Interview starts on 34:50
Posts tagged poetry.
By Fong Tran
Dear Young Man of Color,
I want to begin this letter by saying that I’m sorry
I’m sorry because statistically speaking….
you will become a statistic
that numbers about you and your kind
will run off
like the dates, names, numbers and descriptions
of newspaper Obituaries
Latino males ages Ten to Twenty Four
Nineteen times more likely to be murdered than White counterparts
Two point one million inmates in the prison
Forty point one percent% of them are made up of African Americans
Thirty Nine point six percent% of Southeast Asian Males drop out of high school
You will be America’s most wanted
because you will be America’s most hated stereotype
Thug, Thief, Delinquent, terrorist
murderer, criminal, felon, hoodlum, Gangbanger, Ex-con, Etc.
you will be every policemen’s profile description
They use everything about you, against you
first it was eugenics and they said it was in your genes
then they blamed your hip-hop culture and not the crack dope fiends
but the music was to liberate us
then told control of it
now all it does is break our trust
man, we used to believe in it
then Miley Cyrus appropriated everything
and starting twerking on it
And you’re probably thinking
how’s this Asian kid hood enough
why this model minority
is telling you about oppression
but trust me when I say
there is nothing model about my life
section 8 housing, welfare checks and food stamps
becomes my families helicopter dropped foreign aid
and trust me when I say
that there nothing more gangsta
than have parents that hustle loaves of bread
in destitute Pilipino refugee camps for 8 months
But you see they try to pit us against each other
They force us to play oppression Olympics
but this shit is more like the hunger games
and people are looking to assassinate you
that even though you bear historical scars of slavery
and fucked up immigrant policy
you will be hunted down
they will be coming in packs
and you struggle with minimum wage rags
to hold back the bleeding
they will be coming like the angry villagers
and you will be their needle in their haystacks
and prison industrial complex is the testament
how they will burn the whole house just to get to you
But you will be resilient
you will overcome
that even though everything
will be against you
you are exactly what this world needs
they put you behind bars
just so you wouldn’t raise it
let me make it clear
that even though you start from the bottom
you change society beyond here
you must be the unexpected
you will break the molds
Shake status quo,
deconstruct the powers that be
that even though we’ve had innocent fallen
soldiers like Trayon Martin, Fong Le, Jose Montoya
you follow the blood lines and legacy of
Che Cavara, Malcolm X and Richard Aoki
you are destined beyond the statistics that binds you down
it is all a facade, a mirage in the distance
made to hide your greatness
but you will be a champion
you will not let this world change you
you will change this world
Brother from another Mother
A voice is a powerful thing. It’s not just about finding and making peace with it, but using it beyond the norm to lead, inform, and inspire. Twenty-six year old spoken word artist and community leader, Fong Tran, is a powerful voice of social activism and poetry
The problem with what’s taught in School.
Title: History Textbooks.
Original poem by Fong Tran
Words to Poem: http://fongtranpoetry.tumblr.com/post/59638984602/the-problem-with-whats-taught-in-schools(bottom of page)
Directed and Edited by Somchay Phakonkham
This was an awesome project that I got a chance to do out in Melbourne, Australia. Shouts to Steve Nguyen and Indigo for hooking me up with Somchay.
Dropping a new Spoken Word/ Interview Video by The Fifth Productions. Shout outs to Julie, Howard, and UC Irvine SASA community for having me down in SoCal to keynote at their first Southeast Asian Graduation and for me to do my craft! #Honored and #humbled
Hopefully this was the “Statement of Purpose” that got me in. Enjoy!
"I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will" by Tupac Shakur. This quote has grounded me in my life’s dedication toward empowering young people because as cliché as it may be, they are the future. I believe that one of the greatest tragedies of society is the severe lack of opportunities and resources for youth. I hope to address these inequities and empower youth leadership through the UC Davis Community Development Masters program.
I’ve participated in several community based participatory research projects that have refined my interest in youth development. I served on the media advisory team for the “Healthy Youth/Healthy Regions” report developed by the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. This report reveals data about the varying levels of wellness and vulnerabilities among youth in the Capital Region and made recommendations toward addressing these discrepancies. I helped disseminate this report to community organizations so it may help better inform their work. I further enhanced my knowledge in advocacy through serving as the executive committee chair for Sacramento Boys and Men of Color (BMoC) Partnership. This coalition was made up of several nonprofit organizations and school district representatives that focused on addressing disparities among young men of color; focusing on the areas of school suspension/expulsion, educational inequities and health disparities. I spoke at the BMoC Legislative select committee hearing as a panelist focusing on the importance of employment for male youth of color. I also did extensive research as an analyst for the Center for Community School Partnerships in the UC Davis School of Education. My role involved performing extensive literature review, pilot site testing and qualitative data analysis to develop a school environment survey tool and a 200 page youth-based curriculum called the “Youth Media Literacy & Nutrition Toolkit”.
