2/24/18 Session #10

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This morning we ground ourselves with the reminder from Juliet our Brown In Chicago project director that, “to study is a revolutionary duty, and we ain’t just doing this for an A+ within a capitalistic society!” We each took turns sharing what topics we want to research for the duration of the Brown In Chicago Fellowship up until May. Within the next two months we will work within groups to conduct our own research projects on a topic of interest related to previous lessons. The following are topic ideas presented by each fellow and answers these questions: What I hope to learn/research more? What have I learned so far? What are ways I plan to learn more?


Emma: I used to think Latino culture and identity was more or less the same and I want to know more about what doesn’t make them monolithic. I’m interested in learning more about my indigenous background. I would love to find out how it’s still alive today in multiple cultures in Latin America. I’ve done limited research on this topic so far but I’ve been able to read small articles about different cultures in Latin America. Now that I have more concrete data about my DNA and what it’s made up of I can go from there. The first step in my plan is to conduct more research using all the resources that have been provided to me. I would also like to interview people to see if they have any input or information that I might not be able to find.

Austin: I want to deepen my own familial experience and to get to the root of acculturation and assimilation. How can internalized racism become so defining, despite it not being an explicitly overt/conscious action? I’ve found a couple of great resources on the topic and have been able to put my own experiences and the experiences of others into perspective. While I do want to use academic sources and back up what I say, I want this piece to be more personal. I will keep on finding more resources! Talk with more individuals about their experiences and work on formatting the whole piece.

Lucas: Understanding how we are developing or ascribed to the way we are today? Perhaps looking into epigenetics? Where did Mexicans get culture from that made it it’s own in terms of music food and appearances? How different are we to even say we are different from one another if I look more Puerto Rican than Mexican to others? What I have learned so far is that nothing past being born on a different plot of land and our skin color and adaptation occurring making from scratch what they had that later carried itself into the twenty first century. The way I plan to learn more is by investigating the lands and tribes/groups of people I am blood related to and see how much I relate to them in my personality, looks or how I am in my everyday life.

Arely : Last year my Mexican identity was deconstructed and I felt shook. I am proud of the diversity I see in Mexico similarly to the U.S. I want to know how to claim my indigeneity and access it. But, by doing so this means to reject my family’s Catholicism which upsets them. My research question is, What does it mean to be Mexican? Who are we as culture? I’ve learned that there is colorism and that it’s very similar to the U.S. we come from different backgrounds and are treated accordingly. But we are also one at the same time, being Mexican means being the colonizer and colonized at the same time for me. I plan to make more trips to Mexico and keep learning about the history of Mexico and learn how the people interact with the different dimensions Mexican culture.

Anaiza: How can POC students take education into our own hands? Why are we still struggling with dropout rates if our ancestors fought so hard to win us the fight to go to school?

Brittany: Why isn’t Latino history taught in school? Or just the option for it, having it available would be nice. Even when I was in grammar school in Puerto Rico for a little, we spent a little time learning about Tainos but more focus on Mayans groups. Meeting a Taino man on the isla who was proud of his culture inspired me that the culture isn’t dead. When we learn about Latin American in U.S schools, it is still Eurocentric and focuses on economic development and influences of colonialism is viewed as “mixing” which is just whitewashing. I am learning that more about more types of indigenous groups, challenging in school why don’t we learn more about Latin American History, about historical challenges against education/institutions to include more ethnic studies in our schools. I’m Interested in creating curriculum that is accessible Ethnic Studies and Integrating personal narratives.I want to explore how music, dance, and other mediums can challenge racism?

Ashley:  I want to begin to Heal from Catholicism. By shifting religious affiliation and practice I want to see someone like me when I pray to God. While exploring and practicing Yoruba culture and spirituality I want to embrace natural and holistic forms of healing. Not depending on one person like God and to better feel supported by multiple orishas instead. This is a life changing process that will take time for me to better understand my familial indigeneity abuelita knowledge. I wish to know more about their traditions and our history?

Merari: I want to learn more about ending cycles of generational trauma, understanding my own healing, and learning more about my family’s battle with mental illness history.

Of the eight research topics and questions discussed above from the students in attendance I narrowed their topics into three main research groups based on their interests:

1) What is the history of the U.S Education Systems and importance of implementing Ethnic Studies?

2) Exploring what is Latinx identity, Nationalism, and internalized prejudice?

3) What Generational Trauma and decolonized healing?

