Page 1

Fall 2013 LA GENTE 1



MANAGING EDITOR Jacqueline Espinoza


Rosa Linda Meza Savannah Smith

DESIGN EDITOR Melissa Merrill

WEB EDITOR Michelle Salinas


COPY CHIEF Savannah Smith

COPY EDITORS Michelle Martinez Rosa Linda Meza Madelinn Ornelas Michelle Salinas

Letter from the Editor Bienvenidos--welcome--new readers and frequent readers to La Gente’s Fall 2013 issue. Since 1971 La Gente has been a Latina/o student publication at UCLA. Still, we continue progressing our voices--our diverse voices in matters of politics, culture, identity. We understand the barriers in front of us and we understand our role as storytellers. This publication, therefore, is a collective, an experience, unique to our gente--our people. This publication is about inspiration, pride, education, and not exclusion. Find yourself in this issue, share your stories with us, and pass this issue on to a friend. Peace,


Emmanuel Aguilar Posada Jessica Avelleira Katherine Batanero Magdalena Ceja Regem Corpuz Mayra Godinez Hector Guevara Jessica Iniguez Miguel Angel Martinez Roxana Martinez Rosa Linda Meza Madelinn Ornelas María Perez Alejandra Reyes Roberto Reyna Kimberly Soriano Roberta Terra Juan Torres

About the Cover

On the cover is Oscar Magallanes’ interpretation of Echo Park’s Lady of the Lake statue, also known as Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles and who was introduced in the Depression Era as a gift to Echo Park. After recent renovations, the statue was positioned to face away from Echo Park Lake, something that has proven to be controversial among locals of the city who feel that she should be facing the lake as she has been for years. In defense of her new position, city officials persist that the statue should welcome visitors in front of the beautiful landscape that lies behind her. But is the Lady turning her back on local residents to welcome newly arrived people to the increasingly trendy city, or will she continue to stand tall defending the unity of Echo Park residents?


Michelle Martinez Madelinn Ornelas Michael Reyes

PHOTOGRAPHERS Mayra Jones Melissa Merrill Madelinn Ornelas Erika Ramirez


CONTRIBUTORS La Identidad Oscar Magallanes



118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024 310.825.9836 This magazine was made possible with the support of Generation Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, online at: 2 LA GENTE Fall 2013

Join Us! We’re always looking for bright and talented students to join our staff. Positions are open in writing, editing, design, photography, illustration, video, business, and marketing.

Follow La Gente


LaGentedotorg 4 | Yo, Affirmative Action Bake Sale!

4 | Art Photography by Abelardo Morell

universidad 5 | From Tijuana to UCLA 6 | The Other College Experience 7 | Osito Profile


7 | Sana Sana, Colita de Rana


comunidad 8 | Objection! Let them be lawyers! 9 | STEM-ing Towards the Future 10 | More Than Just a Café

¡viva la mujer! 11 | Guerreras del Barrio

featured 12-13 | From Echo Parque to Hipsterlandia 14 | Artist: Oscar Magallanes


15 | Art: Flores Para Juárez

¡topen esto! 16 | Who is Napolitano? 17 | “Too male, Too pale, Too stale” 18 | No (E)quality in Education

Download the LG mobile app

18 | Minority? Think again! 19 | Immigration Reform by an Undocumented Student

expresiones 20 | Tristes escrituras de una mujer

*Asteriks next to names within articles indicate anonymity.

sigan luchando

Start a conversation! La Gente accepts outside submissions of all sorts for review and possible publication. Email with “Submission” in the subject line.

21 | La Identidad 21 |Sigan Luchando

arte y cultura


22 | Snapfotos: Día de Los Muertos

La Gente Newsmagazine is for el estudiante--the student--interested in Latino issues. We represent the diversity of our culture and cultivate pride within our community. We’re a forum for conversation, hoping to inspire readers to get involved and get their voices heard.

23 | Day of Los Muertos

La Gente Lingo

arte y cultura need we say more? comunidad local insights expresiones all things creative LaGentedotorg online preview

sigan luchando for those inside ¡topen esto! all things opinionated universidad exclusively osito ¡viva la mujer! profiling la mujer

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the La Gente editorial board. All other columns, cartoons, and letters represent the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial board. The UCLA communications board has a media grievance procedure for resolving grievances against any of its media. For a copy of the complete procedure contact student media at 310.825.2787. Copyright 2013 ASUCLA Communications Board

Fall 2013 LA GENTE 3




Your Comments: “I’m so glad that people are learning the facts about the issue. Thank you LG for covering this, I hope we can really get serious about institutional support for racial diversity.”

Edber CM “Yes! Many people don’t know that Whites actually use more welfare services than Latinos! This bake sale is very uninformed and shallow at that–this group of students is simplifying a more complex issue down to race.” ABELARDO MORELL


Gabriela Garcia


hat credits a photograph as art? Nowadays, it’s hard to think of that possibility with all the new technologies and apps created to improve photography. You can share photos on all the social networks with only a click and a few filter changes. Thinking of photographs as art is now very questionable. With the trivialization of photography – where everyone has become an “Instagram” photographer, sharing pictures of their daily meals, cute pets and “selfies” that show how great they look in an elevator’s mirror – it is quite understandable how professional photographers are easily losing their credibility. When looking at these issues it’s quite odd to believe in photography as art. Yet, photographers develop complex themes, use innovative ways of photographing, while not forgetting the most important factor: making people feel certain emotions only by looking at their pictures. Abelardo Morell is one of those photographers. Born in Cuba, but raised in America, he can be called an artist. By using the earlier techniques of photography, such as Camera Obscura, Photogram, Cliché-Verres and also various simple but yet very strong objects, such as tents, he creates a unique kind of photography. For those reasons he became an photography artist who’s had his work exhibited in many famous museums and galleries. Roberta Terra 4 LA GENTE Fall 2013

bove is a price list for a recent Affirmative Action bake sale. Clever. Very clever, or so you thought. I take a few issues up with you cookie sellers: What would you charge a mutt like me? Would I get a 40% increase because I’m about 1/4 Caucasian? Or would I pay a combination of the Caucasian and Latino prices? What if I brought a few of my friends, would I get a Friends of Color super discount? I’m curious that if you truly wanted to be original you would’ve thought of expanding on the idea that you ripped off from another school (or two, as a matter of fact) and added a more colorful array of payments. Would you offer a special “America Unlawfully Stole My Land and All I Got Was This Stupid Cookie?” Maybe you should’ve included a portion that said “We Accept EBT” if you wanted to also target those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, which is also a portion of the UC admittance process. If so, I think you might want to adjust those prices because a high number of Caucasians receive welfare—higher than that of Latinos and Asians. Possibly a “Free Cookie to any Orphan or Victim of Abuse,” being that personal struggle and story also played a part in the process. If you were going to go out of your way to offend and attempt to facilitate conversation about the issues at hand with the UC admittance process you might want to do some research and really facilitate a constructive debate on all the issues at hand. Don’t simply focus your attention on the easiest subject in the book: race. Get over it; it’s getting a little played out at this point. Guaranteed you won’t hesitate to cheer for all the athletes of color though. Newsflash! Affirmative action affects them too. Maybe instead of trying to polarize the issue in such a way that makes you all appear as though you may be bordering on bigotry, you might want to pick up a book or get on a computer and do some research. Your argument and frustrations are not with other students but with the Supreme Court who ruled on this many a moons ago. You think they’d like some cookies? “Savvy Logic”column by Savannah Smith

MORE ON Through Deaf Ears

“We are all Trayvon”

