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Category Archives: 2013 Gabriela Michel

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……bittersweet?

Honest to God, I really have mixed feelings right now…and here’s why:

1) I like Oakland. No scratch that. I LOVE OAKLAND.

2) I like the people that I got acquainted with this summer at Catholic Charities. They are nice people trying to help others in a corrupt ” democratic” social service system. Which makes their jobs a bit harder than it needs to be. Thank you Congress!

3) Cultural diversity- Oakland is the only city that I have lived in that embraces cultural diversity. This city for the most part is an ethically acceptable city, which I LOVE.

4) Lake Merritt- Possibly the best place in the entire East Bay to take a contemplative run or walk on any given day.

5) Chinatown- This district in Oakland has the best Chinese food and Balboa Tea shops I have ever been too. I have quite a few Asian friends and acquaintances back in my hometown, notably Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese ones that have introduced me to Balboa Tea…but the Balboa Tea in Chinatown have by far been the best I have ever had.

6) Jack London Square District- I just like this area of Oakland, mostly because you can see the waterfront and the skyline of San Francisco and the island of Alameda. They also have a farmer’s market on the weekends and have free movie nights almost every Thursday night during the summers.

7) West Oakland- has so much history and so much diversity in one neighborhood. If I could  live off of any street in Oakland, it would off of West Street in West Oakland, simply because of the majestic victorians. I always wanted to renovate one and own one maybe this would be the place to do it.

8) Telegraph District- I have had the BEST Ethopian food in my life thanks to First Friday! Telegraph has all of the best stores- in Oakland and in Berkeley.

9) First Friday- I really like the vibrant and liberal hippiness that First Fridays has. I am very speechless on so many levels for this event…. I know for a fact that this open street festival brings out the best that Oakland has to offer! ūüôā

So, I’m very fortunate to have called this place my home for the last couple of months. I do not regret one minute of this experience. I have learned a lot about myself and I have grown from this experience. I have evolved into a more socially and progressive person overall. in some sense, I have ¬†changed and became more of myself with the three wonderful ladies here in Oakland. I will miss them very much and hopefully, we will find the time to come back here often as we can in order to explore the different parts of the city that were and still are precious to us in a lot of instances. I will miss Kenna’s rants about the biased injustices at one in morning and her suppositions and willingness to learn new things about anything. I will miss Maggie’s side comments and shared frustrations that all of us had with the injustices surrounding the racial and sexist tensions in our prevalent patriarchal society. I will miss Mia’s hippy style and bubbly sense of self, and her thirst for curiosity. I think we all came in with the sense of unknown about this “process.” With the shared readings and discussions about the social changes that need to be done in our society, has to be taken into account. My journey does not stop here. It’s only the beginning. Right now, I just might sign up for the nest LSAT preparation course…and possibly start a lucrative career as either a public attorney or possibly civil rights attorney. We’ll see, but I like to live a radical and progressive lifestyle.

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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel

 

Fruitvale

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January 1, 2009 in the early morning of New Year’s Day, I was sound asleep in my bedroom overlooking the Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood of Sacramento. During that time, a man by the name of Oscar Grant, was shot in his back at the Fruitvale BART Station, here in Oakland, CA. The bullet eventually punctured his right lung, causing an artery to explode and internal bleeding to dictate the remaining hours of his life. Amelia and I went together for the 6 o’clock showing this last Friday night…after the the movie, we found ourselves to be emotionally drained with the stupidity and ignorance that some people in my generation have. In this instance, we saw that racial stereotypes dictate the fate of racial minorities. It is still prominent in this day and age, yet some of the political authorities in power do not even know how to address these kind of issues.

