El Rock en Español y Portugués!

Five songs from Latin American rock bands (and one of their colonizing countries, *cough* Spain *cough*) that everyone needs to know. Because who says [email protected] can’t rock out!?

1. La Célula que explota by Caifanes

Nopales and Saul Hernandez’s hair blowing in the wind… perfect combination.


 

2. Lamento Boliviano by Enanitos Verdes

Enanitos Verdes offers this song as tribute to all the Indigenous peoples of Latin America.


 

3. Fiesta Pagana by Mago de Oz

[email protected] can rock out to anything… even to a flute and violin duet!


 

4. Até Quando Esperar by Plebe Rude

Plebe Rude shines light on the hope and resilience of working class Brazilians despite social struggles.


 

5. Baracunatana by Aterciopelados

Aterciopelados reinterprets Lisandro Meza’s original vallenato version of “Baracunatana” to challenge gender norms!

Academia is Getting Hard

Intellectual masturbation. I first heard this phrase from a student who spoke at a demonstration against police brutality at Meyerhoff Park in UCLA. The student who spoke these words expressed that the gathering would only be productive if the work against these injustices committed on People of Color continued outside that immediate space.  He described the gathering of students as an “intellectual masterbation,” because it revolved around discussion and not enough long-term action. This was some months ago, yet these words stayed with me ever since.

This winter quarter I attended a lecture titled “On the move: The Changing Dynamics of Mexico-U.S. Migration” by Professor Filiz Garip from Harvard University. Her new book addresses the question of why Mexicans migrate to the United States. Professor Garip argues against the heterogeneity placed upon migrants and their reasons for migration.

Her lecture was interesting but the scholars from the audience began to ask many questions pertaining to her data and her methods. This back and forth of question and answer felt so useless. Intellectual jargon kept being thrown around and I began to feel like I was wasting my time.

What is the point of all your criticism, suggestions, and overall discussion? How is this even going to connect back to the people you are actually talking about? What does all this even mean to them?

Intellectual masturbation.

I left that lecture as soon as it was over and felt like I wasted an entire hour and a half of my life.  I proceeded to the Chicana/o Studies Research Center for a Nahuatl Studies workshop that was part of a two-day program. The workshop was hosted by the UCLA Nahuatl Studies group composed of graduate students and faculty. Many of the students and faculty leaders were white, with a couple of male Latinos in attendance.

One graduate student began the workshop by very briefly introducing the document we looked at. She failed to introduce the other students and faculty that belonged to the group, nor the purpose of the group itself. She handed out copies of the document, which the group expressed was not worked on for 6 months. As soon as everyone had a copy of the document, the graduate students and faculty went straight to work. Instead of a workshop I felt like I had intruded into a group working party. I was completely excluded. The group went straight into trying to figure out specific lines and words by using technical methods that I was completely unfamiliar with. So I just sat there, trying to listen and observe their processes.

I felt like everything was their interpretation. Thus, I did not fully trust these sources because they are being translated by outsiders. The irony: here we have a bunch of white people trying to figure out what their ancestors purposely destroyed some hundred years ago.

Intellectual masturbation.

All this Ivy tower privilege disgusts me. I do not want to remain in this space.  Most of the time this knowledge is kept here and not relayed back to the communities it belongs to.

Upcoming Events Celebrating Selena

She will always be etched into the fabric of our culture, even after twenty years since her murder.

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, the queen of Tejano music, was considerably the most influential Latina within the music and fashion worlds. She paved the way for Latina artists in an especially male dominated musical genre and redefined fashion in her many sequenced bustiers. Her life was tragically cut short on March 31st, 1995, from a fatal gun shot.

As the anniversary of Selena’s death approaches, many have devoted events that honor her memory. Here are some events in California that pay tribute to her and her music.

     1. A Tribute to Selena

Located at LA Plaza de Cultura, this public event will hold art workshops, performances from Betty’s Mustache and La Reina de Aztlán, and paletas that you can eat while watching Selena, which begins at 8:00pm. Event is free.
When: Friday, March 27th at 6:00pm
Where: LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

     2.  “Anything for Salinas!” A Tribute to Selena

Being held at The Frida Cinema, this movie screening of Selena will raise proceeds to support the local high school Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) and the Zoraida Reyes Scholarship fund that assists local transgender individuals. There will be appetizers, music, and costume contests, so bring your best bustiers! General entrance is $15; For Frida Cinema Members, entrance is $12.
When: Tuesday, March 31st at 7:00pm
Where: The Frida Cinema
305 E 4th St, Santa Ana, CA 92701

     3. #SelenaFanGathering 2015

The second annual fan gathering will be held at Plaza de la Raza. There will be many performances and giveaways, as well as a special guest appearance from Selena Mural Artist Levi Fonz Ponce. Event is free.
When: Saturday, March 28 at 2:00pm
Where: Plaza de la Raza
3540 N Mission Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90031

     4. Como La Flor – A Tribute to Selena Quintanilla

Held at Club 21, there will be music commemorating Selena and all her contributions to tejano music. No cover charge before 11pm.
When: Friday, March 27th at 9:00pm
Where: Club 21
2111 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612

If you have other events that you want to highlight, comment below!

