February 22, 2021 www.22WestMedia.com
Letter from the Editor
Aaaand, we’re live on Feb. 22! This issue we worked hard to bring to you a refreshed look to the magazine. Tah-dah! I’m so proud of how it turned out. I chose this date because we’re 22 West (I know, corny) and because the triple two’s, 222, is an angel number to mean happiness, balance and new cycles. It’s a symbol of hope and it’s fitting for… I hate to say it, “these unprecedented times.” Our first production day continues the precedent set last semester, with everything staying virtual. Boo! It’s a bittersweet moment for me. Normally, we’d all be huddled together in the office, eating pizza, sitting slouched in our giant swivel office chairs. Instead, I’ve never even met my staff in person! Yet, as quarantine drags on, somehow I’ve been feeling happier and rejuvenated. I have to thank all our wonderful volunteers and my editors for that. I’ve been with 22 West for a year now and have met so many talented, driven and passionate individuals. As a transfer student, it is wholly devastating to have my university experience cut short, but am happy to have made great memories here. It’s been extremely difficult to find the motivation to be creative, so I feel very lucky that my team has been so collaborative and thoughtful. I couldn’t have done it without them! Of course, thank you to all of our dedicated readers who continually support us. Come join us if you would like to volunteer, we welcome students of all majors and experience! Now may I present to you, 22 West Magazine, the Identity issue, an exploration of the self!
Disclaimer and Publication Information: 22 West Magazine is published using ad money and partial funding provided by the Associated Students, Inc. All Editorials are the opinions of their individual authors, not the magazine, ASI nor LBSU. All students are welcome and encouraged to be a part of the staff. All letters to the editor will be considered for publication. However, LBSU students will have precedence. Please include name and major for all submissions. They are subject to editing and will not be returned. Letters may or may not be edited for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and length. 22 West Magazine will publish anonymous letters, articles, editorials, and illustration, but must have your name and information attached for our records. Letters to the editor should be no longer than 500 words. 22 West Magazine assumes no responsibility, nor is it liable, for claims of its advertisers. Grievance procedures are available in the Associated Students business office.
Kaleen Luu, Editor-in-Chief email@example.com Jireh Deng, Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Joey Abe, Art Director email@example.com Avery Keller, Lead Copy Editor
Contributors Andrew Ayala, Writer
Gustavo Buenrostro, Writer Rigby Celeste, Writer & Artist Simon Chau, Writer Perry Continente, Writer Charles Flores, Writer Thalia Garcia, Artist Andres Leon, Writer Abigail Rollins, Writer Daisy Velasco, Writer & Artist
Cover Design Joey Abe, Art Director
Volunteer Meetings Meet on Mondays at 5 p.m. Zoom ID: 859 8109 4986 Passcode: 22westmag
Phone: (562) 985-4867 Mail: 1212 Bellflower Blvd. Suite 112 Long Beach, CA 90815
Arts 6 9
Q&A with Crystal Vasquez
Fourth-year design major releases a new zine.
Identity — Two Fold
We're Here, We're Queer
Students share how they're adjusting to life. Staring at myself through the screen, I don't recognize myself anymore.
New Year, I'm Thinking About Asian and Black Solidarity
The Zoom Meet Cute
The Virtual Lining
The Transition to Online Learning in Three Acts
My Experience as a New Transfer in a Pandemic
How can we continue to move towards equity and fight for our rights? Trying to make a connection online. The pandemic has been awful, but I've been able to connect more. Reminiscing our abrupt departure from campus a year ago.
Struggling through financial hardship as a student at CSULB.
Blues in a Backyard Punk Gig
How I fell in love with the blues and why it inspires me.
Cultivating Self-Love for a Happier Life
Movie Review: Judas and the Black Messiah
Mike Johnson from The Bachelor franchise shares words of wisdom. HBO Max releases a new feature film.
CSULB Resolves Parking Issues by Halving Spots
New Year, Same Me
Campus ready to welcome students to line their wallets, er, walkways. Problems don't just vanish at the clock striking midnight.
22 West Magazine Team
“Everything you can imagine is real.” - Pablo Picasso
"And remember mom, cute is not a look. It's not an attitude. It's a way of being." - Quinn Morgendorffer
Andrew Ayala “May the Force be with you.” - Obi-Wan Kenobi
“Live, Laugh, Love."
Gustavo Buenrostro "It is what it is."
Perry Continente “Every warning sign tells a story, most are about me."
“...I only date androids." - Janelle Monae
“Don't make everything consequential. Allow yourself to breathe."
“I don't think this is a woman's suit. At the very least it's bisexual." - Michael Scott"
“The best is yet to come."
“I just close my eyes and let my hands make all the mistakes."
“I paid twenty thousand dollars for someone to tell me to go read John Milton, and then I didn't."
“...and I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"
“It's amazing how the world begins to change through the eyes of a cup of coffee."
In the midst of a pandemic, Crystal Vasquez has kept herself busy by making posters, stickers and social media graphics to raise awareness for mental health, climate change and racial inequality. She released a zine entitled "Phases" where she invited artists to share experiences that have significantly impacted their lives. We spoke to Vasquez about her work, the makings of her zine, and what that process was like.
Interview by Joey Abe
Tell me a bit about yourself. What is your main focus? I’m a fourth-year Studio Art major and my main focus is graphic design! I got my initial start in graphic design during high school. I went to school in not the best area, so they tried to teach us subjects like art, music, tech, acting and filmmaking. They also taught us graphic design and eventually I got good at it. I decided to pursue it in college because I wanted to be happy doing something I love. So really, graphic design is my passion.
this sketchbook that my step-dad had drawn in, and bringing it into Photoshop to play with it. That’s something I did with this poster, which is a picture of me when I was little. It’s got my illustrations and this chrome type, which reminds me of graffiti. Typography is something that I’m drawn to [so] I try combining that with an image.
