whm Tag

Who is She? 22- Black Lives Matter

Give thanks and nuff respect to Opal, Patrice, and Alicia for being. And thanks to all of the chapter members and allies across the world for doing the work; prominently Black women leading the work. All of them lit a spark that grew into a movement. For those who haven’t heard. Three Black women from different cities and similar minds made up the term, hashtag, and movement called “Black Lives Matter”. In LA, Oakland, and NYC it started and spread to Florida, Missouri, and other states; each having their own unique fights. If you want to read the words of the founders I suggest reading the statements directly from their site and interviews in The California Report, Truth-Out, The Root, and Democracy Now.  But, read from several sources to get the full picture. Some people cover the root causes and some people merely want to capture the “cool”.

In 2012 I remember it rising from frustration of being murdered by police with absolutely no consequences for taking of life. It came from the media’s misinforming the public about what happened and who BLM is. It comes from the state’s (city, state, and national governments) record of violence (physical, environmental, financial, and mental) on the lives of Black people all over the world. It came from turning that frustration into affirmation and saying yes we are here, we exist, and our lives matter. We’ve been facing it, struggling outside of the system, and going by the book. But when they finally had enough and stood up and said “no more” is when people started to take notice. Some people who understood joined in solidarity.  Others, who simply don’t see why BLM activists couldn’t just wait, calm down, or whatever used thinly disguised racism to attack them.

And well this is simply for affirming their very existence black folks from Toronto, Cincinatti, Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Sacramento, Pasadena, Philly, D.C., Cambridge, Denver, Boston, Tennessee, Texas, and other cities. For saying “no you can’t just oppress us” without a fight. For saying “Black Lives Matter”. What I admire most about the adults and youth doing the work is that they wont be categorized or placed in a neat box for older white conservatives or leftists to digest. They are changing the way we think, act, and act up. And they are not settling. Respect to the activists facing charges today, and those who stand up to the tired arguments that try to do everything but acknowledge the racism that exists overtly and covertly in our courts, classrooms, offices, police departments, banks, I could go on. The whole damn system is guilty.

Sources: Black lives Matter (site), Deomcracy Now (video), AJ+ (Video)

Who is She? 21- Deldelp Medina

A Colombia native and Bay Area home grown entrepreneur/ activist Deldelp has done something no one else in the tech scene has done. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I can tell she is the only Latina (Latinx/Raza/Indigenous) woman to be the CEO of a start up tech company that nurtures and assists other Latina’s to build their own companies. Ms Medina started “Avion Ventures” in 2014. It is what is known as a start up accelerator. It guides women, helps them develop their ideas, practice their pitches, mentors the, and helps them get the support they need to be entrepreneur’s. Deldelp has worked to promote Latino culture through Cine+Mas (Latino Film Fest), as an activist with California Crime Victims, and worked in development and management through multiple non profit organizations,

Why is Avion Ventures revolutionary? Well, without getting into a huge history lesson about colonization, white supremacy, wealth gaps, and the myths of meritocracy I’ll just say that numbers don’t lie. Some of the biggest names in tech have disclosed their numbers on who is working for them, and for such huge companies which serve everyone and claim to be for everyone they are ignoring a huge group of people who already make up the majority in the US. Not only are they not paying attention to Latinas and Latinos but they are loosing vital ideas, genius, and insight into communities they may not know intimately. Engaging Latin@ communities is not only good business if companies wish to stay relevant, its 2016. Come on!

Also, it takes a huge amount of resources, money, time, and risk to start your own business which I know as a freelance artist. Also, in order to succeed in tech, that factor multiplies; not just for resources, but who you know who is connected. So, as Deldelp has said, she has been in too many rooms where she is the only woman, the only bilingual speaker, or the only person of color. That needs to change and she is leading that change alongside organizations like Code 2040, Hack the Hood, Latina Geeks, and Black Girls Code, and the Latino Start Up Alliance.