Flyer image produced by LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes.

Educational beacon of light in Boyle Heights

People United to Enrich our Neighborhood Through Education (PUENTE) learning center is a not-for-profit organization located in Boyle Heights that focuses on the improvement of its community by providing educational resources to predominantly first-generation students and immigrants.

Sister Jennie Lechtenberg was the pioneer of the organization. Sister Jennie began her mission when she discovered that the students who struggled most in school came from households that lacked English proficiency, which resulted in “establishing the foundation for PUENTE as a family-oriented, multi-generational educational organization.” ­

I took a first-hand look at PUENTE as an organization where I was able to interact with the multi-surface composure of the learning facility. PUENTE underlines the organization’s goal of providing primary or supplementary educational program to improve graduation, literacy and employment rates of their students. Boyle Heights is predominantly composed of Latino residents, where the average median household income is about $33,325, which is low for the city of Los Angeles and the county. The low-income has a lot to do with the minimal educational attainment of constituents in Boyle Heights. In a community where less than 5% of its residents who are of the age 25 and older have a four year degree, and less than 33,620 out of 99,243 have a high school diploma there is a representation of how learning facilities like PUENTE serve to combat against the alarming statistics.

The first day I stepped into PUENTE, I was marveled by the architecture of the building, which stands out compared to the surrounding buildings. The crisp glass-like building is two-stories tall with several classrooms and a charter kindergarten. The structure of the learning center’s program is tailored to help families by allowing them to leave their children downstairs in school, while they participate in the English Second Language (ESL) classes upstairs. I was able to alternate between both groups and I found that they both embraced the opportunity of education, regardless of their age. I interacted with students who were only four years of age but they demonstrated a sense of willingness to learn.

Upstairs there were retired people learning English. One of the students was a retired cafeteria worker, who worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for about thirty years. She told me that all her life she wanted to learn English but since she had to provide for her family she never had the opportunity, and now that her kids were all grown up she finally pursued her dream.

PUENTE also incorporates other programs to their facility such as after-school enrichment programs, high-school tutoring, SAT preparation, adult high school diploma preparation, job training preparation, job referrals, computer repair A+ certification and even programs to help veterans.

In total, they have served over 85,000 students since their inception in 1985. The administrative staff that runs the organization are all dedicated to serve others through education, which highlights a principal problem in the Boyle Heights area. Puente in the Puente in spanish means bridge in English which is exactly what the learning center is doing, slowly diminishing the gap between the lack of education in low-income communities and the achievement of students.

To find out more about the PUENTE learning center and their mission to help students, feel free to check out their website: http://www.PUENTE.org

Ser Yoseline

Ser Yoseline es una cosa tan linda
Ser Yoseline quiere decir que soy amada,
Rodeada de familia
Ser familia es tener una tortilla en mano,
Mi plato lleno de huevo y chorizo.
Ser Yoseline es tener mi abuela a mi lado,
Que piensa que me voy a morir de hambre.
“Otra tortilla, mija? Estás bien pachita.”
Jaja. Okay abuelita. Pero solamente una.
Chente, Selena, y Paquita son amigos de nuestra familia,
Siempre dispuestos a limpiar a mi lado

Ser Yoseline es un orgullo
Es ser una estudiante, una Bruin.
Ser Yoseline es una cosa tan íntima
Soy mi mamá, mi papá
Mis abuelas, mis hermanas
Es ser trabajadora
Para mí
Y, más importante,
Para mi familia.

Ser Yoseline es muy diferente de ser Jocelyn.

To be Jocelyn is exhausting
Angering and unfulfilling.
To be Jocelyn is to feel white-washed,
To question all my heritage has taught me.
Soy salvadoreña? Or am I Hispanic?

To be Jocelyn is to question my place at a prestigious university
I’m just another brown face,
Burdened with justifying my achievements.
I wear the sweater because I come here,
But you don’t believe me.

To be Jocelyn is to be a model minority,
To be “special” and “deserving,”
Unlike the “others.”

…Right?

Ser Yoseline es bonito
To be Jocelyn is frustrating,
But important.
To be me,

Is to be both.

