From Antioch Seattle’s MAEd Urban Environmental Education (UEE) Program’s Alumni Journal.
I am an award-winning documentary filmmaker from Oakland, CA. It is definitely a passion of mine. I brought that into the program. Before the UEE program, I traveled extensively and have filmed in places like Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa which led me to be motivated to uncover the beautiful lands and cultures that masses of people will never know about. I want to blend my passions for people, culture, and video to break open the world to others. I believe a lot of our hate and biases come from a place of not knowing. I want to tell captivating stories that expose people to other cultures, ideas, and ways of life, with hopes to bring more understanding. I believe each experience molds us into the people we are.
I came into the Urban Environmental Education Master’s program with a Telecommunications BA in radio, television, and film from Texas Southern University, an HBCU. At TSU, I was mainly surrounded by Black people. Not that all Black people have the same set of experiences. Because the UEE program attracted a wide range of people, it exposed me to many different people and walks of life, different experiences than that Black experience.
I encountered different thoughts, different backgrounds very different than mine. When you expose yourself to new people, it expands your worldview.
Working with the first cohort, you had such an array of personalities and interests. Everyone had a different paradigm, they ranged from extroverts to introverts. I thrive in those situations. It gave me the space to be nimble and explore new ideas with people, like being exposed to ‘gender binaries’, I had never been exposed to that concept or that reality. The fact that I had the opportunity to learn new ways of being in the world, to experience the challenge of learning something new about people and places every day, why things are here, questioning what purpose those things serve. I’m fortunate to have had the experience of bringing those conversations and challenges into the educational arena…definitely not a typical academic setting.
Recently, I’ve developed a Podcast that is all about collecting stories. Malcolm X once described each of us as a bowl of soup. Every person that we meet, every experience that we have is like an ingredient in our soup that simmers over time. The Podcast stories are flavoring my soup! t is an avenue for me to tell stories that are inspiring. I want to teach people something new. I want to transform people by exposing them to experiences that they may not have had before—to inspire empathy. A lot of hate in the world comes from not knowing. If other people start to listen to stories that aren’t their own they will realize that at the core we are more alike than different and should not be feared.
We can break down some of the racist barriers that exist through stories. I believe that growth happens when you are faced with differing points of view…and that when you go through the cognitive dissonance of accepting what you’ve learned…that’s the way this country will progress.