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Episode 6 Transcript

Michael Hayes 02/09/2021 22

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Music & Language – Unavoidable Forms of Magic

Time: 57:28


language, hmong, music, people, listening, identity, song, students, hear, tray, words, intersectionality, teresa, talking, important, podcast, speak, learn, thinking, community


Pa Vue, Joshuah Whittinghill, Teresa Hernandez, Tray Robinson, He-Lo Ramirez, Introduction Music


He-Lo Ramirez 00:00

Heytanayem nikki yam sa He-Lo nikki Mechoopda Maidu. Hello everyone. My name is He-Lo and I’m a Mechoopda Maidu.


He-Lo Ramirez 00:08

We acknowledge and are mindful that Chico State stands on lands that were originally occupied by the first people in this area, the Mechoopda. And we recognize their distinctive spiritual relationship with this land and the waters that run through campus. We are humbled that our campus resides upon sacred lands that have sustained the Mechoopda people for centuries, and continue to do so today.


Introduction Music 01:02

Introduction Music


Joshuah Whittinghill 01:02

All right, Teresa, we are recording.


Teresa Hernandez 01:12

Welcome, everybody like to welcome back to episode six of our podcast first generation one of many. So our podcast, just to remind you all again, we’re joined by amazing guests, which will introduce in a second. Yeah, so for first generation, one of many, our mission is to create an archive of discussions with and about first generation student experiences in and out of the classroom. We hope to continue raising awareness and understanding provide voice for students and alum, as well as present resources for our faculty, staff and students working for and collaborating with first generation students. So thank you all for tuning in. I’m Teresa Hernandez, and I’m joined by my co-host, Joshuah Whittinghill. Hi, Josh.



Joshuah Whittinghill 01:52

Hi, Teresa. How’s a wonderful, it’s a wonderful Wednesday, it’s going pretty well over here. Luckily, we have bright some nice sunny weather out. And I know you and I’ve been talking lately, we both were able to go on some road trips recently.


Teresa Hernandez 02:08

Yes. Super nice to be able to just to, get out um just of Chico, you know, love it here. But uh, I need a break. So.


Joshuah Whittinghill 02:17

Alright, just just to see other parts of the country have a nice, and I think both of us were actually able to go over to an area nearby where one of our guests is is living now. We were both over in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Teresa Hernandez 02:30

Yes. My second home.


Joshuah Whittinghill 02:32

So, yeah. But it is it is great to be back with you again. I wish we could record a podcast every day. That would be fun to have that.


Teresa Hernandez 02:42



Joshuah Whittinghill 02:43

But at least seeing you. Yeah, it’s nice. Again. Thank you. So to kick off our episode, I’m gonna read our quote for the day. Today, it comes from Tom Petty, music is probably the one real magic I haven’t encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves. It heals, it communicates and it does all these incredible things. And and that was very fitting will be very fitting for our episode today as we are going to be talking about music and language. And in order to accomplish that we have two guests today, first of which is Tray Robinson. He claims to have had the wonderful pleasure of working in higher education for the past 25 years, which has provided him with many amazing opportunities. His passion is working with students as he wants to provide them with the advocacy and support that was given to him when he was a student. His hobbies include reading, writing, dancing, watching movies, playing sports, cycling, and enjoying the company of his husband, family and friends. Currently, Tray is the Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at CSU, Chico. Welcome, Tray.


Tray Robinson 03:59

Thank you. Thank you for having me. And rest in peace of Tom Petty.


Joshuah Whittinghill 04:03

Yes. So how are things going out there for you these days?


Tray Robinson 04:07

Things have been interesting in regards to work as intersecting what’s happening in the world. So every day is busy, it’s stressful. any emotion you can think of. But also living on the dairy farm, the cows definitely take your mind away from that madness. So it’s good overall, though. I’m blessed.


Joshuah Whittinghill 04:29

Great. Good to hear. Thank you for being here again. And our next guest


Teresa Hernandez 04:35

Awesome. Yes. So well. Again, welcome Tray super excited to have you. And we’re also joined with another amazing guest Pa Vue. Pa Vue is a Hmong-American writer, storyteller and PhD student. She came to the United States in 1990 and has worked in higher education for nearly 10 years. She currently studies language and education at the University of California of Berkeley. Hey Pa.


Pa Vue 04:58

Thank you so much for having me.


Teresa Hernandez 05:01

Yes, thanks for taking time being here super excited. And the short time I had the pleasure of working with Pa. I’m super excited to see you again to learn more about you and how you ventured off to the greater things, but really excited to learn from more about you and learn from your experience with this podcast today. So thanks for being here today.


Pa Vue 05:19

Thank you. I’m happy to be here.


Joshuah Whittinghill 05:22

And as we were prepping and getting into the episode, you were sharing a little bit about your new adventure, and the surreal feeling, I guess, of being in a new city walking around and realizing like, Oh, I actually live here now.


Pa Vue 05:38

Yeah, yeah, I am. I’ve been here in the Bay Area in Berkeley, specifically for a little over two months. And it has been a wonderful experience just getting to see different people and the way they live and the way they do things. And sometimes even the way they dress and the way they talk and such, it’s it’s really interesting. So but because I’ve lived in Chico for so long, and to move to the Bay Area, it’s been, I constantly have to remind myself that, hey, I’m a bay area person now.


