How to cope with vicarious trauma caused by videos of police brutality
S1: The vicarious trauma in the wake of another police brutality video. There are other ways of us honoring and recognizing life besides watching the death. I'm Jade Hindman. This is KPBS midday edition. NAMI is running a new shelter for women.
S2: What makes this really unique , though , is that we have staff onsite all night. So even if we have the space available , a bed available , somebody can come in at 3:00 in the morning and they won't be turned away.
S1: And the new way San Diego is looking at towing cars. Plus , in conversation with San Diego's new poet laureate. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Many of us spent recent days thinking about the life of a man we never met. And yet , particularly for black people , know very well. Tyree Nichols was our sons , brothers , fathers and husbands. Before releasing video of five Memphis police officers repeatedly beating and kicking him until he was unconscious and later died. Memphis Police Chief Sarah Lynn Davis said she expected us to , quote , feel what the Nichols family feels. While the grief , anger , sadness and despair will never match that of a mother who lost her child , psychologists say all of us can experience vicarious trauma when we bear witness by watching what happened to Tyree Nichols and countless others like them. Joining me now to talk about this is Tamar Bryant , Ph.D. , president of the American Psychological Association. And , Dr. Bryant , welcome , all. Thank you so much for having me. I'm so glad we're having this conversation. I appreciate you being here. Did you watch the video ? I chose not to watch it. And I also recommended for people to take pause before feeling like just because it's available , they have to watch it. I think some people felt that they owed it to Tyree or owed it to the black community to watch. But there are other ways of honoring and recognizing life besides watching the death. You know , what are the psychological effects of watching videos like this one ? It really can overwhelm our nervous system. So when we think about traumatic stress , that is a deeper level than ordinary , everyday stress. So we all carry different roles and responsibilities that can create some level of strain for us. But when we talk about vicarious trauma or other types of trauma , those are the experiences that overwhelm our usual capacity to hope that they can disrupt us at this , regulate our nervous system. They can really overwhelm us emotionally , can't show up even in our physical bodies. And so once you have the visual as well as the audio to go with it , that can really create a space for more flashbacks and intrusive thoughts where you are replaying that image. And I remember hearing Tyree's mother in an interview say she started to watch it , but once she heard her son say , What did I do ? She had to stop. And so then , of course , what continues to ring in her mind is both the what did I do , what she also witnessed , seeing his body in the aftermath. And so we want to be careful about the images and sounds that we are holding on to. And we're talking about vicarious trauma more. Can you explain what that is ? Yes. So what we understand is even if you are not the direct target of a trauma bearing witness to it or having someone who is connected to you , experience , it can also be disruptive and overwhelming for you. So if we're talking about bearing witness , it could be that you were physically present when something happened , but also with social media and all of the various recordings. Even watching it online or on television , I remember at the time of 911 , we would caution people to not keep having the replay of the airplanes going into the buildings , and then children are in the room and there is an impact to that , even if you were not the direct target. You know , is this vicarious trauma in this case elevated when we think of that brutality happening to ourselves or our black sons , husbands and fathers ? Yes , there is a deeper level of connection when it's not only that I have compassion because this is another human being , but it is another human being who shares my identity. And in many of these cases was the targeting and treatment of this person is connected to their identity. And so that creates a deeper level of connection and also a concern of will I be safe ? And so whenever we see that the large scale violence against African Americans , black American. Fans , Latinos , Asian Americans , indigenous peoples. We can consider what stress people end up holding around their own survival and the safety and survival of their community. Hmm. That is interesting. What advice do you have for people whose mental health is being impacted from watching the video ? I would first say the importance of giving ourselves compassion as opposed to judgment. Sometimes people are hard on themselves and they say , I don't know why I'm so upset. I didn't even know him. And so to really respond to yourself with understanding , to know it makes sense. And it's a part of our humanity to grieve or be outraged about the violation of another person and then also the violation of the entire community. And so after that compassion and kind of releasing self judgment , I would say we want to think about both self care and community care. So self care , sometimes we're neglecting ourselves or we throw ourselves into our work. And so taking time to rest , journaling can be helpful for some use of the expressive arts , listening to music , writing poetry , moving our bodies because we're holding stress in the body , are reaching out and making an appointment with your therapist and talking with family and friends is the part that the community support so that we don't have to be isolated. So there are a number of mental health organizations , including the Association of Black Psychologists , that offer free drop in support groups or healing circles. And so making use of whether individual or group support can really be a gift to your mental