It’s funny how that saying is a meme, but I'm passionate about it too. *laughs* You’re working on Illustrator and Photoshop? Yeah, I mainly use Photoshop. I’m trying to use more Illustrator because I’ll have to start using it for when I get a job.
I'm inspired by early 2000s stickers, like the ones you would get from a vending machine. What styles of design are you into? This is something I've been struggling with! A part of me likes minimalism and another part of me likes flat illustrations. I’m inspired by early 2000s stickers, like the ones you would get from a vending machine. When I created these set of custom-made stickers, I was trying to emulate that look. That was a way for me to push myself, and to become a more well rounded artist. How else are you pushing yourself? I’ve been scanning old pictures of myself, my mom,
Transformer (2020), Digital Media.
Let’s talk about your new zine, "Phases." How did this come about and where did you get the idea from? In my photography class, I started thinking about my middle school experience and the different subcultures that I was really drawn to, like the 90s Grunge scene and Riot Grrrl. My photo teacher started lending me books about these subcultures, and I told myself, “I want to be a part of this!”
Within the zine, are there any stories that you really identified with? They’re all so great and beautifully written, but I think Adrian’s story about his Nicki Minaj fan page was very relatable. In middle school, I had a whole Tumblr account dedicated to Nirvana, which eventually led me to find similar artists. How do you know these artists and writers? I met most of them through Cal State Long Beach. Angel is my sister’s boyfriend, and I’ve known Rolando since middle school.
I started thinking about themes and I came up with the idea of exploring my own personal phases.
It expanded into a photography project where I would dress up as myself through different phases.
I wanted a nice studio to document all this, but I couldn’t afford it at the time.
Can we expect more zines from you in the near future? Or more art in general?
So I thought, “Let me invite other people to share their phases and how they explored their identities through creativity." Are there any personal phases that come to mind for you? I'd say middle school and high school were the most important times of my life, where I was able to express myself through clothing and music. [As] I mentioned earlier, discovering subcultures like Riot Grrrl was very important to me.
Yes, definitely! I have an idea for another photo zine. I'm thinking about going around Long Beach and taking pictures of local businesses.
Phases (2021), Zine.
I want to keep creating posters, and keep experimenting with typography; more airbrush and graffiti styles. Also, I’m learning to not take this too seriously, it’s all fun to me!
Find more work by Crystal Vasquez on her website crystalvasquez.art or Instagram @thegraphicgem
Identity — Two Fold By Simon Chau Identity is a war A clash between perception and reality A perception formed by distrust And a reality derived from connection. I am the face of change and for that they hate me What I am What I symbolize That love transcends color, creed, or culture, That love is more powerful than their hate, Their greed or their anger They circle like vultures Altering the system Moving the goalposts with every bolt of our life they dismantle Excluding, dividing, and attempting to break our spirits, But they cannot, For our spirits have wings. They want us to feel hopeless, Like we are trapped and powerless Our cultures and existence, a weight that we cannot escape. What they don’t know is that I was born of dragons And raised on los sueños de mi abuelo. I am powered by the cultures of my ancestors The harshness of their struggle And the tenacity with which they fought for life. The stars cannot refuse the sky, Lovers cannot refuse the passage of time, And I cannot refuse who I am. This is my Identity, A conflict, A collision, A coalescence, Me ILLUSTRATION BY RIGBY CELESTE
We're Here, We're Queer Students share how they're adjusting to life as a part of the Queer community. Interviews by Abigail Rollins It may be hard to picture now, but we were all on campus this time last year. There were tree-lined walkways, overflowing parking lots, and pandemoniums of parrots. Then everything was upended when it became clear we were no longer safe together. So much of student life has shifted since then, particularly for those of us in the Queer community. In the yearlong wake of online school, the following students share their personal experiences navigating the peaks and valleys of digital Queer connectivity, family homes, and self-perception.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY RIGBY CELESTE & JIREH DENG
have voice calls and talk to each other for a while. That sense of community is really valuable, especially for Queer people to know that there are other people that we can rely on who are like us. Even though I'm not on campus, I feel like I'm not missing out as much because I still get to make friends in college. I'm having the college experience in the best way that I can.
Olivia Jones, She/Her First Year, English Education
In what ways has student life changed for you since last March? I was looking forward to moving out and the classic college experience of finding yourself and becoming your own person. But now I'm still living with my parents. I'm not out [and] they're kind of homophobic, so that's been difficult. I'm not a completely different person when I'm with them, but there are definitely parts of myself that I hide because I think they won't be approving. I prioritize openness and honesty [but] I kind of have to live with that right now. How have you found connecting to fellow Queer students throughout this time? I went to one of those Zoom events that was specifically for Queer students, the Queers and Allies club, and that's how I got onto their Discord. We do game nights where we play party games, or
Cait Johnson, They / She Fourth Year, Creative Writing How has your self-perception shifted since last spring? My confidence took a hit when I moved back home. Before I moved back, I could dress and act however I wanted because my parents weren't looking over me. I felt more freedom in that, but when I moved, I realized that I was overcompensating a lot before.
I was expressing myself in the way that I thought that others wanted me to. For months, I just had no sense of self. I would look in the mirror and I didn't even recognize my own self. I was so confused at that point. That definitely came from not needing to express myself in front of people as much.
I would look in the mirror and I didn't even recognize my own self.
Having reshaped those things that make up your identity, what do you think they look like now? I hadn’t really considered who I was and what makes me, ‘me,’ for a long time. In quarantine I had to figure stuff out, so I picked up film photography. I started writing more and making more art. As I did that, I realized, ‘I know who I am. I'm Cait and I'm an artist.’ I'm exploring my gender identity, or lack of, which has been really freeing. I identify so much with being bisexual and being demisexual now, but back then there were always those moments of questioning, if I’m actually a lesbian, straight, asexual, and trying to figure it all out. I am bisexual and I am demisexual. I've learned to trust my instincts on my own identity.
