La Gente Newsmagazine

 

La Gente Newsmagazine is for el estudiante interested in Latina/o issues. We represent the diversity of our culture and cultivate pride within our community. We’re a forum for conversation, dedicated to inspiring readers to get involved and get their voices heard.

 

La Gente's first issue, Feb 16. 1971

La Gente’s first issue, Feb 16. 1971

 

La Gente’s first issue was released February 16, 1971 under the editorship of Samuel Paz. Our publication was created out of the need to empower Chicana/o and Latina/o voices, which were otherwise ignored in mainstream campus news outlets. The spirit, and social and political climate of the Chicana/o Movement influenced the significance of our publication. Since our inception we have published at least one issue a year, making us one of the longest, continuously  student-run newsmagazines in the nation.

 

Fall 2010 Immigration Issue

Fall 2010 Immigration Issue,
Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award Winner

 

Apart from journalism, La Gente has two community components. With the Free Your Mind Project La Gente sends literature, scholarly articles, and our recent print issues to California male inmates. We receive letters from the inmates that humbly retell their life experiences. Also, some inmates send us their creative art work, and we feature it in our Sigan Luchando section.

 

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La Gente’s second community component is a partnership with LA CAUSA Youthbuild’s journalism elective course. Not even a year old, this partnership has seen much collaboration. The students have visited our office and we have visited their classroom– both have produced enlightening conversations and have circulated a wealth of journalistic knowledge. Currently, we are working to help the journalism course produce a publication titled La Identidad.

 

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While there’s still no World Cup

A whole different story

When I tell people I am from Brazil I always get the same reactions. They say how awesome my country is, that we have the best soccer players, and the hottest women. But what I’ve been hearing more recently is how wealthy my country is becoming.

Well… There’s something not quite right about that last statement.

Yes, everything that people are saying about Brazil is true. We do have awesome beaches, Rio is beautiful and indeed very hot, soccer is a big thing for Brazilians, we have five World Cup trophies. We do have hot and sexy women, who are usually scantly dressed up shaking their asses in front of a TV screen. Unfortunately, what I cannot affirm is that we are getting wealthier, at least not in the positive meanings: the happiness of our population. We do have a lot of reasons to be proud of Brazil, but we have a lot to be sorry for as well.

With the World Cup getting closer, and the Olympic Games also confirmed to be hosted by Brazil, I can’t stop thinking of how our people are dealing with all this attention pointed toward my country. It’s true that we have an oddly free and relaxed way of living: Brazilians love to enjoy nature, to not take themselves very seriously. Instead, they’re very good communicators, easy to share their feelings (Brazilian soap operas play a big role in our people’s psyche) and to adapt in different environments.

However, people in my country are not happy with this up coming World Cup, with the Government’s lack of attention to our needs and for so many reasons that it gets complicated to bring everything up. The only good thing about this World Cup was to get other countries’ attention. We found that it was time to scream for the urgent needs that we have not been getting for a long time.

 The Giant is awake

It all started in the south. Porto Alegre is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and was the one planting the seeds. On March 23, 2013 a group of young protesters marched on the streets against the subtle fare-raise of bus passes. The government had inflated bus passes from R$ 2,85 to R$ 3,05 (Brazilian money). So people started to demand free passes; but, instead, the previous value was maintained. However, these protesters were beginning to build what later would become the main reasons why people were going to the streets: to retake our pride, justice, better conditions, respect, and voice.

The firsts real massive protests included most of the country’s states. Thousands of people, all ages, religions, and purposes got together to begin what would become one of the major protests that our history has ever had. There were thousands of purposes being marched for. In fact we didn’t know exactly what we were doing over there. But who cares? As long as everybody was shouting for the same reason – to be one strong voice – the effort was already worth it.

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Mass demonstration on Antonio Carlos Avenue leading directly to the Mineirão soccer stadium

Now, I’m going to tell how it was when the protests hit their highest point in this newest history of Brazil. In my town, Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais and one of the wealthiest and powerful states in Brazil, people are very engaged with what’s happening in our town. My generation likes to form events that will bring together all different kinds of people; we meet on public property to collectively feel how our artistic movements flourish. We have a lot of this happening there right now, and it’s great. But everything started to go wrong, our public transportation was bad, we didn’t have education that would open greater opportunities; poverty, crime, drugs and traffic have grown and in between all this we had thousands of promises with no results. We’re not getting any. So I woke up on that Wednesday, June 26th, feeling very excited. I remember everything about that day, when I became part of the huge mass of Brazilians claiming a better country.

