In this episode we talk to Cindy Foley aka B-Girl Singery. She is the President, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Child of this Culture Foundation. In addition, Cindy is a USAF Veteran, mother of 3 children and has a Hip Hop cultural background in community-arts engagement with an emphasis on pedagogy development. She holds a Masters in Human Relations and certificates in Social Justice and Diversity. Also Cindy is the identical twin of Candy.
We chat with Cindy about building a community, developing leadership qualities, growing up as identical twins in a military connected family, serving in the Air Force, fostering relationships and much more.
Going with the twin vibes, we have chosen to make this a two-part interview. In our next episode, we dive deeper into the non-profit foundation "Child of this Culture".
You can find her here:
Welcome to souls of hip hop, the podcast for hip hop head that aims to bring inspiring people together to share their wisdom, passion and unique stories. My name is candy, DJ Razor Cut. And together we are Soulidarity - connecting souls organically. What's up, fam? Thanks for tuning in. Hi, I'm Cindy Foley. I'm Candy's twin sister. I'm a mom, a wife, and a daughter and a sister, and also executive director of child this culture foundation. And I think at the end of the day, who am I, I'm hip hop. And I think that's the best way to put it for my intro there. And I just appreciate you guys. I'm a biggest fan. So being on you guys's show, congratulations on your 100th episode. And the biggest fan because you know, a lot of times when we're thinking about hip hop, the people that I meet are the people who don't know about hip hop, like the way that we know it. So I was just really excited about listening and supporting people I care about. So going into it, and then knowing that wow, these are wonderful, wonderful show. I love all the conversations. And I love listening. And I always have something to think about and reflect. But that representation of these different stories about hip hop culture, I think the practitioners, the helpers, the leaders, that's definitely the kind of stories that I'm interested in. And I'm just grateful to be here. I'm excited to share my story. Yeah, I mean, you basically set it why we wanted you on the show, URL, those things and more. I'm looking forward to our listeners getting to know you. As you said, you're a fan. So you know, the question that we usually kick off our interviews with, how would your mom describe what you do? I think the first thing she would say is the connection to the military, honestly, because my mom's a really proud military spouse, and we're military connected family. So that idea to her I think was it's something that she's very proud of. And so I think she would say first that I'm a veteran, and that I served in military and then now I'm supporting my family, with my husband. Now still active duty. I think the second thing he she would say is that I teach dance. My mom introduced us to dance from the pan mag folkloric style back when we were little. And I just remember thinking like how much I hated it. I hated going to those book org practices, and putting on the skirts. And my mom was engrossed in it. Because if you don't know about the military, connected families, community is so important. And so you've been able to connect like she was able to connect with Panamanians Americans here, United States. And because of that, she was able to connect us to dance. So she took all of us to the international festivals that were close to the basses. She was always part of some Panamanian, American club, and we were dragged along with her, you know, but I think of it now, that kind of example. I do the same thing. When I'm teaching dance. My kids come with me ever since I started teaching, and they're with me when we do the festivals, instead of petting me and folkloric, which now I've included in our programming, but it's breaking. You know, I think she's very proud. So we have a little surprise for you. We actually called Tita asked her how she would describe you. So we're gonna play you her answer. And see how Yeah, yay, a big cry baby. So Okay, here we go. It's very difficult for me to talk about Cindy separated from candy. But I'm gonna do the best that I can. Bolton and candy, since they were little had always been the kind of children, teenagers where they always want to make contribution to society. And in any kind of way possible. They very created about doing things for people. I used to tell candy, that if she wouldn't like animals, I wouldn't have a zoo. But she liked people. So I had all kinds of people. They wanted to contribute to whatever that they were doing. And in terms of their love for arts as a whole, but mostly the love that they have for dancing. I think the reason that they are so into dancing because it's I helped them overcome a lot of the adversities that they have in their life and instead of sitting down and feeling sorry for themselves, they just put all their energy into the art and what Cindy is doing is something that she has been building from the ground. It has been a slow process, but it's shaping now to where, where she can see the labor of her hard work. Because when you deal with people, you have to be very patient. And you also have to be very understanding. And you also have to have that kind of charisma. Because not everybody likes everybody, you have to be able to have that gentleness. And Cindy have that both my daughters have that kind of genuineness to people in the way that I see what she's doing right now is that she's going to give the opportunity to a lot of people, a lot of young people that they Ansari, nobody sees what they doing. And what he knows, the harder it is to be a break. They don't have a gym, they don't have coaches, they don't teach them how to use their bodies, they just slammed himself on the floor and heard themself and nobody says Ouch, nobody, nobody complains about it, because they want to be the best of the best. They don't stretch, they don't have no techniques. So which is doing now is creating the system where they can see themselves as real athletes. So she's doing what she always wanted to do contribute. She is a contributor. She's an innovator, with my daughter. Yeah, you know, in that creativity, you know, when you're thinking about like creativity, and just decisions that you're making, you try to say, Who are the people that set certain examples, I have all kinds of different examples. But I think in our family, the women in our family were bold, and, and so those examples of boldness, you know, definitely comes out for sure when we're doing certain things. But that doesn't mean that we're loud about it. You know, I'm saying that we're, you know, I think a lot of people, when you think of bold, you think that we have to be loud, we have to be screaming, we have to be you know, I think my approach is a little bit different when we talk about boldness, and contributions. And then again, you know, when we got into braking, my sisters were younger. So being an all women crew, young women, crew, and Florida, she went with us for those first few jams. Many of them actually, I think about it, because she had to check out where we're going to bring my younger sisters to. And just like anyone else, just