Drew Love, They / Them Third Year, Psychology How have you connected with fellow Queer students throughout this time? I went to a high school with one of the people on the Queers and Allies club board. We ended up reconnecting and we started this tabletop RPG, and that's when I realized a lot of stuff about gender identity and sexuality. The majority of us in the group were trans and/or non binary, and all of us were Queer. It was really good because I only had maybe three queer friends before that. How do you feel your identity is being reflected back to you in general right now? In online school and on Discord, I get to introduce myself as Drew, they/them. They see me as my authentic self before hearing my voice or seeing my face [and] it's nice to know when people are addressing me, they're actually seeing what I want them to see, not what they think I am.
With quarantine, I've read, watched YouTube videos, and been getting into writing again. I've also been into knitting. It does have something to do with my gender identity because I spent the first two years of college not exploring anything. I think all of this has helped redefine who I am.
How do you feel your identity is being reflected back to you at this time?
Kaitlyn Oribiana, They / She Fourth Year, English Literature How has quarantine impacted how you see yourself, if at all? In quarantine, I spent so many nights not sleeping and asking myself what it is I actually like. Eventually this year I realized, I’d rather not identify as a girl anymore [and] I feel comfortable with they/them. I used to worry about this back in high school because maybe it's just a trend to be non-binary. But, no, I don't think it's a trend. This is who I am.
I used to really perform as that girlfriend persona, [but] now I’m in a new relationship. We reference each other as ‘partner’ and both identify as nonbinary. It’s been really validating and comforting for both of us. I never feel pressured to get dolled up and wear dresses. I don't feel pressured to be a girl, I can just focus on loving a significant other. When I work there are people who still perceive me as a girl and use she/her pronouns. It’s fine because I'm just playing the role of cashier and they have to reference me somehow. I’m not sure if I want to use she/her or they/them pronouns specifically, that’s something I am still figuring out for myself.
How do you feel your identity is being reflected back to you throughout this time? I made a YouTube channel. It's public [but] they’re mostly for myself. I've realized that validation through social media is ultimately a balance. As a creator, you can fall into this mindset of like, "Wow that person has more followers, they must be more important," or even try to underplay all that by thinking of followers as just mindless bots.
Dan Dao, He / Him Second Year, Mechanical Engineering
The way people are on social media isn't very comprehensive of human behavior and the way people act in real life. That’s important to keep in mind. Being comfortable with your own life is most important. I don’t think my identity is affirmed by my digital presence [but] before the digital transition my identity was separate from my online persona.
How have you managed the shift into online communication with fellow Queer individuals? I don't know how romantic relationships are going to go and that’s okay. I enjoy one-on-one conversations with people [and] I wasn't interested in going through that whole dating app route. I’m just a little old fashioned. My style of conversation has been hindered by quarantine, as there's a lot more avenues of communication happening all the time. It’s tough to keep up with a bunch of texts. In person, I do get a little anxious interacting with people, but it's always fun to talk with different people and see what their quirks are.
Jireh Deng, They / She Third Year, Applied Math, Minor in Creative Writing
How have you experienced the shift from student life on campus to student life at home? If it hadn’t been for this pandemic, I might have just left the nest without addressing any of these problems at home [but] it's allowed my parents to realize how much I've grown in the two years I've been at college. How would you describe your present sense of community? There are a lot of complications when your family loves you and sacrifices so much for you, but that can also be the root of trauma for you. We should protect our elders, but also hold them accountable. [They] need to be educated, but it needs to be acknowledged that when you're moving to another country with a new language, you're going to stick with what you know. They've
never been in these spaces like we are now, talking about how gender is different from assigned sex, how presentation is different from that, and how people's pronouns matter. It's a very different thing than straight up being hateful and choosing to be ignorant. So, what do we have to do as Queers is learn from our backgrounds, give to our communities, and uplift other people.
[The pandemic] has allowed my parents to realize how much I've grown...
ILLUSTRATION BY RIGBY CELESTE
Zoom Dysmorphia Staring at myself through the screen, I don't recognize myself anymore. By Rigby Celeste
n the first Wednesday of the new semester, I made a bold choice. Behind the closed door of my bedroom, I sat cross-legged and unlidded a pink and black tub. Within the box were all my heavy makeup products: dark eyebrow fillers, false lashes, and bright lipsticks. I wanted to treat my online classes with the same ceremony as my first week on campus. So with a fresh haircut and my favorite outfit on, I decided it was finally time to wear a full-face of makeup. Within my bedroom, the image staring back at me was saturated and lively. I felt sexy and daring like I could go out with a leather jacket and break some glass. I felt as if I was the star in an edgy 80’s rom-com and within my class, I was to meet a little someone who just couldn’t get enough of me. I felt good. After all my pampering, I was late for class. In a rush, I found my Zoom link and joined without checking my camera. So when I entered my class, I looked down upon my computer in horror. I was hideous. My eyes were lost behind the blacks of my sad-sloped eyebrows. They looked like two tiny olives pinned a touch too high on my ham-slice head. My nose was both too long and too round, like a big fat teardrop. My laugh-lines, feathering from
the corners of my bulbous nose, were practically black. Worst of all, between the folds of my cheeks, my perfectly lined lips now looked like a swollen, mutilated strawberry. I was utterly humiliated. That Wednesday, my class was three hours long. I spent all 3 hours shifting around on my couch, trying to find a good angle without making my insecurity obvious. Three aching hours in intervals of five or ten minutes of self-obsession, followed by restless movement, and another 10 minutes of trying to stay calm. Is it humanly possible to feel calm while staring at your own face? I tried to angle my camera so I was just two eyes in a box, but I was the only face cut off. I put my face back on full display, then slid the beautification filter all the way on. That only made me feel worse; I still looked like a dead blobfish. By the second hour, I realized I did not absorb a word of my professor's lecture. I turned my selfview off. On-campus, I would only see myself at the tiptop of the morning. I would make myself perfect in front of my mirror, then go about my day. Within my classes, I looked out the windows and watched shifting trees, stacked brick buildings, and the tops of students' heads. I doodled the poses of my classILLUSTRATION BY RIGBY CELESTE
