The Home Issue

Page 1

Day Laborers: Why we shouldn’t protest them

CA Dreamin’: Bill for undoc. students to go to Gov. Brown

La Lengua Española: Dept. finds ways to prep students with life skills

Wildstyle: The art beneath graffiti’s spray

. The Home Issue

Sleeping at School The unseen struggles of financially-strapped students searching for a place to lay their heads PAGE 12

Winter 2011 | Vol. 41 Issue 2




4 | In Case You Missed It: Chevron ordered to pay for Amazonian damages; Obama to visit El Salvador

12 | Homeless at UCLA Financial strain causes sudents to make their school a home

tarado de mes

¡topen esto!

5 | January: The UC Regents 5 | February: Carmen Trutanich

universidad 6 | Learning Beyond La Biblioteca UCLA Spanish & Portuguese Department offers many ways to learn language 7 | 20 Years of Building Hope Through Jobs Homeboy Industries founder promotes new book at UCLA

comunidad 8 | Art & Activism by Colorful Mujeres UCLA alumna founds group to empower creative women 9 | Reviving the Dream State bill may bring new possiblities for undocumented students 10 | Photo Essay The Streets of LA 11 | Writings on the Wall Piecing together graffiti art & culture

en español

14 | Undocumented, Unprotected, & Unwanted Anti-Immigrant gropus unfairly persecute workers prioritizing citizenhship over human rights 15 | Scrubbing Out Car Wash Industry Dirt Student shares learning experiences from working with car wash workers

expresiones 16 | From Our Readers Art & poetry 17 | Confessions of a Muslim Latina How one Latina found a new life by merging two worlds


Students atop Tenochtitlán's Temple of the Sun pyramid during UCLA's 2010 summer travel study program to Merida, Mexico.

18 | From Prada to Impresionada Film shows some “Sense and Sensibility” towards Latino culture 19 | A Peek at Latino Style Students share culture through fashion

sigan luchado 21 | From Within Contributions from our incarcerated readers


23 | March and April Watch out for these local events!

photo contest 22 | Hidden Treasures Staff’s pick of the contest’s winners

calendar of events

La Gente Lingo

2 LA GENTE Winter 2011


arte y cultura

6 | Aprendizaje en La Vida Real El Departmento de Español y Portugúes de UCLA ofrece diferentes opciones para aprender un idoima 13 | Estudiantes Indigentes Dificultades económicas causan que los estudiantes hagan UCLA su casa

By Long Beach artist Jose Loza. To view more of Loza’s work or to contact him, visit his site:

a look inside...

notibreve information, rápido ¡topen esto! all things opinionated tarado del mes the not-so-hot tamale arte y cultura need we say more? sigan luchando for those inside expresiones all things creative comunidad local insights universidad exclusively osito

11 |


Street art on a temporary surface outside Palacio Nacional in Mexico City.

OUR MISSION: La Gente Newsmagazine is for the UCLA student interested in Latino issues. We want to represent the diversity of our culture and cultivate pride in our community. We’re a forum for conversation hoping to inspire readers to get involved and make their voices heard. Start a conversation! La Gente accepts outside submissions of all sorts for review and possible publication. Email with“Submission” in the subject line. Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the La Gente editorial board. All others 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 2011 ASUCLA Communications Board

la Gente

From the Editor

VOL. 41 ISSUE 2 EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Samantha Lim MANAGING EDITOR Helga Salinas MANAGING ASSISTANT Lucia Prieto COPY EDITORS Paulina Aguilar Lucia Prieto STAFF WRITERS Maribel Camargo Emilio Hernandez Mariana Macias Marcos Osorio Monica Ponce de Leon Armando Solis Jessica Torres DESIGN Samantha Lim Maria Esmeralda Renteria Helga Salinas GRAPHICS & ILLUSTRATIONS Paulina Aguilar Maribel Camargo Helga Salinas Samantha Lim Maria Esmeralda Renteria CONTRIBUTORS Yannina Casillas Miguel Medina Rudolfo Perez STUDENT MEDIA DIRECTOR Arvli Ward STUDENT MEDIA ADVISER Amy Emmert Community profiles, arts, culture and politics for the Latino college student CONTACT INFO: 118 Kerckhoff Hall 308 Westwood Plaza Los Angeles, CA 90024

I’ve always admired how turtles are so resilient and serene. Maybe this is because, metaphorically speaking, they carry their homes on their back. Their shells provide instant protection and refuge wherever they are. The ability to retreat back to a home – for sleep, a bite to eat or just breathe easy – is a familiar comfort we take for granted. Not all of us at UCLA are so lucky. The University doesn’t acknowledge the presence of homeless students as a pressing problem. A population of homeless students looks bad for the school’s image, and there may be concern that making resources for homeless students will only encourage students to take advantage of the system. Our feature piece focuses on these homeless students. We explore this issue, recognizing that students don’t always have a welcoming place to return to every night to sleep. At UCLA, the smaller-scale resources such as the Community Programs Office’s food bank or the student-initiated “crash catalogue” are initiating the relief for homeless students, a great example of how communities are our most accessible and reliable support system. As students we have the responsibility to look out for one another, especially when the greater institutions overlook and neglect such deficits. Still, home is more than a shell or simply a tangible shield from the elements. Home is what comforts you. It can be the people around, the air of activism, the spiritual home in religion, or in the freedom of a creative space. Home is where the heart is. This February, La Gente celebrates its 40th birthday. In this issue we’ve brought back translations of our articles along with a calendar of local events. As when we began, La Gente’s heart remains rooted in our community because we believe that a strong supportive community offers a sense of home. Wherever you are, pull up a seat and take refuge in the news of your community as you immerse yourself in La Gente. Bienvenidos—welcome to The Home Issue. Yours, 310.825.9836 Facebook: La Gente Newsmagazine This magazine was made possible with the support of Campus Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, online at

Campus Progress works to help young people — advocates, activists, journalists, artists — make their voices heard on issues that matter. Learn more at

Winter 2011 LA GENTE 3

notibreve 1 Instability in El Salvador Spurs Obama to Visit Emilio Hernandez

President Barack Obama will visit El Salvador on March 22 and 23 to discuss immigration and the spread of Mexico’s drug violence with President Mauricio Funes. With one of the highest murder rates in Central America, El Salvador has pleaded with the US for aid. While El Salvador is Central America’s smallest country, violence and drug trafficking to El Salvador’s neighboring countries are on the rise. El Salvador’s economy currently relies on remittances sent from the millions of Salvadoreans working in the US. According to the Washington Post, El Salvador’s foreign minister, Hugo Martinez, stated that investing in the local communities of migrants would offer alternatives to out-migration.

2 Long-Awaited Incan Artifacts Welcomed Home Armando Solis

Artifacts from an Incan civilization are being returned to Peru after almost a century of American possession. After a long dispute, Yale University is returning some 5,000 relics to Machu Picchu. The artifacts were discovered in 1912 by an American explorer, containing things such as stone tools and human and animal bones. BBC reports that Peru’s president, Alan Garcia, even wrote a letter to President Obama to help persuade the university to return the artifacts.


3 Chevron Ordered to Pay Tribe for

Dumping Toxic Waste in Amazon Marcos Osorio On Feb. 14, a court in Ecuador ruled that American oil conglomerate Chevron must pay a fine of $8.6 billion. The suit is over rainforest territory that has been used to pump oil at large volumes since the 1970s. The plaintiffs in the case, a collection of Amazonian tribespeople and settlers, argue that approximately 18 billion gallons of toxic waste have been dumped into their waters. They claim this has caused above average incidence of disease, including cancer. Chevron refuses to admit liability and plans to appeal the decision.

