Vagina Monologues 2014

If your vagina could talk, what would it say? If it could dress, what would it wear?

Cast Members of the Vagina Monologues tell you everything there is to know about vaginas!

Hosted by UCLA’s very own Social Awareness Network for Activism through Art (SANAA), the Vagina Monologues works to promote and embrace everything that comes along with being a woman. What started off as a celebration for women is now seen as a movement to help combat gender inequalities and raise awareness against gender violence. Cast members engage the audience to feel happy, angry, sad, and even awe by presenting different aspects of feminine experiences. Their ultimate goal: deconstruct the conceiving notion that vaginas are taboo and embrace it as a tool of women empowerment.

Faith Kearns shows the audience a painting of her “unique, beautiful, fabulous vagina” from her monologue, “The Vagina Workshop”

Faith Kearns shows the audience a painting of her “unique, beautiful, fabulous vagina” from her monologue, “The Vagina Workshop.”

Sara Beil is all smiles after sharing with the audience how she comes to love her vagina in “Because He Liked to Look At It”.

Sara Beil is all smiles after sharing with the audience how she comes to love her vagina in “Because He Liked to Look At It.”

Jen Lainez gets the crowd warmed up with her monologue, “My Angry Vagina”. Does anyone else feel heated?

Jen Lainez gets the crowd warmed up with her monologue, “My Angry Vagina”. Does anyone else feel heated?

Performed by Mitali Gupta and Laura Savage, “My Vagina Was My Village”, tells the untold and devastating experiences of Bosnian women refugees.

Performed by Mitali Gupta and Laura Savage, “My Vagina Was My Village”, tells the untold and devastating experiences of Bosnian women refugees.

 

Genevieve Zimmerman gets the audience worked up with her different tones in moans. Her performance, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Other Vaginas Happy” included its very own UCLA moan!

Genevieve Zimmerman gets the audience worked up with her different tones in moans. Her performance, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Other Vaginas Happy” included its very own UCLA moan!

 

In, “I Was There in the Room,” Julia Saunders expresses awe and appreciation for what a vagina is capable of doing: reproducing human life.

In, “I Was There in the Room,” Julia Saunders expresses awe and appreciation for what a vagina is capable of doing: reproducing human life.

Lea Guillory leaves the crowd with a last impactful note, “until we refuse to accept anything that does not include all, one billion will rise for justice.”

Lea Guillory leaves the crowd with a last impactful note, “until we refuse to accept anything that does not include all, one billion will rise for justice.”

 

Maria Varela

 

 

End the Fear. End the Tension. Ethnic Studies Requirements Now!

California State University of Los Angeles (CSULA) students started pushing to expand ethnic studies as a GE requirement last month.

For students here at UCLA, I similarly encourage action towards ending the fear of ethnic knowledge and the ending of racial tension. Both are intertwined. My belief is that the lack of knowledge and lack of exposure for different cultures perpetuates racism. Like the student action at CSULA, students at UCLA ought to advocate for ethnic studies requirements for all students attending UCLA. In my perspective, all students ought to take at least two to three ethnic studies courses.

After learning about the struggle and the oppression people of color have experienced in an Anglo dominated country, students will be knowledgeable in the unique experience of people of color. Unity with diversity starts with exposure. It continues with education. Ethnic studies courses focus on the experience of one group of people. Similar to how traditional American history emphasizes male European Americans, while Africans and African Americans are often referred to in textbooks as indentured servants and slaves, indigenous people referred to as “Indians,” savages, and primitive. It is no wonder why students feel it is okay to make sexist slurs and racial epithets towards people of color. All they know is an unbalanced history of the Americas. Every cultural experience brings light to different music, art, food, languages, and successes. American History (this includes the history of North and South America) has a variety of that.

It is time for action. Too often, minority communities stand pensive and in defense. The time has come when a strategy of action must be implemented to end racial tension and racism, not with weapons but with knowledge. Yes, I want every student to learn the history of Chicano/as, and the history of African Americans, and the history of Asian Americans in the name of unity with diversity. It is our story as the people of the United States. ¡Que haya luz! Let there be light!

