Dear Community-Based Block Program,
You all are so special to me.
I’ve come to love and appreciate you because I dream of a society, ours, that values its diversity and you are as diverse a group as I can imagine.
When I looked at you a little while ago at the Jackie Robinson YMCA, decked out in your finery, you were about the most beautiful sight I’ve ever laid my eyes on, just a-hugging and -pecking each other on the cheek and smiling and talking with your bodies and your hands, your love for each other aglow.
And you personified a little of everybody — gays, lesbians, bi, non-hearing, blind, skin tones from ivory to ebony, ethnicities aplenty: Mexican American; Latino; Chicano; Chicana; Filipino; Vietnamese American; Bi-racial; Native American; Afghanian American; African American; African; European American; Honduran American…
Diversity in full flower. And, considering that we were there celebrating the 45th Anniversary of CBB, your beloved Community Based Block, we were honoring the very concept of diversity, as everything you experienced getting a Masters in Counseling was based on “Transforming Lives and Communities” through learning how to counsel everybody. There could be no stronger commitment to matters of diversity.
That’s what I love about you the most, that you are primed to give “an ear” to underserved people, having learned how to do that by conducting your classes and counseling in the community rather than on Montezuma Mesa.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with you, with David Heredia-Martinez spinning just the right music in the background, and Diego de Jesus Mondragon, lighting up the main room with virtuoso violin playing and then Willie Lang’s soulful gospel-like rendition of “I Know Where I’ve Been” from the musical “Hairspray.”
I know from being in Maria’s life and hearing about your experiences in Comunity-Based Block that that song’s call for people to break with the racial issues that put a strain on our relations with each other, really spoke to what you are all about.
I’ve learned how you’ve had to deal with your own “craziness,” with “where you’ve been,” how you’ve explored ways to value yourself and others like you and folks not like you, how you’ve had to give serious thought to stereotypes and come face to face with your own “implicit biases.”
So you can help others do the same.
Karlo, spoke to that in his rap:
“C.B.B with a multicultural tone
No matter where you run to that’s where the hurt roams
Structured oppression and broken homes
Culturally diverse but culturally home grown
Maria said “hey kiddo, put away your phone”
Chilling stories make you shiver to the bone
he without sin, please cast the first stone
tears pouring, we’re in the splash zone
Renting lots of feelings, but now it’s time to own”
Keashonna bringing the evening to an end with Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” really resonated with me:
“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds”
That’s what “transforming lives and communities” is all about, it seems, freeing people’s minds of what keeps them from becoming all that they can be.
CBB, to me, is the model of how all counseling programs should be, graduating counselors, like you, who think critically and are committed to contributing to the making of a society that respects its diversity, a just society that serves the social and political needs of all its people.
That’s my dream and I can’t help but love you as keepers of that dream. And some of you, like Evelyn Kheo, can do the rumba and nightclub two-step. How diverse is that?
Long live CBB!
P.S. I’m sharing this love note to you with others in case they want more information about CBB and how they might help sustain such a life-affirming program during a time of dwindling resources, suggesting that they do so here.