Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Reid My MindRadio – Fears of a Blind Nomad

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Jim Paradiso at the Inca Ruins
When I heard about Jim Paradiso, I had to find out more. He’s a Blind Nomad… I had to hear his story. Turns out it’s so much more than that… he’s forcing you to challenge what you think is possible. That is, if you believe!

Take a listen and let me know; do you believe?

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good fine people.

I have a lot to say about this episode so I’m just going to get right into it.

Well of course after the intro…

The best way to kick this one off…
[Audio: Been Around the World, Notorious BIG]
[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]

JP:
By the way what I’m about to tell you is true and I don’t give a damn if you believe it or not!

TR:
Any story that begins like that, well, you know it has to be good. whether it’s true or not, that’s for you to decide.

That voice you just heard is Jim Paradiso.
you can call Jim, a nomad!

A modern day nomad refers to people; often those with an online virtual business, where one’s income isn’t tied to a brick and mortar location.
Earning 60K for example and living outside of the US on various continents can really stretch that dollar.

That’s not exactly Jim’s situation. He’s been living a version of this lifestyle for over a year now and is currently in Loja, Ecuador.

According to Jim;

JP:
The adventure is the journey

TR:
With that said, let’s begin with the journey that lead Jim to Loha Ecuador.

JP:

I was talking to a friend, he was moving to Vilcabamba and I’d never heard of Vilcabamba and I said it sounds like a good name so I left to go to Vilcabamba. Which is a fifteen hour ride on a bus from. Manta to Vilcabamba. So it took me four weeks to get there.

I get into Cuenca and of course with me now I’m traveling alone for the first time. And I’m up in this Hostel, I said well OK, so I posted on FB { I’m in Cuenca, what’s there to do for a blind man traveling on his own?

TR:
Ok, , the fact that Jim is blind for most people probably makes the idea of him living a life as a nomad and traveling in unknown places, is maybe;
Very frightening?
Unbelievable?

Well, then let’s pause on the journey through Ecuador for a moment and hear what some may think is an unbelievable adventure of Jim’s vision loss
and the series of preceding events .

JP:
I had an aneurism Thirteen years ago on my left eye. And they tried to fix it and they screwed up the eye entirely. Then three years ago I woke up one morning and I had an aneurism in the other I. And I went through ocular injections and everything else that went with it and I had a bad reaction to the ocular injections which caused me to have a stroke.

so I was living with a girlfriend who decided she didn’t want to be with a blind man.

I ended up homeless. I was a month from being blind enough to qualify for Social Security. I was unemployed and Basically I was living on the couch of a motor home
that belong to a friend of mine who was in a retirement community.

So I get a phone call from my brother who was living in Ecuador and he said Well Linda is looking for a manager for a B&B would you like the job? I said, well what’s the pay. Room and board and fifty dollars a week.

Ok, I could be homeless in a motorhome in Florida or I could be homeless on a beach in Ecuador?
kind of a no brainer to me.

TR in conversation with JP:
and I’m sure fifty dollars is different in Ecuador than in Florida.

JP:
It doesn’t make any difference as long as you got food and shelter who cares about the rest of it. I live very inexpensively because that money doesn’t mean anything to me anymore.

I went for a pedicure because I couldn’t see my toe nails and I was catching them on my socks and when she cut the calluses off the bottom my feet so when I went for a walk on the beach I ended up getting third degree burns on the bottom of my feet.

I picked up a flesh eating bacteria and I had to be medivac the act from Ecuador to the United States after two operations down here and five days in the hospital.
The flesh eating bacteria that I picked up is usually fatal within seventy two hours and the only cure for it is amputation; actually they call it debridement which really is amputation. They have to remove all of the bacterial growth because it doubles in size every nine minutes.
Once I got back into the United States they put me in the teaching hospital in Shands of which this was the second case they had in fifty years of this particular virus. They amputated two toes and debride most of my foot and then they had to regrow it in an oxygen rich environment.

This took ten weeks and then they put me in a nursing home for a month. Rehab they call it but it actually was a nursing home.

While I was there I had an abscess on the back of my head so I went to the doctors when I had my foot looked at and they slants the abscess and said this isn’t right so they sent me to a Dermatologist.
Well when they slants it they gave me MRSA – which is another flesh eating bacteria. While I was at the doctor’s they said oh I don’t like these moles on your back let me have them biopsied. Well as it turned out I had skin cancer. They had to operate on my back and removed the skin cancer. Which I thought we were just going to remove a mole but they ended up doing 19 stitches on each side and trenched both sides of my back. Then they had to put me on different antibiotics in order to kill the MRSA they gave me and then when they removed that they discovered it was a tumor. Then they had to remove that. And that was in six months.

At that point I was afraid of dying.

When I finally got settled with Social Security Disability, I Flew back to Ecuador.

TR in conversation with JP:
Why?

JP:
Because my kids wanted to put me in a retirement villa.

TR in conversation with JP:
How many kids do you have?

JP:

Again that’s an odd story…

I have four kids but they’re not mine.
TR in conversation with JP:
Oh Ok!

JP:
My ex-wife’s two kids from her previous marriage.
And I have her ex-husband’s two kids from his previous marriage.

TR in conversation with JP:
OK that’s a new situation!

You have her ex-husband’s kids? (laughing!)

JP:
They all consider me dad and I was always there for them.

By the way, have you ever heard a story this ridiculous?

TR in conversation with JP:
so many people stories that I have heard of do have like one thing on top of the other you know but this flesh eating viruses and tumors, yeah… you’re winning!
– laughs!

TR:
Now, returning to Ecuador Jim met up with a friend.

JP:
He didn’t have any money and I said OK I need someone to travel with because blind people can’t travel alone!

Well I spent three weeks in the Andes and then two weeks in the Galapagos. Then we came back and we went up to Colombia – we spent three months in Colombia. Then we took a cruise and went from Cartagena through Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. And then circled around back and then went hiking in the mountains and Colombia

TR:
That friend Jim was traveling with was 42 and at the time Jim was 60.
Plus he was still recovering from flesh eating diseases,
multiple cancer surgeries and newly adjusting to blindness.

He learned a valuable lesson.

JP:

There are some things that are worse than traveling alone and that’s traveling with somebody else!

So at Christmas I flew back to Manta.
TR in conversation with JP:
So Jim can I ask you… you just
shared all of that … I mean you talked about a cruise and
flying to the Galapagos and stuff so you’re financing that on the Social Security?

JP:
Yeah!

TR in conversation with JP:
OK! And at this point you’re not paying rent or anything like that just traveling so you’re a Nomad.

JP:
Right, I’m a Nomad, I’m homeless.
I’m doing this on $1,127 a month.

So anyways when I got back to Manta I had infected my foot again and I had to stay off it for six weeks which drove me nuts.

So I was talking to a friend he was moving to Vilcabamba and I’d never heard of….

TR:
That brings us back to Jim’s journey.

When we left off, he was on his way to Vilcabamba
and stopped in a Hostel in Cuenca
where he posted the question

JP:
In Cuenca, what’s there to do for a blind man traveling on his own?

One guy suggested why don’t you head up to Ingaperka which is a Aztec ruin in the Andes which would be Eastern Ecuador.

TR:
So off he went to Ingaperka to find the ancient Inca Ruins.

Now if you’re thinking Jim is probably fluent in Spanish
or of course everyone speaks English,
well you’re wrong.
In fact, most people in the town of Ingaperka speak a dialect of the Incas.

JP:
The bus let me off in the middle of this town. I have no clue where I am I finally find somebody that speaks about four words of English.
And she asked me what I was doing and I say I was looking for the ruins. And she says ruins Cinco. I said Cinco kilometers. She says no Cinco minutos. I said where and she say aqui and pointed me to a road and so I walk up the road. I walk into this beautiful state park.

TR:
After receiving a tour of the ruins
well, it’s time for Jim to begin making his way to Vilcabamba.
He catches one bus to Cuenca and another to Loja.
Which is where he of course posts to Facebook:

JP:
What’s there to do for a blind man travelling alone through Loja?

Well this woman posts back well I have these two. English students who
are blind and would like to meet you. They’re sisters. So I meet them for coffee they come in on the arm of somebody crab walking because they don’t travel alone they’re in their thirty’s and they’ve been blind all their life.

They sit down and we’re talking and one of them looks at me and says who are you traveling with? I said nobody.

She Says Do you speak Spanish? I said no she said you can’t do that! I said yeah, I can!

TR:
By now you probably get the impression that the response, yes I can,
that’s something Jim is quite used to saying!

JP:
I’m here!
She takes me over to the elementary school which I’ll tell you is like a prison. Two meter high concrete walls surrounding it with broken bottles over the top of it and they’re all concrete bunkers and it’s just… it’s got mold it’s just… it’s a horrible place.

TR in conversation with JP:
Is that specifically just for blind children or is that…

JP:
Yes, it’s specifically for blind children. And there are residents there and there are day people that come from the city and this is the only blind school for elementary school children in the area. And she tells me that they don’t teach mobility there because they had to cut they cut their budget and the person they cut from the budget was the mobility trainer.

Now my experience with mobility training is I am blind
and I am mobile. There are my qualifications for the position… so now I’m the mobility trainer.

TR:
See what I mean by saying yes…
Jim not only said yes to teaching others who are blind to use the
white cane and more, but he has a pretty packed schedule.

JP:
I’m working four days a week from eleven to one at the elementary school. I work five days a week teaching conversational English at a college and I work two nights a week teaching mobility and technology at the high school.
I’m starting a nonprofit… We’ve got a doctor. Who is volunteering his time services to do prosthetic eyes on the kids that have missing eyes plus I have the Go Fund Me going…other than that I’m not really that busy!

TR:
That Go Fund me is a campaign to raise money to purchase white canes,
iPhones or iPads to provide children with GPS capabilities
in order to improve their mobility.