4 1 3 2

4 Cuban Postal Delivery to US Halted Lucia Prieto

Yahoo! News reports an announcement from Cuba’s mail firm, which declared it has stopped postal delivery to the US. Postal deliveries were originally suspended in 1963 following Cuba’s communist revolution led by Fidel Castro, but in 2009 Barack Obama negotiated a reinstatement of indirect mail delivery through countries such as Mexico and Canada. The progress the Obama administration seemed to be making with the Cuban government halted when the Cuban postal company released a statement that “until further notice Cuban post offices cannot keep accepting any type of mail for the United States.” This announcement comes as a surprise, as Obama’s recent decision to renew mail delivery to and from Cuba, as well as his decision to ease travel restrictions to Cuba, were seen as steps to improve US-Cuba relations.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that Latinos make up one third of the 23.9% of Catholic Americans.

Confession App Now Available

5 Death Sentence for Minuteman leader Emilio Hernandez

After just four hours, a Tucson jury sentenced Minuteman leader Shawna Forde to the death penalty for the murder of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia Flores. Forde, along with accomplice Jason Bush, posed as law enforcement officers and shot the victims during a robbery. The two were said to have been trying to raise funds for their border protection group. 4 LA GENTE Winter 2011

Maria Esmeralda Renteria Have you committed one of the seven deadly sins and urgently need to confess? There’s an app for that. According to BBC, the newly released iPhone app can be used to prepare and guide Catholics through confession. The Vatican has not officially approved the app, but churches in Indianapolis are promoting it. App promoters say that once you say your confession, it will delete all of your sins.

tarado del mes


Illustration: HELGA SALINAS

Regents don't know how to take one for the UC. As their compensation continues to rise, so do student fees.


he UC Board of Regents recently voted to raise tuition for the second time in two years. Now the average student will see a rate hike of almost $900 a year, making UC tuition three times higher than it was a decade ago. Recent estimates indicate the UC will lose $500 million in funding. The UC system is looking for all possible ways to decrease spending. Many sacrifices must be made in a recession, but the one thing that's never sacrificed is the salary of our UC officials. The UC Board of Regents recently approved over $150,000 in pay raises, reducing the already shrinking state contributions to the university. In the last two years there have been rate increases for executives, and at the same time they announce furlough days for other faculty and staff. With salaries ranging from $200,000-$900,000, the regents should be able to do just fine in this economic climate. But recently, 36 regents threatened to sue the UC system because they have not received a raise in their benefits as promised in 1999. Thank you, regents. You are the perfect example of hypocrisy in our system. Anyone can understand the need to take care of one's family. But when some of you are making more than the president of the United States, and the average American is in debt for student loans and is unable to find a job, it’s pretty difficult to feel sorry for you. Honestly, students should be asking you for college loans. Come on, a year's tuition at a UC isn’t even 10% of your monthly income. You know, in these hard times, we all need to make sacrifices.

LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich

The University of California Regents


JOHN MCCOY at The Daily News

As city attorney, you should focus on persecuting dangerous criminals, not those excercising their First Amendment rights.


os Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich’s decision to file criminal charges against protestors for unlawful assembly this February is a waste of public funds and an attack on free speech. Looking at the dozens of activists arrested last July for participating in three separate protests against the AB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, Trutanich seems to target politics rather than tactics. The activists in question – parents, college students, and even an Iraq war veteran – are hardly a threat to public safety. Yet Trutanich has altered the city’s long-standing protocol for dealing with first-offense non-violent protestors by seeking the maximum sentence of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. According to data released in 2009, a possible yearlong conviction to house the dozens of protestors in in prison would cost over $600,000. All while, the city continues to suffer its massive budget deficit. Trutanich claims traffic disruptions caused by these protests inconvenienced commuters and require a strong response. But by now you'd think that a city with the nation's most polluted and congested roadway would be used to the occasional traffic delay. The notion that by prosecuting protestors to the fullest extent of the law will somehow deter future inconveniences to city trekkers is presumptuous. Those exercising their first-amendment rights and bringing awareness to a national issue should take precedence over the city’s failure to fix pre-existing traffic congestion. While the city attorney’s bullying tactics are done in the name of public safety, his draconian message is in line with the current anti-immigrant political climate.

What's your opinion on the UC Regents and Carmen Trutanich? Do you think another person or group deserved our award for Tarado del Mes? Tell us what you think! Write to and your response could get published. Winter 2011 LA GENTE 5


Learning Beyond La Biblioteca

UCLA Spanish and Portuguese Department offers many ways to learn a language Maribel Camargo he second largest language closely with their professor on a spoken at home in the United research project. States is Spanish, according to the Spanish Professor Juliet FalceUS Census Bureau’s American Com- Robinson believes that being immunity Survey. mersed in the culture is important Katie Hawkins, a fourth-year for language proficiency, otherwise, Spanish student, believes that it is one remains disconnected with the beneficial to be bilingual in Spanlanguage and much less likely to ish and English because it is helpful learn it. in finding a job and because in a For Hawkins, studying in Barcelargely Spanish-speaking city like lona was critical for her acquisition Los Angeles, it is necessary to comof Spanish. All of her classes were in municate with the majority of the Spanish and her professors did not population. speak English, so she was forced to Given the prevalence of Spanspeak it all the time. Performing relish, UCLA’s Spanish and Portuguese evant tasks in a foreign language in Department offers real-life practice our everyday lives is what Professor to prepare students to speak the lan- Falce-Robinson defines as task-based guage proficiently and better serve learning. the needs of diverse communities. Service-learning classes, which The budget crisis has made it incorporate a community service difficult to maintain small class component, are another option for sizes, but according to the Chair of practicing Spanish. Service-learning the Spanish and Portuguese Depart- is required for the Spanish commument, Maarten Van Delden, there nity and cultures major at UCLA, are now capstone seminars, a new but are offered as electives for other requirement in the Spanish major. students in the Spanish major. These seminars give students the Professor Falce-Robinson teaches opportunity to practice their Spana service-learning class that gives ish in smaller class sizes and work students the opportunity to use


Surveying the Students To what extent were your Spanish language skills enhanced by the service-learning experience? 4.2%

16.7% 37.5%

Did participating in the servicelearning class lead to a greater feeling of connection to the community? 50%

50 40




20 10


0 0%

Extremely Enhanced Moderately Enhanced Somewhat Enhanced Not at all

Extremely Enhanced Moderately Enhanced Somewhat Enhanced Not at all Maribel Camargo

Source: Design & Implementation of Service-Learning Projects in Spanish Language Courses, Juliet Falce-Robinson

6 LA GENTE Winter 2011

cultural and linguistic knowledge acquired in Spanish classes in real-world settings. She believes service-learning classes help students attain language proficiency from which both the student and the community benefit. Maggie Sosnowski, a fourth-year Spanish and linguistics student, takes a service-learning class through which she serves the Latino community 8 to 10 hours a week while practicing her Spanish. “It’s been 100 percent beneficial. It’s getting me to use my Spanish in settings where I never had to,” she said. Personal interaction MARIBEL CAMARGO is an essential part of Katie Hawkins, fourth-year Spanish student learning how to make tangible connections between options which provide meaningful knowledge and practice. and relevant learning experiences, The UCLA Department of Span- helping bridge language barriers in ish and Portuguese offers students the community around them.

