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The 35th Anniversary of Zoot Suit

On Thursday, May 19, many Chicanos gathered at the Fowler Museum to watch the film Zoot Suit. The film was shown in honor if its 35th anniversary and included a Q&A with the writer and director, Luis Valdez. A sense of pride could be felt in the room as many Latino/as dressed in the pachuco style and greeted each other with excitement.

Zoot Suit is a film adaptation from the play Zoot Suit, which is based on the Sleepy Lagoon murder trial and the Zoot Suit Riots that occurred during the 1940s. It focuses on the story of Henry Reyna and the 38th Street Gang who were tried for the Sleepy Lagoon case in Los Angeles. Twenty-two members of the gang were arrested and sentenced to life in prison even though there was not enough evidence to link them to the crime. The story also follows Reyna’s struggle with his identity and role as a pachuco in the United States through the guidance of El Pachuco, who serves as his conscience.

The play debuted in 1979 and broke barriers as it was the first Chicano play on Broadway. It then went on to break more barriers by becoming a film. The film includes a wide array of talented actors such as Daniel Valdez and Edward James Olmos. There are many musical numbers that add to the richness of the story and highlight the importance of the scenes. It also displays how Mexican-American youth coped with their treatment in the United States during the 1940s, a time where they were targeted by the military and police officers for the way they dressed.

After the film, the audience gave a standing ovation to the creator, Luis Valdez, and many audience members thanked him during the Q&A for creating a story that celebrated Chicano/a culture. Valdez stated that he had to fight in order to be the director and screenwriter of the film so that he could cast Latino/a actors. He knew that otherwise, the cast would have been predominantly white, as Hollywood is known for whitewashing stories of people of color. His fight to highlight Latino/a culture is recognized as thirty-five years later, Zoot Suit still makes people proud and receives a standing ovation from audience members.

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Previously, On Chismeando con La Gente

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Last week on “Chismeando con La Gente,” we discussed the importance of gender inclusive bathrooms in public spaces.

Co-hosts Jocelyn and Andrea were joined by Alex Currie. Currie, a first year transfer student majoring in Chicana/o Studies, identifies as agender. As a young, agender Latinx, Alex advocates for gender inclusive bathrooms and the comfort and safety they provide for non-binary, transgender, and gender fluid individuals.

Despite recent demonstrations in Los Angeles and across the country in support of gender neutral bathrooms, gender inclusive restrooms are still violently challenged. Recently, North Carolina’s bathroom bill has received national spotlight. Signed into law by Governor Patrick McCrory, the infamous bill has barred people from using public restrooms that do not align with their biological sex. Opponents of gender inclusive restrooms fail to effectively argue for separate sex bathrooms due to their use of transphobic rhetoric.

Like all hate speech, transphobic rhetoric is dangerous because it manifests into everyday life. Pearl Love, an outreach social worker with Bronx based Translatina Network, captured her physical assault on video. Although Love’s assault took place on a crowded New York subway, bystanders did not interfere. In her video description, Love writes: “So now you can understand what’s happening in my everyday life. That happens all the time. But it’s my first time recording it.”

Between 2013 and 2014, hate crimes targeting transgender individuals tripled. Although abolishing sex specific bathrooms and advocating for public gender-inclusive bathrooms will provide comfort to many, it is important to discuss transphobia and bring an end to hate crimes.

Make sure to tune into “Chismeando con La Gente,” on UCLAradio.com every Thursday at 2:00 P.M., where we discuss el chisme that really matters: intersectional feminism, education, equity, and all things social justice.

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Commuter, Undocumented, and Undeterred

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Antonio* travels on public transportation for a total of four hours everyday. Two hours to campus and another two hours back to Compton, his hometown. A busy schedule prompts the chemistry major and applied mathematics minor to frantically study on the train and bus before and after classes. He adds, “It’s easier to get work done when you get a seat.”

 

Antonio wakes up at five in the morning every day for his first class that begins at eight. He walks to the train station, takes the Blue Line, transfers to the Purple/Red Line, and finally takes the 720 bus to get to campus.

 

In an attempt to graduate on time, Antonio has taken four classes since Fall quarter of his Freshman year. Three days a week he assists in guided research. He is responsible for running reactions that he believes would be a good addition to the lower division organic chemistry labs. Although the research is not entirely his own creation, he is given a lot of responsibility with little to no supervision.  

 

Antonio routinely checks the food closet located on campus throughout the day rather than spend money on a campus restaurant or store. Other times he eats at the dining halls on behalf of the meal voucher program.

 

Hoping he makes it just in time before sunset, Antonio rushes to the bus after classes to prevent any possible trouble with the local gangs that have harassed and mugged him in the past while on his way home from school. Upon arriving home, he eats his mother’s home-cooked meal and is ready to crash on his bed. This cycle is repeated the following day.

 

Despite the little to no educational background (his mother only finished elementary school and his father only finished high school), Antonio has exceptionally broken academic barriers.

 

Antonio was brought to the United States at 3 months old from Mexico, which is now a foreign country to him. He barely holds onto his maternal language and is in many ways more American than Mexican, yet there is an uneasiness that lies ahead. The uncertainty of being deported or the enforcement of discriminatory laws always looms ahead.

 

As an undocumented student, Antonio thanks the greater political strides that have been undertaken to ease the hardship for undocumented students. “I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), AB 540, and the Dream Act (AB 130-131 University Aid) because of the money,” he says. Luckily, he can now also apply for loans (SB 1210).   