health. And then I want to name that justice is therapeutic. And we want to be mindful to not just tell people they should meditating , drink water and then not address the systemic issues. So we want to care for ourselves and nourish ourselves. And then in our different ways and our different disciplines and walks of life , to be intentional about continuing to commit our efforts to eradicating racism and eradicating violence and looking towards prevention , because those things are very important for our wholeness and wellness. And Dr. Bryant , that leads me to my next question. I mean , is there a balance between being informed and the fight for justice and preserving our mental health in all this ? Yes , it's very important that we pace ourselves. And what I like to share with our communities is that that common phrase of this being a marathon , not a sprint. So sometimes we are neglecting ourselves and saying we just have to work to make things right. And that strategy could work if we could fix this in a week , right there for a week. And then , as you know , forget about what I need and just work for justice. But instead , you know , this work of being a change agent and advocate and activist. This is really life long. And so we need to pace ourselves. And I think that common phrase , the rest , but don't quit. And so our arrest and our care is a part of the process , I think. Tricia Hersey has a book called Rest as Resistance , so that we can know in a country where or our black people , our labor became the equivalent of our worth. Like , literally , you had to work nonstop to be worthwhile or to be worthy. And so it's a radical revolutionary act to say I am enough that I do not have to be in perpetual motion , always grinding , always trying to prove my humanity. But instead , our rest is a part of resistance. Our joy is a part of resistance , which is why I love that some of the protest march , you'll see people breaking out in the electric slide and dancing and singing. So our outrage is understandable and we are deserving of more in our lives than our rage. And so having that joy loving , relationship , loving community , those are also intentional ways that we protect our wholeness. I've been speaking with Dr. Tim O'Brien. President of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Brian , thank you so much for joining us today. Oh , you are welcome. Thanks for having me. A new shelter opened last week on the site of the former San Diego downtown Library. The temporary women's shelter is the culmination of a years long process to reuse the former library space , which has been closed since 2013. The 36 bed shelter is being run by the National Alliance on Mental Illness for San Diego and Imperial Counties. And NAMI CEO Kathryn DiCaprio joins me now. Kathryn , welcome to Midday Edition.
S2: Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
S1: There's been a lot of talk about how the city could best use the old downtown library space.
S2: Women in particular are very vulnerable when they're experiencing homelessness and living on the streets. So just to the proximity of where there's a higher population of those who are unhoused.
S3: It really made it the perfect location for us to.
S2: Be in.
S1: So can you tell us more about the shelter ? How do people access the new shelter and what services are available ? Sure.
S2: So the shelter is going to be able to house 36 women or anybody who identifies as female every night. Our doors will open around 430 in the afternoon. There is a fence to outside patios. It's basically first come , first serve. What makes this really unique , though , is that we have staff onsite all night. So even if we have a space available , a bed available , somebody can come in at 3:00 in the morning and they won't be turned away.
S1: That's great.
S2: But it really makes sense for us to do. We truly firmly believe that anybody who has been experiencing homelessness , there is a level of trauma associated with that. There are high levels of anxiety and depression. And what makes this a really great partnership is that we also operate a clubhouse that's called the specialty clubhouse for those experiencing homelessness down on 16th and Imperial. So what the city was able to provide for us is a van. So women during the day , because the shelter is closed during the day , you have to be exited by 8 a.m.. We can , if they're willing and wanted to , we can transport them down to our clubhouse where we have showers five days a week. We have commercial laundry facilities. We have hot meals. We also have case management. And that's a big component of this project. And we have homeless outreach workers that are absolutely amazing at what they do and getting anybody who's experiencing homelessness into services , building that level of trust to engage them into the process of exiting homelessness. So we are able to really marry a couple of our programs together because of their proximity and using what we deem as pure support specialists , those with lived experience who have maybe have experienced homelessness before themselves and are our staff members. So they walk this journey in the past. They can identify and empathize and be there for a person and say , You know , I've been where you are , and that's very powerful. For somebody to have that recognition and have them being seen as truly a person that , you know , we're all pretty much one step away from that at any given moment in time. But now we are also here to assist and help.
S1: And the new facility , as you mentioned , is a 36 bed shelter.
S2: And just just for the sheer size of the location , there's also no indoor plumbing. So we do have ADA accessible porta potties and hand-washing stations that are on the outside. So the rate limiting factor was really just the physical size of the space.
S1: Mm hmm. Okay. And there there were some hurdles for this shelter to get up and running. As we mentioned , the space has been closed for nearly a decade now. Can you talk a little about what it took to make this a reality ? Okay.