Aprendizaje en La Vida Real El Departamento de Español y Portugués de UCLA ofrece diferentes opciones para aprender un idioma Maribel Camargo


l segundo idioma más hablado en el hogar en los Estados Unidos es el español, de acuerdo con la Encuesta sobre la Comunidad Estadounidense por la Oficina del Censo de los EE.UU. Katie Hawkins, una estudiante de español de cuarto año, considera que es beneficioso ser bilingüe en español e inglés, ya que es útil para encontrar trabajo. Especialmente en una ciudad tan llena de hispanohablantes como Los Angeles, es necesario para comunicarse con la mayoría de la población. Dado el predominio de español, el Departamento de Español y Portugués de la UCLA ofrece opciones de práctica en la vida real para preparar

a los estudiantes a hablar el idioma hábilmente y para servir mejor las necesidades de una comunidad diversa. La crisis de presupuesto ha hecho difícil mantener clases pequeñas, pero de acuerdo con el director del Departamento de Español y Portugués, Maarten Van Delden, ahora hay seminarios de capstone, un nuevo requisito en la especialización del español. Estos seminarios ofrecen a los estudiantes la oportunidad de practicar su español en una clase pequeña y trabajar en colaboración con su profesor en un proyecto de investigación. Profesora de español, Julieta (continua página 7)

universidad (continuado de página 6) Falce-Robinson, cree que la inmersión en la cultura es importante para la competencia lingüística; de lo contrario, se desconecta con el idioma y es mucho menos probable que lo aprendan. Para Hawkins, estudiando en Barcelona fue crítico para su adquisición del español. Debido a que todas sus clases eran en español y sus profesores no hablaban inglés, se vio obligada a hablarlo todo el tiempo. En nuestra vida cotidiana, realizar las tareas pertinentes como estas en un idioma extranjero es lo que la profesora Falce-Robinson define como el aprendizaje basado en tareas. Clases de aprendizaje mediante el servicio son otra opción para practicar el español en las interacciones de la vida real. Estas clases son un requisito para la especialización de comunidad y culturas de español en UCLA, pero se ofrece como un curso electivo para los estudiantes de otras especializaciones en español. Profesor Falce-Robinson enseña clases de aprendizaje mediante el servicio. Aquí los estudiantes la oportunidad de utilizar los conocimientos culturales y lingüísticos adquiridos en las clases de español en situaciones reales. Ella cree que las clases de aprendizaje mediante el servicio ayudan a los estudiantes alcanzar la competencia lingüística de la que tanto el estudiante como la comunidad benefician. Maggie Sosnowski, una estudiante de lingüística y español de cuarto año, esta tomando una clase de aprendizaje mediante el servicio a través de la cual sirve a la comunidad latina por 8 a 10 horas a la semana y donde practica su español. “Ha sido 100 por ciento beneficioso. Me está haciendo utilizar el español en lugares donde nunca tenía que hacerlo,” ella dijo. La interacción personal es una parte esencial del aprendizaje de cómo hacer las conexiones reales entre el conocimiento y la práctica. El Departamento de Español y Portugués de UCLA ofrece opciones de práctica a los estudiantes que proveen experiencias de aprendizaje significantes y relevantes, ayudando a crear un puente a las barreras del lenguaje en la comunidad que les rodea.

20 years of Building Hope Through Jobs Homeboy Industries founder promotes new book at UCLA Mariana Macias


ather Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, spoke of his gang intervention experience at the Chicano Studies Research Center on Jan. 26, as he promoted his first book, “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.” He began his mission as a priest looking for a safe spot for neighboring youth and now Father Boyle is an award-winning speaker, gang consultant to various agencies, and member of the National Gang Center Advisory Board. Growing up in the Los Angeles area in a large Irish-American family, Father Boyle knows the dangers youth face in gang involvement. He accredits his family support system as the reason for not joining the gang life. “I never would have joined a gang, but that doesn’t make me morally superior,” said Father Boyle. After receiving his master’s in English from Loyola Marymount University, he received a Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a Master of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology. After doing missionary work outside of the United States, he returned to Los Angeles in 1992 and established Homeboy Bakery, an independent nonprofit organization that provides former gang members with a safe environment and skills to join the workforce. It has expanded to Homegirl Café and Catering, Homeboy Silkscreen and Logo Service, and Homeboy Maintenance. The organization offers services


Father Gregory Boyle speaks at the Chicano Studies Sesearch Center on Jan. 26

including counseling, free laser tattoo removal, and skill development workshops. As the largest gang intervention center in the United States, he admits that he and the organization have had their share of difficulties financially, as well as with the public and the police. He has had to endure bomb and death threats, receive hate mail, see his bakery burn in 1999, and survive leukemia, but he still holds strongly onto his mission. “There is no ‘us’ or ‘them;’ it is an illusion,” said Father Boyle in relation to how people may be reluctant to


relate to gang members. The book, which took 20 years to write, is meant for a broad audience. He describes the novel as talking about what matters, “It is a string of stories bound together using vague themes. It is about the lethal absence of hope,” said Father Boyle. Rather than promote his achievements at the reading, he did as he has done throughout his 20year career: promote understanding. “Knowing my truth is your truth; your truth is the gang member’s truth,” said Father Boyle.

The National Coalition for the Homeless ranks Los Angeles as number one on their list of meanest cities in the US for the homeless. The list is based on the enforcement and severity of laws that criminalize homeless people. Winter 2011 LA GENTE 7


Art and Activism by Colorful Mujeres UCLA alumna founds group to empower creative women Monica Ponce de Leon


n 1997, Felicia Montes, studying world arts and cultures and Chicana/o studies at UCLA, wanted women artists to come together at a time where a powerful Chicana/o movement was happening in Northeast Highland Park. This led Montes to ask her professor to allow to her organize an event instead of writing a final paper. Only planned for one night, this event blossomed over 14 years into an organization of called Mujeres de Maiz (MdM). “I was trying to make [my education] relevant [by] not just writing a paper but trying to do something,” said Co-founder Felicia Montes. The event was organized around

International Women’s Day, where a local poetry collective band, In Lak Ech, decided to get together with anyone interested in sharing their work and poetry. “We were only supposed to perform once…but people kept asking. They had never seen the presence of women on stage [like that],” said Montes. Just as corn is grown all around the world, mujeres of any color ranging from the lands South America, Africa, and the Philippines come together to “network and organize around global, social, and political issues,” as stated on their website. A multimedia women’s art collective, MdM gives space for female artists who want to express themselves

Born of my mother’s corn I am a movimiento seed of resistance A red-diaper baby Chicana feminist since birth but I never dreamed casually in the city of Lost Angels ‘Cuz I was ready from the first day I saw the sun.

– A poem by Felicia Montes, Founder of Mujeres de Maiz politically and spiritually through art, no matter their level of training. Corn is peeled to expose its inner core in the same way that these women use their art. They find healing when expressing their inner thoughts and activist ideas to others while creating awareness of transnational issues. MdM holds spoken word and cultural music performances, and showcases sculptures and paintings. They actively participate in events that support and celebrate women as well as helping to build different collaboratives. Another outlet to contribute to women’s empowerment in the arts is their magazine publication “Zine.” “Not a lot of publications are out there consistently outreaching… so it was important to have that,” said Margaret Alarcon, a member of MdM. As Alarcon recounts her decision to join MdM, she said that it has helped her empower her gift. An illustration student at the Art Center College of Design, she had a dream of a woman of corn. She decided to paint this image, which later became the symbol for the group. Before MdM, Alarcon saw herself as an isolated artist; alone and unsure how to share her art with others. MdM gave her the validation

and the empowerment she needed to share her creations. In her biography, Alarcon describes her artmaking as bringing new meaning and healing to her life. Now she is the core organizer for MdM. The women plan to make MdM a nonprofit organization that will give the group more structure. However, they want to be cautious to preserve the grassroots atmosphere. They wish to have a place where women can express their ideas and form other groups in Los Angeles. “[This would be] very beneficial to the women who are trying to make art,” said Alarcon. Just as the Mayans saw corn as sacred, MdM views women that same way. Both women and corn com in many shapes, sizes, and colors. “Empowerment, consciousness, and healing,” are the words Co-founder Claudia Mercado uses to describe who they are and their contributions to the community. They outreach to women of color who want to combine their artistic kernels to help grow the organization that celebrates women, the arts, and activism. As Montes wrote in her book “Overcompensating Xicana Complex,” these women are planting their “seeds of resistance.”

Want to learn more about Mujeres de Maiz and their upcoming events?

Get involved with similar organizations at UCLA!

Check out their website: 8 LA GENTE Winter 2011

Connect to MALCS de UCLA on Facebook, a group which provides a space for female minorities.


