A taste of Oaxaca in West Oakland

oaxacamural&owners

photos by Danenicole Williams

by Janaya Andrews

Just around the corner from McClymonds High school stands one of the most intricate, colorful and bold murals in West Oakland with corn husks, a wizzened farm worker, white doves and artisan cloths– the exterior of Tamales la Oaxaquena, a new Mexican restaurant which opened last month.

The food inside is as exquisite as the art outside, and as subtle and bold.

Tamales la Oaxaquena is the real thing, with genuine Oaxacan moles. It’s a great addition to restaurants in West Oakland, with more variety than the food trucks, as good as they are, and a personal touch in everything from cooking fresh tamales to the serving cold lemonade by its mother-daughter owner-chefs, Rosa Oliva (an ex-seamstress who learned to make mole at the age of 8)  and her daughter, Carolina Santos.

Competing with the corner store (and its equally stunning mural), which offers fried chicken, corn dogs and french fries,  this new Mexican restaurant hasn’t captured its share of local traffic.

For now, the traffic coming from McClymonds is minimal. Shamorra Washington, 16, said “I guess like everyone else at Mack,  I go to the places I know, that are already on my radar.”

But Tamales la Oaxaquena attracts local residents and workers, especially vegetarians.  At lunchtime, regular customers, Monica and Kelly, savored their tamales.

Monica said that her favorite food is the vegetarian tamale, made with corn husks with guacamole and banana leaves, but she likes the banana leaf because it’s more healthy and she became an vegetarian in middle school to avoid fats and unhealthy foods.

Kelly preferred the super burrito, chimichangas made by first toasting the shell and then melting the cheese, with mole, a special Oaxacan sauce with chocolate and hot chiles (the restaurant’s specialties are the smoky mole negro and a cinammon mole rojo).

Dropping in to grab a bite, Oakland school board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said she prefers the mole without chocolate.

Owner Carolina Santos said the signature dish remains the tamale. “It depends on  whom we are serving: some whites mostly wants tamales and some Blacks prefer burritos.”

Part of the challenge is to satisfy both, using traditional spices and chiles as well as almonds and spicy dried peppers (guajillo, negro and arbol). These are the spices used by the indigenous people near Oaxaca, the Zapotec and Mixtec, with roots going back thosands of years.

The result is a flavorful meal, “juicy but always sweet and never beat.”

 

 

 

 

macksmack staff racks up 10 state journalism awards — 1st place in environmental reporting

 

anthonyawardphoto

Anthony Beron, editor of macksmack, accepting one of 6 journalism prizes

by Janaya Andrews

Winning 1st place award in environmental reporting, macksmack journalists swept a total of 10 awards in the California Press Women high school journalism contest.

“What an awesome win,” said Pamela Tapia, one of the blog’s advisors and a McClymonds graduate.

“We were competing against the wealthiest, best-funded, most tech-savvy suburban, private and parochial high schools in California,” she added.

First place in environmental writing went to Sana Saeed, a 2013 graduate, who tackled the toxins in lipstick in her piece “Is My Lipstick A Lethal Weapon?” Her story was also entered in the National Federation of Press Women high school contest.

Two seniors won top photo awards, Jonae Scott with a 2nd place in sports photography and Luckie Lovette with 3rd place in feature photography for a photo essay on tattoos.

“We pulled it off with the least expensive cameras — sometimes borrowed — and without high tech devices, lighting equipment or digital enhancements,” said Tapia.

Senior Lee Benson won 3rd place in environmental writing for writing “Eco-cool”, which discussed a rising trend in students bicycling to school.

Macksmack editor Anthony Beron racked up six awards, including 3rd place in news writing for a piece on the murder of classmate Denzel Jones in February. He won 2nd and 3rd places in environmental reporting, 3rd place in sports for a piece on the lone male cheerleader at McClymonds and 2nd place in opinion writing for a piece on vegetarians eating in the school cafeteria-

He also won an honorable mention in feature writing for a piece on the digital divide hurting student grades.

The awards ceremony took place at UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism on March 12.

 

 

Ask Naya: “carry-along” factor: dreams should include friends

Image

Dear Naya

There’s this dream I have been thinking about: I was going to  travel the world.

When I  told my friends, they told me that’s impossible for me to even do, that I should give up.

What should I do?

Confused

Dear Confused

I see what the problem is: your friends are only saying that to you because they will miss you if you leave.

Maybe their dreams were crushed when they were your age but age doesn’t have to do with dreams, you aspire and continue to aspire to fulfill  that dream, now there’s a lifelong dream.

Dear Naya

I have a friend who is trying to  travel to different places without me and doesn”t understand  that I want to come.

Can you try to change my friend’s mind before my friend is gone?

We’ve been friends for so long and I  don’t want to lose a best friend suddenly in the 11th grade.

Worried

Dear Worried

If you want to stay friends with her, you have to let her follow her dream and I know you will be crushed if she told you to pursuing living your own dreams. You  have a friend who obviously needs your comforting. She’s open enough to be honest. She shared her feelings because she realized that if she didn’t, it would affect your special bond.