Sources: LatinPost (site), Platform (video), Deldelp.com (site), NPR (Radio), Avion Ventures (site)

Who is She? 20- Junko Tabei

Junko Tabei was the first woman to climb to the top summit of Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) in Nepal/Tibet. Junko was born in 1939 in Fukushima Japan and began climbing in her 30s. She has climbed many mountains to date. Some of the tallest are Mt. Fuji (Japan), Erta Ale (Ethiopia), Puncak Jaya (Indonesia), and the Matterhorn (Switzerland). Junko started a women’s climbing club in the late 60’s called “Ladies Climbing Club” and went with an expedition of women in 1975 to climb mount Everest (Sagarmatha). They spent months training and preparing for the expedition. Two special things about this woman’s achievement. 
One, it is hard as hell to climb/ hike to high elevations. You carry gear with you for eating, sleeping, etc and you must take your time using safe routes to reach the top. The mountains she climbed were the most enormous in the world, with Everest measuring in at over 29,000 feet high. There are hundreds of people who even with the help of local Sherpa’s (guides) die trying to make this trek. It is incredibly difficult.
Two, at the time when Junko climbed the mountain she was battling a lot of sexism in Japan (and the world). In her country women were viewed as less than. Men did not view women with the respect they do now. They thought women should be at home, blah blah, blah. Junko made this climb anyway, with her 3 year old daughter at home with her husband who was also a mountaineer. Juko is still climbing and leads an organization called the “Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan” which helps support the trips of students who wish to climb, and the Sherpa’s who help people survive the treacherous climb.
Sources: NBC News (site), Wikipedia (Site), Japan Times (Site)

Who is She? 19- Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia is the one who threw the first bottle. She was one of many who set it off. Sylvia was a Puerto Rican Trans woman who lead a life of activism for young gay and trans youth in the city of New York. Along with Marsha Johnson and others she dealt with the harassment, the threats, and bullying of the NYPD, straight society, and even fellow Gay and Lesbian folks in their movement. Sylvia lived from 1951 to 2002 and inspired a generation of LGBTQ activists to stand up for their rights. I’m still learning and admit that I know very little about the Gay Rights movement, or the lives of Trans folks, but I do see that their history, herstory, stories need to be told so people learn about the discrimination, homelessness, activism, triumphs, legacy, classism, patriarchy, and love that is their story. Sylvia founded an organization with Marsha P Johnson called STAR-Street Transvestite and Rvelutionary. This organization pioneered advocacy and support for young gay and trans youth who were on the margin, kicked out, ignored, and murdered simply for existing. She challenged Gay and Lesbian activists who wanted nothing to do with trans folks and by throwing a bottle at the NYPD, she helped to ignite a rebellion that no longer accepted being oppressed. I consider her a woman to be talked about more during “Women’s History Month” for Latinos, people of color, lgbtq folks, and straight/cis people like myself to learn about.

Sources: Pay it No Mind (documentary), Sylvia A Radio Onda Rossa (interview), Wikipedia (site)

Who is She? 18 – Eiko Tanaka

Eiko Tanaka
is one of the founders of Studio 4C, a Japanese based animation studio specifically focused on anime for televsion, feature length films, music videos, and short films. Eiko began this company in 1986 with animator/illustrator Koji Morimoto. Eiko worked as a line producer on several Studio Ghibli films and has acted as producer for several of Studio 4c’s films such as “Animatrix” and “TekkonKinkreet”. A producer’s job is to communicate between executives and creatives. Their job is to make sure the project stays on time, does not go over budget, and that the creative teams have what they need. As the CEO of the studio she now oversee’s the scope of the company’s current and future projects. Because she and her staff do such amazing work, her studio has received acclaim and awards from all over Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Studio4c.co.jp/english/ (site), Wikipedia (site), The Origins of Ash panel (youtube)

Dig this? Check out this portrait of character designer Sandra Equihua

Who is She? 17- Queen Lisa Lee

MC and rhyme champion Lisa Lee. I saw her in Wild Style and Beat Street and wondered, “yo, who is that rhyming” and then she said her name. Lisa Lee was born and raised in the Bronx. In an interview she said her and her brothers started to learn drums and mixing at a very young age in the 70s. She went to a party being held by Afrika Bambaataa and Disco King Mario where she got on the mic and started rhyming. She went on to be a part of the Universal Zulu Nation, an organization founded by Bambaataa to unite all the gangs in the Bronx around peace, love, music, and culture. Lisa would go on to star in the films I mentioned as well as make several records such as “I’m a pioneer”. I feel like she does not get enough shine and there needs to be more of a spotlight on her life and achievements while she’s still here. Much respect to Queen Lisa Lee!