You can find more at:
http://GoFundMe.com/3noxfco

If you’re wondering what are the living conditions for a blind nomad
in Ecuador
Jim says his apartment in Ecuador
would probably rent for several thousand in New York City.

JP:
It’s the studio penthouse with a balcony view of the mountains. Glass all the way around its fully furnished. It has a hot tub, a walk in shower. The bathroom is ten by twenty and I pay $350 a month for it including utilities.

TR:
Jim’s a volunteer! He’s not paid for any of his work.
Well not in the traditional sense!

JP:
What I get from a kid who comes up and hugged me. You know – I’ve got children that actually… they don’t speak the language that I speak and they cannot express themselves on how much they really appreciate me.

I get people hugging me all the time. That’s what I get paid in!

While I still have work to do here I’m not leaving. It’s just different it’s a different lifestyle I found a place where they need me so I’m staying. When they don’t need me any more I’ll go somewhere else.
TR in conversation with JP:
How do you feel today about everything that happened? That whole crazy story you told me.

JP:
I will tell you something that you will very seldom hear from a blind person.

Going blind was the greatest opportunity of my life! Without that none of this would have happened. And that’s how I look at it.

TR:
And isn’t that what it boils down too!
How we choose to look at it!

Jim is actually looking for an assistant volunteer
to join him in Ecuador.
He needs help with some of those things he’s doing like
teaching mobility and technology.

He can provide room and board, but
the candidate needs to pay for their own travel.
Oh, yes, and the candidate must be blind.

Jim can be contacted directly through his Facebook page titled:
Blind Jim Can’t do That!
(Yeh, I can!)

I’m Thomas Reid
for Gatewave Radio,
[JP: I don’t give a damn if you Believe it or not ]
Audio for Independent Living.

TR:
I have never described myself as a journalist.
In fact, I make sure to say, I’m not.
I am a self-described Advocate who uses audio to make a point.
I don’t hide my opinion,
I choose the stories I want to tell and have a real solid perspective.
The idea of a journalist is that they supposedly don’t have that bias.
I don’t believe that at all!
However, A journalist would have done some real fact checking of Jim’s story.

They would have contacted various sources to try and confirm
his account of the events.

I am a New Yorker,
I instinctively don’t believe you!
It’s something I am really trying to rid myself of but it’s so ingrained in my being it’s really hard to separate.

I know there are some who will listen to this and not believe him.

Some will assume he has some residual vision – and say
that’s the reason he can do it.

Jim does have a bit of light perception which allows him
to see shadows out of a part of one eye.

Some will think it’s his nature.
Well, it’s probably fair to say Jim is something of an adventurer.
Before losing his sight he was a professional scuba diver diving throughout
the US and Caribbean.

That included salvage work for insurance companies, body recovery,
owning his own diving school and treasure diving in the Caribbean.

So here’s the thing…

I do believe Jim.

Jim is 100 percent telling the truth about the fears of a blind traveler.

Those fears are not just contained within the person who is blind.

You know that because as you were listening you felt uncomfortable.

You know you did.

I don’t care if you are sighted or
any degree of blind, you felt it!

I felt it! And feeling that way upset me.

I travel alone to different states but I had a fully planned itinerary.

Jim’s story made me challenge how I look at the world
and what I really believe is possible.

During our conversation a woman interrupted Jim and I asked him to explain what happened.

JP:
some woman just walked up to me and said You’re an inspiration to the people down here. I overheard your conversation.

I have people walking up to me on the street constantly doing that.

TR in conversation with JP:
How does that feel?

JP:
I don’t think I’m anything special.

I think everybody has it within themselves just that I choose to do that my question to people is Why don’t you choose to do it.

There are so many people out there that don’t want to leave their house and it bothers me.

TR in conversation with JP:
Why?

JP:
I’ve met so many blind people in my. Limited time being blind. And most of them tell me that they have limitations on everything they do.

You know they tell me it’s OK that you can do this but I can’t and then they give me a list of reasons why they can’t.

TR in conversation with JP:
What are some of those reasons?

JP:
Oh I could get hurt I could fall down. I could get lost.

So what’s the big deal you don’t think I get lost you don’t think I fall down you don’t think I get hurt?

TR:
I think it’s fair to acknowledge that the emotions behind these thoughts are real. But Fear you may have heard
is an acronym for False evidence appearing real.

You know what else is real!

Our perspective!
And we can actually control that!

JP:
I survived cancer. I’m blind. I survived the flesh eating bacteria What are you going to do to me that God hasn’t done already? It’s true! What fear do I have now. They told me I was going to die on three different occasions.

TR in conversation with JP:
you know you’re going to go at some point.

JP:
Right, we’re all gonna go some time!
I’d rather go out swinging then go out crying.

There is nothing holding you back but yourself.
I was at a Blind I Can meeting I can do is what they call it…

And they were talking about having an outing and they were talking about going out to lunch.

I mean, what is going to lunch proof for a blind person. Everybody eats!

They asked me what my idea of a good outing was…

There’s a place in Florida in Orlando called Machine Gun America. It’s automatic weapons… what the hell could possibly go wrong!

TR in conversation with JP:
Laughing!… I love it!

JP:

Make yourself feel alive.

You’re dead, nobody’s told you!

TR:
Jim, like many who lose their vision later in life, especially over the age of 55, never even had real mobility training.

JP:
My mobility training consisted of twenty minutes.

I learned everything on the internet and by myself reading books so when
they finally picked up my paperwork they put me through … they put me in front of a mobility trainer who told me that in familiar surroundings I was Ok, but I needed work in unfamiliar surroundings.

So I was hiking staying at an Echo lodge called Ukuku in Columbia it’s outside of Ibagué.

It’s a two kilometer hike up a mountain across three rivers. To get to this and the last river you crossed There’s a log and you got to balance on a log to cross the river.

Now do you know the proper caning technique for crossing a log bridge?

TR in conversation with JP:
Laughing… No I do not!

I think mine would be to straddle the log and then slowly go across. That would be my technique.
But that’s just me!

JP:

So I had to call back to the person who was in charge of the mobility training and I said, hey Tom what’s the proper caning techniques for crossing a log bridge?

TR in conversation with JP: To the avenue.
Oh my gosh! Did they have any advice for you?

JP:
Oh hell no.

TR:
But don’t get it twisted,
Jim isn’t some sort of blind Evel Knievel.
(If you’re younger than 40 Google him!

Jim is practical about his travel.

JP:
I have a theory. It’s really simple when I get to a town if I check into a Hostel I get the business card of the Hostel, put it in my wallet.

If I get really lost I take the business card and I give it to a cab driver and I ask the cab driver donde esta aqui… where is this? And he takes me there.

TR:
That practical advice goes beyond travel…

JP:
I’m trying to convince people that just because you have a problem doesn’t mean you can’t get your ass out and do something.

I listen to people tell me they can’t get a job. Well, go volunteer and get some experience!

TR:
I’m hoping to speak with Jim again.

And who knows maybe that will be in person, in Ecuador.

There are links on Reid My Mind.com to both the Go Fund Me and his Facebook page if you want to communicate directly with Jim.

I usually close with my reminder for you to subscribe to the podcast…

well today, I’m closing out with part of a favorite quote taken from Jim’s Facebook page.

Maybe someone will find it helpful… I think Jim may have.

Falling down is a part of life, getting back up is living.”

Peace

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – The Reidwind Episode

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Sometimes it’s worth pausing to take a look at your work. Maybe a time to reflect, re-evaluate or maybe just slow down to pick some others up as you continue along the way.

Today we rewind, or rather Reidwind, and take a look back at some of the prior episodes in the past six months.

There’s lots of ways to consume this content… Sound Cloud, Apple Podcast and others, even transcript.

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
For more than 2 years I have been producing this podcast.

The last 6 months or so include episodes that exemplify some of the reasons I enjoy doing this.

Today, let’s take a quick look back.

If you’re new here it’s a great way to introduce you to some of what Reid My Mind Radio is all about.

I say some because part of the stress and the joy of doing this is it’s mine… I can do whatever the Bleep I wanna do…

Like right now… I wanna drop my intro music!

[Audio Reid My Mind Theme Music…]

TR:
This podcast is a place for me to share opinions. Like…

After attending the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind conference; where people with vision loss are the main attendees, the environment is made very accessible. Unfortunately, outside of these types of experiences, this rarely occurs.

TR: From [” Are Blind Conferences Fantasy” Posted November 2, 2016](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-are-blind-conferences-fantasy/)
I recently heard these types of tours and activities or even the conferences themselves  described  as fantasy.
The idea is that this is not and will never be the real world. The real world I guess in the minds of those who believe this is fantasy will always  exclusively
cater only to those with sight and forever exclude people with vision loss.

At various times  throughout my journey with vision loss I came close to believing things can’t change. My struggle with cynicism was only made worse 
with the random encounters with those who remind me that they see me first as a blind man and their definition of that goes beyond my inability to see.
For them it’s the subconscious stereotypes and misperceptions that create their image of who I am. the things I do or don’t do are viewed through a lens
painted with layers of misinformation that so much of society has been lead to believe about blindness and disability.

TR:
Whenever possible, I like to include my daughters in my podcast.
I just enjoy their company,
when we hang out it’s always fun …
we laugh and act silly.
We share our sense of humor so it’s going to be fun.

In early December I tried to convince them
to do their own episode of the podcast as they did a few years ago, but
this time with a special twist.
From [“Join the Coalition” Posted December 31, 2017](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-join-the-coalition/)

[TReid in conversation with Raven]
Alright, I think we need to bring back Rizzle Razzle this year…

Raven:
I agree!

TReid:
…but

Raven:
Oh no…

TReid:
… you should have a guest…

Raven:
Ooooh, who is this guest?

