FIDEL T. RODRIGUEZ
For over 20 years Fidel Rodriguez has been raising consciousness and awareness through the aphorism "Know Thy Self.” His life’s work has been built upon a "decolonizing the mind" methodology and the constant search for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. His diligent search for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding has propelled him to develop pragmatic programs rooted in indigenous cultural paradigms and practical healing tools that assist youth and adults on their journey towards knowledge of self. His trainings focus on meditation, personal transformation, indigenous spirituality, self-reflection and expression of ones personal narrative to begin to heal from past traumatic experiences and further develop ones self-worth. The ultimate goal is to create paradigm shifts in thinking with youth and young adults affected by childhood trauma and the Juvenile and Criminal Justice System.
Fidel was the Site Director of the Residential Vocational Training program in Calabasas, CA where a former youth incarceration facility was being physically converted into a vocational, healing, wellness, and education center for young men ages 18 to 25. Prior to this position for over a decade he was a Human Relations Consultant and Intergroup Specialist for the County of Los Angeles’ Human Relation Commission where he facilitated youth and young-adult leadership, wellness, critical thinking trainings and annual conferences. Fidel conceptualized the Spreading Seeds Healing Network, a support network for regional community-based service providers in Los Angeles County where participants experienced Native American healing traditions, meditation, Yoga, healing circles, leadership trainings, motivational speakers and trips in nature. Weekly, Fidel worked in numerous high schools in Los Angeles leading leadership and wellness trainings with students focused on meditation, personal transformation, building character, and contextualizing history and culture. In 2016 he created and produced for the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission RISE UP for Humanity: Justice for the Forgotten, a yearly youth leadership conference focusing on raising consciousness around wellness, social justice issues, and building a progressive youth and young adult network in LA County. While at Homeboys Industries he created and coordinated “Spreading Seeds: Body, Mind, Spirit” a cultural rite of passage and healing program for young men and woman who have experienced trauma. He has conducted numerous workshops and cultural events for incarcerated youth at Los Angeles County Challengers Memorial Youth Center, Camps Scott, Scudder, Mendenhall, Rockey, and Central, Los Padrinos and Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Halls. As a result of his many years of service and dedication to those youth and families impacted by the Juvenile Justice System, the Los Angeles Probation Department awarded Mr. Rodriguez with the "Keys to Camps Scott and Scudder”.
Fidel began his media profession in 1995 where he became a producer and host of radio shows, TV segments, and concerts with entertainers and thought provoking guests through the culture of Hip Hop. From 1995 - 2001 Fidel was the long-time co-producer for Street Science with Dominque Diprima, the award-winning, number one Arbitron rated talk show for its time slot on Clear Channel’s 92.3 FM The Beat, for which he also produced live radio broadcasts and programs throughout Los Angeles on a wide range of social and entertaining issues featuring entertainers, community activist, politicians, and hip hop artists coming together to engage in dialogue. For six years he was also heavily involved in the production of the 92.3 The Beat Summer Jam Concerts. He then moved on to host and produce his own radio show at The Beat, award-winning and number one Arbitron rated Hip Hop show in his time slot, Seditious Beats.
While at The Beat, you could also hear Fidel sharing bits of knowledge weekly on Julio G’s Westside Radio and the World Famous Wake Up Show with Sway and King Tech to their 17 million listeners. At times, when critical events concerning community issues occurred, afternoon drive time host Theo would bring him in to dialogue on various topics. In 2002, Fidel would move to Southern California’s 90.7 FM KPFK part of the National Pacifica Network to host Seditious Beats which evolved into Hip Hop radio show Divine Forces Radio (dfr). While at KPFK Fidel also hosted and produced numerous nationally syndicated radio programs for Pacifica Radio. Divine Forces Radio is a conscious hip hop radio show that has received numerous community, United States Senate and Congressional awards and LA City Mayoral recognitions for raising awareness and consciousness over the radio air waves through Hip Hop in Los Angeles.
