Time Traveling in Seattle: Digital Futures, Racial Pasts

by Latoya Peterson

Last weekend, I keynoted at the Washington State Association for Multicultural Education. I was asked to talk a bit about the role of technology in the classroom and multicultural education. They asked what educators should know about how technology impacts the classroom.

After thinking on it, I decided on the core message for the talk: a lot of the issues in technology are the same old problems, wrapped in new packaging.

I opened with a discussion of the changing nature of technology and how it influences children, and then explain how some people are still locked out. Here is the slide deck from the talk:

I’ll be adding rough notes to go along with it soon.

Since I tell a lot of stories in the talk, consider the deck to be a rough outline.

After that, I hosted a break out session on video games and teaching, here are the slides from that:

And created a monster resources page, which is still in process.

The presentation went over well, as both people comfortable and uncomfortable with technology found out new and interesting ways to think about how we discuss and frame technology, and why more people aren’t fully participating in the digital revolution. But the really interesting things started to happen after the talk was complete, and I was given a racial landmark tour of Seattle.

Cynthia Rekdal and Bettie Luke were my guides for the weekend, and between the two of them they turned Seattle out. I hit the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (named for Wing Luke, Bettie’s brother and kick ass social justice activist) and the Northwest African American Museum. Along the way, Bettie spoke her living history, pointing out to me the stories behind the people on the walls, how activists occupied territory to create some of these memorial spaces, the back story behind how a biting public art commentary on the Japanese -American experience came to rest at Pike Place Market, and so much more. It got to the point where Bettie would say something awesome, and I would have to stop her, whip out my flipcam, and ask her to then tell the story, just so I would have everything on record.

Here’s one story, that I was able to upload to Vimeo:

Bettie Luke 3 from Latoya Peterson on Vimeo.

I’m laughing at the beginning, because Bettie goes, “Yeah, this thing is really cool – did you know Chinese opera is part of what brought Bruce Lee to Seattle?” I had been asking her all day to let me know when she was about to tell a cool story, but that is so not how it goes down with the elders.


Latoya: So Bettie, how exactly did Bruce Lee end up in Seattle, thanks to a Chinese Cantonese Opera singer?

Bettie: We are in the room of the Ruby and Ping Chow Gathering Space. This is an example of one of the Chinese opera costumes of Ping Chow. The was this whole kind of brotherhood among Chinese opera families and because of Ping’s connection to the father of Bruce Lee – and not only Bruce Lee, but his brother, Phillip – they were both sent to Seattle. I think the father wanted to get away from the bad elements and the drug elements in Hong Kong. So Bruce was sent here, and he attended school. He went to the University of Washington for a couple of years, before he developed his specialty of martial arts, and started teaching, and expanded from there, and went into films in Hong Kong. And really got involved with the movies and the theaters, and the martial arts. So yeah, he’s a piece of Seattle!

Bettie is a treasure of amazing knowledge, so I am going to put together a few posts based on the images and videos I shot, hopefully for next week. There is so much to discuss, from the Jazz history in Seattle and the Black and Tan club, to internment, to how one goes about preserving history, to the missing sides of the story, to how multiracial organizing was often in vogue, but not always remembered – it’s all amazing. And humbling.

We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.