TReid:
… me, Daddy!

{After several seconds…}

Raven
No!

[Silence]
TReid:
Yeh, I know, you’re probably just as shocked as I am!

After about 30 minutes or so I let it go…

Maybe I went about this the wrong way.
Rizzle is the oldest, she’d be able to influence Razzle.
Even though she’s away at school, we speak everyday…
I’m ready for her call usually in the morning as she’s walking to class.
That’s when I decided, I’ll get her on my side and the show will be a go…

Here’s how that went down…
[Sound of Harp indicating going back in time.]
[Sound of iPhone ringing]
TReid:
You know, why drag it out?

Riana: “No!”

[Jay Z, What more can I say…]

TR:
They came around and we
closed the year with the [Rizzle Razzle episode](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-rizzle-razzle-year-end-special/)
Even though they sabotage my microphone!

*This episode did not include transcripts as it was very much dependent on the music being discussed.

TR:
Reid My Mind is more than personal …
it’s about telling people’s stories…

People adjusting to blindness like
Robert Ott who drew from his martial arts background to move forward after losing his sight to a gun shot womb.

RO:
I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Everything was racing through my mind. I’ve got pictures of me doing dive rolls over large groups of people and doing splits in the air. I used to go running a lot on the beach and hand springs and just all kinds of beautiful great stuff. I was so weak I couldn’t even do a push-up and now I’m blind. I can’t get around, my independence, my confidence, my self-esteem, my balance.

TR:
While these stories are specific to adjusting to blindness,
it’s easy to see how everyone has their own way of responding.

Maria Johnson, AKA Girl Gone Blind , decided to share her experiences and challenges on her own blog. …
She spoke very candidly of her adjustment process.
One memorable moment was some of her personal words of encouragement that led to a little creativity …

In [“Who is Girl gone Blind”](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-who-is-girl-gone-blind/) I included a “song” created using Maria’s words specifically “I got this”.

TR:
I don’t like to use the often referred to idea of
overcoming blindness or disability and accomplishing goals.
I like to think of working with what you have …
making the most out of your situation and counting your blessings…
Like young Ant, the first female blind rapper
From [“Meet Young Ant, First Female Blind Rapper”](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-meet-young-ant-first-female-rapper-whos-blind/)

TReid:
Young Ant in the building!

YA:
Young Ant in the building!

Treid:
Uh Oh!

So the way I look at this; Antynette is the person, Young Ant is the rapper!

YA:
[Laugh!] Yeah, that’s right!

TReid:
Alright, so first who is Antynette?

YA:
Antynette is a young lady who has been through a lot in a little bit over a year and half and is trying to find her through it with adjusting and coping
and in different techniques that I’m learning and trying to find different avenues of expressing how I’m feeling.

[Intro to “Count your Blessings” by Young Ant]

TReid:
Beautiful!
I lost my sight about 13 years ago. And so…

YA:
Really!

TReid:
Yeh so one of the things that I like to hear from people adjusting to blindness is that they don’t first start with who they are with the fact that they
are blind. You said you are a young lady!
Now, tell me who’s Young Ant?

YA:
Well Young Ant is a motivational rapper!

TR:
And then some like Doctor Dre best known for Yo MTV Raps and more, who’s adjustment process is about Fighting Back…

From[“Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back”](https://t.co/CzpxqDcUXg)

Dre:
I embrace it. And in embracing it he has put me on a path  to help other people and to reach out and express myself not  just about the type 2 Diabetes
not only about the blindness but  about when something goes on and there’s a struggle sometimes embrace your struggle to find your solutions.
It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee for a cure or a guarantee to a perfect answer  but what it does is says you know what  I’m more than what’s going on with
me.
I can also work with this.

If you have a good relationship with your family, friends and  other people and reaching out. I learn every day from so many different people  and I pay
attention and I  try to pass on some of the knowledge of what I get  so that people can help themselves

TR:
It’s more than the adjustment experience.

We heard from
Robert Lewis sharing his story of
growing up in a segregated school for blind students.

From [“At The Intersection of Black & Blind”](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-at-the-intersection-of-black-and-blind/)

RL:
We went to one restaurant and the lady said you got to eat as fast as you can so we can get you out of here before the owner comes  back because if he
saw we had Black people here he would fire me!

TR:
In North Carolina, it was more than getting a meal.

RL:
Guys jumped out of the car and came over and they were going to beat us
all up.
We had no idea … What is this all about? Is it because we are blind; no, it’s  because you’re black and you’re blind!

TR:
Naru Kwinah and Leroy Moore, the two gentlemen producing the
documentary of the life of Joe Capers. Played a big role in artists like EnVogue, Tony Tony Tony and MC Hammer

From [“Who is Joe Capers”](http://reidmymind.com/reid-my-mind-radio-who-is-joe-capers/)

Naru:
Listen brother! His studio was called “J-Jams Studio: Joe did everything.  He had his mix board in Braille. He recorded, he engineered he mixed, he produced.
He did everything that you could every possibly do in the studio. And he had the greatest ear I have ever been around and I’ve  been doing music over 40
years of my life. If you had one note or one little thing off he knew and he would call you on it. You know because he was blind you thought you’d  get
away with stuff.

TR:
In that same episode we learn about Krip Hop from founder Leroy moore.

LM:

This year is our 10th Anniversary and we have loose chapters…

TR:
These include countries within Africa, the UK, Germany and Spain.

[Audio: “Tales of the Krip-Hop”, Rob da Noize Temple]

With the network formed by Leroy and co-founder Keith Jones, the two being disabled activists, the focus continues to be on education and advocacy.

LM:
So we saw Krip-Hop as a way to bring awareness around the history of disabled musicians from the Blues to Hip-Hop and really educate and to push the Hip-Hop
arena  around Ableism thinking around disability and to really say that disabled musicians have been here since the Blues.

TR:
That’s just a taste of some of what has appeared here on
Reid My Mind Radio over the past few months.

Subscribe now to make sure you are riding along during
the months to come.

You can subscribe via Apple Podcast or where ever you like to get your podcast content. That includes Stitcher and Tune In Radio.

Go check that out now, there’s lots of good stuff.

If you’re listening on Sound Cloud, hit that follow button.

I’m Thomas Reid
[Audio: Young Ant “Don’t get it wrong, I’m in my zone”]

[Audio: Reid My Mind theme music outro]
Peace

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio – Certain Victory

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Occasionally, I come across a story that I think fits into a specific category. This latest piece for example was supposed to be about Robert Ott, a blind entrepreneur, but it ended up as so much more.

Picture of Robert Ott

Adjusting to blindness, disability  or any significant life change takes real strength, courage and spirit. Hear how Robert fought back from trauma to become a successful entrepreneur in the Business Enterprise Program.

Hit play to start listening, then subscribe to the podcast and tell a friend!

 

 

Resources

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good everyone!

In this episode I’m bringing you another piece produced for Gatewave Radio.
If you don’t know they are the radio reading service  out of New York City.
their purpose is to provide access to printed materials to those who are print impaired.
Meaning blind or visually impaired, or
for other reasons like physical or cognitive disability, they can’t read print.

Yes, many people today have access to technology that eliminates the need for this service, but
there are still a lot of people who either cannot afford or learn the technology.

One of the things I have realized over the last few years is that I really appreciate telling other people’s stories.

I’m also realizing it’s getting time for me to take another step.

To really tell some one’s story you have to spend time getting to see who they really are and what they are all about.

Doing that, takes a budget.
All of my productions are best described as NMO & NMI…
No Money Out & No Money In!
Well definitely NMI…
If you factor time and equipment well there’s a cost.

I’m honestly not sure what the next step is for me.

I guess I am just letting the universe know I am ready … or
at least open to taking a new step in telling people’s stories for a purpose.

Let’s get into this story and then some more immediately following the Gatewave piece.

But first…
[Audio: RMMRadio Theme Music]

&********

RO:
My name is Robert J. Ott. I originally graduated the Business Enterprise Program  in the state of New Jersey. I then became recertified in the state of Washington and moved my life out here and became a blind entrepreneur in this program.

TR:
The Business Enterprise Program  or B E P
is a federally authorized program implemented  by each state and territory in the United States.

they train and license   people who are blind or visually impaired
to establish and operate food service businesses in
public and private facilities.

RO:
That business did the food services for the western regional center of the National Oceanic Atmospheric  Administration. it was about  a thousand people in the complex. I took over the day care center, I fed 52 kids a day, overseeing 48 vending machines. We did all the catering; breakfast, lunch, fancy dinners . We used to get liquor permits from time to time for international meetings that we’d have there. I spent 10 years of my life there.

TR:
During a Washington state meeting of  B EP vendors,
Robert learned about an opportunity to gain a military contract.
Such contracts were never awarded to a blind vendor in the state and
only 35 vendors in the country had ever received such lucrative opportunities.

Feeling as though he reached a peak in his business at that time,
Robert decided he would pursue the contract.

After 2 and a half years of legal battles with the department of defense ,
Robert was awarded the contract.

RO:
I formed a corporation; it was titled Certain Victory Food Services Incorporated. I had 833 employees.

September 1, 2004 I walked into my office on what is now called  Joint Base Lewis McChord. We were providing the labor, proper service; we were taking care of these young men and women for fighting  for freedom and independence.

TR:
Robert success story can be defined by one word; Pilsung.

The definition, is in his story,
beginning with his introduction to the Martial Arts.

Growing up in Southern New Jersey.  Robert was raised by a single mom.

Like most boys who first watched Bruce Lee on the big screen,
Robert immediately began imitating the acrobatic moves.

[Audio: Bruce Lee’s fighting scene]

RO:
I wasn’t sure what I was doing. My brain wasn’t even doing the thinking. My body was simply kicking  and moving, punches and everything else.