mates around me and scribbled out notes. The only information I had about how I looked was: this morning, I looked good. On Zoom, you are forced to look at only one thing: your own horrible face at the perfectly worst angle. You just can’t get away from it. Any shift in the interface and your face might get smaller, it might move to the left or the right, but it never disappears. As joyous as I felt that morning, I haven’t put makeup on since. I kept my beautification filter on through only a couple more classes. I kept thinking back to all those news segments following 16-yearold girls at surgeon appointments trying to look more like they do on Snapchat. I didn’t want to have an idea of myself that was so far removed I needed surgery. But my idea of myself is already removed. When I joined the classroom, the face that stared back at me wasn’t a stranger, it was me. I wonder sometimes if I was still in a physical classroom, would I know what my face looks like? If all
I knew of myself was from mirrors in the morning and sunlit reflections on glass, would the image I know of myself be idealized? Would I continue to take selfies angled so perfectly that my true self was hardly recognizable? They say if you saw yourself walking on the street, you would not know it was even you. Even so, a book is defined by its content and not its cover. My love for myself can only be better if I can give the same love to my zoom-distorted face. My pink and black box sits untouched in my bureau. I’ve traded out my lipstick morning routine for short stories by the window. No matter how strange my face might look to me, I can make myself laugh, and the joy that brings me is the same as the joy when I think I am beautiful. If I ran into someone who goes by the same name with a ham face and olive eyes, I only hope we might have a good conversation.
how segregated my own community was from other communities of color.
I’ll be the first to say that I haven’t always known how to discuss anti-Blackness in the Asian American community.
But in recalling my own shortcomings, I remember many of the difficult conversations I had to have with my parents, especially with my mother this past summer in explaining the Black Lives Matter protests over the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor.
This Lunar New Year, I’m Thinking About Black and Asian Solidarity How can we continue to move together towards equity and fight for each other’s rights? By Jireh Deng
ince moving to college, I have been blessed to work with five past and current employers who are Black. In writing, I’ve also gravitated towards community spaces that center Black, Indigenous, and people of color. So coming home during a pandemic was a sobering reminder of
Our experiences of discrimination cannot be directly compared to that of the Black community. Theirs is a history of involuntary migration through slavery and barriers to equal citizenship through the failures of the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, and now mass incarceration and criminalization of Black men.
Racial scripts have been used throughout history to disenfranchise both the Asian and Black communities. The concept of “Yellow Peril” was used to paint Chinese workers in the 1800s as a threat to the American working class which led to stringent immigration laws and restrictions on citizenship. During World War II, Japanese Americans were incarcerated in internment camps and painted as a threat to national security. Afterward, Japanese Americans were propped up as a comparison to other minorities in how they persisted through discrimination and prospered. The “model minority myth” is still used today to denigrate other racialized groups as not having the work ethic to overcome racism. Within my community, I’ve heard anti-immigrant and xenophobic language towards Muslims and Mexican immigrants. We were the ones who came here legally was the differentiation I always heard implicitly. Those people were breaking the law. They were dangerous. It stemmed from an unacknowledged fear that we were seen as perpetually ILLUSTRATION BY JIREH DENG
foreign and what better way to prove our Americanness than by joining in the choir of hate towards other people of color?
My parents never found a reason to discuss anti-Blackness in our community because perhaps they thought it was enough to love our Black neighbors and Black friends who ate with us and shared our space. It’s not enough. It’s not enough because when we look at the numbers, who are disproportionately affected by incarceration rates, whose life expectancy is shorter, who holds intergenerational wealth in this country; our Black community is most disadvantaged because of past and present discrimination and racism.
Is our love all-encompassing if not hoping each of us has equitable opportunities? If not dreaming of abolition and true freedom for all of us?
As Asian Americans, we have to recognize that our experiences are different than that of our Black community. It means we may have to take a step back and acknowledge where our gaps of knowledge lie, and to listen and learn. It means we may have to hold these conversations intra-culturally so we don’t exhaust or put an unnecessary burden on our Black friends and family.
Black and Asian solidarity is possible. Before Asian American activism was even “woke” or even a political concept, Grace Lee Boggs was doing the work of an organizer in Detroit Michigan in
the 50s and 60s. Her activism was deeply rooted in the working-class struggles of that time within the Black community that had not recovered from the Great Depression as white working-class Americans had. Her legacy has continued to resonate with activists and organizers today because of how she lived and exemplified Black and Asian solidarity.
We see other instances of interracial solidarity in the Farmworker Movement in the 60s that united Mexican and Filipino farmworkers in a strike for better working conditions. It’s important to realize that our freedoms are inherently linked with each other. The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes because of the pandemic has demonstrated how easily we fall from the graces of the minority who has “made it.” Our existence in this country has always been conditional upon our willingness to strive towards assimilation quietly.
It takes the work of all of us to recognize that difficult conversations need to be had. If we are truly committing to justice and equality, it must be radically inclusive. That we must reach across differences into unfamiliar territory. This takes time and learning, but almost anything hard-won never comes easy. The goal is liberation against racism and discrimination that affects all of us. Reading recommendations: Cathy Park Hong’s “Minor Feelings” and Ijeoma Oluo’s “So you want to talk about race.” Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join in discourse and conversation on the Asian Social Justice Book Club’s Slack.
The Zoom Meet Cute Trying to Make a Connection Online. By Kaleen Luu
ell me, friends, how am I supposed to find a love connection with someone over Zoom when my Wi-Fi struggles to let me sit through an hour of class? I can’t even try to pretend that I’m getting my tuition’s worth.
