Undocuweek redefines what it means to be successful from the ‘hood’

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Undocuweek redefines what it means to be successful from the ‘hood’

Jeff Duncan addressing the crowd during

Jeff Duncan addressing the crowd during "Unconditional love for the hood" Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Jeff Duncan addressing the crowd during "Unconditional love for the hood" Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Jeff Duncan addressing the crowd during "Unconditional love for the hood" Photo credit: Julian Mendoza

Julian Mendoza, Olyvia Simpson, and Ricardo Tovar

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Literacy, Colonial history and Tupac Shakur were topics brought up by East Oakland native Josh Duncan-Andrade in his presentation “Unconditional Love for the Hood: Redefining Success in Our Communities” at the Bell Memorial Union in room 203 on Tuesday. The event was made possible by Chico State’s club Leaders Educating for the Advancement of Dreamers for Undocuweek.

What it means to be successful for underprivileged young students in a low-income area was analyzed by Duncan, an associate professor of raza studies and race resistance studies at San Francisco State.

Duncan began by acknowledging the Inca civilization and its people having shared “palabras” —Spanish for words— of inspiration with him. He called for youth in the inner city to look to their ancestors to stop the needless violence that has taken more than 1,500 lives from 2002-2012.

“The Inca were so devoid of violence that they would leave gold and silver in their homes, put a stick in their doorway to let their neighbors know they have left their home and trusted it would still be there,” Duncan said.

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Jeff Duncan discussing the Inca's practice about home security. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

The mentality of having each others’ backs is what Duncan stressed was important to take from the Inca.

For kids living in the “hood,” the school systems basis for testing intelligence is biased towards test scores. Those living in nicer, rich neighborhoods can make school work, but those who live in poverty, surrounded by violence, have too much going on around them to make success in school feasible.

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Jeff Duncan speaking on his thoughts about the old myth that wealthy kids like school more. Photo credit: Ricardo Tovar

Duncan then discussed the difference between an educator and a teacher. He said that because schools don’t gear towards the troubled youth, they find education through people who can relate to their struggles.

“One of the people that was one of my educators was a lasting force in hip-hop and his name was Tupac Shakur,” Duncan said. “The more that I studied ‘Pac as an artist, the more I was drawn to not only his performance of his art but also his writing.”

Duncan discusses the beauty of a line from one of Tupac’s books of poetry, “The Rose that Grew from Concrete,” where Tupac uses this metaphor to describe young people growing up in poverty.

Duncan then described the state of the education system, particularly that it appears like students are not interested in literacy. Duncan believes that it’s not that they are not interested in literacy, it is that they are not interested in literacy that the education system is giving them.

“I can take a crisp $100 bill and I can stick it inside any Shakespearean text and I can leave that text anywhere in my classroom and it is completely safe,” Duncan said. “But, if I leave ‘Pac’s book of poetry out anywhere in my classroom it is immediately snatched up by the very same young people that the system is convinced aren’t interested in literacy.”

A Q&A followed. Duncan was asked what could be done to help the “hood” without necessarily going back. He responded by saying that as long as you make your presence felt and you try to do good that it doesn’t matter where you are.

“We picked Jeff Duncan because a lot of our students do come from communities that are like the ones he’s talking about.” Leaders member Berenice Maldonado said. “So we thought it was important he spoke on this. Knowing your history; knowing where you come from; knowing who you are and knowing why you are the way you are is very important. To know what your future is and what you want to do as a person.”

For more events like this follow Undocuweek and look for more events throughout the week.

Julian Mendoza and Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected]

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