Joshuah Whittinghill 06:13

A whole different experience than than Chico.


Pa Vue 06:19



Joshuah Whittinghill 06:20

So as we as we move into our discussion and topics for music and language, Teresa and I are going to share a few little things we found interesting and sort of around definitions of of the two. Now we heard from Tom Petty. That was, that’s one sort of definition of music and a very accurate and powerful definition. But then, as academics, we can go and look at just the sort of dictionary definition, right of that. And for music, it says, music, vocal or instrumental sounds, or both, combined in such a way to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion. But we know as we heard from the Tom Petty one and other things, the connections we have with music ourselves, that there’s a lot more to the definition of music than just that, right. And the anthropologist Alan Merriam, he adds to that and he says, there is probably no other human cultural activity, which is so all pervasive and which reaches into shapes and often controls so much of human behavior. Well, that’s our intro and sort of look at the definition of music in a very small capsule. And then what about language Teresa?


Teresa Hernandez 07:37

Right. So taking a look at language kind of in the more definitive terms, so language, can is the noun study of method of human communication, it could be either spoken, written or signed, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. And also can be defined as a nonverbal method of expression or communication, a language of gesture or facial expression. So language is flexible word in terms of its meaning, it can be defined differently depending on the context and community that and it also carries its own identity and music as a written language consisting of musical notes. So there’s, there’s quite a range of ways to define language. And those are just small parts of it. Today, we’re excited to kind of expand that and hear about other definitions and just the overall effects in language music have separately and combined together.


Joshuah Whittinghill 08:29

So let’s jump right into some discussion. Tray. We when you agreed to do this, we talked about a while back and he said, Yeah, it’d be wonderful to talk about music. So let’s hear from you. What What does music mean to you? And what is your relationship with music? Why is it important to you?


Tray Robinson 08:47

Um, first I’ll say is, I’m in love with music, and I love music unconditionally. One of those few things. And music for me started when I was in the third grade, my father was a musician. And he traveled, he sang in a funk group. And I can recall very vividly, in Compton, California. My dad woke me up. It was about three in the morning, and he put this instrument next to my bed and said, I want you to learn this, which was an awesome saxophone. And I started to play saxophone at that early age. My dad was a very engaging, charismatic musician. He was a singer, as well as a keyboardist. So I was exposed very early to all types of music through him. I had an opportunity to go to his band practices and meet his band members. His bass player taught me karate, we were just so engaged and infused in each other’s lives at that particular time. And my my oldest brother, who died of AIDS, rest in pease, he was also a musician. So my dad really instilled that in our lives in it had a huge impact on my life, too. This day in regards to choices to go to college options in that regard, music or sports, always good to have options. And I just, music is always on in our home, you come over and visit us we’re having dinner, there’s some music in the background. It’s just always around I’ve invested a lot of money in the music it is just one of those things that will always be with me.


Joshuah Whittinghill 10:25

So if we were to walk in just randomly into the into the dairy farm and show up one night, what would we hear? What are some of the things we would hear?


Tray Robinson 10:34

It depends on the mood to be honest.


Joshuah Whittinghill 10:36



Tray Robinson 10:36

Depends on the mood. It depends on the mood and what’s happening in the world. I’ve been listening to some more some more aggressive stuff lately during the day. As I’m dealing with conflict and frustration surrounding politics and BLM and other things when at night, I’m trying to relax and I may put on some Sam Cooke. So it just kind of depends on the mood.


Joshuah Whittinghill 10:58

Like what what did you can you give us a, Sam Cooke you said Well, what’s one of your go to? No matter sort of how you’re doing? Which one of your go to? Do you have one of those?


Tray Robinson 11:08

Go to. Sam, because I mentioned Sam Cooke, just so in my head right now. It’s, it’s been a long road, that song, there’s gonna be changed one day, the lyrics are part of that, that that that provides hope. So that song is always affirm. I’ve been listening to some hip hop lately because I’ve been listening to some paris lately, hip hop system fights back against structural issues. I don’t know if I ever go to I love music that much. Spanish music. Everything.


Teresa Hernandez 11:54

Thank you. So now we can dive deeper into your story Tray so we will hit that in a second. And then a question for Pa. As a blogger, novelist, current education candidate, what does language mean to you?


Pa Vue 12:10

That’s a that’s a really hard question to answer. And all I can say is I think that language is everything. And everything is language. And without language, I think language is so unique to being a human. And without language, we would not be able to do anything to be honest, I mean, language and know you had given a definition of language earlier Teresa and I just in like you were saying, you know, the dictionary definition doesn’t encompass what language actually is. Just like it doesn’t encompass what music actually is. And what music actually does for people is the same thing with language doesn’t, doesn’t, the dictionary definition doesn’t show all of that. And language is is more than just grammar. It’s more than just words, it’s a system of signs that we use to create meaning out of everything. And so a book is not a book, unless you know what, you know, you have the word for it. And in you can attach it to a meaning that you created based on your society, and the people around you. And so, language allows us to be social animals, it allows us to create meaning with other people around us. And it allows us to have a view of the world. And so something that I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately is how language is used to control people, and also used to free people, and also use to allow people to see the world in different ways, especially for people who speak different languages, and how this gives them the opportunity to see the world in different ways. And that is something that is very unique to multilinguals and something that I think should be appreciated more than than it is and so I’ve been kind of just thinking about that lately, but I think the main thing that I want to say is that language like I said it’s like sunlight, language touches everything and everything touches language and that’s really what it comes down to.