 

Miguel Martinez

L.A. Ska Wars 2014

“Todos Los Angeles,” screams Chris Merlin, singer of Chencha Berrinches, and the large crowd of locals begin clapping their hands in unison. These locals helped sell out the 6th annual of Ska Wars, which was held at the Plaza de la Raza on Saturday February 8th.

Thirty bands played on one of two stages for hundreds of people, the majority of who were local Latino youth. Most bands originated from the Los Angeles area and have shaped Ska music into a culture that most Latino youth embrace.

This annual event provides a safe space where Latino youth can dance and listen to Ska music from bands that come from communities similar to their own. “This (music) is coming out of my city. This is coming out of my county… (Ska Wars is) a whole new space closer to home,” says Hector Rivera, bassist for Mafia Rusa.

Ska Wars places entertainment at the center of community building. Through a shared badass culture and similar admiration for these cool bands and music, locals can come together in one space. “That’s the basic idea between any concert really, just keep people united and having fun, all in one place,” says Nicolas Curiel, frontman of Profesor Galactico.

Many of these bands began their careers playing in backyard shows. Now, they continue to influence people on the main stage. Through their music, people have come together as a community to participate in a shared culture.

Ska Wars is a great event to skank your heart out, and is a perfect stress reliever without any repercussions for hitting someone in the face. The music is on point and the people are cool. Ska Wars continues to be a great event for the Ska scene in Los Angeles.

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R.J. Palacio’s debut novel Wonder addresses difference, acceptance and kindness

How is one supposed to live their life normally when anyone who simply glances at you ends up screaming in terror?

In R.J. Palacio’s debut novel, Wonder, she tells a heartfelt tale of ten-year old August Pullman, who was born with a facial deformity that has prohibited him from having any semblance of a normal life, much less able to have a normal schooling experience. After years of being home-schooled, he is enrolled in middle school at Beecher Prep, where he is exposed not only to the daily tribulations of children turning into teenagers and the particularly mean streak that comes along with it, but to the relationships that can be created when one is finally able to accept others for what they simply and truly are.

We find in August an endearing main character: a sweet, humorous, and intelligent boy obsessed with Star Wars, but who is also just as easily hurt even after he has seen all sorts of horrified reactions directed at him. The story is told through different points of view, including that of August’s older sister Via, her boyfriend, her former best friend, and several of the children that August meets at school. The shifting narration allows for the reader to understand clearly how others perceive August, not just how he believes they see him, and the reasons as to why they behave towards him the way they do. The voices are clear, and believably honest and distinct enough to recognize each character as an entity of their own. They each help August’s story move forward by adding to his character growth from the beginning to the end of fifth grade, up to his ultimate realization that he’s not ordinary because others do not see him that way.

Although Wonder is a fairly quick and easy read, its strength lies in its power to draw out raw emotions from you. Simple lines will make you laugh, will make you cry, will make you yearn to protect all the characters from any kind of harm. It is a book that does not fail to emphasize the importance of acting with kindness, not as a vehicle for our own self-convenience, but simply because we can choose to do so.

You can learn more about R.J. Palacio at: http://rjpalacio.com/

And make sure to check out http://choosekind.tumblr.com/ where you can pledge the Choose Kind Initiative.

Maria Perez

“Can you change it to American music?” he said

“You live in a racist world, get use to it,” said my boss after I attempted to communicate my discomfort with an older man’s comments, who is also a regular customer at the coffeehouse where I work.

I played Bachata that morning as I had on many other occasions. I had also chosen to ignore the man’s remarks: “Can you change it to American music?”.

What was it about this one day? The need for him to understand he doesn’t get to dictate what American music is; the hurt I felt with this kind of classification; the desire I had to reverse the hurt and show him his mistake?

