Yo, Affirmative Action Bake Sale! How much for a mutt like me?

Above is a price list for a recent Affirmative Action Bake sale. Clever. Very clever, or so you thought. I take a few issues up with you cookie sellers: What would you charge a mutt like me? Would I get a 40% increase because I’m about 1/4 Caucasian? Or would I pay a combination of the Caucasian and Latino prices? What if I brought a few of my friends, would I get a Friends of Color super discount?  I’m curious that if you truly wanted to be original you would’ve thought of expanding on the idea that you ripped off from another school (or two, as a matter of fact) and added a more colorful array of payments. Would you offer a special “America Unlawfully Stole My Land and All I Got Was This Stupid Cookie?” Maybe you should’ve included a portion that said “We Accept EBT” if you wanted to also target those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is also a part of the UC admittance process. If so, I think you might want to adjust those prices because a high number of Caucasians receive welfare—higher than that of Latinos and Asians. Possibly a “Free Cookie to any Orphan or Victim of Abuse,” being that a personal struggle and story also played a part in the process.

If you were going to go out of your way to offend and attempt to facilitate conversation about the issues at hand with the UC Admittance process you might want to do some research and really facilitate a constructive debate on all the issues at hand. Don’t simply focus your attention on the easiest subject in the book: Race. Get over it; it’s getting a little played out at this point. Guaranteed you won’t hesitate to cheer for all the athletes of color though. Newsflash! Affirmative action affects them too. Maybe instead of trying to polarize the issue in such a way that makes you all appear as though you may be bordering on bigotry, you might want to pick up a book or get on a computer and do some research.

Your argument and frustrations are not with other students but with the Supreme Court who ruled on this many a moons ago. You think they’d like some cookies?

-Savannah Smith

Arte desde adentro

La Gente’s Free Your Mind project is aimed at incarcerated Latinos in California prisons. La Gente sends them letters, issues, and reading materials and in return the men write back with their stories and sometimes art pieces. La Gente is planning on expanding to include incarcerated women and children. However, due to cuts there has been a limit to what is sent.

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Letter sent by an individual in the Tehachapi State Prison.

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Both art pieces are from two artists in Pelican Bay State Prison, who are housed in the Security Housing Unit.

Taco Tuesdays!

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Looking for a casual place where to eat delicious tacos? Check out Tacos El Gallito near UCLA on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Westwood!

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Don’t know what to order? You can always have the classic meat burrito!

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Choose from a varied menu. Tacos, burritos or tortas with different kinds of meats: asada, lengua, tripitas, carnitas, chicken, you ask for it. Most importantly you don’t need to speak Spanish to order a meal. You can order in English if you’d like!

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Like most taco trucks, Tacos El Gallito does not have a restaurant setup with tables and chairs where to enjoy your food. If you are looking for something more formal check out their other location on the corner of Venice Blvd and La Brea Blvd.

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El Gallito Taco truck is open Mon-Thu 5pm-3am, Friday & Saturday 5pm-4am, Sunday 6pm-2am. It’s an ideal place for dinner or late nights out!

-Erika Ramirez

Non-profit theater group inspires hearing-impaired children

Michelle Christie and Samantha Dudley

As a deaf Latina I grew up struggling to comprehend the idea that my voice mattered. I developed a voice, yet didn’t know how to use it. I thought too much about how I sounded rather than letting my sentiments be known. I let the stigma of being deaf plague me for years. I questioned: ‘Can a single voice have no limits?’

I was shy among my family and friends. I giggled a lot and considered myself an observer. I was on the sidelines of life; I saw what happened but never really lived my life. I didn’t know I was short of confidence, but I knew something was missing.

In elementary school my speech therapist Michelle Christie asked me if I wanted to join her theater group. I didn’t. I hesitated talking to people, unless they spoke to me first. She continued to invite me and I ritually declined. Low and behold, one day we had a class field trip to see her theater group in action.

I walked into the theater entrance in awe of the vibrant colored sets and lighting on stage. The program read: “No Limits for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children presents the play ‘Timeless Journey.’” There were pictures of each actor and their bios. I saw a couple of my deaf friends in the program.

The next hour seriously changed my life. Here I was staring at my fellow deaf friends, watching them act, speak and perform. They were telling jokes and guiding this story. I waved at them when they were on stage. But they didn’t wave back. They were real actors that didn’t break the fourth wall. The lights and sound effects and the costumes were just the icing of the whole production. It really was a production.

I remember seeing Michelle sitting on the right side of the audience. It was dark but I could tell she had a head set on with a microphone. She had her hand over her mouth and as soon as she moved it, she revealed this massive smile. She giggled and even said some of the lines with the actors. She looked so whole. She was smiling from ear to ear.

I remember when the play ended I was floored at how moved I was. I found myself staring at a place where I knew I wouldn’t be judged for being deaf and using my voice. The room exploded with applause. After the show, a music box melody turned on. The stage lights transitioned from yellow to a soft blue hue. The youngest actor came out on stage. He smiled and began to say, “I can be a doctor.”

