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Category Archives: 2013 Kenna Williams

Who am I…

It was a dream unlike I ever seen

But I walked in the doors and it was as realistic as it could ever be.

Contemplating on this world and the individual that I choose to be.

Contemplating on my individuality and wondering will it make a sufficient enough difference in these eyes that look back at me.

Dwelling on these ideas, caught up in these thoughts, seeking inspiration, trying to find ways to solve…

Or at least manifest this world into something of greater applause.

Oakland is where it dawned, I became fond of the culture, feeling like I belonged.

Found out more about myself than the past 18 years of my life.

Almost too good to be true, easy to fall into the stigmas that these common minds produce.

Feeling oh too grateful for such a gift.

I learn to shut my damn mouth and LISTEN to the issues that need addressing.

I walked on sidewalks with no side and sides with no walks.

Reflection of the lack of time and effort but an effort to give time behind bars.

And the tears wept because of the inability to provide for his family.

And the tears became sweat as he sells drugs for his family.

And it all became a trap because he has no way to provide for his family.

But statistics would instill in these minds

“What’s wrong with humanity”

And the books will write

“Turn to page 52, look how many people of color are incarcerated because the lack of education”

And then you turn on the news

Feeding into the minds these diabolical stories of minorities putting the world at stake.

But with your next breath intake

Understand that certain people are left to be framed.

Understand that they expect you to be just as close-minded as you are and point the fingers at certain people for the blame.

And you’ll go on and on teaching generations of generations the same.

But it takes someone real to see more than just the cracks in the pave…ment

And I meant what I vent.

I feel sent to represent.

A message that just won’t transmit.

So again I say I meant what I vent.

I feel sent to represent.

A message that I hope will transcend…

Oakland into more than a cliché thought that people tend to exemplify

If anything we should be petrified at this system we tend to identify…with

If only we can just see the beauty that exists

And relinquish the lies and twists that we have so heavily wrapped our mind in.

If only…I decided to start solely with myself.

I realized that HELP starred me back in the mirror.

-Kenna Williams

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This is the last time I’ll be writing but it won’t be the last time I hope to keep making changes in this world. The entries stop here but my mind will keep advancing and approaching better solutions to issues. I am not the same person I was when I walked through these doors. I really found myself again here and I am glad I did. A place called Oakland that has so much negative vibes with it, has brought me back to peace with myself. How is that possible? It’s mind-blowing that this has happened. Words could not express the experience or thoughts that have transpired over these 8 weeks. But I know how to express and the mindset I must keep while I continue this journey. I feel as though this journey has just begun. This 8 weeks was just a taste of reality. And I know I am going to be hit with many more difficulties, but with many more joys of prosperity. I am excited for what is in store. I am going to miss everyone dearly. St. Anthony’s I have loved you dearly and appreciated every day spent with you. Reshmi, thanks for being an amazing boss! Maggie, Amelia, and Gabi I would not have asked to do this internship with anyone else. Through our ups and downs, happy times and difficulties you all have taught me a lot and open my mind to new ways of thinking about things. To all the CILSA staff, thank you for the wonderful dinners and the heartwarming advice. Ryan, I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to do this program. I never thought this will change my life, but it has in many ways. If I had the chance, I would do this program over and over AGAIN. And to everyone else, THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!! I promise this won’t be the last time you hear of me.

Peace, Love, and OAKLAND!!!

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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

Wake Up Call

It has come that time where I begin thinking how much I am going to miss this dearly. By this I mean all of this. I’m going to miss my new friends and coworkers at work. I am going to miss my roommates, this wonderful house we got to live in, my neighbors Kenny & Laura, Laura’s kids, and even their pregnant dog Serenity. But I AM REALLY GOING TO MISS OAKLAND!! The thought that even after I come back to visit Oakland to in the future, I will never live in this house again, or probably walk down West Grand and turn onto Brush street. This last week and a half is everything and more to me. Words can’t explain how much this experience has meant to me. I am content with my experience, and I am content with the change and development that has occurred over the last month and a half. I am so overwhelmed with the joys of life, yet also with the needed changes and problems that exist. I just finished my freshmen year and feel so empowered by what life has presented to me. Sometimes it all feels like a dream, but I must say this passion and vision that I feel so strongly about has grown deeper since being here. I am so grateful for this experience. Not only has it kept me determine to change the system that we live in, but reflect on who I am as an individual.

