local insights

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Transitioning from a Big Household to College

I went from living in a big, noisy Mexican household of eight people, to living in a tiny, quiet room with two other people. I felt out of place, like a fish out of water, for a few weeks after my transition.

My hometown is San Jose, a city within the Bay Area. My home is five hours away on a good day, but sometimes it takes six or seven hours to get there with traffic. Some would say I stayed close to home, and though it is true I can go home fairly easily, it still feels like I’m an incredibly long way from home.

The hardest thing for me was waking up the first couple of days and not hearing the familiar voices. Not hearing my two nieces yelling at the top of their lungs, my brothers happily playing on the PlayStation, my mom and dad making breakfast, our two dogs barking and running around.

I woke up and heard voices that were so new to me it’s as if I almost drowned them out.

I believe family dynamics plays a big role in how difficult or easy a college freshman’s transition is.

What seems like a big move to me, may not seem like a far distance to others. Not every family is the same and while my family is a tight knit, huge family, other students may come from a household of only two or three.

Thankfully, for me, being apart from my family gets easier as the months go by. The first couple of months were the hardest because I did not see my parents for most of fall quarter, but now that I’m busier and more involved on campus, time seems to be flying by quicker and before I know it, it seems as if I am packing up for a weekend back home.

Julianna Swilley, a first year pre psychology major, says she adjusted to college life fairly well, making her transition easier than she thought.

“Not having my mom around was hard because back at home it was just me and her, and being here alone was hard for me,” Swilley states. Swilley believes her family was close, having breakfast together on Sundays and weekly dinner gatherings with her aunts and grandparents, but her transition was easy, something she believes to be “contradicting.”

On the other hand, Paige Mesias, a first year business economics major, said her experience as a college freshman has gotten a bit more challenging. Mesias comes from a large family of seven. Although she believes her first quarter was an easy transition, she now finds herself missing her family more than last quarter. The hardest part for Mesias is not being able to talk to her parents daily. Mesias believes that family dynamics play a role in how difficult or easy a college student’s transition is because an independent person will miss their family a little less than someone who had a close relationship with them.

Whether we come from a small family of two or a big, extended family, it seems that the transition to college affects every freshman differently.

As much as we wanted to tell ourselves that we would be fine without our parents, let’s face it, we miss them just as much as they miss us.

Photo by Natalia Cadena-Másmela

Who are Film’s Addicts, Maids, and Gardeners?

While watching films and television, I’m often reminded of my youth and the days when I seriously considered acting as a career. It seemed as if drilling myself in classes and auditions would suffice but the fact that always loomed above me was my Colombian identity and my non-ambiguous look. My acting coach never failed to remind me that my acting destiny lied in rolls such as maids, newly arrived immigrants, or exotic female figures.

“It’s the reality,” he told me. “It’s what the public will expect of you right off the bat.”

However, I thoroughly question if this is a reality.

It may be an Anglo American’s perception of reality, but for millions of other Latinos like myself, it is simply a stereotype. A stereotype that continues to transcend onto the screens that lie before us when purchasing a ticket to that Oscar film or wasting several hours binge watching an enthralling television series. Thus, a rather intense feeling of discouragement and frustration falls upon me in paying an approximately $12.00 entrance fee when Latinos like us are continuously misrepresented.

It’s clear to me and the Latino community that not all Latinos are outlandishly comedic, law-breaking vagabonds, nor individuals that are destined to toil in the fields, tend to one’s housework, or sustain your next drug fix.

Rather than solely relying on my perspective in what I claim is the unfair truth within media stereotypes, I realize that there must be a larger representative voice within American society. It’s not solely Latinos that are conscious of our misrepresentation but rather other minorities that bear witness to the stereotypes that plague our screens. Being that minorities are subject to misrepresentation on the part of their respective communities be it Asian or African American, they are able to comprehend the over exaggerated portrayals of Latinos on screen.  “It is not necessarily holistic,” stated Emma Halanaka, a fourth year Biology major at University California Los Angeles. “I feel like I can relate to other races/minorities that we view negatively.”

It is undeniable that Latinos have made strides in achieving substantial roles in film and television such as Sofia Vergara from Modern Family and Benicio del Toro — who most recently stars in Sicario, thus revealing an increasing inclusivity of others who are not the ethnic majority in film/television. It shows that the media recognizes minority communities and are creating a space for us on a screen that was once dominantly Anglo centered. And while we acknowledge that we are more accepted today than years prior, Latino actors have yet to rise to the same caliber that we regard America’s star players.

This is not to say that Latinos are not as capable, but rather that Hollywood’s whiteness generates more material that revolves around “white life”, thus requiring white actors, and diminishing the opportunities available for talent worthy Latinos.

There are a plethora of Latinos that deserve to be applauded for the talented individuals that they are yet they are obligated to take a back seat and accept the limited spectrum of characters allotted to them. We are thus subject to watching actors that don’t necessarily reflect who we are in a way that we can relate to. It is true that there are Latinos that are criminals and Latinos that are our maids-like there are criminals and house workers who are White, Black, and Asian- but not all Latinos take on these rolls in society.