Everyone was clapping and hollering with liveliness. Each child came out from back stage and had their moment to say what they wanted to be when they grew up. Some wanted to be lawyers and singers. Finally, the 12 deaf and hard of hearing kids on stage, one by one, exclaimed that they could do it one day. “I can do it,” each one said. And then finally, in unison, they all said, “We can do it!” The audience just couldn’t contain themselves. Immediately, I wanted to radiate like them. They had something I had lacked. They were oozing with confidence.

From that moment on I have been a part of this amazing organization. I rehearsed lines, made friends and even wore costumes. Michelle Christie, founder of No Limits, always urged us to be loud, and if you skipped a line, to keep going. She said that to have confidence we must believe that we can do it. Michelle taught me that to have confidence we must have commitment, saying that ‘I will do it.’ In order for us to have commitment we needed to have perseverance, the ability to try and try again. I remember feeling like I was a part of this support group of children who were just like me, given a chance to use their voice without facing judgment.

After years of acting, I retired and became a volunteer as a crew member. At age 16 I was now backstage of a show, cueing the kids to go out on stage to conclude the show with a bow. I finally understood truly what Michelle felt that day when her students spoke on stage. That teary-eyed face is literally tears of joy from knowing that the child nailed the line that took him or her weeks to practice. That ear-to-ear smile is pure excitement that the child was able to not only say his or her line but project their voice with utter confidence for everyone to hear.  It’s just an amazing moment to have things come in full circle—seeing Michelle smile and feeling myself smile from ear to ear.

No Limits for Deaf Children has evolved from a summer program outlet into a National Theater Program and a non-profit organization that provides speech therapy free of charge to lower income families. Located in Culver City, No Limits is the first theater company in the nation that helps Oral Deaf and Hard of Hearing actors to speak on stage. Michelle has broken boundaries and changed the lives of many deaf and hard of hearing children and their families. She has made speech therapy fun and relevant for kids. Michelle believes in advocating for children. She has always in some way, shape, or form advocated for me.

Earlier I had asked if a single voice can have no limits. The answer is yes. Confidence correlates with having no limits. Having no limits to me means being boundless even at times where you may encounter failure. It’s the ability to try something and say, “Hey, at least I did it.”

When I performed for the No Limits Theater Program I always said, “I can be a writer.” And in some way I did. Michelle has taught me many life lessons—one being to embrace life with confidence. So it is with confidence that I write this and leave you with a question: Does your voice have no limits?

If you would like to know more about No Limits and their non-profit visit their website, nolimitsfordeafchildren.org.

Also, watch Maya and Miguel feature No Limits for Deaf Children!

-Samantha Dudley

Unpaid internships hurt low-income students

In an economy where jobs are scarce, it’s almost a requirement for college students to get an internship to show some work experience on their resumes. However, during my college years I’ve regretfully had to turn down a few internships that could have benefited me. Why? Well, simply put, I couldn’t afford to work for free.

The term “free” might be a bit controversial for employers who deny that their interns gain nothing. In their opinion, instead of an income, interns gain valuable work experience and even academic credit. While that may be true and definitely beneficial, this limits the kind of students who can access these internships. It limited students like me.

Coming from a low-income family I relied heavily on scholarships, grants and even loans to pay for my tuition and cost of living. So, when it came to internships I knew it would be tough because most internships were unpaid. Trying to find paid internships was like looking for a needle in a haystack. And on top of finding a paid internship to apply to, I had to worry about the hundreds of other applicants competing for that same position.

Needless to say, finding a paid internship was exhausting and stressful. Luckily, I did find an awesome paid internship! I am very thankful for the experience and wonderful people that I met –something I hope every college student gets the chance to do.

Although I strongly believe that internships are great ways to boost your resume and even land a job after graduation, I do not condone companies who do not pay their interns a cent.

I feel that unpaid internships are unfair to those who simply can’t afford to work without getting paid. Even worse, if a person is qualified, preference is often given to the student willing to be unpaid. Without an internship, students have less of a chance getting a job once they graduate. This adds even more pressure to their looming graduation date.

According to CNN reports, students accumulate an average of $35,200 in student debt. Therefore, taking out more loans and asking parents for more money just to get through a summer internship adds to this number and hurts students even more.

CNN also found that most college grads under 25 face an 8.8% unemployment rate. As a result, students from lower income families are put in a tight spot: accepting an unpaid internship and taking out more loans, only to graduate without a job. This is the harsh reality for many college grads, and it only makes the value of internships even greater. But it has also begun to create resentment among college students.

Interns at the White House have been lobbying to get paid for their 40 hours a week. Admittedly, this particular example shocked me because I assumed that the more established and well-off companies are, or in this case, the government itself, took better care of their interns. However, even the highest on the totem pole prefer free interns.

I sincerely sympathize with all college students who are forced to take unpaid internships, especially those who have to bury themselves in even more debt, or like me, reject internship offers. Although I strongly encourage internships for work experience, I do not agree with companies that do not pay their interns. Even a minimum wage salary would suffice. That way, instead of taking someone’s order at McDonald’s over the summer, students could at least gain valuable experience and pay.

I hope that the future of internships for college students will improve, so that they may gain the experience they desire— and, earn a little cash while they’re at it.