Since I have been in Oakland, I’ve noticed that this city is very radical and some of the protests that are organized are based on the ideologies of anarchism- or at least that is what my perception is in some sense. I understand that the political system is corrupt and that it should be ¬†“fixed” but the thing is, is that people forget how to act at appropriate times and how to act with dignity. Monday, was an interesting time since I went to one of demonstrations that supports ” Justice for Trayvon Martin”. While I was at Frank Ogawa Plaza- or renamed to Oscar Grant Plaza by the Oakland Occupiers, I thought it was interesting. I was curious to hear what they had to say. But, what people should know is that curiosity should never overpower your intuition or conscience. I felt that I was playing with my values by partaking in this demonstration willingly, yet somehow felt liberated that I was trying something completely different and somewhat ambiguous in the process. I learned a valuable lesson and will always know that there are ways to break the corrupt system, and that is by becoming a part of it, in order to fix the nook and crannies that create the corruption within the system in the first place. I want to work with others to make the system more for the people in a diplomatic and humane way.

The one thing that I will never understand about the corruption of this system is that no one has the power to take a life away from loved ones and no one should walk free knowing that they did something wrong and feel no remorse for it. With that said, I think it is important to restructure some parts of this society. And my only question is how? I want everyone to have equal rights and I do want everyone to have opportunities that are tangible for anyone else. Structure in our society is important but what will be the ideal structure and governance for everyone?

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel

 

Questionable

The state of poverty is always seen as a negative stigma among the American people. My question is why? If people in this country were truly educated about how poverty came about and how it was constructed in this country thanks to the capitalist society, along with the closed-minded racial and gender discriminatory prejudices that everyone has, then poverty would not be such a problem. Hatred is not a reasonable emotion to rely on. This monstrous state of mind is something that humans thrive off of once they either feel insecure, unjustified, or even undignified. Hatred fuels angriness and vainity, along with other emotions that are irrational. I know these emotions are very human. But what about empathy and compassion? I noticed that there are more gang-related violence going on lately around here. I am aware that a part of this experience is about breaking stereotypes among the people in West Oakland. So far, I’ve come to love this community. Many people are good people who make irrational and silly choices, just like the rest of us, may I add, ¬†that impact their potential to become something more. For the most part, that is what it is. For others, it seems that violence and drug addications is an endless cycle that is never broken- this ideology is highlighted because of the media- thank you public broadcasting. Honestly, the public perception matters, but what use is it to us if we are not compassionate enough for the people that need help? Also, why is it very hard for people to cognize the importance of self-sustainibility? In some way or in another, some people’s egotistical side get the best of them. And for others, it is just as people say it is- nothing more than a mere fantasy- to picture a utopian world where people have equal rights regardless of race, gender, sexuality, and social standing. It took this nation how many years for people to finally realize what equality is all about? Nope. It’s a still an on going progression waiting to happen.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel

 

Acceptance

One thing that I love about living in Oakland is the fact that there is so much diversity and so much productivity in the center of the city. Sure, Oakland is notorious for being one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country…but the fact of the matter is that most cities have crime-ridden parts and safe, nostalgic parts of it as well. However, what people fail to recognize is that crime happens because of one fundamental theory: inequality. Inequality, or any mistreatment of a human in this case, will cause people to resort to perform crimes or violence in order to fulfill the need to feel whole again, in efforts to feel dignified. But, the thing is, that many people do not treat each other with respect. I for one, do fall under this category at times only when someone I trusted has disrespected me in some sense. Either way, that is not the kind of attitude or treatment anyone deserves. In all, I think that people resort to such behaviors is because they are unhappy…feeling unhappy is never a satisfactory thing and is never a good thing to experience. We determine our own happiness and our own destiny. This is something that I find hard to do at times, most of the time, because I look at the imperfections, which is unhealthy and unrealistic. But since I have been here, all the imperfections have been the most intriguing part of the experience and the most rewarding. I’ve grown to love this city for what it is. No ifs and buts about it. In some sense, you might as well call me Oaklander, for now.