I hope to bring these experiences of research to my graduate studies at UC Davis and explore best models for youth engagement as a form of community development. I’d like to examine the relationship between schools and community organizations to best leverage resources, services and identify unmet needs for youth so they may have more opportunities for leadership. I would also like to see how social media could be used in youth organizing and curriculum development. I believe the UC Davis Community Development Masters program is best suited for this vision because I would be able to analyze structures at a Macro-level to identify tangible action steps to take on a grassroots level. I believe the program’s aptitude for interdisciplinary studies is ideal to understand institutions from multiple lenses such as education, community organizing, welfare and policy. Most importantly the program’s close proximity allows me to focus my work on my community: Sacramento.
For my internship, I would like to continue working with the extensive network of community organizations that I already know in the Sacramento area. I hope to do my internship with Building Healthy Communities under the direction of Kim Williams who does great work around youth development. Academically, I hope to be advised by faculty members Patsy Owens and Jonathan London to gain more insight around their expertise of youth engagement and service learning. I also hope to continue working with Associate Professor Angela Booker of the School of Education who served as an expert reviewer for one of my past publications and is an authority on media and technology use for learning. After my graduate experience, I’d like to be the director of my own public department, nonprofit organization, or a private consulting practice for community organizations. I also have a strong passion for teaching and would love the opportunity to teach in the community college setting.
"A love poem dedicated to the woman of my life"
Music by Matthew Vista
Singing by HoHoua Xiong www.youtube.com/user/hohouaxiong
Audio Editing: William Wong
Video Editing: Antony Marshall
Shout outs to UC Davis SAFE Southeast Asian Furthering Education for taking part in the video
Long rant/story about my plans and future and insirations in my life. I’d been thinking alot lately.
So Fong asked me what do i want to do after the Navy.
I told em that i wanna save enough money to open my own Dance Studio.
And if i didnt save enough, i’ll go for another maybe 2 years and then come back and open my own dance studio and find a Job and hold Dance Competitions and have free dance sessions and workshops.
I love my Sacramento community and it would be nice if the whole Community knew what Hiphop Dancing was.
When i grow up all i want to do is give to my Sac Community.
I learned best from the Best Mentor ever.
He dedicates his life to the Youngins and Youths,
I should too, through Dancing!
I want the To Show the people who looked down on me and said that i will never make it and put me down that i can do it and i will.
I want to be an Impact in the Community.
I’ll come back and become a Mentor, Dance Teacher and most definitely i want to be an Inspiration in peoples life.
Everything i do, i always do it for others.
Why do i want to open my own dance studio and give free dance sessions and workshops and open competitions?
I want to open a Dance studio for free sessions because i know that people are more motivated when they’re not at home and also when others dancers see’s that you’re struggling, they will probably help and assist you and thats what i want. Dancers helping eachother. I learned this through Self-experience so i know how it feels.
Why i want to have free dance workshops is because not all family can afford for their kids to take dance classes and wrkshops. And they will have to wait for a long time and not get a chance to ever learn.
I know that feeling because i’ve also been through it until my 12th grade year when i started joining crews.
I want to give people the chance to learn and grow and seeing people happy makes me happy. And through this experience, hopefully everyone in Sacramento knows how to dance and start alot of crews here in sacramento.
Why i want to hold competitions is because i want crews and people to show what they’ve learned and show their competitive side and let their name be crowned. Choreography and freestyling competitions.
And then i want to be a Mentor just like my 3 Favorite, Best and Only mentors Nai, Millie and Fong.
While growing up i was hanging out with Bad people and didnt know which path to take until i met these 3 who changed my life forever.
They’ve inspired me to be Proactive and chase my Dream, and not chase what people tell me to chase.
Actually, im leading it by still being a youth and a student and learning about the community through events and workshops.
Fong, he made it into the Front Page NEWS!
What an inspiration!
Thats something to look forward to.
Being known in the community as an inspiration and as a Very good person, i bet it’s such a Great feeling.
But i learned from the Best that no matter how many awards and medals you recieve, keep it hungry for more and more and never be comfortable that you’re good enough or you’ve gotten enough, just keep going for more.
So i want to be an Impact to the Sac Community when i grow up.
If it wasnt for my Mentors and Friends and Family, mostly Mentors.. I wouldnt have this much confidence in myself to pursue my dream and goals.
And if it wasnt for Alvin, i probably wouldnt have plan going to the Navy.
Hopefully i get in!
If not, my goals and dreams are still the same. But just go to college and work for the $$$ to open my studio.
Fong kept bringing this subject up so it had me thinking alot about my plans and future.
- Chuey Thao, High School Senior at School of Engineering and Sciences
I’m excited to announce that I’ve applied for the UC Davis Community Development Masters Program. I hope to future uplift my professional and academic skills so I may uplift my community! I want to publicly share my personal statement - I can also release my statement of purpose if there’s enough interest
I tell my students, “Our stories may be different, but our struggles are all the same”. October 16, 2010, a 16-year old Vietnamese male was shot as an innocent bystander in a gang related drive-by shooting. He died three days later. This young man was a peer mediator at Hiram Johnson High School and aspired to attend UC San Diego and change the world through smiles. His name was Jimmy Le and he was one of my students through a summer internship program I hosted. This would be the moment that cemented my life-long mission and dedication of my being to the liberation of young people and to improve the conditions in which they live, so they may thrive and most importantly to create a community where catastrophes like Jimmy’s do not happen.