S2: That was definitely a big heavy lift on the part of the city and they did a phenomenal job. There was apparently some deed restrictions that a covenant that was set in place many , many , many decades ago when the building was gifted to the community. So those had to be lifted and released. And then the city actually had to come in and build this new area in the portion of the lobby of the old library. And one thing I have to say is they did a phenomenal job because you walk in , it's light , it's bright , it's clean , it's inviting. So it's really a place where somebody could feel comfortable and safe.
S1: And , you know , we spoke recently with Bob McElroy , who is CEO of the Alpha Project , another shelter provider in the area. He criticized the city's approach to working with shelter providers and really was calling. For providers to be involved earlier in the planning process.
S2: Kind of what was going to be needed. Case Management Services was going to be number one in particular , which is not always something that's involved in shelter programs , especially for temporary shelters. But we felt very strongly that if we want to have success in getting these ladies into other types of permanent housing , that we would have to have that component. And the city listened.
S1: You know , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has made the lack of housing a major focus for his administration and recently declared it , quote , housing and homelessness.
S2: Many times , as you stated before , just the experience of being homelessness is very traumatic for many individuals. So it might just be an episodic period of mental illness they may be experiencing because of what they have been going through. Or many of our homeless individuals do have what's called SMI serious mental illness , and they just need assistance in getting back on their feet onto a plan of recovery. Then therefore , it can lead into housing and using a housing first model. We truly believe that you have to have a roof over your head. If you're going to be successful in recovery , you have to have that safe place. You have to be able to access services , be able to get mail , plug in your cell phone so you can call for your doctor's appointment or your therapy appointment , whatever that may look like for you. So it really is a kind of a full circle of talking about mental illness , realizing that individuals who are unhoused neighbors may have serious mental illness or be experiencing episodic mental illness based on their experiences that they're having right now. So that component of healing the the mind and the body really do go hand in hand.
S2: And that's one thing we don't want people to lose is hope. There's always hope out there that we can help you with your strength based decision making , shared decision making to get back into a place of safety and housing.
S1: And so then talk a bit more about how simply having a shelter and having providers who are aware of mental health issues is helpful in this process.
S2: It's very helpful because of that lived experience component. When somebody can say , I've been where you've been and this is where I am now. So there is hope , there is the ability to have this just be temporary for you. Let's go ahead and work on this together. And having the person being seen as a person , we often dehumanize individuals who are living on the street , especially if they have a mental illness and what we call a co-occurring disorder. So they have a substance use disorder as well. So we see them as people. We see where they are in this moment in time. This may not have have they've been their entire lives. This may not have to have been a year or two years ago. But this is something they're experiencing now. So we'll meet them where they are and we'll work that process with them to get them to a place that they would like to be.
S1: I've been speaking with Catherine Macario , CEO of NAMI of San Diego and Imperial County's Katherine. Thank you.
S2: Thank you so much. Any time.
S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. San Diego is changing course dramatically on how it handles the ticketing and towing of vehicles. After a recent audit found what many probably suspected that it disproportionately affected low income and other vulnerable people and ultimately the policy cost the city money. District three Councilmember Steven Whitburn is spearheading these changes and joins us now to talk about them. Welcome , Councilmember Whitburn.
S4: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be with you.
S4: And because there were late , the city towed their vehicle. And when the city does that , the vehicle goes to an impound yard. And to get your car out of the impound yard , you have to pay the towing fee and the impound fee. You have to pay all the costs of the fines that you originally may have struggled to pay to begin with. And these costs continue to go up. And for many people , they simply can't afford to get their car out of the impound because it's invariably hundreds of dollars. And you know what happens if you can't get your car out of the impound ? It is sold to the highest bidder. And many , many people lose their cars this way.
S1: Mm hmm.
S4: But what it found was that the program has a disproportionately negative impact on lower income people for the specific kinds of tows that tend to impact people because they may have trouble paying the bills. And those three kinds are late vehicle registrations , having five or more parking tickets that are unpaid and 72 hour violations. The studies have shown that tows for those three kinds of violations are often called poverty tows or disproportionate impact tows because of the people they most profoundly impact.
S4: So the impound company is paid first. Then if there is money left over , it goes to the city to pay for the towing company and pay for the dispatch services. Ultimately , what the what the audit found was that the city loses money on this program because it tends not to collect enough of those fees to cover its costs. In executing the program , in fact , on an annual basis , the city loses a million and a half dollars through this program. Hmm.
