Image above: “Beat Goes” single cover art | by Ellie Chatman
Welcome to November and a new Cultural Work Roundup! The Roundup is an interview of a local BIPOC cultural worker and the things they’ve been taking in and putting out into the world. APANO recognizes that solidarity is an integral part of cultural change, that our society is built on the disproportionate exploitation and oppression of Black and Indigenous people, and that Pacific Islander communities have been marginalized in the work of Asian/Asian American visibility. So, the Roundup prioritizes emerging Black, Indigenous, and Pasifika artists, as well as emerging Asian/Asian American and POC artists who are doing solidarity work through a BIPOC/intersectional lens. I’m excited to announce our second artist: Jacque Fitzgerald – an embodied equity coach, writer, and musician who just came out with their first record! Read on to learn more about them, how they morph sound to embody their values, and what’s been on their mind.
My full name is Jacqueline Fitzgerald but I usually go by “Jacque” or “Jax” and I use she/they pronouns.
Where do you call home?
Oregon is home to me. Both of my parents are from Oregon. My mom was born and raised here and my dad was adopted from South Korea to a white family in Canby. Home also just feels like where I’m sitting right now in my backyard. Home is with my partner and our dogs on the couch and I’m also realizing as I’m talking that home is also right here [gestures to heart]. Home is in the morning, when I’m in my quiet space just being with myself. Internally, I actually have this house where all my little inner children hangout and I visit them. It’s like this tender internal place that no matter where I am, I’m able to touch into.
What does “cultural work” mean to you?
I equate creation and culture with each other all the time. There’s a creation we make as humans that manifests itself in culture in the way we share meals together, enjoy music, or have conversations and dialogues connected to our values. When I think of a “cultural worker”, I think of someone who is showing up facilitating and nurturing a culture that will inevitably change. Culture should evolve and be responsive to where we are collectively and where we imagine going. I think of embodied equity work as cultural work. Embodied equity work at its core is about values alignment or values re-alignment actually. Oftentimes we know what our values are conceptually but because we live in a reactive and fast-paced culture, we’re not slow enough to be aware of when we’re in or out of alignment with the real meaning of our values. So much of embodied equity work is about slowness, presence, and noticing the feedback from our bodies when we are not walking with integrity. And without judgment, being able to attune to that, figure out what’s going on there, get curious about it, bring compassion to that place, and re-align. Another important element of embodied equity is the concept of multiplicity, the idea that we are a complex system of parts inside. The practice of equity begins inside of ourselves. When we practice bringing care, belonging, fairness, curiosity, and compassion to the most difficult to love and understand emotions, roles, and aspects of ourselves, we can better practice these values in our relationships. So cultural work to me, is about values shifting, values awareness and that always comes back to love for me.
How does your art fit within it?
Anything an artist creates is shaping culture. Especially in times where we’ve kind of lost ourselves as a society. Art is the thing that helps anchor us because it mirrors back to us where we actually are. My music is absolutely a part of shaping that culture, as is every artist’s contribution. I just wrapped up my self-titled record, Echo Onda, and it was released [on October 28, 2022]. I hope my music is reflecting back multiplicity and complexity and that things are not either or, that there’s so much space in between. My record is a lot about intergenerational trauma healing, wisdom, and reunion. It’s about disconnection from place and reconnection to body — it’s a re-membering. I’m multiracial – my mom is white and my dad is half Korean and half Puerto Rican. We actually just discovered our Puerto Rican ancestry during COVID around the same time I was creating the record. It was part of the ancestral healing I was doing and suddenly we found Puerto Rican relatives. Growing up, I always got the “what are you?” question that many of us are familiar with. But finally being able to name [my ethnicity] and point to a place on a map is a powerful and humanizing feeling that I’m still trying to articulate. The record archives that portal to where I am now, which is a place of more internal harmony and awareness. I see that relating to culture because I see how fragmented we are as a species as a whole but even how removed we are from ourselves as individuals in our culture. I understand that fractured identity, that internal fight, and my music speaks to a different way of being that feels possible. We can have so many fractured parts inside of us, but there are ways to bring love to those places and reunite them, connect them, and help them find harmony together. I think what I processed internally while making the album is also the work I’m trying to do in the world as a cultural worker.
What does solidarity look like to you? How does it show up in your art?
