Many of my photos from White Center from 2001 – 2015 are hanging on the walls of Proletariat Pizza. Go EAT PIZZA. Be sure to order the “Favorite” with Mama Lil’s peppers and take a look at my work.
This photo of Mr. White Center, taken in 2013, is with his grandchild.
Billy, Airplane inspector
Billy is a quality inspector at Boeing’s Renton, WA plant. He checks wing assemblies on the 737. He is from Kenya and his gentle voice is marked by the beautiful lilt of that country. He comes from a deeply Christian family. His mother unexpectedly gave birth while listening to the U.S. evangelist Bill Graham. “When mother started having labor pains,” he says, “before she knew it she was giving birth to me at the crusade grounds.” So his parents chose the name Billy, “plus my Dad’s name, Memba.”
Billy came to the U.S. over a decade ago. German visitors to Kenya met his family and offered to pay the cost of his education. After the first year the money ran out. Billy had to find his own way, working at a hospital among other difficult jobs while he continued his full-time studies. In 2001, he tried to straighten out some of his student visa paperwork. It was shortly after September 11 and he got caught up in the anti-immigrant hysteria. Billy ended up in immigration jail for several months. Later he graduated from a small college in Kansas and found a job in the pharmaceutical industry in Missouri. He was laid off. Kenyan friends invited him to Seattle. “They took me around and what I saw was a lot of diversity which was a great inspiration for me…”
He moved here and ultimately got a job at Boeing. Like many people I work with at Boeing, Billy is often listening to music on his iPhone while he works. His favorite music is from the Congo. Many workers only know of the Congo from the U.S. news media as a place of seemingly unending war and tragedy. Like other Africans Billy knows this is only one part of the Congo. The music he listens to is Lingala which he says, “is my joy. I can dance to it, laugh to it and sing to it. Awesome.”
Jon Paul, Airplane Builder
Had another opportunity to spend some time with Francisco in White Center.
Been to Kent lately? Now you have another reason to go!
Please visit Centennial Center Gallery to see my photographs
and those of friend and fellow photographer John Armstrong.
September 7 – October 31, 2012
Kent Centennial Gallery, Kent City Hall
400 West Gowe Street, Kent, Washington 98032
Finding the Unexpected by John Armstrong and On/Off Delridge by Lisa Ahlberg
“War Remnants” by John Armstrong
“Francisco” by Lisa Ahlberg
Lisa’s work is currently on exhibit at The Salvadoran Bakery in White Center in South Seattle.