We are doctors and we are engineers. We are architects and we are artists. We contribute just as much to the beauty that makes our society go round as our Anglo neighbors. And it is who we are as well as our skills and talents that deserve to be put on blast for the public to see because it is conducive of true American society and culture.

We are not just one people but rather a body of individuals that have come from different walks of life, different backgrounds, and different cultures. We walk amongst the streets of Los Angeles all the way to the streets of Queens, and the streets of Miami. We contribute to the various new flavors that color our pallets and we offer something new and fruitful to the majority that might be unfamiliar with us. We are aware of our presence amongst the ethnic majority and it is this presence precisely that must be reflected before us on our screens because I can guarantee that we are here to stay and called to be heard. Yet, with the large population of Latinos that reside in the United States we have yet to see true stories of these individuals and substantial, accurate roles by way of the media.

“The entertainment industry is a business,” expressed Josh Zuniga, a fourth year sociology major.  “The entertainment industry cares less about art.”

The media does care less about art and more apparently about filling the theaters’ seats. The idea of making a quick dollar with little regard for accurate portrayals or quality storylines overrules a Latino’s reality. It is through these inaccurate portrayals that further propel stereotypes outside of the theater and reside in the minds of those who are ignorant to our truth.

We want to be able to enter a movie theater, watch a Latino actor, and think to ourselves, “Wow, what a great performance. I’m proud to be Latino and I’m proud that this individual reflects who we are in an accurate manner.”

We want to be comfortable walking out in public knowing that most of our American counterparts recognize the depth behind our cultures and peoples, and that we are beyond the stereotype that Hollywood tries to sell to us.

Who we are cannot be bought and if our representation can be, I want my $12.00 adult admission to go further than the seat in the theater. I want it to travel all the way to Colombia, to Cuba, and circle back around to Mexico. I want it to travel to the ears of our ancestors so that they may feel pride that we are being represented for the beauty and truth that we are. I can taste our time coming soon but the seed grows from honest hands, and it’s those honest hands that must plant it within the soil that is Hollywood.

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THE PATH TOWARD XICANA INDÍGENA (XINACHTLI SERIES)

“Xicana/o encounters with diverse Native knowledge allowed Xicanas/os to arrive (or continue to be in process of arriving) to their own sacred bundles and places of knowledge. When Xicanas/os came to these traditions, memory was opened up for Indigenous people; memory can be the most powerful building block. The revival of Indigenous identity proliferated amongst the youth in the Chicano community and represented a spirit and a return to spiritual ways. A community that was once told that they did not belong was now claiming a place on this continent.”

Jennie “Quiahuicoatl Meztli” Luna

This is a testimonio of my identity politics, to my critical consciousness, and to my own struggle(s)—which has been very difficult considering my privilege and what that means and looks like. Being a white-cis-passing, heterosexual, de-Indigenized Xicano male has been an interesting picture for my own identity and experiences. As a Raza student, McNair Scholar, La Gente writer, Mechista, and—what I would like to believe—an activist for agitating, destabilizing, and deconstructing european (westernized) knowledge, institutions, and ideology, my journey to this foundation and position speaks to my navigation in higher education.

As I first entered the colonial academic institution of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a transfer student, I was working under a completely different type of framework as a young self-identified Mexicano. As a punk kid in South Gate in the outskirts of South East Los Angeles who worked very hard at Los Angeles Southwest College (LASC) motivated by a desire to subvert the academy, I was a radical—but not entirely. I had books on Marxist thinkers; I delved into the fiery pits of anarchist theory and practice; I looked toward a poststructuralist way of philosophy, theory, and paradigm—which meant reading thinkers like Foucault, Deleuze, and Derrida. As you can see, I worked under a very european and westernized framework, which did not recognize nor nuance my positionality as a Mexicano in United States society.

I didn’t know nor understand the Raza struggle entirely at LASC, which was a predominately Black and Brown college. When I took the only course on Mexican-American history, I began my introduction and acknowledgement to my Raza’s historical (and contemporary) struggle for liberation and self-determination—I was opened up to new, but always mine, epistemologies and groundings.

But this was only a small taste; it was one I wouldn’t feel completely until UCLA.

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Author Kristian Vasquez, right, at San Diego’s Chicano Park.

What caused a spark in my Spirit and made me excited at the time was the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), which I learned about in the Mexican-American history class from watching the documentary Chicano! History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement. I slowly started to identify simply as a Chicano; at the time, I understood this identity to be an extension of being Mexicano. Upon transferring into UCLA, I knew I had to learn and understand who I was, but my journey toward a cohesive but complex identity would only be complicated further.

To put things into perspective: as I attended MEChA’s Transfer Raza Day (TRD) yield event, I was amazed at the community of Raza students on campus. Hosted by Monica Hurtado and Braulio Valaguez, these two individuals led a motivated committee of other Raza students and successfully put together a memorable day. Although I arrived late, receiving an award from Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) the morning of, I still enjoyed the day and was blown away from the keynote speaker José González, a Tucson, Arizona educator who advocated for Ethnic Studies. He opened my eyes to many things concerning my culture, my people, and what education meant for our Gente. One of my takeaways was the idea of blossoming Browness, or asserting your Browness and your culture so much that people are forced to see it; my own identity was renegotiated after this day.