like we were engrossed in it, it was positive. And she can see why we were doing it. Because we were expressing ourselves, we were being active, and she could tell that we wanted to be excellent at what it was that we were doing, you know, out of all of us, she's really into sports, my mom. So she understand the athleticism, you know, being a teacher for so long and dealing with young people for so long in her own career. And so I can tell, you know, her honesty, you can't mess with her, ya know, those kids, you've worked through that tough school, you can't mess with her. She'll tell you how it is. But that was lovely, thank you for that, to hear her talk about us, you know, because we're not the kinds that we're gonna sit there and talk about each other and how we feel about each other in that sense. I mean, we're very open about our feelings. But when you have to ask the right questions, you know, that was lovely to hear, and makes me proud again, to even that she understands us so well, when it comes to hip hop culture, in our route in our journey in it. So that's pretty awesome. Thank you for that didn't cry too much. I look at my left eye was teary right here. What was your first encounter with hip hop culture? And how did you get into breaking? I think this is really cool, because I like to hear your perspective on it. And I think it's a really interesting perspective to be twins. Yeah. When I tell this story to friends who have no idea that I'm even engrossed in the hip hop culture, or hip hop in general, it's really interesting for me to tell it because at that time, as a young person going to college, I had other things that I was pursuing. And one of those things was end of college, I was going to commission into the United States Air Force as an officer. And so for me, you know, in high school, I was very goal driven. And so like, you read my yearbook, and I had very set goals in the yearbook about what goals I wanted to reach. And so I was in pursuit of that. And all of a sudden, hip hop came along, as well. So we always dance and we love dancing. And we were very confident dancers. We were very versatile in our dancing. And honestly, it was because we were just having a good time being young. in Orlando, the scene for clubs and the dancing scene was really why because you have all the entertainment industry, with the universal and you have Disney so you have that industry of dancers around you. And so those created a lot of opportunities when you went to clubs. Because people love dancing and the vibe of dancing was so much fun. I personally, but we loved it. But you know that summer 98 that's what I guess when I was start, you know, obviously when you hit pop music, and I loved hip hop, music, r&b, jazz, I loved all that kind of music. But when you think about really getting connected to the culture, understanding, I would have to say at the Summer 98, my mom went to Panama for that summer. And our stepdad had passed away that spring. And so she was going out to see family, but we were we were in classes, and we were doing school and things. And so she was like, you're gonna have to feed yourself because you guys have jobs already, you know, our part time jobs. So here's the house and you got to feed yourself. And so we would go to clubs and everything. And we went there was like, the rave scene in Orlando was really big. So the clubs would be open until like, early morning. And there was a club called cyberzone that we used to love dancing at, that had a battle. We didn't know what that's what it was, it had a sign that said $500 dance battle or, and we were like, we're the best dancers in town, we can totally do this dance can't. And so we when we were getting ready $500 was in our pie. We were already talking about what we're gonna buy. We're gonna go to Orlando ale house and good parmesan chicken, like we were already, you know, because we were hungry. We're like, so anyway, we get over there. And the promoter of the events that we couldn't enter because we were girls basically. And that just and also because it was a break dance competition. Honestly, candy and Carla and Amy, they probably knew more than I was just kind of like, right dance, what's break dance. So then, but I put on my little like, whatever this is, and this person telling me, I don't know, I can't do it. We need to figure this out guys, because that dance contest is ours. Like they just took $500 from us. And apparently it was like every week they're having this contest, right? So we go to the only place that you could go to at the time to get information, which was blockbuster. So we go to blockbuster. And we're like breakdance, wherever it breakdancing is let's get every VHS video we can get. And we watched all of them Beat Street breaking one breaking two, we watched whatever was in there. And very quickly, we realize that whatever This dance is, it's hard because we couldn't do we like did to move, I think to this attitude of optimism. And we've always had that a lot of people are like, How can you be so happy? And how can you be so positive? And I would say to people, it's a little different. We were just talking about that. Yeah, it's cool to be happy outside. But being happy inside is really kind of awesome. Right? So that's just something we did. And I think because we went through all kinds of adversity, that being optimistic, was hopeful. And we never like my mom said being able to utilize different ways in order to push forward was just a good habit that we had. So we got three moves. And we even had a strategy that we were going to go in and work the floor and pretend like we're against each other. Long story short, we made it into the battle. And I'm very happy that there's no social media video, Snapchat, because we pretty much rolled around the grounds. And granted, we had like we still had dance skills. But when we're thinking about breaking, we just did our interpretation what we thought at the time. This is where it gets really interesting. That second week, obviously we didn't get into a second week, I was actually supposed to go to the Air Force Academy and fly gliders for two weeks. That was kind of cool. So for me, it was like kids style, right? We'll go to the club, and we're gonna win the $500 and then drop me off at 6am to catch the plane to Colorado Springs. When we lost the battle, the crew that one came up to us and started talking to us and asking us what crew we were in. And it was very confusing because I personally had no idea what he meant by crew. we called ourselves the regulars because we went to lots of clubs and we were regular there to the point where the club let us in because they like our vibe. And me when we were talking about clubs, we went to the country club in line dance. We went to the salsa club, we went to the 80s Club, we went to the rave club went to every single club and we just loved dancing. There. We meant school methods. At the time, we were like wow, their mothers named them abstract and technique and venom with interesting names. It was really interesting to meet them because right then and there, they taught us you want to learn something, and we said yes. And right there. They taught us top rock six death. And the reason I know for sure that's what it was was because we left that night, my sisters and my friend dropped me