Growing up in a multicultural and multiracial family led me to feel most comfortable in diverse settings. At home I was taught to see people as human beings having common experiences of living. Though I was born in Oakland, growing up in Canada I was referred to as Anglo because I spoke English and lived in an English-speaking province. While maturing, I spent several extended periods on my grandmother’s farm on the outskirts of Oaxaca learning about the family’s matriarchal history in Tehuantepec, and experiencing Mexican culture. Growing up in Tehuantepec my grandmother and her siblings did not have electricity. She described their joy in the light of full moon nights. I listened, rapt. It was as an adult that I came to understand why my childhood home in Berkeley was located three doors from what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard: it was the street that divided racial groups and we were a mixed family. Realtors placed us at the border. In graduate school I learned to discuss difference, and to articulate ways in which each person’s experience is placed in a body that exists in time and space. Each is influenced by sex, race, money, education, spirituality, and privilege, among other elements.
As a high school dropout, and low-income single-parent through most of university, I overcame multiple diagnosed disabilities to earn a PhD from UC Berkeley, author books, win awards, and develop expertise in teaching. Each day I bring this same level of tenacity, inspiration, and compassion to teaching, writing, and community service.
Speak truth to power.
There is more (auto)bio at the Night Music Journal interview.