Reviving the Dream State bill may bring new possibilities for undocumented students Yaquelin Perez he proposal of the California alumni associations. The second, AB Dream Act of 2011 at the state 131, would allow undocumented Assembly on Jan. 11 reinvigorates students who are already California hope for proponents of immigration residents to apply for Cal Grants reform. at California community colleges, The Senate fell five votes short of California State Universities, and UC passing the Federal DREAM Act last schools. December. In light of the failure of The difference between the the Federal DREAM Act, advocates federal DREAM Act and the Caliare vying for Gov. Jerry Brown’s fornia Dream Act is that the latter support of a different bill called the is not a path to legalization. ConstiCalifornia Dream Act. This bill had tutionally, immigration is under the originally been proposed in 2006 jurisdiction of the federal governby State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, ment, and thus the California Dream but was vetoed four times by former Act will only widen the availability Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. of financial aid to undocumented The California Dream Act students at the state level. consists of two separate bills. The Barbara Rodriguez, a fourth-year first is AB 130, which would allow biochemistry student and member undocumented students access to in- of the Improving Dreams, Equality, stitutional aid and fee waivers. This Access and Success (IDEAS) organiwould include access to university zation on campus, insists that it is scholarships, enrollment fee waivimportant to inform people about ers, and a large private pool of funds the distinction between the state and including scholarship awards from federal legislation.


Looking out for AB 540 students

Feb. 8, 2005 Sept. 30, 2006

Currently, California State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo continues the push to enact two bills, collectively known as the California Dream Act, which would allow for financial aid eligibility for AB 540 students in the Golden State.

Dec. 4, 2006 Oct. 13, 2007

The University of California Student Association is organizing support for AB 540 students with a postcard campaign urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the California Dream Act this year. For more information, or to get involved, please visit

Rodriguez explains that the California Dream Act will only provide financial assistance for schoolrelated expenses; it is not a path to legalization. After last year’s defeat, activists across the country, including student activists at UCLA, are reflecting on their campaign efforts to gather support for the DREAM Act. Jose Ortiz, a second-year molecular cell and developmental biology student and external representative of IDEAS, explains that although the defeat was disappointing, he now understands what strategies were most helpful in mobilizing people, and seeks to improve on the ones that were not. Proponents of AB 130 and AB 131 work hard at the legislative level and undocumented students also share that same determination on a personal level. “As an undocumented student

I feel the struggle of working twice as hard for what I want to see in my future,” said Gustavo Sanchez, a second-year student at Mt. San Antonio College. Although the recent defeat of the federal DREAM Act still serves as a constant reminder of the opposition undocumented students face, the possibility of change provides motivation. Sanchez mentions that his goal to have a career in public service is directly influenced by the inequality that he sees affecting undocumented immigrants. “Today [they] see us as undocumented, but in the years to come…we will say ‘you crushed the act, but not the dream.’” The California Dream Act would provide undocumented students similar financial support available to citizens and legal residents. If signed by Gov. Brown, it would come into effect July 1 of this year.

State Assemblyman Cedillo first introduces the California Dream Act as SB 160 Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes SB 160 The California Dream Act is reintroduced as SB 1 Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes SB 1 Feb. 19, 2010

The bill is introduced for the third time, as SB 1460

Sept. 30, 2010

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes SB 1460

Jan. 11, 2011

California Dream Act is introduced once again, as AB 130 and AB 131 Feb. 3, 2011

The Califronia DREAM Act is referred to the Committe of Higher Education

July 1, 2011

If signed by Gov. Brown, the California DREAM Act will go into effect

SOURCE:, Library of Congress

Winter 2011 LA GENTE 9

comunidad 1


The Streets of LA Photos: Paulina Aguilar 1 & 2: On walls near Nevin Ave. and East Adams Blvd. 3: In an alley off Washington Blvd. and Long Beach Ave. 4: On the wall of a market at Long Beach Ave and 54th St. (on p. 11)



10 LA GENTE Winter 2011

Britsh street artist Banksy executed a recent piece on an alley wall behind Urban Outfitters in Westwood.


Writings on the Wall Piecing together graffiti art and culture Marcos Osorio rom park benches to art gallerculture. “Graffiti is an art form; that ies, graffiti has moved into the is all it is,” said Luis Hernandez, a mainstream, but along the way has former graffiti artist. cultivated risk, fame and controThe allure of getting recognized versy. for their artwork pulls a lot of grafMuch of the controversy about fiti artists into the scene. Graffiti graffiti and graffiti art stems from artist Disk One explained that many a lack of understanding about it as artists do this to get their name out.


“Artists aren’t there to threaten the government; they are out there to promote their art,” said Disk One. Graffiti’s transition into mainstream culture has also increased its bankability. “The dream and motivation of one day becoming a rich artist or designer inspires many to tag,” said Hernandez. Although there are many artists out there trying to make a name Graffiti Styles for themselves, there are few prominent artists who have obtained international success. British street artTag: Artist’s stylized logo/signature. ist Banksy creates art Often used to sign larger works. pieces in locations all over the world. CurThrowup: Slightly more difficult than a tag. rently, Banksy’s signed Usually consists of a name/words aerosol stencil of Abra in bubble letters and an outline. ham Lincoln on cardboard is being auctioned Piece: Short for masterpiece. Usually involves for $20,000-30,000 at three or more colors and is very time Sotheby’s auction house. consuming. That is just a modest example of what his pieces go for; several of his art Heaven: A piece in a difficult to reach place, pieces have been sold for such as a billboard. millions. Graffiti art isn’t Wildstyle: One of the most complex. Usually a larger work involving a just art; there are stan compilation of interlocking letters and symbols. dards and a culture that develop around it. Disk Stickers: Graffiti artists place personalized stickers anywhere. Can One explained that what simply be tags, or more creative and detailed images. differentiates true graffiti art from tagging is the

purpose that it serves. The meaning becomes compromised when art mixes with different motives. For some, it becomes a form of rebellion. Hernandez explained that the pull factor is being a part of a culture that deviates from mainstream society. “[Tagging] is everywhere just like rock used to be all over; kids wanted to be rock stars. Now graffiti is all over, now kids want to start tagging,” said Hernandez. He added that kids know the criminal risks involved when they start tagging, but this contributes to the excitement. Graffiti’s relationship with crime and violence differentiates it from other art movements. The dangers come not only from people outside the culture, but also other artists. Graffiti artists are often part of a culture that can turn on them. Hernandez recalled that a few years ago, a member from a tagging crew Hernandez was a part of shot at him because he created a piece which covered a portion of his peer’s artwork. The relationship between this subculture and violence still does not prevent people from attempting to create what they feel is art. The risks they take appear reckless to observers, yet the idea of rewards and recognition keeps graffiti artist active. “When you strip [graffiti] down, it’s all art, it’s beautiful,” said Hernandez.

4 Winter 2011 LA GENTE 11


Homeless at UCLA

On Campus

Financial strain causes students to make their school a home


Community Progr www.studentgrou SAC, Ste 105

Emilio Hernandez Membership Chair for IDEAS, the catalogue currently consists of six off-campus residences that can house students. Of the 100 students on the list, 50 to 75 utilize the service each quarter by contacting Gomez. Gomez then arranges accommodations for the student. The catalogue officially began in 2010, though it was informally practiced prior to this time. “AB 540 students are not welcomed institutionally as far as what resources they have access to,” said Gomez, “so we have to create our own.” While Jose has used the catalogue service in the past, the limited availability has forced him to continue sleeping on the office floor. Until an alternative housing option becomes available, he will roll out his sleeping bag and settle in for another night on campus. Do you spend your nights on-campus? Share your story. Write to Emilio or email