 

Despite Chavez Ravine injustices, Latinos connect with Los Doyers

Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine (Photo by The City Project)

For many Latinos ¡Viva Los Doyers! is a common phrase heard growing up. The Dodgers, or Los Doyers, is a very prominent team in the Latino community. Many Latinos in Los Angeles “bleed blue” and support the Dodgers year round. Latinos’ faithfulness to the team is unquestionable, even from Latinos who still remember what lies beneath Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles hasn’t always been the home to the Dodgers. In 1957 the Brooklyn Dodgers decided to come to the West Coast. Looking for a new stadium, Dodger owner Walter O’Malley saw an area in downtown as prime real estate. This village, home to many generations of Mexican Americans, was called Chavez Ravine.

Residents of Chavez Ravine, more than 1,000 families, were forcefully evicted from their homes. Many Latino families who were undocumented had no choice in the matter.

Latino residents resisted this injustice through unofficial boycotts such as the “Battle of Chavez Ravine,” where they refused to leave their homes. The mayor and Dodger officials made countless false promises to Latino residents, assuring them that they would be paid for leaving their homes. These promises never came to pass.

After displacing many Latino families, in June of 1958 the housing units were wiped out and Dodger Stadium construction began. Many Latino families would feel resentment towards the Dodger franchise for years to come.

But today it seems the injustices at Chavez Ravine are nothing but a distant memory, as Latino communities now embrace the Dodgers. Now, what could be the cause to this historical amnesia? The answer lies within #34.

The #34 was embroidered on the jersey of none other than Fernando Valenzuela, the pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers who led them to the World Championship in 1981. This Mexican Major League baseball pitcher from Sonora Mexico represented the Latino community and connected the team to the Latino population in Los Angeles. This was the beginning of the Latino and Dodger relationship.

This connection, tying Latinos to the Dodgers, has continued throughout the years with players such as shortstop Luis Cruz, right fielder Yasiel Puig, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Diana Chacon, a Chicana/o Studies major at UCLA, who affectionately calls the Left Field Pavilion at Dodger Stadium “La Raza Pavilion”, acknowledges the injustices for many Latinos during the 50s. However, she says they’re in the back of her mind when she’s at games. What the Dodgers have given to the Latino community since then have more than made up for it in her opinion.

A Dodger fan since birth, Chacon says Dodgers represent more than a sport. “The Dodgers remind me of my grandfather who used to take me to games.”

Chacon recalls her late grandfather, who became a fan during the Valenzuela era, feeling proud to see a ballplayer from Mexico playing for the Dodgers, especially during a time where few Latinos were in sports.

The Dodgers and Latino culture in Los Angeles have been bound together for decades. Despite the tumultuous beginning to the Dodgers’ arrival, Dodger Stadium represents something bigger to the Latino community. It’s a place where their culture and city can come together.

“The Dodgers allow me to feel connected to my city and my culture,” Chacon said. “Los Angeles is our city, Los Doyers is our team.”

-Katherine Batanero

Reflections on Sonia Sotomayor and Latina/o Role Models

“When a young person, even a gifted one, grows up without proximate living examples of what she may aspire to become— whether lawyer, scientist, artist, or leader in any realm— her goal remains abstract. Such models as appear in books or on the news, however inspiring or revered, are ultimately too remote to be real, let alone influential. But a role model in the flesh provides more than an inspiration; his or her very existence is confirmation of possibilities one may have every reason to doubt, saying, “Yes, someone like me can do this.”

-Sonia Sotomayor, My Beloved World

My Beloved World by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is an inspiring autobiography. She includes memories from early childhood to her entrance into the high court. Sotomayor touches on topics and feelings that many young Latino college students can relate to, such as feelings of inferiority upon arrival at a premiere university and the importance that family has in shaping one’s college and personal life.

Personally, I related to her story, especially to the emotions and lessons that she shares during her time at Princeton. They are similar to the lessons that I have learned at UCLA and the experiences that I have so far as a Latina college student.

Reading her story made me realize how many things have changed since she entered higher education. Things are seemingly different for today’s Latino students.

However, some things did remain consistent through time. She recounts her lack of knowledge about the college admissions process. Her high school best friend, who was a year older, advises her on how to apply. Word of mouth is prevalent among Latino students trying to apply to colleges. Regardless of the time period, it remains that your friends or family members, who are one or two years older, become guides through the murky process.

But, one thing has definitely changed. Latino individuals have experienced becoming the first Supreme Court Justices, Congress members, and neuroscientists. There are more Latino role models in close proximity to students now than there has been in the past.

When Sotomayor was in college there was not a single Latino faculty member, yet I look around UCLA and see Latino professors and mentors all around me. I go to my internship and see empowered Latina businesswomen leading departments. I realize I have plenty of people who have been in my similar place to gain inspiration. While these numbers have increased and there are more Latinos in higher education, we have not broken into every single field of study. There are still many fields where Latinos are the minority and trailblazing for the rest of us.

We must acknowledge that while we may not be the first, it is important that we are not the last. Each of us is serving as a role model “in the flesh” and we must continue developing and helping the younger Latinos around us.