These last few days I had the opportunity to go out and protest. I’m sure we all heard about the verdict of Trayvon Martin. For me this is of no surprise because Trayvon is one of the many individuals who lost their life and received no justice. We just so happen to be lucky enough to hear it on television or the radio because many other individuals did not even get that much. I asked myself all this week over and over “How do you live with this? What do I do? Kenna, when are you going to say enough is enough? What is this world coming to? How do I take out my anger in a positive way”? I guess I am fed up. It disgusts me that I live in a world where I share the same air as these animals that run the system. The fact that it took even this long to come to a verdict. I wouldn’t be surprised if they knew the verdict, but just wanted to buy some time to actually make people think it was actually some thinking going on in the court. I do not know if I was more angry with this case or the amount of ignorance I heard and seen after the verdict. Either way, I refuse to sit down anymore. I don’t want to see something like this happen again ever. So on Sunday I decided to come out to the protest in Oakland, which for the most was empowering. On Monday, my roommates and I decided to protest with my roommates. It was inspirational and we protested on a freeway. I felt so much of an adrenaline rush as I spoke out for a tremendous cause. As much as negativity I have been given for doing this, I won’t let it stop me because I know it is nothing but a great way to advocate. When I get back to school, were going to advocate about it on campus and within my club. How else is our system suppose to change? The system is ridiculous and racist. I refuse to complain about the system anymore without changing it. Sitting around and doing nothing, that is exactly what the system expect. I won’t let the system run me again, therefore I am acting out against it. Acting for a cause has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I cant believe this is the second to last time I will be blogging. I remember the first day I walked in this house and was not sure what to expect. I guess that’s the beauty of life though, expecting the unexpected. Never would have thought this internship would have impacted my life, my world, and my individual self. With as much as I have experienced, I feel so much older than just a soon to be sophomore in college. It’s amazing how you can get so much out of life living simplicity. In our reading for today, there was a quote that said: “Voluntary simplicity involves both inner and outer condition. It means singleness of purpose, sincerity, and honesty within, as well as avoidance of exterior clutter, of many possessions irrelevant to the chief purposes of life”. This really stood out to me because I have such a difficult time with this in my personal life and trying to live beyond my means. Honestly, you need none of that to be filled with life and joy. This protest was a perfect example how I joined the community for an important cause without a slide of my debit card or a checkout line. At the same time, I felt great about it. I felt it took being in Oakland for me to realize and remember the type of world I came from. Also the realization of not forgetting where you come from because it can easily be forgotten. This reading only reiterated that into my mind. Simplicity, it’s so simple but so powerful.
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

Solidarity with the Poor

“Acquiring material objects that bring status was offered to the poor and underprivileged as an antidote to the “shame” of poverty”

This was something very significant in our reading on “Solidarity with the Poor”

How does one manage to get oneself out this loophole? It seems as if the system is a trap for so many people who are poor. It’s so confusing and such a complex ansl-1wer that 10 of these blogs wouldn’t bring me to an exact answer. The system is so psychologically twisting that I can’t even stay angry long enough without  feeling confused again.

I know I’m not the only one angered. I see it in the many people living in poverty at St.Anthony’s who are struggling to find housing, or the people on fixed incomes who are trying to make their money stretch the whole month. The sad thing being St Anthony’s being the only source of food for so many of these people. Is the problem solved at only saying the easy way out being knowing the difference between needs and wants. What do you really do when your needs are not even be made? What do you do if the system you live in makes it impossible to get your needs met? But then they glorify you with wearing a certain brand, wearing a particular show,or driving around in a certain car? How does that mess up the minds of the many in poor?  Did they ever think that possibly giving them that idea that if they live beyond their means, that it will begin to be a lifestyle that they would try to live? You’re telling them being poor is not good enough, so in return what do you think people who are poor are going to try to do to try to not receive this label anymore?

They’re telling these people “Oh I’m sorry your poor, but let me comfort you with these shoes and clothes that aspire to this lifestyle that is unrealistic”. Rather than saying oh here, let’s break down these injustice barriers to provide people in inner city with more job opportunities and better resources. It’s so difficult to approach but what do we say when we don’t even realize? Does it taking be there to know what it is like or mindset is being implemented into the poor? I wish I knew all these answers because it’s an overwhelming process and a thought that drives me crazy.   This lifestyle that so many people dream is a substance of abuse fostered from the media. The media are toxic because they will portray all these lavish things, then the next minute portray all these minorities singing and rapping about all these lavish things, then make millions of dollars off portraying this, and then put this stigma on these minorities that this is all their about. It’s simply a way to stay in power. Part of is that people need to look past the big picture. Like here in West Oakland, look around at the many things they do have and what they do not? Right down on Adeline Street and West Grand there is a Beauty shop (the size of a grocery store) that sells all type of products to enhance the beauty, knowing that most of the community around here is primarily African-Americans. Trying to be beautiful is already a significant factor in our world, especially to African-Americans who don’t see enough of themselves on television being portrayed as beautiful.They’re willing to put this in West Oakland, but they can’t manage to put a grocery store that sells produce? There’s something missing here. They only help people have their priorities out of line, yet could care less if your family had a decent meal to eat.

