The SWC Sun, Spring 2021, Issue 4

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Black alumni are cherished role models I N S I D E

M A RC H 25, 202 1





Young Mark Sanchez was in junior high when he got the word. It came from no less than C h i c a n o s u p e r h e ro R a m o n “Chunky” Sanchez. Chunky was a counselor at Memorial Junior High when he pulled the teenager aside and told him he had a great future if he


finished his education. Chunky did not live long enough to see Dr. Mark Sanchez become p re s i d e n t o f S o u t hwe s t e r n C o l l e ge , b u t t h e l e ge n d a r y musician and civil rights activist lives on, emblazoned on Chicano Park murals and in el corazón of Mark Sanchez. “That was a very important message for me to hear coming from Barrio Logan in the late ‘70s

and early’ 80s because that wasn’t a message always communicated to our gente,” he said. “So for me to hear that from people who meant it and who believed in me...was meaningful.” Sanchez became president of Southwestern last month, a happy homecoming for a Barrio Logan chavalito and former SC student. He launched his academic journey PLEASE SEE Sanchez PG. 3


CAMP CONCRETE — Refugees stranded on a strip between the Tijuana River canal and the border wall survive on donations and esperanza (hope).

Hope for refugees stuck in Tijuana Cold, stressed, sick and hungry Central Americans struggle to survive harsh tent encampment BY PAULINA NUNEZ and ARANZA GUTIERREZ CORTES Assistant News Editor, Arts Editor

TIJUANA—It is no vacation for Tijuana’s border campers living in rows of tiny tents on the unforgiving concrete along the fetid river canal. To passersby, the array of pastel tents create the pallet of a flea market or the allusion of a neighborhood festival, but this is no party. For thousands of desperate Central Americans and destitute Indigenous Mexicans, the tent city on the cementlined Rio de Tijuana is a harsh purgatory swarming with eager souls hoping for a pass into the Promised Land literally a stone’s throw away. An estimated 25,000 asylum seekers are pressed up against the border wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, waiting for a hearing in the United States Immigration Court. Guatemalan refugee Eugenia and her family are among the people living in waist-high pup tents near la frontera. “We have been waiting in line hoping to receive a number,” she said. “I always stay near my tent to maintain my place in the line.” Eugenia has been in line for nearly two years. She and asylum seekers are frequently sick, sore from sleeping on

PLEASE SEE Refugees PG. 3


Standing up for AAPI Community


he Editorial Board of The Sun once again condemns hateful actions and words directed to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in this community and across the nation. We acknowledge and express our gratitude to the AAPI community for its essential role in building and creating this community going back to the 1880s. Viewpoints, Page 5



MECHA PLAN FOR CHICANO STUDIES Students decry lack of Chicano curriculum at America's border college. Pg 6


Human rights advocates blame Holtville carnage on racist immigration laws BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief


CHINA’S SILENT GENOCIDE Uyghur refugees share harrowing accounts of surveillance, torture and murder in Xinjiang Province. Pg 2

If we had just immigration laws, these people would not have to pile in a vehicle and risk their lives.

COVID KILLS STUDENTS, TOO A healthy young man’s close call with ‘Rona. Pg 5

Blame for the deaths of 13 migrants killed in a horrific collision on a desert highway spread across the sand like the bodies thrown from the wreck near Holtville. Human rights activists blamed the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol blamed human smugglers. Americans blamed Mexicans, Mexicans blamed Americans. Enrique Morones, Executive Director of Gente Unida, blamed something bigger. “If we had just immigration laws, these people would not have to pile in a vehicle and risk their lives,” he said. “Every life is important. These people are literally dying in an attempt to have a better life.” Gente Unida holds a vigil at Chicano Park every Wednesday calling for passage of humane immigration legislation, including a path to citizenship of DREAMERs. The vigil following the gruesome collision PLEASE SEE Holtville PG. 3

MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4















200 miles

Uyhgurs Battle Extermination in China Local refugees recount horrors of Xinjiang Province atrocities



hina’s Uyghur minority is being systematically erased. A trio of local refugees refuse to comply. Lost in the nightmarish news cycles of global pandemic, insurrection at the capitol and economic malady, the human rights tragedy of the 21st century has gone barely noticed. Mustafa, Nurxat and Ali escaped the dystopian horrors of China’s Xinjiang Province for a new life in the American borderlands. Freedom comes with a cost, including gnawing worry about those left behind. “It’s very hard to be Uyghur,” said Nurxat, with unintended understatement. Mustafa, Nurxat and Ali (all pseudonyms) expressed happiness to be free from Chinese oppression in San Diego County, but great sadness at the systematic efforts by the Xi Jinping regime in China to obliterate the unique Muslim Uyghur culture and force an entire race to intermarry, assimilate or die. Xinjiang Province is on the northwestern edge of China, far from the population and power centers, but not far enough. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has never been fond of the Muslim Uyghur minority, which comes from a different gene pool than the dominant Han Chinese race. It is also more religious than the largely secular dominant culture, though without any history of conflict or antagonism.



In July 2009, the CCP ramped up its assault on the Uyghurs, horrifying human rights activists around the globe. Planet Earth’s political class, however, has mostly looked the other way. Money talks, critics complain, and China is an economic Goliath with trade entanglements on every continent. Even countries concerned about the plight of the Uyghurs seem afraid to rile the Chinese government. Ali, like many Uyghurs, insists that his grievances are not against the Chinese people, but focused on the communist government of China. Like many Uyghurs, Ali said he has family in “re-education centers” that he called poorly-disguised concentration camps. International human rights organizations, including the United Nations Rights Council, estimate that between 1-3 million of the estimated 20 million remaining Uyghurs are confined to the camps or forced labor. He fears for his family, he said, and longs to speak out on their behalf. He dares not. Uyghurs, he said, are conditioned to be cautious, even across the ocean from the CCP. Ali has found unexpected moments of grace in America, he said, from unexpected sources. “My first history class in an American high school my teacher asked me where I was from and I said China. He looked at me and said ‘no you’re not,’” Ali recalled. “I said ‘I’m from China’ and he said ‘no you’re not.’ And then I understood what he was actually saying. I should stand up for who I am. It gave me goosebumps, bro. He was my favorite after that and we talked about a lot of things. He was an amazing person who changed my life.” Ali said other Uyghurs live their lives like the early-high school version of himself. They




are often conditioned through terror and intimidation to “become Chinese.” “I’m not dissing any Asian-looking person, bro, but I don’t look like Chinese,” he said. “I’m not Chinese, I’m a different identity. I’m from a different culture.”


In China, Ali said, the CCP has total control of the state, education, and all news and entertainment media. Criticism of the government or President-for-Life Xi Jinping is not tolerated. Dissenters often disappear. Scrutiny is even worse for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which may be the world’s most closely surveilled region. Cameras are ubiquitous and guard posts are found every few hundred meters. Ali described an Orwellian dystopia, a description shared by American, British and French news networks which have broadcast video of the Xinjiang network of spy cameras. Uyghurs are restricted from speaking their language or congregating. Dissenters are captured and sent to labor camps euphemistically called “economic opportunity centers.” “Any sort of gathering with (10 people or more) UYGHER FACT

The Uygher people represent 1 of the 55 ethnic minorities living in China.

BLOOD FOR OIL — Escapees from Xinjiang Province say China's Communist government is engaged in a comprehensive effort to erase the Muslim Uyghur minority through interbreeding, sterilization, imprisonment in forced labor camps and genocide.

is illegal,” he said. “Ten people are nothing in America. Like every birthday party has 10 people, right? (In Xinjiang, however,) 10 people (meet up) and they send swat teams, maybe 15 swat cars with four officers (in each car). Why?” Public expressions of disagreement are met with overwhelming force, he said. “If even a small protest group of a few kids is marching down a lane of the roadway, a line of 16 or 17 heavy artillery military in tanks will shoot them all down,” he said. When Ali first came to America, he said, it seemed surreal. He experienced freedoms he did not have in Xinjiang. Even so, he worries that the CCP is watching. He is careful about what he says and does around Chinese or Mandarinspeaking people, even in San Diego County. “They take your name, your language, your race away,” he said. “They take your family members. They take your men away, your women away. They take away your ability to have kids.” China’s antipathy toward the historicallypeaceful Uyghurs is undeserved, Ali said. “Why to that extreme, bro? Why to that extent?” he said. “Are we some kind of a werewolf or something that they need to kill off? Are we gonna have super powers and explode all over them?”


