National Call for Action in Solidarity With Black Students at the University of Missouri

On November 13th, Black Bruins participated in the national call for action in solidarity with black students at the University of Missouri. All students, faculty and allies met between Royce and Powell at 1pm for a rally led by the Afrikan Student Union.

 

For months, Mizzou protested a lack of action by administration regarding explicit racially charged and unjust events. A lack of response to the demands led to an eight day hunger strike by graduate student Jonathan Butler and the football team’s refusal to play until the school’s president, Tim Wolfe, stepped down. Following the resignation of Tim Wolfe and these series of events, black students’ lives were threatened with violence, prompting many to leave campus.

 

The Afrikan Student Union released a statement of solidarity with the students of the University of Missouri. Additionally, they stated their own demands towards the University of California, Los Angeles. These demands were made following the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and Alpha Phi Sorority, “Kanye Western” themed party where attendees wore blackface and mocked black culture.

 

The rally was held in protest of racism and anti-blackness on campuses across the nation. Students, faculty and others gathered in the main entrance of Powell Library to listen to Black community members who have felt oppression at UCLA. Many held signs that stated phrases such as “Black Bruins in Solidarity with Mizzou” and “#StudentBlackout.” Protesters listened to what their classmates and professors had to say, while occasionally breaking into chants and applause.

 

Through the use of awareness, solidarity campaigns and protest, concerned students hope to address the systemic racism within our schools, and our community.

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STEM and Higher Education Outreach for Latin@ and Native American Students

On Saturday, October 10th, the UCLA organization SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) attended its first outreach event of the quarter. The event, STEAM Nation, brings science activities to students from Los Angeles communities. This event is hosted annually in hopes to spark interest and inform students of all ages the importance of science. The fun activities hosted by the SACNAS table at STEAM Nation keep students interested and associate science with fun. Associating science, technology, engineering, art, and math with something that causes joy, will create a positive reaction with further interactions with these topics.

There is a tremendous underrepresentation of Latin@ students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors and in higher education. According to MECHA of UCLA’s Educational Pipeline, out of 100 elementary latin@ students, only 8 will graduate with a BA degree, 2 of these students will earn a professional or graduate degree. As the levels of education become higher, the numbers of Latin@’s drop drastically. Outreach events and programs are the backbone of increasing diversity among the sciences.

 

For more information contact SACNAS at UCLA: http://www.sacnasatucla.com/contact-us.html

You can also visit: http://mechadeucla.weebly.com/

Not Your Typical Trio: Son de Kalavera’s Music Is a Tribute To Multiculturality

Son de Kalavera, a trio composed of violinist Veronica, guitarist Vicky, and guitarrón player Ray, take the stage, surrounded by papel picado and tissue paper flowers. Veronica and Vicky’s faces are painted as customary for Dia de los Muertos. They play with great energy, transitioning between songs, genres, and cultures seamlessly.

Their music evokes nostalgia and tastes like Mexico with a multicultural twist. “¡Pónganse a bailar! C’mon, guys, dance!” yells the guitarist cheerfully as they smoothly transition from “Guantanamera” to “Twist and Shout.” Renown rock-and-roll songs, contemporary songs like “All About That Bass” and the Latin classic “La Bamba” are interwoven with old-fashioned rancheras.

Formed in 2005 by Vicky Olvera, Raymond “Ray” Sanchez, and Veronica Ibarra, Son de Kalavera has become a symbol of cultural, generational, and musical unity. Their repertoire is composed of songs from a myriad of genres and generations.

In their childhood, they were surrounded by various genres of music. They were brought up listening to Javier Solis, The Temptations, and everything in between.

“I grew up listening to Doo-Wop,” Ray Sanchez recalls. “I wouldn’t be able to choose a favorite genre. I like them all!”

The environment they grew up in fostered their affinity for a myriad of different musical forms.

The members of Son de Kalavera attended Sierra Vista High School in Baldwin Park, California. There, they were taught to play mariachi by music teacher Luis Fregoso.

“Fregoso took us deeper into what mariachi music is,” says Veronica Ibarra.” “He brought older songs that aren’t played anymore. He introduced us to another side of mariachi music, one different from what one usually listens to like ‘El Mariachi Loco’ and ‘Volver Volver’. Vicente Fernandez is a big influence for me, but there are songs written way before him that aren’t really listened to.”

Son de Kalavera has received a large amount of appreciation for playing songs from Revolutionary Mexico and the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, inspiring nostalgia in their audience. For guitarist Vicky Olvera, one of the greatest rewards as a musician is the ability to transport her audience back in time and to see the smiles on their faces as they recall pleasant memories.

Throughout the 15 years they’ve played together, they’ve had very unique experiences. As part of a half-time show for a soccer game at the Rose Bowl in 2008, they helped break the world record for most mariachi musicians playing at the same time. They’ve also performed at a sold-out concert with Marco Antonio Solis and Joan Sebastian.

This experience was very important to Veronica Ibarra on a personal level.