S1: Hmm. And is that pretty much the only way the city loses money ? When it comes to towing cars.
S4: The city loses money when it comes to towing cars primarily through the sale of vehicles that don't recoup enough money to pay for the city's costs. So , yes , it is these vehicles that are towed and then sold off. That results in the city losing the most money. Hmm.
S1: You know , is consideration ever given when , say , someone's car is also their home.
S4: There are different laws that apply to that. The city has a vehicle habitation ordinance , but that's separate. What I am focused on entirely is the tows for the three types of violations that disproportionately in cap income , low income people. And yes , there are individuals who may be living in their cars in those circumstances. But this audit , the work that I am doing , is targeted to anybody who may lose their vehicle because it was towed for one of these three disproportionate impact hosts.
S4: I have expressed to my council colleagues my belief that we are hurting people by taking away their vehicles in a disproportionate way and that it needs to be corrected. And what I have heard from my colleagues is they think that the system needs to change as well. So the city council has tasked me with working with city staff and other stakeholders to identify a more equitable and reasonable way to enforce the parking regulations. That doesn't really upend people's lives.
S4: This is only about the towing aspect. We do need parking regulations in the city of San Diego and we need to enforce those regulations. So it is perfectly appropriate to ticket a car for an expired registration or for having too many parking tickets that are unpaid or for being parked in a space for too long. That's fine. Where you get the real disproportionate impact is when you tow. And then people end up losing their car. So I will be working to find a way where we can continue to enforce the law , but we won't tow vehicles for those specific purposes. Now , what else may be involved in that has to be worked out. But I don't think that we should be towing vehicles of of people who are having difficulties paying the bills in such a way that they lose their vehicle because of somebody loses their vehicle , then they may have difficulty getting to work. If they can't get to work and lose their job , they may have trouble paying the rent. If they lose their apartment , then they're suddenly part of the homeless population that we're spending tens of thousands of dollars to get back into housing. So towing somebody's car in such a way that they lose it is a self-defeating proposition for the city of San Diego.
S4: Some cities have successfully used the boot , which immobilizes a vehicle so that it can't be driven away until the situation is addressed. Typically , the cost to remove a boot is significantly less than the cost to pay off a tow at an impound. It does immobilize a vehicle. It does restrict a person from being able to get to work. So I do have concerns about hindering people's access to their employment. Payment plans are certainly another option. Now , the city actually has a payment plan in place for people who are struggling to pay their parking tickets. But I have found that not enough people know about that and not enough people have taken advantage of that. So if we want to continue to make that a part of the solution will have to ensure that people who are struggling to pay their bills get informed and are aware of how to take advantage of that program.
S4: In fact , they were incredibly helpful with the audit , provided a lot of information to the audit. We will be working closely with them as we identify possible solutions. So it's a little bit too early to say what their position on that will be. But we hope to work with the the police department and other stakeholders to find a solution that everybody can live with.
S1: I've been speaking with District three , Councilmember Steven Whitburn. Steven , thank you very much.
S4: A pleasure. Thank you.
S1: About a half dozen states are trying something new to attract recruits into the National Guard. They're paying finder's fees to people who help bring in new troops. Some National Guard leaders want to roll out a similar program of referral bonuses nationwide. Desiree Diorio reports for the American Homefront Project.
S3: The National Guard came up 9000 troops short of its recruitment goal last fiscal year. More than half the states missed their goals by 40% or more , according to the National Guard Bureau. The federal office that oversees the state guards to bridge the gap. Some states have resorted to paying out referral bonuses to non recruiters. Finder's fees. Captain Michael Markovich explains how the program works in Vermont.
S5: It amounts to a $1,000 payment if a recruiting assistant , as they're called , enlists anybody into the guard , basically from the connection all the way up to initial entry training.
S3: The recruiting assistants are not full time recruiters , but they do have to be affiliated with the Vermont National Guard. Active or retired troops can bring in leads and so can the Guard's civilian employees.
S5: We have vacancies to fill and having everybody contribute or at least have a program that offers incentives for everybody to contribute is value added.
S3: Markovich says the program has brought in 69 leads so far and paid out more than $50,000 in bonuses. He says localized oversight protects it from fraud and abuse.
S5: The recruiter is a check and balance. The recruiting battalion has a checks and balance , and the payments are run through the Vermont Military Department.
S3: The Virginia National Guard has a similar bonus referral program , except any Virginian can get a finder's fee up to $750 , whether they're a member of the Guard or not. Lieutenant Colonel Scott Nevins commands the Virginia National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. He says six people have signed up to refer recruits since the program launched in September , and they've generated a handful of leads so far.