Mustafa and Nurxat had different upbringings. Mustafa was raised under a

Chinese education system, while Nurxat was raised in a Uyghur education system. They both agreed the systems are nothing alike. Mustafa said as a child he was “brainwashed” into rejecting his Uyghur identity and conforming to the orthodoxy of the CCP. Nurxat said differences were easy to see, including disparities in maintenance and upkeep of Chinese schools versus Uyghur schools. Mustafa immigrated to America in 2015. A few years later he returned to visit China, he said, and saw a new world he did not know. His parents had tried with prescriptive subtlety to warn him during video conversations over “We Chat.” He said he missed obvious signs that the situation in Xinjiang was not safe. When Mustafa flew into Xinjiang, he said, he was detained at the airport and questioned for hours by Chinese officials. On the same day his family received a call from the police ordering Mustafa to the police station. Mustafa said he was questioned extensively about his life in America. He was compelled to surrender his passport to CCP officials. He stayed for two months, unable to leave until he and his family bribed Chinese officials to return his passport. He feared he would be sent to a concentration camp and “disappeared.” “Thanks to Allah,” he said. “I was so lucky. I made it out.” Nurxat described a similar grilling and harassment after he had traveled to Turkey. He was questioned as though he were a Muslim terrorist, he said, which was an unnerving experience.


Mustafa and Nurxat both said they have family members in concentration camps, some they know are alive and some they have lost contact with. Both said they feared a similar fate if they remained in China. Mustafa said he and Nurxat consider themselves extremely fortunate and thrilled to be in the United States. American freedom has allowed him the opportunity to finally feel human, Mustafa said. Nurxat agreed. “I’m free now and I’m happy,” he said. Ali confessed that he is often overcome with worry about his people in Xinjiang Province. “For me, there is an overwhelming sadness and (feeling that) there’s no hope when it comes to my people if we are invisible,” he said. “They behead people and put their heads on sticks for others to see,” he said. “They keep people in cages that are only three feet high so you can’t stand up. There is water dripping all the time so their skin is always wet. Cold water dripping on you constantly until your skin gets (diseased) and starts ripping off.” Heightened global attention to the Uyghurs’ situation is encouraging, Ali said. It is, he said, a small, but hopeful move in the right direction. “That’s something I’m super happy (about), that people actually know who we are,” he said. Nurxat said he also fears for the Uyghurs living today in Xinjiang and other parts of China. A global Uyghur diaspora watches in sadness as a great culture is being crushed, he said. “You can lose every single thing in your life (and survive),” he said. “You can lose your money, your family, your brothers, but you cannot lose your identity. If you lose your identity, you are nothing.” MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4