(OTL) just so happens to be walking by and is the one who helps her.
As the pandemic drones on and the countdown to my remaining days left of university, I’m starting to feel antsy about the “meet cute” expectation of meeting someone in college. All my life, I’ve watched romance movies depicting college as the place where couples meet, fall in love and get their happily ever after. Maybe the quirky heroine drops all her stuff and of course, her One True Love
The point is, my OTL is nowhere to be found, because they sure are not running into me anytime soon. The virtual reality of our education is the sad bearer of more bad news. It seems fitting that OTL is an emoticon used to symbolize crying on your hands and knees because honestly, that’s how I feel.
Or maybe they meet in the library, reaching for the same required-textbook-by-the-professor-butwe’ll-never-actually-use.
Not only do I miss out on meeting the love of
ILLUSTRATION BY KALEEN LUU
my life, I lose out on getting the full scope of an education, too. To my professors, it must feel terrible to lecture to a screen of students who are all muted with their cameras off. It’s a lose-lose and there goes the so-imagined college experience. That’s half the point of university, isn’t it? To build connections—oh sorry, I mean, “networking.” So boo-hoo, I can’t find love. Not only that, I’m struggling to make new friends as it is. Joining clubs isn’t the enriching and enjoyable experience that it could’ve, should’ve and would’ve been. My dragon boat team has practice over Zoom and it’s just not the same… like hello, we can’t even be out on the water! But I digress. The Zoom meet-cute fantasy maybe goes like this. Both students are part of the select five that actually keep their cameras on during class, and volunteers to answer the professor’s question. (Kudos to you if you’re that person, for speaking up so our instructor doesn’t have to answer themselves like a sad rendition of Dora the Explorer). By some miracle, they end up in the same breakout room, hit it off, and there goes another Netflix rom-com movie! Okay, but it doesn’t actually happen that way in real life. Or at least, not for me. I’ve tried committing to having my camera on this semester and speaking in class (which is definitely more terrifying than in person because EVERYONE sees your face as it dominates their screen, whereas in person, they’re probably staring at the clock the whole time. The hardest thing about school being online is how difficult it is to make a stable connection. Much like my Wi-Fi, it’s a fleeting moment.
If I have a class with someone cute, I can’t casually strike up a conversation like I would in person. On-campus, I could actually see my classmates and maybe tell someone, “Hey that’s a cool shirt, I like Inner Wave too,” and it would be chill and friendly. But on Zoom, private messaging someone seems so… direct. It’s like, zeroing in on someone and with most students keeping their camera off, I feel like I never get the opportunity to even find a common ground. Breakout rooms seem like a great opportunity. The problem with that is they’re usually short, you’re grouped with several students and you have a discussion point for the class that you’re supposed to focus on. It’s never enough time to actually establish anything. Plus, it’s hard to gauge people’s reactions when we’re messaging over Zoom. In real life, it’s easy to tell when someone is disinterested by their body language. That’s my cue to back off. Online, I just hope that the human on the other side of the screen wants to be friends, too. Can we make it a thing that if you’re open to making connections, change your Zoom icon to include Barney? Yes, that purple dinosaur. He was ahead of his time. The one who would sing me “I love you, you love me” taught me that caring, sharing and learning is the key to love. So please, let there be a way to make it easier to know it’s OK to reach out, it’s such an isolating time. The only bright side of this whole thing? “Breaking up” has a whole other meaning to me now. I don’t have to be crying over being dumped, breaking up can also mean that I’m missing half of what my professors are saying. Maybe there is a silver lining to lectures being straight from the PowerPoint.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY JIREH DENG
The Virtual Lining The pandemic has been awful, but in some ways I've been able to connect more.
By Andres Leon
nline learning is a nightmare for everyone. Our education relies on shoddy internet connections and our will to attend endless zoom meetings. Before the pandemic, I was not involved in any campus activities and did not socialize much. My days consisted of attending my classes and driving home immediately after. My social anxiety during in-person classes prevented me from appreciating the like-minded people around me.
awkward with everyone stepping on each other's toes when they speak, but the virtual backgrounds and filters have been great. I've taken to downloading around fifty backgrounds that I rotate often during class. I've even made backgrounds where it looks like clones of me are behind my chair, nodding along on loop to everything in class.
The reactions that I've gotten from that have made me near hysterical.It's rewarding to receive There is a virtual silver lining that I have found private messages over Zoom from people telling within this mess. I felt more comfortable in my me that they appreciate my goofy backgrounds. I own skin while in class because I could control imagine that it brightens their days a bit, and in how people viewed me. I could take breaks and turn that brightens mine. Even if it seems benign, I turn my camera off if I didn't want to be looked encourage everyone to engage with their classmates at. My confidence rose more in and out of class. and I've been taking more The great thing with I've even made backgrounds initiative to join campus online messaging is that where it looks like clones clubs and become more we can take as long as of me... nodding along to involved. we want to respond to everything in class. messages which relieves Class specific Discord the stress that we feel servers are a savior for me. when having an immediate conversation in person. They allow me to talk with my classmates about work and keep me on track. Impromptu chats with classmates are easy because of how relaxed Discord server environments are.
I can proudly say now that I've met people that I talk to almost daily. Zoom class interactions are
This past year has been gray and bleak but within those times there have been granular rays of sunshine from the friends I've made along the way. I would not have met these people if we were still in person. ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA GARCIA
My social anxiety during inperson classes prevented me from appreciating the people around me.
The Transition to Online Learning in Three Acts Reminiscing our abrupt departure from campus a year ago. By Charles Flores
t is coming upon a year since [we] turned to online learning, and I must not be the only one who has endured a sense of whiplash and sadness at this. I remember the days leading up to the university’s decision; it happened in three parts for me. First, it was the look of deep, sunken worry and terror upon my friend’s face.
everything felt alien, as if I was watching our encounter from a different perspective and watching the simmering beginnings of a B-rated horror movie. I noticed the looks on every person’s face in that library: students, library technicians, Starbucks employees. They all seemed so… unsure. To think that elbow tap would be the last physical embrace from a friend.