Within these next two month we will continue to work on our research projects and continue to find creative ways to present our projects and share them within various upcoming community events which are planned or in the planning process still. One upcoming event that was co-planned with a B.I.C Fellow with a relationship with ICIRR: Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights will take place at on March 10th at the Immigrant Youth Conference at Northeastern Illinois University – El Centro Campus from 9 am – 2 pm. As a response to the attacks on immigrants and our youth, ICIRR and partners are creating a safe space for immigrant youth and provide resources, workshops, and an opportunity to meet other immigrant youth across Illinois.

Evelyn, a B.I.C fellow collaborated to design an hour long workshop for this conference called, WE ARE ENOUGH:  I don’t need your papers to be whole, I am already whole, I am already enough. While it’s so important to fight back and arm ourselves with information, it’s also important to recognize our need to heal from being an immigrant in this nation at this time. In this workshop we will introduce the concept of healing justice, create art that affirms who we are regardless of this status and create a safe space to share our stories.

This workshop is just one example and community engagement opportunity that was inspired by the Brown In Chicago project and am excited to see the other projects grow into fruition this upcoming spring 2018!

 

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2/3/2018 Session #9

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Today’s notes were gathered by Brown In Chicago Fellow Merari Flores while I took a sick day because the flu has been spreading around aggressively! Edits to notes made by Violet. Additional guest joined today’s session such as staff from LSNA and the parents of some of the youth participants. Today’s presentations is to unpack DNA from three different professional backgrounds in biology, anthropology, genealogy and social work.

Check in question:What are we expecting to hear/find out today?

Tammy- The biggest thing I like to learn today is how to better understand my 23andMe results? What do they actually mean? I have second and third cousins from the reports, should I reach out to them?

Annisa- I’m excited to learn more!

Gerrick- I’m pretty anxious to be honest but I still haven’t gotten my results yet.

Merari- I already had my results from last year so i’m excited to see what y’alls results are.

Emma’s parents- Extremely excited to find out more! To see how closely related we are to others.

Lucas- I don’t really know, I’ll take it as it is, my first cousin reached out, a third cousin reached out to me from the reports.

Arely- This is my second year too, even though you never finish learning about genealogy

Evelyn- I’m really excited to learn more about bio-culture, it’s something I want to be able to talk to my family about this because it was problematic.

Ashley- I just want to learn a little bit more about where I come from.

Kerry- I’m excited to explain more about the Azknasi Jewish ancestry.

PowerPoint: BIO-CULTURAL US: MIGRATIONS, FAMILIES, ORIGINS, GENES AND PEOPLE

Notes from the following presentation:

1.The Migrations of Homo Sapiens

-Where do we come from originally? We are all for the most part from East Africa.

-We don’t know the whole picture but we know we arrived about 50,000 years ago.

2.Racism and ‘race science’ in the 1800s

-When Irish people started pouring into the U.S there was a notion that they looked closer to Black people.

3.Skin color spectrum

-The amounts of red and yellow based melanin in the skin which protects it from ultraviolet rays from the sun, is highest nearest the equator, declining further away where skin is exposed less and still needs more sunlight to produce vitamin.

-Skin color does relate to where people have originally migrated from.

-Freckles are a mutation of dark skinned pigment people losing color, result of later migration. Why? Because as we move to places that have less and less sunlight we lose color.

4.Is it in our genes? Is it in our cultures?

-Extreme biological determinism:basically justifies outright racism, all social conditions and behaviors are linked to biology.

-Extreme social constructionism=all life conditions and behaviors are socially made, this can be used to justify colorblind racism

-Bio-cultural synthesis=social conditions and behaviors are linked to ancestries and inheritances.this recognizes difference but undermines racists claims.

5.What forces are leading us to map our genes?

-The Black community wanted to know their ancestry, people wanted to learn more about themselves. There is this form of “marketing a more inclusive” gene.

-Genes are not stuck to geographies.

-When we say someone is west african we say from gene flow that it is where place of conception was.

-We have never been a species that has stayed in one place.

6.The whole picture of our biocultural selves

-Phenotype has to do with reproduction, identity and ascription is how you and others see you, family and kinship has to do with how physical traits are sure.

-A recent study showed there is wider genetic variation among present day indigenous people in Mexico than between for example the average German and Japanese person.

Questions from the presentation:

Emma’s parents: Why would anybody want to know more about me? i’m very happy knowing I have Native American and African in me!

Ashley: I can actually answer that, my grandma was indigenous from Oaxaca so I was always wondering where exactly she came from specifically what tribe, and I went to Arizona and there was indigenous women from oaxaca and they say they couldn’t help me find out exactly know from what tribe, so I like knowing after seeing my dna results that I have my grandmother living in me.