Because I was an Academic Advancement Program (AAP) student, I was able to attend their Transfer Summer Program (TSP) in 2016. As a part of the Chicana/o cohort, I was exposed to many new people with ancestral and community knowledges, and my classes challenged me to think and be critical on a level I was never exposed to. This came with radical reconceptions, re-articulations, and reconstructions of the knowledge base I drew from, adopting a more solid Chicanx epistemology and framework. I was more exposed to things I never experienced growing up, and to have this little family for what it was at the time was beautiful.

As I navigated UCLA, I found myself becoming more and more involved. I joined MEChA de UCLA and would later be voted into the position of Chicana/o Studies Co-Coordinator with my fellow Mechista and Compañera, Maritza Geronimo. I enjoyed the knowledge I would build with my Compañerxs at MEChA meetings and through the direct knowledges of my fellow Mechistas.

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Kristian Vasquez and Compañera Maritza Geronimo.

Through much exposure and deliberate discovery, I was able to begin a coherent idea of Chicanismo and what that meant today. With my Compañera Maritza, I was able to have critical discourse and conversation of these topics. We started our journey to defining what it meant to us: we looked at Chicana/o authors and close read their works, almost like studying Mexica codices. And I knew this political ideology wasn’t something rooted in Mexicanidad, but understanding pan-Indigeneity. It transcended and transgressed borders and nations; Chicanismo, or rather Xicanisma, would stress this importance.

Navigating through Campbell hall, studying in the Young Research Library, and finding comfort in the Student Activities Center at UCLA, I would face a very active student role. And the activist part of that role entailed me working toward self-determination and liberation of my Raza community. This also meant challenges I was perhaps not completely ready for. But I had the support of my fellow Mechistas and a student-initiated retention project by MEChA (Calmecac) to keep me moving forward.

Although only being at UCLA for a summer integration-program and completing a very rigorous and difficult Fall quarter, I had developed my own identity in a strong, but incomplete, sense. Here is a poem I wrote, which was a part of the zine project of my Intro Chicana/o Studies course, titled “La Muerte: Para Mis Antepasados de Anahuac/México”:

I AM THE PRODUCT OF COLONIALISM. As such, my voice speaks from passion, de la muerte: the living.

I walk on colonized lands—of precious, beautiful lands disrupted by the product of the white man’s capitalist mode of production. I breathe the air from machines that spit smoke, polluting the only tierra we call home. My lungs are made from modernity, from progress.

I don’t know the language of my ancestors, and I struggle to use and talk my colonizers lengua—so reluctant to speak what dominated, to speak what ordered genocide, to speak what erased what would be my culture.

I see Aztlán as a metaphor for redemption, of retribution, of wanting a spiritual home. Somewhere in what is considered México, my history, my family, my Raza, they were killed, tortured, callously conquered and told they were not human: they needed to be put straight. This is historical fact and it is painful.

I walk the streets of South Gate, my hometown, a once dominantly white community. I feel the presence of a memory, of a people not from my own blood, but people who ate from these lands, who worshiped these lands, and now we occupy—not by choice, but by legacies of colonialisms.

I was criticized once for claiming hecho en México, as if what is now California didn’t once belong to México—of course this being after the first wave of colonization by the Spanish conquistadores.

La Muerte: they survive in my blood, masked by the color of my white skin: a constant reminder that I’m in a colonized body, in a raped body, in a tortured, ambivalent body. My browness, my indigeneity, lives only through my veins, mi alma.

I once screamed in community college: Yo soy Chicano! The fucking political remains! Resistance lives in my blood! Revolution runs through my tongue! And those days were met with a silence from my own family, my friends.

Para la muerte: I see you, feel you, want to learn more from you.

And just like this piece, they live in fragments inside me, in history, in memory. But I will live for them: to remember and to resist—to fight in my life for their memory, for those still here, and those lost forever in the cosmos.

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Kristian Vasquez at San Diego’s Chicano Park.

In the poem above, I express an understanding of myself as a Native individual who, through colonialism, was subject to an erasure of an Indigenous past. It wasn’t until I discovered a very important Indigenous scholar who opened my eyes to a new understanding of this way of knowing. Being introduced to Dr. Jennie Luna’s work, by the Chair of MEChA de UCLA, Natalia Toscano, I was able to read and reflect on what she terms Xicana Indígena. This identity and term recognizes the need and imperative toward reclaiming Indigenismo through political and critical consciousness, as it is said in Nahuatl, not spanish, challenging constructions of language. It is also defined as being a Native to these lands and being a diaspora people coming into the United States, and those who stayed during conquest, the events of 1848 (the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo). It is a radical but necessary evolution of what Chicano was built on.

Xicana Indígena is also female-centered, highlighting female energies within our spirituality; it seeks to understand women and spirituality, looking for a return to dual-dualities outside of the european framework of binaries. As a collective identity, it is a radical reconfiguration of the initial identity of Chicano. This precious knowledge came to me as a radical restructuring of ideas and practices.

But the work of recognizing this term, its advocates, and its development is minimal. So we take on the spanish renditions of Xicano/a/@/x. I say I am Xicano, but being part of the Xicana Indígena people is something to be raised into our Raza collective consciousness. We must recognize our Indigeneity from wherever our Raza comes from in this hemisphere, including: El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, and beyond.