TR:
Robert’s mom couldn’t afford to send her son to lessons.

When Robert turned 12, an affordable and convenient opportunity was presented and
he began studying Tae Kwon Do

RO:
I ended up  winning the New Jersey State Championships two years in a row. From there, the Junior Olympics down in Florida, The Fight for Cancer Championships, Northeast Pocono Championships Garden State Championships. I also lost some battles too. What it was really doing on the inside was  building my self-esteem and confidence to look somebody eye to eye and shake their hand with warmth, goodness and my own self security confidence  at the same time.

TR:
Robert continued studying different forms of Martial Arts with
multiple instructors in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Each instructor providing something new,
One in particular stood out to Robert.

RO:
I remember opening up Tae Kwon Do Times magazine. In the back was the directory  of instructors and little pictures of their faces. And it was one in Pennsylvania  and I said this is the guy I need to go to. And I remember my girlfriends said what are you talking about. I said, he’s looking at me. And she laughed. I said no he is. There I met Grand Master  Go Chae Teok. I became one of his students. A year following that I became the officer manager and chief  instructor . I began to operate, run and dealt with sales instructing, maintenance, advertising, marketing and the biggest thing that happened during that time is that here I am  standing in front of a group of 60 children with all of the parents up on the second floor loft looking down  and I’m teaching. Or I’m standing in front of all of these adults that are much older than me and here I am their instructor and they’re looking to me for guidance. Here I am in the office when people would come in with challenges they’d have in life and we’d be talking. I began to realize more than anything  else that I  do this from the heart and I’m good at what I do . It’s a passion I had. I was 18 years old.

TR:
By 1990, Robert was running his own school teaching Hapkido.

RO:

Which is a Korean Martial Arts. It translates to art of coordinated power. It was growing. So much was going with my life. A lot of responsibility, my relationship was being challenged, I had a great business but I was still trying to figure out how am I going to get everything to tie in together and make ends meet. I’d just given my mother away at her wedding. She married a beautiful man  and my mother gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. This is when I was 21 years old.

TR:
On October 6, 1990 Robert’s life would change forever.

RO:
It’s funny because all that night, I kept saying to myself over and over again you’re not gonna go out, you’re not gonna go to this bar. I couldn’t shut my mind down I had to do something and I guess going there was that answer at the age of 21.

[Audio: Sounds of bar crowd]

So I went in, I was chit chatting, this and that, it was no more than 10 minutes  later a large group of people came in who were heavily intoxicated. I was talking to a female , we were having a nice conversation and the next thing you know another individual  came between us and was getting involved, he wanted to put his hands on her.

She’s with me, I think you had a little bit too much to drink.

She went towards the back of the bar and I was slowly putting on my jacket  to go back to the end of the bar  to walk away from the situation. I certainly could defend myself  and take care of myself but I also learned in life that when you’re dealing with people in certain situations  they could be 1 inch tall and you may be in the best shape of your life but if they don’t care about life  you’re dealing with a whole other ball game!

As I was walking away he pushed me from behind . I turn around to defend myself. The next thing you know, the manager of the bar  was pushing me out the door . The bouncer was pushing the other guy out the door and it was all just happening.

I remember very little, but the key parts I do remember is my right leg going between his legs and sweeping his feet off the ground. Dropping my knee into his groin and I was on top of him. And then the next thing I remember I was tucking my shirt in with my friend in front of me. The door cracked back open  that went out to the parking lot and the  man while I was looking the other direction put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger.

[Audio: Gunshot, followed by ambulance…]

The bullet entered the left part of my skull  and went through the left temporal lobe of my brain. Caught the nerve to my left eye , destroyed my taste and smell and blew up in my right eye.

They got me over to Cooper Trauma Center which is located in Camden New Jersey. It was a total of 17 hours  that I laid there and it was nothing they could do.

TR:
Robert wasn’t expected to survive.
His mother was told if he did it was almost certain that he would have severe brain damage.

RO:
A nurse by the name of Fran Orth  who worked in the Trauma Center came in on the second shift. She spent time reading my information looking at me, reading information, looking at me,  she began to question why wasn’t my head lifted up. Why was not this done, why was not that  not done. And the Neuro Surgeon said there’s nothing we can do he’s going to be dying. She said but did you call Dr. Luis Servante?

TR:
Dr. Servante received the call and answered.
He went on to perform surgery that gave Robert another chance at life.

Recovery, would take some time.

He had to deal with Meningitis that required another stay in the hospital.

At the time of the shooting, Robert was a fit 185 pounds.
As a result of the fall after being shot
Robert’s jaw was broken and wired shut.
He dropped to about 125 pounds.

RO:
I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Everything was racing through my mind. I’ve got pictures of me doing dive rolls over large groups of people and doing splits in the air. I used to go running a lot on the beach and hand springs and just all kinds of beautiful great stuff. I was so weak I couldn’t even do a push-up and now I’m blind. I can’t get around, my independence, my confidence, my self-esteem, my balance.

TR:
The recovery wasn’t just physical.

As the owner and operator of a Martial Arts school,
Robert was more than just an instructor to his students.

RO:
My school was still operating. My students were keeping it going for me, but I was embarrassed to go back. I didn’t want the children and people to see me now. I was ashamed of myself. I could have taught you ten different way when someone puts a gun to you. Techniques and things and ways of taking them down and removing the gun from their hands etc. How your body moves and how your eyes are and how you react to it.

I never thought it would really really happen!

TR:
It was Martial Arts that would once again  help Robert find his way.

RO:
Richard Kemon was my very first Martial Arts Instructor. I really looked up to him, respected him so much. He was like a father to me. And he said Bobby you have to put your uniform on, you gotta go back to your school.

TR:
Robert would go on to regain his  self-confidence and seek out new opportunities.

When it was time, he learned of the BEP program.

RO:
I remember this guy came by the house  to bring me a watch, a talking watch from the New Jersey Commission of the Blind. We started talking about the Business Enterprise Program. I decided to investigate it more. It was what I wanted to do, my dream, but I didn’t look at it as my dream. I looked at it as my tool.

TR:
This was just one tool of many.

Robert already had tools he began accumulating  when introduced to the Martial arts.

I’m talking about more than  the
flying kicks or wood shattering punches.

RO:
Working with people with self-control, confidence, peace of mind, communicating properly, sharing your energy and spirit.

TR:
That spirit eventually guided Robert to Washington state.
Fortunately, he didn’t leave his  sense of humor behind.

TR [In conversation with Robert]:
What made you go from Jersey all the way to Seattle?

RO:
Well that’s a lot of times what  happens when you’re blind and get behind the wheel.

TR:
[Laughs…]
Nice!

TR:
In addition to becoming a successful entrepreneur, he began once again teaching Martial Arts and more…

RO:
I started getting involved with working with other individuals who are blind. I put together a women’s self-defense seminar. I spent time with he Wounded Warriors. I got involved with the children at the Elementary School. I wrote a book.

TR:
The name of that book?
Certain Victory, which is also the name of Robert’s company.

Once again, it goes back to the martial arts; it goes back to pilsung!.

RO:
That same magazine that I told you I was reading when I told you I saw the picture of Grand master Goh.

The article I read in that magazine was called Pilsung. It was about a man and he just earned his first degree black belt.

TR:
Soon after, while piloting his own plane, he crashed.

RO:
And he ended up hitting the high tension line; wires. And 90percent of his body was burnt and he survived.

The whole story  was about overcoming this, getting through this, fighting the fight, finding what he called certain victory. In Korean, pilsung means certain victory through strength, courage and indomitable spirit.

TR:
One word, two syllables Pilsung  helped one man strive to reach his potential.

Robert’s book, Certain Victory is available on Bookshare.org.
It’s also available on Amazon.com and his website Certain Victory.com.

This is Thomas Reid
[RO:
There’s one in Pennsylvania and I said this is the guy I need to go to.]

for Gatewave Radio
Audio for Independent Living.

[Audio Bumper]

Some of my favorite conversations here on Reid My Mind Radio are with those who are adjusting to Blindness.
Notice I didn’t say adjusted.
I truly believe the adjustment process is a continuing practice.

If you ever talked to anyone experiencing blindness or disability,
you may have heard stories about body snatchers and mysteriously disappearing people.

Ok, I’m not being literal.

These are the people in our lives who no longer come around or
they just act very differently around us…

Robert says this was one advantage of making the move out west.

RO:
Nobody knew me here from when I could see.
Thomas the other issue I battle with is I was very well known when I could see. And every time I turned around I’d run into somebody in the supermarket or in the store and they were just always saying to me we’re so sorry for what happened Robert. But they were getting together with me anymore. They weren’t the friends they used to be. I was not the same Robert  any more. I was not the same Bobby. I was somebody different.

Out here I was who I was . No more nor less. people know me for who I am right now. It was almost like breaking free.

TR [In conversation with Robert]:

Yeh, a lot of people kind of fade away. They fade away! It is what it is!

RO:
They do!

TR [In conversation with Robert]:

That ability to start fresh really sounds nice!

RO:
Yes, there’s several components Thomas that I think have been  what I have grabbed onto to help recreate and or clarify who and what I am right now. And in so many words I am the same guy I always was. You know when we were younger all we wanted to do was know, know, know. Learn more and learn more  and learn more. And as I’ve gotten older I’m now trying to understand , understand  and understand more more more!

TR:
Those things that we want to know when we are younger and
try to understand more when we’re older
are said to always be inside us.

That idea that Robert talked about, Pilsung or
strength courage and  Indomitable spirit.
These are already inside of us and
we just need to believe that and
find our way of accessing especially
when we experience life changes.
It’s not easy, but hearing from people like Robert and others, it’s worth the effort.

I don’t know my next step in producing this podcast,
stories for Gatewave or any other outlet  or
even other things I tend to focus my energy on…

But I do know as Robert said…

RO:
Hey if it makes a difference  for one person in this world Thomas then we win!