Teresa Hernandez 14:52

Yeah, definitely I I feel like whenever the read the definition and when I was when we were looking into that I was thinking I feel like I had to add a disclaimer and say this by no means is my definition or doesn’t even begin to cover what language is or how, how big of an impact and kind of along what you’re saying is it I would as I thought about it, when I was in college, just kind of it, I thought about it more, it started coming more to the forefront of my mind and my thoughts when I started learning more and more and more about my cultural background and how important languages to, to our communities. I’ll also specifically in my personal experience, being part of the Latin x community and how important that is, and how, you know, there wasn’t really brought up or thought of until you started learning more about how the colonization of Spanish language and how that affected communities of people and how with devastating effects and impacts it had on the community. And it’s kind of one of those things that you don’t really no, if you haven’t you lose it in a sense until it’s taken away. It’s just been so ingrained into like our everyday lives, that unless it’s really, you don’t people don’t tend to think about, you know, what’s the worst thing that could happen to your community? That for me, I would say one of them would be losing the my language or the identity being the ability to identify with the language of my culture, my community.


Pa Vue 16:16

Yes, definitely everything everything you said. And I think we can spend hours and hours talking about colonization and what colonizers do with the language of the place that they go to the big conquer. And the intention behind erasing that language. Because it’s very intentional. It’s not just like, oh, we’re here and now that the language is going to disappear. But there’s a there’s intention behind the reason language because like I said, language touches everything. And I actually did my master’s thesis on language and identity and language is such a huge part of identity that, you know, for many of the students who I did this project with their Hmong students, and to not be able to speak Hmong they, you know, they, although they do identify as Hmong, they there, there’s a part of them that is, I don’t know what the right word is, I want to say, like lost or missing or longing for something that is that that isn’t there? Because the language, isn’t there. 100%. And so language, like I said, it’s, it’s connected to everything. And for students, I think, particularly it’s kind of to to their identity and who they are, and that matters for them holistically. So and that’s why language is so important.


Teresa Hernandez 17:40

Yeah, no, I definitely agree. And so both of you are in the atmosphere environment at one point, either now, or just recently working with students and playing a part in students lives. So um more specifically, Tray, I want to ask you, how do you think controlling or freeing and empowering comes from language? And how does that play an important in the work that you do?


Tray Robinson 18:07

I think that we see examples of that, where new language is constantly being created. And, you know, we’ve always been taught to identify with certain terms, you know, since slavery since colonization of different populations. And we haven’t had the ability to say this is who I am. And now students, and other folk are creating words that really represent who they are. And that is so important, because it allows you to really embody your true identities, your many identities, and I think we’re going to continue to see that. And even though we see pushback from folks, particularly, I would argue from older generations who always feel upset that they have to learn new terms and new language, and why are these changes and so forth? And that’s because, again, the government has always told us how to operate our identities. I did also want to respond, if I may, to the question you asked Pa. Briefly.


Teresa Hernandez 19:01

Yeah, please.


Tray Robinson 19:02

Eric regards to the impact of language. I teach in this in the fall, LGBTQ issues and identities. And I had my students read an article that’s focusing on Latinx and LGBTQ plus as well as API and LGBTQ plus. And some of the challenges that exist in both those articles talks about how there aren’t appropriate words in different languages that represent LGBTQ identity. So when folks who are trying to come out to their parents or explain what that means, oftentimes that language doesn’t exist. And I think a lot of times we take that for granted and don’t understand the challenges associated with that. And we operate from the single paradigm of course of English. I think that translates broadly across all populations when it don’t. So I say all that to say, incredibly important, I think that we need to be supportive of people and allowing people to research investigate their identities and help them embody who they really are. And language is such an important part of that.


Pa Vue 20:07

Tray, can I also add that I, that word that you said is exist? I’ve been thinking about that word a lot lately. And I just wrote a paper, my first paper in grad school and yeah, I was really excited about it. And it was about language and learning English. And there is, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about colonialism and racism and such, but something that came out of those articles was the idea of existence. And how language equals existence. So if you speak English, you’re speaking a specific type of language in your, your, your speaking the existence of that type of people. If you are speaking about the Latinx community, and you’re using Spanish, you’re speaking that into existence. And so Tray, what you were saying, Yeah, if you don’t have the words to describe the LGBTQ community in, in your heritage language, how can you speak that into existence? How can you exist? You know, and so that’s why language is so important, because language is connected to meaning is connected to material is connected to existence in real life. And that’s something that I’ve been kind of learning. And so when you said the word existence, it like, popped into my head in big, bright letters.



Tray Robinson 21:46

That was powerful, what she said,


Teresa Hernandez 21:48

Yeah, I agree. Thank you for that Pa.