Jimmy’s story was very much like my own. My family escaped from the Vietnam War in 1986. They survived the horrid conditions of a Philippines refugee camp for eight months before finding sponsorship to Stockton, California. A year later, we moved to Sacramento; and like Jimmy, I grew up in section 8 housing where my neighbors were largely low income immigrants. My two older brothers dropped out of school in the tenth grade and got involved with gangs. They were incarcerated multiple times, and were absent for the majority of my life. My family barely made ends meets under welfare and food stamps and when things couldn’t get worst; my father abandoned our family of five when I was six years old.
This story seems like an inevitable narrative that leads from rags to incarceration, but the harsh circumstances that were supposed to hold me back became my motivation to succeed. I could have easily fallen into a troubled path as my brothers did, but the strength and sacrifices of my single mother inspired me to get an education and support my family. Even though all my other siblings and extended family were unable to go college because of the financial constraints, I chose to hold the heavy baton of being the first in my family to attend and graduate from college.
Attaining my Masters degree is a part of the continued dedication to better the living conditions for my family and my community. I tell my students that “the only people that can change our communities are ourselves”. After graduating from college, it was imperative for me to go back to the community that I came from and to help young people, like myself and Jimmy, have more chances to succeed. I started working at a nonprofit organization called Asian Resources, Inc to work with underserved youth and increase their access to higher education and job opportunities. I provided youth services through multiple capacities, such as on-site school outreach, drop-in counseling and internship case management. I served on several community boards as a consultant on youth issues such as the Sacramento Asian Pacific Islander Coalition called CAPITAL and the Marginalize Youth Collaborative (MYC). In addition to youth advocacy, I became an active spoken word poet and performed at several community events and conferences throughout California. Poetry has manifested into an extension of my continued mission for social justice and community engagement as all my poems have an educational value. One young person states “I love your poetry…I highly respect your mentality to change the world. Your writings [are] deep within the meaning… you inspire me to write.” It means the world to me when young people relate to my poetry and are inspired to tell their stories.
Becoming a UC Davis Community Development graduate represents a continued stepping stone for my pursuit for social change. Its represents the inspiration of a young man wanted to change the world through smiling. It symbolizes a mother’s sacrifice and love. It represents the resilience of four Vietnamese refugees that left everything and overcame all for this young man to reach this achievement and privilege. I only hope that UC Davis allows me this privilege and opportunity to uplift my skills and experience so I may uplift my community.
A poem that simply defines truth not matter how hard it may come
Sorry for the long wait! But my writing process is extremely slow…when I write, I let my words and ideas come to me, I try not to force them out, and I try to get as much as I can into one piece to make it feel really complete. But anyway. Here is my latest piece, just finished it a few minutes…
They say “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
So it must be the case that he who writes history
Wanted a round two
Cause all I see when I watch the news
are headlines that match
the titles in my high school history text books
Worlds and War and Western thinking
run on repeat like broken records
Eurocentric Euphuisms like West expansion
Exploration, Manifest Destiny, and Spreading Democracy
tactfully translated from truth as
Slave trade, colonists, imperialism
Exploitation of all your natural resources and a bad excuse for US Military
Americans play red, white skin and blue superman savior mentalities
Third world nations being left with nothing
But pillaged lands, broken homes & false promises of American dreams
History textbooks are written like a
A bad version of Lord of the Rings
and I’ve been bored since the first book
and we haven’t even talked about world history
Last year’s communist
Is this year’s terrorist
The blatant basatardizing of brothers of color
To beat them down
so maybe history doesn’t repeat itself
it just seems to rhyme a lot
and we’re just caught up in the bad remix
If you don’t write your histories and tell your stories
Someone else will
And I’m not saying it’s the man
And that someone
is usually really white
And Really male
Someone need to tell my young students that
My History is more than 2 textbook pages about a war
We’re a culture, a peoples, a way of life
Someone needs to tell my Hmong student
That his people’s history of helping the US CIA
In Secret War
And why its still a god damn secret
And no one knows about it
We need to tell our own stories
and if hypocritical historians can
ridiculously rant on this racist
run-down of history
than I can do it too
from now on
the migration of Southeast Asians to America
since the fall of Saigon
will now be known as
Cause goddammit we look good
When we talked about
Generalitistic construct that justifies a reverse racism
Called “Melting Pot of America”
Will now be called “Pho-ism”
Cause a little bit of Pho makes
And mother is the real P.O.W.
Not prisoner of war
But through living through a refugee camp for 8 months
She was in a prison of warriors
We will write our histories
We will make our remixes
And this poem is the beginning of my mix tape