I’m not sure that I would say I have something against politicians… it’s more like I’ve been learning from them or I should say learning their strategy. For instance if I do a Kung Fu lion dance for a school I was teaching at for a ground breaking event, I would say that I helped them out. I would talk a little bit about how cool it was that we had so many kids with flags and lion heads and Kung Fu weapons. I would put it on Facebook and show my friends because it looked like we were in a movie.
But I learned from political people another way to do it is to take those same pictures (first of all you have to make sure that YOU are in the picture) and then say some catchy tag line like, “Working to build a better Community” or “Fighting for Chinatown’s unique cultural diversity” or even “Providing the cultural backbone for generations to come.” I would then go about making speeches at important parties where I am wearing a suit and tie and saying over and over what I did. (You see, the focus is not so much on the act but the saying that you did the act.) So that whenever my name is mentioned or the event was mentioned it would sound familiar to legitimate ears.
I would use words like “organize” and “work with” and “fight for.”
But the truth is the REAL help for immigrants who just come over is actually simpler than that. It’s translating a bill for them or hearing their grievances about work or connecting them to someone. It’s listening to problems that are very sensitive in terms of domestic abuse. It’s whispering in their ear after getting word from their coworkers about hygiene issues that in this country you shower every day and put on deodorant at work and you can’t wear the same clothes for the whole week.
(Though in a place like Cape Verde where water seems to be more scarce that would make complete sense. And in America’s past, it also made complete sense. I’m not talking about what’s right or wrong. It’s just about societal norms.)
The real help is private, embarrassing, confidential and therefore is often invisible to the point where the political “organizer” is able to talk down at a true community
leader and say, “Well what do you do for the community anyway? Who are you?”
I got the chance to talk to one such community leader (whose identity I will reveal little by little over time) and found somewhat of a kindred spirit. In that I did many of the same things this person did, but in a different community and a different way… but there were similarities.
And it was interesting to me that this person also was tied to Martial Arts, even though when you say Cape Verde, Martial Arts to not come to mind the same way that Kung Fu comes to mind when you say Chinatown.
Here’s an example of how Martial Arts, Community and Politics come together all the time in a positive way in the Chinatown Community.
But in my next post for CV network, I will talk briefly about the way the invisible organizers father used a western Martial Art, boxing, to help the community.
Featured picture: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20160609/worries-of-trump-effect-spur-new-bedford-immigrants-to-apply-for-citizenship-in-record-numbers