Out Of The Closet And Into The Future

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Nick Large, Master of Public Affairs ’18

Every June we celebrate LGBT pride here in San Francisco. Timed to coincide with the historic Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, pride is a time when Market Street dawns rainbow banners and corporations offer targeted pride advertising only seen in carefully selected markets. Bringing in upwards of 1 million into the city, San Francisco Pride is one of the largest pride festivals in the world, but has it lost its meaning? As someone who moved to San Francisco in 2011, my first pride celebration here brought a flurry of feelings. I had been to pride celebrations before, but it was odd coming to one so full of young people dressed ready to rave. How many rainbow tutus does it take to achieve equality?

Coming from suburban Los Angeles, my context of gay America was much different. In 6th grade, I remember learning about Dan White’s Twinkie defense. I didn’t fully understand it or have the historical context then, but I knew from one of my English teachers that he had basically gotten away with the murder of Harvey Milk, a gay man. Despite happening in 1978, I also knew that the history wasn’t as far in the past as it had seemed. Matthew Shepard was murdered in 1998 after all. I remember learning about his murder because I saw Ellen on TV crying at a rally. “Why is she so upset?” I asked.

I remember the day I first realized how different I was from the other kids asking each other to the school dances. I remember when I wanted to be a woman. It happened right off of Bank and Fair Oaks Ave. It was right before band class. I stopped exactly where I was, and it was one of those moments where you have a sudden realization and it changes your life. I thought it was a secret I would have to die with. Luckily it wasn’t.

Now, as a drag performer prepping for a busy month, I think about the changing landscape of LGBT people in San Francisco and the changing attitudes. Two years ago, I had a teenager in drag come up to me saying they were a fishier version of Divine. From the way they were dressed and from what they continued to say, it was clear they had no idea who Divine actually was. The experience was conflicting for me because I was glad this teenager was able to get creative with their gender expression, but in many ways, it was also symbolic of a loss of history of sorts that I think is dangerous.

As someone who has spent the past year studying LGBT movements in San Francisco, I firmly believe that the stories of the most marginalized among us can teach us the most. When you lose this history, you lose some of the most valuable lessons our society has struggled to put forth. Only being 28, it’s strange for me to think that I’m not much older than people experiencing their first pride, but that the context is still dramatically different. Discrimination is still very real for many under the LGBT umbrella, but there are also many who have no such experiences. Without the history to guide us into the future we are doomed to make the same mistakes. Doomed to continue the same policies that have created a homeless youth population that is roughly 50% LGBT. This pride, it’s time for us to listen to the most marginalized. It’s time to take the lessons of our forgotten past and apply them to the future, and importantly, it’s time to get some of these corporate pride groups to give their money to actually help LGBT causes.

Interested in marching with USF for the San Francisco Pride Parade on June 24th? RSVP here.

First Semester Tips

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Monica Bejarano, M.A. Urban and Public Affairs, ’19

I did it. Turned in my last paper and finished my last presentation. My first graduate semester is over! Tired and rather chronically exhausted and all I want to do is lay on the floor and veg out to Netflix for an ungodly amount of hours. But, what do I do with all the information of the past four months? After the first semester, what do I take away to improve the subsequent semester in my academic journey? How does graduate school change me?

Well, just four months ago, I began my academic journey at the University of San Francisco Masters in Urban and Public Affairs Program. I walked in to my first class holding the book Imperial San Francisco by Gray Brechin, determined to unfold the array of questions I had after reading the introduction. I am not originally from San Francisco, but I knew by attending Urban and Public Affairs graduate program I would be fascinated by the roots of politics, activism, and urban change of the city. In this short amount of time I have come to realize that graduate school does not only teaches one new things, but it teaches one to question everything.

No longer is one learning about how history has changed the urban politics of the city, but one learns ways to question how it happened and how it was done and how it is affecting us today. I realized that I am not here to regurgitate information, but to be part of the conversation that creates it. This was a big step for me during my first semester.

I cannot emphasize enough how hyper-organized this program made me. After eight to nine hours of  classes each week, an internship at City Hall, and a part-time job I definitely understood the importance of time management. One learns valuable planning skills of when one can go out and have a drink and when one has to hunker down over a book for three hours for a paper due next week. Although graduate school has taught me to ask questions and be extremely organized with my time, I’ve also found it important to say “yes” to opportunities and take time to relax.

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Branching out into new areas of higher education can help one discover her interests, ignite new passions, and keep a career fresh and exciting. I learned that employers may also prefer a well-rounded resume. The more responsibility one takes on, the more one will be able to learn and gain experience. In the first semester, one will learn to juggle graduate school, homework, internships, and a personal life. It’s about finding a balance between all commitments to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Make time to relax. Graduate school should not be one’s entire life. You are an individual and should prioritize your own personal health and well being first. Make time in your schedule to relax, spend time with friends and family, pursue your hobbies, etc. I find it helpful to schedule breaks during the day, even if they are only five minutes long. Being happy and healthy will boost productivity.