The future is Indigenous, and when we acknowledge how close our communities really are, the process of consciousness will be pushed forward. The path toward Xicana Indígena is an opening to a new and expanded notion of what our veteranos y veteranas of the Chicano Movement set in motion. We are agents of change; to revolutionize our political identity is to recognize our processes of liberation. As a new generation it is our job to decolonize spaces which do not recognize us, and this starts with reading, having discourse, and searching through what UCLA scholar Maylei Blackwell termed “retrofitted memory,” in her book ¡Chicana Power! Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement. Our revolution will be guided by our spiritual reclamation.

Identity as a complicated, complex, and nuanced experience can be opened up by introducing new concepts and experiences. As a series, I will locate those critical resources for mi Gente to start thinking about these important conversations.

Let my testimonio be the start: this is the Xinachtli series.

Tlazocamati.

 

Author’s note: I chose not to capitalize “european” nor “spanish” because of power dynamics situated by westernized doctrines of language construction. In effect, I am contesting their power over capitalization, capitalizing instead words like: “Native,” “Indígena,” and “Raza.”

Photo credit to Al Jazeera Media Network

¡AYOTZINAPA RESISTE!: State Sanctioned Violence and Indigenous Resistance

Above photo credit to Al Jazeera Media Network

This article is a collaboration between La Gente staff writers, Maritza Geronimo and Kristian Vasquez.

Este es México. La de este país es una historia de equivocaciones. Pero hasta ahora, siempre de los que equivocan son ellos y nosotros [Indígenas] somos la equivocación y quien la paga.

—Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, un Zapatista de Chiapas, México

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Ayotzinapa Habla del Corazón

On November 21st and 22nd, a father and organizer of the Ayotzinapa 43 movement raised consciousness to the mass kidnapping of the disappeared students. They spoke of what took place on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, Guerrero, México, and the aftermath of what was to come; it was a caravan which would spend two invaluable days at UCLA.

From student-led discussions, questions, and comments and a class led by Chicano Historian Juan Gómez-Quiñonez, El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA)–supported by the Chicana/o Studies Department–organized this important outreach/plática to take place.

The Organizers shared their testimonios of the students from Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa. These students were leading a bus to protest and remember the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre in la Ciudad de México.

The students were intercepted by Iguala municipal police,  were then taken, detained, and handed over to a drug organization. Speakers Felipe de la Cruz and Mario César Gonzalez Contrera discussed corruption and the reality of state sanctioned violence against the Indigenous people of México.

After the events of September 26th, Indigenous Resistance was pioneered by parents, families, and communities. The Ayotzinapa 43 lived on.

This is for them, their parents, and everyone.

This is the consciousness needed by the movement to find the 43.

Below you will find our personal stories, experiences, reflections, and frustrations.

 

“Ayotzinapa Somos Todos”

Siento su dolor, siento su resistencia, siento la desaparición de los 43. Siento como si fuera mi cuerpo, mi familia, mi sangre—y sí lo es.

The 43 went missing in México, but the pain was and must continue to be felt everywhere until they are found.

September 2014:

The sky feels mi gente’s pain; we cry as one. I hear the crowd count off, “uno, dos, tres, cuatro….” Alone with my camera in hand, I run through the crowd. I see the distress on all the brown faces as they yell for justicia.  Pictures of the 43 young men plastered on poster boards and in them I see myself: an 18 year old college student with a drive to learn and uplift my community. Yet our struggle is not the same, for I am here standing safely while they are missing. Pero su dolor es mi dolor. I carry that pain with me for the next two years. Not a day goes by that I do not remember the 43.

“Vivos se los llevaron, vivos los queremos.”

November 2016:

I am standing outside the UCLA guest house awaiting MEChA’s two guest speakers: Felipe de la Cruz (representative for the families of the 43) and Mario Cesar Gonzalez Contreras (a father of one of the 43 missing students).

“It has been two years, but it feels like just yesterday. We are tired, but not ready to give up,” they share with a crowd of students. I am translating for them tonight. I translate the words of a father’s broken heart and with every syllable that comes out of my mouth I feel his heartbeat.

Don Mario recounts a personal narrative, one left out of most media outlets, where he recalls the last time he heard his son’s voice on the day of September 26, 3:35 pm. He looks at us students and says, “I have gotten the opportunity to speak in front of many crowds, but by far this college tour has been the hardest. I look at you all and see my son. Many of you are his age. Many of you have similar characteristics.” The crowd is silent. I am hurting yet quickly trying to formulate words for others to understand.

As Don Mario continues, he says, “To be a student in México is to be a threat to the government. Why do you think our children are missing? We cannot trust the police, the narcos, the government: because they are all the same.” If we cannot trust any systems then we as a gente must organize together and not forget the 43. Students are quick to ask the guest, “What can we do to help?”

Don Mario answers, “We were just farmers—humble people. Many of us did not know how to read and now we read every day. We have created a movement—us. You, you have all the tools. If we did it, you can too.”

It has been 2 years: a wound left open, a wound being continuously cut—sangre corriendo. The government’s hands covered in blood, come in for a handshake. Creen que no sabemos. They think they can continue to erase us—pero ya basta. A nuestra gente les quitaron tanto, que les quitaron el miedo. Entonces miremós al gobierno a la cara y recordarles de quien es esta tierra.