“Con Confianza!”: Inside Compañia de Café

Compañia de Café is a coffee shop that opened about a year ago in the San Fernando Valley. It is located in El Centro, a collection of local shops, restaurants, and fast food places. Amongst these small locales, Compañia provides an original space and delicious treats. The Mexican-inspired shop has large display windows that reveal popping eyefuls of colorful and bright decorations, such as a bright, white table by the storefront window, a wall full of pastel-colored bird cages, and dark blue tiles that fade into white as they stretch through to the end of the wall.

Neida Rodriguez, who works at the café since it opened, explains that all the decorations have a meaning behind them.

“Everything has a concept. There’s a reason why everything is in a certain location. It is supposed to represent what it is to be Mexican American, and we strove for the feel of grandma’s house, but with a modern twist,” she said.

The modern twist applies to the pastries and drinks, as well. Traditional pieces such as a chocolate cupcake are innovated by the inclusion of ingredients such as tequila and chipotle, adding a change to the taste that is still subtle enough to enjoy its familiar flair. Cookies are turned into edible tiles, complete with painstakingly detailed art in differing designs. Compañia’s specialty drink plays with different variations on the renowned Chocolate Abuelita, available in both warm and over-ice options.

San Fernando resident, Stephanie Rivera, cannot help proclaim her excitement for the new shop.

“There’s never been anything like this in the valley,” Rivera says. “It’s like those kind of places that you see in LA, but never here. It’s great to have a local place now that combines cute aesthetic and sweet treats.”

The shop’s appeal has drawn a large audience, from people who come to study, people who wish to sit and chat, and entire families who want to enjoy some downtime munching on a delicious treat.

Compañia’s appeal and success is undeniable. Though less than a year old, its services are now extended to the people in South Gate with the recent opening of a second location.

Here is to hoping that Compañia continues to grow and touch others with its unique and savory take on Mexican-American culture.

America

America,

I was created by a woman

Who suffered through third

grade not knowing a word of English

And by a man who fell off

his parent’s car port trying to shoot

his cousin with a plastic gun–

A five-year old cowboy

 

I grew up with Ella and Miles,

And Radio Disney

I grew up dancing to Andean music

In patterned wool fabric shawls

Tasting the cinnamon in Arroz

Con leche, eating Juicy Salteñas

And tater tots with kadjupy

I grew up playing dress up with

white girls and eating cupcakes

At their birthday parties

And then my own

 

America, I never had a quinceañera

Or have gone to my Mother’s native

Land or have learned to speak Spanish

 

You taught me to be afraid of dark-skinned girls

who looked at me, unsure of whether I looked like them

Or not

You taught me to forget about my “ethnic” background

Until Jessica Hernández

said she liked my bathing suit

In her thick Mexican-American accent

 

America, you have given me privilege

to feel comfortable in who I am

to be a strong, confident, young individual

 

So why do I feel rejected, paralyzed

More and more with every passing year?

Why do I feel flattered and infuriated

When I am asked What are you?

When I visit my dad’s side of the family and

My mom and I are the darkest ones

When I visit my mom’s side of family

And I am laughed at discretely for my “California” accent

And my Gringa looks?

 

Why did a black boy tell me to go back to Mexico in sixth

Grade? Why are there never any pictures of multi-ethnic

Families on billboards?

Why is it that you steal my voice and

Confidence when I walk

Into a classroom of only white and asian students?

 

Why is it that I am racist?

 

Oh, and America?

Can you please look in

Your Holy Bible and prove to me

That Jesus was white?

If so, do you think he would love

Me as much as you claim he loves you?

Linda Vallejo Bends Race and Represents Mexicans in an Anglo-Saxon Context

“Make ‘Em All Mexican” is a collection of mixed-media artwork by Linda Vallejo. The collection consists of Western and American icons–such as the Mona Lisa, Marilyn Monroe, and the goddess Venus–reimagined as Mexican.

On the Artist Statement Section of her website, Vallejo explains that she created these pieces of art in order to represent contemporary images through a Chicano lens. By taking a famous image of Marilyn Monroe, giving her a Mexican appearance, and renaming her “Marielena,” Vallejo blurs the lines between race differences and  reappropriates American culture as Mexican. Opting away from subtlety and towards irony, Vallejo injects existing iconic images with a racially charged quality, making race impossible to ignore while, paradoxically, shattering racial implications on social status and cultural connections.

Vallejo’s artwork receives varying reactions. “The Make ‘Em All Mexican series carries a strong electric charge,” Vallejo writes. “To some viewers, the images are hyper-political; for others, they are emotional portals to a past remembered and sometimes forgotten; and for another group, they are just down right hilarious.