“My grandma was a big person in my life,” she says “and Marco Antonio Solis was like her boyfriend. She would call her grandkids her ‘bukis’. By that time, she had already passed away. It meant a lot to me.”

Perhaps their most interesting experience was being hired to play for an event they were told was to be a party. When they arrived, they were instructed to stand in front of lifesize statue of Malverde, the narco-saint, and sing to him. Around them were altars, offerings, and men walking around in robes.

“We were just playing our music to this statue,” remembers Vicky Olvera. “I think that was the weirdest. I remember we were all terrified.”

Son de Kalavera’s music is in a melting pot, a tribute to multiculturality.

“It’s not just about the Mexican side of us,” Veronica Ibarra explains. “It’s about everything else, too.”

Being equally exposed to Mexican and American culture, the two go hand in hand in both their musical careers and personal lives.

The name of their trio speaks of a universal truth: somos de calavera.

“Son de Kalavera,” Vicky Olvera explains, “means that underneath it all, regardless of color, race, sexual preference, or religion, we’re all skeletons underneath. Somos de calavera. We’re all the same. Somos lo mismo.”

For Web

Latino Organizations and NAK Collaborate to Promote Día de Los Muertos Altar

Nu Alpha Kappa, in collaboration with other organizations of the Latino Greek Council, decided to show the UCLA community a little taste of the Latin@ tradition by hosting a Día de los Muertos altar. The altar was held on November 2 in order to promote cultural awareness on campus. The sacred holiday is a syncretic blend of indigenous traditions and of Catholicism: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

 

Nu Alpha Kappa’s mission seeks to unite and involve all students in a more harmonious and brotherly atmosphere through academic, social, and cultural means. This is an effort that creates interfacing among students of different backgrounds in order to improve relations amongst students and the community.

 

Despite attending UCLA for three years now, Oscar Mateo, a member of NAK, feels there is a lack of cultural awareness on campus. Oscar Mateo stated, “You hardly see any Latino students, so [the altar] is for us to give them [Latin@ students] […] a more familiar and comfortable setting on campus.”

 

The sacred Mexican holiday confronts death through celebrations, festivals, and parades. It also involves reuniting with family and friends to remember the lives of loved ones.

 

For many, the altar was barely visible, but for some of our Latin@s peers, the altar brought back the nostalgic memories of being back home.

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5 Best Things Sandra Cisneros Said While in Los Angeles

Missed Sandra Cisneros at the Los Angeles Central Library with award winning author Reyna Grande? No worries, La Gente’s got you covered with some of the highlights of the interview and Q&A! In her esteemed and always heartfelt voice, Cisneros opened up about her upbringing in Chicago, the struggles of being a bilingual citizen and literary writer, as well as her relationship with her mother, men, typewriters, and the many houses she has tried to call her own.

 

Cisneros is currently on a book tour for her new memoir, A House of My Own, a delving into 30 plus years of her life as a child, daughter, critically acclaimed writer and Mexican-American pocha living on both sides of the border. Her works have been translated into more than 20 languages and is considered one of the most important literary figures of the late 20th century.

 

On Cisneros’s Process as a Writer:

“When you publish a book, the journalist asks you, ‘Why did it take you ten years to write this book since your last book’, and you think, was it 10 years? What was I doing?’ They think you’re working on one thing at a time but you have lots of kettles on the stove. So sometimes when I feel sad I’ll write a poem, or if my back hurts I write a story about a woman whose back hurts, ya know. I do things like that; I’m always doing different things. And I don’t know how other writers work; everyone’s process is mysterious. But for me I work on different things at the same time.”

 

About Growing Up –Adolescence and Men:

“You know, when it comes to surprises, I look back and… what a pendeja I used to be! I had no idea! Damnit! You know you’re in your twenties and you have no sense of your power, have no sense… you’re just an idiot. Wow! The horrible thing is that, for me, my adolescence started at 21, some women’s adolescence starts in 5th grade, and mine started in my twenties. But that period when I was a prime target for men… the twenties are very hard for women because you’re always trying to please all these guys. And I remember, I had no sense of myself. I couldn’t look in the mirror. I had to look at see if… I had power over men. And that’s such a wrong way to think. You don’t really ask yourself, what do I want that’s going to make me happier? What do I need? You’re always trying to please your father, or your church, or the state, or the culture you came from, and then it makes for a lot of heartbreak for yourself. I guess I don’t know how this person survived…”

 

On the Different Types of Poor People

“For me, I’ve always been indelibly linked with writing about houses. I really did have experiences with dealing with places that we rented for a long time. Usually the places that we rented were about $50 a month, affordable. And you know, these were very beautiful buildings made of brownstone or something… buildings that were going to be demolished: It was in neighborhoods that were always destined for urban renewal. And subsequently, landlords wouldn’t put any money on it, so on the outside it looked like a dump but inside my mother and father, like many people… You know…there’s two different kinds of poor people, many more than that, but you did have the proud poor that painted their houses with whatever resources they had, they put geraniums in an aluminum can and decorate it. Then, you had people who carried a lot of grief on their back and they’ve been abused and you can tell in their house. It’s scary, and the blinds are all crooked and they can’t get out of their depression or their addictions and, you know we had the house that was the former.