Everyone’s experience is different, but the experiences I’ve had thus far in the Urban and Public Affairs graduate program has prepared me for the next chapter of my academic journey. I had my ups and downs this past semester, but nothing that will stop me from continuing my education.  My passion to formulate equitable policy solutions for the community of San Francisco has been invigorated and I know it will only grow stronger as I continue this program.

Playing the Blues in a Deeply Red State

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Corey Cook

Corey Cook, Professor of Politics is currently on leave but is still a critical observer of local, state and national politics. Professor Cook regularly contributes to the Leo T. McCarthy Center blog while he establishes the School of Public Service at Boise State University.

 

Idaho was one of a handful of states that rejected both major party candidates during the nomination process. Both Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were dealt decisive defeats during the Idaho Democratic Caucus, and Idaho Republican Primary, respectively. Sure, turnout was low in both contests, but neither was particularly close. Trump received 28% in the primary, losing to Ted Cruz and finishing ahead of only John Kasich and a rapidly sinking Marco Rubio who withdrew his candidacy a week later.  Secretary Clinton fared even more poorly, scoring only 21% of caucus goes against Bernie Sanders’ 78%.

So suffice it tounnamedsay that folks in Idaho don’t seem too jazzed about next week’s election. At Boise State University, we’ve held debate watch events, hosted panels, and generally talked a lot about the election. But the more I talk with folks the more I get the sense that neither outcome will be particularly appealing to Idahoans. One prominent state Republican confided about the challenge this election has posed to mainstream conservatives – that neither candidate represents his values. Still, nobody expects the race in Idaho to be particularly close – in fact, the word on the street is that the results here will be quite similar to those in 2008 and 2012.

I’m still getting up to speed on Idaho politics, but it seems to me to be a mix of Alaska and Utah. Yet this race is playing out quite differently than in those comparable states. As in Idaho, both Clinton and Trump were defeated by Sanders and Cruz in the Alaska caucuses (Trump lost narrowly while Clinton was defeated by a similar 4-1 margin). And prominent Alaska Republicans, including both United States Senators, have withdrawn their support of Trump. Yet recent polls suggest that the candidates are neck and neck. The most recent survey has Secretary Clinton in the lead. The last time Alaska voted for a Democrat for president? 1964.

In Utah, something similarly remarkable, yet quite different, is happening. As in Idaho, Trump and Clinton lost their respective caucuses. Only in this case, Trump came in third (and last) behind Cruz and Kasich while Sanders defeated Clinton by a 4-1 margin. But in Utah, where Democrats seem willing to line up behind their nominee, opposition to Trump has fueled the independent candidacy of little/un- known Congressional staffer Evan McMullin into a highly competitive position. Some recent surveys have the three candidates locked into a dead heat. Trump is wildly unpopular (a recent survey had him at a net negative favorability of -43 points, an astonishing figure). And McMullin has gained some positive attention and has an outside chance to win the state. The last time a Democrat won in Utah? 1964. The last time a minor candidate had a chance of winning? Maybe never.

This has been one of the interesting themes of this election. As Democrats and Republicans grapple with wildly and historically unpopular nominees, traditional voting patterns have been disrupted. And down ballot races might be affected in ways that won’t be clear until after the election.

And yet Idaho, despite its similarities to Alaska and Utah, seems ready to reprise its previous vote tallies. Alternative candidates have failed to gain traction and despite the clear unpopularity of the two nominees, fellow partisans seem to have fallen into line.

Despite polls showing the race getting closer as election day nears, the potential for a generational partisan realignment remain significant. Just focusing on the traditional red state, consider some political implications. If Secretary Clinton wins, what will happen in Alaska, Utah, and Idaho to the growing gulf between mainstream conservatives and Trump voters? Will they coalesce as in Idaho, disintegrate into competing blocs as in Utah, or weaken allegiance to the party as in Alaska? And if Trump wins, how will governance change in those places? Will mainstream conservatives holding Senatorial seats and Governor’s mansions work effectively with the Trump White House, or will these splits emerge between the states and federal government?

For the next week, a lot of attention will be paid to who will win or lose the election. Sadly, far less attention will be paid to the important foreign and domestic policy implications of those outcomes. But while the elections are typically conceived as finish lines, they are more akin to water stations along a marathon route. The potential disruption of long term voting patterns and reshaping of partisan coalitions instigated during this election and that could gradually evolve over the next several electoral cycles, might be the most enduring aspect of this election.

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For more on Corey’s thoughts follow him on twitter @CoreyCookBoise

 

 

To Be an American: Unpacking the Land of the Free

 

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Isabella Gonzalez Potter

McCarthy Fellow ’16

Isabella Potter served as a McCarthy Fellow this past summer working as an intern for Tony Thurmond, Chair of Assembly Labor and Employment Committee. The following post is an Op-Ed that was written as a part of McCarthy Fellow course, taken in conjunction with the 12-week fellowship. Isabella graduated in 2016 with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Latin American Studies and is currently still working with Assembly member, Tony Thurmond.

 

I have been thinking a lot about separating the personal from the professional. But how can politics not be personal? How can my physical appearance or anyone else’s not be political within a system that has everything to do with the color of your skin? The neighborhood you were raised in. The family you belong to. The community that you come from.