Two particular pieces–a brown Statue of Liberty and a piece titled “Little Fourth of July Princess”–make us question whether or not Chicanos could be “All-American” and whether that implies a rejection or exaltation of our Mexican culture. On a different level, these two revolutionary pieces make Mexicans feel included in a country which has a history of rejecting us, deporting us back, and keeping us out.

“Make ‘Em All Mexican leads you down an ironic path to find yourself confronted by some of the most difficult questions of our time,” Vallejo explains.

The artistic statement on her website recognizes these questions:  “‘Do race, color, and class define our status in the world?’ ‘Is it possible to be a part of and earnestly contribute to multiple cultures simultaneously?’  ‘Does color and class define our understanding and appreciation of culture?’”

Vallejo shatters the American and Mexican border–physically and figuratively. She reimagines a world where Western culture and Mexican culture are one, and where Mexicans have a place in a global world.

Her artwork is currently on display at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (144 Haines Hall) until Friday, March 20th.

Hole in the Wall: Jorge Lopez

Jorge Lopez, originally from East Palo Alto, recently moved to Los Angeles in pursuit of his educational and artistic goals.  He studies Sociology at Santa Monica Community College and hopes to transfer into the University of California, Los Angeles. Jorge developed a deeper appreciation for education after leaving high school, as one of his songs “Standardizing Creativity” illustrates. This song reveals Jorge’s desire to really explore his own creativity through writing rather than just regurgitating irrelevant information to pass an exam. In his high school he became known as the rapper and he recorded his first song at age 14 with his older brother, Freddy Lopez. From then on he continues to write in hopes that others will connect with his flows.

“I like writing, so might as well try to rap,” said Jorge. “[My lyrics are] really just myself, what I’m feeling or thinking.”

Click here for more of Jorge Lopez’s music!


Hole in the Wall became a series of La Gente Newsmagazine, hoping to feature musicians and artists of color. Artists of color do not receive much praise or recognition despite overwhelming talent. This segment’s main purpose is to alleviate that by becoming a platform for artists of color. If you are interested in being part of the series, please email [email protected]

Self-represented People of Color in Family Court

Low income people of color do not have the opportunities to suitably represent themselves in the court room. From my own experiences volunteering at a court’s self help center, I’ve seen the burden that self-represented people of color have to endure when dealing with family court cases.

There are free resources available to obtain legal help, which are primarily used by people of color, but these resources are scarce. If you don’t have access to services within the judicial/court system, you do not have the opportunity to represent yourself the best possible way.

Many of the people who require assistance do not speak English but are referred to legal services that are in English. This language barrier is not limited to the courtroom; the need for language assistance extends to all areas of the legal system. The paperwork needs to be filled out in English and in trial the judge communicates in English. There is paperwork that is translated in other languages, like Spanish, however the legal terminology is not easy to understand. This system was not built so that an average person could maneuver it, especially someone who only received primary schooling, like many of the litigants. Additionally, there are difficulties in communication because, many of the people of color that come in cannot write or read. Yet they are expected to engage in civil litigation regarding matters that are often legally and factually complex, such as child custody, child and spousal support, and property division.

How are people supposed to be self-represented if they cannot communicate effectively with the court?

Many litigants who try to receive services at free service centers are there because a friend or family member referred them about the center, not the court. Still, when a case gets complicated it is difficult for people to attain free legal help and much of it needs to be dealt with by attorneys. Attorneys are expensive and there are few who offer services at low cost, which means that one way or another you still have to pay.

Self-represented individuals are often dealing with emotional and financial stress and further issues but they have no other choice than to represent themselves The majority of people of color who need free legal services are being affected by other racial structural issues. Some people need free services because they do not have jobs. Some people do not have jobs because they are undocumented and cannot get hired. Some people do not have money to pay because they just got out of jail or prison.

Furthermore, many legal self help centers are composed of volunteers, this is an issue because some of them are low income too. This is essentially reproducing the same system of oppression and poverty. The argument can be made that volunteer services are nearly putting a bandaid over a very big wound and do not serve as a long term solution. Courts need to invest in or be given the funding to hire actual workers to do the job that volunteers are doing of assisting self represented people of color. This will also increase the number of people that are being assisted. Because services are not often provided by lawyers many people are more likely to lose claims and pay for stuff they could have avoided with a lawyer at their side.

Additionally, people who are already struggling to pay fees have to take time off their jobs to go to a center to receive assistance.

These are reasons to why there is so much distrust for this legal system. Some people rather avoid going to court to fight for custody/visitation than be in an environment that makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. This is not equal justice and we cannot call this a “justice” system if people do not have accessibility to the same representation.