uring midterms and finals, Response Team (ECR) in the office UCLA becomes a temporary of the Vice Chancellor, a group of 12 home for fatigued students university administrators that develop slumped over half-opened books. But solutions for students experiencing for some, sleeping on campus has befinancial crisis. come more permanent. Through a referral system, the “The longest I stayed was last ECR Team connects students with onquarter. I stayed here for two whole campus and off-campus resources. weeks,” said Jose, a second-year moThough Gelaye is confident that lecular cell and developmental biology solutions for students experiencing student. housing issues due to financial crisis As an AB540 student, Jose doesn’t can be found in their financial aid receive financial aid, and is unable to package, she acknowledges that for afford housing. Sleeping on an office undocumented students this is not an floor three days a week has become the option. norm. Jose’s commute lasts five hours “Where I’ve seen the most direct round trip; he boards four buses, trav- impact with the increase of tuition has eling 30 miles each way. been for undocumented students; we Packing up a large duffle bag as if going on vaThe US Department of Housing cation, Jose prepares for his two-week stay on the floor and Urban Development states in a small corner office. that a person is classified as homeThe US Department of Housing and Urban Develless if their nighttime residence is opment states that a person a public place, not intended as “a is classified as homeless if their nighttime residence is regular sleeping accommodation a public place, not intended for human beings.” as “a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.” just don’t have a financial aid soluWhile he does not consider himself tion,” said Gelaye. homeless, Jose does not deny the imWith the recent increases in tupact his situation has on his academic ition and proposed $500 million cuts performance. to the University of California system, “Sleeping on the floor gets to you, students face increased financial chalyour back hurts and then you don’t lenges. sleep sometimes; you just do all nightAnticipating a rise in commuter ers, so it does affect you academically,” students, Gelaye stated that talks have said Jose. “Not having food to eat, that begun regarding possible sleep options affects you mentally.” on campus, although she is not sure Jose is reluctant to contact admin- what those would look like and they istrators out of fear of being told he will not be implemented soon. can’t sleep in the office he regularly For the past few years, AB 540 occupies. students have organized a “crash “I can’t categorically tell you that catalogue” to address housing needs I’ve dealt with a homeless student,” through the student group Improving said Enku Gelaye, Executive Officer of Dreams, Equality, Access and Success Student Affairs. (IDEAS). Gelaye leads the Economic Crisis According to Charlene Gomez, 12 LA GENTE Winter 2011


Bruin Resource C SAC, B44

Student Loan Serv A227 Murphy Hall

Student Legal Ser www.studentlega 70 Dodd Hall For students experiencing

Economic Crisis R www.studentincris ECR@saonet.ucla


Estudiantes Indigentes

Resources: loans


rams Off ice

Center u

vices & Collections du

rvices financial distress contact:

Response Team .edu

Dificultades económicas causan que los estudiantes hagan UCLA su casa Emilio Hernandez | Traducido por Miguel G. Medina


urante los exámenes parciales y finales, UCLA se convierte el hogar temporal para estudiantes fatigados y desplomados sobre sus libros medio abiertos. Pero para algunos alumnos, hospedarse en la escula se ha convertido en algo más permanente. “Lo más que me he quedado aquí fue el trimestre pasado, me quedé aquí dos semanas enteras”, Dijo José, alumno en el segundo año de biología molecular. Como estudiante AB540, José no recibe asistencia financiera y no le alcanza el dinero para una vivienda. Dormir en el piso de las oficinas, para él, es lo típico. Su viaje desde la casa a la escuela y viceversa duraría cinco horas, tomando cuatro autobuses y recorriendo un total de 30 millas. Empacando sus pertenencias como si se fuera de vacaciones, José se prepara para su estancia de dos semanas en el piso de una oficina pequeña y arrinconada. El Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano de EE.UU. estipula que a una persona se clasifica como indigente si su sitio de residencia nocturna es un espacio público, no previsto como “alojamiento regular para pernoctar.” Aunque él no se considera indigente, José no rechaza el impacto que esta situación ha tenido en su rendimiento académico. “El tener que dormir en el piso es molesto y enfadoso, te duele la espalda, no duermes o a veces estudias toda la noche…te afecta académicamente,” dijo José. “No tener que comer te afecta mentalmente.” José prefiere no contactar a los administradores por miedo de que le digan que no puede dormir en la oficina que ocupa regularmente. “No puedo decirte categóri-

camente que he tratado con estudiantes indigentes,” dijo Enku Gelaye, funcionaria ejecutiva de asuntos estudiantiles. Gelaye encabeza el Equipo de Respuesta a Crisis Económica (ECR) por medio de la oficina del prefecto auxiliar, un grupo de 12 administradores universitarios que desarrollan soluciones para estudiantes impactados por la crisis financiera. Mediante un sistema de canalización de casos, el equipo ECR ofrece a los estudiantes recursos dentro y fuera del plantel escolar. Aunque Gelaye está segura de que dentro de su paquete de

ciado una serie pláticas con respeto a opciones de hospedarse en el plantel escolar. Pero aún no se han confirmado los pormenores y las fechas proyectadas. Durante los últimos años, estudiantes AB540 han organizado un catálogo de hospedarse para hacer frente a las necesidades de vivienda por medio del grupo estudiantil Improving Dreams, Equality, Access and Success (Mejorando Sueños, Igualdad, Acceso y Éxito IDEAS). De acuerdo con Charlene Gomez, presidenta de IDEAS, la red actualmente consiste de seis sitios residenciales fuera de la escuela donde pueden hospedar a estudiantes. De los 100 El Departamento de Vivienda y estudiantes en la Desarrollo Urbano de EE.UU. es- lista, entre 50 y 75 tipula que a una persona se le cla- utilizan el servicio cada trimestre por sifica como indigente si su sitio de medio de Gómez, quien posteriorresidencia nocturna es un espacio mente organiza el público, no previsto como “aloja- hospedaje para los estudiantes. miento regular para pernoctar.” El catálogo asistencia financiera hay soluciones se inició en en 2010, aunque ya para estudiantes con problemas de se había puesto en marcha desde vivienda por la crisis económica, tiempo atrás. reconoce a la vez que estudiantes “Los estudiantes AB540 no son indocumentados no disponen de las bien recibidos institucionalmente mismas opciónes. con respeto a los recursos a los que “Donde he visto el impacto más tienen acceso,” dijo Gómez, “entoninmediato es con el aumento de ces tenemos que crear alternativas.” matrícula para estudiantes indocuAunque José ha usado el servimentados, simplemente no tenemos cio de catálogo en el pasado, la disuna solución de asistencia finanponibilidad limitada le ha forzado ciera”, dijo Gelaye. a seguir durmiendo en el piso de la Con el aumento reciente a la oficina. Hasta que haya alternativas colegiatura y los recortes propuesdisponibles de hospedaje, seguirá tos de $500 millones de dolares al extendiendo su saco de dormir e sistema Universitario de California instalándose una noche más en el (UC), los estudiantes enfrentan difi- plantel. cultades financieras incrementadas. ¿Tiene una opinión de la situación Anticipando un aumento de estudiantes que viajan de zonas del estudiante indigente? Escríbale a lejanas, Gelaye dijo que se ha iniEmilio o Winter 2011 LA GENTE 13

¡topen esto!

Undocumented, Unprotected, and Unwanted Anti-Immigrant groups unfairly persecute workers, prioritizing citizenship over human rights Armando Solis


ay after day, men and women gather at the local job sites in search of an honest day’s work. They are the men and women that cook, clean, build and work for affluent neighborhoods of the Los Angeles area. While their presence here is denounced as unwanted and a threat to America; their labor continues to be exploited. Immigration reform has been long overdue. Although some may be here “illegally,” that should not stop them from being treated as equals. Citizenship status shouldn’t deprive anyone of basic human rights. In 2009, researchers from the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that undocumented workers were the likeliest victims of workplace violations. Of the laborers surveyed, 85 percent of undocumented workers had been victims of weekly overtime violations. Hidden behind anti-immigrant sentiment, the masses ignore the treatment of day laborers and blame them for complex economic problems. Popular misconceptions are that undocumented immigrants steal jobs from American citizens and contribute to high unemployment rates. However, the numbers show otherwise. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2010, 11.2 million undocumented workers lived in the US and the unemployment high was 12.5 percent. However the unemployment rate from just three years ago was 5.8 percent. The number of immigrants has actually declined in the last three years. The economic downturn is a large factor in the unemployment rate, but it is worth noting that the argument that undocumented immigrants create in higher unemployment rates is unsubstantiated by this data. But as the masses stay uninformed, the day laborer’s plight goes unnoticed. What gets lost in the midst of anger and frustration is that this