You can win too!

Subscribe to Reid My Mind Radio in your favorite podcast app…
just look for Reid My Mind Radio… remember that is R E I D.

You can also listen via the Stitcher or Tune In Radio app.

Check out ReidMyMind.com for links, all past episodes plus more.

Big thanks to Robert for sharing his story.
Thanks to riley Gibson for recording Robert’s side of the conversation.
Thanks to you for listening!

[Audio: RMMRadio Outro Theme]

Peace!

Hide the transcript

Reid My Mind Radio: Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Picture of Doctor Dre, seated with a tan fur jacket with the caption, Doctor Dre The Fight Back!

Doctor Dre of Yo MTV Raps, NYC’s Hot 97 Morning Show, the movie Who’s the Man? And so much more … is launching The Fight Back!

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and now blind, this fight back is about more than you probably think.

This episode features the piece produced for Gatewave radio followed by more personal conversation with Dre. Plus, you know there’s only one way to intro this podcast… if you were a morning show listener you know I had to do it…it’s the roll call!

So c’mon yawl, listen to Dre…
>scroll down a bit, , to hear the show press play!

 

Resources:

 

Transcript

Show the transcript


TR:
What’s good everybody?
This is a special episode so I’m going to jump right in…
it’s no mystery , the title of the episode says it all.

If you’re in my age group You remember when older folks said rap was a fad and
black radio didn’t play the music!

You remember when MTV played videos and they weren’t black artists let alone rap music.

Yes, this episode is featuring that Doctor Dre from YoMTV Raps and many other things like the Hot 97 morning show.
With that in mind! There’s only one way for me to kick-off the podcast…

Yeah, I’m gonna do it!

[Audio: From The Hot 97 Morning Show with Ed, Lisa & Dre
Music…
“What’s up yawl, whatcha got to say, who’s on the phone with Ed, Lisa & Dre?”]

TR:
Yo, TReid’s the name, and right now’s the time
Welcome to the podcast called Reid My Mind!

Cheah!

[Reid My Mind Intro]

TR:
Significant vision loss can force a person to face real doubts and questions.
Such as;
Why did this happen to me?
What do I do now?

Andre Brown has chosen to answer the last question by launching a fight;
well really a fight back.

It’s more than vision loss.

In  2008 Andre was diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes.

He experienced multiple complications of the disease including Charco – foot Syndrome which he says can cause a collapse of the ankle.

DD:
My vision loss came as a progression of that and not taking care of myself properly.

my vision loss was a gradual thing where I  started seeing little things across my vision. Little lines and you know things jumping.

TR:
After These lines often called floaters,  multiple surgeries to repair detached retinas,
Andre was left with some light perception.

DD:
Diagnosed as Diabetic Retinopathy but  as the Doctor said  to me , he said that’s what’s   blocking your vision, you have scar tissue in the back. He said we can’t do anything about  it until we stop the Diabetes. So once that happens then  we can do a different procedure or two to see if we can make the sight  come back.
I’ve spoken with a lot of different people and everyone has told me that my sight  returning is a very strong possibility, especially with what I am doing now.

TR:
What he’s doing now?
Simply put, he’s fighting back!

This fight is just as much for others as it is for himself.

Andre’s in a unique position to take on this job.
You see he’s been working in support of the careers of others for years.

Andre Brown, is better known as Doctor Dre, a pioneer  in Hip Hop culture and entertainment.

Starting out in WBAU, the Adelphi University radio station in Long Island,
Doctor Dre would eventually go on to record music with his group Original Concept.

He D Jayed for the Beastie Boys.

He was involved in getting one of Hip Hop’s most prolific and influential groups, Public Enemy on to Def Jam records.

Most people know him as part of the Ed Lover and Doctor Dre Duo who
hosted “Yo MTV Raps” every weekday
between 1989 and 1995; As well as
extremely successful radio morning shows in New York City between 1993 and 1998.

DJ, musician, actor, author… and now
Doctor Dre is  in a position to bring real attention to two of today’s
very significant health crisis ;
Diabetes & Vision loss.

DD:
Well we have the program that’s called Doctor Dre’s The Fight Back.

Taking the situation and being able to talk to other people and say, I can show you through  what I’m going through  that we all can change. We all can grow.

I’m finding other people that have different or similar experiences and being able to share that. So the fight back is
how do we reach out and get so many resources to work with you to try to actually change your situation.

TR:
Changing the situation by providing access to information  including;
medical, lifestyle and technology.

DD:
I’m doing a lot of Holistic medicine along  with traditional medicine to work with my Diabetes  and just to change my diet. Just putting that under better control

I’m playing the Guinea pig so everyone can  see it.

TR   [In conversation with Dre]
When you say   you’re playing the Guinea pig what does that mean?

DD:
Sometimes you have to go out and someone has  to go oh hey does that work, well I’ll try it  let’s see

I’m not bringing guarantees, I’m trying to bring choices.

What we’re doing is trying to bring those choices to the fore front. so there no longer just whispered in a corner or you have to pull this up on the Google thing… know we’re gonna say no, here’s a bunch of things here, find a way to find something that works best for you. Here are some things that are very easily at your beck and call.

And when you have options, there’s so much more you can do.

TR:
Real life style changes that affect the way we think about nutrition.

DD:
And that’s one of my goals in The Fight Back, is to change bad thinking.  The mother of 4 who works three  jobs with four kids and they have to run to McDonald’s because they  want those Happy Meals; I want to change the Happy Meal to a life meal.

TR:
Lifestyle choices are like adjusting to vision loss; it’s personal.

DD:
you do what you feel the most comfortable doing  and you work from that position. Everybody’s an individual about it. There’s no one magic thing for one person. There’s a lot of great things out there and I  am discovering those things to help  me accomplish doing other things. I’m very open to learning.

TR [In Conversation]:
What types of things are you discovering?

DD:
I have a phone I could talk to and it  speaks and dials  and talks to me.

The technology now is catching up. I believe like Netflix has where they actually have  a program that is designed so when you’re watching a program it describes everything so you get the full affect.
I’m discovering it one at a time but I don’t know the name of everything I just go wow that exists , that’s a good idea, that’s a really good idea.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
that’s Audio Description.

DD:
Yes.

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
Just for full disclosure, I’m blind myself.

DD:
Oh, ok!

TR [In Conversation with Dre]:
The experience is unique and different for everyone. So I’m trying to gauge what is your experience and how other people can relate and learn… whatever that is because that’s what experience is all about. There for everyone.
DD:
Exactly.

Well with me I understood simply when it was starting to happen  I said don’t panic.
I’ve become a person that reaches for solutions. And rather than falling into , oh my god I can’t believe this is happening  and go into depressed mode I said no  this may happen, this is what you may need to prepare to start doing. And I started preparing myself for it. I said you know what I said you know what  this may be, but darkness  won’t last forever. I said  you have God behind you  and God has already told you  this isn’t forever, this is to slow you down  this is just to make sure  that you can listen and hear what I have to say. And I started listening and hearing what he had to say  more than I started talking.

I embrace it. And in embracing it he has put me on a path  to help other people and to reach out and express myself not  just about the type 2 Diabetes not only about the blindness but  about when something goes on and there’s a struggle sometimes embrace your struggle to find your solutions.
It doesn’t mean it’s a guarantee for a cure or a guarantee to a perfect answer  but what it does is says you know what  I’m more than what’s going on with me.
I can also work with this.

If you have a good relationship with your family, friends and  other people and reaching out. I learn every day from so many different people  and I pay attention and I  try to pass on some of the knowledge of what I get  so that people can help themselves

TR:
The Fight Back is a give and take; a collaboration.

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
So what is The Fight Back, what does that look like? in the world. Is that like a  web portal

DD:
It’s going to be a website… we’re building as we speak because I didn’t want to just put something out there … like it’s easy to say we’re going to do that  and throw it out there and  people just think that’s it, that’s it… no so I said , first thing we’ll do  is I’ll go out and start talking , build different interviews up and now it’s starting to take different testimonials  from different people  and it’s attached to other situations  also , you know I’m working with  a friend of mind from a company called Rally Wing and they had family who had diabetes and their discussing stuff with me.

Another gentlemen by the name of Marvin Mizell who is Jam Master Jay’s brother  has a company called JMJ Foundation  for the youth. He has Sickle Cell and Diabetes so connecting with his thing. there’s a bunch of people that I have connected with  and I said you know what maybe I should be that focal point to bring people together. and see if we can actually work, not just to a cure and better treatments ,but to better understanding  and better conversations

So going out now and talking to different people and listening to what their saying  how they fought back
that’s what this fight back is all about.

Bring those stories to light.
Bring this action to light!
And be a little educational, be a little entertaining, be informative, and be supportive
That’s where the strength is!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Is the reality show still a thing?

DD:
We went out there we talked to different places, everyone was excited, yeh we want to do this, yes Dre we love it. And as more we kept talking, my idea disappeared and it became this other thing. It was like that’s not what we’re talking about .

I have a little experience in creating television programs.
We’re creating our own show. Creating our own messaging, making our own venue because the technology allows us to do this.

How do we take all these different instances and work together. Instead of just having a website, a page, you know do this  and get this. No, I want you to come on, I want you to see these different testimonials to be able to reach out to like you and to say hey I want you to talk to him because your experience can help some other people. Your conversation can help someone else who may be feeling down and go hey wow it isn’t as bad as I thought or it could be really bad so we’re going to try and reach out. Go see people shake hands, kiss babies, do whatever needs to be done. We’re going to run the ultimate campaign! The campaign of life of wellness and happiness. That’s a campaign where you just can’t be elected. there is no electoral college for that!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
[Laughing!!]

DD:
I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!

