A Smooth Sea Never Made A Skillful Sailor

As I sit here at SF Maritime trying to write about the amazing week I just had visiting some National Parks around the Bay Area… It’s hard not to think about the recent tragic police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile both Black males and both who had their last breaths caught on video. All over the news and Social media we are inundated with images, videos, articles and arguments. These men are posthumously put on trial, their alleged criminal histories and backgrounds serving as twisted justifications for what many have argued are public executions. As an artist focused on the intersections of race, history, art and politics, as an Ethnic Studies Scholar who’s studied the long arc of racism/dehumanization in this country, and as a Person of Color who grew up in the ‘hood with low income Black and Brown folks these all too frequent tragedies seem to always leave me at a loss. But as a human: anger and desperation consume me.  There are always so many intersecting histories of race and politics that these incidents connect to but are often discussed as isolated incidents in the mainstream discourse. Issues of “Black on Black” crime are always brought up as a deterrent to critiques about what some call state sanctioned violence; as if these communities can’t ask for police accountability and organize/protest because they cant merely undo generations of exclusion… Yet these communities, which are often historically impoverished, marginalized and underserved,  “which often results in more instances of survival crime…”  have always had community organizations fighting these results of systemic violence. Local churches, various local/community organizations, community elders and gatekeepers, neighbors, families, even state players like social workers, rec centers, and schools which are mostly staffed with empathetic individuals are just some of the many forces combating the ills affecting these communities. Yet it should most definitely be noted: State/Police violence is not the same as community violence, they should not be in the same sentence unless its about how state/police violence has historically attributed to community violence. So why am I talking about this in a Blog for the Latino Heritage Internship Program? Because this specific argument of community violence hits very close to home as I lost my older brother to gang related violence. But also, because I have been building a database of these groups for the outreach rangers at SF Maritime to contact and bring into the park. Also, I feel that programs like LHIP serve to not only reckon with this overarching history of exclusion, “The Latino Heritage Intern Program is a component of an overarching service-wide strategy to address and correct the lack of Latino employment opportunities in the National Park Service.” but to also engage the community and create valid and promising opportunities for social mobility. So when I have the privilege of going to Point Reyes National Seashore and Alcatraz Island as part of my internship and talking to rangers and have them tell me I can and should apply to work there it fills me with a hope that has historically been denied to communities of color. At Pt. Reyes we met with Park Ranger, Carlo Arreglo who gave us a tour of this amazing park.

LHIP and HBCUI Interns Eduardo and Sequoia meet with Ranger Carlo at Point Reyes National Seashore

LHIP and HBCUI Interns Eduardo and Sequoia meet with Ranger Carlo at Point Reyes National Seashore

From the Pt. Reyes website: “From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people.” We went to Drake’s Beach:
Drake's Beach - Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Drake’s Beach – Pt. Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes Lighthouse:
Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

and finally to an Elephant Seal lookout point:
Elephant Seals at Pt. Reyes

Elephant Seals at Pt. Reyes

I completely fell in love with the little I saw of Pt. Reyes. Later in the week we went to Alcatraz: Alcatraz Island Which was a different experience  for me given that one of the main attractions here is the former federal prison and how historically, and currently, low income folks and people of color are the ones entrapped by what’s known as the Prison Industrial Complex and the School to Prison Pipeline. So it was kinda weird being surrounded by visitors taking photos in the cells and buying “prison issue” mugs and stuff like that. But I was really surprised and into the fact that they left a lot of the historic Indian Occupation stuff up and even had an exhibition about it:
Indian Occupation remnants

Indian Occupation remnants

 
Indian Occupation remnants

Indian Occupation remnants

  That’s it for this week. Halfway done with this internship, it has been super interesting and quite the opportunity that definitely has me thinking about my future. PS: #blacklivesmatter

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