Hack the Hood is turning five this year, and to celebrate this milestone we are highlighting the young people who have brought their skills and passions to our program. We'll be profiling a different young leader each month, with Tashae being our November feature
1. What made you decide to join Hack the Hood (HtH)? When did you start with HtH?
I learned about Hack the Hood through my brother, who was in the foster system and learned about it through First Place for Youth. He was like, “Hey, sis. You know you trying to get $600 and a free laptop?”, and I [was] basically sold. So in 2015, my brother and I went through the Spring Bootcamp together.
2. What did you learn that was unexpected? Was there anything that surprised you about the program?
I think pretty much everything was unexpected. One of my highlights was seeing folks that were really invested in my growth and ensuring that I knew there were options for me. One takeaway that I learned while attending HTH was the importance of managing client relationships and how to be systematic about it. If you set the stage at the beginning with boundaries and expectations, then you protect your personal well being while also being able to provide excellent customer service to your client. The best part is that it’s definitely a transferable skill!
3. What are your favorite foods?
I enjoy eating ethnic foods! Ethiopian dishes are some of my fav! There's [a] restaurant in Downtown Oakland near Pandora that has the best kale ever. HTH has actually created a website for them before. Some of my other favorites include Korean BBQ, Hawaiian BBQ, Mediterranean and, of course, some good old soul food.
4. What do you do for fun?
I am currently in a phase of redefining what fun is to me. Fun has definitely looked different over my lifespan. Now, I'm in a space where fun is getting together with people I love, experiencing each other, having long, deep conversations, and creating memories. Recently I've really been enjoying outdoor activities, especially when I can just soak up the sun. In addition to relaxation and social bonding, I find that I value the time where I have a chance to be creative and expressive.
5. What’s your favorite TV show?
I currently do not have a favorite tv show, but I do enjoy watching my favorite influencers on Youtube such as Sarah Jakes Roberts and Pastor Mike Todd of Transformational Church. These are young philosophers. They're changing the game around Christianity and what it means to be a believer. It's just a new wave that I'm all about.
6. What are three places you enjoy visiting in the Bay Area and beyond?
One of my favorite places, hands down, is Lake Merritt. I absolutely love the lake for different reasons. I go there when I need peace and clarity. You can go there early in the morning, with some headphones on, and just look out - it's so peaceful. Or you can just hang there with some friends and vibe! It’s also a chill spot at night with your boo-ski for a nice, romantic setting. Another place I hold dear to my heart is Lake Temescal. I was baptized there. It's really gorgeous. I just love any place with a great view, like Grizzly Peak. I've only been there twice because it's so hard to get there, but when I go, I feel like I’m on top of the world. The Joaquin Miller Park is also a really beautiful place where it has great views but it's also a very natural landscape. I've been there once or twice and I want to go back more often.
7. Who are your top music artists?
Right now, I've been working on exploring different genres. I listen to a lot of gospel because it keeps me peaceful. Certain music brings out certain aspects of myself that I want to change and elevate from. So if it doesn't add to my growth, then I try not to listen to it. I love Koryn Hawthorn. She makes gospel music, but it's got a more RnB vibe. India Arie is my go-to. She's very empowering, all about self-discovery and loving yourself. And then we got my man Lecrae. He's also a believer but doesn’t put this music in a box for just Christian music because he makes it to the audience of the world, which is really awesome.
8. Who do you follow on insta?
I actually just recently got back on Instagram, after taking a little hiatus. I’ve been working on trying to get focused and get my vision down. So, now I am slowly getting back on Insta. I've been following @livedeeplyrooted and @clevergirlfinance. It's really good to see other young folks that are on the same path as you are or where you want to be.
9. Where’d you grow up? What do you like about the Bay Area?
My roots are from Oakland, East Oakland to be precise - the town! Woot, woot! The number one thing I love about Oakland is the weather. I've been to Chicago, New York, and a few other states, and the weather’s so different out there. Nothing feels like home. I love Bay Area culture. I feel like there’s a lot of diversity in the way we express ourselves artistically. It can be through the way we talk or dress; we’ve got our own little swag. A lot of folks rap out here and make music. I think that's great. I used to rap a little bit myself - I'm a poet at heart. So I definitely enjoy when I get to see other folks expressing themselves through those channels. Most importantly I love how connected I feel with the communities, through their struggles and to their victories. I guess I'm speaking specifically to the African American and Brown community when I say this, but I feel like I know their stories so well because it's also my story.
10. What’s something you’d like to see change in Oakland? What do you want your contribution to that change to be?
The state’s homelessness in Oakland right now is something beyond what I've ever seen growing up. I've had family members living on the streets for years, and I remember going to those areas. And honestly, I don't know exactly what I can do to make it better other than go out and vote and ensure that I'm staying knowledgeable about politics to make sure that we put people who have the power to create change. On a smaller level, I do work with my local church in which we hand out personal items to the community.
In addition to homelessness, I would like to see more activities and opportunities for our young people to grow! I do feel like the work I do here at HTH contributes to that change. I want our youth to know that they have options, and that's why I'm here as the Community and Career Developer.
11. What do you appreciate about today’s technology?
I appreciate how when you use technology for good, it has the power to create change. I think about one of our partner organizations, Replate. They're bringing food from tech companies to places like Hack the Hood, to homeless shelters and others who are in need. This paradigm of “Tech for social change" is shifting folks’ reality! So I think about people in places like Africa, who have to walk for miles to be provided there most basic needs, and how technology can change that reality. Even in our own backyard, I know right now they're working on a few apps in the Bay Area [to address] homelessness so I think it just has the ability to provide inclusiveness to folks who did not previously have access. When used right, technology can be a platform for change. The good kind.
12. What type of technology do you wish you had, but hasn’t been invented yet?
So for an icebreaker, I’d ask my students what their superpowers are and I’d tell them what mine would be. I’d always say my superpower would be the ability to stop drug abuse, cold turkey. So in connection to this question, I’d love to see technology that could predict behavior before it happens - like if someone was going have a drug relapse and help them prevent that from happening.
13. What would be your dream job? What do you want to be when you grow up?
I've always seen myself becoming an entrepreneur and engaging in large groups giving motivational speeches.
Photography by Christine Cueto.
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