At the time, I was not paying attention to its development in China. To me, it was overseas and would be well contained enough; my only insight into that belief was pure optimism and hope. I reassured her, telling her it would be okay. I really did believe that. However, now, as that mentality has fizzled away, I feel a deep pity for my friend because it seems that I lied to her. I am sorry, Rebecca.
Sitting at the front of the room, with his wool newsy cap he wore to every class session, my professor prepared the class with a true glimpse into the future: “Don’t expect this to end soon. This is how it is going to be, and we don’t even know for how long.”
I learned of this from my friend Jacob, a history major I met in my non-fiction writing class the previous semester—my only true university semester. Standing in the middle of the library, between the front desk and the Starbucks, we traded in our usual handshakes for elbow taps. As they touched,
Maybe my professor will teach them in his class. Perhaps they will be metered like the classics, or maybe they will depict the lives of everyone staring at the four corners of their rooms, watching the news with uncertainty and the creeping forgetfulness of what it is like to live normally.
It was the first week of the semester, and we were waiting for our syllabus to print. As the printAt the end of January, I contacted him and er stirred awake, I turned to see her staring blankly learned he had the virus. I understand terror now. at the wall, her eyebrows The final moment furrowed, the corner of came from my poher lip being lightly bitetry professor, who ten, and the bottom of declared that the ...we traded in our usual her blonde ombre hair class session would handshakes for elbow being stroked. not focus on the assigned reading, but taps. As they touched, Loose strands of her about how the sehair covered a stray shoe everything felt alien... mester would play print impressed upon the out. Rows of desks library’s carpeted floor. were sporadically When I touched her filled, leaving pockshoulder, she finally came round and told me what was plaguing her so much: ets of air in the classroom that was completely full the week before. it was the virus.
The university’s announcement was the second moment. When I arrived on campus, heading to the library, I did not know about the campus-wide email announcing our transition to online learning.
It was not just about our academic lives, but also our daily lives. These months and months of the pandemic, daily routines cropped to jobless families, and children not understanding why they are wearing a mask, or why they cannot hug their friends might be read in contemporary poetry.
ILLUSTRATION BY THALIA GARCIA
My Experience as a New Transfer During a Pandemic
Long Beach required some forms from the IRS and I only had two weeks to get them, so I mailed the IRS. They said they would get it back to me in 5-10 business days. I thought, “Okay, I might make the deadline.” I didn’t.
Struggling through financial hardship as a student at CSULB.
The first month of the semester came and went and my next payment was coming up. I was freaking out. Not to mention, I did not have my books for my classes. I called the guy that did my taxes to see if he could help me. He sent me the form [and] I submitted it to the school but they said it would take a week for them to process it, passing my payment date. I decided to not pay and just hope that my form got processed.
By Gustavo Buenrostro
rom the obvious pandemic to my own personal financial troubles, my first semester at CSULB was rough. Like many people, I didn’t take COVID seriously. My friends and I would say things like, “it's no big deal” and just make jokes about it. Only one of my friends saw the reality of it [but] we just kind of brushed him off. Then the stay-at-home orders came and we weren’t laughing anymore.
A few days after the payment day I got an email saying it was the wrong form. I did not know what to do. I was in my room, stressing out over what else I could try. My sister came in and told me, “Well did you try calling the IRS office in LA?” I told her I had already tried but she said that I only mailed them. I called them and the person thought, "Okay, I might who worked there was able to get the correct make the deadline." form sent to me in just I didn't. a few days.
First spring break was moved up, then it was made into two weeks, then they announced when we came back, classes would be online. Since I was transferring that semester, it made things difficult for me but I was still able to make deadlines except for my financial aid.
The IRS did not send me the form. I signed up for my classes and I was going to have to pay for my tuition since I wasn’t getting financial aid. I couldn't even get loans without those IRS forms. The fall semester was beginning and I opted for the installment plan, although it was still a lot of money that I didn’t have. Luckily, my family helped out with the first payment, but I had to figure out how to get my financial aid situation in order.
When I got it, I sent it to the school and got my financial aid approved and was able to pay my tuition. I could not believe how easy it was to just call and ask for what I needed. I felt like an idiot, but I had a huge weight off
ILLUSTRATION BY JOEY ABE
my shoulders and was able to enjoy the rest of my semester. Unfortunately, I still have not been to the campus physically and so it does not really feel like I’m a part of the school yet. It still feels like I am in transition. Part of me is glad because I do not have to commute but the other part really wants to feel like I am a part of the environment and community there. The school does a good job at trying to get people involved with online activities but it just is not the same.
When I think back to my first semester, it will be nothing but stress by the unfortunate financial troubles that were caused by my own incompetence and the lack of connection I felt. Although, there is still time to feel like I am a part of the university [so] when we are allowed back, I will try to engage with the community.
Blues in a Backyard Punk Gig How I fell in love with the blues and why it inspires me.
By Daisy Velasco
ILLUSTRATION BY DAISY VELASCO
have an old soul, or so I have been told by the older folks. I grew up listening to my brother play in the garage with his punk band.
At the age of thirteen, I started going to backyard gigs to watch my brother perform along with other local bands. The reckless and energetic noise of the crowd cheering for the bands thrilled me. The moshpits were intense because the only visible objects seen were arms swinging all over the place. Occasionally T-shirts and beer bottles would be thrown randomly in the air.
The singer began by first telling me the origins of the blues are important to learn. The Blues began in the North Mississippi Delta post-civil war influenced by African roots, field hollers, church music, and rhythmic dance. The performer then suggested a list of artists to listen to such as Robert Johnson, Little Walter, and Ma Rainey. I remember writing down the names of these musicians onto a flyer that I found on the floor. Ever since I encountered the blues at a punk backyard gig, I began to find myself searching to learn more about the history of the blues.