TR [In conversation with Dre]:
Don’t apologize for that. That’s real!
[Laughing!]

DD:
My things are based on love
People want to sit back and talk about this guys this and this one’s that. Hate, hate!
I said, you know what man, hate carries weight! With love you can soar!
And I got nothing but love man!

TR:
When the site is completed, you will be able to learn more at Doctor Dre TFB.com.

There’s a quote I like to refer to that’s attributed to a Greek philosopher or motivational speaker depending on who you believe…
It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.

Doctor Dre,  reacting with love
to make information more easily available , bring
health choices to the forefront,  create a place where
others can share their experiences, all while
remaining faithful and encouraging;

In this fight, there can be only one winner; nothing but love!

This is Thomas Reid, for Gatewave Radio;

Inserted from DD:
“Bring those stories to light. Bring this action to light! And be a little educational, be a little entertaining.”

Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Dre drop a load on em’, from “You down with MTV”]

TR:

Podcasts allow for longer exploration and intimate conversation.
In a way, I hinted to this in the Gatewave story edit.

There’s power in conversation between two people
exchanging knowledge about their shared experience.

Some things you really only feel comfortable talking about with someone who you know gets what you’re saying.
You don’t want to have to explain yourself.

The conversation could just be two people kicking around philosophical ideas.

often it’s , just talking about real practical sharing of information.
Like when Dre mentioned posting to Facebook:

DD:
One of my friends growing up he said I saw you on Facebook and I’m going how is he doing this? Isn’t he blind? And he’s like, he’s actually posting and doing this and that… I said, I have somebody doing that. The way I post is my son posts for me. He’ll put stuff up  that I need written or said or whatever we want to put on my Facebook page. So that’s fine. That’s how that works.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
You could do it yourself too you know right?

DD:
Please, I’m listening

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok so you have the iPhone and the app on the iPhone is , I mean it’s all accessible. It sounds like you mainly probably use Siri, the dictation?

DD:
Yes, I use Siri right now.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
So  you don’t use the keyboard at all, you never tried to use the keyboard?

DD:
No!  (Surprised!)

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Oh, you can absolutely. Do you have Voice Over turned on?

DD:
You know what,  I’ve been trying to go to the Apple store to sit there and have them explain everything that can be done , I do not probably have it turned on, no.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Ok!

TR:
Sometimes we assume that people are supposed to just know things…
Those who do, need to be more open and welcoming in order to make that information available.
At the same time remain open to receiving new ideas.

Three words that tell me Dre is going to be fine
no matter what the end result of his vision loss turns out to be;

DD:
“Please, I’m listening!”

TR:
Please, I’m listening!

Dre doesn’t know me.
He’s been around the world and has access to people and privilege.

DD:
Having reached out to people like Stevie Wonder.

TR:
Now, who am I to challenge something that Stevie says. I only say that because what Stevie means to me.

Adjusting to blindness though, is different from living with blindness all your life.

For example, I grew up only seeing out of one eye.
The challenge to me was different compared to someone who loses an eye
later in life and never had monocular vision.
I could share some information about things they should know,
but prior to blindness I wouldn’t have been able to relate to that loss.
That adjustment is the challenge. Growing up only knowing one thing is a different experience.

Meanwhile, I too could probably benefit from some of their discoveries.

Dre knows there’s so much more to learn and is open to that information for himself and others.

Our conversation though, went deeper.

Like when I wanted  Dre to know about an aspect of blindness
that is experienced and the ramifications that are felt by too many.

TR [In conversation with Dre]

We started the conversation with a little bit about  blindness and with the things people do and do not know, right. There’s all this technology, there’s so much you know going on and one of the big big issues  when it comes down to the blind community . The image of people who are blind in terms of how that’s perceived in society,  there’s a lot of negative connotation when it comes to blindness that I realized that I had and as I met other people  you know, blind at birth or blind afterward, there’s an incredible resource out here that is not being taken advantage of. So within the blindness community and within the disability community, unemployment is 70 percent.

DD:
Yes, it is!

TR:
So many people don’t even understand that. Even in just in terms of how people can do things and the abilities that are there it’s just not known. In part of what you’re doing you may not have or may have thought about it, you are going to be a representative  of that to some degree. Whether or not you like it or not, right, people are going to look at you and they now look you as he’s blind and therefore when they think of other people who are blind they will think of you. And so the things that you’re doing are going to send a positive message  not only to people who are sighted but also to other people who are blind who may have  bought into that.

I just ask you to ponder that, you know!

DD:
I hear what you’re saying. It’s very funny that you say those things. Funny not laughing wise, funny as it’s very interesting how we do that … I now the same way  I was put upon  and told do you believe you can get your sight back, I’m going to ask you those questions to… do you believe you can get your sight back?

TR:
Now, I had lots of people say they were hoping and praying I get my sight back, but
No one outside my immediate family has ever directly asked me that question.

I know a lot of people might think that question shouldn’t have been asked.
But it was part of our conversation so in no way was I offended or upset by that. This was a conversation between two people experiencing vision loss.

This isn’t some random person asking me on the street.

My answer and Dre’s response forced me to think about how I look at that question.

My answer… next time on Reid My Mind Radio!

[Laughing….]

Just playing!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Nah! My situation is totally different.

DD:
Mmm hmmm!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Number 1 my cancer is a genetic cancer. I was born  with a cancer called Retinoblastoma. I lost my left eye  as a child. The tumor overtook that eye.  I had at that time, this was in 68, well 69, radiat5ion. Thirty five years later that radiation caused another huge tumor  to grow in the back of my right eye and so I had no real choice because it was right on the optic nerve and so when it’s on that optic nerve, the next step is the brain So my choice was do I take that out  and live? Now mind you my wife was pregnant with our second child, we just moved from the Bronx to the Poconos in a house… so my right eye was removed.  There’s no coming back from that.

DD:
Ahh, yes.  You can’t get an eye transplant?

TR:
No, there’s no such thing as an eye transplant. The amount of nerves  that are in the eye  is unlike any place else. But that’s ok!  I didn’t have a choice and that’s ok, you know because I  my family, I have my little girls you know and so  my thing was like you  stepping back from the industry, my thing was I’m raising my girls you know. I’m a keep working and do whatever I can and be a  you know a help to other people  be a you know, productive member of society  and all of that and I can do that when I’m blind. I like to say the only thing I can’t do is drive.

DD:
Well that tells me a funny story that  I thrown out to Stevie Wonder about doing a movie I used to tell when I was doing interviews and I still do but know people go like you’re really going to do that and I said yeah I’m going to do that. I was being interviewed and they said Dre you gonna do any more movies and I said yeah I’m going to do movies. I said right now I’m in conversation with Stevie Wonder , we’re doing this movie called Just Drive the Damn Bus! And everyone fell out. They said for real. I said yeah and in that movie you’re going to see  Stevie and I drive the bus.

TR:
Uh huh!

DD:
They were like, how are you going to do that?  I said that’s the point, you gotta see the movie. And I was joking about it right?And then I started working with  one of my partners and we started  coming up with a concept of the movie and  it was like, this could work. I said, it’s a movie! I said, but do you understand what would happen and he said  but how are you guys going to act in the movie? I said  the same way other people act  in a movie, you hit your mark, you say your lines you keep moving, that’s not an issue.

TR:
Right.

DD:
Stop making an issue of a non-issue.  And then I told, a matter of fact I told  I was talking to LL Cool j and I told him about it and he  fell out laughing. He said you’re serious. I said I’m dead serious, your gonna do that.
I don’t walk around with dark glasses on. My son says Dad put the glasses on  stop walking around… I said no people need to see my eyes the way they are. So what, it doesn’t matter.
I say this to say this to you. We may not know the technology that will exist to help you gain sight when you need it, but I believe in my heart with what you just told me and what just trinkled through me is you and I our meeting is not coincidental  and I can’t promise this, but I just have this feeling  in my gut you’re gonna get your sight, because you need to see your kids.

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Exhales!]

DD:
I know you’re saying, how can that be done? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer yet. That answer may come next year, that may come in five years, we don’t know. When I put those goals in front of me  it gives me something to shoot for. Reality or not, that’s why I say  that thing about the movie,  just drive the damn bus… Bill said, you are nuts, you’re outta you… I said no I’m not. I said because we can do anything if you put your mind to it.  Remember seeing Star Trek the Next generation

TR [In conversation with Dre]

yeah, yeah, with Jody…

DD:
LaVar Burton! He put on a visor and  he could see. But when he went to do the movies  LaVar didn’t want that visor on his face they pulled it off and put something on his eyes…we don’t know what’s coming!

TR [In conversation with Dre]
Right!

DD
Now if I could get in a DeLorean and go sixty years forward and grab it and pull it back  and say here put this on it works

TR [In conversation with Dre]
[Laughing….]

DD:
I don’t know!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

Right, right!

DD:
But we’re back to what the Fight Back is all about, choices!

TR [In conversation with Dre]

What you just said  helped me because the obstacles in front of me are not  necessarily just based on sight. And that goes into a really deeper conversation, but when you said  you get something from  that, there’s no way  I would want to take that away from you!

TR:
I’m not a dream killer and never want to be that!

Believing in the ability to regain sight doesn’t mean  not believing in the abilities of people who are blind.

Often though, that seems to be the message we hear from different organization in their fight against blindness.

The NY Times a few weeks ago ran an article with the headline;
The Worst that Could Happen? Going Blind, People Say
The article itself discussed some of the fears, and ways to prevent or slow
certain types of eye diseases, but
it did nothing to help ease that fear for
those who are facing  that in their present or future.

That’s not cool!

They only looked at vision loss from the medical perspective  ,
prevent the disease and there’s no longer an issue!

But there’s the society side!

That fear is what leads to people not wanting to in anyway associate themselves with blindness.
That fear and miseducation leads to that 70 percent unemployment.