S4: It's a nice paycheck for someone to our organization.
S5: We're looking forward to more success as we go forward.
S3: A federal level finder's fee program used to exist. It was called the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program , and it brought in 100,000 new recruits from 2005 through 2012. But the Pentagon shut it down after an investigation revealed millions of dollars in fraudulent payments. Though some of those who were accused of abusing the program deny any wrongdoing , despite the program's troubled past , senior leaders say they might bring it back. General Daniel Hodgkinson is the head of the National Guard Bureau.
S4: By putting in the right checks and balances in place. We could really help make every single Guardsman a recruiter by paying them a bonus for anybody that they bring into the organization.
S3: At a round table discussion in September , Hodgkinson said a reboot would require careful planning to eliminate any opportunity for fraud. But at the end of the day , the program was a success.
S4: Obviously , there were lessons learned that we would definitely want to incorporate. We want to basically have a firm set of rules and orders and really set the terms and conditions.
S3: The Vermont and Virginia guards say their programs protect against fraud because they operate on a much smaller scale with multiple layers of hands on oversight. I'm Desiree Diorio on Long Island.
S1: This story was produced by the American Homefront Project , a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Bob Woodruff Foundation. You're listening to KPBS Midday edition. I'm Jade Hindman. Jason Makgabo Perez is San Diego's new poet laureate. He's the author of two hybrid poetry collections and has another in the works. A graduate of UC San Diego. He is now director of the Ethnic Studies Program at Cal State San Marcos. Perez spoke with Midday Edition producer Harrison Patino about his role as poet laureate.
S5: You made your debut as poet laureate at the State of the City Address earlier this month with a poem titled We Draft Work Songs for This City. I'm hoping we could start by having you read a selection from that poem. Sure.
S2: Sure. Sure. We draft work songs for this city whenever the surrender of this quiet is Typhoon and we draft work songs for this city mighty we of rough draft futures. We of protest chant and scrapyard syntax. We work song in tin drum glottal syllables of distant motherland. We draft litanies at every street light altar. We draft verse on napkins and reused plastic grocery bags. We raw material literature's distillation of after dreams swap meet philosophers we whose hands wash sky who grow guarded and guarded against worry. We whose mighty ache we makes history.
S5: Thank you , Jason. That was beautiful. Can you tell us more about that poem ? What does it mean to you , and why did you choose that ? For the State of the City address.
S2: It's actually a bit of a remix in a sort of re-edit , revised , repurposed , recycle from a series of writings coming from my forthcoming book. I really wanted to share my love with the city , and so the longer version of that poem references three general areas where I lived in San Diego for a good amount of time. But I think perhaps most importantly , demonstrating my solidarity and love for the workers. I was raised by workers , you know , blue collar workers. I know we're all workers , but wanting to put that frame in the poem and share that with working people.
S5: So I understand you first became interested in poetry as a college student.
S2: I think that , you know , my relationship to literature , my relationship to literature and English classes was not always the best. I didn't know it was because I didn't feel represented in the literature we were reading. But I think perhaps even much more deeply , I didn't feel I had a relationship , an intimate or healthy relationship with my own sort of way of how I think about myself and express myself. And so when I saw folks doing spoken word friends like my my dear friend , elite Pinoy feminist poet Joi de la Cruz doing poetry on stage , or one of my best friends , V.J. Jennings , doing poetry on the stage. It really helped me come to terms with how I felt about literature. And , you know , I ended up linking up with them and building community and really gravitating towards poetry. But I think that that that came after , you know , the community building and the activist work that we were doing. And so it sort of became a place where we can gather and where we can process our thinking or feelings and make sense of the world. And poetry happened to be the medium that was really available to us.
S5: Well , you touched on it a little bit. You describe yourself as an underperforming English writer throughout high school and college. I'm curious why you chose this as a characterization for yourself.