July 8, 2013 | Samantha Dudley

July 15, 2013 | Helen Alonzo

Emo Cultura en México

Princess with Purpose

July 23, 2013 | Jeanelle Horcasitas

Nov. 19, 2013 | Mayra Jones


FROM TIJUANA TO UCLA Experiences of transborder people and their journey to UCLA

María Perez


magine having to wake up at four in the morning. The alarm goes off, you know it’s going to be a long day. Time is not on your side, and the quicker you get ready, the faster you will get to your destination. After a speedy shower and small breakfast, you’re on your way to school…in another country. “Transfronterizos,” or transborder people, are individuals who cross the U.S./Mexico border to go to work or attend school in the United States. The term captures the movement of people from one country to the other. Over the past couple of years, security measures at the United States/ Mexico border have increased. To cross by car means to wake up even earlier than usual. Painstaking inspections could slow down the flow of cars enough to last several hours to get across the border. The long wait time was the same if one chose to cross on foot. No one could ever predict how long it would take to cross, so it was better to take precaution and leave home as early as possible to arrive on time to school or work. As a transfronteriza myself, I have gone through all of these experiences. Now, after so many years of keeping quiet, I feel that I am finally ready to start talking about it. It’s time to make peace with my past. I never told anyone about crossing the border everyday because my mom had specifically told me not to. She said, “Don’t tell anyone you come all the way from Tijuana. It’s not that we’re doing anything bad, because as a citizen you have the right to study here if you like, but let’s try our best not to stir up any problems.” Since elementary school it began to feel like a shameful secret, and I would try my best to conceal it from everyone. Soon after that, in middle school I realized that there was a stigma behind crossing the border everyday. People would look down on you, simply because you didn’t live in the United States, even if you were a citizen, and even if you did care deeply for your education. So I tried my best to keep it hidden, but I do suspect that my friends knew. Most of the time I was able to balance my academics, but a few times sleep paid the price. I always tried to do my work thoroughly, but that often did not work. Like most of the others who crossed the border, I was exposed to disputes between drivers who cut in line, or bumped into each other, or even crashed. Our car was never absolved from these happenings. It was an exhausting twelve years that I couldn’t wait for to end. However, I am also incredibly grateful for it; it taught me the importance of patience and dedication. It also made my accomplishments all the more satisfactory. Even though I invested in my education ever since I was young, I never actually pictured myself in college. I thought the time would never come, and if it did, that it wouldn’t work out. But the time did come and it did

work out, and now I find myself in one of the greatest cities and in one of the best colleges in the world. Not having to wake up early everyday is also a huge plus. Why, you ask, would anyone choose to go through this routine daily? The possibility of obtaining a higher education is what serves as motivation for many of the student transfronterizos. In the San Diego/Tijuana area, it is not unusual to find a U.S. citizen living in Tijuana and making their way everyday to the “other side” to have a chance of obtaining a higher education. Though not a simple process, it is a way in which students can be assured that they will have eight hours of lessons provided, an opportunity to learn a new language, and access to a higher education. Jaqueline Aguilar, third year Anthropology major says, “When I started crossing the border it was never a goal of mine to end up at a university, so much less UCLA. So, I think it was worth it. Also, there was a long period of time when I questioned whether I deserved things because I was crossing the border.” Michelle Preciado, a third year American Literature and Culture transfer student says, “When I was in middle school I was like, ‘Ok, I want to go to college.’ That’s when I decided that I wanted to go to college. And once I was in high school, I was like, ‘I’m not going to stop. I’m going to do this. I’m going to get all the way over there.’ And now I’m here at UCLA.” Marina Garcia*, a third year transfer Anthropology student, and Rigoberto Bolaños*, a third year Global Studies major, both say that although they have managed to get into UCLA, the whole ordeal is not quite over for them yet. Since they are not American citizens and are in the process of applying, they do not have the liberty to talk openly about their experiences, in fear that it could put at risk the possibility of obtaining their citizenship.

‘I’m not going to stop. I’m going to do this. I’m going to get all the way over there.’ And now I’m here at UCLA.”

Marco Mejia*, a third year transfer student and International Development Studies major, when asked about his experience commented that most of his friends knew, and the people from his student club knew because sometimes he wouldn’t make it to events. His teachers knew, but some of them would insist that they didn’t care if he had to cross the border; he had to be in class on time. The border is a place where the harsh realities of life intermingle and attempt to divide us from our goals. But our devotion towards our education got us through, and though we share remembrances of both good and bad experiences allocated there, ultimately we realize that it has played a key role in our lives, and are grateful towards it because we are now able to be here because of it. Without it, this would have never been possible.

Fall 2013 LA GENTE 5


experiences and concerns

Jessica Avelleira


ommuter students have a peculiar experience during their undergraduate career. For many students the cost of on-campus housing and tuition is the main factor in their decision to commute. According to the 2012 State of the Commute report by UCLA’s Transportation Department, 17,082 students are commuters out of the 27,941 total undergraduate population. Of those commuters, 26.1% drive alone and 33.4% take public transportation. Hugo Rios happens to be one of the 33.4% of students who commutes by bus, which can take up to two hours from his home in South Los Angeles to get to UCLA. Rios said about his commuting decision, “I basically pay half the bills and finances of where I live with my parents so if I moved (on campus) I would put a (financial) burden on them...To me it seemed like I was paying for two different schools.” Many student commuters carry concerns that students who live on campus do not have to worry about. Because commuters have to account for bus schedules or traffic, time management is an important skill among commuter students. “If you miss the bus you’re not going to make it to class,” says Rios. “I always had to plan ahead, it took me a while to time myself,” says Griselda Vivero, a third year Spanish student. She says that commuting can affect the scheduling of her classes as she tries to plan her classes carefully so that she is not forced to take public transportation at night. Many commuters express concerns about their involvement on campus. Most extracurricular events on campus tend to take place in the late afternoon or at night. Many commuter students say they have a hard time incorporating these events into their schedules because they do not want to inconveniently wait until the event starts, have to travel back home late, or for financial reasons. Valeria Villegas, a second year from Arleta, California, spends about $40 a week for gas and $213 a quarter for her parking permit so attending these events are not convenient for her. Diana Pascual, a third year Sociology student, said the rise of tuition costs after her freshman year forced her to take a leave of absence her second year to work and save money. Upon her return, she decided commuting was the best option for her, but she notices the difference be6 LA GENTE Fall 2013

17,082 students are commuters out of the 27,941 total undergraduate population. Of those commuters, 26.1% drive alone and 33.4% take public transportation.”

UCLA Transportation has already subsidized student bus passes, which reduces the cost of the bus pass to $50 a quarter, a price that many commuters are thankful for. However, Rios says that there is a lack of information available to comMADELINN ORNELAS

THE OTHER COLLEGE EXPERIENCE Commuter students share

tween living on campus and commuting. When Pascual lived on campus she was able to study in the library late at night but she no longer has that luxury due to her hour and forty minute bus trip back home. Although commuting can have an impact on student involvement on campus, Rios says that it did not prevent him from joining a student organization. He says being a commuter prolonged the time it took to find an organization, as opposed to people on campus who have an easier time being involved.

muter students. He remembers when there was a petition to extend a bus line that would benefit him and others. Unfortunately, not enough people were aware of the petition and the bus line was cancelled. Rios says that there isn’t enough assistance on behalf of administration that would help commuters. On the other hand, Villegas says that most of the time finding parking is not difficult. However, she says that when there are special events on campus, it can take up to half an hour to find parking, causing her to be late to class despite her accounted parking space permit. “I’m trying to get to class. I’m trying to get here to learn. I don’t know what the hell these people are here for, a basketball game or whatever. I think I (as a student) should be more important (than visitors),” she says. Currently, there are plans for the construction of the Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference and Guest Center and the demolition of Parking Structure 6, located near Ackerman Turnaround and Pauley Pavilion. According to UCLA, this plan will result in the removal of 754 parking spaces. Although UCLA assures students that there are enough parking spaces in other parking structures that will accommodate students and guests who are being displaced, commuters do not feel supported. It is unclear how this plan may affect commuters like Villegas who already has trouble finding parking on days when special events bring visitors in search of parking spaces.



OSITO PROFILE Freshman Kevin De La Torre

Latinos go to abuelita before the doctor

Jessica Iniguez

Madelinn Ornelas UCLA MEN’S SOCCER


he UCLA Men’s Soccer team kicked off this season with new additions. Among these is freshman forward Kevin De La Torre. Coming from Temecula, California, he describes his journey to UCLA as a triumph in itself. He is the first from his entire family to attend a university. The support of his family was essential to get him to where he is now, stating, “My parents were really proud of me because they didn’t go to college. (It) was a big thing coming from a (large) Mexican family.” He remarked the times his dad would be behind him during games and practices yelling, “Echale ganas mijo!” for encouragement. De La Torre counts on having his family for support. When recalling the first game he played as a member of the UCLA soccer team, he said: “They were sending me (countless) pictures of me on television, so that was pretty exciting,” chuckled De La Torre. “It was a really good feeling having their support.” De La Torre started playing soccer in fifth grade and immediately gained respect for the sport. Some of his soccer career highlights include traveling to Montaigu, France, for the 2011 Mondial Minimes Montaigu Tournament where he was the leading goal scorer for the U.S. youth national team. In addition, he also played for club Chivas USA where he placed third at the 2011 Generation Adidas Cup and won the Golden Boot as he set the record for most goals with nine goals. He committed to UCLA his junior year at Temecula Preparatory High School after considering the competitive statistics of the team. He acknowledges the fact that he is now a portion of the growing number of the 18% of Latinos attending UCLA. De La Torre feels proud that he gets to be a part of a huge community and represent UCLA in a sport that he has a passion and drive for. “It’s something you have to believe in and work hard for; it’s not going to be easy, but it’s possible,” De La Torre said about Latinos who need a motivation to strive like he did. De La Torre is currently Undeclared, Life Science but would like to major in Business, Economics and plans on continuing his soccer career on a professional level.


is the season of flus and coughs, and with that comes the good old home remedies. Many of us grew up on the most basic remedies that we believed were efficient and cost-effective. Cultural home medicines vary, but still have an impact on our choices concerning our health. For instance, Manzanilla tea, a popular tea used against colds, is said to have properties that decrease inflammation, reduce menstrual cramps, and help defend against digestion problems. Most households carry this tea and it is immediately used when one is in pain. However, the constant use of herbal medicines and other home remedies have an effect on overall health, and may be a factor within the Latino epidemiological paradox. According to the Minority Health Disparity model, a low socioeconomic population with less care will have more health problems, including higher counts of strokes, heart attacks, and shorter life expectancy. However, the Latino epidemiological paradox completely blows the model out of the water, finding that Latino populations have fewer strokes, heart attacks, a longer life expectancy, and other health effects despite less health care, less education, and lower income. Maybe the reinforcement of home remedies plays a factor in Latinos’ traditional, self-reliant treatment of health care, seeing as grandparents and parents stock up on vapor rub and Manzanilla tea all the time. From 7-Up for stomach flus to honey for cold sores, these remedies are an integral part of life.