But Dre’s not saying that.
His approach appears to be inclusive, holistic as in a full picture.

He’s straight up keeping his options open
I can support that!

Let’s do some shout outs!

First of all Doctor Dre,
thank you brother for the conversation,
for the courage and willingness to bring options to the people!
I hope to hear more about the Fight Back in the near future.

These next two shout outs come with a recommendation…
Audio: The Cipher Show theme[]

If you are a hip hop fan and like to hear background stories
from artists, journalists and those on the business side…
you need to check the cipher show.
Host Shawn Satero was kind enough to help make this interview happen.

It’s one of my favorite podcasts.

At least once every episode you will hear a person being interviewed say, Wow, you really did your research!”

you’ll hear it at least once an episode which lets you know it’s a quality show.

Shout out to Shawn and the Cipher show!

Shout out to Bill Adler who helped coordinate this with Dre.
BTW, Sir, please continue producing that Christmas  Mix Tape,
my daughter and I look forward to that Cipher episode each year.
No comments folks, I like the different cultural Christmas music and I ain’t ashamed to say it!

If your listening right now on Sound Cloud hit that follow button.
You can subscribe  via any podcatcher on your phone or tablet,
Apple, Android it doesn’t matter we’re outchere!

We’re on Stitcher and Tune In.

Got feedback?
Hit me at reidmymindradio@gmail.com … Remember Reid, is R E I D.

Thanks for listening!

Peace!

Hide the transcript

 

Reid My Mind Radio – Who is Joe Capers

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017
A picture of Joe Capers, an African American man seated on a couch staring into the camera with sunglasses!

Joe Capers

En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone and more musical artists from Oakland could help answer this question. In this  episode we meet two gentlemen creating a documentary that will help others do the same.

The second part of today’s podcast explores Hip Hop from two angles you may have not known existed.
* Krip Hop Nation, an international network for artists with disabilities.
* Hip Learning,  using the rap element of Hip Hop to help children learn science and more!

So stop what you’re doing
Prepare to hear the words they say
The only way to do it…
Press on the button that says Play!

… Oh snap, #Bars son!


Subscribe & Follow


Resources

  1. Alternative Minds
  2. Krip Hop Nation
  3. The Best of Krip-Hop Nation on CD Baby

4. Hip Learning

Transcript

Show the transcript

TR:
What’s good family!
Happy Black History Month to everyone…
even if you don’t feel that’s something you celebrate or even really acknowledge.
The simple truth, if you are on this planet,
chances are great that you have been impacted by African American people. There’s so much from the world of invention, science and culture. An unfortunately, that’s not discussed during the other 11 months of the year.

Today’s episode includes a recent piece for Gatewave Radio that shows how sometimes people are like pieces in a puzzle. If one piece is missing, that full puzzle can never be complete.

Following the Gatewave piece you will hear more from two brothers who in their own way are expanding Black history. And ,  making sure we know, that includes people with disabilities.

Are You ready?
[Audio: “I know you’re gonna dig this!”]
[RMMRadio Intro]

[Audio Mix: “En Vogue, Tony Tony Tone, Digital Underground and MC Hammer!]
TR:
Today, the question, Who is Joe Capers?

In the 1980’s and 90’s  artist’s like , En Vogue,
Tony Tony Tony,
Digital Underground,
MC Hammer
all had a few things in common.
They all were based in Oakland,
each made their way to the top of the charts
and Joe Capers.

In order to find out who is Joe Capers,
I spoke with two gentlemen from California’s Bay Area.
First up, Leroy Moore, originally from the east coast, raised in Connecticut and New York City.

LM:
I’m an activist, journalist and author. I also started what’s called Krip-Hop Nation with a K. It’s an international network of musicians with disabilities. My disability is Cerebral Palsy. I had it since birth.

I found out about Joe Capers when I was doing radio. KpFA out here  in Berkley. They had a radio show about people with disabilities. Joe Capers was blind African American man here in Oakland in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He had one of the first accessible home studios at that time.
TR:
That’s a full recording studio in the basement of his home. All sorts of Oakland artists from MC Hammer to En Vogue and others you may have never heard of recorded at Joe’s studio

Leroy learned of another person who could help further answer the question… who is joe capers?

Naru:
I got a call from Leroy one day, he said “Naru you knew Joe Capers?” I was like yeah Joe?

TR:
Meet Naru Kwina , an Oakland California  based artist and teacher. .

Naru:
Joe was just the coolest guy with the biggest smile.
Joe played the base, the drums the keyboards so he was a master musician.

TR in conversation with Naru:
Was Joe doing more of the production? Was he just kind of the studio owner? What was he actually doing?
***

Naru:
Listen brother! His studio was called “J-Jams Studio: Joe did everything.  He had his mix board in Braille. He recorded, he engineered he mixed, he produced. He did everything that you could every possibly do in the studio. And he had the greatest ear I have ever been around and I’ve  been doing music over 40 years of my life. If you had one note or one little thing off he knew and he would call you on it. You know because he was blind you thought you’d  get away with stuff.

TR:
Joe was a professional and  demanded that those  in his studio acted the same. Naru, who is also a rapper, and went by the name Quick back then, recalls the time when Joe instructed him to memorize his lyrics and not use written notes in the recording booth.

Naru:
I’m in the booth one day and I had my little paper… like nah he ain’t gonna know… [laughs] he was like bruh, I could hear the paper rattling in the booth. And he sent me home. He sent me home and told me not to come back until I knew my lyrics.

So he was really dedicated to the music and that dedication is still with me and when I started having my own studio and production I always said nope don’t come in here with no paper, learn your lyrics.
[Laughs] So I got that from Joe!

TR:
Learning more about Joe, Leroy was surprised others didn’t know him.

LM:
Oh my god, this man needs to be recognized in Oakland because he really changed the Oakland sound of Hip-Hop and Soul.

TR:
During that conversation between Naru and Leroy the idea was sparked.

Naru:
When I said you know somebody outta do a film about Joe, he [Leroy] said why don’t you do it. I said man, I’m not a film maker man… he said but  yeah you know people. Reluctantly, I took that upon myself.

TR:
there’s lots involved in the process.

Naru:
I just contacted people who had cameras, mics and I had to contact all the artists. I literally probably have  6 or 7 hours of interviews. Everybody from MC Hammer, Digital Underground, Dwayne Wiggins from Tony tony Tone and other people who just knew Joe on a personal level or recorded with Joe… who were closer with Joe. Some of the more interesting interviews are from people you would never heard about who Joe touched in a particular  way. I could just say that he’s still here with us because all the people he touched and how many people still  think about Joe.

TR:
What began as a 15 minute documentary about the career of Joe Capers has morphed into much more. Running his own studio known as J-Jams wasn’t solely a business venture. This was back in the error when recording music professionally required significant investment.
Large studios charged hundreds of dollars an hour for studio time.

Naru:
Joe was changing like between $20 or $25 an hour r. The quality of sound was on par with anything coming out of these big studios. Joe knew the music that we were doing.  He understood it better than some of the engineers who were  in these big studios who were used to . doing rock music or folk and country. Joe  understood the R&B  and the Hip-Hop… the need for that bottom.

TR:
While the music might be about that base, for Joe it included the chance to offer help and encouragement.

Naru:
He was also a teacher. He would take young kids off the street from time to time. Some people were actually living with him. He would teach young kids  to engineer. Pretty much gave at least  two people I know roofs over their heads until they got their act together. They might have been out doing some street business and he didn’t really want that.  So he was trying to teach people another way to make money and be successful.

LM:
Joe Capers taught newly blind people independent living skills.

TR:
Making a documentary takes a lot of patience and research. It also takes creativity. Not only in the traditional sense as in the filming and writing, but also in the approach to resolving real  challenges that inevitably arise.

In order to make up for a lack of video footage of Joe and artists in the recording studio, original animation is being incorporated into the film.

And I am pleased to report that plans are included for audio description, making the film more accessible to those with vision loss.
When complete the film will be distributed by way of local public television, online, film festivals and live screenings.
Events developed around the release of the film will include a live concert focusing on emerging artists including those with disabilities. The concert will be an annual event taking place in August. in Oakland, this now has significant meaning.

Naru:
I wouldn’t say we, I helped but Leroy was the most instrumental…

LM:
Every August is now Joe Capers month in Oakland. That’s the first  Black Disabled man that’s been recognized  by the city of Oakland.

TR:
Here’s how you can help contribute to the success of this film

Naru:***
I’m working on some more funding  right now that’s why  it’s slow going. Everything’s been like a labor of love  out of my pocket. And Leroy put some money in as well.

I have a nonprofit, it’s called Alternative Minds Foundation and so all our stuff is going through there with this film. It’s a 501-3C so everything is a tax write off for people who want to do that.

LM:
www.alternative-minds.com

Naru:
And just later on just telling people about it when it comes out. That’s probably the best way you could help spread the word.

TR:
It sounds like these two are the right   choice for telling Joe’s story.
Leroy, through his work with Krip Hop nation, an international network of musical artists including
rappers, dj’s, producers, dancers, spoken word artists and others, all with disability; have already presented an award in recognition of Joe’s contributions. This award was presented to his family in Georgia.

Naru who had a personal relationship with Joe, while not as familiar with blindness, did gain what some may see as a simple lesson, but in fact is one that advocates have spent a life time trying to convey.

Naru:
My understanding about a person who was blind  is very limited and probably very skewed. Being around Joe was very refreshing. He was just a regular person, did regular things. Loved to joke and laugh, play tricks on you  and all of that stuff. He was just like we say, a regular Oakland Cat!
[Laughter fades out]

TR:
This is Thomas Reid,

LM:
Oh my God, this man needs to be recognized.

for Gatewave Radio.
Audio for independent living!