Through it all, I know things will improve. I feel it is going to be a lot to change things like this around. I think it will take more of the inner city community coming together and realizing what is going on. I believe and know it just take hope and the want to make a difference. I know it won’t be something I may see overnight, but one day I hope to make a change. I will make a change. I know I will make a change.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

Bart Strikes…Angela Davis Unites…PRIDE..well is PRIDE

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We are now into our 5th week of the program and it has been one heck of a week. This past weekend I had the opportunity of watching “Free Angela and all Political Prisoners”. I really enjoyed it with my fellow roommate Maggie. Angela was one sophisticated woman and I hope to have the opportunity to meet her one day. She was so empowering, intellectual, and an assertive human being. On top of that, the movie theater was amazing. The movies there are only $6 and did I mention that they serve you food in the theater! It was really cool and only down the street from where we live. I am so glad I came across a wonderful landmark.

On Sunday, I attended PRIDE for the first time in my life ever in San Francisco. It was CRAZY!! My favorite part was probably enjoying the different organizations and companies celebrating PRIDE. There was so many people that I literally had to hold on to my roommate Amelia as we pushed through the crowds so I would not get lost. I found it heartwarming to be able to celebrate the love of all kinds. However, I also wish PRIDE was a time to really understand the struggles and rights of lesbians, gays, gender queer, trans, etc… I find that many people do not understand or care for the rights of others, but just use it as a time to find an excuse to party like crazy and get drunk. However, I am honest enough to say I do not know much about the historical struggles of gays & lesbians. It definitely was an eye-opener to see all the naked, half-naked, not naked, and the all of the above at PRIDE. The only thing I could do was laugh in my head and say you are BRAVE!

This week…well…BART IS ON STRIKE!!!

I have been taking the bus to Jack London Square, taking a Ferry, and then taking a bus to the Civic Center area for work. This is a very effective way for Bart to get their point because not only is BART losing loads of money, but it is taking me significantly longer to get to work and get back into Oakland. However, I have been patient and actually believe that BART should continue to strike until they get the benefits they deserve. If I was in the BART employees position, I would be out there striking too. It’s sad that it came to this. I think it should be a given to receive these benefits that many of the employees want and need. So sad that we still live in the world like this where companies are ravishing benefits out rarely, but working people like slaves.

Hopefully the rest of the week goes smoother. I am really looking forward to this weekend and 4th of July but This friday is First Friday and may be the last First Friday. So I am excited to attend and do other fun things this weekend. Can’t believe our 5th week is almost over. This internship is slowly ending and I don’t think I’m ready yet to let go! I wonder where it will lead me… I feel like I have understand so much more, looked more in between the lines, and discover so much beauty. One for thing sure being here has made me much more passionate about my major and career choice. I am still empowered to become a Sociologist and I am more than sure the talk of Oakland will be in much of my research. This place is beautiful. I love it for its good and bad. I’m going to miss when I leave but this definitely won’t be my last time. Oakland is another home to me.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

If Life Didn’t Get Difficult, Then Would It Be Life?

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It’s only Wednesday but has probably been the most overwhelming week so far. This week has been tough. Work has been filled with all sorts of personalities and attitudes. And well at least I am learning how to be very patient with the many situations I have to deal with. It is the end of the month and this is when St. Anthony’s is the most crowded. I have been taking every day step by step and appreciating the company. After all, I think of the many people who lives are like this everyday. I am grateful for what I do have and thankful that I am in a stable position because not too many people can say that. I notice that I can say that now without having to witness or hear someone else’s story. So I have become a lot more aware of my privileges and what I do have. I can be in a lot worst position in this world but I am not. So I should focus on that.

I am excited for this weekend. I never really been to PRIDE, and I have the opportunity to go this weekend. I am super excited because so many people speak of it being awesome, and so I am anxious to experience it for myself. I also hope to attend an event Saturday night listening to Ethiopian poetry. It seems as though it will be very interesting, as well as I hope to endure other places within Oakland.

I cannot believe we are like halfway done with the program. Next week will be my 5th week in the program, and that leaves us only a few weeks left here in West Oakland. I hope to make of these last weekends. There is so much that I have received from living here. I come to love our neighbors Kenny & Laura, and their pregnant dog Serenity. Laura has three kids and hoping to move out of West Oakland. I even know the location of the neighborhood crack houses. I feel it is apart of the community. Somehow I feel it brings the rest of the community together knowing that places like drug houses exist and we need to keep each other safe. It is places like this that reminds the community that we need to stand together.