S2: You know , I come from an immigrant family. Both of my parents immigrated from the Philippines. The US colonization of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century , you know , brought English or forced English upon the Filipino peoples. And so my parents were it wasn't as if they weren't fluent in English , but they would often speak to us in Tagalog or more prominently , another language in the Philippines , Ilocano. You know , I grew up here in Southern California , and so , you know , I heard a lot of Spanish , a lot of barrio , Spanish , a lot of different sorts of languages. But none of that necessarily was translating into my educational my formal educational space. And so I was not aware of literature that was written for folks like me or our communities or families. I was not aware of that history. And once I found that history , I felt , you know , I could give myself permission to to explore this and really find myself in language. Right. And so to be able to develop my my own sensibilities , my own aesthetics and my own sense of self. And I think that I think I didn't have that confidence or I didn't feel empowered to work with language or to express myself. In this way , really , until those moments in college where I started out and sort of was experimenting. And then even much later , I think I felt much more comfortable and empowered with language. When I became a teacher , after I studied right after I did my MFA. It is a lifelong relationship for me , figuring out what language means to me and how it's , you know , how I want to sort of play with it and craft it in order to make sense of the world.
S5: Well , I want to talk more about your upbringing. Your personal family history has had a profound effect on your work. Specifically , when your mother , Leonora Perez , was framed by the FBI in the seventies. Can you tell us more about your mother's story and how that's influenced your work ? Sure.
S2: I often sort of share this story and drop some details , and it's such a long story to talk about. It's sort of my life's work to really write about this story and figure out different ways to explore it in a way that's that's careful and responsible and accountable to my mother , to the other Filipino nurse , to that history , to our communities. But my mother and another nurse were framed by the FBI for murder , a series of murders that happened while they were nurses at the Ann Arbor Veterans Hospital. Administration Patients were suffering , breathing arrests. The FBI eventually came in to investigate through about $1,000,000 at the time at the investigation , and they ended up pinning it on my mother and another nurse. And so my mother had pretty freshly immigrated yet immigrated in 1972. And this was in 1975. This all happened before I was born. And we kept migrating west because of the trauma from this particular historical moment. I think that , you know , as some of that family history crept into some of our conversations , I think that my relationship to institution trauma institutions has been shaped with a suspicion , always a caution because of what happened to my mother and my relationship to the English language , because she was persecuted for an immigrant , having a thick accent , having a way of expressing herself that was not understood or heard in the courtroom by jurors or the judge or the prosecutors or whatever. I think a lot of that has shaped what my interest is in coming back to our communities , coming back to our families , and try to sort of tell our stories through the language , the languages that feel most empowering to us.
S5: Well , Jason , as you mentioned , you're not just San Diego's poet laureate. You also teach you're the director of the ethnic studies department at Cal State , San Marcos. You talk a lot about using past trauma and your own history in forming your work.
S2: That could be trauma , that can be any sort of affect or feeling or experience. It could be joy , right ? It can be a kind of tenderness and care. You know , whatever students feel they need to articulate. I try to offer them tools to use poetry , poetic tools and devices that help them process. Right. And if they if they feel comfortable , safe , and feel compelled to see poetry as something that's meaningful to their lives , I don't expect it to be right. I would love for everybody to read poetry. I would love for everybody to write poetry. But but again , I think for me , what comes first is community , right ? So whatever those tools of expression , articulation and reflection are for for students and for our community members. Right. I'm hoping that whatever those are that they find those and they're able to get those right. And if poetry is one of them , that's awesome. And I think I'm here to really share what I've learned over the years as a as a community organizer and as a poet , as a as an educator , as a scholar. Right. Hoping to to demystify poetry a little bit and say , hey , there's a place for all of us here. There are poets and there are poems , and there's a long history of imaginative language from all of our communities. There's a long history of of creative writers and artists who are making work for us or directly for our communities. And I want to be able to let students know that. And I try to do that as much as I can.
S5: Well , Jason , you said earlier you want to get more people to read poetry , and your role as poet laureate will also include cultivating relationships with the community and telling stories across San Diego.
S2: I think , you know , hopefully getting folks to workshops and getting folks to reading. Groups where we not only share our own poetry , but perhaps spend time with someone's poetry book. I think we have a very vibrant community of poets here in San Diego. I consider myself a part of some of those communities , and so I think linking with them and connecting with them and hopefully collaborating to reach out to the community and by community , I'm thinking about things intergenerationally. I'm also thinking about definitely paying some attention to the youth and young people who I think have a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It's been difficult , you know , during this pandemic to be together. It's difficult to to convene with , you know , this sort of ongoing violence in many of our communities , actual gun violence. And so I think trying to figure out safe spaces where we can , you know , share our humanity and extend grace and dignity to each other. I think that the position really , I hope , affords me that that opportunity to facilitate those spaces not as a leader. Right. But just as a sort of as a server. Right. As someone serving the community. That's what I really see this position to be.
S1: And that was San Diego poet laureate Jason Makgabo Perez speaking with KPBS Midday Edition producer Harrison Patino.