Saturday reflection on Santa Monica, race and identity politics

Rosalind Helderman’s excellent Stephen Miller profile in the Washington Post got me sitting down to write this morning before heading out. That profile was just as inspirational as an impromptu visit to a Gardena music studio yesterday for a Grammy Week party to watch a showcase with organized by a black female violinist who shared the stage with Brooke Valentine, who performed a cover of the timeless Groove Theory joint “Tell Me.”

And that’s nothing to say of the fact that I shared my Eric Grant (RIP)-It Was Written story with an emcee named Cassius, whose business partner in the said Gardena studio is named Clay and reminded of Clay from a NoHo topless party at which all I remember was saying allah akbar before getting being sucker punched by a gang member/s who turned that party into a riot. Cassius and his band performed an interpolation of Pac’s “Dear Mama” that transported me back to 1996 and Downtown Business Magnets English class.

So, here I am, today, listening to dead prez’ M1 f/ K’naan and Stori James “Til We Get There” in my headpones and reading the WaPo profile of Miller, marveling at who this unknown 31-year old political operative that came up in Santa Monica to liberal Jew parents,was a sore outlier as a conservative and ingratiated himself with Larry Elder on the radio and penned some editorials in the Santa Monica Mirror. Mind you, I worked as the education and sports editor between 2010-2011, a little after Miller was a student there. He is clearly a smart guy, accepted and matriculated to Duke University, where he really stepped up his conservative game. The plug from David Horowitz to Jeff Sessions, who is now the AG of the U.S., seems like plausible progress. (If I wasn’t such as loser, I wouldn’t have impregnated a married Tanzanian national when I was a 22 year old reporter at the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Maybe by now, I’d be working at The Camstoll Group).

Ironically, today another story really struck me. As reported by ESPN.com, Michael Bennett has declined the NFL trip to Israel explicitly because the Zionist government is underwriting it. The cool thing is that Bennett, a Super Bowl champion with a platform is not just taking a position, but is also able to articulate it like a seasoned crisis PR pro.

Perhaps foolishly, I accepted the opportunity to travel to Israel as part of Project Interchange in 2002, underwritten by the American Jewish Committee. I was looking to find my Jewish roots, but instead produced a feature story that started out with a paragraph set in a Arab Israeli town living room. Yep, I took what was clearly an Israeli propaganda trip and flipped it into foreign reporting. CSUN journalism department chair Cynthia Rawitch made sure that my work was awarded several department awards and even surprised me with a $2,500 Los Angeles Times Fund Scholarship at a dinner. I was, and still am, kinda shocked at how that happened.

Fourteen years after that article was published, Israel is still up to the same tactics, lol. Not to be selfish, but it’s amazing how far a first-generation Ukrainian – a naturalized U.S. citizen – can come in this ‘Make America First’ era yet support the underdogs, the marginalized and powerless. It goes way above Obama, guys.The difference between Stephen Miller and myself is that I actually embrace and feel embraced in the multicultural and very hip-hop community in Santa Monica. In fact, today, I’m about to head back to CSUN, my alma mater, for a meet up with fellow journalism alumni and tour the campus facilities. Then, I plan to head out to a Hip Hop Caucus event, organized by Jordan Eversley, a former student-athlete who is a prototype of a political communication strategist similar to Stephen Miller had Miller came out of the hood in Chicago. Yep, Jordan is my dude, although when I was brought in to do web copywriting and blogging on the Supreme Justice campaign, there had been plenty of times when I wanted to smack him. Still, it’s all love bro. Much respect to you and keep fighting for the people.

I want to make this last point very, very, very clear: I am not a Stephen Miller hater. As a University of Maryland University College graduate student who hopes to be continue his education at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government beginning in 2018 or 2019, I believe that civil engagement is at the very foundation of a democracy in this great country of ours. I respect conservatives. Santa Monica to Foggy Bottom to Vermont to Miami. I actually want to commend Stephen Miller for his political success, not chide him. His time in the spotlight is going to end, though, and he will not be on the right side of history. I wholeheartedly disagree with his position against Muslims, as we all know, the federal judge and the appeals courts are on the side of the majority. Bottom line is that I, a Ukrainian-American with a Tanzanian baby mama, see a vastly different world than what Miller see. I am steadfast and will always remain steadfast in seeing myself in a role to support friends and associates in the Latinx community.

Why?

Because it has guys like Alex Aldana, a USC Marshall grad student, who was the organizer of the One Nation Hip Hop Summit in Santa Monica. In 2010, following an introduction by friend and confidante Leila Steinberg – who is not Jewish, contrary to popular belief, because her mother is Mexican – I teamed up with Alex and other volunteers to organize that event. It was hella memorable, and not just because it was headlined by Pete Rock and CL Smooth with a budget from the Pico Youth Family Center. But, because the executive director, the esteemed Oscar de la Torre, a board member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, supported it. It was a community building effort, one that connected black, Latino, Jewish and all cultures the way that only hip-hop can.

That’s power.

I wish Stephen Miller read this and whispered about it to his boss in the White House – for good laughs, for betterment of the nation, because it is the right thing to do.

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Author: MrKandyba

Father, award-winning investigative journalist, content producer, bio writer and aspiring author. Proud alumnus of Cal State Northridge journalism department. Completing graduate certificate in public relations at University of Maryland University College to go with one in int'l trade.

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