Keep pursuing your dreams.  I  know she’s got your back no matter what  happens.

*Dreams are meant to last: without them, we wouldn’t make it in the world.

Mack alumna tackles foster care in film in Project Youthview

That Family Thing

 

by Danenicole Williams

The subject is personal, the perspective is introspective and the filmmakers are a 13-year-old from Bayview and McClymonds alum, Bonita Tindle, now a film student at San Francisco State.

The poignant video, “That Family Thing”  which explores Bonita Tindle’s experiences from foster care to rediscovering her own family, was selected as one of twelve finalists in a Project YouthView, a Bay Area competition that creates a venue for youth to tell their stories.

“The film  breaks stereotypes,” says BAYCAT program manager Zara Ahmed, who mentored Miguel Rivera and Tindle. “Bonita’s personality – of a fun, intelligent, thoughtful young woman – erases any negative stigma about foster care.”

One of the more poignant moments comes as Tindle describes reading Harry Potter and waiting for the letter from Hogwart’s to arrive.

This is not Tindle’s first video. Three years ago, she made the finals with her fanciful video, “Dancing Robots, which followed a man’s  dreary robotic routine at work. All that changes when the man meets another man who plays music in the elevator and then exits on a floor where everyone is happy.

The video will be shown May 2 as part of Alternatives in Action’s 10th annual, a one-of-a-kind youth film festival now held at the Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland.

In a mock interview while still at McClymonds, Tindle said her biggest challenge as a filmmaker was “carrying around 120 pounds of equipment on BART, boom lights, tripods and cameras”

The 12 selected youth-created films were chosen through a competitive process by industry and community judges from over 45 pieces submitted by youth throughout the Bay Area.

These shorts focus on topics from restorative justice (by Sunce Franicevic) to “Pressure” ( by Lily Yu) to Life is Living Festival at DeFremery Park (by  Emmanuel Pereida)

WHEN:         

Friday, May 2th, 2014 at 7 pm. Doors open at 6.

WHERE

Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland

Information and Tickets available at www.alternativesinaction.org

Aside

Image

Dear, Naya

My parents told me this scary story about some kids who went missing when  they were camping.  It begins with 6 kids camping in the deepest woods, called “witches’ ground.”

As they come upon a house in the middle of nowhere, they decided to spend a night in  the house instead of in their tents (it seems more comfy) 

They ignore the legend they heard, that a witch takes whoever goes in her house and if you do manage to escape, you are cursed with a mark on your back marking you as the next person to die. Is this story my parents told me fake?

Frightened

Dear Frightened

I wouldn’t say they are fake,Those are the old cautionary tales that parents tell us every time we do something wrong — parables or fables.

They bring them out when we disobey, when we are told to pick up our toys (but don’t) or when we go to a new place, to see if we are paying attention.

Sometimes they ARE trying to scare you.

Naya

Dear,Naya

I don’t know they’re true, but the tales my parents are telling me haunt me.  I have nightmares about them and  i even tried getting them out  of my  head but it  just doesn’t work.  

The haunted house is down the street and I’m just too scared to go check it out.

Out of my mind

Dear Out of my mind

Well, as  long as you don’t believe it’s real, you wont worry about it so when  they tell you  a  story next  time, you will just  know  how to face your fears to  find  that there is nothing out there that  can  hurt you in  your dreams.

You don’t have to go alone: ask a friend to come along, so that you won’t feel alone. And don’t be embarrassed: people have fears from claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places) to arachnophobia (fear of spiders). Bigger words, but the same concept.

The things you are told in  the dark will never come to light.

Naya

I’ll just watch the movie “Prom” on prom night

kinopoisk.ru

by Luckie Lovette

Prom is a few weeks away, and everyone is getting ready for it.  Except for me.

Prom is one of those school events that everyone says they don’t care about but secretly do.  For me, even if I wanted to, I can’t go.  Tickets, transportation and tuxedos exceed far more than the $100 advised to spend in the once in a lifetime night.

On top of that, being a guy, I’m supposed buy my prom date’s ticket and pay for dinner.  Realistically, we would ride AC Transit to a Denny’s and split an order of nachos, but that doesn’t sound as luxurious as the movies make it seem.

I’ll just stay at home and watch the movie “Prom” on prom night.

Ask Naya: time to heal those secret scars

Image

Dear Naya,

My friends are ignoring me. Nobody wants to  acknowledge the pain that I carry.

Will I get over this feeling of being deeply misunderstood?

Deeply Hurt

Dear Deeply Hurt

There are kids out there who need comfort and help, these kids are “the hurt ones,” the ones that you see with  their faces down  on  the  desk  or who come to  school late so  that people won’t ask “What’s wrong?”

There’s a reason  why they give no  answer, because they know we’ll forget about it since we  are all too busy paying attention to ourselves (and taking selfies).

I understand their scars: what I mean by scars are not cutting yourself, but living with hurt feelings that are never spoken or acknowledged. Most people turn away from those feelings. The “hurt ones” are invisible to the crowd, or are seen as weird or creepy.

I tell you everyone has scars, so don’t hide away from us,  get to know us. “Scars are meant to be heard, not meant to be kept”