As I walked from my apartment to meet a friend, I got the exact same feeling I would get if I were watching Brazil’s final match in the World Cup. We then went towards downtown where everybody would get together to march, almost seven miles, to the Mineirão, the stadium where Brazil and Uruguay were about to play for the Confederations Cup. The goal was to get there before the end of the game and bring a large number of people with posters displaying different feelings and political ideals. We wanted to get other countries’ media attention.  The least of our preoccupations at that moment was soccer.

Every time I think about that day I increasingly become more aware of my country’s needs. I love being Brazilian and I truly believe that we can improve our lives and be a better nation. The problem is that the more things get moving, the less I feel it changing. Everything we’re willing to achieve is becoming more utopic and distant. I hate being pessimist about it, but it’s very sad that we’re letting loose of our strongest ideals, when in fact we should be gaining more voices, as the time for people to see it is getting closer.

Can we make a difference?

I saw in the news the other day that Sweden has denied hosting the 2020 Winter Olympics, only because they have other priorities besides spending public money on these kinds of events. I cannot but agree with this inspiring country, which prefers focusing their energy and hard work in valuing the needs of their population, rather than doing something only for the benefits of their rulers, as we can sadly see happening in Brazil.

If I were to make an extensive list of priorities that our president Dilma Rousseff and our prime ministers should be working on to make real changes in Brazil, well, this article would be longer than it already is. Let’s at least point out the five most important things my country needs now, in order to make a real use of our money and also to better improve our system and the population’s happiness:

  1. Education
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Citizenship
  4. A trusting and workable justice system
  5. And to get over with our social boundaries.

As you could see there’s no soccer, no stadiums, no World Cup being demanded. And If I can, I’d also like to include a number zero on that list of 5 priorities. This is a very particular characteristic of every Brazilian citizen, and mostly applicable to our rulers and powerful people. It says a lot about our people’s colonization and how we’ve grown as Brazilians, the characteristic of always finding short cuts to fix our problems.  It’s called jeitinho Brasileiro. We’re still carrying the weight of our history, of our ancestors and colonizers. This is a deep and complex problem, as we’re still trying to set aside of all our past, strongly based on slavery, greed, corruption, exploitation and anti-cultural feelings, that still haunt us, though there’s a minority timidly starting to create a voice and demand changes.

There are a huge number of people being expelled from their homes, with no tenure or previous warning from the government. These people are loosing the only property that belongs to them. It’s very sad what “development” is causing them, and this is what people have been calling “democracy”. And you want to know the reason? So that FIFA can build stadiums and hide not only the reality of my country, but also these people’s dignity. I think we all have reasons to vindicate our rights. Don’t we?!

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Demonstrator standing on top of a construction vehicle. One year before the World Cup and still no infrastructure.

So what started as a peaceful, democratic, ideological and very exciting number of protests, with all the differences and idiosyncrasies being respected, turned out to become a huge mess, with people getting killed, overwhelmed and shouted at for showing and voicing their points of view. What started as a hope for concrete change to give back people’ rights as citizens and human beings, to give back their voices, long time silenced by oppressive governments full of mysteries and unfilled promises. When we were starting to create this voice, to tell people how we’re really feeling, and showing others that we’re more than naked women, Carnival and soccer, when all that started to happen… we lost our tracks and got silenced for reasons that I’m still trying to understand.

The oppressive government started to fight their own people, as they needed to silence us for their reputation. Then we were hushed, not only because we were afraid of what could happen, but because we never trusted our rulers, as they only gave us: shame, untruths and indignity. There are videos being made by a group of documentaries, Coletivo Mariachi, which is not affiliated with the monopolized media of Brazil, who never takes people’s side, only the leaders. This small group then, can show the reality, the cruel reality that is happening in our streets right now.

But let me finish this story by introducing you to another group of people that are still fighting for changes. And as every story we have the heroes and the villains. The problem though, is who are the good ones and who are bad?

We are hitting to the frontlines

I then found myself watching videos that could be a start for a big movie showing Brazil’s reality. Videos made by Coletivo Mariachi showing the conflicts between the police and the Black Blocs, a group of anarchists who use violence and depravation in order to get the authorities’ attention.

I thought about the Black Blocs and their attitudes in front of the “battle field” (because this is what the protests have become in the last months), most of the people who embraced this movement have also worked, or work for the government. They’re ordinary people: teachers, students, cops, filmmakers … they could be me, you. They could be anyone and I kind of envy them. Not when they break and destroy our banks, streets, monuments and public facilities; but I envy them for having the balls to do it. For having the balls to challenge the government while many are closing their eyes from their surroundings. They’re alive. For me, when they go to the protests to ask for new rights and conversations, and instead they get abused and threats from the police, I can only think of a mix of heroes and villains. Because, the truth is: there’s no right side. Not with when we’re talking about problems that affect the whole country.