 

“Triste Soy”

Este es nuestro grito, esta es nuestra canción

acabar con la obediencia y aplastar la sumisión

Antes que ser esclavos preferimos morir

Porque la obediencia es muerte y revelarse es vivir

This lyric—from the anarchist punk band de México, Desobediencia Civil—resonates with the powerful, beautiful, and resilient 43 Indigenous students who were taken from all of us.

With the rise of activism from students—of expression and direct-action—state sanctioned violence, which presents itself with the mass kidnapping of these students, speaks volumes. It reminds us all of the importance of protest, of the struggle for real transformation, and its reactive counter from the oppressive nation-state and their respective agents.

These 43 students stood up against what they perceived as wrong, against systems that oppressed, exploited, and marginalized their community. They fought, as Indigenous people of the land, for their liberation and self-determination to resist, exist, and emancipate themselves.

Education, often considered a privilege, is a necessity for all people, a right for all people. Education was fought for by the Ayotzinapa students: 43 sacrificed their lives for such a struggle.

I’m reminded constantly of the brutal, persistent, and unpleasant effects that have ruptured la tierra de México. The conditions of México have been in turmoil ever since the first wave of colonialism in 1492 and its later inception as a nation-state by the Spanish Empire, further complicated by México’s independence and what Mexican anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla called  the “Imaginary México.” But this gets spoken about differently in many and all spaces; between classes, family, institutions, the government, and so on. We see either its necessity, its benefits, or maybe (when we are critical) we perceive the complexities which birth the motions at work today.

Yet, we must always remember where México is grounded: who inhabits the lands (and always has), who works the land (and experiences first-hand the ills of modernity), and who breathes the air their ancestors did before 1492. The remnants of Mesoamerican civilization and its ongoing survival—these are the Indigenous who suffer the most and the imperative to see through their eyes is exponential.

We must read our history as Raza and see that across Abya Yala we are all connected—but some of us experience drastically different things (from different regions and upbringings), and because of colonialism las Indígenas de esta tierra are subject to subjugation far beyond what we know here in the United States.

With the rise and stabilization of modernity, with its catastrophic results, the situation we bear witness to in México is exemplified by what happened—continues to happen throughout México—in Iguala, Guerrero. The Indigenous people continue to suffer under the hands of colonial legacies and modernities and are erased slowly from the social fabric of our consciousness as we choose to forget. Students like the 43 wanted to mobilize against this reality.

The lost, they bleed through our neglect.

The lost, they incite inside many of us a fire that never burns.

The lost, they must never be forgotten—or we will have given up the Indigenous struggle, and the struggle for our entire Raza’s liberation.

Triste soy por toda mi gente que sufre este tiempo de corrupción.

This is violence, and this is injustice.

¡Ayotzinapa resiste!

As I turned my eyes and ears to the stories bled by a vulnerable father, I felt the pain for the 43 families, of a community who can’t find 43 young students. They paid with their lives for an education, which was evolved by parents to a grander and global movement for the future of México.

We must all struggle for their lives, for their vision, and for the struggle of Indigenous people in México.

 

Call to Action

“They thought they could bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” —Popol Vuh

Indigenous people have been at the forefront of our liberation, yet too often it is us who continue to neglect them.

Somos de su sangre—pero no lo queremos admitir—escucha a tu corazón temblar por sus llantos—y verás que son tus llantos también.

As Students of Color, as Raza, it is our time and energy that must be put to work. We are reminded today of Don Mario’s words: “We hope the search does not have to continue for another 2 years”

The movement these parents started must continue to be heard—if it takes another 2 years; let it be 2 years of growing cross community organizing, 2 more years of building consciousness—but do not let 2 more years be silenced. It is our time to recognize our place in the fight for liberation of nuestra raza, which can only truly begin once we realize the 43 students somos todos.

We can no longer look at the Indigenous struggle as something of the past—it has been, it is here, and will continue to be here until we recognize it as our struggle too.

This is a call for you.

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How to Help

Organize! Join Raza groups! Join Student Groups! Create your own consciousness-building collective! Spread the word through your social media; your family, peers, friends, Gente; travel the far corners and yell #Ayotzinapa43Vive!

Follow:

https://www.facebook.com/Padres-Y-Madres-De-Ayotzinapa-489352334561638/

Donate:

Maximino Hernandez Cruz
Tesorero de los padres de Ayotzinapa

Num. Cuenta 0105636140 Bancomer

Codigo interbancaria: 012280001056361403

Codigo SWIFT: BCMRMXMM

Cel: 7541036291

Photo by: Mitchell Haindfield

Reflections from Election Day 2016

Photo by Mitchell Haindfield

Within a few hours, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. La Gente’s staff reflects on their initial reactions to Trump’s unexpected victory.

 

Kassandra Aldana

I’ll be honest: I cried. It wasn’t so much for myself, but it was for the millions who live in states that don’t protect human rights. I cried for the people who will not have the support Californians have shown each other. I cried because I can imagine fathers, mothers, children, etc. living each second in fear, hiding in some small, enclosed room, praying not to be prey. It isn’t just immigrants who are being targeted: it’s everyone. So, no, I wasn’t too happy about the results.