Angela Partida: “When you had an ear infection (would) stick a whole cone of newspaper (in your ear) and light it on fire and then the vapor would suck out the air and infection.”

Gerardo Perez: “One of my grandparents puts saliva and sugar when you hit yourself, so you don’t get a bruise.”

Read about freshman midfielder, Willie Martin Raygoza at Fall 2013 LA GENTE 7


fornia law schools is unknown, AB 1024 will encourage students like third year Kathy Herrera, majoring in International Development Studies and minoring in Portuguese and Labor and Workplace Studies, to continue their efforts for law school now that their degree will be acknowledged. Herrera’s ultimate goal is becoming an international lawyer. She came from Colombia at the age of eight and desires to help people from other countries. Herrera says that when her time to go to law school comes she will not hesitate to go because “a door has been opened” for her and many others to be able to legally work as lawyers. The dedication, effort, time and money undocumented immigrants put into going to law school and passing the bar will no longer be denied and they will finally have the opportunity to apply what they have studied for and learned. With the passing of this bill in California, the state is finally acknowledging the hard work undocumented people have put into becoming lawyers. California is the first state to approve such a law, but has sparked debates in states like New York and Florida who are currently also pursuing similar cases. While the Federal government keeps trying to push immigration reform further back on the agenda, California has taken a big step forward in helping undocumented immigrants, specifically undocumented lawyers, get the recognition they deserve for all their hard work.

OBJECTION! LET THEM BE LAWYERS! Assembly Bill 1024 gives undocumented lawyers the opportunity to practice law in California Magdalena Ceja


magine dedicating your life to become a lawyer just to have someone deny you the chance to be one once you pass the bar exam. This was the fate that many undocumented Californian law students faced when they graduated law school. While in the past these students were prevented from practicing law even after fulfilling the requirements to do so, undocumented Californian lawyers will now be able to legally practice law in California under a new state Assembly Bill. On October 5th, 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown signed into state law a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants, who have passed the California Bar Exam, to practice law in the state. This is only one of many bills Gov. Brown has recently signed into law. Assembly Bill 1024 would amend Section 6064 of the Business and Professions Code and authorize the California Supreme Court to approve all qualifying law licenses regardless of immigration status. The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) in February and received a majority of the votes throughout the senate and assembly floor. The bill was inspired by the case of Sergio Garcia, an undocumented immigrant brought by his parents when he was only 17-months-old. Garcia was denied his law license because of his immigrant status. Despite attending and graduating from a California law school and passing the California Bar Exam on his first try, Garcia was denied his attorney status by the California Supreme Court. His case brought attention to the issue facing many others in his place. While the number of undocumented students in Cali-

8 LA GENTE Fall 2013

With the passing of this bill in California, the state is finally acknowledging the hard work undocumented people have put into becoming lawyers.”

Herrera hopes that this bill will help California as well as other states acknowledge other fields that deny undocumented students their right to practice, such as medicine, and hopefully change their requirement of citizenship as well. Hopefully this legislation is only the beginning of new laws benefitting the hard working undocumented students trying to work in a professional field. If anyone is willing to put in the hard work and dedication that comes with attending and graduating these professional schools, no one should deny them their chance to practice what these American schools have taught them. These undocumented students are graduating law school just like their peers and are therefore just as suitable for the job. Thanks to California Bill AB 1024, undocumented law students can now turn what once seemed like a distant dream into a reality.

AB 1024 Amended Law: (b) Upon certification by the examining committee that an applicant who is not lawfully present in the United States has fulfilled the requirements for admission to practice law, the Supreme Court may admit that applicant as an attorney at law in all the courts of this state and may direct an order to be entered upon its records to that effect. A certificate of admission thereupon shall be given to the applicant by the clerk of the court.*

*Source: California Legislative Information


STEM-ING TOWARDS THE FUTURE Retaining Latino students in STEM programs by a Latino STEM student

Emmanuel Aguilar Posada




s a Latino/a south campus student, you don’t have to make your way through the entire Chem 14 series to realize that there aren’t many people in these classes that look like you. But underrepresentation of Latinos in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) classes is only one layer of the problem. Another is Latinos dropping from STEM. UCLA, with its prestige, can be a tough environment for Latinos trying to graduate with B.S. degrees. Moreover, an area of concern is: what sorts of variables play into Latino STEM persistence? And, what steps can UCLA Latino STEM students take to ensure success in STEM? Karen Hernández was a student of Applied Math for three years before her abrupt switch to Chicana/o Studies in the summer of 2013. “I couldn’t handle it. I really didn’t want to switch out, but I had to.” Hernández is one of many Latinos who have faced the harsh choice of discontinuing the coveted B.S. degree. For students pursuing it, there are factors that can go for or against them depending on how they play their cards. Research involvement and STEM organization involvement are two main variables that keep Latinos in STEM, said Dr. Gina García, visiting Assistant Professor from University of Pittsburg’s Department of Administrative and Policy Studies. Dr. Garcia received her Ph.D in Education from UCLA last year. Her academic interests span the Latino college experience, including those of Latino STEM students. UCLA’s South Campus is said to often feel like a breeding ground for competition--a Hunger Games-esque GPA death match between chronically overwhelmed and intimidated students, refereed by cruel professors with brutal grading curves. Although real life may only border on such a dystopian scenario, it’s undeniable that South Campus offers few opportunities for a personalized learning environment, which Dr. García emphasizes as a very important factor. Dr. Sonia Zarate, Faculty Advisor of the UCLA Society for Advance-

Ervin Herrera (R), a member of SACNAS, teaching students at Project STEPS 2013

ment of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) chapter, said the struggle that a UCLA Latino STEM student grapples with is in finding a “sense of identity as a scientist.” According to Dr. Zarate, one solution for overcoming this struggle is to become involved in research. SACNAS is an organization that fosters the growth of scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. More important, SACNAS opens doors for research. However, when first generation college students come in as freshmen many don’t even know about research, Dr. Zarate said. “(They) only know about professional careers.” Organizations like SACNAS outreach to underrepresented communities and provide a space where they can access research and be with other students who share their passion for science. Indeed, when thrown into the GPA death match as a newcomer, making science fun may not be an easy task. “Here, we try to get them excited about science,” said UCLA SACNAS chapter president, Jacqueline Graniel. Although UCLA has vulnerable points in its STEM education, science students have to be resourceful; keeping our heads up in times of disillusionment is a good start. But remember that finding your “identity as a scientist” takes effort, and probably a little imagination. Reflecting on this, Ralph Waldo Emerson did say:

Science does not know its debt to imagination.” Fall 2013 LA GENTE 9


MORE THAN JUST A CAFÉ Homegirl Café serves the community and formerly incarcerated women

Roxana Martinez


always passed by Homegirl Café, but I never questioned its origins or the role it played in the community. Homegirl Café is located between Union Station and Chinatown on the corner of Bruno Street. This is not your typical café: Homegirl Café employs at risk and formerly gang-involved young women and men, who are often times obtaining their first real job experience. Devony Reneau, a 19-year-old waitress, greeted me and walked me over to the dining room of the restaurant. The first objects that caught my eye were the colorful paintings on the walls. They had vivid colors: bright reds, bold greens, and vibrant yellows of people and the city of Los Angeles. Such was a painting of a chola wearing a green long-sleeve shirt with voluminous hair, smiling, standing by the East Los Angeles Bridge. The café had a very lively and cheerful atmosphere. The workers seemed very happy with each other. I even caught a glimpse of some of them dancing to Al Green’s “I’m So Tired of Being Alone” playing on the radio. The customer service I received was nothing like Starbucks’ excessively perky customer service. The workers at Homegirl seemed very laid back and demonstrated their eagerness to learn by constantly asking other co-workers for advice about things they were unfamiliar with. Communication skills, customer service, and work ethic are some of the skills Homegirl Café aims to enhance amongst their working members. Homeboy Industries funds many of its services and programs with the income of Homegirl Café. Homeboy Industries is an organization created by Father Greg in 2001 to help at risk, formerly incarcerated and gang involved men and women by offering free services and programs that help them integrate back into society. These programs and services include job training, case management, high school or GED education, substance abuse, domestic violence, tattoo removal and legal services. Father Greg’s goal is to help people like Reneau, who has been in and out of jail since the age of 16. Now that she’s found Homeboy Industries, it’s been 10 months since she has been out of camp, the longest she has ever been. She described Homegirl Café as the reason why she hasn’t returned to