Joshuah Whittinghill 21:51

You know, I wanted to I, you were I think you’re reading the future Pa, as you were answering, you started to answer a while back, I had typed in a follow up question. And it was pretty much the exact same thing you mentioned about working with Hmong students. And I know you and I have had the opportunity and the pleasure to be able to work together on a number of different things. You’ve been gracious over the years to continually be a guest speaker in one of the classes I teach, Introduction to multicultural gender studies, and students are always amazed when you leave about Wow, I didn’t even realize the Hmong community existed. For one, that’s one of the main reasons to help people learn about other people they’re living around, because in the north state here, there’s a large Hmong community around Chico and the surrounding communities around here smaller towns by by Chico. And then a lot of them are thinking when they hear you speak, sometimes you’ll use Hmong words briefly in some of the things to explain what a certain thing is in the language. But then in You say, Well, I can’t I can’t really explain that to you in English, it doesn’t really, there’s no way to really make it sound the same or mean, have the same meaning and be as impactful, and as meaningful as you say it in Hmong. And then, when you touched on the students here, currently, I know one of the first students I got to work with in EOP was with a student who was Hmong and she was struggling with math, and I was trying to help her explain stuff. And I would, I would just explain it. And and I only know English, I didn’t, I don’t know, Hmong to speak with her, and then she would ask, but what does that mean? And this correlation of translating it into a language for her, which were first language was being Hmong, obviously, to really then comprehend what that meant. And so it’s been fascinating all those years. And one of the things I’ve learned from students in general, that don’t speak Hmong, especially is there is a sense of I wish I did I really wish I would have learned Hmong now that I’m older. And I see the importance of it, because one of the discussions you and I’ve had a number of times, is my question now for you what what do you see happening for the future of Hmong language?


Pa Vue 23:56

Wow, that’s a good question, Josh. And actually, that’s kind of funny that you asked that, because that’s kind of what I want to investigate a little bit with my work here at UC Berkeley. And I, I am starting to kind of think about that, but not not too much yet, because I’m still in my first semester. So I’m still really trying to gain as much information as I can, so that I can frame my thinking in a way that is useful and in a way that is going to get the most out of whatever project that I’m working on. But I you know, I I really see the future of the Hmong language for young people to be a language of activism in a way to be a language of decolonization to be a language of rebellion, in a way, and rebellion, maybe through artistic expression. And so this goes into I think I’ve shared this with you before Josh, but this goes into music. You know, something that I’ve noticed I’ve been listening to a lot of Hmong songs lately and something that I’ve noticed is that a lot of Hmong songs a lot of current Hmong musicians, current Hmong popular pop musicians, I should I guess I can say, are singing in Hmong. But then like when they talk, they talk in English, you know, so I find this so interesting. And some songs have a combination of Hmong and English, I would say mostly, though, it’s Hmong. So it’s like, probably 90%, Hmong, and then 10%, English. And I’ve been seeing a lot of interesting combinations with the two languages. But I’ve always found it really interesting. And I’ve, and I’ve been kind of keeping my eye on this and for the last couple of years is that, though the language they speak in and communicate with one another, maybe English, they’re gravitating towards these Hmong songs, and I’m so curious to know why, why they’re gravitating to these Hmong songs, and why these Hmong singers feel like they want to or need to sing in Hmong, and rap in Hmong. And yet, when they’re on stage, between songs, they will speak English, you know, so this is this is really interesting to me. And I, I really do think that it has a lot to do with a desire to keep this attachment to the culture or desire to be closer to the culture to be closer to the identity of being Hmong or to be to feel a part of this community that maybe you don’t have access to otherwise.


Joshuah Whittinghill 26:56

Yeah, and the power of language comes with names and naming, right, is part of it as well. And I and one of the discussions I have with students is a lot of the long students coming into college in the last four or five or six years or so roughly, in that timeframe are their parents are giving them English names. But students who were here, you know, 10 years or more before, quite often have have traditional Hmong names when they come to campus. So that’s shifting a little bit there, too, with the, like I said, the identity of the connection to the culture. And so the younger students are seeing that they have this English name, and they’re saying, I really still want to be able to connect, though, with being Hmong because people don’t see that when they see my name, necessarily their first name. So I was I’m gonna, I’m gonna go ahead and share my screen with you except I got pulling this up as you were talking about it. And then you went right, again, we’re connected, you have the you’re seeing what I’m doing, maybe, but I was pulling this up. So I’m gonna go ahead and share this a little bit to give an example of what Pa was talking about here. And it’s a really wonderful way to engage Hmong students, all of a sudden, they realize, wow, we’re talking about me, we’re talking about my family, we’re talking about my community now. And that really gets them excited about education. But that song, I could attempt to say the name I try, I like speaking Hmong. It’s one of the fun things I’ve learned. When I when I do use the few Hmong phrases I’ve learned and can say, and, and I’ll say it around the neighborhood, we have a family that used to live in nearby us and the kids would come by and I would say, I would say hello to them in Hmong, you know, or I would say to them, I can go ahead and say it, I guess right, I’ll say nyob zoo.


Pa Vue 29:10

Yeah, thats good.


