"It is very important for us to pass our culture on to our kids who were born here and to those who came when they were small. That's why I teach traditional dances, like the one with these coconut shells. We don't want our children to lose their heritage. They need to know where they come from and what is means to be a Filipino. The most important value for them to learn is respect for their elders. We have a gesture called 'mano po' which young people do as a sign of that respect. Here, we will show you." (see photo below)
According to Wikipedia, "Mano or Pagmamano is a gesture used in Filipino culture performed as a sign of respect to elders and as a way of accepting a blessing from the elder. Similar to hand-kissing, the person giving the greeting bows towards the offered hand of the elder and presses his or her forehead on the elder's hand."
Enjoying lunch at the Germantown International Fest 2016
***Series: Germantown International Festival***
“When I was living in Poland, I wasn’t all that interested in Polish culture. But when I moved here 21 years ago, the connection with the old country---the history, my roots---started to become more important. Now I participate in international festivals and do a lot with the Polish-American Society here in Memphis. I made this traditional Polish dress mostly by myself. I go by Gosia, but my real name is Malgorzata---like Margaret in English. When I got my citizenship, I could have changed my name, and for a second I was thinking maybe I should, to make it easier. But my American friends advised against it. Then too, I was thinking, ‘You know what? My mama gave me that name, and I’m going to keep it forever.”
***Series: Germantown International Festival***
Gosia is a member of the Polish-American Society of Memphis.
From the website: "The Polish-American Society of Memphis was established in 1978. Our mission is to strengthen bonds and solidarity, provide mutual support and help between Polish People, cultivate Polish traditions, culture and language, and the promotion of native Polish values in the American society."
FB : Polish-American Society of Memphis
"My mom always told me, ‘Nothing is going to be handed to you. Go out and make your own way. Make a path for yourself. Success is something that’s earned.’ She’s encouraged me not to be just average, but to go beyond average and do what I know that I can do. She pushes me to be better. I’m in my sophomore year, majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and someday I’d like to do sports broadcasting. I love talking; I love communicating, so I think I'd enjoy broadcasting about anything. I’m ambitious, confident, humble, and I never give up."
“Four years ago I was attending a public school, so the majority of my friends were black and I didn’t have to worry about whether someone was secretly racist or whether their parents didn’t want them hanging out with me because of my skin color. But now I’m attending a predominantly white school, so it’s different. Sometimes you have to wonder if your friendships with people of a different race are going to be affected by events like the ones this summer. You get on Twitter or Instagram and see black people saying things like, ‘The problem is that white people are racists.’ Then you read white people who say, ‘Racism is over. It’s not a big deal anymore. He was just a thug. He shouldn’t have been doing this or that.’ You feel like you’re being forced to choose sides, but it’s not a game of choosing sides.
“A lot of people think what’s going on is a police versus black issue, but that’s a misunderstanding. I’m a big advocate for doing what’s right and fair, for equality. My godfather is a police officer. My real dad wasn’t in my life much until 8th grade, so everything I know about being a man came from my godfather. He’s one of the most respected men that I know. He’s always told me as I was growing up that if I ever get into a situation where I’m about to be arrested, don’t resist because the cop has the right to subdue you to get you to cooperate. I understand that.
“What’s been happening this summer is more about people’s hearts than about police actions. The police actions are just examples, symptoms, of what’s really been going on in the larger society for a while. People are using the incidents as an outlet to voice their opinions and to create a change that’s bigger and more real than in the past.
“The school I attend now is diverse, and we talk about these kinds of hard topics. We do things where we have to address what’s going on and not just push it under the rug. We won’t be able to grow as a school, as a community, or as people living in Memphis unless we have these conversations with each other. We have to work together. I have a friend who texted me when the protest started on the bridge. He said, ‘No matter what, I don’t care if you’re black and I’m white, we’re still brothers. We’re still in this together. No matter what social media is saying, you know I have your back, and I know you have mine.’ Those are the types of relationships I seek out.”
Marquavious was first runner-up in his age category (ages 14-17) in the National Civil Rights Museum's 2016 Drop the Mic Poetry Slam.
"Our son had a degree in marketing and a decent job, but he came to me one day and said he wanted to be a police officer. His father and I were both upset, but we supported his decision. His wife did too. His first night on patrol---he was in north Memphis--was the longest night of my life, but once I saw how much he loved it, once I saw the love that he had for the people he was helping, then I calmed down. Since then, I’ve really not been too apprehensive. I just pray, and that’s how I get through it. You have to grow a thick skin because people don’t like police officers. When they need something, they expect the police to be there, but until then, I’ve heard him called all sorts of names. I want to come back and say something, but that’s not the way to do it. I worried about him the night of the protest on the bridge. He was out there, and I didn’t know what was going to happen. His wife and I are very close, and we got through it by talking and texting each other. We worry about him. But we see his joy, and we see the good work he’s doing and how he’s helping Memphis. He doesn’t do it for the money, obviously. He doesn’t do it for the glory because there’s not any. He does it because he loves people. I respect him for that."
“My dad’s been a Memphis police officer for 26 years. When I was younger, I didn’t really think about the danger. To be honest, at first I didn’t even know he was the type of police officer who was out on the streets. I just thought he went to his job and worked inside somewhere. As I got older and started watching the news more and saw the things that were happening in Memphis, I realized that he’s putting his life at risk every day to protect us, and I developed a much greater appreciation for the job that he does. When he’s at home, I take the time to be with him and talk to him because I realize there’s the chance he might not make it back home at night. I think about that every day when he leaves for work, and I say a prayer for him before he goes out the door.