Entrance to Homegirl Café, located at 130 Bruno St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

camp. Work occupies most of her day and by the time she clocks out, she is too tired to even go out and roam the streets. She was able to buy her own car with the money she earned working. In order to work at Homegirl Café, one of the requirements is to stay sober, which has been the hardest thing for Reneau. However, Homeboy Industries has provided her with resources such as classes that give her guidance on how to stay sober. The best thing Reneau has received from Homeboy Industries is her education. She has begun taking classes at Homeboy Industries that will help her obtain a G.E.D and attend college. I asked her why she decided to join and stay at Homeboy. She said, “When I came here, it seemed like there were a lot people that were in the same boat as me, so I didn’t stand out like how I usually do anywhere else. I kind of felt like this was somewhere I could be like everybody else.” Reneau’s dream job is now to be a parole officer, in order to give guidance to young people like herself.

Mexican Food with a Twist! Homegirl Café’s menu consists of Mexican food with a Homegirl twist to it. Everything on the menu sounds delicious. I was recommended the Chile Relleno grilled cheese sandwich. I could immediately smell the freshly baked bread and melted cheese as it was brought to my table. The delicious sandwich came with Chile Relleno ingredients including chiles poblano asados, cebollas moradas, salsa de tomate y huevo, in the middle of the melted cheese and toasted wheat bread. I was amazed to find out that the vegetables and culinary herbs they use are organic and directly from their own urban farms. I was also recommended their cucumber water beverage. It had a delightful sour but tangy flavor. I highly recommend!

10 LA GENTE Fall 2013

¡viva la mujer!

GUERRERAS DEL BARRIO Identity, La Chola and globalization Katherine Batanero



magine walking through a barrio, hearing the bass beats of Spanish rap, seeing low riders with hydraulic pumps, chromed out wheels and elaborate paint jobs, high-handle barred low rider bikes with banana-seats; and, watching cholas struttin’ in khaki pants and white muscle tees rocking Nike Cortezes and hand signaling their barrios. However, you’re not in Los Angeles--you’re in the streets of Brazil. Chola cultura globalization, or the process by which experiences of certain communities become standardized around the world, is rampant among marginalized communities across the globe. There’s no denying that todos lados del mundo are adopting Mexican American Chola subculture. Fascination and imitation of Chicano culture is nothing new; however, intrigue has evolved into globalization. The subculture, birthed on East LA streets, is finding homes in communities around el mundo. La Chola represents a fearless and empowered mujer from el barrio. Finding refuge in this identity, mujeres from Mexican American descent felt invincible from systematic oppression present in their communities. Underserved communities who have adopted the Chola subculture, in Brasil, Japón, y Nueva Zelanda, strive to embody La Chola. Oppressed communities across the world are choosing to resist and empower themselves with an identity rooted in a barrio far from theirs. The globalization of Chola subculture is best illustrated through the music videos of Japanese rapper MoNa aka Sad Girl. Embracing Chola subculture to the fullest, she rocks overalls, hoop earrings dangling from her ears, thin eyebrows and dark liner adorning her lips while rapping in a mixture of Spanglish and Japanese with old school bomb cars as the back drop. Considered to be a rap trendsetter, MoNa raps, “I’m a sexy mamacita living vida loca,” further demonstrating that the fascination with Chola subculture is gaining momentum outside LA barrios. But, outside communities fail to realize Chola-ness is a successful empowerment identity because the mujeres who claim la vida de Chola understand that the identity surpasses physical appearance and stereotypical notions. Cholas feel as though cultura is sacred and therefore shouldn’t be exploited. The firme Chola identity is more than rocking La Virgen tats on your arm or having your apellido in old English on your back. It goes beyond the clothes and street slang, or the hand signals that call their

barrios. It is an identity that transcends societal expectations and represents an experience that’s deep rooted in Chicana/o cultura. This way of life demands for respect para la gente y el barrio. While some feel communities are paying homage to the Chola style, there are others that feel there is a fine line between appreciation and appropriation. Vanessa Bustamante, a proud Chola who grew up in the barrio of the 818, feels as though the vida Chola is a Chicana cultural identity that reflects familia y cultura. Bustamante states, “We’re born with this identity, it is tied to our family, our culture.” Aware of the power mujeres possess as Cholas, Bustamante says, “We’re an empowering movement, we empower our communities.” Because of this, Bustamante understands the desire communities have to embody La Chola. However, Bustamante is concerned with the mainstream adoption stating, “It’s a cultural identity, not a trend…nor do I want it to become one.” Attempting to embody the identity without

knowledge of the Chola cultura is disrespectful to the community, Bustamante believes. She feels for years Cholas and Pachucas were oppressed for their identity, violently discriminated against, and the sudden mainstream adoption is unsettling. Feeling torn with accepting the worldwide adoption of the Chola identity, Bustamante feels it depends on the intention. “Do it to empower your community, not to be cool,” claims Bustamante. Bustamante urges communities who attempt to embody the Chola identity, to acknowledge the oppression that has come with the identity, and to understand the history and respect the meaning behind it. Bustamante fiercely states, “The Chola identity is about carnalismo, passion for community and drive for them to succeed.” The globalization, or Chola-ization, of this culture demonstrates communities rejecting societal expectations through embodying the firme Chola identity. Cholas are Guerreras protecting el barrio, defending la gente from oppression and fighting injustices imposed on barrios del mundo. Fall 2013 LA GENTE 11






Challenging gang injunctions and people of color policing Kimberly Soriano


rastic gentrification plays a vital role on the corrupt over-policing of brown and black youth in Echo Park. Community members suspect gang injunctions are being used as a tool for ethnic cleansing.

Let’s Kick the Ballistics Echo Park, a historically Latino/a neighborhood, has received a sudden influx of white affluent tenants. Due to recent renovations of Echo Park Lake, many policies have been introduced to regulate activity in the park. The Echo Park gang injunction was first suggested by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. The injunction sought to establish a 3.8 mile safety zone, which would prohibit, but is not limited to: intimidating or harassing members of the com12 LA GENTE Fall 2013

munity, possessing firearms or narcotics, having alcohol in public, association with other suspected gang members in public. “You know I don’t really associate with the gang but a lot of them (ex-gang members) are childhood friends that I grew up with. A lot of them are family members like my brother in law, nephews, nieces, you know cousins. So it’s hard not to associate with them,” said Michael “Casper” Contreras, 47, an ex-gang member. Thursday, September 26, 2013 the preliminary gang injunction was passed against six gangs in Echo Park. The Gang Injunction targets the following: Big Top Locos, Crazy’s, Diamond Street Locos, Echo Park Locos, Frogtown, Head Hunters and any individuals suspected of association. The areas where the gang in-

Fast Facts: Gang injunction: a civil court order against suspected gangs and its members or associates Suspected gang members cannot regate in groups of “engage in behavior that is otherwise legal:” congregate in groups of two or more, or stand in public for more than 5 minutes Violation of gang injunctions “constitutes a violation of a court order punishable by up to six months in jail”

feature junction will be in effect are Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Vista Hermosa, and Silver Lake.

Cholo Patrol It has been years since Contreras has been involved in gang activity, yet police constantly harass him in Echo Park. Despite the harassment, Contreras remains positive that there will be changes. He said, “We (can) get things changed. They’ll see that the community doesn’t want this.” Contreras works with his wife, Veronica Arellano, 39, in gang intervention in the Echo Park community. As an ex-gang member, Arellano believes that Contreras is the best example to give to the young generation of gang members. Contreras said, “When I was a juvenile, I was running with a gang and I got locked up and did seven and a half years. I got out and I went to college and now I’m working. So I changed my life.” Contreras further explained the effect of the gang injunction in his daily life, saying a simple walk down the street can turn into a stop and frisk. Although he is not involved in a gang, and has not been for quite a while, he remains on a database due to his younger gang-involved years. The harassment of community members does not end with ex-cholos. Contreras’ son Michael Contreras Jr., 19, is also harassed on a day-to-day basis. “The police harass him because he’s related to me. They look at him like ‘you’re next in line to be a homeboy,’” Contreras Sr. said. “And he’s not…they call him ‘Lil Casper’ because that was my nickname. They’re labeling him already and he doesn’t even like gangs.” Arellano, Jr.’s mother, said, “He can’t walk up and down the street because he is getting pulled over by the police. And they know him; it’s the same police over and over that stop my son, nephew and their friends. First thing they (say) is ‘pick up your shirt, let me see any tattoos.’” Arellano explained the persecution of the younger generation of Echo Park residents is due to the lack of crimes that the ex-cholos are committing. The police are now targeting the children of the ex-cholos in hopes of finding something that will send them to prison. “(Police) don’t give you the opportunity to make that change because they constantly want to label you as a gang member,” Contreras Sr. said.