 

Anakaren Andrade

When I first realized who the new president was going to be I was devastated. I kept hoping that what was on the screen would change but it never did. My heart was broken and I began to cry. I couldn’t believe that somebody who had continuously shown so much hate was elected as America’s president.

Was this really what most of the country felt? Did the country I was born in hate me and others like me? My parents came here in search of a better life and have worked hard ever since. Was this how America was repaying them?

I couldn’t help but feel anger, fear and, sadness. I spent the first few days trying to cope and kept myself informed. It didn’t take long before I started to see people mobilizing and start protesting.

I was happy to see that many people did not agree with the hate and were willing to protect their communities. This gave me hope. I have spent time ever since trying to keep myself and others informed about our resources and the actions we can take to prevent policies that take away our rights. It is up to us to protect our rights and make sure this administration knows we matter and that are powerful.

 

Armando Berumen

I’m surprised and worried. When Donald Trump first began his campaign a lot of people took it as a joke. They argued that there was no possibility of him winning the Republican party’s nomination, that America wasn’t that stupid.

He obtained the nomination.

His campaign shifted toward winning the election. Again, the skepticism abounded. Now they argued there wasn’t any chance of winning the electoral college. Look at where we’re at now.

The skepticism is now aimed at his proposed actions of deporting millions of humans across the border. Now we hear “There’s no way he’ll deport those people.” But what Donald Trump shows us is that no matter how much we deny him, he has a record of getting shit done, he’s not a joke.

It’s time to brush off the denial and prepare ourselves for the political disarray to come. There is no time for skepticism. America has elected a man that embodies everything the political left fights against and it’s time for all of Trump’s detractors to organize if we want to oppose this presidential administration.

 

Kimberly Caal

When I walked into my room, my roommate was watching the election livestream. All I wanted to do was take a nap and have the election be over, but it was too late. The race was over and all I could do was cry in my bed.

When Trump started talking, I felt such strong emotions towards everything that it made me physically ill. I didn’t call my parents because I didn’t know what to say to them. When I saw my dad again, I just hugged him and we stayed silent.

I think what really helped was the rally that started happening right after he won, but what made it worse was when I looked at social media. I couldn’t go online without feeling those strong emotions. One of my professors has us think of how this new presidency might shape our history and how the past can teach us how to overcome future obstacles.

All I want to do is fight back, but I find everything so draining. Some people are like, “Get over it.” But from now on, I will wake up every morning fearful that my community and I are at risk.

 

Julio Chavez

My professor described the results of this past election as a “political earthquake.”

You see, we never really see the earthquake coming. Looking back to that morning, I remember feeling so confident about Clinton’s success. Later that night, as the results poured in, I felt as if I was dreaming. I felt fear. I was scared of the uncertainty.

What would happen to my parents? What would happen to my Abuelita, who just recently obtained her visa? What would happen to my undocumented family and friends who were attending universities?After the election, the protests began. I had friends that critiqued the protests. They argue that protesting would do nothing and that it was just an excuse to be rowdy. I disagree. Sure expressing ourselves might not change the outcome of the election, but it will definitely change its meaning. I know that in the next four years there will be art. Something beautiful will be born from this. Juntos somos fuertes.

 

Elena Diebel

Trump,

You disgust us. Every fiber in our collective being revolts against you. Everything about you screams phony from your “Cheeto” tan to your sickening campaign slogan. Though you are blinded by hate and your deep-seated fears, we are clear-eyed and ready fight you. EVERY. STEP. OF. THE. WAY.

 

Elizabeth Garcia

November 8, 7:43 P.M. I receive an optimistic “Ya vote mija” text. My mom’s enthusiasm for voting relieves the pain I can feel beginning to drill a hole in my head, as I worry about how awfully this night can end. I carry on with whatever distraction has topped my agenda for the hour.  

9:22 P.M. I receive a melancholic “Perdio Hillary” text. I assure my mom that it will be hours before we can be sure, but as the hours go on I lose hope for the milagro we had prayed for.

11:00 P.M. My roommates and I are in a state of disbelief. No amount of cussing, groaning, or Tweeting can express the disappointment I feel.  This is not the America my mother voted for.

November 9, 12:07 A.M. The Daily Bruin tweets about a giant student protest headed toward Westwood. Frustrated and hopeless, I head out with my roommate, and we chase down a crowd of equally disillusioned youngsters and chant alongside them. Nothing may change as we wave our Mexican flags in the air, but this cathartic experience is the only comfort we may feel tonight.

November 23, 7:22 P.M. My city looks the same, but it is also somehow uglier, as I see the world in its most grotesque form. Leaves invade the sidewalk and remind me of the quick passage of time. I yearn for the next four years to breeze by like the blur that is November 2016.

 

Rosa Garcia

Dear Trump,

It saddens me to see the brokenness within each and every one of us since you were elected. I am now aware of the fear and uncertainty in my people’s heart.

I see the value we place on money. We place more value on money than we place on people and our Earth.

Money and Conflict. I see a division that is very wide, and you as a leader are responsible to care for everyone living here, yet you create more division with hateful comments.

Brokenness.