My background is in education and social justice education work. Solidarity looks like showing up for people who have been oppressed by systems of oppression: capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and colonialism. That’s everyone, really, but those with privilege benefit from more freedoms, safety, and resources than marginalized communities, of course. In my classrooms specifically, it looked like showing up for my students, especially those who weren’t benefitting from the education system. It also looked like being in solidarity with fellow educators [who are] under-resourced and underappreciated. I worked so tirelessly in that solidarity work that I forgot that solidarity for myself is also super important. How do I keep the parts of me from fighting with one another? How do I get my internalized capitalism that is rooted in the scarcity mindset to relax and trust an abundance mindset? And that doesn’t mean we can go on fancy vacations or buy all the clothes we want, it just means settling into the idea that there is actually enough. The last couple of years have shifted my sense of solidarity towards the land and the climate. We have very real harmful policies and all of the -isms that impact the safety and well-being of marginalized communities that we need to address, and we also have a climate in crisis. The way things are going right now (but hopefully this can be changed in the future), there will be vulnerable communities that are primarily poor, BIPOC communities, people who are disabled, people who have been traditionally more harmed by systems of oppression who will be greatly impacted by the climate crisis. And we all will as a collective species. How can we all come together with all of our gifts and resources to bring real shifts to create a future that doesn’t look like the worst outcome scientists have predicted? I think a lot about solidarity with the land, with the earth, with natural systems, and how we can be more integrated. How can we move like the water and the seasons, and the plants growing? How can we return to a remembered Indigeneity? It’s in us, we already know how to do it, we’ve just forgotten. That’s why connection to the land right here under our feet is so important. It reminds us that while many if not all of us have been in some way displaced from our ancestral lands, that we have the choice to be in right relationship with the land we live on. How could we ever need anything else?
How does it show up in your art?
A lot of the songs I wrote for this album were about coming to terms with intergenerational trauma, fear, grief, and shame: things that have been activated by my life and this body, which actually isn’t mine, but inherited through my ancestors. My grandfather was a war vet in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Through trauma healing, I’ve discovered parts of his post-traumatic stress that was carried to me. How do I reconcile that level of violence that happened for him to survive so that I can be here? How do I reconcile that violence and bring love and compassion to it and understand that actually maybe there was no choice for him in those moments? And that survival is a complicated thing. It has people doing things that are completely out of line with their values, so how do I hold that with tenderness and hold that with care and hold it from a place of love? I think about that similarly with my Oregon Trail ancestors – it’s complicated stuff. They took Indigenous land. It was also a perilous journey that took courage. There’s so much grappling with white supremacy and manifest destiny that is in me. How can I come to peace with the complexity of all of that in order to love myself more fully? I have a song called “Trains and Trolleys” that’s a lot about moving and being too busy to stay with what’s hard. It was a really excavating song for me. It was a lot about grief and loss, but also about bringing compassion to the parts of me that want to survive and think that the unhelpful patterns I’m in, the unhelpful roles I take on, are going to keep me safe. The song helped me make space for different patterns and choices as I questioned whether or not any of those old ways of being rooted in fear were actually true. Those old patterns helped my ancestors survive so that I could be here, but because of the financial and educational privileges I’ve had access to as a result of their sacrifices, I can choose not to live in a reactive, scarcity mindset of survival. My question is always “what do I do with the gift of their sacrifice in order to settle in my true nature and offer back to my relationships and my community”?
What’s your dream, vision, schemings of a liberated future, new world, etc.? How does your art connect to it?
In the height of my burnout, I was frozen in my grief about the climate and histories of violent oppression. So much of me being able to see a vision for the future was being with that grief. Not just the grief from past lifetimes and this lifetime but also from being retraumatized as I was always learning and teaching about systems of oppression and injustice. Grief freezes us in time, in the past. When I think about a liberated future, I think about spaces to heal and to metabolize our grief because when we do not move grief through it’s like a literal freeze in all of our internal systems and in our body. When it starts to thaw, then we’re able to feel things like hope, we’re able to imagine, and we’re able to get to a place of possibility. There’s this great artist, Mosley Wotta, from Bend, OR who is a multidisciplinary artist. He published a piece in Oregon Humanities Spring 2022 Care issue called Care Is the Only Useful Revolution. Whenever I think of the future, I have “care” as this front and center thing where we’ve created basic care for people, roofs over their heads, mental health [support]. I see us normalizing feelings like grief, shame, guilt, and fear so there are spaces held for emotions to move through instead of stuck in us so we’re not walking around as trauma-response zombies, setting off everybody’s pain. I dream about an embodied future where my energy is actually attuned to the people around me, so I can feel into and become curious about what they need. Like the people in my neighborhood and the