Injunction. What’s the Real Function? Community members believe that the gang injunction is not necessarily providing safety for the community but aiding the ethnic cleanse throughout Echo Park. Contreras Sr. said, “I was around in the 90s where at least twice a week there was a shooting.

Back then there was probably around 50 or 60 Echo Park gang members running around but now there’s maybe 5, but they’re older.” Echo Park has seen a significant decrease in crime rates. According to Youth Justice Coalition (YJC), an Inglewood based organization, the peak of most homicides in Echo Park was 1990-1992 where there were about 140 homicides each year. Since then it has steadily decreased to below 20 in 2011. In 2011 Echo Park was closed for renovations. Reports by KTLA estimate Echo Park Lake’s renovation cost $45 million. It reopened again summer 2013 with serious changes of demographics and policies. According to the YJC, Echo Park’s white population has increased by 17% since 1990. From the decline of crime in Echo Park, and increase in white tenants, gang injunctions are not being used when they are most needed. Gang injunctions have been generally used not when crime rates are highest but when gentrification and property values increase.

S.T.A.Y. Bike Ride On October 26, 2013, S.T.A.Y. hosted “Ride for Freedom: Say NO to Injunctions,” a 10 mile bike ride that surrounded areas where the gang injunction would be in full effect. Throughout the bike ride there were four pit stops all connected to the gang injunction.

First pit stop: Vacant dirt lot in Dodger Stadium, of whose construction displaced families

Second pit stop: Marsh Park in Elysian Valley, where protestors metaphorically related the resistance of the L.A. River to the resistance of the people

Resistance Many Echo Park locals feel the gang injunction is serving as a tool for gentrification, to get rid of the poor families of color that originally lived in Echo Park. Contreras confesses, “It seems like they’re just trying to get the Raza out of the neighborhood.” Gang injunctions do not address the root of the problem, but are simply a short-term “solution.” According to a report by YJC, gang injunctions cause further damage than good. Individuals who are named in a gang injunction face regular police stops, questioning, pat downs, and arrests. Each conviction adds misdemeanors to a record the person may or may not have which drastically affects a person’s ability to access and keep jobs, housing, and education. The community knows that gang injunctions will only worsen street violence. As a mother of an affected teen, Arellano has played a significant role in Standing Together Advocating for our Youth (S.T.A.Y.), an organization that has stood up in resistance to the recent gang injunction. By producing short videos, holding weekly meetings, and hosting a recent bike ride, S.T.A.Y. has managed to gain community support against the gang injunction.

We can get things changed. They’ll see that the community doesn't want this.”

Third pit stop: The ex-Rampart Police Station, where “Stop LAPD Spying” gave a brief on the Rampart scandal: torture, unprovoked shootings and Fourth pit stop: beatings, planting false eviPlacencia Elemen- dence, and much more tary, to pay homage to those who passed away due to police shootings and methods

Sound of the Police Is over policing of brown and black youth via gang injunctions another strategy for the prison industrial complex, or is it simply protecting a neighborhood from an already low crime rate? Are gang injunctions providing an ethnic cleanse for a newly declared “hip” neighborhood? Either way, the Echo Park gang injunction only adds to the ever increasing injunctions throughout nearby districts of Los Angeles. The Echo Park gang injunction is designed to work in conjunction with five already existing injunctions: towards the south, Rampart 10-gang injunction, West of Echo Park there is the Temple Street gang injunction, close vicinity are Mara Salvatrucha gang injunction, Highland Park gang injunction, and the Toonerville gang injunction. The number of gang injunctions that allow overpolicing are overwhelming. “They need to know that we’re not going anywhere. We might be little and the only Mexican / Latinos that are here…but trust me, we’re going nowhere, we’re here,” Arellano said. Fall 2013 LA GENTE 13



Inside the mind of an LA-based professional artist Alejandra Reyes


keletons, skulls, the American flag, Aztlán and Iran, faces of children, revolutionaries and justicia, all cohesively join in dark red and brown hues. These are the images that you see when you look at the work of LAbased artist, Oscar Magallanes. The images, loaded with symbols and meaning, have made a profound impact on its audience. Growing up in a time period known as “the decade of death” between 1984 and 1994 in Azusa, Calif., Magallanes faced many challenges and limitations that came with the surrounding gangs, drugs and racism. At the age of 19 he moved to Arizona in an attempt to escape the negativity of his hometown. “I couldn’t deal with a lot of my friends getting locked up or killing themselves on drugs and so many different things so I just decided to leave for a while,” Magallanes said. He moved back to Calif. a few years later where he began to pursue art, converting the injustices he encountered into a positive outlet for himself. Magallanes’ involvement in projects, including a delegation to the Zapatista governed autonomous zones in Chiapas, Self Help Graphics, Culture Strike, Arango designs, among others, are a statement of his success in the art world. As for how he got to this point, he hesitates, saying that it’s difficult to recall the struggles, the path, and the perspective taken while striving for success in the art world. For him, having done anything differently is unimaginable. “I had a goal, I had a dream, I sought out people and wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was just more fuel, more fire…” However, he admits having to get over being timid or shy and thinking that he wasn’t affluent enough, or didn’t have a high enough level of education. It’s all about believing you have something to add and leaving “the struggle” behind, he adds. His work consists of stencils, hard edge painting on wood, and murals. When asked how his artistic style evolved, Magallanes recalls graphic design, gang graffiti, hand styles, and the murals in his neighborhood as inspirations for develop-

ing his artistic style. Furthermore, due to the limited resources available to him, learning how to replicate and use minimal colors was essential to successfully get the desired message out to the public. All of these elements together allow his artwork to incite a reaction whether by stylistic choices or political content. As for the social and political content of his work, he admits, “I used to do a lot of personal art work, things that were a little more abstract and I decided to change that. After 9/11 I didn’t like how things were going in the U.S. so I made a conscious decision to make political art work and to use my art as a vehicle for a lot of different issues that were affecting not just my community, but the country and the world.” Magallanes mentioned the invasion of Iraq as well as the financial collapse, pointing out that maybe the government doesn’t have our best interest in mind. Education on such issues or simply the awareness of what is happening on a global scale is important because it affects our communities directly. This is the reason that besides the Chicano community, Magallanes represents more universal concepts concerning the United States, and the Middle East. “There’s this growing level of consciousness I want to be able to represent because it’s not being represented in the mainstream. It’s a voice, as they say, from below which, really, where life is. It is not in the bourgeoisie, it is not in corporate America…I’d like to educate people if I can or at least spark a dialogue.” Being informed and staying in touch with his community as well as what is happening on a global scale


14 LA GENTE Fall 2013

allows Magallanes to translate that “voice from below” onto his canvases. Currently, Magallanes has a studio based in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. He is working towards a degree in Art from UCLA and is thinking about obtaining his master’s degree in the future in efforts to pursue more ambitious projects. In short, Magallanes has a message he wants to convey to the people—one that is all around us and present throughout the nations, but covered by oppression and lack of knowledge. “All you have to do is dig a little deeper and it’s there. You just have to get out of your own bubble.”



¡topen esto!

WHO IS NAPOLITANO? Opposition to former Secretary of

DHS being elected as UC president Juan Torres


anet Napolitano became governor of Arizona in January of 2003. During her office, she opposed the Bush Administration’s plan to create a 600 mile fence along the border region. After her appointment as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2009, she authorized the addition of more fence miles around the border while increasing the number of agents patrolling the border. Napolitano also enhanced the heavily criticized component 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which increases the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies with DHS to capture undocumented immigrants. During the Bush administration the budget for 287(g) was $15 million. In 2013, Napolitano more than quadrupled the program to $68 million. Critics, such as the Detention Watch Network (a coalition of organizations that advocates for immigrants’ rights), point out that through this partnership undocumented immigrants will be reluctant to report any crimes, increasing criminality in immigrant communities. Furthermore, critics point out that 287(g) has allowed police departments to carry out racial profiling. Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, is notorious for his participation in the 287(g) program. Under his command, the authorities of Maricopa County allegedly racially profiled Latinos. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found Sheriff Arpaio guilty of violating constitutional rights and racially profiling but the punishment was nothing more than the implementation of a watchover agent to monitor his activities. Even if Janet Napolitano indeed promoted

racial profiling, her compromise to target undocumented criminals justifies some of her actions. However, less than half of those deported didn’t have any criminal convictions. Furthermore, most of the deported “criminal” immigrants committed misdemeanors. The New York Times reported that only 5.6 percent of deported immigrants had committed violent crimes in 2009. This is less than the 46,486 undocumented parents who were forced to abandon their children in the U.S. after being deported in 2011, which was 12 percent of the deported immigrants for that year.