off at the airport. And I took two weeks when I was at the Air Force Academy practicing that and I had no No idea because back then we didn't have phones or anyway, honestly, I can't even believe I got picked up from the airport afterwards. And here I had this journey, which was amazing. I got to fly an airplane that didn't even have an engine for two weeks. That's just I got to see mountains. It was just really cool. having that experience. And I just remember bringing my top rockin six step into baby freeze. Like that's what would they taught us that first thing right? When I get back? That's is that short story? Oh, cool. I flew airplanes. When I got picked up from the Orlando airport with my sister, my cousin and our friend Amy. They're like, boom, you've got to come. We have so much to tell you. And I was like, Yeah, awesome. I want to know, I was just so excited. And they introduced us to the basically the hip hop cultural scene in Orlando was the little hip hop store called homelands and owner, there was just all about sharing, then hairs were really changes the little, just the way that hip hop store looked. This is a culture. These are the four elements come in here, look at this. And we were I was like this just like, yes, absorb it, absorb it. And it was so great. Such a beautiful memory. And when you walked in, there was just like the winning floor, the DJ, set the graffiti, and there's like a TV with the VCR. And then they're showing me videos. And then they're like, you have to see this video. And it was honey Rockwell speaker video. It was, wow, more women do this. whatever this is. And that's where the learning started. I think in Florida, what really when I really reflect about it, I was just talking to some of the school methods members. What was it that wanted you guys to share this? They were just like, that's just what how it was passed on to them. It was just, it was shared on to them. And they obviously they saw potential. And also, you know, we were cute. I mean, we were really cute. We're so cute. But I mean, we were cute, too. I mean, I think that helps. But I think we were strong. We were athletic. I mean, I think all those things. And then we got serious right away, we wanted to learn and absorb and train. And I think they saw that. But I think also too in Florida, after we started getting into the scene, many people shared. And I'm so grateful for that. Because it's the kind of attitude that I have now those examples of it, if I would have gone into the culture, some in a place where it wasn't shared the way that it was shared to me that I wouldn't have that example to carry on. I think those kind of things were the things that were important to me when I'm passing it on. Because just like them, that's how it was passed on to us. And then also we were introduced to it together as women, we did it together. So it was it was a collective journey. I'm grateful because I came into this world with candy. So our baby girl story is a collective journey. And that made us stronger, because we were able to encourage each other because breaking is hard. Like my mom was saying she saw us training and learning and practicing. And it's it's a very difficult art form. It's not an easy art form. That's why I think it's hard to view it and understand what's happening. Because a lot of people who don't know about it, they don't understand how easy we make it for people to view it seems easy. But just like when we first started, you watch the videos in the movies. And you're like, wow, and you're thinking in your mind, oh, I could totally do that. And then you're like, Whoa, gravity doesn't work that way. Straight doesn't work that way. Like you have to train you have to learn and you also really at the end of the day have the right people sharing it to you with the right purpose and the right intentions. And I think we lucked out. Honestly, I've absolutely blessed it. The way that we were introduced to it was in that way, in a good intention, way, in a positive way. And in a loving really at the end of the day, compassionate way. So I think for the listeners that don't know you, it's important to point out, you and Kandi are identical twin sisters. And then your mom had another set of twin sisters. So the floor angels were two twins plus two twins, plus your cousin Karla. So it's like a whole female collective that is not just random women coming together. But it's like also a family. Yeah. And because we were family, we again, we're strong in loving each other through it. So I think you're absolutely right. Thanks for pointing that out. Because sometimes we forget to mention that that our sisterhood was already created because we were family, but also to when you're jumping into something as a young person, it helps to be there with people you already trust so that you can protect each other in those uncertain times. Fortunately for us, we didn't really have that many uncertain times. Honestly, like, our scene was safe. Our scene was positive and fun. I mean, I don't foresee us not doing it. For so long in those early years, if it wasn't a positive fun thing for us, because we weren't going to waste time, doing something that wasn't going to give us, you know, even in those immature use a mature times, but younger times, we were all very driven in different goals, and different values and examples of things that we wanted to reach. And so as we're diving into the cultural hip hop cultural scene, if it wasn't something that was giving us something positive back, and we were able to give it back to them, then I don't think we would have even to this day, still doing that. We were really into the breaking aspect. But I think simultaneously, we were introduced to all the elements. And so that idea of your baby girl, and you got to know all the elements, the whole idea of like, what makes a baby girl be like all these kind of questions like, you have to like rep this and you have to be that and but we didn't just get people to share breaking with us, we got people to share all aspects of the culture with us, like in depth. And I think that's just because we're those kind of people like we love like you we dive into something we want to know everything. And the best way for us, I think, you know, that's really, you know, kind of going with mom was saying was we want to know people. And so you know, if you're telling us, there's four elements, well, let's go let's find out, let's connect, let's learn. We're very open like that. And I think that helped us create relationships that, you know, we still haven't lasting, but it but I personally loved it, because I love to express myself in multiple ways. So being able to be introduced to writing and then you realize quickly, like, I can't count to four. So I'm not going to be a DJ, at least I understand about about DJing MC we wrote, I mean, we all loved poetry. But now hip hop gave us this other avenue to utilize poetry in such a beautiful way. We I think we did like one or two records or something with some friends and realized quickly, no, I don't like being in a little box trying to record my voice. I think what I learned about it was another way that I can cope another way that I can express another way that I can share what I feel. And does anybody need to see it? No, I have it for myself. And that makes me happy. And