 Everything is about to start again

I want get this very clear: I hate violence, and I honestly believe that we’re capable of getting everything we want by communicating. But I also believe that we can’t make any change while there’s no one listening, while there’s no one making noise right next to us. And when I say that I don’t know why we have stopped making pacific protests, with millions of Brazilians marching together, I can only think of one reason: weakness. Only a few are still believing and fighting for a new Brazil, though I can’t tell if they are choosing the pacific path, as most of their strategies to get authorities’ attention are very controversial.

However, I’m positive about us building this feeling of change again, in having faith for a better country, where we’ll find real and meaningful results, not quick solutions. I’m positive that we can grow as a whole nation, not only in parts, not just for the sake of a few. There’s no need in telling everything that my country needs right now, you’ll see that all in the pictures and videos attached bellow. But if we still keep closing our eyes and pretending that everything is good, at least now that we’re getting the World Cup, well, unless we turn ourselves to shout again and turn this World Cup into a whole different story there will be no reasons to celebrate.

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Large number of Brazilians standing up for their rights.

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If you wish to see more pictures from the demonstration in Belo Horizonte on June 16, 2013, you can visit photographer Lucas Marcal’s[highlight] Facebook album[/highlight].

Also, if you wish to watch videos by Coletivo Mariachi, you can visit their [highlight]Youtube site[/highlight].

 

 

La Raza Meets Up at Coachella 2014

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is synonymous with intense heat, soreness, dehydration, and pain, and yet it never fails to sell out every year. It is recognized world-wide as the official opener for music festival season, and people from all over the world are willing to pay small fortunes just to be able to attend. The truth is that although Coachella might be one of the most uncomfortable and exhausting experiences, what it ultimately offers is a lifetime’s memories of a weekend filled with thrills and a whole lot of dancing and music. No one is impervious to the Coachella effect, including the Latino community.

It seems like Coachella has a special appeal to Latinos, as their presence is definitely apparent. If you’re camping on location, you’ll see several cars with car plates ranging from Baja California to Mexico D.F. As you make your way around, you will undoubtedly hear many a person speaking fluently in Spanish. And it all culminates when la raza comes all together in support of the few (and in this year’s case, only) Latino bands that play the festival, and the crowd turns into a passionate mass of people that whoops and shouts and dances nonstop. Last year’s Coachella saw a donkey-shaped piñata making its rounds at the Café Tacuba and 3Ball MTY shows, and this year, the Mexican flag was present at the show put on by Zoé at the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon, in which lead singer León Larregui even took the time to acknowledge it and comment on its beauty.

There’s even a group on Facebook called “Mexicanos en Coachella” which specializes on sharing the latest news regarding the festival, survival tips, and support for those in need of transportation or a place to stay. When the festival is actually ongoing, there is an appointed person from the group that carries with them the Mexican flag that lets others know of the Latino presence, and they even organize group meet-ups in which they give out free pins commemorating the event.

As it turns out, Coachella is a particularly memorable event for Latinos every year. Latinos are both represented by at least one musical act every year at the festival and, unofficially, by this Facebook group that seeks to help and prepare those who are about to set out on the phenomenon that is Coachella.

So if you are a Latino who is thinking or already planning on attending next year, never fear and know that you are not alone. La raza will come out and support you wholeheartedly.

Latinos Coming Together for La Raza

April 16, 2014: A large number of members from the Latino Greek Council (LGC) attended the General Body meeting of MEChA de UCLA today in order to voice their concern regarding their underrepresentation in their Annual Raza Day. Raza Day is an opportunity for admitted Latinos to start to get involved and be aware of all of the organizations that exist at UCLA. In a way, it’s the start for the admits to approach their new familias.  “Raza Day is a welcome event held every year for newly admitted self identified Chicana(o)/ Latina(o) high school students.” (MEChA de UCLA)

A moist and heated room had a few members of MEChA and all members from the Latino Greek sororities and fraternities fanning away. The conversation was a constant miscommunication that reflects the current relationship that MEChA and LGC have had for the past years. After a passionate two-hour discussion on the similarities and differences regarding the principals in academic success for the Latino community that each organization has, there was a collective decision on starting crafting the logistics on the Raza Day work-party. Though there was no direct decision on whether or not Latino Greeks will be allowed to wear their letters during the MEChA event.

Only 13 members from MEChA will take a vote tonight whether or not there should an affiliation with LGC or not, of the countless students that were present in the meeting.

Both organizations essentially work for one purpose: the future of the Latino community that are today struggling to get into college. Although there are strong differences among each of the philosophies, there should be a conversation with all Latino organizations so there can be a solid Latino voice that UCLA deserves to have.

