A Sunday with Catherine Hernandez


Sundays are typically known to be resting days, but on the 17th I participated in a workshop facilitated by Catherine Hernandez (hosted by Asian Arts Freedom School). Right after check-in Catherine introduced us to the concept of muse and ego. With artists our muse is also known as our intuition - where we trust our instincts and create whatever is necessary in the moment. The ego often hinders the creative spirit of the muse by re-enforcing socialized norms and rules. The activity required us to be vulnerable, make eye-contact one at a time with other participants then bust out a movement we were feeling in that particular moment. We did this three times to three different songs and I realized my ego is hella dominant. Simply "going with the flow" and "trusting my intuition" was tough for me - I was afraid of embarrasing myself by making the wrong type of movement. Thankfully, we will be doing two more workshops in the upcoming weeks, so I can learn how to quiet my screaming ego.

Afterwards, I offered some videography services to Catherine for Operation Lifeboat by Sulong Theatre. It was a lucky opportunity because I had a camera on me - plus I haven't had money to donate relief funds to the Philippines, so shooting videos was my contribution at the time. We filmed Alvis Choi, Katie Sly, & Ill Nana Diverse City Dance Company. They all spoke about really relevant topics and I'm excited to see their videos.

So far here are some of the videos where my film clips were included:

Suburbia: Initially Re-Segregation and Now a Conformist, Repetitive, and Mundane Culture

While listening to an online lecture for my Music in the City course, the guest lecturer (Dr. Chris McDonald) speaks about the band Rush. Throughout their discography, Rush was evidently a conscious group and criticized many aspects of society with their lyrics. McDonald included the song "Subdivisions" as part of the lecture,  a song that describes the boredom, conformity, and feelings of isolation that is often found in suburban neighborhoods - especially for kids that were different.

The lecturer also shared the history of suburbia. Apparently, after WWII there was a rise in institutionally educated individuals due to free tuition; we all know that institutional education is a one-sided situation, so that's one issue. But now that various movements were happening and other oppressed groups were demanding equality, there was backlash. Due to racial tensions, and other issues, White folks moved away from the city. It was instilled that the city was/is a dirty, noisy, dangerous, and diverse area. On the other hand, the suburbs were seen as safe, comfortable, spacious places to build a family. The suburbs were also known as areas where middle- and upper-class people moved to where the working-class would stay in the city. McDonald also mentioned how non-Eurocentric countries and communities are reversed. In these communities, the farther away from the city one is, the poorer they were. Unfortunately, I'm not making time to look further into the history, but this topic really piqued my interest.

One question I wonder is "Why choose to settle in the suburbs?"

Okay, I understand that there's a certain amount of privacy (other than the gossiping and behind-curtain peeping), the suburbs can potentially promote a tighter-knit family unit (despite that fact that everyone has big rooms to themselves and have all types of entertainment in their rooms to keep them entertained all day), and a spacious amount of land (sure, a pool and patio furniture is nice to have), but I still don't get it. In my mind suburbia is uncomfortable, elitist, and conformist... Suburbia

I don't blame the kids that tire of the place and want to do something different - whether it means changing their clothing style from preppy to punk, or getting into MMORPGs where they can be anyone/anything they wish, or closing off and diving into their creative talents rather than following their peers to the mall (that is a 20-30 minute drive away)... Suburbia is just not for me. Repetition and conformity is held in moderation, but having to live it day in and day out? No thank you. I'd rather live in the diverse, sorta community-oriented, small living space, culturally variant hub of Toronto and chill with a group of QTPOCs (and allies) than try to be fake in suburbia.

I'm tired of typing suburbs and suburbia, so I'm going to close off with a question...

If you live in suburbia, what attracted you and what keeps you there?