Tammy: For me, I would really like my results to narrow down to specific countries, because West African is not enough, my whole family says we are Native American, so getting the results back I can see there is not one drop of native American, I want to know the specific countries, knowing specifically where I’m from. I boohooed tremendously and that’s because we don’t know where we were from, as I shared this with my family members they just didn’t care and i can’t understand why.

PowerPoint: ASSESSING BIODIVERSITY IN THE ANTHROPOCENE :THE CASE OF PARAGUAY

-Based on fossils how old is our world? As far as we can tell from the oldest rocks on the planet our planet is about 4.5 billion years old

-How old are Homo sapiens? About 200,000 years old
-When we started seeing lineage of modern-day life it happened at 500 million years.

1.A Brief History of life

-Our planet has not always looked the same way it looks today, if you look at an apple and see the skin, that is how much actual land we have on our planet, everything else is lava.

-When you have rock that is extremely hot it starts to move so all the top little plates are literally flowing on lava and they are constantly moving, so what we have today has not always been and depending on where continents are determines wind currents and the global climate

-Our continents have always been shifting.

-Darwin explained a mechanism how to explain how evolution works which was natural selection.

-Somewhere around 12 million years ago Central America came up.

-Modern day chimps are still around because they adapted to the forest and stayed in the forest.

-WE DID NOT EVOLVE FROM CHIMPS!

-We evolved from australopithecus africanus to homo erectus.

-We are more closely related to chimps but we did not come from chimps.

PowerPoint: DNA TESTING MODULE

1.DNA TESTING FOR GENEALOGY

-Genealogical dna testing lets us go deeper than our known family tree.

-Son and daughter get the mitochondria dna.

-Fathers pass down the Y dna.

-The further back you go the less percentage you get.

-Why ashkenazi dna? The jews that originally came from Spain are called sephardic jews. In 1492 the catholic church offered the jews of spain.

-When we see Ashkenazi in our DNA it is most likely Jews who were forced to convert and then came to the Americas.

1/27/18 Session #8

Our check in this morning revealed that with the momentum picking up for the new year many of us are beginning to feel overwhelmed with our daily responsibilities.There was a sense of feeling unbalanced within our roles, school, work, and personal lives. As a group we thought it would be best to center ourselves and practice mindfulness and meditation before diving into the discussion for today. We practiced an excerpt of a 21 day meditation series called Black Feminist Breathing Chorus , which focuses on a guided meditation lead by Alexis Pauline Gumbs. Each meditation day is inspired by the legacies of black feminist thinkers, writers and activist. We meditated to day two which features Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks and the affirmation highlighted from this episode was, “I have hopes for myself.”

We planned to take time to discuss and debrief the 23andMe DNA ancestry results because a majority of the group received their results and were eager to process. We took turns going around and asking “what has changed about how we see ourselves after our results” or “what questions we have about the results?”  For those who did not get their results back they shared experiences they have had with instances of prejudice around the nuances of race/ethnicity/nationality.The following are the responses from the group:

Ashley- Which box do I check off on legal documents or surveys since I’m 75.8% Native American? I don’t have to check off the white box under the category for race but do I have that privilege to check off Native on the boxes? I want to continue to learn more about the indigenous side of my family.

Pedro- While filling out border card to go from O’Hare to London during my recent study abroad trip,I filled out my nationality as Latino/Hispanic  on some paperwork and the TSA agent aggressively crossed out my selection and told me, “NO, you’re AMERICAN!” I didn’t want to argue so he can get on my flight safely without being detained.

Annisa- When I shared my results with my parents my father teased her about having 33% Native American ancestry and about continued on how I inherited that ancestry from my mother’s side.

Lucas- Receiving my results inspired me to travel to Spain and Italy more!

Roxy- Uncovering that her grandmother isn’t my “maternal” grandmother and now I’m trying to discover the stories and rumors about her papers being fake or stolen might be true.

Brittany- I am trying to understand where Native American identity fits into my own identity? I find it so weird that I come from Europe/Spain when ethnically I am from the islas like Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. How can I be both?

Austin-I think we construct our own identity but also we honor our families and ancestors. I have learned so much about who I am from my mother and am starting to understand how these identities intersect.

Emma- I’m feeling overwhelmed and processing these fresh results still.

Juliet- Reclaiming African diasporic identity is helping me counter the anti-blackness within my family and also to accept that I am mezitaze and how mixed my own heritage is.