Fidel also produced and hosted a bi-yearly speaking event for youth in the Los Angeles County Central Juvenile Hall entitled Respect 101 with notable entertainers such as Big Boy, Xzibit, Danny Trejo, Immortal Technique, Laura Diez (CBS) and world champion boxing trainer Freddie Roach. Fidel hosted numerous television interviews for international Hip Hop concert Rock The Bells with artists such as Ice Cube, Cee-Lo, Goodie Mob, Big Boy of Outcast, KRS-One, RZA, Cypress Hill, and Dilated Peoples to name a few. In 2014, he completed the production of a Hip Hop album with youth hip hop band The Bricks entitled, This Land with Grammy Award Winning Producers DJ Khalil (Eminem, Dr. Dre), KC Porter (Santana), JB Eckle (Santana, En Vogue), and Money Mark (Beastie Boys). He Executive Produced and coordinated the album through a program called Project One: One Love, One Mic, One Song, a youth music program located at the Los Angeles Music Academy in collaboration with the LA County Human Relations Commission (HRC) and non-profit Oneness, which collaborated to promote social awareness and Hip Hop music with youth in Los Angeles County. Lastly, in 2017 Fidel was a field producer in Standing Rock, North Dakota for the documentary Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock, which documents Native American activists and their allies as they pray and organize to halt the establishment of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Fidel was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California where his roots run deep on his maternal side with six generations of Mexican and Chumash ancestry. While growing up, he enjoyed the beauty of Santa Barbara, however, he also had to endure numerous social issues such as poverty, violence, and racism (white supremacy). Eventually, after many years of struggling to survive and near imprisonment he would find historical context and understanding regarding his experiences with poverty, racism and violence when he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and simultaneously found solace and inspiration through a college professor and mentor while studying African American, Native American, and Chicano history. This newfound “race” and class consciousness and new understanding of his Mexican and Chumash heritage gave him dignity, integrity and empowerment and ultimately galvanized him to constantly thirst for knowledge and truth.
For over 20 years he has searched out cultural knowledge in the United States, Native American reservations, the Basque Country, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, thus coming to the conclusion that universal principles such as dignity, integrity, kindness and empathy are the foundation of a persons character. Based upon his experiences and studies, he has developed an engaging and passionate speaking style that synthesizes his principled-based ideology rooted in his Mexican, Native American and African culture with his personal narrative of resilience and grit. His story engages, motivates, provokes thought and models the ability to overcome insurmountable obstacles.
Fidel is a 1998 graduate of the University of Southern California (Mc Nair Scholar) with degrees in both Chicano/Latino Studies and African American Studies. While attending USC, he lived in Zimbabwe studying African spiritual traditions, colonialism, neoliberalism and the methodology of decolonizing the mind. Deeply influenced by his education and cultural training in Southern Africa ultimately led him to complete a life-changin initiation into the priesthood of Ifá, an indigenous, earth centered African spiritual tradition which is rooted in the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa. Ifá utilizes a divination system, which is an extensive corpus of texts and mathematical formulas known as geomancy that provides a path of communication to the spiritual realm and where one can find guidance, clarity and intent of ones destiny. Ifá is practiced among Yoruba communities and by the African diaspora and other ethnicities in the Americas, Europe. Asia and the Caribbean. The Ifá Divination system was added in 2005 by UNESCO to its list of the "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity." Fidel believes his over twenty year spiritual journey in Ifá and Native American traditions pays direct homage to his late grandmother Bartola Maria Ramos, who was a well respected and admired espirutista (spiritualist), curandera (healer) and medium in Mexico and other parts of the world.
Fidel is an avid student of philosophy, history and Shamanism and is an invited guest speaker at elementary, middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities on the topics of history, colonization, decolonization, spiritualism, trauma, cultural wellness, racism, the heroes journey, and healing. He is of Chumash, Mexican and West African ancestry and works as a motivational speaker, cultural facilitator and mentor with youth and adults in Los Angeles and is a certified trainer of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for Franklin Convey. He is a frequent guest lecturer at USC Graduate School of Social Work on the topics of youth development, trauma, wellness, and indigenous spirituality. Fidel credits his mother, sister, children and loving partner for their love and support, his ancestors who guide him, and gives gratitude for the mentors and teachers who have shared their knowledge and wisdom.