[T]he fundamental question that UCLA students...raised was: Who chose Napolitano? Not students, faculty, or workers.”

Those who are deported end up in correctional centers, jails, and prisons run by private corporations that have been known to run under unregulated and precarious conditions for the detainees. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) submitted a written statement to the House Committee on the Judiciary in which the ACLU condemns the inadequate medical, hygienic, and safety regulations in detention centers and the lack of rape preventative measures. Throughout the UC system, there is an active opposition movement to her appointment, primarily in condemnation for her past as head of DHS and her undemocratic appointment. On November fourth, Napolitano sent a letter to all UC students “to express (her) gratitude for the warm reception and insightful instruction (she) received…” However, protests spurred on the eve of her campus visits. At UC Irvine, about 75

students protested Napolitano’s appointment. At UC Davis about 50 students rallied for their demands. At UC Santa Cruz, 30 students protested outside her meeting with undocumented students. UC Berkeley students chased her and demanded her resignation. A rally of about 40 UCLA students awaited her arrival to demand the democratization of the UC system. Additionally, UC San Diego and UC Irvine student government moved a vote of no confidence on Napolitano. On November 3rd, students from every UC campus gathered in UC Santa Barbara to create an UCwide coordinated body against the appointment of Napolitano. Napolitano has no previous educational experience. The regents alleged that they chose Napolitano for her ability to handle complex public systems. Doubts are raised, however, when critics highlight her incapacity to prevent human rights abuses against undocumented immigrants, her active promotion of racial profiling, and violation of constitutional rights, and her ambivalent political stands when changing offices. But at the end, the fundamental question that UCLA students opposed to Napolitano raised was: Who chose Napolitano? Not students, faculty, or workers. The decision was made by the regents who are also not elected by the general UC population. If UC students, workers, and faculty had no participation in the election of the president, and if this president has no background in education, and if this president has an unpreceded opposition, why did she take the position? As head of DHS she was paid around $200,000 a year. Now, as president of the UC system she will be paid $570,000 a year, $8,916 a year for car expenses, $142,500 for one-time housing relocation cost, and receive $9,950 for a monthly that the UC will pay. A very compelling argument is that she is in it for the money, but that may be too simple. Is it?


16 LA GENTE Fall 2013

“TOO MALE, TOO PALE, TOO STALE” Students share thoughts on the Race


¡topen esto!

and Ethnic Politics concentration Regem Corpuz


s an immigrant student of color I yearn to understand politics in order to better organize and advocate for policies that empower my community, like citizenship for undocumented immigrants. My identity as such motivated me to declare political science as my major in community college. At UCLA I declared my concentration in Race and Ethnic Politics (REP). I did so because no other Political Science concentration addresses political history, dynamics, and different levels of government pertinent to racial and ethnic differences. Two courses in particular inspired me to dive into Race and Ethnic Politics: African-American Politics with Professor Sawyer and Chicano/ Latino Politics with Professor Rocco. They discussed important concepts like intersectionality, non-electoral methods of politics, and how U.S. policies affect migration, race-relations, and labor issues. I was eager to continue my major, only to find that the courses I needed were non-existent. I remember contacting my department counselor to ask how to address this. His response was simply, “select another concentration.” While I respected his attempt to help, the meeting felt altogether disempowering. Despite my disappointment, UCLA is the only University of California that offers such a program in political science. REP was established as a center of study in 2006, and recognized as an undergraduate concentration around 2011. A program relatively new to concentrations such as American Politics and International Relations, REP’s curriculum begs for expansion. Irmary Garcia, third year Political Science major with a REP Concentration said, “As a minority, politics do not always have our voice. I want to be able to pursue a career in politics where I can be a voice for minorities. This concentration is most applicable to my goal.” From taking a class in Chicano/Latino Politics, she said “it (was) the first class that (had) actually gone into depth with (her) history as a Puerto Rican. That history is rarely spoken about in K-12 and in UCLA.” Luis Ramirez, Political Science/Chicano Studies double major and REP Concentration, shares a similar view of how the concentration impacted his life: “I chose race and ethnic politics because it gives me a better understanding of how

political forces got me to where I am now: Why my mother migrated from Mexico to the U.S., why there is discrimination in politics, and why I’m 36 and still struggling to obtain an education.” Courses within the REP concentration have a two-prong effect: students understand their identity and its relevance to politics, and how they can empower their community. However, due to the lack of accessible courses it feels like an uphill battle with the education system. Juan Garcia, a junior in Political Science, found his experience in taking REP courses difficult. He was able to find one course last year. This year he found that REP courses were also scarce. He asserts, “It’s very hard to be in REP, especially if you recently have declared this concentration. By the time you decide on the concentration, you won’t have enough classes by the time you graduate.” Vanessa Duran is a third year Political Science major with an International Relations concentration. Due to the lack of REP courses offered, she felt dissuaded to continue in order to graduate on time. Duran said, “I feel like the racial and ethnic division in the U.S. is kind of a taboo to talk about…I feel that that’s why the school does not offer the curriculum necessary for people to gravitate towards this concentration.” While UCLA’s Political Science department is paving the way with intersectional studies like fusing race and ethnicity with politics, there is still much work to be done. From looking at the REP curriculum, I’m glad that there are perspectives from African Americans, Chicanos, and Latinos. But that’s not enough. We need to understand the diversity in experiences that make up our communities. What about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders? Frankly, I’m not satisfied with the current curriculum. We feel that the Political Science department doesn’t take us seriously. Although

some of us have spoken up, not much has been done. If we’re lucky, they might throw a course or two our way to keep us at bay. We need curriculum to reflect the diversity that exists in society. At times, the education feels like what can be summed up by the words a professor once used: “It’s Too Male, Too Pale, and Too Stale.” The underlying issue I’m trying to convey is the lack of diversity. I’m not just advocating for more courses to represent people of color, but I’m pointing out one of many challenges incumbent to us. Obtaining an education that neglects our diverse backgrounds does not prepare us in addressing our communities’ needs. How are we supposed to serve our communities if we can’t adequately explore them in an institution that prides itself in community service? How are we to understand how these populations work within politics, if many instructors and academic departments do not sympathize with the lack of resources? That’s what needs to change.

Race and Ethnic Politics Courses Offered Winter ‘14 M180A: African American Political Thought M180C: Malcolm X and Black Liberation M184A: Black Experience in Latin America and Caribbean I Fall 2013 LA GENTE 17

¡topen esto!

MINORITY? THINK AGAIN! Reflection on using “minority”in higher education Rosa Linda Meza


inority, you are a minority.” I remember the tone, the directness, and stillness that followed once I heard the word come out of a college counselor’s lips. Coming from a community where the majority of the population was Latino, I never felt I was a minority. To me the word simply represents a smaller number when compared to something else. It troubled me then, and troubles me now as I write about it. There exist many definitions of the word “minority.” The Oxford Dictionary defines the word as “a relatively small group of people; especially one commonly discriminated against in a community, society, or nation, differing from others in race, religion, language, or political persuasion.” La palabra minoría se ha manifestado dentro de los medios de comunicación, los sistemas educativos y otras fuentes. It has risen to have a negative connotation that may or may not hinder an individual’s self esteem. At least for me, the word has only shined light on the idea that my presence is causing an impact on society. Belonging to a minority group makes me no less of a person nor marks me as an individual in need of special aid. While some may dislike being referred to as a “minority,” others embrace the term and turn it into something positive. The struggle of forming an identity within UCLA is difficult. Adding to this struggle is the loose usage of “minority.” The impact of the word can be a detriment to even the most strong-willed students. El lenguaje en sí mismo puede actuar como un poder opresivo el cual la población puede llegar a manife18 LA GENTE Fall 2013

“(The word) doesn’t dictate who I am; it’s a stepping stone into learning and growing more about who I am and what my culture is like. I‘m going to embrace the notion.” - Jennifer Loa

“Just the thought of being a minority has a very negative aspect to it up to a certain extent because it makes you feel that you are less.” - Paulina Sepulveda

starse como erramienta hiriente e innecesaria que menosprecie la importancia de personas, grupos sociales, ideas, etc. The word “minority” can be seen as something positive and something negative. “Minority” can be seen as something positive if the word, when used, does not diminish the importance of an individual. Therefore, one can come to understand that the low number of representation of certain ethnic groups is not due to their inability to be at institutions of higher education. But instead, the low number should be seen as something positive. These groups have surpassed the barriers in their lives. However, still, the negative part of the word continues for some. La simplificación de la palabra “minoría” puede dirigir la población a no poder ver ni entender la importancia de la presencia de aquellos grupos pequeños en comunidades donde existe un grupo significativamente grande. In the end it does not matter what term you are classified under, but instead what you make of it and what value is attached to that. Nearing the end of my college journey and being known as a “minority” has only pushed me to make a greater presence on campus. Sigan luchando que pronto llegara el día en que la población va a realizar que tan significante es la minoría.