Joshuah Whittinghill 29:12

And, and the kids would look at me with this smile, and then their grandma would come over and start talking to me, because she thought I just knew Hmong. Because I said that one phrase, and she would go on for two or three minutes. And the kids would just sit there and I’d look at them. And I’d say what is your grandma saying? And they would laugh. Because I didn’t know any more much more of Hmong except like kuv hlub koj and I know that and like that means I love you basically right? And then also the um, like sib ntsib dua, like farewell goodbye. That was about it. And then tsaa tob hau siab it’s not probably as close as it should be. But that’s the name of that song. Can you tell us the name of the song?


Pa Vue 29:50

Oh, I can I see it again because I can’t or if you want to put the title in the comment. In the chat.


Joshuah Whittinghill 29:55

Yeah. It was it was the chorus there at the end that they were saying essentially


Pa Vue 30:01

Yeah, that song is actually um, I, I heard the song is a. So there’s two, there are two dialects that are spoken in Hmong in the US. And they’re either it’s the white dialect or the green dialect and the song is actually the green dialect. So the title is Tsaa Tob Hau Siab. And that is raise your head high.


Joshuah Whittinghill 30:33

Yeah. Because the song is a great empowering message of raise your head high that your Hmong be proud to be Hmong. Right. Be proud of who we are and who you are.


Pa Vue 30:43

Yeah, and I’ve actually had I haven’t heard of a lot of songs in green Hmong. So this is really interesting. And I especially have not heard a lot of rap songs and green Hmong. Because there is a there’s a white Hmong pedagogy, I guess, in the US, so we don’t hear a lot of green Hmong music.


Joshuah Whittinghill 31:06

That isn’t. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. I think one student mentioned, that sounds like green Hmong. But I’m not sure because I speak white Hmong, and it could be white Hmong, too. I don’t know enough Hmong to know if it’s white or green was shared.


Pa Vue 31:19

I can actually say, Josh, that I’ve only heard two Hmong songs sung in green and all my life. That’s, this is really rare and quite a treat.


Joshuah Whittinghill 31:29

And you say that, which is interesting, the name of the band that saying it is rare. That’s the name of their band.


Pa Vue 31:34

Oh, interesting. Yeah.


Joshuah Whittinghill 31:37

So maybe that’s why they pick their name. In a sense. Um, so. And we hear a little bit, we talk about all these different things happening, we’ve kind of we’ve kind of just touched on it. But the idea of intersectionality. How does intersectionality impact your relationships with music or language, and then in the work that you do?



Tray Robinson 32:02

in regard, I guess I’ll take the, the music route. I think, and I’m just thinking of the different identities that exist within me, depending on what’s at the forefront of what I’m doing on that particular day, I may listen to music in relationship to my blackness, or my gay identity, or my lead mix identity, or my male identity, and so forth. So I think it’s important that regard when you’re trying to tap into that piece of who you are, what you’re about, and relationships is the intersectionality part, you know, I grew up with the Latinx family, Mexican. And I learned Spanish through them. And then also been in a fraternity that had guys who identify this Latinx and listening to Spanish through them. through college, I listen to Vicente Fernandez Ramon Ayala, probably daily. And I still do to this day, as well as other Spanish stories. And I would represent that as intersectionality as well. So I think engagement with people plays a huge role in that, you know, as you meet people from different identities, you start to embody that as well. And that intersects with you. And I think that’s a beautiful thing. I see it in the classroom with students, when they’re talking to other folks I’ve had Hmong students give me Hmong music to listen to that has intersected in my life. So the engagement piece is important. So you can learn at the unexposed, too, and just just start to embody it. But music represents so much of who we are. And they can just fulfill so many needs. intersectionally


Pa Vue 33:35

Yeah, I would agree to that


Teresa Hernandez 33:37

I was about to phrase the same question for you Pa.


Pa Vue 33:41

I am really good at predicting the future.


Teresa Hernandez 33:43

You really are. I’ll have a conversation, a personal one after this. Thank you.


Pa Vue 33:48



Joshuah Whittinghill 33:50

And maybe, maybe Teresa should have unmuted and cheered when Tray mentioned the music in Hispanic.


Teresa Hernandez 33:56

Yeah, I fan girl over here when you mentionedVicente Fernandez them.


Joshuah Whittinghill 33:59

She was silent cheering.


Teresa Hernandez 34:00

Vicente Fernandez is my favorite. My dying wish is to see him in concert.


Tray Robinson 34:04

I saw him once.


Teresa Hernandez 34:05

Yeah, I hope he’s immortal and never ever, ever, ever goes away. But you know, I have hope.