so I thought what a beautiful culture that is because when you looking at different cultures for us, we're multicultural, just because we're half Panamanian, half, American Samoan, right. So a lot of times you meet people, we have to educate. So when you're looking at different Heritage's and cultures, and then you get into the hip hop culture, it just aligned so well, at least for me, in different ways that I can express share live, think, what advice would you give your teenage self? I was pretty awesome. I don't know, guys. You were pretty awesome. No, I think when I say I was pretty awesome. I think I would say hey, you don't know it all. You know, but I think that was just a coping mechanism. Because when you go through a lot of adversity, and you're pushed through a lot of things, again, this optimism and hope but there's also work, and there's reality, right? So how do I balance that? And for me, it was confidence. So I would say, hey, you don't know it all. Take a breath, relax, you know, is what I would say. I think she would tell me now is you got this. Let's go Stop playing around. And I've definitely heard her voice lately. Because I think we get to a point in our times, life happens. And you prioritize, right? And I think the shift of prioritization, being able to compromise those things that, you know, you're capable of the goals, the things and how do I balance that out. And the cool thing about it is going, the opening is here, be prepared. So you can step into it. And you can do it your way. I think it's hard for certain people to see strong women honestly, I've always been around strong women. I think that's just a habit of mine. I gravitate around having good sisterhoods and a circle of women around me wherever I go, that I can connect and and be in like mindedness. And then the cool thing is we were all different. But that part of us is intelligent and smart, that we can be innovative, that we can be creative, that we can support each other. And so I think that that's been something that I've been able to carry along through my life that gives me a lot of more encouragement. But yeah, a lot of people be like, dang, okay, you know, it's like confidence and arrogance. I think it's a different thing. Confidence is going hey, I've prepared for certain things and I'm self aware about the things that I'm capable of. And that self awareness also makes me very realistic about what I can't do. So a lot of times People aren't used to seeing hearing that. I don't say I can do everything. I'm very clear about what I can't do. Yo, I'm so sorry. I really don't know anything about that. But you know what, let me see if I could talk to somebody else that could help. And being able to be self aware, like that is important. When we have goals, I think, because sometimes it's hard pride, ego, blah, blah, blah, gets you in it distracted and going. failed. And going, Okay, well, let's reprioritize for me, I love failure, honestly, because then I go, Okay, how far did I get? How close was I? You're not sad? Oh, yeah, absolutely disappointed. But how close was I? What else do I need to do? If it's something that it's important to me that I know that I'm going to make it and do it? Then there's no stopping? Then there's like, okay, cool, this step, this step, this step. And I think that that takes a lot of patience. Because goals sometimes take a while to achieve. I'm a mom, you know, the minute that you decide to share your life with someone else. And this service of love is happening, right? So when you decide to serve, have this servant leader, not only just your community, your religion, but when you have relationships that you want to invest in, and those relationships create more commitment, then you have to compromise. That's just how it happens. So that means that when you have that servant attitude to others, that you have to prioritize and compromise some of the things that you feel were important. The cool part about it is, I think, when we communicate those things with those that we love, it makes it easier for them to prioritize you as well. And I think that part, but it does take a lot of patience. And then you don't reach them sometimes, you know, and going, Okay, is it worth it? Then you evaluate that, and you do two things. One, let it go. Or to keep going. I try not to stay in the middle of it. Because it's just distracting. Let me think about it. No learning got one go. Maybe I'll come back later. But right now it's gone. Or, okay, how far I Where did I learn? How can I learn? You know, was it relationship? Was it just, you know, strategy was it? What was it was it timing, and then again, I have lots of helpers. I don't know. I don't know about you guys. But you know, doggy paddling through life is hard. So being able to have helpers along the way looking and finding those helpers, seeing examples of where you can be a helper has been something that I'm also that's helped me enjoy this journey called life. So I grew up with her listeners are getting all the gems that I've been getting my whole life. I love the story of you changing identities in school. So saying, Can you talk about how the experience was for you? Because I've heard this story many times from candy. And do you think you could still pull it off today? Yes, the answer is yes. And yes, I would love to tell this story because I feel terrible for my sister because I had these ideas. And very young I've always been able to be aware about the surroundings. So even like being twins like we look the same. And you know, I think those shows there was a couple movies or something it must have like I don't think I had the idea just out of nowhere. I'm sure there was one of those like twin movies and going nobody could tell us apart anyways, but I think the first time we that I remember that we switched was first grade. Totally my idea. I would probably say yeah, yeah, totally my first of all, I was like, what were you're like, looking at me like, dude, we look alike. Yeah, I was like, I know but they're gonna tell what do you mean you're like no look No, this is what you do out you go in here even thinking about it it's like wow, I can I imagine Joseph with if he had a twin doing this but yeah, and I just said hey, you're me I'm you go in here. And you know, lunchtime if we see each other we'll switch out. And it didn't work out. Because the entire time I was nervous as hell the entire day. Like anxiety driven like, Oh my gosh, we're gonna get in trouble. Everything that could possibly go wrong. They're going to tell it's not you. And I just chewed up my eraser so bad like it's like, dented together. There's no more racer left. Basically, that's what happened. You wrote your name. It wasn't my name. I have no memory of anxiety whatsoever. So I don't know. I must have I had I wrote my name. We got the teachers. We're gonna be like the movies, you know. And by the way, the movie, they never got in trouble. Did they get kicked out of school? I mean, there's, there's never like there wasn't like this moment where they all went to jail. You know, as first graders. I remember that. They got both of us and they were like, this is not the right one. I mean, I'm sure in the teachers lounge stay like cracked up about the whole thing. Because I put my name down. And it was like some little quiz or something. I think