people on my teams and the people I make music and art with – these are the spaces of care and evolution. I think we can learn from our ancestors and their Indigeneity. I want to be careful there because indigenous ways of being can so easily be appropriated and exploited, but I think we can learn different ways of being through our own embodied Indigeneity that is in better relationship with the planet and natural systems – that memory lives in us. I also want to say that none of these ideas are mine. They are a part of this incredible, interconnected web of thinkers, leaders, healers, artists and ancestors with ancient lineages that have all tapped into wisdom that we’ve forgotten. adrienne maree brown’s book Emergent Strategy came into my life at a time when I was searching for a different way to approach social justice beyond urgency, fight, divisiveness and critique that was leaving me exhausted and joyless. What followed was a period of deep learning about embodiment, being, and my relationship with change from wisdom teachers and leaders like Sonya Renee Taylor, Prentis Hemphill, Resmaa Menakem, Toko-pa Turner, and bell hooks. I was also diving into internal systems through my Internal Family Systems practitioner training, a healing modality developed by Richard Schwartz. I’m so grateful to have been led “back online” through this phase of learning and continued learning. I think of my music and the process of creating my music as sonic multiplicity. It is the literal sound of me harmonizing all of the seemingly disparate parts of myself into wholeness. This includes everything from my love of all decades and genres of music, to my varying more feminine and more masculine expressions, to the timelessness I feel as the past and future arrive in my present, to the self love and belonging I discover as the, at times, isolating and lonely borderlands I live in as a multi-racial person dissolve into just being. If our work in the world is about moving towards a more equitable world of belonging and care, making music helps me embody and practice that. I think that’s the power of art, it offers us access to flickers and sometimes bright lights towards what can be.
photo by Rob Oberdorfer, producer + musician
What have you been getting involved with or practicing that brings you closer to your solidarity work (like groups, meditation, learning circles, etc.)?
My first practice, and I don’t always do it well, is to be as caring to myself as I want others to be with others. I can easily spin out, I’ll take on too much, expend energy in too many places, and before I know it, I’ve become ungrounded and I’ve lost the plot. I really try to stop thinking about time in a capitalistic system and try to embody as much as possible where we are in the season and time of year. One way to do this is asking what is fall for? It’s a time of death, preparing for winter hibernation, it’s also a time of harvesting. With all of that, how do I get quieter? How do I get more attuned to my boundaries? How do I start saying no to things and to not feel guilty about that? How do I sit with grief and be with mortality? Hibernation is really important to me. I plan on disappearing for at least 2-3 months very soon, which hopefully I’ll be able to do! Curiosity is one of my core values that I know has slipped and that I need to sit with more. When I’m not grounded, I can be quick to judge and quick to respond/answer. Curiosity is a core value that I’m trying to keep practicing – it’s on my altar right now which I see every morning and it’s a way to recenter this value. Grace Lee Boggs has been on my mind and her concept of “what time is it on the clock of the world?”. Boggs mapped human history on a time clock and looked at how only the last 5 minutes of history of humanity has revolution been the way that we changed society. This means much of our current understanding of social change is based in violence, conflict, and militarism. It also means that there are other ways to understand and practice change. I’ve been sitting with this concept and being aware of what medicine I need in terms of a wisdom leader or value I need to re-center. Rest is so important to me in a way I never really gave myself permission to have before COVID – it’s one of the great gifts of quarantine/COVID, reprioritizing rest. I’m so excited by the new book, Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. I’m just giving myself full permission to rest deeply and asking myself what kind of rest I need in order to practice presence and wholeness in my life.
What have you been watching that’s been inspiring you and/or informing your vision (from your social media feed, movies, TV shows, any other media)?
I think about how every piece of media out right now is teaching something about where we are, where we’re going, and the values that are embedded in it. I’m careful about binging something like Selling Sunset, being aware of what values are being shown and what values I’m allowing to be around me. There’s a really cool series called Severance. It’s about blindly following the values of an organization. It’s a sci-fi cautionary tale. It’s fascinating because it starts to ask the question of personal versus collective values and I think that’s a very important distinction that I hadn’t considered as dutifully as I think it’s important to do during a time where we’re all seeking truths. While writing my record, I watched recordings of concerts. Watching musicians perform gives me so much permission in all the ways. Peter Jackson, the director for the Lord of the Rings, released a series on The Beatles called Get Back. It follows them up until their last rooftop show in London. Watching John Lennon struggle to find a cord in one of the episodes gave me so much permission to not know what the next step is in making my music. We just assume people come out with a song or a record and forget about the process. As someone who has been marginalized, I tend to give up quickly because I wasn’t told enough that I could be good at [music] and I didn’t see people who looked like me doing it. So that was a really healing thing to witness at just the right time.
What have you been listening to that’s been giving you life (podcast recommendations, a song or album that gets you out of bed, etc.)?
