Hope and California: Two Minority Perspectives
Growing up, our family never spoke as if race was a barrier — just another issue to contend with in the pursuit of a goal. My two siblings and I were inculcated with the belief that we could achieve anything that we wanted, if we put our minds to it. The cardinal values of honesty and integrity, and the notion that right wins out over might, were instilled in us. With regard to hope, along with humor, they are the glue that binds our family together.
Our genealogy is rife with religious practitioners and devout observers, antedating at least four generations with roots in the soil of the South. Religion: a quixotic amalgamation of faith and hope. I believe that it was the indelible religious beliefs of our progenitors that endowed my family with its intrepidly optimistic outlook. An attribution that has helped to buoy us through many troubling times. And while I am not an observer of any formalized dogma, I have been unquestionably influenced by this familial trait.
I first moved to California at the age of 18 to attend the San Francisco Art Institute. And though I attended art school for only one year, I stayed in the area and adopted San Francisco as my home. The ensuing 27 years have been enthralling and infuriating; joyful and miserable; and, at times, actualizing achievements beyond my wildest expectations and disappointments that pierced my very core. In other words, a fairly typical existence.
The significant difference, however, is the environs of the aforementioned existentialism: a golden state where the sunset can take your breath away; where the overwhelming might and majesty of the Pacific Ocean can infuse you with a sense of humility that makes the most monumental problem seem trivial; where the diversity of people serves as a constant reminder of the multiplicity and richness of life. This is what compels me to stay — through the ups and downs of drought, earthquakes, El Nino, dot-com and dot-gone — and impels me forward. It is this state of hope (also known as California) that sustains me.