that's what freaked me out was like, Oh my god, you have to take a test for you. Then my racer is no longer existent on my pencil, the only pencil I have. And she takes my little hand away and she looks down and sees like the ripped up candy name and she goes, are you candy? shaking my head up and down. And then you're over there super chillin, like, yeah, I see my memories that we did it and we got away with it just right before the end of the day. And I don't even think I remember being like upset or anything with you or anything. Like I was like, hey, it's okay. I do remember that. You were kind of like, we're you know, we're doing this again. Like, yeah, new life. So that's what I was gonna say. I was gonna say like, Okay, so let's, um, next time, let's make sure you have like three pemain. Next time, you're literally like an eraser, a solid eraser? Well, it was a while until later because we didn't do that a while until we got Middle School. No, we did it again. The next day says literally the next day. Again. Yeah, no, that sounds right. That sounds right. And then we got away with it the next day, and they were looking at as hard. We were so identical seriously says we sound the same. We look the same. Like honestly, guys, what twins wouldn't do this. If they were I mean, this is the things that people who wish they were twins would do. We did it a lot. I mean, we did an eighth grade. You know we did in high school. We didn't college. I think it's one of those cool twin powers that we were able to do. And it makes for fun stories. But we actually did it. Our younger sisters, they're twins are identical as well. The one of the most fun stories that I have, we didn't switch but we were just recently talking about this. Because of all the work that we've been doing that sometimes it seems like how are these people doing all of this. And when we were in track in high school, candy was like the ultimate track star. And I was the ultimate teammate. Track. You would think twin powers, right? No twin powers, you would think that I would be just as fast that the basketball would go into the net, that I would kick the ball into the goal, or any of those athletic things that you would think now I was athletic but not as athletic as my sister. I think the coaches were always like baffled about why the other twin wasn't as fast or coordinated or strategy thinking. But what I did have and this is what I teach my kids is effort, I have 100% effort, and if you need someone to cheer you on I will be there. So in track if those who have run track or not run track, you have all these different events and it's individual you know, but the team score is depends on what points you get in and how you place throughout the track me candy ran all the really important sprint runs. I did all the leftover things like shotput coach would be like go pole vault, go do run the hurdles. Cindy go run the two mile don't come in last do not come in last. And so I would go I would go do right. So when you look at the score sheet, our initials are the same. And you would think there's candy superstar all the way you know the team doing amazing she always either top 3123 and her scoring you know if she wasn't first or second, she was at least top three. And then there I go all the other events placing making sure I wasn't last in the shotput making lead discus hurdles. And so they were like this is like Bionic Woman, whoever this young teen is, is like taking over the whole me. So that's some one time. But like our sophomore year, you were in the newspaper and our small little town and Biloxi Mississippi, because we ended up going to state champions because of all those little points that Cindy had. And then Cindy running the two mile and literally her last 200 meters was like if she was running the 200 meter sprint. And she would just run in those last two just to get those last points so that we can be the winning team. And there's a picture of her and it's in the newspaper of like all this effort. He my husband loves about that because he's like how would you have a trophy that says last place? I get a trophy for last place. And so he cracks up about that all the time. And I'm like taught me a lot because it's going if you're not in the race, what are you going to win? You're not putting yourself out there. Whether the results zero so try, try try try. I think that those let that's definitely a lesson. Yeah, who knew right? I was just trying to be part of the team. And that meant that I was going to give 100% in that effort. And if my coach told me what to do, and he said, You need to do this, then I would do my best to to try to reach that, you know, because I committed to being part of the team. But I think also saying, okay, that's impossible. I was good at basketball. So already automatically, it was pressure for me to play basketball. But I also was interested in learning how to play soccer. And I wanted to give it a shot. Cindy was like, I got you. I'll just go to basketball practice. off day. Yeah, they're not gonna know, I just have an off practice. At least go and try and try out for the soccer team. If you don't make it then No, you know, and if you do make it, okay, that's a future you problem. But you want to try and and so we were able to make situations that people told us that there was no way to do it. We found a way and ended up that I ended up not only making the soccer team as a junior varsity, but I ended up making the varsity team and I ended up being actually pretty good at goalie, which was a new thing. And so it worked out that year that none of the official games were on the same days. And so Cindy just decided to practice basketball for me and some of the practical the coach was like, the coach was like, What is going on? And I was just like, I just saw the weather coach. I mean, I my layups were terrible, like, I just off and candy was, of course, point guard. You know, I think that's cool, too. Because I like to talk about this. You have to channel something that, that you're like, let me turn on. Okay, because I want to be I'm candy right now. I'm candy right now, even though my body doesn't know how to shoot. I look like I know how to shoot. I'm not saying I'm not saying how terrified. I look. I mean, I got the skills to lock like, whatever. But you were better at defending. So those practices like that other days that I would practice, he would be like, why are you defending like yesterday? What happened? You know, just like least you're making some shots today to win power, wind power. But yeah, I think his ability to go can't can't can't I don't even know what that means. Let's try. Yeah, that think that attitude? Let's try. Let's see what we can do. And then also, who can we meet? Can we connect with to help us? So you mentioned it earlier. But I think it's a very interesting part of your history to not only are you a veteran, but you grew up in a military connected family. And you grew up in many different places around the country. How do you think that shaped you as a person? I think it did a couple things. I think when we were growing up, moving from the northeast to the south, you know, now as an adult, reflecting on those times, we spent some time in New York, in Long Island, New York, my stepdad, his family was from there. And so those memories for us, they