Tray Robinson 34:49

I saw him was my first concert. In high school, I was doing security and got to see the concert


Teresa Hernandez 35:01

I’m jealous and a bit upset. Well, yeah, Pa, what would what would you say about the intersectionality, or they impact of intersectionality on your relationship to music or language and or


Pa Vue 35:17

I, you know, I was just gonna agree with everything Tray said I, a, it’s so interesting of being an immigrant or refugee coming to the US and then like becoming American, becoming Asian American, and, you know, and then growing up with a specific like, pop culture and, and being drawn into that and listening to that music and such. And I recently went to a Backstreet Boys concert with some of my friends. And it was awesome. It took us right back to high school, it took us so like music takes you right back to high school. So that was kind of like part of my like, you know, just American identity, right? American identity and like, loving like boy bands and such. But then I also have this very, I have this refugee identity. So I have this refugee identity and it comes out once in a while, and I get pretty emotional about it. And sometimes I get really emotional because I listened to some of the songs that are associated with the flight from from Thailand, and Laos, Laos, specifically. And even though I never ran from Laos, because I was born in Thailand, I feel all of these emotions, and I think I can safely speak for maybe, children of refugees, who have heard all these stories, that, that when, when this identity becomes when they subscribe or ascribe to this identity for whatever reason for whatever environment that they’re in, that these emotions come up and, and for me, a lot of has to do with music. And um sometimes it’s because I hear the song or sometimes is because I’m feeling something and I go listen to the song. And I will show that I’ll share this one of the songs with you. It’s called.


Teresa Hernandez 37:21

You can share it with us. And we’ll also have it like on the information part of our website. So listeners can go and listen to it as well.


Pa Vue 37:28

Yeah, this this song is called Hnub Tim 15 or the 15th.


Pa Vue 37:33

The 15th is the day um that everybody is the day that they evacuated one of the big cities in Laos because of the because the Americans left. The Americans pulled out of Saigon. And so this day, and this specific time. The, the elders have often often talked about, when they describe about describe it they often call it a day that the world exploded. Or the time that the world exploded, and whenever I listened to the song, I get so emotional. And I think that’s the that’s where, where the intersectionality comes in, because I am not just one identity. I am both American and Hmong and refugee and it’s something that I run towards, not run from. And music helps me understand this emotion. And this time and the experiences of my people a lot better than if I had no music and this music was written in the refugee camps. So this song specifically I believe, was there’s there’s a set of songs, a few artists who wrote music in the refugee camps, and those songs, whenever I play them, always brings up those specific emotions and that’s why music is so powerful. It’s not just the music, but also the music plus the language the words that they’re using to describe the experience of a specific people.


Joshuah Whittinghill 40:10

Yeah, definitely I love that. Shared in an earlier episode, when we had Ivan Paredes on aka Jahny Wallz, who does our intro song, and talking about my relationship with music in that when I, when I really got into music, I did not even know how to play an instrument still. But I was I was so in love with the the what the words conveyed and the messages and the feelings and you said reminiscing, going back in time and kind of reflecting and feeling like I’m back in this place. And music can really be that transporter, and be able to take, at least I know, for me, take me to places I can’t say takes everyone places, but it definitely definitely does that with the language is a big part of it, too, because I can even just read lyrics on a sheet without even hearing the any of the insurance going with it. And I’ll still get the same reaction. Like we did with a powerful poem, kind of in that sense.


Teresa Hernandez 40:10



Pa Vue 41:04

And Josh, I will say, you said transport but I was I would also I would also say transformed to


Joshuah Whittinghill 41:11



Pa Vue 41:12

And songs. And poetry have had the power to transform as well as transport.


Joshuah Whittinghill 41:20

It’s one thing I have learned, talking with people who are have grown up listening to music that’s in Spanish, and to music, that’s in Hmong that there are very specific songs in both communities, that people whether you’re three years old, or you’re 83 years old, you know, specific songs, and you’ve learned them from that, like your whole life, they’re always around, they’re always, you know, sort of different gatherings, festivals, or just even around the house period. But but great grandparents, grandparents, parents and kids alike, no certain specific songs in those areas. So it looks like, unfortunately, we are winding down. I think Teresa and I could do these for two hours if people would volunteer to do it for us. But but but we really appreciate it even just an hour, right, that’s a lot of time and in these days for for people. So we really appreciate that. But before we go, we do like to wrap up with some recommendations, you’ve already given us a few, we’ll use some of those, the links for some of the songs that were mentioned to put in there. But, but we really like recommendations that the listeners can go and utilize a resource something for them. It doesn’t have to be related to music or language. But a resource that you feel would be really empowering and useful for listeners to go to. So let’s hear from Tray first if you have, or whoever’s ready, if you’re not ready Tray if you want to think about something, but


Tray Robinson 42:54

Yeah, I’m gonna take a different take on it.


Joshuah Whittinghill 42:56



Tray Robinson 42:58

Because of what we do is so reflective relationships. And I was just thinking about so many different types of music, I would have never listened to had I stayed on the street that I grew up on in Compton, because they’re just predominately black and Latinx, I wouldn’t have been listening to my husband, because he’s older than I am. When we’re in the car, we listen to his fitness music, and country music and so forth. And I wouldn’t have that I wouldn’t have had those opportunities that I had exposure to other people. So I guess what I want to say is, for our students, and even our colleagues really take advantage of our ability to interact with other people and talk to them and learn from them about the different things they’re involved in and try something new. I think there’s a song and every type of music that you like, you know, hear some people say I’ll never listen to or like country or whatever, I’d guarantee you there’s a country song that exists that you would like if you open up your mind and just try it out, as well as other types of musics. So I say that to say expose yourself, engage with people in the classroom at work, and just ask them about their culture and try something new out.


Joshuah Whittinghill 44:09

Perfect, thank you. And Pa, what do you have for us to share with your worldly wisdom.