I remember a The aesthetic of the I was astounded to see specific performance, blues singers expressing the crowd go from a musician stood alone their feelings rather on the wooden stage than telling a story aggressively pushing one made from palettes and grabbed my attention. another in a circle to completely changed Their lyrics would wrapping arms around the setting. He was make me feel at ease shoulders as if it were a holding a harmonica but also a sense of pain. and an acoustic guitar family portrait. The rawness of the announcing on the instrumental technique microphone that he such as bending guitar was going to play a strings on the neck song called “Forty Days and Forty Nights'' by or applying a bottleneck to the guitar strings Muddy Waters. I was astounded to see the crowd creating a whining voice astonished me. But most go from aggressively pushing one another in a circle importantly, I think understanding the structure to wrapping arms around shoulders as if it were a of how the blues has become the basis form of family portrait. American popular music is noteworthy. At that time, I did not know who Muddy Waters was, but ever since that day I have fallen in love with the blues. I remember walking up to the musician after he finished performing with a curiosity of wanting to know more of who this Muddy Waters was.
To this day, I continue to find other musicians who influence who I am. Artist Recomendations: Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Ressie Smuth and Ma Rainey.
Cultivating Self-Love for a Happier Life Mike Johnson from The Bachelor franchise shares words of wisdom. By Kaleen Luu
ong Beach State welcomed Mike Johnson from ABC’s The Bachelor franchise to speak on conquering insecurities and cultivating selflove. The Associated Students, Inc. and the Beach Wellness committee hosted the event, “Be Limitless with Mike Johnson,” over Zoom on Feb. 16.
The San Antonio, TX native is an international spokesperson, speaker and author of the bestselling book, Making The Love You Want. Johnson spent eight years in the Air Force before becoming America’s fan favorite on season 15 of The Bachelorette, returning in season six of Bachelor in Paradise.
After years of struggling with self-doubt and depression, the 33-year-old shifted his perspective to dedicate his time to inspire others. Johnson has worked as a mentor and spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and co-founded a nonprofit to raise thousands of dollars to support female veterans.
“Never forget that our education doesn't stop,” he said. “I've learned just as much from millionaires as I have from people that have spent time in prison. Embrace the ability to learn from all of those that you encounter and take a humble approach." ILLUSTRATION BY KALEEN LUU
As a testament to his tenacity, the television personality revealed that his tattoo, “Limitless,” is more than just words. He joined the conversation to share how to stop underestimating themselves and live a life of love and perseverance. During the event, Johnson had participants write three positive things they liked about themselves on a mirror, and one badass comment to empower themselves. “Tell yourself that you will succeed. Write your goals on a sticky note, write your goals on the mirror, microwave, on the car console, so you see it every single day,” Johnson said.
The following select questions were submitted by students for the event. Questions and answers are edited for clarity and length.
Self love is the precursor to finding love in someone else, yet why is romantic love stressed more than practicing self-love? Love with someone else sells more. Reality TV is so popular [is] because we can get an escape, but we cannot escape self-care. Love with someone else is easier [and] we think to do that other than to be introspective and to look in the mirror.
What are your thoughts on The Bachelor finally having their first Black lead? I'm glad that we have Matt as our lead. To have one out of 25 bachelors be Black is atrocious. I got a lot of backlash for saying that, [but] to have zero Native American leads, zero Asian leads, zero any lead is atrocious. It's crazy.
How has your dating life changed since becoming famous? I have certain people in my [messages] that I'm like, “Whoa! I used to watch you on TV,” which is kind of crazy. Also, y’all are mean sometimes! People would see I’m dating someone and they’d be going in. No matter what, no one is good enough for anybody on social media.
You write about cultivating selflove from within. What benefit can a support system provide? All the negative comments... the most heinous things [that] they would never say my face, the aspect of having community is if those things were to get to me, I have my peer group to help me out.
What inspires you to get involved and give back to others? It makes me feel good. I feel like I get to grow and I get to learn. I started this nonprofit for women veterans because [they] don't get the shine that they should. I'm part of the one percent of Americans who decided to volunteer my life. Women are the one percent of that one percent.
How does life as a public figure impact your mental health? Your voice is heard by millions, that's why so many people that have influence are just quiet on certain subjects. For me, I have such a great supporting cast. My homies keep me in check, my sister definitely keeps me in check. She would tell me like it is! I take time to turn off my cell phone and just walk away for a little bit and just have time to be a human being without devices.
Judas and the Black Messiah By Andrew Ayala This Black history month, HBO Max released its powerful and moving feature film titled “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Directed by Shaka King, the movie is a historical drama based on the lives of Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and William O’Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield. Hampton was the radical Black Panther Party leader for the Illinois chapter and O’Neal was a car thief who found himself stuck in the middle of betrayal and survival.
Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya (top), and William O’Neal, played by Lakeith Stanfield (bottom), raise their hands in solidarity as Hampton gives a powerful speech fresh out of prison.
Inspired by true events, the film follows O’Neal during a period of his life where he had to make some life-altering decisions. O’Neal first is depicted using a fake FBI badge to commit car robberies. After a failed attempt, he gets caught and bribed into becoming a mole for the government. With no clear motive other than survival, he agrees to work with FBI agent Roy Mitchell, played by Jesse Plemons, and begins their infiltration on the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party.
The film shows that when a group of oppressed people come together, they can create a movement that literally shocks the nation. On the other hand, viewers are able to see what was going on behind PHOTO COURTESY OF GLEN WILSON / WARNER BROS
the scenes with both the government and Black Panther Party.