Sources: Bee Shine (youtube), Real Queens of Hip Hop (site)

Who is She? 16-Hazel Ying Lee

Hazel Ying Lee was born in 1912 in Portland Oregon. Her parents were immigrants from China. She was a pioneering woman in aviation, being one of the very first women to fly fighter planes for the US military’s WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) and one of the first women to offer her flight services to the government of China during World War 2 at a time when the Japanese were invading China. Hazel started her flight training at a young age and received her pilots license at 19 being one of the first Chinese American women to obtain such a license. After she was rejected as a fighter pilot (because she was a woman) she flew commercial planes in China, and then returned to the US after the attack at Pearl Harbor to enlist in the newly formed women’s airforce. She flew planes that accompanied newly built bombers and fighters and faced some challenges as women were not given the full benefits of male pilots and were not treated as air force officers, but as civilians. It wasnt until the late 70s after much fighting that the women were recognized as military personnel. Hazel died as her plane collided with another during a routine trip, but she inspired many of her fellow pilots and a generation of young Asian American women and women of all races. The first time I heard of Hazel and any Chinese American women who were pilots was at the NYC Museum of Chinese Americans.

Sources: hazelyinglee.com/main.html (Site), Wikipedia (site), www.mocanyc.org

Who is She? 15- Susan and Zakiya (Hack the Hood)

I met both Zakiya and Susan several years ago here in Oakland. Susan Mernit and Zakiya Harris are the Co-Founders of a ground breaking Oakland based organization called “Hack the Hood”. The organization brings in mostly African American and other students of color to learn about the tech field. From the interview I heard with Zakiya on “Blacks in Technology” it sounds like a stretch for some at first, but they soon realize that everywhere they go they are no only participating in the tech industry but they can be active makers and producers in it as well. The students learn basic and complex coding skills by building websites for local businesses. They are not only learn coding, but they learn people skills, how to work with clients, and what it takes to run a business-therefore bringing more people of color into a extremely white, homogenized, and exclusive field.  Along with other organizations like Code 2040 they are changing the landscape of tech and empowering young people to be creators.
Susan comes from a background in tech, working for corporations such as Yahoo, Aol, and Netscape. She also founded or Co-founded several media and tech savvy businesses here in the Bay Area such as Oakland Local. She is the CEO and Executive director of “Hack the Hood”. 
Zakiya I know from Oakland’s historic arts culture of music. She was one half of the group Fiyawata, is currently working on a solo music project called “ShapeShifter”. Zakiya has a long history of community organizing and youth education through organizations such as Grind for the Green at Ella Baker Center, TED, The Youth Leadership Institute, Global Exhcnage, and countless others. She is also a founding member of Oakland’s Impact Hub which is the only HUb out of many worldwide run by Black women!
Sources: Blacks in Technology (podcast), http://www.hackthehood.org/our-team.html(site)

Who is She? 14- Susan La Flesche Picotte

Susan was the first Native American woman to be recognized by US school standards as a doctor. I say recognized because women and men have been caring for and looking after the health of their families and tribes way before the term MD (Medical Doctor) was a title here in the US. Susan was from the “Omaha” tribe and was born in what is now known as Nebraska in1865. She was raised in a family that encouraged her to pursue her education. In 1884 she attended the Hampton Institute, which was founded to educate freed slaves. Her parents also encouraged her to learn about both the Native American and White world, which were crashing, rapidly changing, and mixing. When she finished, she returned to her reservation where she served her people, ding her best to stop outbreaks of smallpox, diptheria, and influenza. She owned and operated her own clinic in Nebraska and was instrumental in founding a hospital that is now a national landmark in her name. As an advocate for health she also participated in political efforts to protect Native Americans.

Sources: nrcprograms.org (site), biography.com/news/susan-la-flesche-picotte-biography-facts (site)

Who is She? 13 – Antonia Hernandez

Antonia Hernandez is an attorney based in Los Angeles who now runs the California Community Foundation. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants from Coahuila, Mexico. She graduate from Garfield high school in East LA, and went on to get her law degree from UCLA in 1971. She quickly began using her degree to fight for the rights of Latinxs in East Los. I found out about her through the ground breaking documentary “No Mas Bebes” about Mexican mothers who were sterilized against their will or without their knowledge. Antonia with several of the women who were victims of this practice sued in a landmark case that would make it illegal to perform such activites without a bilingual representative and the documents in the mothers native language. Later Antonia would become a part of MALDEF-the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. There she would work over 20 years fighting for immigration, language, voting, and healthcare rights for Latinxs nationally. From an early age she was involved in boycotts for the UFW and attended many protests. She is a fighter and has been awarded many times for her work.

Sources: CalFund.org (site), Prof.chicanas.com/ (site)