Pa Vue 44:17

I have way too much stuff to share. Way too much stuff to share. But I do have a few things. Well, I have a podcast that I want to share that I have listened to and enjoyed a lot. This podcast I’ll give you the link to it. It’s called Not your Average Mai and this podcast, they’re they’re. It’s it’s hosted by several women and they’re playing upon the name of the podcast is a play upon the idea that a lot of Hmong girls have the name Mai and so they want to so that but but these specific hosts are very modern American woman. So that that comes. So. So there’s that intersectionality thing again. And they talk a lot about politics and how women live Hmong woman live now. And it’s it’s a really interesting podcasts that I have enjoyed listening in the past because they touch upon a lot of current topics that are really relevant to our times. So that’s one thing. And then I do want to share an artist that I’ve been listening to that I’ve really enjoyed. His name is Supryze. And Hold on. Let me just I want to share one of his songs with you so that you let me see which one should I share? They’re both so good.


Pa Vue 45:53

Um, I’ll share this one because, here, I’ll play a little bit of it.


Joshuah Whittinghill 46:07

We’ll wait and we’ll go back and we’ll edit this part. And we’ll go back and we’ll edit this part.


Pa Vue 46:14

Yeah, so this this this artist, his name is Supryze. I’ll put the link in here. And he is um, this specific song that he’s singing right now is a it’s it’s so good because in Hmong, we talk a lot about like, there’s this when you go and it’s kind of a joke now. But we talked about courtship. So when you when men, when boys go in court, a girl sometimes they’ll ask this question that goes like, what did your What did your mom and dad, what did your mom eat? Why? What is your mom eat? Because you are so beautiful. So like, What did she eat to give birth to you and to make you so beautiful? And so this song is a is a play on that question. But it includes a lot of English words, and there’s rapping and such. And so it’s kind of like a pulling, pulling so much of the culture and the past into the present that I just love. And so I do want to recommend if, if anybody hasn’t heard of him to go listen to him, because I just his songs just put a huge smile on my face every time I listen to them.


Joshuah Whittinghill 47:18

Thank you for that. Thats Supryze? I’ll have to definitely check that out. I’ve already put it into our show notes. So we have it. Teresa? You have anything for us today over there as you’re popping your head away?


Teresa Hernandez 47:28

Yes, um, I was actually looking to see if I could find the, the handle of one of the users I was trying to talk about, but no such luck. So I’ll look it up, though. And I’ll share it soon. But so I think so I’m thinking like what not what people are especially like our students at this current age, and then even myself, I’ll throw myself in that age group, as I’m still young in and kind of like what we look at how we utilize on our phones. And right now one of the biggest trends is this app called TikTok, and I’m sure you hear a lot about it on the news and whatnot. So and it’s in it, I like it, because I feel like it gives, especially to students and at the age that they’re at, it gives them and just the youth in general exposure to a bunch of different things, right? and you can take it at face value, you know, it could be exposure to positive or negative things depending on what what is that they’re looking for. But I feel like one of the things that I like about it, or at least what popped up on my algorithm are these two users and I actually follow them because one, his name is Einerbanks with the Z, and I’ll type it in and I like him because he what he does is he goes around in interviews and different artists, so he does focus on like, whatever his followers like to recommend. So usually lately it’s been like popular hip hop artists that people are listening to right now. So like, you know, for example, like Kid Laroi, Rod Wave, so a Boogie with the Hoodie so some of these rappers and stuff that that he goes around and what he does is he he has them rap or sing for them without any no studio and not in the studio, just like out in the street, just them with the hit. And he always follows him around with I’m going to get the name of this instrument so wrong. I almost don’t want to say it, but just like his videos, and you’ll know and it’s uh, and he just strums a few strings and some notes and they start rapping to it. And I really like it because there’s always this huge, especially in the music industry, like, oh, like that’s not the real voice or it’s, it’s, you know, configured to make them sound good, but they’re actually not. So I like that he does it really authentically and the originality of it, and then you listen to him and it’s just like their raw rapping voice. And there’s just singing with their raw natural voice and it’s amazing, and how you see all the talent they do have and sometimes they’re not, you know, uplifted enough for the genre of music that they’re in. And so I like I really like following him and there’s one more that I need to look at but he what he posts are a lot of like educational videos on language. And one of them. The first one that I saw that was pretty impacted me was he was talking about how to and he’s he’s licensed, I’m not sure what it is that his profession is on, but something within that field. And so he he was saying that a lot of the times we put down people who have like, and, for example, like who use Spanglish or who make up words for um when there’s an accurate word for it, but they just mixed it up, or they use slang for and one of his examples was saying When, when, like a Spanish speakers would say like, oh, like my mom is ironing my clothes and stuff saying ironing or planchar, they’ll say planching. So they mix it both. And he was he was kind of saying how that’s a there’s like a term like trans trans language or something like that, where, where language is always moving, it’s always changing. It’s always there’s always new terms kind of portrayed mentioned in their new words to use for other things. But he basically is the saying, don’t put them down for that, like they that’s their language of their time, like their generation within their community, like you should never make someone feel ashamed of certain words that they use when they’re there. Like instead, you know, let them know that there’s two other more accurate words that they could be using for that and more accurate, but two different words. And, you know, that would could could replicate that if they so choose. But planching is a word they can use if they want because they you know, you know what they’re trying to say in context. So there’s nothing wrong with that. So I just found that really interesting. He just made me think about a lot of things I didn’t think of before but yeah, long winded way of just giving YouTube, TikTok users to watch on your free time.