Legal Status Authorized Unauthorized Duration in U.S. Less than 6 months More than 6 months

Weekly Overtime Violations1

Off-the-Clock Violations2

58.7% 85.2%

72.5% 75.6%

86% 75.1%

61% 81.2%

SOURCE: UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

Weekly overtime violations occur when workers have worked the full 40 hour work week for an employer and did not receive time-and-a-half compensation or additional hours worked. 1

Off-the-clock violations occur when a worker has worked his scheduled hours, but is forced to continue working without pay. 2

14 LA GENTE Winter 2011


group of men and women is not very different from past groups of immigrants trying to build better lives in a new land. Most undocumented immigrants today come to the US from countries with huge poor populations regardless of federal laws because of the opportunity for economic mobility. It’s no wonder why they risk so much to get here, and why they don’t mind the hard labor. At the age of 45, Arturo, one of many jornaleros at the Central American Resource Center, wakes up at 4 a.m. almost every day to arrive at the local job site before it opens at 5 a.m. He explains that showing up just a few minutes late can mean being the last in a line of 20 to 30 people already there looking for work. Arturo’s undocumented status limits his job opportunities and increases his chances of being exploited, but he feels desperate so the risk is well worth the money. Arturo, who said he hadn’t worked in two weeks, recalled that his occupations in the US consisted of picking fruit (which he had never done back home), landscaping and several types of construction. In Mexico, his trade of masonry would earn him about 70 pesos a day, which is roughly six US dollars. “I can make more money in an hour here than I make all day back home,” Arturo said. When asked if the money was worth the ridicule and exploitation he has faced or could face as an undocumented worker, Arturo reluctantly said, “the poverty in Mexico right now is very different than that of the US…poor people here can work for a living, while the poor people back home have very little options.” Yet a lot people here still contend that immigrants come to the US to exploit public resources. If anything, immigrants have done and continue to do the jobs nobody else wants to do. The least this country could do is have more respect for them. How do you feel about day-laborers? Write to Armando or lagente@media.ucla. edu. Follow Armando’s blog, A Little Solace, at

¡topen esto!

Scrubbing Out Car Wash Industry Dirt Student shares learning experiences from working with car wash workers Rudolfo Perez, Contributor


fter nearly four years of hard work with sleepless nights, papers and reading assignments, I find myself months away from graduation. But, I have to say, one of my greatest satisfactions as a student didn’t come from the classroom. It occurred recently during my work with a labor justice campaign in Los Angeles. I got involved with the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network (CLEAN) Carwash Campaign, which has been fighting for the rights of car wash workers In the process of helping with the campaign’s community outreach efforts, I met Juan Torres, a car wash worker from Los Angeles. Despite being only 28 years old, Juan has worked in the car wash industry for 11 years. The working conditions of the car wash industry are dangerous, and often times workers find themselves unprotected by their employers. One Sunday afternoon, Juan was washing a car when he slipped and the vehicle he was washing ran over his left leg. He was taken to a nearby hospital to treat his broken leg, but he was never the same. He is in constant pain and now must use a cane. “The pain was so intense that I [took] seven Advil to numb it. I couldn’t tell them at work that I was hurting because they could fire me,” said Juan. Along with not having medical insurance, he suffered many other forms of abuse as a car wash worker. For example, he never received a wage increase in

the 11 years he worked there. According to the CLEAN Carwash Campaign, car wash workers often work up to 10 hours a day, making approximately $3 or $4 per hour without any overtime compensation. Juan joined CLEAN to organize against these labor injustices. He heard about the CLEAN campaign the way many others do: from fellow carwash workers. Juan still has not received proper compensation for his injury, and he is very active in the CLEAN car wash campaign. Through pickets, he helps inform the public about the injustices occurring in the carwash industry. More importantly, he reaches out to other carwash workers and informs them of their rights. “I don’t want others to go through what I went through, I want show them there are people out there that care. That they are not alone,” said Juan. Though he has been through much, Juan’s fighting spirit keeps him going and has made him a role model for me and for others in the campaign. I challenge all UCLA students to take their education outside the university walls to build better communities. I will graduate with a much deeper understanding of the suffering that occurs outside of UCLA because I worked with CLEAN and because I met Juan. I can only hope other students at UCLA meet the Juans of their community and learn from them.

Sent “Home” Since January 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement forcibly deported more than 390,000 undocumented persons from the US, more than doubling the deportation rate over a ten-year span. 400,000 350,000 300,000

Undocumented persons deported

250,000 200,000 150,000 100,000













Year SOURCE: Office of Immigration Statistics/Department of Homeland Securtity 2009 Yearbook Immigration Statistics

Winter 2011 LA GENTE 15



Brown Paper Bag

Christina Hughs, 21, Los Angeles

David Velazquez, 20, Oceanside

If I could write the words of my parents To say the things they never could say In their final moments together, My mother would apologize for All those human faults that women have— For vanity—and pride—and foolishness. My father would plead for his actions That made a man a Man in Their eyes; For leaving her behind for selfish dreams. And I would have them cry together— Together for all they have lost, And the extent to which they have hurt. Have them remember the love they once shared, The hope of a nation of immigrants Embodied by the naïve faith of a young couple Who thought all life wanted from them Was the love they had for each other And the sacrifices they would make for their daughters.

Beautiful Birds of a Latin Feather Melody Parra, 19, Los Angeles

Medium: Color Pencil

16 LA GENTE Winter 2011

Infinitesimally thin, brown, paper bag. Wrinkled, grease-stained, paper bag. Everyday you bear the realities of my impoverished family. Revealing to no one the paroxysmal nature of hunger; A sandwich with no mayo, no lettuce, no tomato. Ink-tainted with the calculations of a family’s debt— Every first of the month, the bag gets lighter but never empty. Blood-stained from their fight last night— Their brutish yells, my enduring torment. If only hugs could be kept in my brown paper bag. If dreams! If love! If— Mom do not lament. We will be ok, the child says. Brown paper bag, infinitesimally thin, wrinkled, Ink-tainted, blood and grease-stained. Brown paper bag, speak! Let ‘em know. Brown paper bag, it’s just you and me. Brown paper bag, you are my plea.


Confessions of a Muslim Latina How one Latina found new life by merging two worlds Yannina Casillas, Contributor


s a child of Mexican immigrants, I grew up culturally Catholic. But since I couldn’t find God there, I decided to seek Him for myself. I never lost faith in God and after years of searching, I finally found peace in Islam. Even though I was extremely content with my new religion, I felt lonely at UCLA. I quickly found myself bound between two completely different minority groups in America—Muslims and Latinos. Already a minority on campus as a Latina, I was also a minority in my religious community since the majority of Muslims at UCLA are of Arab or South-Asian descent. I felt like an anomaly, so I began to overcompensate my Latina identity by rolling “r’s” in conversation and carrying Tapatío hot sauce everywhere I went. I became known as “The Latina” of the Muslim Students Association (MSA). After two years, I stumbled on an old issue of the Muslim student newsmagazine, Al-Talib, that discussed the Los Angeles Latino Muslim Association. I soon began inquiring about the stories of other Latino Muslims and found out that a friend of mine named Karla (also a Mexicana) had converted to Islam. Illustration: MARIA ESMERALDA RENTERIA I finally found someone with whom I could share my experience. We exchanged stories about how our families confused Islam for Hinduism, the pain “I felt like an , so I began to overcompensate of having to give up chicharrones and ultimately, how our friends and loved my identity by in conversation ones felt about our conversions. Sharing and carrying hot sauce everywhere I went.” this experience with Karla helped balance my identity as a Mexican and Muslim woman. superiority of Mexican cuisine. I have been a Muslim for over three years and am actively involved in I represent a growing population of converts in the United States. Acthe Muslim community through MSA UCLA and MSA West. cording to a 2010 report by The Pew Research Center, the Muslim populaParticipating in such organizations has allowed my distinct identity tion is around 2.6 million. Although the exact number of Latino Muslims to be expressed. It has also provided a channel through which my political isn’t known, Hjamil A. Martinez-Vazquez, author of “Latina/o y Musuldrive can be exercised – by educating my two different communities on ismán. The Construction of Latina/o Identity among Latina/o Muslims in the sues ranging from the DREAM Act to Ramadan. United States,” explains that it ranges from 75,000 to 100,000. It was not hard to gain acceptance in the Muslim community since the To this day, I am still reconciling my identity as a Mexican-Muslim Muslim brothers and sisters shared similar values towards family as I did and also because…they love converts! It was, however, difficult to learn new woman. I am given the opportunity to shape the narrative of my community vocabulary. For one, the Latino term of endearment “mijo” in Urdu is “beta.” in this country. With my strong grounding in my faith, I look forward to contributing to the great legacy of the leaders in the Latino community. I connected with my peers in MSA through childhood stories and discussions about food. After bragging rounds, I dispelled rumors that Mexican Does religion play a part in your life or self-identification? food didn’t just consist of tacos and burritos. I introduced them to albondiShare your story! Email gas, ceviche, and authentic tamales. And of course, they had to recognize the

