puerto Rico. It is of a tree growing in sand, on the shore where I waited like a mermaid to be brought to the shore. I noticed a baby tree growing from the sand and sat with it, for many minutes admiring the beauty and breathing in the birth of life. I am grateful to have witness such a miracle in a time of environmental despair.

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I started out on public access TV doing an episode of Women’s Voices. My high school intern called me a do-gooder. While I am, I still enjoy and was raised on MTV Media…so clips like this absolutely crack me up. You can do good and have swag. PR-USA.

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Balancing Baby and Body, a fantastic resource for young Mother’s created by a myo-ho sis.

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You can’t turn on the news without seeing some Kanye or Kim Kardashian link. I’ve been contemplating highlights and I was a bit nervous since I see an alarming pattern in media. J-Lo, Kim and Beyonce, all entertainers of color have a shockingly similarity to each other. I would see this as a coincidence if there wasn’t so much plastic surgery behind it. Why is Kim trying to look like J-Lo!?

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This is what we call a projection folks. Blaming someone for being something that you are.

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I miss Bob Ross and happy little trees.

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thugkitchen.com – a resource for men in need of cooking advice.

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1992. It’s been only 12 years since the explosion of technology. I am feeling like the economy rushed the boom like they would the kind of relationship you wake up in regretting. I am an advocate for media, but not predatory practices. See Rumsfeld below. With growth and breaking silence, we must also have other systems in place to support such growth.

 

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Desktop Dump 2.3.2014

I read a really inspirational article about native cultures and storytelling, not in the form of written word, but verbal. In the spirit of telling stories, I am a visual learner who prides in herself in creating beautiful spaces to feed the spirit and mind. I hope this visual offering can be a break in the monotony. I am currently on a Facebook cleanse and realizing Facebook is where I get my news! As I take time to digest some news bites, I am especially thankful that I did not expose myself to the Superbowl. The water cooler chat I find boring and the stories covering human trafficking and the illuminati to have weight, but lack any constructive response. Media these days is leaving me paralyzed and not inspired. I hope these images inspire you.

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I am close to a long term goal of studying at Harvard. As a pre-teen it was a dream, but I know it started long before and as I learn more about my life and legacy, I discovered two family members who came to the steps of Harvard and returned to Puerto Rico. With tremendous joy and appreciation, I am finally pursuing my Masters.

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True Friends are PRICELESS.

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I draw lot of inspiration from a couple with a sense of humor. I love this!

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I also find the names of the storms absolutely ridiculous.

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Emotional check-ins, my show’s staple, and my personal mission. Today I feel, many things.

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My idea of romance: CREATION.

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Beauty and inspiration for what 49 will look like.
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Strength

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Reflecting on aloneness.

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This was just too funny not to share….

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And this was too stunning not to give attention to….

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Tonight’s homework.

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Café con Cass, thank you CCTV for featuring me in this month’s newsletter. YOU are an inspiration.

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I genuinely felt like this has been my best show yet. I was really nervous for this one and you’ll notice when I say, “Good Afternoon,” and bounce right back. Enjoy this emotional check-in laced with laughter, prose, and good music. I’m so thankful to be a part of BeLive! programming at CCTV.

Greetings in the New Year

Seasons Greetings & Feliz Año Nuevo!

It’s been a while since I have written a post directors toward my visitors and readers using the “I”. Thank you so much for staying tuned and I hope you are having a blessed year regarding of the status of resolutions and family time. I have been thinking a lot about the New Year and the past year that I’ve had. I’ve endured loss, let love in, and tended to my seeds of hope to watch blossoms emerge. I am thankful for growth and this year, I have decided to focus on Forgiveness. My Mother, as with the matriarch birthed before us gave me a book titled 365 Day of Meditation. With intent to donate it, I thought with the timing of the New Year, I would start a page to honor those mediations and the questions that are asked in the book. A book that has migrated from living to living room in the lineage of my parents and the childhood memories of growing up with my Brothers.

I sincerely wanted to thank everyone for listening and reading and also watching my own seeds grow. I am thankful for having learned to honor the changes of the seasons as opportunities to honor my own changes in life. I have resolved that I will proceed in kindness and tend to the land that I inhabit. To reminisce without Champagne in hand, I must toast to the wisdom of dear friends who have always advised me to have roots with wings, to family members who lifted me when I had to crawl, and to contemporary generations who have begun to teach me. May you let love and light in for 2014.

With appreciation,

So Cassandra

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