“I really hate seeing people talk about the police on social media. I know they probably have an instance where something with the police went wrong, but when they say what they do, it’s just like putting everybody under one umbrella, which is not true. What goes through my head is: ‘If they met my dad, I don’t think they would have the same opinion.’ Most of my friends around school know my dad because he coaches track in his off hours. He’s pretty friendly and outgoing. He doesn’t usually talk about what’s going on in the media; he just keeps his same mindset and doesn’t let things upset him.
“I know there are a lot of African-American males getting killed by white police officers, but I see the other side too. I see what goes into the police training and why an officer may have made the decision to do what he did. But then I see the other side, as in, ‘Hey, that could be me.’ It’s hard to know what to think sometimes.”
"The person I look up to the most is my dad. He’s my number one man in everything that I do. Although he’s not my biological father, he treats me just like his own, and that really means a lot to me. He’s always encouraged me to be myself, to know my worth, and not to blend in with the crowd. He’s my biggest supporter. I’m a college senior now, majoring in Political Science, with plans to attend law school when I graduate. My aunt, uncle, and cousin are all attorneys, so that plays a big role in my life too. I would say to other young girls who are wondering about their future: The road is never easy, but if you believe in yourself, plan ahead, and take the initiative to do what you need to do, you can make your dreams your reality. Keep God first, whether or not anyone else is supporting you. There’s no excuse to give up on yourself."
“I've always been a farm girl. Even after my husband and I sold our place and moved to a small town, I didn’t want to feel crowded, so we bought a house that was off by itself. I missed the farm, seeing the wild deer and turkeys, but it was good that we moved because it wasn’t long before my husband got sick. When he died, I lived by myself for several years. Then my daughter started talking to me about moving to Memphis to be with her. I thought, ‘Oh, no. No. That’s too big a place.’ I was happy where I was and I liked my independence. There was an OATS Bus that came by and took me anywhere I needed to go. I didn’t have to rely on anybody. I did come down for long visits though. I spent the winter here three years in a row. The first visit was hard. It was so different trying to adjust to living with somebody again. My husband had been gone for a while, and I was used to being by myself. When you live with somebody, you have to figure out whether this person wants to go this-a-way for that-a-way. You each have your own way of doing things. I don’t care how old you are, it’s hard. You’ve got to be conscious of being kind to somebody every day and you don’t always feel like it. Every time I visited, I was ready to get back to Missouri, to my home, in the springtime. Then I fell and couldn’t do the things I used to anymore, and I finally decided to move in with my daughter for good. It was sad to think about selling my home, but things change. It was time to turn a new page in my life.
“I like Memphis better than I thought I would. I’ve made friends in my Sunday School class, and my daughter takes me to the Dixon and the Botanic Gardens. I love to see the flowers. She lives on a quiet street too, so I don’t feel crowded. I’m by myself during the daytime because she’s busy with work, so it feels comfortable. I always look forward to her coming home in the evenings, though. We have our routines and everything works fine. There’s not any friction. I have a bedroom and a bathroom, and I can go back there anytime I want. I finally feel like I’m at home. It worries me sometimes that I’m doing things I shouldn’t be doing, but my daughter says she likes having me here. Still, I try not to be in the way. I took care of my father-in-law and my mother---Mama lived with us for three years---so I know how that feels.
“The hardest adjustment has been losing my independence. Instead of just hopping on the bus like I did before, I have to rely on my daughter to take me to the doctor, to the dentist, and anywhere else I need to go. It’s like I’ve reverted back to being a child again. I feel like, ‘I am not a child. I can take care of myself.’ But when you’re older, you have to depend on somebody else to take care of you. It’s a big change.”
"I'm a senior, majoring in Mass Communications and Broadcast Journalism. One of the things I do is give motivational speeches in schools and churches. I try to give young people hope and tell them that there is more than one path, and that it’s up to them to choose it. In my talks, I include a poem I wrote about my dad. He left when I was young and I don’t really remember him at all. Fathers leaving their families isn’t something that happens just with black children; it happens in other races too, so it's something a lot of people can relate to. For a long time I used my dad’s absence as an excuse, but I finally realized that I had my own mind and I could use it. So when I talk to young people, I want to let them know that being without a father is not an excuse. They can still be great."
RaShawn performing a spoken word piece, Naked Truth, at the National Civil Rights Museum Drop the Mic Poetry Slam 2016, Memphis, Tennessee:
"I was out of college and looking for things to do, and I learned that all the really cute girls were going to art shows, so I went to art shows. Eventually, it rubbed off on me and I came to really like the art itself, although I still go very often to see the cute girls [*laughs*]. I’ve been a curator for a while now, arranging various shows around town. This is a good time in Memphis because there are more walls. You don’t have to simply be in a commercial gallery. There are many alternative spaces and more people showing than ever before. There’s some really fine work, so it’s exciting. For a couple of years, I had a sublease on a South Main storefront and would do a show every month, which was a lot of work. Now I do pop-ups. My fifth show will be coming out in September. Every two or three months is about right. It’s a little easier to do that and hold a day job. I love it, and it’s a hobby that doesn’t cost me too much. I can’t afford to duck hunt or bicycle the way that people do now because the equipment will kill you. Sometimes I actually make 5 or 10 cents off an art show. It’s a vocation and an avocation. It’s the best of both worlds."
Ken Hall, Art Curator / Civic Engagement Consulting