NO (E)QUALITY IN EDUCATION AB-540 students face harsh reality Hector Guevara


ollege graduation is the day when students’ years of hard work are compensated with a degree. However, for students who are undocumented and categorized as AB-540, obtaining a degree doesn’t necessarily mean their problems end. Their legal status has them questioning if a college degree is worth pursuing. Students who immigrate to the United States without legal citizenship status are given the term AB-540. According to the UCLA Center for Labor Research, 40% of all undocumented students reside in Calif., and there’s a growing increment of about 65,000 students who graduate from high school every year with ambitions of going to college. Having the opportunity to obtain a university degree establishes a purpose for AB-540 students to pursue their dreams of graduating from college. Apart from the sacrifices and struggles that college students undergo, AB-540 students are also faced with other obstacles. AB-540 students are unable to apply for certain financial-aid benefits, student loans and work-study opportunities. Out-of-state tuition is also applied to AB-540 students, increasing the likelihood that they would be unable to secure the means to pay off college. AB-540 students who obtain a college degree are not guaranteed employment in various places. Instead of rejoicing at the end of their college career, they’re faced with the struggle of being employed as noncitizens. Federal law prohibits employers to hire undocumented immigrants, which in this case includes the thousands of AB-540

college graduates. Corporations, federal offices, and other employers use a program called E-Verify, which affirms legal citizenship status in the U.S. Despite their university degree, AB-540 college graduates are unable to pursue their desired careers and are forced to work at jobs that do not require legal citizenship, which are usually low-paying jobs. This leaves the undocumented college student wondering if a college degree is worth the struggle. The fight is now to establish legislation to grant these AB-540 college graduates the ability to work with their college degree. The most recent law that helps AB-540 students is the Dream-Act (AB-131). It addresses in-state tuition and some Cal-grant aid, but finding jobs upon graduation is still an issue not addressed. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) attends to the needs of undocumented people under the age of 31 prior to June 2012. Along with meeting other criteria, they receive the right to work, drive and receive aid for school. These acts are only temporary and can be removed at any given time, which leaves uncertainty in their futures. According to a Daily Californian article, there are about 2.5 million undocumented college graduates in the United States. “The waters are calm right now,” said Erick Ballesteros, second year Pre-Psychobiology major. “Maybe things might change with DACA, which will result in me not being able to work since most agencies and federal jobs require green card status. It’s not just my family’s burden to bear but mine as well, their stress transfers over to me and affects me as well; I feel that I have a responsibility to graduate and do well in life.” Placing students to question the value and significance of a college education in the U.S. escalates as more AB-540 students attend college. Not knowing what to do with a degree is the last hurdle to the finish line of equal opportunity in education.

It’s not just my family’s burden to bear but mine as well.”


Addressing what is not discussed in the mainstream Miguel Angel Martinez


’m undocumented and unafraid and for centuries people around the world continue to migrate to places in search for new opportunities and prosperity. Today, people crossing into the U.S. without documentation have become a national security threat, as stated in S. 744: Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. S. 744 is known as the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” passed by the U.S. Senate on June 27, 2013. S. 744 has been widely proclaimed as “the right thing to do” by politicians. I highlight components of the bill not being looked at by mainstream media. If the senate bill is implemented, S. 744 states the government will hire about 20,000 border patrol agents and allocate more than 4.5 billion tax payer dollars on the border. It will militarize the border with fences, patrol vehicles, manned and unmanned aircrafts (drones), and cameras at the U.S./Mexico border. Note that this does not include the Canadian/U.S border. Seth Ronquillo a fourth year Film and Linguistics major and member of IDEAS at UCLA, an undocumented student support and advocacy JONATHAN HORCASITAS group, states: “A lot of enforcement in the Mexican/America border is definitely problematic. It is not looking at immigration at a holistic level and racializes immigration.” “Racializing immigration we forget other communities and forget how diverse it is. It shouldn’t be zeroing in on the Latino community,” Ronquillo said. The National Journal wrote Obama’s deportation numbers are likely to reach three million undocumented people by the end of the year, more than any U.S. president in history. Does the government need more deportations and separation of immigrant families with an increase in enforcement? My parents have been working in the U.S. for about 20 years. They have created a family in the U.S. Yet, we can be separated through deportation. S. 744 states that undocumented people of 21 years of age and older must not be unemployed for periods longer than 60 days, or attain an income above and no less than the federal poverty level once granted a tempo-

¡topen esto! rary registered provisional immigrant status to reapply. People are exempt if they are full time students, under the age of 21, at least the age of 60, have disabilities, are hospitalized, are pregnant, or cannot work due to factors outside their control. To apply for legal residency and eventually citizenship under the employment requirement, S. 744 states a person must prove he or she “was regularly employed throughout the period of admission as a registered provisional immigrant, allowing for brief periods lasting not more than 60 days…or can demonstrate average income or resources that are not less than 125 percent of the Federal poverty level throughout the period of admission.” The Pew Hispanic Center in 2008 reported that 21 percent of 11.6 million unauthorized immigrants are below the poverty line. There is a common saying “legalize the 11 million.” Looking at the statistics, it is not likely to happen. How comprehensive is “Comprehensive Immigration Reform?” A final version of a bill like this one from the Senate will seek to legalize only well off immigrants and militarize the Mexico/United States border. The last attempt to curb unauthorized immigration was under Reagan’s presidency, in 1986, with the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). More than 20 years later, this article looks at a “comprehensive immigration reform” and components within the senate bill aren’t inclusive to lowincome earners. It is comprehensive because it looks to change border enforcement and provide some undocumented immigrants a way to gain documentation if passed by the federal government. Is anything getting done now? “If it were to pass, it’s not going to help everybody and I feel it might not be passing this year,” said Ronquillo when asked if he thought immigration reform will pass this year. “There are other things in the way such as the debt and health care,” said William Joseph a third year Bio Major and member of UCLA’s Bruin Republicans. “Republicans need to make a decision in the House this year for immigration reform to pass,” said Tyler Kotesky a third year History and Political Science major and member of Young Americans for Liberty at UCLA. I believe people are inherently driven to begin a new life in a place that ensures liberty and brings promise of new experiences and happiness. Undocumented immigrants are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, cousins, aunts and uncles of great endeavor. Their frustration and protest will continue to show that they are ready to fully contribute to the United States of America. It is their right to pursue “life, liberty, and happiness.” No permission needed. Fall 2013 LA GENTE 19