anomaly Latina rolling ‘r’s’ Tapatío

Winter 2011 LA GENTE 17

arte y cultura


The mural featured at the end of the movie was created especially for the film.

From Nada to Impresionada Film shows “Sense and Sensibility” towards Latino culture

Helga Salinas he film “From Prada to Nada” is a rehashing of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” When their Mexican father dies, sisters Nora and Mary are forced out of their Beverly Hills mansion and in with their aunt in East Los Angeles. The marketing of the film focused on the materialism of the two girls, especially because they are forced to move to a low-income neighborhood. I feared another attempt at repackaging Latino culture in a superficial film for the masses. Surprisingly, it sweetly and comically portrays two young women learning to embrace their roots and family. Despite having Latino servants who cook traditional Mexican food and a Mexican father with a big bigote who has mariachi for his birthday, Latino culture hasn’t actually been a part of Nora and Mary’s lives. Moving to East LA with their aunt and being befriended by a tattooed neighbor may be the archetype of Latino neighborhoods, but the portrayal of this neighborhood moves beyond the cholos and helicopters they first encounter. It becomes a hub of Mexican heritage, Spanish language, artwork, and community. Nora transitions easily to her new home, learning Spanish, and dressing in colorful indigenous clothing. She uses her lawyer skills to take on a pro bono case defending Latino maintenance workers who were unjustly fired and eventually setting up an office to give free legal advice. Mary takes longer to adjust, at first only identifying herself as Mexican to protect herself from cholas who call her a white girl and to impress her


Mexican TA from school. In the end, she comes to accept her identity as something that is a part of her, not as something to portray. Growing up, Nora and Mary experienced fragments of Mexican culture because of their father, but they did not have a community in which they could see all the pieces fit together and appreciate it until they moved in with their aunt. One delightful aspect of the film is the featured street art. There is scene in which Bruno, the tattooed neighbor, teaches kids about the art and its significance (even referring to Judy Baca, a muralist and a professor at UCLA), creating the image of a flourishing community that also has beauty. Another great perspective presented by the film is the diversity within the Latino community: their entrepreneur father, gardeners and servants in the mansion, the undocumented workers in East Los Angeles, the cholo in the low-income neighborhood, Latinos in the university, and the Latino artists. The range of Latino cast members is greater than a similarly massmarketed film “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, in which they only seem to exist as gardeners or in Mexico. The last scene includes a mural with the words “Soy Americano? Soy Mexicano? Que Soy?” These are questions many Latinos—not just of Mexican background—are likely ask themselves as they experience Latino culture in an American society. This film may have felt superficial to some, but at least I cannot deny the depth it presented with those last words.

Did you know? California


third in the nation

for the highest home foreclosure rates.

One in every 200 housing units received a foreclosure filing in January 2011, totaling 363,329 foreclosed homes. SOURCE: U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™

18 LA GENTE Winter 2011

arte y cultura

A Peek at Latino Style Jessica Torres

Robert Castillo First-year political science student

What he’s wearing: Robert wears an OBEY shirt with the statement “The

limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress,” which he interprets as political corruptness.

Why he’s wearing it: Having first learned about OBEY when he watched

"They Live," a film about propaganda, Robert often wears this brand of graphic tees to convey his own political opinions. His belief that government can be corrupt stems from the Mexican government and its relation with the drug cartels, which has personally affected his family living in Mexico.


Latinos value their sense of family and loyalty to their indigenous roots. These UCLA students’ style and apparel show their cultural pride.

More about Shepard Fairey... Fairey is most known for creating Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential election poster. The work became a symbol of inspiration and possibility. His artwork is a combination of street art and graffiti and often carries a political message.


What she’s wearing: Cynthia is wearing skinny jeans, which she feels is

typical American clothing, and is carrying a morral, which she brought back from a trip to Mexico. What she especially likes about the morral are the vibrant colors, each of which has a special meaning. If she were ever kicked out of her house, she said the morral is the one thing she would take with her.

Why she’s wearing it: Cynthia describes her style as “Ni de aquí, ni de

allá,” in reference to her Mexican and American influences. She struggles to represent both cultures through her clothing and stay true to her indigenous roots. JESSICA TORRES

Nancy Pino Second-year physics student


Cynthia Jasso First-year political science student

More about the morral…

These handmade sacks represent a large part of the spiritual beliefs and cultural practices of the Huichol, an indigenous ethnic group in Mexico. The Huichol people use this bag to carry sacred offerings for special ceremonies.


More about the huarache...

These handwoven leather shoes

What she’s wearing: Nancy is wearing tan leather sandals with floral details have been a staple of Mexican footand rubber soles, a variation of the Mexican huarache. Why she’s wearing it: Every year she visits her parent’s native country, Mexico, and always brings back shoes and handmade jewelry because they have unique designs. She especially likes that they are made by the people and represent their hard work. She also likes the raw and earthy material they are made from. She wears these items to express her culture and share it with others. JESSICA TORRES

wear for hundreds of years. They were originally considered peasant shoes and were handmade from woven leather and rubber soles. Variations of the huaraches became popular in the US and can now easily be found in shoe stores during the summer season. Winter 2011 LA GENTE 19

Visit us at: Courses in Chicana/o Studies at UCLA are exciting, eclectic, and build on existing skills that will provide you with tools to navigate our diverse society. Our mission is to train a new generation of scholars to research and analyze the life, history, and culture of the Latino/a populations in the United States and the Americas. Our courses explore race, gender, sexuality, work, and many other issues that encompass life. Our faculty is world renown and they’ve won multiple teaching awards for innovation and technology. During the spring quarter, consider enrolling in the following classes. Also consider taking our classes during the summer (to acquire your degree sooner, to take courses that you missed during the regular academic year), to take advantage of smaller courses, and to enrich your cultural and intellectual pursuits.

Check out our upcoming courses! Spring 2011:

CS 104 Comedy & Culture CS 120 Immigration and Chicano Community CS 123 Applied Research Latino Communities CS M128 Race & Gender & U.S. Labor CS 141 Chicana & Latina Narratives CS 143 Mestizaje: History of Diverse Racial/Cultural Roots of Mexico CS 148 Politics of Diversity: Race, Conflicts, and Coalitions. CS 166 Paulo Freire CS M175 Chicana Art & Artists CS 188-1 Historical Storytelling CS 188-2 Poetics and Politics in Central American Narratives

Gustavo Arellano is the instructor for CS 1881-­1 Historical Storytelling and our 2011 Community Scholar. He is a staff writer with OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, and his ¡Ask a Mexican! Column won the 2006 association of Alternative Newsweeklies award for the best column in a large circulation weekly.

Summer 2011: CS M102 Mexican Americans and Schools CS M106 Health in Chicano/Latino Population CS M125 U.S.-Mexico Relations CS 10B Introduction to Chicana/o Studies (Session C)

Save the Date!!! César E. Chávez Graduation, Saturday, June 11 2011 for all majors and minors

For more information and student advising, please contact Eleuteria (Ellie) Hernández at or 310.206.7696 or just come to 7351 Bunche Hall. 20 LA GENTE Winter 2011

sigan luchando

From Within

Hey Picasso! La Gente wants to showcase your talent! Send us your awesome artwork, short stories, poetry, songs and more. Come on, make your mamá proud!!