were, you know, me I was a mix. But when we're talking about shaping, I think when I talk about social identity and how I fit into the world, I felt more connected there, then when we moved to the south, and there's very vivid, you know, when you think about those situations of racism, and how communities are reflective of that racism, I it's really interesting, the memories that I had there in those experiences, and then also the different side, because, you know, that's the crazy part about this, the nation or United States is so diverse. And the people really are loving and compassionate. So even I have, you know, I think about those instances, and I'll talk about that in a minute. But I just want to say like my friendships that I made, you know, during that time that we were lived in the south, like we lived in Mississippi. And those friendships that I made there, and those examples of people I take with me right now, especially those examples of adults, like the parents of friends that we had are very vivid in me in going and seeing number one that my own family was different in where they fit in on the socio economic situation. And then also on the loving family situation to you know, when you have these different examples, but really dealing with race. I think that that was something very vivid that you didn't realize how different you were because you were going into a place that you really stuck out like a sore thumb. And because you had this multicultural Look, the people in that area. We didn't have any other examples. So trying to fit us into what they thought we were supposed to fit into. was really interesting to experience. I mean, I have a very vivid memory of all of us going to the movies and driving back From the movies, and you have a truck of men screaming at our car, because my stepdad was dark skinned Panamanian and my mom is a light skinned Panamanian. And so they assumed that it was a, you know, and he's Jamaican descent. So you hear you have a black man and a white woman in a car with their children in the back. And they were screaming racial slurs for like the whole ride to the point where my dad didn't drive home, he drove away. But they were just, they thought it was totally fine to harass us. on a road, on a Saturday afternoon, my family's just going to the movies, you know, and I think we were like 12, or 13, when that happened. And I remember being really confused about did these people know us what is going on in my mom being has feisty that she was screaming, screaming, call the police this and that my dad was just like, shaking his head, like, calms down, I'm just basically going to get us out of the situation, of course, we're not going to call the cops like, at this time, like, we're just going to make sure they don't know where we live. But that's the kind you know, of isn't one of example where you have the real instance of racism that exists. And when you think about that, that was a really heightened racial time in the late 90s, here, we're in the southern state, then you have something absolutely different that I experienced their love and compassion from caring people, because we have this military connected family. And we have a military connected community. And that community in itself is absolutely different than the community that you walk out on base, you know, you go into base, and you have this community that understands the sacrifice that the people in that community are having. And I'm grateful for those experiences, I'm grateful for knowing that the Filipino family down the street, you better go over there and eat from their food, because they're gonna put it out the blog parties of the different cultures that you had in those blog parties, my mom, you know, in her relationships, because she's very social person, being able to have these communities that we support each other, these multicultural experiences that allowed me personally to understand that it's okay for me to be different. And it's okay for me to be who I am, and celebrate that, you know, but also not be naive, that there's other people out there that don't see good when they're looking at you. You have to be you can't be naive to that. You have to understand what are the rules, so that you know how to break them? Honestly. You know, a lot of people are my friends who probably know it, I'll be like, hmm, how far can we really go? Here's the line, can I get right here? Can I get a little bit closer? And then if it's totally screwed up, can I just cross it, if it's not healthy, if it's not safe, can I cross it. And so I think those experiences really helped me understanding it, and then now still living it built for, for this kind of lifestyle that I chose, it's not hard, being able to be very flexible with our time. Our time is so precious. So as a family, we prioritize our time, so that we know that we're together, even in just the daily, daily of lives, but we always take time for our family to regroup and come together. And honestly, that kind of gives us that little hopeful goal. And you know, it's like, how many vacations does Cindy go on? I'm like, it's not a vacation because of the lifestyle before I when I was a veteran, you have your duty to what you committed to do, you know, and it has its benefits for sure. It's a great lifestyle. But it's not for everybody. It really isn't. Because the sacrifices are for real. You know, the profession of war is for real. We don't want more we don't support in the sense of like having to go to war and but if you have to on grateful that we do our best in every effort to fight for freedoms, and for the ideals of our country, even though obviously we all know, I've experienced it, we haven't reached it there. And when we're talking about hip hop culture, I can utilize and I do that same thinking because I'm not naive to where hip hop culture comes from. But my story in it is at a different stage of where it is. So we have to not be naive to the youth taking it where it is. But now as an adult just like anywhere else before I was young. So You look up at your, the people who are leading the elders and this and that, you listen and learn. But now it's our time, because our children are watching us. And they're going to reflect what we gave them. Even my children, being able to now be part of that military connected family in those communities, helps me understand what real community looks like, so that we know how we can contribute, you know, when you have a good example of what community looks like, then you can emulate that. You can't share what you don't know. It takes practice, it takes Knowledge Building, it takes, you know, collaboration, it takes partnership, you can't go, this is it and you've never experienced it, you somebody told you, I wouldn't recommend that route. In my experience, understanding what community really looks like is living it. Just like hip hop, what can I take in this to cope that's going to help me be positive, it's going to help me cope in a healthy way or in a way that, you know, helps me grow. That's the attitude and mindset that I have when we're thinking about community. And Florida gave me a good example. In those golden era years that I called my golden era years. You know, again, it wasn't perfect, because what is, but how can I utilize those lessons, those examples that mentorship