I politely asked that he not repeat his comments because they hurt and they felt racist. Instantly, I found myself needing to defend the fact that I called his comments racist and not him. I was ambushed, and immediately cast aside as I was told to go home for offending this customer with my comment. He had blatantly made the most ignorant and hurtful remark I had ever experienced as a UCLA student, and as a Hispanic currently living in Westwood for that matter.

My boss being of Mexican descent would feel a rude awakening when her own boss charged towards her with hateful words that questioned her managerial skills. And then my boss’s words became, “We cannot let them do this, we will fight this.”

There was no satisfaction in exposing this man, because that did not happen. There was no attempt to start a riot, and we didn’t. This was about being heard. The feeling of having risked the job I heavily depend on brought me to sheer panic. But having to tolerate his comments made me even more uneasy. The “investigation” continues as he still is allowed to dictate what American music is.

 

Luiza Pineda

Believing in a New California, Luis J. Rodriguez runs for governor

Luis J. Rodriguez, author of the memoir Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., understands that his former lifestyle is public knowledge and is often used to suppress him.

However, he embraces this inescapable “cholo” image. He says it shows his exemplary transformation, which is something he believes he can bring as governor of California.

“We need to have real voices that are going to take on the system,” Rodriguez said about his background and the issues of poverty that government officials pass over. “We need to put power back in the hands of the community, back in the hands of the gente.”

Rodriguez advocates for exposing the reality of California. His campaign emphasizes that California has the eighth largest economy in the world, but some of the worst poverty rates in the country. California, also, is among the worst states in arts and education funding but has the second largest prison system after the U.S. federal prison system.

Poverty is Rodriguez’s platform because he asserts, “everything stems from there.” He states that the poor are left out of the decision-making process and that financial budgets are balanced on the backs of the poor—balanced in ways that limit their resources. For instance, Rodriguez said that Governor Brown’s budget includes cuts to CalFresh, CalWorks, and other needed services.

Money is there to effect what he wants to do, Rodriguez says. The state just needs to re-prioritize, and distribute the necessities: health care, education and housing to those who are in need, not only to those who can afford them.

With the largest commercial port on the Pacific Rim, a fair taxation policy, will bring in billions of dollars, Rodriguez believes. He supports an oil severance tax, of which California is the only location on the planet to not have one.

Furthermore, Covered California, he says, is wasting billions of state dollars. He states that a single payer fully subsidized healthcare system will save money. In addition he feels that current tax dollars used to house adult and youth prisoners—more than $40,000 for adults and more than $200,000 for youth—can be used instead for mental and drug rehabilitation, job training, arts, education, and mentorship programs and facilities.

With an ambitious plan ahead of him, the first task for Rodriguez is getting his name on the ballot for the 2014 primary election for governor. His campaign has aimed at receiving 20,000 registered voter signatures, although the requirement is 10,000. February 20th is the deadline to sign Rodriguez’s petition.

“Students have been one of the largest group of people that have come out,” Rodriguez said. Currently being planned is a “Rodriguez for Governor” campaign event at UCLA. Rodriguez senses that students share his same frustrations and seeks to foster that support.

He’s received the support of the Green Party. Rejecting corporate endorsements because he doesn’t want any and won’t receive any, Rodriguez is relying on a grassroots plan. Despite having a long way to go, Rodriguez remains confident that he’ll get his name on the ballot.

He encourages those who’d like to learn more about his vision and his petition, to visit rodriguezforgovernor.org.

Los Callejones (L.A. Alleys)

When we think of touring L.A., the first thing that usually comes to mind are museums, the pier, 3rd Street Promenade and Rodeo Drive, but that can’t be all of L.A. right?
I decided to tour L.A. and find places that are worth visiting, in specific, places with a high Latino population. Although going to downtown may be intimidating for many, L.A.’s alleys -well known as “Los Callejones” for us Latinos- is certainly a place that you need to visit at least once while in L.A. Enjoy a place where you can literally find anything you need from clothes, to shoes and especially food. Personally, it reminds me of the many markets in Mexico where I used to shop as a kid, the music definitely brings that feeling to life.
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