Loving You Enough to Say Goodbye You and I, although we hid Justify with philosophy Our lives apart in agony Punctuated with brief moments of ecstasy I know that you lie awake at night and cry With the anticipation of our “Good-bye” Thoughts of someone else laying next to you Are the bitter thoughts I chew I wish you knew How much longer can we keep this up? When will one of us say “enough!" To say that I love you Will only ensure that we are through Sshhhhh, don’t ruin what we have with words, With those we’ve already heard Let’s keep our secret To come clean will end in regret Just a little while longer, I’m beginning to feel stronger Yes, I think we will survive I no longer want to hide Lets just walk away without saying our goodbye Please just say it with your eyes Goodbye Inside I have died.... Espanto Landrum | Pelican Bay State Prison

“Being incarcerated year after year away from familia y loved ones is a hard road. Some of us were forced upon this spiraling path. Others chose it for various reasons. Regardless it has led to a lifetime of hard heartaches and set backs. Now I can speak for my circle of hermanos when I say, ‘We

Free Aztlán, 2010 | Jesus Garcia from Pelican Bay State Prison

“ Sí se puede. We Mexi-can, not Mexican’t. I’ll keep it short and simple. Keep your heads up and moving forward with your daily doings.

Andres Gonzales | Pelican Bay State Prison

will not let the past define our future.’

The only limitations we have are the ones we place on ourselves and allow to be placed upon us. Yes, it is a daily struggle...yet a welcomed struggle. For individual and collective success is not easily achieved. Nuestra Gente will continue to push and continue to strive. Embracing and retaining meaningful teachings and info.” Nick Montemayor | High Desert State Prison Winter 2011 LA GENTE 21

Photo Contest Winners Theme: Hidden Treasures Thanks to all those who submitted photos! Our staff picked their favorites and here they are.

Picture/clip art of camera?



Zsolt Beke, 38, Vasvari Pal, Hungary This was a peaceful Sunday morning. No wind, no noises, but very cold. I was walking. Everything was static, no movement, no animals. Just like in a winter tale, everything slept or hid somewhere. The sky was beautiful and deep blue. As I was walking by, I got a glimpse of this old temple. The sun shone and the colors and shadows were just perfect.

Michael Masukawa, 21, Los Angeles This is a sunset I experienced from the window of my dorm room. My roommate noticed that the sunset was bloody fantastic. The sky was literally on fire. I enjoyed framing it with one of the larger trees outside our window to give it perspective. Outside my window lay the treacherous path to Mordor.

22 LA GENTE Winter 2011


Ray Luo, 25, Los Angeles Oaxaca, Mexico, has a legend that a Zapotec princess was taken and decapitated by the rival Mixtecs during war. The buried body was found, but never the head. One day, a shepherd found a lirio flower on the ground. Instead of cutting it, he dug into the ground where it grew. He discovered a human ear, attached to the perfectly preserved head of the princess. It was reburied in Cuilapam, where this photo was taken. Local artisans believe making purses and wallets out of found materials allows them to preserve what is inside in mint condition, much as the princess’ head was preserved by the found flower.


2 5 X Favela, Agora Por Nós Mesmos: A compilation of

five short films written, directed, and acted by favela (slum) residents from Rio de Janeiro. James Bridges Theater, Melnitz Hall 1409, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095 From 7:30PM to 9:30PM.

2-3 The 1968 Walk Outs in East Los Angeles - “2011

Meets 1968”: A series of one act plays written by student historians and performed by professional actors. Margo Albert Theater at Plaza de la Raza, 3540 N. Mission Road, Los Angeles, CA 90031 Wednesday at 10:30AM and Thursday at 7:00PM.

3 & 10 2011 Latin American Film Festival: Featuring

award-winning films from Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala and Bolivia, among others, that profile and dramatize the history and traditional cultures of Latinos in the United States. Salazar Hall, Room E-184, CSULA, Los Angeles, CA 90032 From 6:00PM to 8:00PM.


calendar of

4 20th Annual HOPE Latina History Day Conference: Workshops

that explore opportunities for corporate advancement, the state of healthcare reform, and improving financial literacy, as well as networking and sales for local vendors. Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90071 From 7:30AM to 4:00PM.

5-31 Cuba y Cubans: Photographs by Juan Luis Garcia: A photograph exhibit showcasing the debut of Juan Luis Garcia and the stills he shot during his 2009 trip to Cuba. Eastside Luv Wine Bar y Queso, 1835 E. 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033 Opening reception Saturday, March 5 from 5:00PM to 9:00PM. 17 Jornadas Mexicanas: Cuando los Migrantes Piensan su País:

Análisis de las elecciones de Julio de 2010 frente a las de 2012. Restaurante La Guelaguetza, 3014 W. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90006 At 7:00PM.

20 Holistic Health and Self-Defense Workshops and Mujer Merca-

do: A self-defense workshop, holistic health workshops, and a vendor fair featuring Mujeres de Maiz artists, artisans, and vendors. Homeboy Industries & Homegirl Cafe, 130 W. Bruno Street, Los Angeles, CA From 10:00AM to 5:00PM.

26 César Chávez Day of Service: Under the direction of expert mu-

ralists and civic leaders, corporate and community volunteers will come together to create five to ten murals to honor the life and legacy of César Chávez, which will then be donated to schools and libraries in Los Angeles. Address disclosed after event-sign up, Los Angeles, CA From 9:00AM to 12:30PM.


2 Hike for the Homeless: Volunteers can hike either a 2-mile trail or

a 2.64-mile trail to raise money for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s Cardinal Manning Center Homeless Shelter. Griffith Park, 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90027 From 8:15AM to 11:00AM.

24 Olvera Street’s 80th Anniversary Nuestra Tierra Conference: An eco-indgigenous Earth Day festival for kids and the community featuring environmental workshops and booths, dance performances and workshops, and live music. El Pueblo/Olvera Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 From 10:00AM to 9:00PM.

30 UCLA Relay for Life: A event featuring live entertainment, aware-

ness activities, games, prizes, a remember ceremony and a survivor lap to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095 At 12:00PM. Winter 2011 LA GENTE 23

familiar crossings Lucia Prieto

Test your knowledge of some important facts in THE HOME ISSUE of La Gente and from LAGENTE.ORG Plus, if you bring your completed crossword to our office (Kerckhoff 149E) you’ll get some free La Gente swag! Across: 2. An unofficial Roman Catholic iPhone application used for absolving sins 6. Handwoven Mexican-style leather shoes 8. One of the two bills composing the California DREAM Act that allows undocumented students to apply for Cal Grants 10. The Urdu translation of the Latino term of endearment, “mijo” 12. LA city attorney filing criminal charges against peaceful immigrant rights protestors 13. This ______ catalogue addresses housing needs for students whose homes are too far for commuting 15. After the recent vote by the UC Board of Regents, UC tuition is ______ times higher than it was a decade ago 16. The second largest language spoken in the US 17. Father ______, founder of Homeboy Industries 18. the American university returning about 5000 artifacts originally taken from Machu Picchu in Peru


For solutions, visit 11. One of the most complex graffiti styles involving a compilation of interlocking letters and symbols 13. Campaign fighting for the rights of car wash workers 14. Prominent British street artist whose work includes an aerosol stencil of Abraham Lincoln on cardboard


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1. Mujeres de _____, a multimedia women’s art collective 2. Brazilian soccer club with whom recently-retired Ronaldo had a contract 3. Smallest Central American country (geographically) 4. Type of communication service recently stopped from Cuba to the US 5. Gas company sentenced to pay $8.6 billion to an Amazonian tribe for 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador 7. 85% of undocumented workers have been victims of weekly _________ violations 9. This agency will be auditing some 1000 business in search of undocumented workers