expresiones Eres un orgasmo. Detrás de cada uno de nosotros...parece ser...tal vez. Escucha creatura del señor, tienes que estar consciente del momento que se definió la imagen tuya y mía, a muchos, nuestra existencia existe para satisfacer a nuestro padre. ¿Y qué de la madre? Exactamente, ¿y qué? Yo por lo menos no sé lo que se siente ser madre. Gracias. Tampoco sé del punto climático que se logra al compartir el cuerpo con un hombre. Gracias. Que horrenda imagen, ¿no lo crees? Piénsalo...anormal la vida que existió antes de ti. Continúa escuchando y veras un poquito de lo que he vivido para aclarar algunas cosas. En mis tantos años cumplidos, las pláticas sabrosas que he tenido con todo tipo de hombres, borrachos malsanos y viejos con nadie...nadita de nada, ha tenido la voluntad de ocuparse de cumplir mi deseo de tener un hijo. Eres un orgasmo. Detrás de cada uno de nosotros... parece ser...tal vez. Escucha creatura del señor, tienes que estar consciente del momento que se definió la imagen tuya y mía, a muchos, nuestra existencia existe para satisfacer a nuestro padre. ¿Y qué de la madre? Exactamente, ¿y qué? Yo por lo menos no sé lo que se siente ser madre. Gracias. Tampoco sé del punto climático que se logra al compartir el cuerpo con un hombre. Gracias. Que horrenda imagen, ¿no lo crees? Piénsalo...anormal la vida que existió antes de ti. Continúa escuchando y veras un poquito de lo que he vivido para aclarar algunas cosas. En mis tantos años cumplidos, las pláticas sabrosas que he tenido con todo tipo de hombres, borrachos malsaRoberto Reyna nos y viejos con nadie...nadita de nada, ha tenido la voluntad de ocuparse de cumplir mi deseo de tener un hijo. Me acuerdo que una noche de esas el frío entraba por la ventana no dejándome dormir, el cuarto azulado por la luna, silencioso... el tono del reloj fijado encima de mi. ¡Bajé rápidamente porque sentí que me habían ganado las ganas! ¡Me ganaron las ganas! Pero no. La luz del baño cacheteo el poco sueño que tenía, sentada vi como la mancha entre mis piernas fallaron mi expectativa. El escalofrío que subía de mis pies a espalda, continuó hasta que me di cuenta que entraba en una etapa de mi vida que fácilmente penetraba emociones de decepción y placer. Deja te aseguro, me acuerdo… creo... era una chica difícil. No tenía la necesidad de verme bonita, pensé que iba ser más la necesidad de ellos para buscarme por lo de mí..., obvio, y yo no suplicarle a ellos. Si te pones a pensar, querido, te darás cuenta que para lo único que me servías era para calentar el lado izquierdo de mi cama. No serviste pa’ nada, pobre de tu mamá. Pobrecita la doña que cargo a esa criatura. Piénsalo, los hombres patean por nueve meses para salir al mundo para que cuando crezcan lo único que les interese sea entrar nuevamente. Seré patética yo por dejarlo, pero no… que tonta imagen. Tendré un poco de reproche, ya te diste cuenta… ¿que no? Es que eres un orgasmo, pero yo nunca te he obtenido. Todas, bueno, la mayoría de nosotras tenemos la inseguridad de ver en el espejo lo que realmente está reflejado. El día que mis padres llegaron con un hermoso frame rosado, diseño europeo, tipo pastel, ocurrió algo muy extraño. Al estar enfrente de éste, el muy atrevido jugó con mi imagen sin mi permiso. Pronto obtuvo de mi, mi mayor encanto. Todo lo que uno quería, él lo regalaba. Mi timidez forzó la mirada fija en mis pies, de repente me avergoncé que él viera el pobre trabajo que le había dado al pintado de mis uñas azul cielo. Mis remedios por taparlas no bastaron ya que las miró para sólo echarse unas carcajadas. Lo odio. Nunca quiso de mí porque no era lo que deseaba ver. ¿Quién desearía alguien como yo?




20 LA GENTE Fall 2013

Para leer más de este poema, visita!

sigan luchando




From left, Mario Mora, Omar Jimenez, and Steve Jimenez

a Identidad is a journalist group of young adults who attend LA CAUSA YouthBuild in East Los Angeles. La Identidad was founded April of 2013 by Academic Counselor Omar Jimenez and eight bright individuals. It began as a journalism class, which later developed into a team of writers. We have both been a part of this group since its beginning. We write articles on things of our own personal interests or on topics that have impact on our lives. After some debate and voting, no name really expressed who we were. So, that is how we came up with the name, La Identidad, or, The Identity. We chose this name because the name would allow us to show our identity and what makes each of us unique. We all have different experiences and perspectives of each other, our surrounding communities, and ourselves. It’s your differences that matter and make up who you are, not your similarities. La Identidad’s focus is to publish our opinions and our experiences as members of the East Los Angeles community. We construct articles on struggles and barriers we go through growing up in our communities, which create our identity. We also highlight the great work of the different programs and individualistic work that is created in the classroom and in our communities. This journalism group is important because as we get to publish and share articles, we grow as individuals. Our writing, communication, and social skills are something we work on and develop. We also believe it is important for the reader to be informed about the culture and the people in their surroundings. Being students of East Los Angeles often comes with a stigma; our mission is to redefine our identity as youth of our community by proclaiming who we really are. Our latest project consisted of each member of La Identidad writing an autobiography in order to justify our identity through the self and to reflect on the different things that have impacted us and continue to impact us as young adults and as students of La Causa YouthBuild. La Identidad has the pleasure to be partnered with the great people that make up LA GENTE. This is the first of what we would like to be many contributions made to this publication. We hope to continue as contributors to LA GENTE in order to share our identity as writers, youths of East Los Angeles, and students of LA CAUSA YouthBuild. A big thank you to the Editor in Chief of LA GENTE, Michael Reyes, to Web Design Editor, Michelle Salinas, and to all the Gentistas for the mentoring, support, and this opportunity.

It’s your differences that matter and make up who you are, not your similarities.”



a Gente de Aztlan! Greetings! Just stopping by to say thank you for putting your time and effort into producing such a great paper, to educate and teach La Gente what they should know, what we should know. It’s appreciated. Here goes a lil’ post card I did to show my appreciation. I also wanted to ask if you could please send me La Gente de Aztlan paper. I myself did not receive it. A friend here does. I should be moving and would like to start receiving it. Please let me know how I could start receiving it. Thank you for you time and consideration.

Respectfully, Ruben C. V09449 Delano, California

See more of La Identidad’s work on! Fall 2013 LA GENTE 21

arte y cultura




B 22 LA GENTE Fall 2013


For this issue, the photographers covered four different Día de Los Muertos celebrations held in Los Angeles. Visit for the full galleries of each event! Locations: Self-Help Graphics (A), Grupo de Fólklorico UCLA (B), Hollywood Forever Cemetery (C)




arte y cultura

Honoring the dead through the generations in Los Angeles Mayra Godinez


eath is a taboo subject in America, but many Latinos/as embrace the passing away of loved ones in a celebration widely known as Día de los Muertos. Through the Humanities Residential College in Hedrick Hall, UCLA students were given the opportunity to attend a free festivity at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery along with a lecture by Professors Charlene Black-Villasenor and Gaspar Rivera Salgado. The Professors discussed how the celebration has become a permanent part of Los Angeles culture. Professor Salgado explains that many Angelenos today see Día de los Muertos as an extension of Halloween. It weaves together American, Catholic and Indigenous cultures with Halloween on October 31st, All Saint’s Day on November 1st and Día de los Muertos on the following day. Professor Black-Villasenor explains how the holiday, celebrated since 1521, has been transformed by Latinos living in Los Angeles 30 years ago. Two organizations, one in Los Angeles and the other in San Francisco, have helped bring Día de los Muertos back into the public sphere. In Los Angeles, Self Help Graphics & Art is a non-profit visual arts center that was founded in Boyle Heights in 1970 to provide a space for the Latino community to represent itself through art. Revived interest also began due to The Folk Tree store in Pasadena, dedicated to selling Mexican folk art and indigenous crafts. This tradition has inspired some to use the altar as a platform for social consciousness. Altars can be made for writers, artists, political activists, victims of political oppression and other abstract commemorations. In this way, the altar can become a potential statement about a specific political issue or a single cultural event in history. Here at UCLA, students from Sproul and Rieber Halls joined together to create an altar for Pedro Zamora, the AIDS activist whose influential story students learned about in Pedro and Me, UCLA’s 2013 Common Book. This celebration that the Catholic Church attempted to suppress hundreds of years ago for its pagan background has now become a space for creativity and the community to come together. The Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s 14th Annual Día de los Muertos festivity is evidence for this transformation as contestants present new interpretations of what an altar can signify. This year’s theme was El Magico Mundo de Los Alebrijes. Prizes were given to contestants in three categories: Best Theme of the Event Altar, Best Traditional Altar and Best Contemporary Altar. The winner of each category was given $3,000. Día de los Muertos is typically celebrated by families taking items such as food and flowers to the gravesites of the deceased. Many also choose to make altars that they can display at home. The altar traditionally contains pieces of pan de muerto, a sweet roll shaped in a circle with bones. Families prepare the favorite food and drinks of their deceased ones as a way to invite their spirit back into their homes or to the cemetery. The food can vary from traditional Latino/a cuisines to snacks. Families leave the items throughout the night for the spirits to enjoy while the families pray and remember that death is also a part of who we are. The intricately decorated sugar skulls represent departed souls. Alebrijes, Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical and colorful creatures, are also typical ornaments of the festivity. Altars also include photographs and ornaments that serve as recuerdos of the deceased. The altar is decorated with cempazuchitl, bright yellow flowers that are used to guide the spirits back into the mortal world. This day is not just a tribute to the dead, it is also a celebration of the inter-connectedness of life and death. A man named Eddi who works with Para Los Ninos, a K-5 charter school in Los Angeles, said that this was the third year that the school has worked on an altar to display at the cemetery. In a collaboration between parents, teachers and students, the school put together an elaborate seven tiered altar in the shape of an Aztec pyramid complete with alebrijes, cempazuchitl, pan de muerto, papel picado and photographs of loved ones. Another contestant, Viviana who was participating in the event with her daughter said it was her sixth year creating an altar; she included sepia photographs of her mother. Viviana believes that the event is important for maintaining cultural traditions, and hopes her daughter will be inspired to make an altar after her own death. Día de los Muertos is a festivity that honors the dead along with their family. The gateway to the next world is not one that should be feared but communicated with as it lingers around us, in the corner of our lives. Fall 2013 LA GENTE 23





Done reading? Please recycle

La Gente Fall 2013  
La Gente Fall 2013