Finding Our Way is an incredible podcast that has been helping me learn about where we are and what’s possible collectively from incredible guests. It’s Prentis Hemphill’s podcast, who is an embodiment practitioner and writer – they are a hero of mine and they do incredible work. I’m constantly in awe of their wisdom and took one of their Embodiment Basics courses through The Embodiment Institute that has supported my Embodied Equity work so much. I also love Song Exploder. It taught me a lot about how to write music. I love the podcast On Being. Their last episode, because they’re in the process of reshaping, featured adrienne maree brown on it who is another hero of mine. Their book, Emergent Strategy, changed my life along with many other books I read about love as a movement from bell hooks, James Baldwin, Sonya Renee Taylor and Resmaa Menakem My favorite record of the year is Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You by Big Thief. I’ve never seen musicians meld in the way this band does. They recorded 40 songs in 4 different cities around the country and 20 of the songs made it onto the record. The songs move in a way that speaks to place, time, and earth and our relationship to mortality and love. Arooj Aftab is a Pakistani artist who produced an album called Vulture Prints. She’s just a force for speaking out about being a woman of color in music and the industry. Isabeau Waia’u Walker is a local Portland musician from Hawaii. She’s also a former teacher who left teaching to tour with Y La Bamba (who I also love) and make music. She had a great album come out this last year called Body. Forest Veil is another local artist that I’ve been watching who centers healing in their music. I wish people would take time to listen to full albums. There’s something so special about sonically soaking yourself in someone else’s sound that changes you.
What’s the last thing you read that moved you (articles, books, poetry, whatever)?
My friend and mentor Dr. Mindy Nettifee, who’s also a somatic doctor in Portland, just put out a new newsletter called In the River of What’s Happening Now. She’s an incredibly beautiful writer and the themes she talks about are so important to sit with. The most recent topic was on mortality and the life we want to live – like really live, not just exist. She also does really in-depth astrology work that parallels the writing. I was weeping while reading her last newsletter!
How do we get connected to your art and/or work?
Since I emerged from quarantine with new roles in the world, I’m in a few spaces as a bit of an experiment with this social media tool that I’ve had to rely on much more as a self-employed creative. Currently, Instagram is the best way to connect with me. My primary account is @jacquelinefitzgerald. My artist account for Echo Onda is @echoonda. I have a record release show this coming Saturday, November 5th at the Old Gilbert Road Tavern in SE Portland at 7pm, playing with an amazing group of friends and musicians. There will also be a birthday cake! If you’d like to support me as an artist there are all kinds of ways, but I’ve also launched an Indiegogo campaign to help the investment I made in myself as an artist reach towards future daydreams for Echo Onda.
If you’re interested in my Embodied Equity work, I can be found on my website www.resonancecoachingpdx.com or @resonance_guide on Instagram. I put out a monthly newsletter you can sign up for HERE. I’ve also started offering monthly classes about Embodied Equity at a sliding scale that people can look out for. I’ll be releasing my winter class series soon.
Be our next featured artist or nominate an artist you know! If you would like to be featured in a future Cultural Work Roundup or would like to nominate someone, let me know by telling me a bit about yourself or the artist you know. The Roundup prioritizes emerging Black, Indigenous, and Pasifika artists, as well as emerging Asian/Asian American and POC artists who are doing solidarity work through a BIPOC/intersectional lens. The interview can be done over coffee, Zoom, or email! You can contact me by:
We’re also sharing local offerings, events, etc. from community members in the Roundup. Send your opportunities to Grace by the 20th of each month!
Date/Time: Saturday, November 19, 2022 from 9:30am-12:30pm
Location: Luna Yoga PDX
Link to register: https://lunayogapdx.com/classes/
Join Valerie Yeo and Amy Estrada at Luna Yoga PDX for a morning of mindful movement, art, and breath. No art and/or previous yoga experience required! Art and yoga supplies will be provided. The morning will begin with a 60-minute gentle yoga movement practice led by Amy (she/her/ella). Following the yoga movement, Valerie (she/her) will lead folks in a collaborative art activity. Amy will then transition the group into a breathwork sequence, and the workshop will end with an opportunity to reflect + connect within our community. In order to increase financial accessibility, tiered pricing is available.
Date/Time: Thursday, November 10, 2022 from 2-3pm
Location: Luna Yoga PDX
Visit Lan Su Chinese Gardens to join Joe Kye, renowned Portland musician and artivist, and his musician friends for a jam session. This is the last installment of Joe’s residency at Lan Su. The special guest is Julian Saporiti of No-No Boy. Think “living room jam sesh” in one of Portland’s most beautiful gardens!
This programming message brought to you by APANO Communities United Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.