I see a family that fears for the day that their benefits will be cut off. A family that fears being separated. I see people divided over issues of race, politics, and ideologies. Despite this brokenness, I know that we as a people will emerge from the brokenness. We will rise and this brokenness gives me hope for the day will be at peace with one another. The first step began when you awakened us. Thank you for letting us become aware of the broken world; now we are awake and can take steps to change it.

 

Victoria Garica Lecuona

One year ago I sat in my classroom in Mexico City.

We watched Trump’s speeches and analyzed the rhetoric that he used to motivate Americans to vote for him. We sat awestruck as he called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals,” questioning how someone could maintain such a fixated and stereotypical view of migrants in 2016.

As Trump began to gain more popularity, my peers and I helplessly sat watching the creation of more and more hateful opinions about Mexicans. One year later, as I settled comfortably into my new life at UCLA, I was somehow convinced that Hillary Clinton would win the election. I was convinced that even though Donald Trump had rallied such a massive amount of support, that his inhumane proposals would prevent him from winning the election.

Nevertheless, as I sat with the rest of my Latino friends on November 8th watching the election unfold, I began to understand that the outcome of the election was not going to be the one that I expected nor wanted. I returned to my room at night only to hear students screaming and banging on doors in response to the election results. As I watched a group of angry students make their way to a demonstration in Westwood, I envisioned how normal it would be to see this type of behavior in Mexico. Still, it became clear that the United States was about to change drastically.

 

Teresa Maldonado

Watching the election results come in, I was hurt because I kept thinking about my dad, who voted for the very first time in this election and was so excited but now, it seems, that the country he tries hard to be part of doesn’t want him.  But now that the time has passed, I am no longer hurt I am angry and I choose to fight against the national path so many people voted for.

Because I know that the country that I live in is so much greater than what our president-elect and the people who voted for him believe.

 

Jocelyn Martinez

Like so many others, on the morning of the election I was certain Hillary Clinton would be victorious. I’d mailed in my ballot a few days earlier, proudly wore my “I Voted” sticker, and eagerly anticipated hearing of Trump’s defeat.

The news I desperately craved never came.

Instead of celebrating the defeat of hatred, misogyny, racism, sexism, ableism, and the normalization of sexual violence, I cried.

I felt powerless.

The days following the election were eerie and haunting; however, I quickly found strength. Bumping into friends on campus, we all made sure everyone was okay. Professors allowed for discussion and expressed support for their students.

Despite the horrifying election results, I found further beauty within my communities.

 

Carmen Toscano

When I found out Trump was elected president, my initial reaction was shock; I could not believe that this racist, xenophobic, misogynistic man was going to represent me as my leader.

I felt a surge of emotions at the same time: scared for my undocumented mother, anger and concern for the ways women would now be treated, and most importantly disillusioned with this country. I knew this country was rooted in hatred and racism but could not believe that so much hate was still in people’s hearts throughout this election.

I was upset and went outside my dorm to protest that night in Westwood. I felt sane to know that many people were just as upset as me. I knew my feelings were shared by countless others and that made me feel okay again. I just hope that Trump is a man that can lead us to a better future.

 

Kristian Vasquez

I was sitting in a room during a meeting of one of the organizations I am involved with. A quick look at the states Trump was winning was a very scary and real feeling that was met with a strong sense of disconnect.

But my meeting went on and everyone’s energies were felt in the room. After the meeting, I could do nothing but process what happened, understanding that real systemic racism was now blatant.

But I knew from the start that work in addressing, unpacking, and contesting these systems of oppression would not stop.

Now, birthed from the flames of white supremacy, we’ve obtained an incentive to continue to work toward our liberation and self-determination as a Raza.

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Navigating UCLA sin nuestras Madres (a series): -Xillona Pero Xingona?: Un Amor Sin Fronteras-

We walked onto the UCLA campus for the first time: juntas. My mom’s eyes wander but she stays put, too afraid to explore, so I pull her along. I know what she’s feeling because I feel it too: do I belong here? But I stay quiet and pretend to be overly excited: her anxiety eases.

“Mira Ma, hay que tomarnos una foto allí.”

We pose in front of a huge UCLA sign. Esa es mi madre bien sonriente, bien chingona.

We then go from workshop to workshop, all in English, as if to remind us that this is not meant for us. Pero estoy acostumbrada, so I quietly translate in my mom’s ears, sometimes too engaged in what is being said that I forget to catch her up to speed. My mom smiles and nods her head as the speaker continues.

It is the end of Bruin Welcome Day and as we stand by Janss Steps my mom looks at me: “Ay mija que bonito esta la escuela, me da orgullo. Yo también me tengo que poner las pilas, que mensa soy que no puedo ni entender lo que hablan.”

My heart breaks. Ma, que no sabes que tu inteligencia is not measured by your inability to speak English. Your brain flourishes with knowledge: respeto, amor, sinceridad. Things all these people you call professional lack. Ma que no ves que la educación que tu me diste es la única razón que estoy aquí.

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Now I am halfway through my first quarter at UCLA and feel the distance growing between us. I do not want it to happen, mi corazón se sostiene pero no es suficiente.