to put into what we now have from the floor angels crew now to chubs culture, nonprofit. Why did you decide to serve? And why did you choose the Air Force? The cheesy answer, but it's true is patriotism. I think that I really enjoyed watching my mom come from Panama to United States and speak English and even her discrimination of her accent. I also watched her have opportunities and suck every opportunity out of anything that she could do. And I saw that and thought I could do that too. You know, and then also, it was a job at the time a 2000 a month, dude, there weren't jobs in the sense of people trying to get jobs out of college. And I think there was a self awareness as a young person that I needed that structure that I knew that I was kind of like loved everything. And it was a little confused about where I was going, that being able to have a job and maybe get some skills, and then I can figure it out along the way. And then when I did the whole Junior ROTC in high school, but again, I did everything. So I was a cheerleader. I was in every club, I was anything academic, I was in every single thing that I can do to just figure myself out. And I did the same thing in college. But I think that security was important, because watching my family not be as financially secure, was definitely something that I didn't want. And I felt like okay, well, you know, even my dad had mentioned, like, you need to go in as an officer, and we were college bound. But during that time was really tough, because his whole journey of suffering through cancer, and then dying of cancer, right at, you know, that spring of 98. And also having to go and cope with the fact that he just wasn't a nice person. You know, he provided those basic things as a father or stepfather. But at the same time, there was a lot of suffering in there. So I think as a young woman trying to handle that situation and going, how do I feel about all of this, and then all of a sudden hip hop culture comes along, and then also an opportunity to go off and do something more than myself? Like, I totally love it. And it was like, Yes, I want to do something more for the world. I feel like this is the right way to do it. And I feel like I'm the right person to demonstrate it because I looked around and I didn't look like anyone else. And I thought okay, well, maybe I can be a little different. When you talk about the military. Yeah, it has its own ideas and things like that. For me, it was positive, because I got to meet amazing people, just like anywhere else. I think anytime you get to choose something, look around at the people around you, because that's where the longevity is. It's not necessarily in the work. At first, when you're just starting out entry level, I think it's really about the people around you. For us in the military. Even now in veterans, I can meet a veteran and just like that, just like we can meet a B boy, B girl like that, right? You meet them and you just have that connection to the core essence of what it is and that activity or that work or that purpose. And I think that that's one of the big things. If it wasn't about the people around me, I don't think I would have stayed as long as I did. And you know, I'm grateful because you know, my best friend and I married is also one of those awesome people. So that's been pretty cool. Anytime Like entry level wise, I met some really great friends are still friends with me now. And then also, what are those values in the work that you're doing? Do they complement who you are? For me it did. You know, I believe in integrity first and service before self and excellence, and all you do I believe those core values of the Air Force ads. And so the structure for me, yeah, I had the wacky hair and I had to pull it up, I had to follow the rules. And and there was a lot of failures in understanding what was needed in order to achieve a certain amount of experience and credibility. And at the end of the day, excellence, because it really meant that it could be detrimental to somebody else's life, you know. And when you think of it like that, it changes your whole mindset, you want to get that extra study, you want to get the extra sleep, make sure you're taking care of yourself, you'd want to make sure that you're physically fit. And you know, those requirements. I mean, it's great to just meet the minimums, if that's all you're capable of. And that's all you can do. But if you can achieve a little bit more, get that a little extra practice, get, you know, for me, it was ensuring that the person next to me, had full confidence of my capability and credibility in order for us to get the mission done. And I think we could take that stuff to any kind of work or job experience. But yeah, look around you, dude. If you don't like the people that are, then you need to look in the mirror to because you're a reflection of that. But there's a difference too, though, guys. It's also like leader follower, right? Because I've been in groups where I'm the follower. I love, I love following Can I follow I love following. Because I only responsible for like one small thing, right? You're not in charge, and you get to add, but if you look around you and it's a mess, then you need to look at yourself first and go, okay, am I contributing to this mess? And if you're not, then going, Okay, how can I help a little bit? If I'm not if I'm the follower? How can I help the leader shine? You know, is it relationship things? For me, it's always a relationship thing, because I enjoy communicating and I am into relationships. So how can I make the group help? What's going on with the leader? How can I help the leader, get the message out, you know, so that we can meet this thing? And then if you're the leader, then the opposite thing to Oh, my gosh, this is what what are we working with here? Okay, this is what we're working with. If you don't have a choice of who the group is, you got to work, what you got, then, for me personally was been helpful and successful has been to personally understand the other person's story, so that you can somehow understand what motivates and influences them. And I think that that's not like a manipulative thing. That's just a leadership thing. How can I you know, because everyone has their strengths. So how can we gain all their strengths? How can I first I gotta be aware of those strengths, so that I can utilize those strengths for us to like kick butt? Or you definitely do. You just gave us like a really good synopsis of both sides of the coin right, of following and leading, are there any memorable experiences are moments that you could share with us, you know, in training, or when you're in active combat that really stand out for you? Yeah, so my job in the military, I was a computer operator on a command and control aircraft, it had like 23 members and a big radar on top. And when you would fly, they kind of kept accountability and kind of the game plan of all the airplanes that were flying missions in certain conflict areas. So my job was a single person job, but I was part of the team. So even getting that hunker thing off the ground takes a team, figuring out what your roles are, is really important. You know, everyone has their specific role. So focus on what you're doing. You know, so in my case, following wise, I had to be part of a crew, and I had