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We ended our meeting to a quick field trip down the street to visit Hairpin Arts Center, for their latest guest installation called, For the People Art Collective “DO NOT RESIST? 100 Years of Chicago Police Violence.” We had a private tour curated for our group around the different exhibit art pieces that addressed Chicago Police Brutality over the last 100 years. Art that was represented from as early as the 1919 Chicago Race Riots to #BlacklivesMatters demonstration photography from the last few years. I also spotted a photo of my fellow LSNA Youth Organizing colleague Lili with her five year old daughter at a #BlacklivesMatters protest we attended with a group of Youth leaders during the summer of 2016.

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It is important to remind ourselves why projects such as Brown in Chicago wants to explore notions of race, identity, decolonization, and power structures. These are the social constructions our society is informed by and how we navigate throughout our communities. This art installation reminds us that our history and engagement with Policing and Prison Industrial Complex is perpetuated are sustained by racism and violence. What we can do to not continue to engage within these structures is to truly take time to reflect within ourselves what privileges we benefit from and may take for granted. While challenging how to hold ourselves accountable to not be a bystander to inequalities that are as subtle as a micro-aggression’s or inequity within institutionalized spaces.

12/2/17 Session #5

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This morning was very anticipated by our youth and their families to complete and submit our 23andMe DNA kits! Over breakfast we were able to share with the families our process of the Brown In Chicago project from the previous year and what this new group of participants. At the end we held a small candle lighting ceremony and invited the parents/families to share a “wish” they have for their children as they anticipate their results over the next 4-6 weeks. Many parents expressed gratitude to be apart of this project, wished their children to feel more proud and confident about their culture and many blessings and we learn to honor our ancestors and history.

Meeting #7 08/15/2016

1) Welcome and purpose La Cultura Cura 30 anos de cambios
2) Introductions with check-in question:

  • Diga por favor su nombre y su pueblo de origen.

3) Powerpoint about DNA and consent forms

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/16WvQOS6Jit7wFSLYmQD1TPq677P_I24FCFqE8hVPdn0/edit?usp=sharing

4) DNA swabbing, email registering

5) Dinner

6) Presentation from Barreras & then Kerry

  • Fill out form with names of family born before 1950

7) Q and A
8 ) Closing ceremony- poem and un deseo que tienes Por su hijo

Meeting #3 07/18/2016

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Session Objectives:

  1. Framing & big picture overview
  2. Review process and timeline
  3. Introduce Journey Guides
  4. Discuss ways we want to go on this journey together
  5. Introducing the ancient and ever-present power of storytelling
  6. Introduction to Genealogy
  7. Review the history of the creation and use of the concept of race
  8. Review the history of Latinxs in Chicago, specifically in the northwest side

Agenda:

  • 11am         Juliet & Violet: Welcome, Introductions and Icebreaker, Review Agenda
  • 11:20 am    Juliet/Violet: Group agreements  to create Safe Space
  • 11:35am     David: Framing & big picture overview,
  • 11:50am     Working Lunch
  • 12pm     David: The ancient and ever-present power of storytelling in our personal lives, the lives of our community, our organizations and as a tool to heal racial wounds.

Followed by first Storytelling assignment – Construct a short 3-5 minute story about what you have learned of your ancestor’s journey so far.

  • 1pm David: Interactive presentation on the history of the creation and use of the concept of race. Specifically the historical interconnectedness and impact of power and economics and racism on all people who reside(d) in America yesterday, and today.

First research and storytelling assignments: Consider the major social, economic and political conditions that shaped your ancestors’ decisions over the last 200 years.

  • 2pm Kerry:  Introduction to the Practice, Power, & Limitations of Genealogy

Question:  What are your hopes for this process?

  • Why We Do Genealogy?
  • How We Do Genealogy?
  • What sites are available to search for Latinx families?
  • What genealogical records are available?
  • What kind of information was included in these records?
  • What do we learn from the records?

Check-in:  How are you reacting to this process?

Genealogy Learning Outcomes

At the end of this project, you will know more about:

  • The value of genealogy as a way to connect with the strengths of our ancestors
  • How to search the major genealogy sites
  • How to find and document your family history
  • How to understand genealogical DNA test results
  • How your family history is part of your story

3:30pm Jesse Mumm: Latinxs in Chicago: waves of migrations, racialized housing

practices, a history of displacement and recreating home

4:45pm Juliet/Violet: Closing PAR Questions:

  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ Whole Group:What surprised you today?
  • Jot down a few notes to yourself→ share in pairs→ What do you want to learn more about?