 
 

Certainty

Monday, was essentially the first townhall meeting that I experienced during my time at Catholic Charities. I saw how they ran their meetings and treated each other with such respect. I like the admiration that each and everyone of the coworkers treat each other with such respect. I like the fact that they run their programs with such prestige and great empathy for one another. I heard the success stories of clients that are catered by CCEB’s services. These ¬†stories are the kind that inspire me to become apart of a greater cause, a communal cause. I know by the end of my time there, everything will come full circle.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel

 

Lost

This past week, while I was catching up and hanging out with my family for Father’s Day weekend, I told them about what was going on at work. I saw no progression in what I was doing or in the assignments that I was assigned. It seemed even more frustrating that the administrative side of the company is always preoccupied with other projects going on whenever a question or difficulty arise out of these projects. Instead of voicing my concerns to my boss directly and meeting him once or twice in my entire time at CCEB, I had to email him and plan out when to meet him during his break times ¬†and spontaneously see if he was available in his office. Keep in mind ladies and gentlemen, that I have and am trying VERY hard to figure out what I am suppose to contribute to Catholic Charities of the East Bay during my time here. Research, research and more research. Information keeps piling up and the only thing that is keeping me motivated is by talking and communicating more efficiently with my boss ¬†on what he wants me to see. I like brainstorming and talking about theories that will help plan out advocacy strategies and such. I’m growing fond of the people I work with here, but I should be more sociable with them seeing that I am here in my cubicle researching and analyzing my thoughts onto this computer and various notepads. I am trying to be patient with myself throughout this process. My mom even told me,” Sweetie pie, you’re more of a hands on person.” And my dad says, ” I always saw her doing a bit of both, she’s more like me in that sense.” Well, the truth is I’m not so sure. The more I do this kind of work, the more I am adjusted to this kind of work ethic. I know I am not perfect and I know I make a lot of petty and irrational decisions when I am not patient with myself or even not truthful with myself, but being here in this office has better me in some sense. Yes, the work is tedious and challenging. Yes it can be boring just staring at the computer screen reading criteria and requirements about advocacy tools. But I know that some day CCEB might use these tools to develop a foundation to start an advocacy like plan or campaign that can help the mission and vision in the process.I do want certain things to better for Oakland. Maybe I should start seeing that my work here will help CCEB better their services to help others.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel

 
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Progression

Progression

Some of the very simple things in life are hard to understand. But the one thing that I like about living in the Bay Area, especially about living in Oakland, is that there is a chance for anyone to become immersed in the diverse culture that is so beautiful and wonderful. When I went to First Friday for the first time in Oakland this last Friday, I was awed by the fact that everyone was so integrated into their own environment. Liberalism was present. The freedom of expression was present. Everything about Oakland is progressive. Part of it, I believe is the fact that people are more sociologically aware of their surroundings and realizing that prejudices are just another form of hatred. Part of it, I think is that people are becoming more considerate of others and are essentially embracing cultures that are present in the East Bay. That’s why I love it so much here. I think going to First Friday and the Haight-Ashbury Street Festival this weekend, along with hanging out with a good friend in the city illustrates the uniqueness and beauty that the Bay Area has.Every person that I encountered this weekend, showed me in some respect that I should embrace diversity, which makes me happy. Growing up, I observed that people try and always will explore society, by trying to identify themselves in the process. I know I do, but what’s the point of identity, when I want to be seen as an equal human being in society? ¬†It’s in our nature and it’s real, to identify oneself and to become apart of a larger social group that expresses that similar identity. Identity determines everything and nothing for some people. But for once, I saw people in solidarity. Solidarity is what society should aim for, not vanity or belittlement that is expressed when a person is not accepted for who they are.

The organization that I am interning with this summer highlights these ideologies in some ways. By integrating and practicing the Catholic Social Teachings into their mission and vision to better the East Bay region as a whole, is essential for a more progressive front. Being socially active and being socially aware is something that should be taught or instilled to everyone at some point. At the end of the day, I hope that at someone is thinking about this. That particular person who is thinking about this, realizes that one little action can make a difference, whether they know it or not.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in 2013 Gabriela Michel