I called my mom to ask about what she thinks of me attending UCLA and how it has affected our relationship. She laughs:“Pues ya no me hablas. Eso es lo que más siento, que ya no tienes tiempo. Pero me acostumbro y se que es porque estás estudiando. Son cosas de la vida, los hijos no son para siempre. Pero pues veo que ya estás muy ocupada,” she says sarcastically.

I know she is kidding, but she is right. I do not call her enough. It is not that I forget, it’s that most days I am hurting so much due to school that I feel like hearing your voice would only increase my pain. It would make me want to run back home to my safe space: to you.

I laugh as I ask if she misses me:

“No como no. Todos los días, pero ya no lloro,” she says as her voice cracks.

I miss her. I miss her so much sometimes no se que hacer. Extraño llegar a casa, y ver tu cara después de un dia largo. Abrazarte para recuperar las pilas. I need you most days mom, pero no te puedo decir sin preocuparte mas de lo que ya estas.

“Tambien me paso pensando en ti, si comes, si estás fuera tarde, es que tienes que comer ok Maritza. Estás estudiando mucho y necesitas las fuerzas.”

I have been going through this strange feeling of wanting to go home to my mom forever, but then realizing that I have to keep hustlin’ at this institution for her. Recently at a La Gente meeting I shared with a group of Mujeres that I had been missing my mom and wanted to write a piece about: 1) How higher education affected mother-daughter relationships and 2) How these Mujeres were now navigating UCLA without their madres.

I did not expect what was to follow: all the Mujeres collectively sighed and nodded their heads. Soon each of them started sharing a little of how they had been coping with the physical and emotional distance from their mothers. I then asked if they would like to participate in my article: they agreed with full enthusiasm.

So I begin by opening up a little about my experience and will continue this series by looking at different Mujeres’ stories as they share how they are navigating UCLA sin sus madres.

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Press Release: Statewide Strike of the University of California to Impact Students and Public

Below is a press release of the University of California workers strike that is taking place today on the Los Angeles and San Diego UC campuses. The workers, who are represented by Teamsters Local 2010, are protesting unfair labor practice violations. UC workers held a similar demonstration in November protesting insufficient wage increases.

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Same School, Different Stories: Getting to Know UCLA’s Non Angelenos

Students travel from all over the world to attend and graduate from an institution like UCLA. This is exactly what makes it such a prestigious university. Students come here with different majors, different cultures, and different experiences, but all with one thing in common: a motivation to succeed.

First year political science major Alejandro Cepeda traveled 2,000 miles to attend UCLA. “My experience has been pretty cool. Living in a big city like LA is great. Everyone wants to come here,” says the South Florida native.

Fortunately for Cepeda, it did not take a lot to convince his parents he was attending school in California.

My parents already dealt with it with my older brother. They were obviously sad about everything but they completely supported me [because] it was to improve my education,” he says.

“My family went to college in Colombia. My parents didn’t finish over there but my grandparents did. It’s a different system there but my brother and I are the first to go to a university in the United States.”

Though his family experienced education through a slightly different educational system, it allowed him to learn the importance of reaching for higher education.

Cepeda also mentions that moving away from home wasn’t a surprise to anyone around him. “I’ve never planned to stay at home in the sense that I would be a commuter, I never wanted to do that. But I always thought I’d go out of state because I have siblings that went to out of state, so it was just normal for me. It wasn’t this crazy idea,” he says.

He has embraced all that UCLA has to offer even taking the step to pledge for Nu Alpha Kappa, a Latino-Based fraternity on campus.

“Being separated from my family can be a bad thing but it’s also a good thing because I get to live on my own. I do everything by myself. It’s a learning experience for me,” he says.

Just a slightly further trip, first-year economics major Arthur Costa traveled 12 hours and 5,5000 miles on a plane from São Paulo, Brazil to spend his next four years at UCLA.

He is very happy having chosen UCLA to continue his education. “My experience has been pretty great, actually. I really like it here. I love California. I thought it was the best state to come to,” he says.

Costa applied to schools from all over the world but narrowed his options to schools in the U.S.

He was also fortunate enough to be influenced by his parents to attend college. Costa is not new to the idea of pursuing education considering that both his parents went to college in Brazil.

Though he is far from home, he hopes to go back to Brazil during the summer and intern at a Brazilian bank. He will definitely continue becoming a competitive candidate for graduate school.

On another note, first-year political science major Cindy Montoya had a different experience coming down to Los Angeles as a California native.

“The move was a little difficult for me because I was so attached to my family, but I got past the homesickness within the first days I got here,” she says.

Montoya traveled all the way from Salinas which is approximately 5 hours away from UCLA. “I come from a big city up in NorCal but nothing compares to the size of LA so everything is new to me.”

Even though she is a first-generation student, her parents continue to emphasize the importance of achieving higher education.

“My parents only finished high school and my sister is just starting her second year at Sacramento State University. Sometimes it feels like I’m doing everything on my own but I know it’ll be worth it for my family and myself,” she says. “My experience has been really great so far. Everyone is very friendly, the campus is beautiful, and L.A. is honestly amazing. It’s like a whole different world in SoCal.”

This just goes to show that UCLA has a diverse set of people with different stories. These three students are living proof that the Latino community is continuously fighting battles and still manage to represent our community in prestigious universities across the world.