I feel I have already transformed since being here. I am more aware, more knowledgeable, more passionate about life. I almost wish that every person had the opportunity to see this. In all honesty, I feel as though this is a gift and maybe everyone doesn’t deserve this opportunity. If I were to do this over every Summer, I would love to do so. Each time thinking of a different way to manifest Oakland into something better than the last, I am especially driven about the things that need improvements. On the other hand, what keeps me here is seeing some of the most exciting things I ever seen in my lifetime. Again I say, how many people have this opportunity to do something like this? Not many I say, not many at all. I hope I can create new footsteps and open new doorways to the next person daring enough to see what is on the other side.

To You Oakland, I say thank you for providing me with such a gift.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

…but CJ This One is For You

This week has been sort of rocky, yet I cant’ deny how much I am growing and changing. St.Anthony’s has been great, but I guess this week sitting down and talking to our guess at St.Anthony’s, I have heard some saddening stories. I met an older guy named CJ at St. Anthony’s. I shared to him how I am attending Saint Mary’s College of California. He shares to me that he wishes he had the opportunity to go to college too. He spoke to me about being raised with 4 other siblings and his mother never having the money to send him to college. What stuck out to me is that CJ did not have the ability or potential to go to college. It was financial complications that kept him back from such a wonderful experience. It only reminded me that even though I come from a single mother household, I made it to college, and I am grateful for that alone. Being a first-generation college student, I hope I set a distinct difference within my own family and future generations to go to college. So there can be fewer cases like CJ, and more cases about how college has helped so many people become successful. Anyways, CJ told me he was sick. By sick I mean that he was terminally ill with AIDS. When he told me this my heart dropped. It took a lot for my eyes not to water up. Words could not come out my mouth. I almost felt like I had trouble talking or even putting words together. So the next words that came out my mouth was: “Do you feel satisfied with your life”? His response was: “I don’t know. I felt like I have tried my best”. And I responded: “And you should be proud of yourself for that. I am glad you did not give up, and you tried to make the best of your life. That is all you can ask for”. After that we sort of left toff silence, and he reminded before he got up from the table to stay in school. And I said: “It’s people like you, that keep me driven to stay in school. I appreciate talking to you”. I feel that conversation has been in my mind since it started. I guess there is no way to grasp how empowering or put to words what CJ has inspired me to do already.

In other news, this weekend sounds like it may be exciting. Me and the girls have a few possible things on the list. I hope to see more of Oakland. I also have been trying to make it a habit to exercise and challenge myself a lot more. So I been running/walking around Lake Merritt. Lake Merritt is beautiful!! More importantly, it is great to be feeling healthier. Oakland continues to surprise me, yet continues to keep this passion fired in me that I will make a change. There is nowhere else I rather be spending my Summer right now.  What is a better opportunity then changing who you are, before you seek to change others? I just hope people can see the world more like how the people have provided here for us in Oakland. I mus say its been a gift in itself. Goodbye for now.

P.S CJ this for you!

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams

 

When Life is So Unexpected…it gives you the gift of Oakland

*Clears Throat* HELLOOOOOOOO!!!!!

I must say Oakland just continues to surprise me as I go along. Just this past weekend, me and my fellow roommates: Gabi, Amelia, and Maggie went to Oakland FIrst Friday. This was my first time ever attending First Friday and was awesome! I got a couple Oakland Wears because I got to rep Oakland LOL! Let’s not mention how crowded First Friday was!! I was like WOW!! Long Beach promenade every Friday has nothing on Oakland First Friday. Moving on, I continue to love my job as it continues to surprise me everyday. San Francisco is  something in itself. It amazes me as I walk the little way from Bart Center Drive to St. Anthony’s, and you see how much drugs have corrupted so many people and tore so many individuals apart. Yet as soon as I walk into St. Anthony’s, I see hope once again for so many people out there on the streets struggling with addiction. I felt there is nowhere I rather be working right now than at St. Anthony’s!! The people there are AMAZING!!! It just amazes me the most random people who I meet, make the biggest impact ton my life. For example, one of the senior citizens that come in named David really makes my day every time I see him. We bonded because I explained to him how I was a Sociology major and he explained to me how he graduated in 82′ from San Francisco State with a Sociology degree. This guy is so sweet and amazing! I love making his day and if he doesn’t know, WELL DAVID YOU MAKE COMING TO ST. ANTHONY”S SO EXCITING!!!! There is a lady that comes in the wheelchair everyday named Lynn, and I must say she is hilarious! I feel she has more authority than I do, yet I am the one walking around with the walkie-talkie. But don’t tell Lynn that, she will put you in your place faster than anyone. Not to mention I love sneaking her extra slices of Carrot Cake because she is just cool like that. (Don’t tell anyone). Living in the house has been pretty cool. We have some amazing cookers in the house! They know how to hook a girl up. Not to mention Maggie really has had me being more adamant about eating more vegetables. Amelia & Gabi remind me so much why I love Latin American food!! YUM YUM!!! Well that is all for now. Keep tuning in. PEACE!!!

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in 2013 Kenna Williams