to understand what the mission was and what everybody else is Parson, so that I know where I fit in. When we're talking about flying and combat, it's a lot more boring than then when you say it, right. But it was crucial and important of what we were doing out there. Yeah, there's conflicts in the world. And we're out there to ensure that, you know, those initiatives and national strategies that the government has given us are met. And so when you're in it, just I think a lot of times, you don't really realize the magnitude of the situations because you're just doing the job that you were trained to do. And in this job, which was really interest really technical. How do you fit in that and then the growing of that if you don't have a good base, it's just like anywhere else the foundational along the way now When you get to lead, so now you shift into entry level to kind of mid level. And that's kind of as far as I got in the military was around this mid level range was you have to be good at your job in order to teach, and in order to evaluate. And I was blessed to lead in those capacities, because that's kind of the route that you go in. And so when you're talking about leading, again, sometimes it's just doesn't look really like sexy, guys, it looks really boring. And it looks like quality assurance. No, it looks like training and preparing. And it looks like compliance. But good leaders, I think in different aspects. And that's how the structure and military you haven't rank system. So it's very easy to know who's senior than you and who's below you. I think the attitude of that is, that's the way it's structured is for a specific reason, because of the nature of the work. But leaders motivate and influence in a way that everybody is happy, I think in the sense of purpose. I'm grateful for my leadership experiences and fellowship experiences in the military, that have allowed me to kind of translate that into helping serving childhood culture in our hip hop community. I saw how you like, totally didn't give us any real details of like, all the combat stuff. None of the aliens you saw, I see how you're, I see how you're just completely skipping that you and Pat's brother are like, always trying, like we have few friends that always are trying to, because we work on this, like weird looking aircrafts, you know, in pad two, and he does, you know, different things that, that we were always getting those kind of questions. I'm always been messing with her since she got in the military. I'm like, what kind of clearance you got? You got? Oh, so you think that means you know all about the aliens beyond that surveiller plane, like, Transformers or like sending the AWACS? And I'm like, that's my that's the I'm in the movies. Like, I know what that is. Cindy, is like, shut tight. What kind of combat stories? Well, let me tell you about leadership. Today, we tell you about followers, like completely this gift, or even in that even in that culture, the flying culture, we're kind of like high and slow community, then you think of fighter jets. They're like this super awesome, you know, top guy. Yeah. So you got even in those cultures, the culture of it all I'm grateful for the flying culture is super fun, and like, really great. But you have your different cultures within that. It just depends. I connect with everybody. So being able to have these different, you know, experiences because I don't close myself off to anyone. I'm like, I've had leaders that are fighter pilots, I've had leaders that are c 17 pilots, and I love to learn and fly on those planes and you know, get these experiences and you know, so but kind of the same attitude. She still has top top secret so she we're not going to get any. Cindy just admitted that she connects to everyone, including the elite. I see. I see you. We can sit here and shows share so many amazing stories of all, you know, our service, which is pretty great. So thank you so much for your services. What I would say too, is call your veteran, call your call your veteran chat text, Facebook, message, Snapchat, whatever, call your veteran. If you see a guy down the street at Walmart, and you he's wearing a hat. Just say thank you to they're not asking for it. We're not asking for I'm not asking for I appreciate that. But just it's more about connection. So if you can just call them if you have a family member you know that serves just call them say hi. listen to their stories. If you have time, go to the VFW go to the Veterans Administration. They have places where they meet and talk. And they love sharing stories. I'm part of the VFW. And they're getting old guys. They got stories and I'm getting old and most of the time, the meetings are really more about the ones that have already passed. And those stories are not being told anymore. So that's where my little plug, a little plug in there for our veterans. What is hip hop to you? I think I'll just end by saying how I began I am hip hop in its beauty and its flaws. And in its innovation in its critical thinking, in its togetherness, in its ability to open up social change, social dialogue. I would say that I am hip hop, in its all its glory and all its shade. It's it's both. Thank you so much to our guest Cindy Foley aka b-girl Sinergy for taking the time and being so open by sharing your perspective with us. We have chosen to make this a two part interview with the twin vibes. So stay tuned for the continuation with Cindy as we discussed child of this culture foundation in our next episode. some of the gems we took away from this interviewwere:
It requires a lot of courage to remove our armor and put ourselves in a position in which we can be judged, contradicted or even attacked, in a position in which we can fail. By the way, this is exactly what we do when we lead when we take a stand. And when we show up. As we grow up, we look up to our elders, now is our time to take the lead because our children are watching us, and they're going to reflect what we gave them. Look around at the people around you. longevity is in the people you work with is hard work cannot be a substitute for who you work with, and what you work on. Our theme music was beatboxed by Denis the Menace and produced by Zede. A big shout out to the brothers from Switzerland. The background music was produced by Taki Brano A big thank you to our brosky from Providence. Much love to Tita for the surprise cameo. A huge thank you to all of our veterans and active duty military for their service to our country. Thanks to their family and friends as well for the sacrifices they make. Our podcast basically runs on coffee. To keep our show running you can support by buying us coffee through the link in our show notes. Thanks to B-Girl Rin for buying us coffee. We would love to get your feedback questions and any suggestions you might have. You can reach out to us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @soulidarityLLC or via email [email protected] If you liked today's show, please tell a friend about our podcast. Or as Phife Dawg would say: Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram Don't forget to subscribe to the show and leave a rating and review. We'll see you on our next episode. Thank you for listening to our podcast. No seriously though. Thank you. I am Candy. I'm DJ Razor Cut. And this is souls of hip hop