But we had relatives who lived in the latter house, and I would sit in their tables and walk through their rooms. I was very conscious of how one would be judged about coming out of a house like that, and how I was judged coming out of a house that I came from.”

 

On Living as a Pocha in Mexico:

“Yo creo que para nosotros, los México-Americanos, primero, hay mucha vergüenza de viajar a México…y no nos reciben los Mexicanos con brazos abiertos. Nos dan más lata, aceptan el español mocho-broken de las gringuitas, y nosotros si lo hablamos mal nos dicen –hay, y porqué no hablan español? Y es una manera de desprecio, una desconfianza, no nos hacen sentir bienvenidos. En México, si tu vas a la librería, no encuentras mi libro. Encuentras a Isabel Allende, pero no encuentras libros de ningún Mexicano-Americano. Yo lo siento, yo me doy cuenta.

Pero yo creo, alguien con raíces en México ve cosas que otros nunca ven. Parece muy curioso y chistoso si ves una indígena caminando con su sudadera y dice ‘WASSUP?’ por atrás. O pasas por la calle y hay unas bancas en la placita y ves una señora sentada muy arregladita esperando por el autobús y tiene un Jesús Cristo acostado en sus piernas como un novio. Esas cosas me parecen chistosas. Nadie se fija, pero yo me fijo de esas cosa. Y, bueno, será que es México … no sé.. cada vez que salgo de la casa veo una cosa que me deja con la boca abierta. No sé, a veces son cosas bonitas, a veces son cosas feas, hay cosas tiernas y muy muy dulces.”

 

On Her and Latinx Literature:

“When I was young I was writing I was looking too for [Latinx writers like me], and the writers I found were old, they were men. They were the only ones translated; I didn’t know women wrote until later. So I was reading Garcia-Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, … but I also found that there were other people that spoke to me. Not just Latin American writers, I would inadvertently find writers like Dorothy Allison, you know, a working class lesbian writer from the South, and she spoke to me and my poverty. And then I’d read about some gay male writer, he spoke to me. So sometimes, you’re never going to know where you’re going to find that voice, but I’ve always been searching. I’m always looking on the margins for that… Japanese American writer who writes about living in Georgia. A little bit of hybridization… its those writers who tend to give me permission to write. And I still, now, I don’t want to read the bestsellers, I’m sure they’re fine, but all books are medicine and everyone’s subscription is different. So I’m always looking for those writers who give me a new way to write and give me permission to go beyond my reach and nurture.”

 

Sandra Cisneros will be touring the U.S. in support of new memoir. Like what you just read? Want to know more about Cisneros as an artist or a person? Want to explore your own literary Spanglish contradictions? Pick up a copy of A House of My Own!

Jose Ramirez Art Exhibition at Zona Rosa

 

Artist and Educator, Jose Ramirez, is exhibiting 33 of his paintings until November 15 in the Zona Rosa Coffee shop located in Pasadena. If you visit the exhibition, you may even be lucky enough to catch Ramirez outside the coffee shop selling more of his art with a table filled of vibrant prints and magnets.

 

Zona Rosa Coffee is currently honoring Día de los Muertos with creations by Ramirez and other artists, along with a community altar.  Thus, the petite two story coffee shop is splashed with color and tradition, offering more than just good coffee and beautiful paintings.  

 

Many of Ramirez’s paintings honor Los Angeles people and culture and provoke critical thought about conditions in this city. One of Ramirez’s featured paintings is titled Greening LA.  This piece shows a garden growing at the foot of the Los Angeles skyline.  It alludes to another of Ramirez’s passions, which is gardening.

 

Stay tuned for more on Ramirez and his art of gardening. Meanwhile, make sure to visit his exhibition in Zona Rosa Coffee before November 15!

Submission: Connected to Two Lands

By Victor A. Roldán

Connected by birth and the great American promise: dirt.

I am connected to two lands.

Tierra Méxicana. Chicano eyes, drawn south, forever south.

Mi corazón swells with affection and instinctual reflection.

Tierra de mis abuelos, flesh of Tonantzin, once so rich with sustenance, the gift of Quetzalcoatl.

Cemanahuatl, brown is her sunkissed flesh.

Brown, that differentiates me from them, like truth from “his-story” and roots of antiquity from the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

I am connected to two, connected by blood, the lineage of the dog and birth’s promise of dirt to cover my brown face.

México, mi corazón, trampled by boots of greed and carved by mentiras and the knife of defeat. America, land of the rich, land of shattered dreams and that blood stained promise of dirt.

I am connected to two lands.

America, you tell me I was born free, even as you have built, and build, so many towering walls around me…yet, I look to barrio soil and at this very hour there grows a Mexican flower.

Hija mia, Mexicatl, princesa, Chichimecatl, who cries out loud and proud for Brown Power!

México, you give me truth and pride.

America, you give me promise.

I am connected to two lands. I am undefeated with the growth of that Mexican flower.