In lieu of recent events (by events I mean murder) I have been spending a lot of time on Facebook, reading, digesting, attempting to process. Today one of my Facebook friends posted something that caught my attention and was receiving many comments; “…we are Americans before we are ethnic and racial groups.” My first thought was what type of kool aid is he drinking? He himself is a person of color and my intent here is not to call him out, but break down what this means to me. What this means on my timeline as I scroll through the hash tags, news articles and video clips of killing. The continual cries by myself and my friends who are scared for their life in this country. Who never really feel safe anymore because so many people who look like us are being killed everyday and you don’t want the next hash tag to be your name.

What does it mean to never really be free in a country that calls itself the land of the free? Living here in “America” (I mean the United States because everyone seems to have forgotten about Central and South America) undeniably awards us with privilege within this country. People have died to make this so, including of course Police Officers and other Armed Forces who fight and risk their lives everyday. What is missing from the dominant narrative is the story of people who risk their lives everyday by simply existing within a political structure that wasn’t made for them. It means fearing the people who are supposed to protect you. This NOT to say that I do not like police officers, or the law, but rather the fact that even when you comply you might end up shot 5 times because you are seen as a threat to the one who is pulling the trigger.

I am an American, yes. But, I am a young, brown woman born to Spanish-speaking immigrant parents who lives in America. I grew up in the America that legalized racial profiling in my hometown, banned Mexican American History at my high school, and that built a literal fence to keep out people who are seen as alien, including my family. Being an American in 2016 means you are your Ethnic group before you are a person, and that won’t change until people stop dying for the color of their skin.

 

Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars Research the Western Addition’s Inspirations Murals

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This academic year the Esther Madriz Diversity Scholars (EMDS) are gathering the stories of African American leaders depicted on the Inspirations mural outside of Ella Hill Hutch Community Center. In fall students drew names out of a hat and were tasked with researching individuals and writing biographies that they shared in their fall final presentations. This spring student teams are linked with living Inspirations so that all students have the opportunity to interview an African American leader. Bios and photos of individuals on the mural will be compiled into a book that will be shared with community members.

This project is a continuation of work started by community members Ms. Altheda Carrie and Mrs. Lynette White. Ms. Carrie and Mrs. White began collecting stories from the Inspirations mural years ago, when the City of San Francisco provided funding and District Supervisor Wendy Nelder was involved. That project was temporarily set aside during shifts in City leadership and funding sources, but it was eagerly picked up again when Ms. Carrie and Mrs. White brought it to USF as a possible collaboration. It is a natural outgrowth of the blossoming collaboration between EMDS, the Leo T. McCarthy Center and Engage San Francisco. Sociology Professor Stephanie Sears is the faculty director for the program and Leo T. McCarthy Center Associate Director for Community Engaged Learning, Andrea Wise is collaborating with Professor Sears on the partnership by facilitating class discussions on community assets and campus community partnerships.

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Seeing the Past in the Present: A History Lesson Through Walk SF

Benjamin Rosete-Estrada

It was my second week working with Generation Citizen in a classroom. On the projector, there was an image of a map of San Francisco, displaying the districts and neighborhoods shaded in different colors to represent varying levels of unemployment. In front of me, the students, all 9th and 10th graders, took turns asking questions and pointing out things they noticed on the map.

In between questions and explanations however, my thoughts wandered back to when I’d been along the waterfront of the city as part of a historical walking tour several weeks before. The history walk was a requirement for the Ethics and Service Learning class I was a part of during the first week of the Fall 2015 semester course work. At first, I’ll admit, I had a hard time figuring out why I needed to know more about local history in a class centered on Aristotle and John Stuart Mills.

For three hours on that Saturday afternoon, I walked between buildings and stretches of shade, while listening to accounts of important events in San Francisco history organized by Shaping San Francisco. Along the different stops on that Saturday walk, we’d learned about the city’s long involvement with labor, from the “Eight Hour Work Day” movement to the general strikes of the 1930’s. Then there were the insights we’d gained into the changing cultural landscape of the city — how different immigrant groups left their legacy in San Francisco, how in spite of discrimination and political limitations, diverse communities survived.

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Some weeks after the walk, the service learning component of the class started and I was selected to work with Generation Citizen, an organization devoted to encouraging local action and teaching participation in democracy through the classroom.

Fast forward two weeks to the third class I was teaching when we discussed unemployment in the city. I started to draw connections between the history I had learned on the walk, and the work I was doing in the classroom. Even though I hadn’t realized it in the moment, learning what I did on the history walk gave me perspective I hadn’t had before; helping me see how events in the present — issues that the students in my classroom wanted to confront — had come about over time.

Many of the problems had changed, but beneath it all, different structures allowing for exclusion, discrimination and injustice were still in place.

Having had to the opportunity to go on the walk connected me in a personal way to the story of the City. It encouraged me to be more aware of current events in San Francisco, and take a closer look at the City’s past. At the same time, it allowed me to see the importance of local political action, and the need for me to become more engaged in civics.

It’s clearer for me to see now that this history serves as a backdrop for the narrative of San Francisco today. A narrative that I, the students I work with, and so many that live and work in the City, are a part of.