 

Many undocumented students give up on their hope of attaining higher education due to the financial burden and uncertainty of investment. To Antonio, however, “Motivation is the key to success.”  

 

A lot of Antonio’s high school friends left their education behind, prioritizing a day-job instead. Antonio says, “I’m really fortunate [because] I probably would have been those students.”

 

To all those who are undocumented, Antonio advises them to have a support group nearby. Antonio has his family and is involved with Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success — or IDEAS — at UCLA. IDEAS is a group on campus dedicated to providing resources to undocumented students.

 

Antonio currently holds a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and hopes to continue research in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related field. Upon graduation, he said he also hopes to promote higher education among undocumented youth at King Drew High school, his old high school.

 

*Disclaimer: name changed in order to protect the identity of the student.

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May Day 2016 in Los Angeles

 

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This past Sunday, the International Workers May Day march and rally, organized by the May Day Coalition of Los Angeles, began at 11th and Figueroa streets, stopped at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and ended at the Metropolitan Detention Center on Alameda St. Thousands of individuals, children, and families took to the streets to speak out about worker rights, immigrant rights, police accountability, and racial injustices.

Speakers from different organizations spoke out about the issues facing marginalized communities today. These communities include immigrants, Black lives, Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, and low-wage workers.

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This is especially prominent now that presidential elections are coming and one of the leading candidates is Donald Trump, who is openly xenophobic and racist. Members of these communities are targeted by Donald Trump and his bigotry. Black and Brown communities also continue to be under attack by police forces all over the country.

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May Day was a chance for these communities to come together in solidarity and demonstrate that they are a strong force standing against injustices. Many carried signs that read, “Labor, Black, Brown Unite! When The Police Shoot Us Down, We Shut Them Down!,” “Stop The Hate,” and “Dump Trump.”

Present were organizations such as Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Black Lives Matter, The Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) and various other community organizations, nonprofits, and unions.

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AF3IRM Presents: Ana Tijoux in LA

 

Well-known Chilean hip-hop artist, Ana Tijoux, performed in Midcity at the Fais Do Do on April 23rd for a benefit show for the LA based transnational feminist organization AF3iRM. The show gave the organization the support to continue organizing and doing community work for the liberation of mujeres and other people in nuestras comunidades. Along with Ana Tijoux, there were various other LA-based female-led artists, including Medusa the Gangsta Goddess (who is highly recognized in underground West Coast hip-hop), Tylana Renga and the Obsidian Flows, a group of violin musicians, and opening group Los Cambalache, which is a Chicano-Jarocho group based in East Los Angeles.

 

The entire night was meant to connect the art of music-making with political conscious action, as many of the artists present also advocate for a variety of social justice movements such as encouraging us to keep dreaming beyond the struggle. Medusa the Gangsta Goddess raps about female empowerment and the difficulties of being a woman in a male-dominated music scene. She opened up her set by letting the crowd know why she decided to title herself the way she has. Women in the hip-hop scene often have to act “Gangsta” for their position to be validated, while still remaining feminine and ladylike: hence Goddess and Medusa. So she “gangstered” her way to get where she is. Medusa was a inspiring energy on stage as her music focused on human connection, world energy, and spirituality. She also played a song dedicated for men, where she told them to listen up as she guides them through steps on how to get a good woman. This was inspired from seeing her mother date undeserving men, and she wished she could find a man that would treat her like the goddess that Medusa saw her as.

 

Ana Tijoux is also very well known and popular all over Latin America for her politically conscious music that has messages advocating for the liberation of indigenous Mapuche people in Chile, an end to worldwide corruption, and respect and freedom for immigrant communities, amongst other things. She began her set by dedicating the night to the struggles of immigrant people worldwide, but in specific–those detained in LA awaiting deportation and the separation from their families. She also encouraged everyone to come out the following Sunday morning to Chant Down the Walls: an action at the Metropolitan Detention Center calling for the end of deportations and justice for the hundreds being held there. Ana also made a speech about Latino unification and the ways being in North America is always a surreal and self-mutilating experience, as she finds herself  “en las entrañas del monstruo.”

 

 

As she ended her last song, I wanted to get a picture with her but I was extremely shy about her presence, so she ended up giving me a hug, instead. I encouraged my sister to go speak to her and tell her about the time she saw her perform two years ago in Santiago, Chile, for an action about housing justice for the Mapuche. I left feeling extremely inspired and empowered to tap into more of my creative energies as an outlet and voice for my personal liberation, and that of my people.

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7 Comments Commuters Are Tired of Hearing

This piece was written by Kimberly Soriano and Roxana Martinez.

 

  1. “At least you’re saving money…”

       Response: Umm no, I’m still broke.

freaks and geeks

 

  1. “That’s not thaaat bad…”

       Response: Oh, really? Is your walk to the dorms worse?

dw

 

  1. “Lucky, at least you get your mom’s food….”

        Response: Not all moms cook.

annoyed

 

  1. “I wish I can be home all the time”

        Response: Between our bus commute and our time on campus, we’re almost never home.

yzma

 

  1. “Why don’t you get a car?”

         Response: Yeah, because I have that kind of money just laying there.

why

 

6. “Save me a seat in class!” -the student who lives on campus

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  1. “At least you don’t have to pay rent.”

        Response: Some students have the privilege of not having to pay rent and others do not have that      privilege and pay rent at home.

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In conclusion: commuters are tired, hungry, and sleepy, so feed us and stop asking for annoying favors or justifying our long trip home!

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