Monday, April 28, 2008

Reaching out to Oakland

I live in Oakland, but I work in San Francisco. Therefore, most of my time is spent in San Francisco. I've been doing many speaking engagements in middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities and community based organizations. Whenever I get invitations to share my experience with people, I am there. However, most of my speaking engagements have been conducted in the city where I work.

It's known that San Francisco has more resources to service the youth and community than Oakland. I wanted to do more speaking in Oakland, especially sharing with the youth. Thankfully, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency gave me the opportunity to reach out to the youth population in Oakland. I spoke at Roosevelt Middle School this afternoon to promote self respect, importance of education and being responsible to about a hundred youth. I also had the pleasure of connecting with folks from the East Bay Asian Youth Center. It's the beginning of a series of talk in Oakland schools. I always welcome the opportunity to share with others.

So Oakland, here I come.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


During traffic hour the Bart is often packed. But I'd rather take the Bart going to the city of San Francisco than driving through the traffic on the freeway any day. Plus, riding the Bart allows me to be in the presence of people and observe their behaviors.

I was riding the Bart the other day and witnessed an exchange that bothered me. A Caucasian Lady was getting on the Bart with her bike, but an Asian gentleman stopped her. He stated that no bike should be in the Bart during rush hours. It says so on the sign, he pointed at the wall. The lady said there's room for her and the bike. Another Caucasian lady told the lady to just get on. She got on. The gentleman's face was contorted by her defiant. As the Bart came to a stop at the next station, the gentleman pulled out his IPhone and took a picture of the lady with the bike like a Secret Service agent. There's a hint of a smile on his face, a I'll teach you to defy me satisfaction.

I took a deep breath and let it out.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

War - what is it good for?

I remember standing on top of the cold and gray metallic table on the yard reciting a poem to two African American prisoners and a prison guard holding his Mini-14 rifle looking down from the yard tower. That was five years ago. I wrote the poem on war when I was in San Quentin's solitary confinement as a result of signing the proposal advocating for Ethnic Studies in the college program. I had plenty of time in the cell to write since I was locked up 24/7. Once I finished the poem, I couldn't wait to share it with people. I had a limited audience then. Sadly, five years later, the killing continues in Iraq. Therefore, I want to share the following poem with all of you...

A Peace Making War

For Yuri Kochiyama, Nellie Wong, and the Iraqi people

By Eddy Zheng


There is a war raging in Iraq

No No No

Not the war that is killing human beings

to terminate a regime and set up a puppet government

to maintain control over oil and natural resources

to exert political and military dominance

to preserve the superpower status

to hoard the largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction

No No No

There is a peace-making war going on in Iraq

the United States Great Britain and their allies are waging a war

out of desperation again poverty

the troops are hundreds of thousands strong

circling Iraq like worker bees

As a warning to the Iraqi people of their peace mission

B-52 bombers are dropping tons of food and medicine

to ensure Saddam Hussein and his guards from resisting

reconnaissance planes are spying and locating their positions

so B-1 bombers can drop loud speakers and radios playing “Blowing in the Wind”

As a humble gesture the Air Force waits until nightfall

and sends out stealth bombers to drop off more food undetected

Satellites are pinpointing the most poverty-stricken areas

so smart bombs and laser-guided missiles can deliver

supplies to each household with precision

E-8C Joint Stars Grounds Surveillance planes

are hovering over Iraq 24/7

whenever a child is spotted without clothes

Apache helicopters are dispatched to drop some off

whenever a woman is spotted being verbally or physically abused

Blackhawk helicopters are dispatched to send a team

of Alternative to Violence facilitators to settle the conflict

checkpoints are set up to make sure no one gets away

without getting his or her needs met

During all the food bombings it is reported that several missiles

full of rice accidentally went to North Korea

MI Abrams tanks are delivering yellow roses to all women

acknowledging their bravery for enduring an oppressive government

The 3rd Battalion 7th Infantry regiment is going door to door

to deliver books school supplies computers and sporting goods to kids

the C-130 cargo planes are delivering

tons of foods clothes water medicine blankets vegetables trees

Thousands of teacher doctors nurses environmentalists engineers economists


to rebuild schools hospitals houses mosques roads power plants parks playgrounds

F-18 Hornet Fighter Jets are making runs at the rate of

6000 food sorties a day

Day by day the troops are taking over cities villages towns ports

everywhere they roll poverty is eliminated

ABC CBS CNN NBC FOX are covering this peace-making war

daily globally

Citizens of the earth are supporting the humanitarian troops

people are pouring into the streets in shifts

singing “Peace is Flowing Like a River”

donating food clothes supplies money

writing letters of encouragement signs of solidarity

Police officers are all over the place

instead of riot gear batons shields tear gas bean bags wooden pellets

they set up refreshment stations help collect donated items

give out good Samaritan citations

As the war comes to an end

the only casualties are

facial soreness from smiling too much

exhaustion from delivering food

faint spells from the natural high of helping people

dehydration from celebrating

The Iraqi people are liberated

No more

sanctions hunger hatred subjugation of women

persecution of non-believers

oppressive government prisons poverty

The nations of the world are rejoicing

they are wondering

Is the peace-making war on poverty over?

No No No

The peace-making war does not stop with Iraq

rumor has it

Syria North Korea Iran Cuba are next

The magnanimous and fearless leader

Mr. George Walker Bush vows

until the United States gets rid of poverty globally

there is no stopping him


The peace-making war in poverty is spreading like SARS

can you hear it

Crazy laughter

can you see it

Happy tear

can you smell it

Peace potion

can you feel it

Mad love

can you taste it

Sweet victory

Yes Yes Yes

at last at last

for the first time in her-story

America lives up to its manifest propaganda

we are a peaceful nation