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Chinese American Exclusion

Last month, Melrose Leadership Academy’s fifth graders traveled to San Francisco’s Chinese Historical Society of America. We walked to a nearby playground in Chinatown before we visited the new permanent exhibit “Chinese Americans: Exclusion/Inclusion.”

 (bryan farley)

We took a bus across the Bay Bridge from Oakland. I took some pictures. I included the photo gallery here. (The individual photos are from the gallery.)

 (bryan farley)

San Francisco’s Chinatown is a popular tourist destination, but its history is often overlooked. Chinatown was almost lost after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. The 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act restricted the number of people who could become legal citizens. Americans enforced the restrictions. During the field trip, the students learned how some of the immigrants were tested at Angel Island and other sites.

 (bryan farley)

The new exhibit asks, “What does it mean to be American?” This is a recurring question for our country. It seems that some people are allowed to sail across oceans and land on our shores and become Americans. Other people were brought here as slaves or traveled as immigrants and excluded from citizenship.

Americans want to believe that we live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it is not that simple.

 (bryan farley)

When children are given the chance to play together freely, they learn how to enjoy each other. I don’t want to over-romanticize youth; young people can be cruel, but not as cruel as adults. Adults create cruel systems. Some people learn how to function in systems that were not designed for their success.

 (bryan farley)

I decided to post on May 9th, because the abolitionist John Brown was born on this day (in 1800). Why isn’t he more popular? Andrew Jackson has become popular again (as has Alexander Hamilton). Our culture hasn’t lost it’s interest in appropriation, and yet, I haven’t seen anyone appropriate John Brown… not even white people. Is John Brown too violent or too militant? I do not have the answer, just a sinking feeling that some of us do not know what it means to resist when other people are excluded.

The 135th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act was May 6, 2017. (For more perspective, read Kat Chow’s recent article.)

Run Run Run

I have had epilepsy since I was 16. I had my first seizure one month after running the San Francisco Marathon. For many years afterwards, I continued running with limited success. Mostly, I ran away from the truth about my health.

 (bryan farley)

Last weekend, I attended the first annual Seize the Moment 5K walk/run for Epilepsy in Sacramento, California. The event was held at Gibson Ranch Park on March 26, 2017. March 26 is also “Purple Day,” an international day for people with epilepsy. There was a regular 5K followed by a color run with a lot of purple haze. My two children attended with me.

Photo Gallery Here

 (bryan farley)

Jodi Ortiz, race manager

The National Walk for Epilepsy in Washington, D.C. was the same weekend this year. I had gone every year since 2010, but I did not feel like going this year. When I first started attending, I was excited. I felt useful. I just read a few of my posts from 2010, the first year I attended the national walk. In 2010, I was still nervous. I was learning how to become visible and useful.

 (bryan farley)

In the last couple of trips to Washington, D.C. I was starting to feel invisible again. Before 2010, I was running away from having epilepsy. By last year, I felt that the larger epilepsy family was running away from me. I no longer felt useful.

However, I had collected enough images during the seven years that I could stop running.

 (bryan farley)

I was excited that I could stay in Northern California and photograph a local event. My two kids wanted to attend. My son ran the 5K that started 30 minutes before the color run. After the race, my son joined my daughter and me for the color run.

 (bryan farley)

The event was well organized. People connected with each other. The event felt like it was a family gathering, which is something that the epilepsy community needs. We need the feeling of family.

 (bryan farley)

I hope that the run continues. We need to find more opportunities to connect… and remain connected. Local events have the advantage of being local. At the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California events, I know people. People know me, or at least some people know my pictures. We have another layer of familiarity and trust. When Jodi contacted me, she mentioned seeing pictures from a San Diego event that I had photographed a few years ago. (The 18th Sharon’s Ride benefiting the Epilepsy Foundation for San Diego County was today.) That event felt like a family gathering too.

 (bryan farley)

These events are still important to me. I am accepted at epilepsy events. While I have learned to accept myself, the outside world has not learned to accept me. While my children impress me with their ability to accept people, I need my family more now than ever. I need the connections. I need to be connected.

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As with anything purple and epilepsy related, it’s worth mentioning that Prince’s Sign ‘O’ the Times was released 30 years ago last week. In the review, there is a line about Prince finding “inspiration in imperfection.” Is there any other way?

For more thoughts about the run, see notes on a blog post.

Bay Area Derby “New Home – Old Building”

 (bryan farley)

Bay Area Derby opened their regular season at the Old West Oakland Train Station ten days ago. The roller derby bout was held outside the abandoned train station on Saturday, March 18, 2017.

Here is the photo gallery from the season opener.

 (bryan farley)

I have also photographed an event inside the 16th Street Station. On November 7, 2015, I photographed a fundraiser when Mayor Libby Schaaf celebrated her 50th birthday at the historic site. 

 (bryan farley)

This year’s season opener was historic because of the new venue, but the result was also unusual. San Francisco ShEvil Dead defeated the Oakland Outlaws 186-114. The ShEvil Dead victory equaled their win total from the three previous years.

 (bryan farley)

The new venue seemed appropriate for roller derby. Old and new had found a place to interact and coexist. Nothing felt out of place.

 (bryan farley)

When I watch derby on a foam surface, I forget that the sport is full of full contact. The cement does not give. It is unforgiving.

 (bryan farley)

In the end, the harsh sun and stark surroundings emphasized roller derby at its best. Role models encouraged young people and the community supported a young sport.

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