[Audio: Taken from Rap Battle on MTV
“There’s no charity in a rap battle!”, Sway]

TR:
The first time I thought about Hip Hop and disability was just prior to me losing my sight.  It was the fall of 2003, I believe it was MTV2 who was airing a rap battle. One of the contestants included young rapper by the name of Blind Fury.  I remember thinking his opponent was corny. He got stuck on the blind and disregarded the fury.

Blind Fury by my account was indeed better and should have won that battle.  He was more lyrical,
had a method for finding out visual details about his opponents and  he had multiple flows.  I realized the perception of Blind Fury’s talent was based on his disability.

Why would blindness limit the ability to rap? It’s vocal, what’s the big deal.
Yes, battle rap might require the ability to quickly gain information about your opponent, but Blind Fury was making that happen too.

Eventually Blind Fury took his place in history with his success on  BET’s 106 and Park’s Friday Freestyle.

[Audio: From Wild Style… “South Bronx Subway Rap”, Grandmaster Caz ]

The truth is people with disabilities have been involved with hip hop since its origins.

Leroy prior to his interest in rap was into rock and heavy metal.

LM:
Ozzie Osbourne, Metallica, ZZ Top…
***

TR:
He was then introduced to Rapper’s Delight, from the Sugar hill Gang.

[Audio: rapper’s Delight, Sugar Hill Gang]

LM:
Back then you bought the record and tried to learn all the lyrics.

This is gonna be cool!

At that time I had a walker . So picture me  with my walker going to the subway to the Bronx. Here I am this skinny guy with a walker and everybody around me has muscles,  break dancing and all that stuff.
I was just a writer back then . I dabbled in poetry.  I always told myself that I want to get in the cypher
TR:
If you’re not familiar  with the ciphers,  rappers would get together to rhyme  with one another. A time to test your newly written verse or maybe freestyle. Picture a circle of rappers passing the imaginary microphone to one another. It’s a meticulous process. You wait your turn. And you better be ready because you are going to get instant feedback on your 16 bars, or your verse. This is the place where you truly hone your skills.
While the ciphers were often about seeing who had the better skills, these
groups of mainly African American and Latino young men attracted the attention of the police.
Becoming more familiar with Leroy’s presence, he was soon declared “The  Watch Man”.

LM:
Because you’re disabled  you can watch out for the cops. The cops won’t do nothing to you . When the cops came  I used to yell you know, “po po”  and they used to scatter.  They’d just leave me there with my walker  and the cops used to get so pissed off.

TR:
Leroy played his position . He listened to more and more music.

LM:
When Run-DMC came out and did “Walk this Way”  and mixed rock with rap I was like alright this is it!

TR:
[Audio: It’s Like That, Run-DMC]

Right before I was scheduled to speak with Leroy, I read an interview he did with Daryl McDaniel’s better known as DMC of Run-DMC fame.

Now, when I heard [It’s Like That] as a young teenager, I lost my  [Censored Beep] mind!

TR in conversation with Leroy:
What was that like meeting DMC?

LM:
Oh my God, you know, I told him I grew up with you… he’s like no no we grew  up together!
For me it’s one of the highlights of my journalism career.

I saw that DMC had a book out about his depression. I also knew that back in I think the late 80’s he had a voice disability. I was like ok, DMC needs to know about Krip-Hop.

TR:
And more people need to know about Krip Hop.

In general, people are uncomfortable with disability. They don’t understand what to say to a person, how to act, maybe there’s some fear of even thinking about disability…
You know what I’m talking about because chances are you experienced it from at least one side or both.

Leroy never did participate in any of those early Bronx ciphers, but Hip Hop did get into him.

One important aspect of art and culture, is seeing yourself represented on the screen, on the canvas or stage and in the music.

As a black disabled man, that doesn’t happen that often.

LM:
My father had a huge Blues record collection and of course as we know Blues artists were blind… like Blind Willie Johnson.
[Audio: “It’s Nobody’s Fault but Mine”, Blind Willie Johnson]

My father liked Robert Winters. Robert Winters had Polio  and walked with crutches…
[Audio: “Magic Man”, Robert Winters]

Wow,  there’s disabled Black  men that do music!

I think it played a really big part of where I am today with Krip-Hop.

This year is our 10th Anniversary and we have loose chapters…

TR:
These include countries within Africa, the UK, Germany and Spain.

[Audio: “Tales of the Krip-Hop”, Rob da Noize Temple]

With the network formed by Leroy and co-founder Keith Jones, the two being disabled activists, the focus continues to be on education and advocacy.

LM:
So we saw Krip-Hop as a way to bring awareness around the history of disabled musicians from the Blues to Hip-Hop and really educate and to push the Hip-Hop arena  around Ableism thinking around disability and to really say that disabled musicians have been here since the Blues.

TR:
Krip Hop Nation produces live events featuring all sorts of artists with disabilities including; dj’s, emcee’s, spoken word artist, dancers and more.
They have put out 4 CD’s including their latest.

LM:
Our 10th Anniversary CD just came out on CDBaby.com. It has Wonder Mike  from the Sugar Hill Gang, DMC from Run-DMC.

TR:
Two names you are probably familiar with, but some might be new…like;

George Tragic
[Audio: “Industry Epidemic”, George Tragic]

Wheelchair Sports Camp

[Audio: “Hard out Here for a Gimp”, Wheelchair Sports Camp]

Toni Hickman
[Audio: “Cripple Pretty”, Toni Hickman]

Rap music and hip hop culture ironically was birthed to some degree from
exclusion and isolation.
Young kids from the South Bronx who  didn’t have access to much
including instruments so turn tables and beat boxing became its  replacements.
Barred from the downtown discos and night clubs; the community centers and parks became their place to party.

[Audio: “This Can’t Be Life”, Prinz D]

Hip Hop is a culture that created an outlet for expression.
It’s common themes consist of stories about overcoming adversity,
rebelling against  oppression, yet the disability experience goes mainly unheard.

Obviously this isn’t exclusive to rap ,
but this music with its infectious beats and rhymes is perfectly suited for Communicating all types of information with
the intention of educating.
Whether changing commonly held beliefs or getting young students to recall all types of information.

[Audio: “Hip Science”, Naru Kwina]

That’s where Naru saw a way to use his love for hip hop and combine it with his love of teaching.

While working as an assistant teacher he had the challenge of trying to teach science to kindergartners.

Naru:
The kids were like “uh!”

At recess I heard them all outside, they were singing this song off the radio; the lyrics were horrible. [Laughs…]
But, man, they knew the whole song….
And a lightbulb went off like huh!…
If I could turn these lessons into music like that and get these kids excited I wonder if they would learn these lessons like they learned that song?

So I did a series of songs  about the body and gave them to my students, the CD’s to the parents  to take home and listen to and then we did some in class. I mean they caught it so fast, it was amazing.

And so I was just using it in class and people kept telling me you need to market  this… you need to do this you need to do  that…
I ended up applying for my first grant. It’s a grant called  the Creative Work Fund. It was a partnership with this organization called the African Scientific  Institute out here in Oakland. We got the grant. $35,000 grant. I was able to produce a play, the CD and pay a lot of people in my community as well to perform  and got other artist involved to  record with me. That’s about 10 years ago. I’m still doing it to this day. Outperforming , online sales. It became half of my career. I’m still an after school teacher but I do a lot of Hip Science. I enjoy it!

TR in conversation with Naru:
What was that reaction like from the other teachers? Were they cool with this or did you get any negative feedback from them?

Naru:
They were amazed. First of all I don’t think any of them knew I rapped. I don’t know why but I kind of kept that part of my life separate  from working with the children and never realized that was one of my strengths.
I should have been using it all along.
I never even thought it would be anything like that. I just wanted my kids to learn.

TR:
And it wasn’t just his kids that were learning.
Shortly after releasing the CD series he received a call from a company interested in the product.
Naru:
This company, it’s called Overbrook Entertainment and they wanted to buy [laughter] my whole business. I’m like what? I’m not selling my business. And it turns out that was Will Smith’s company. He was in town  in San Francisco  shooting the Pursuit of Happiness  and I don’t know how  he got my CD’s  but his kids were listening  to it. I never finished the negotiations because  they were talking about they wanted to have all the marketing … I wasn’t looking to sell. It was like  this  is my baby right here!

I was like wow, I know I’m doing something now if their trying to buy  my company man! [Laughs fade away…]

***

TR:
Doing something now, well that sounds like Naru’s default mode…
He creates music with his daughter who herself is a singer and rapper at the Oakland School for the Arts.

Naru:
Matter of fact, the first song she ever wrote with me  she was 3. It was called love is the thing It’s featured on Rosie O’Donnell Family is a Family documentary. We did a video for it and everything. It was real cool!

TR:
Over several summers, the two have written a book that’s now complete and he and his daughter are creating an accompanying soundtrack.

Naru:
It’s called Panela’s Journey. It’s a very fanciful tale of a young girl who’s struggling with her identity  in the world and  her place in the world and wondering why the world is the way it is. She seeks refuge in a fanciful place.
That  one should be coming out soon as well. We’re gonna have some augmented reality, apps that go along  with the book.

TR:
Continuing to put out his own music, his latest project should be out soon.

Naru:
Naru and Strong Soul and we are The Living Room Legends!

TR:
I have some links on the blog… Reid my mind .com if you want to check out more on both Leroy and Naru.

Salute to both of these brothers for the good work their doing, truly expanding the culture.

I don’t know about you but I feel like I have to start producing some    more content!

n that note, make sure you subscribe to this podcast.
Go to your podcast app of choice and search for Reid My Mind Radio… that’s R E I D.
You can also follow me on Sound Cloud soundcloud.com/t-Reid.

[Audio: RMMRadio Theme]
Thanks for listening.

Peace!

Hide the transcript