Every Wednesday’s at 7:00 p.m. the Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlán (MEChA) holds their general body meetings.

Latino Greek Council website: www.bruinlgc.com/about-us

MEChA de ucla FB:  www.facebook.com/mechadeuclaztlan

RAZA DAY information:  mechadeucla.weebly.com/raza-day.html

Clothesline Project at UCLA

Throughout the week the Clothesline Project at UCLA attracted students to their annual event at the Dickson Court in which they displayed t-shirts with powerful messages about sexual and domestic violence. Creating these shirts serves as a healing process for those who have been directly affected. Their goal is to not only raise awareness within the UCLA community, but to also “bear witness to survivors and to remember those who have died as a result of sexual/domestic violence.” If you missed the event, below are some examples of the powerful messages from strong people who have shared their experiences.
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My Sunday with Frida

When I was a little girl, my abuelita would show me paintings and books about famous Mexican painters such as José Guadalupe Posada, Carmen Lomas Garza, Diego Rivera, and Frida Kahlo. Although I liked all of these artists very much, I was most intrigued by Frida Kahlo. As a child, I didn’t quite grasp the themes she depicted in her art and I sometimes even found her images to be frightening. It wasn’t until I grew older and learned more about her life, that I was able appreciate her work not just for its aesthetic value, but also the emotion she evoked in each stroke.

When I read that the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) would be hosting an exhibition called Frida Kahlo: Her Photos, I was eager to make the drive out to Long Beach and check it out. I’ve never been to MOLAA before, but when I went this past Sunday I was surprised at the amount of people that showed up. A line wrapped around the corner and past the store. But, it was exciting to know that so many people were there to share in Frida Kahlo’s personal collection of photographs.

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Walking into the exhibition you are immediately welcomed by Frida Kahlo’s penetrating gaze and unflinching lips. There is also a small introduction explaining the curator Pablo Ortiz Monasterio’s vision for the exhibition. All of the photos come from Frida’s personal Casa Azul Archive in Mexico City. Now, I don’t want to give the whole show away because I hope you’ll get to visit yourself, but I do want to highlight some of the most memorable moments for me.

The exhibition weaves you into different moments in Frida’s life, ranging from her childhood, to recovering in hospitals from her horrible accident. Admittedly, I did not know very much about Frida’s upbringing, but there was fortunately an entire section that displays family photos and the influence of her parents, particularly her father Guillermo Kahlo. It was her father’s curiosity with cameras and self-portrait photographs that ultimately resonated with Frida. This is evident from the numerous self-portraits she painted and the strong sense of identity she demonstrates in both her photos and art. However, Frida’s mother, Matilde Calderón y González, is credited for her famous indigenous style and wardrobe.

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Of course, the exhibition wouldn’t be complete without Frida and Diego’s tumultuous love life. However, instead of a bunch of photos together, this particular section displayed the people that Frida had close relationships with, including moments with Diego. It was great to zoom out of the Frida/Diego relationship that is so often put under a microscope, and get a glimpse of the other loves in her life. Another section shows some of Diego’s personal archive containing photos of major political figures, such as Mexico’s dictator Porfirio Diaz, and the construction of Ford Motors in Detroit. It was very humbling to share in the experiences and history that these personal photos captured from different moments in time.

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Although I enjoyed the exhibition as a whole, the section that highlights Frida’s life after her fatal accident was truly gripping. These photos demonstrate her long stays at the hospital and what appeared to be dreadful moments of confinement. However, there were also photos of her ability to overcome her suffering by continuing to paint, despite being bedridden. I feel that this particular section truly defines Frida’s unrelenting strength and zeal for life. Although Frida is quoted throughout the exhibition, the words I found most compelling were, “I know the battlefield of suffering was reflected in my eyes. From then on I started to look directly into the lens, without blinking, without smiling, determined to show that I would be a good fighter until the end.”

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And a good fighter she was.

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I urge you to head to MOLAA’s Frida Kahlo: Her Photos exhibition before it ends on June 8, 2014 (free admission on Sundays). Whether you’re a Frida-expert or a Frida-neophyte, this exhibition will definitely increase your appreciation for what an extraordinary woman, artist, and human-being that she was.

 

La Gente gets “wacky” at Festival Latino

 

Saturday April 5th UCLA’s Latin American Student Association (LASA) invited students, campus organizations, and community members and musicians for its 16th annual Festival Latino. Held at Wilson Plaza, the event celebrates the diversity of the Latina/o community through food, music and art. La Gente was here with wacky, hand-made photo booth props. Below are some photos. Please click the photo to expand it.