Their performances alone can carry the film. Hampton is portrayed as an outspoken and intelligent man while O’Neal is seen as a yes-man who In this social climate especially, there is a necescan barely think for himself. From the scenes where sity for movies like this to come out because they he gives passionate speeches to the scenes where teach us pieces of history that we never learned he is enthralled by growing up. This was his love interest a film that did more Deborah Johnson, ...allows viewers to a get a glimpse than tell a story. It played by Domof the harsh realities that Black proved that these tales inique Fishback, people in America faced and still are so powerful and Kaluuya presents face today. important that today a very moving and we should shed light emotional perforon them. It was great mance. The other to see a Black director characters add some flavor to the film as well besucceed in getting multiple messages that dealt cause they play such an important role in showing with racial struggles across a multiracial audience. how racial tensions caused some people to initiate The film is written in a way that allows viewers to a fight or flight in response. get a glimpse of the harsh realities that Black people in America faced and still face today.
Movies like this show our nation the other side of the story that isn’t told in modern history books. There are two sides to every story and King manages to establish his side in an unbiased and interesting manner with multiple heartwarming and gut-wrenching pieces. More films like this need to be released because there isn’t enough minority representation in society today. This is an example of a group of people telling a story their way and without the rules and regulations that Hollywood usually tries to impose. Both Stanfield and Kaluuya play amazing roles that compliment one another throughout the film. Stanfield’s character is very uneasy and almost always nervous. O’Neals jittery mind and second guessing can be perceived by viewers through Stanfield’s facial expressions and body language. Kaluuya’s character is a very outspoken and strong-minded individual.
The cinematics are shot perfectly and give the audience a more in-depth view of what the setting is like. The close-up shots really convey the emotion due to the strong facial expressions that each actor brings to the table. The musical score is decent and does not add or remove anything from the movie. The costumes and settings were proper and some scenes felt as though the audience was actually watching a documentary. Overall “Judas and the Black Messiah” is a great watch. Although there is dramatization and exaggeration, the film never feels diluted or dull and stays consistent with the true events that are depicted. Many aspects of this film including its powerful messages of change and influence make it a must-see. “Judas and the Black Messiah” released on Friday and can be streamed on HBO Max or seen in theaters. The film is rated R for violence and persuasive language.
CSULB Resolves Parking Issues by Halving Spots The campus is ready for students to line their wallets, er, walkways. By Paperman
After two and a half semesters of online learning, Long Beach State students are expected to return to in-person instruction in fall 2021 with precautions to ensure safety against the coronavirus pandemic. An anonymous official stated that the reason campus wants to return to in-person instruction August is, "definitely not because of our dropping enrollment rates," and is to, "ensure quality education for all of our paying students."
"It feels nice to have CSULB hear us out and fix what we've been complaining about," said an anonymous student, "I used to miss about half of my classes for the day just searching
Food contamination is a worry shared amongst many students, as many rely on food on campus to carry them through their full day of classes. To reduce coronavirus contamination, the campus will now have all food pre-cooked and wrapped in extra plastic wrapping.
In a shocking turn of events, LBSU's priority is to fix the parking on campus for the vast amount of students returning to in-person instruction. Students have complained about parking at the campus for years. In an effort to listen to student qualms, parking spaces will be halved to ensure that students and staff remain socially distanced in the parking lot.
for parking, but now I get to miss all of them!"
"Here at Long Beach State, we like to have fun. Our decision to use extra plastic is inspired by Japanese culture because we are very inclusive. Did I mention we were diverse?" said the anonymous official.
The campus will reportedly not require vaccinations or masks to be on campus. Instead, for safety and to keep school pride up CSULB will rent out, "Go beach!" branded hazmat suits in the library. Students will be able to pay for the suits using their student ID's and are encouraged to use their beach bucks that have been stagnant since quarantine. I'm sorry, did I say fall 2021? I meant fall 2022. We hope to see you in fall 2022. ILLUSTRATION BY JOEY ABE
Headlines written like mad libs are so last year, so what are they still doing here? If anything they seem to be getting worse. We collectively agreed that all the garbage would be left in 2020, a year so bad that Australia burning to the ground was just a footnote. But here I am, once again carefully centering my webcam so my professor can’t see the discarded beer cans to the left or the pile of dirty laundry to the right, what gives?
New Year, Same Me Problems don't just vanish at the clock striking midnight. By Jebediah Morningside 2021… you were supposed to be different. I have spent the last 12 months slack-jawed and glassy-eyed waiting for you to come and sweep me off my feet.
I was so ready for this to end, to go outside and breathe deep the air of a world without political strife, economic uncertainty or social instability. But just six days in we had a clown in a buffalo headdress storm the capitol building who went on a hunger strike in prison because his “shamanic diet” organic food. A Republican congresswoman shared that she believed the California wildfires were caused by Jewish-controlled space lasers. Next a conspiracy theory pharmacist sabotaged the COVID vaccines he received, resulting in fifty-seven people being injected with compromised doses.
Shouldn’t I be energized and perky again? Shouldn’t I shrug off the last 12 months of purgatory like a heavy coat and go skipping through fields? Or whatever happy people do?
Everyone was so sure that this was the end of it. Match.com even had those totally-not-terrible ads with Satan dating the embodiment of 2020. 2021 was supposed to be the year I seized the moment. Did Match.com lie to me? The new year is supposed to be a moment for renewal, innovation and reinvention, but lo and behold, January 1 is here, and nothing has changed. There were heaps of think pieces written about how when the ball dropped on the first, things would be looking up. I tried to keep an open mind, give the new year a chance to find its legs, but here we are, two months in and I still duck and cover when I hear my roommate cough. Now, and I know this is blasphemous, the passage of time is starting to feel arbitrary. Like we barely registered the turn of the new year, nothing has changed day to day. Come 1/1/2000 did people not immediately bedazzle their jeans and junk their grunge CDs? That’s how it happened right? Because it feels like we built up this year to be the light at the end of the tunnel only for it to be a train.