Panorama of San Bernardino

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Perfection podcast

I started a live video weekly podcast. On it, I read a story from this Life of JEM blog (Yes, this very blog!) and then talk about how it relates to today. It's on Rag House Media's FB page streaming live, Wednesdays at 7 pm Pacific time. The ultra cool studio is in Ontario and I love the fact that I am reading my stories near where many of the stories take place.

The process is so creative and fun. The hard part for me are the optics. Being confident in myself and how I look is my burden but I'm trying hard to be confident and it's working. I'm making sure I look good every week. I do my hair, my eyeliner and of course, a red lip.

The talking part is somewhat easy for me.

The other hard part for me is after. Being satisfied with my production is a hard one for me. I have always been very self critical. I'm a perfectionist. Hence why my memoir has taken more than a decade.

I'm trying to take it as a challenge to be the best video podcast I can be. I really want this to morph into something big. Something special.

Every dream starts with a seed, a step and then a process. My first seed was this blog created more than a decade ago. The next big step was recording my podcasts when the pandemic hit. When I put them on audio for the Anchor app, I heard them and immediately knew I was onto something. I worked on them every night obsessively (part of the "process") and practiced my "radio voice".

Next was meeting my producer April Duran of Rag House Media. Kismet, that was easy. She was so supportive, cool, inspiring, and compelling that I decided to jump on the opportunity for a video podcast. Plus, we went to high school together, how cool is that? We are also both wanderers, she lived in Europe and I lived in LA, Texas and San Francisco. We have so much in common. And we've both got big dreams and aspirations.

So here I am. It's a dream come true. The process of the live video podcast is coming along. I'll get the structure worked out. It's not easy. But it's so much damn fun. I'm having the time time of my life.


Saturday, June 13, 2020

New day

I sit outside listening to the birds and the twinkling of my flamingo wind chime and I ruminate on the last three months. Then, I think about about these last weeks. How change happens can sometimes be unpredictable and I am finally seeing what I hope is a seismic shift in criminal justice policies.

For far too long, I have participated as a deputy public defender representing clients in a broken system, one about which I was constantly conflicted. Harm reduction was my goal but now, I have decided to stand up and to speak out. My practice will change. It has to. Now, I will practice my feminism in my work and call for true change. I have always nurtured and protected my clients and urged for salvation rather than incarceration.

As Angela Davis said recently in an interview with Democracy Now:

"And I would say that abolition is not primarily a negative strategy. It’s not primarily about dismantling, getting rid of, but it’s about reenvisioning. It’s about building anew. And I would argue that abolition is a feminist strategy. And one sees in these abolitionist demands that are emerging the pivotal influence of feminist theories and practices."

Reading her words, it is as if a lightbulb went off in my head, and my eyes opened. My views have always aligned with this abolitionist and feminist ideology. I've always known that this criminal so called system of "justice" was anything but just. It's just recently, however, that I have found the synergy in my work and writing to articulate it.

It's also been about reading, because all writing should begin with inspiration from writers who inspire and for me, Angela Davis' words do just that.

If I can urge anything, it's to read books like "Is Prison Obsolete" by Angela Davis and "The New Jim Crow" about the racism behind mass incarceration by Michelle Alexander. The best writers are prophets and see what society cannot until decades later.

Much like how the best musicians are visionaries, these writers saw and said and wrote the truth we are seeing today. Their words will resonate. I promise you that.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


Static: Defined as “pertaining to or characterized by a fixed or stationary condition” or “interference due to such (atmospheric) electricity”. (Source:

Can you hear me?
Screaming in my head
Let my people go
Let me go

Saying let us go
Release everyone
From this system
That hurts us all

I used to think
As a deputy public defender
I could work within it
Now I see it’s broken

Can you hear me?
Screaming in your ear
Listen to me
Please listen, listen!

Let me do what I do
Then let me go
From this misery
Of banging my head

My ears are ringing
From the beat of cuffs
On bars of cells
Across America

Are you there?
Can you hear me?
Screaming your name
It all still remains

Excuse me
Excuse you
Forgive me
Forgive us all

We know not what we do
Or maybe we do

Monday, June 1, 2020


I am just here as a witness in these times. When a black man is held down and killed over and over and over. People are angry, frustrated, sad, and hurt that the state and systems have not been accountable and rightly so.

We have let people down. The systems are only as good as the people running them. For far too long, we have allowed others to shape the narrative. People like me, who have seen the inequities and systematic injustices on a daily basis, have not said enough. I feel as if I have not amplified my voice. I haven’t screamed loud enough for people to hear. This is my community dammit.

Because you see, as a deputy public defender, I see it. Every day. I thought it was enough to try to cure injustice one person and one client at a time. But it’s not. Micro change is important yes. And my clients need me desperately. They often have no one else.

But big change is needed. Macro change that makes foundational and structural shifts in how justice is applied. And that requires all of us who work within this system of so called justice to scream out against it. Say it out loud. Say their names. Don’t back down. Be a tireless advocate, yes, but also a political force and voice.

You see, they need us to testify to their pain so others will be able to see what we see.

We’re no longer just lawyers, we’re witnesses.