Joshuah Whittinghill 51:39

Perfect. Like, I really didn’t get into TikTok too much. And then all of a sudden, a student said, Hey, you know, TikTok has other videos besides dancing. I said, Okay, so I started searching. And I found you know, I’ve now I found educational ones about teaching in the classroom pedagogy videos, I’ve seen dentist giving advice on how to take care of your teeth and TikTok, me too. So there’s a lot there on TikTok, which if you haven’t even explored it, as Tray mentioned, try something new. Try something that you don’t know is really there. And you may find something that’s interesting, out there for you. And I have two recommendations I want to throw in for the day. One of them is a podcast by Cole Cuchna called Dissect. And it has a number of seasons now. But each season he breaks down an album by a certain artist. He’s he’s looked at the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. He’s had To Pimp A Butterfly recently, he did Childish Gambino album, he’s done a Frank Ocean album. So he breaks down each song. But it’s a it’s really a nice intersection of the power of the language in the song. And it gives you historical facts and things that the artists were talking about and, and thinking when they wrote the music, and then it also breaks down the music part and will actually look at different chords and different arrangements in the song as well. So that’s called Dissect. That’s a great podcast. And the next one is, I think, generational also, in a sense, but I haven’t read the books, but I’ve seen every single movie now is, I get the pleasure to live with a 14 year old and an 11 year old. And so the my 11 year old turned me on to a podcast that she’s been listening to for I think season episode, I think 74 there’s, there’s a hundreds of episodes because this podcast is called Flick and Swish. And so it’s for women, and they are dissecting, I guess they are they’re doing it every episode is one chapter of a Harry Potter book. They’re going through every chapter of the Harry Potter books. So it’s an interesting breakdown of Harry Potter. I’ve been listening to it with her a little bit here. And there. Other times. It’s the power of the podcast, she says, No, Dad, this is my thing. You need to leave my room and let me listen to my podcast. So it’s great that you know, even even younger generation younger people are getting into listening to them and having access to them and stuff like that are appropriate and meaningful. And it provides her she’s read all the books, I think at least once and it provides her that insight to the book to hear about things that she didn’t think of and hears people talking but it’s also great for her to be hearing for women doing it out there and empowered and sending messages about about women in media women in industries working doing things to make other people aware of what’s happening. So those are mine. I will say I learned the last few weeks I the the importance of the word drip now for the younger generation. Right My son is 14 and he’s like I walk out in my my wife walks out in a shirt and he goes man, that’s so drip Mom, you look so drip and I’m like okay, so the power language and learning what they are and not you know for drip if you haven’t heard someone using it. It’s been I guess attributed to even being around for almost more than 16 or 17 years as far as the first time but it means like your fashion is really nice. You’re, you look good, you’re fashionable. So if haven’t heard that one yet. Um, so all right. Thank you, Pa for being here and joining us. That’s been great. They took the time out of your, your busy school schedule. I know it’s hectic in being a doctor program of all the things you are keeping up with plus trying to find time for yourself. Well, thank you very much.


Pa Vue 55:22

You’re welcome. Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed my time. here with all of you.


Joshuah Whittinghill 55:28

Good. It’s always it’s always an adventure with me and places we start these things, we think it’s gonna be a great time and we have these great plans. We never know how it’s gonna turn out. So thankfully, it did turn out great for you. And they have all been turning out great. And Tray Robinson, thank you very much for being here with us taking your time. I know. Just doing things with you. Before working from home how busy you are. It’s great to have you here.


Tray Robinson 55:52

Thank you. My pleasure. I enjoyed the conversation two topics that I thoroughly enjoy


Teresa Hernandez 55:58

Yes, thank you all both so much.


Joshuah Whittinghill 56:01

And Teresa, thank you for being here again with me. I keep I keep expecting one day, I’m going to open up my email or get a text when you’re like, you know what, peace out, Josh? I’m done. No, like I said in other episodes, and we’ve shared in other other meetings and episodes, this has been a wonderful experience for me and Teresa to get to know each other more. And enjoy the time and all the planning that we’re doing but just the time with other people we get to meet people we would never have spent time with or, you know, meet people we wouldn’t have met and also spend time with people we’d like to spend time with. So it’s really turned into a great labor of love as people say. And so, thank you again, we’re gonna sign out with one last musical array here this is one of the this is one of the greatest songs around music I’ll share with you just the first part of it because you’ll it kind of sums up everything for us.


Joshuah Whittinghill 57:04

This is one of my favorites.


Pa Vue 57:09

Yeah, I love her. I was just listening to her this morning, actually.


Joshuah Whittinghill 57:12

Nice. So, all right. That kind of stuff.


Teresa Hernandez 57:17

I’m glad you just stopped it there. I was about to sing along and no one knows.


Joshuah Whittinghill 57:23

Well, I should have let it go then. Dang it. Next time. I’ll get you next time.

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