Refugees: Tijuana river bank jammed with immigrants CONTINUED FROM PG. 1

frigid concrete, hungry and scared. They shiver through nights in the 30s, choke back nauseating wafts of nearby raw sewage fermenting in the sun and wolf down meager bits of food offered by visiting humanitarian groups. Even so, they are hopeful, Eugenia said, because after two years of no action, the line has slowly started to move. The Trump Administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy has not been officially overturned on a large scale, but refugees are beginning to get long-awaited hearings. Still, it is a glacial process. Patience and survival skills are required to make it through long stretches of anxiety and boredom punctuated by moments of panic. Many have given up and left, returning to dire circumstances and even death. Gloria Delgado clings to hope in Tijuana after surviving hopelessness in Guadalajara. She is sheltering at nearby Casa de Luz and volunteers to serve breakfast along the canal every morning. She said the shelter has been a House of Light, giving her a purpose and sense of belonging. Delgado fled Guadalajara five months ago after her husband died, she said. “He left me a house, but his family turned against me,” she recounted with a trembling voice. “I lost everything. They threw me out at gunpoint like an animal from my own home.” Ana Uribe is Delgado’s neighbor in the claustrophobic colonia of tents. She, her seven children and other family members wedge into one tent together like a package of chorizo franks. Relief agencies that bring food and supplies also bring chaos and sometimes unintended violence. “When the (humanitarian) organizations come to the area to give out food, all order is lost,” she said. “People get out of control, they push and shove each other.” Charitable distributions intended for the refugees inevitably attract other poor people from Tijuana, who aggressively insert themselves into the aid lines. Eugenia said there is rarely enough food for everyone. One of those competing for food and supplies is Gustavo, a former carrocero (auto body mechanic) from Honduras. He made an epic 3,200mile trek from Central America through Mexico to land in Tijuana, mere meters away from el norte where

Sanchez: New college president encouraged by a Chicano legend CONTINUED FROM PG. 1

from Southwestern College in 1989, a young man from a working class family with nine children. His mother was a librarian at Logan Elementary School, he said, and his father was a construction worker with a sixth grade education, “a man of honor” who cared deeply about his family. “I always like to give honor to our ancestors and the sacrifices of the people who paved the way for the next generation to have access to education (and) opportunities,” he said. “For gente, that didn’t always exist.” Sanchez said he understands the struggles of SC students because he struggled, too. Time management was a challenge for a young man taking 14 units, working at the Boys and Girls Club, and helping at home. “What I had to deal with in terms of time management is nothing compared to what many of our students have to deal with today,” he said. “(Some are) raising children, working full-time, managing a lot of responsibilities.” Two professors who were essential role models to young Sanchez were Phil Saenz and Alejandro Orozco. They were always there when he needed help, he said, and also invited him to Friday afternoon basketball games. “What it really meant to me was that faculty took the time to do something meaningful with students outside of the classroom,” he said. “That was so MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4


his dreams of peace and freedom reside. He escaped the rampant organized crime of Honduras where armed gangs extort “protection” money from farmers and small businesses. Gustavo waved a sky blue Joe Biden campaign flag much as Mexicans fly banners of la Virgen de Guadalupe, a standard of hope and deliverance during times of conflict. “We want to get away from the criminal gangs like ‘Los Mara’ because we want to work with honesty and integrity,” he said. “The gangs don’t let us do our work. They demand a war tax. If you refuse to pay their tax, they kill you.” Murder is practically a cottage industry in Honduras, he said, and good people are victimized by gang members and local police, who line their pockets with bribes to look the other way or to handle the murders themselves. Tijuana is also a terribly dangerous place for Central American refugees, he said. “Staying in Tijuana is like being in Honduras because there is a great deal of violence here as well,” he said. “Migrants are not safe in Tijuana. We are not treated fairly or with compassion. There is racism towards Hondurenas here in Tijuana.” Gente Unida volunteer Adolfo Mercado said Gustavo is right. Poor Central Americans are too often treated with disdain by Mexicans and rejected by U.S. officials. Mercado is working at the Pro Amore Deo shelter in Tijuana, as well as shelters and

powerful for me (even) 30 years later. I’ll never forget that experience.” In 1993 Sanchez earned his AA degree from SC in general studies and transferred to UC Santa Barbara. Like many young Latinos struggled being away from home, he said. He returned to San Diego and completed a sociology degree at Point Loma Nazarene University. Next he earned Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Fresno State University. He said it was enlightening to study in the Central Valley because it gave him a perspective on education for underserved communities. “The (Central Valley has) history that is so important,” he said. “The work that was done with farmworkers and farm workers rights by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and many of the pioneers who fought for social justice and human justice.” After completing his Master’s, Sanchez moved to Salinas to work at Hartnell College. Living and working in the lettuce growing hub taught him about the living conditions of farmworkers, he said. “Some Hartnell College students actually worked in the fields in the morning, took classes later in the afternoon, and studied at night,” he said. “To see that level of commitment from the students and their families (gave me) a humbling perspective of the sacrifices people have to make to accomplish their goals.” Sanchez said he is humbled to work at his alma mater and is committed to see the college thrive. “Anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself,” he said. “Don't ever give up on your dreams.”


SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR AWAY — Refugees huddled in Tijuana’s tent settlement are within sight of their goal—the U.S.A.—but stalled by Trumpera immigration policies. Rows of tents (top) line the north edge of the Tijuana River canal. Gustavo, a Honduran refugee (above, said he is hopeful the Biden Administration will give him a hearing.

aid stations in San Diego. Asylum seekers have suffered greatly under the “Remain in Mexico” policy, he said. Gente Unida, an American human rights organization founded by Enrique Morones, has been advocating for migrants since the rise of the restrictive immigration policy Operation Gatekeeper in 1994. Mercado said the situation along la linea remains desperate.

“As a human and as a patriot it breaks my heart to see how ugly and how nasty we can treat our neighbors,” he said. “These are people who live next door to us. We need to respect and honor them.” Mercado said while Trump was denying that coronavirus was a problem in the United States, he concurrently used it as an excuse to slow walk or freeze Migration

Holtville: Human rights advocates blame outdated immigration laws CONTINUED FROM PG. 1

of a tractor trailer and an SUV packed with 25 people was very emotional. Morones said migrants are fleeing hunger, conflict, violence, economic issues and structural violence in the government or society. “They are not here because they want to be, but because they have to be to survive,” he said. “Had these people been Canadian or white, there would be a completely different reaction, but since they are people of color, the reaction is ‘why was the smuggler driving so fast?’ instead of ‘why is this happening?’ We need to rise up and say ‘no more deaths.’ This has got to stop.” Morones said he found it suspicious the Border Patrol had video footage of both vehicles driving through a breach in the border wall, but did not pursue them. He said it is highly unusual that one of the vehicles simply caught on fire. He said he thinks there was pursuit. “We have heard countless times where the first thing the Border Patrol says is ‘we weren’t chasing and we had nothing to do with it,’” said Morones. “Oh really? You had nothing to do with it, but one suddenly caught fire and the other got hit by a semi. Those things just happen like that? I don’t think so.” Morones called for a thorough investigation. “Justice is not blind when it (comes) to people of color, they get treated in

a totally different manner,” he said. “We have seen this over and over again with Black Lives Matter, the attacks on Asians, Latinos and gays. They are treated as second-class people. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. We need to raise our voices every single time.” Martin Eder of Activist San Diego said it was important to recognize the debt Americans owe to immigrants due to the economic contributions they make as workers and entrepreneurs. He said the United States needs just immigration reform. “(We) recognize the humanity of every human being and their right to seek a better future for themselves and their families,” he said. Luis Vega of the Human Rights Coalition of Tucson, Arizona, said the crash near Holtville was not an isolated event. Mass casualty accidents occur along the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas with alarming frequency, he said. “We must not tolerate one more death,” he said. “This is a sad situation where families are divided and the human rights of immigrants are not respected.” Vega called for elected officials to pass immigration reform. Morones agreed. He said President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris pledged an immigration reform bill in their first 100 days in office. He said Biden made a commitment to stop the border wall funding, to reunite families and to

Protection Protocols cases. “Every day we wait is one more day we prolong their agony,” he said. “We must address this situation with the urgency it requires.” Michelle Celleri, an attorney with the Human Rights Council of Alliance San Diego, said gaining an asylum hear is an arduous and confusing process for refugees who speak Spanish, Mixtec, Garifuna, Miskito, Sumo, Pech, Jicaque or other Indigenous languages. Logistics are complicated due to the “Remain in Mexico” rules that can make it difficult to locate migrants who have appointments to give them revised information or date changes. Hearings are frequently rescheduled without informing the refugees, she said, who are then scratched off the waiting list as no-shows. “Border Customs personnel have to coordinate with the shelters in Mexico after asylum seekers are put into the system to figure out the date each person will go to the border,” she said. Celleri said asylum seekers can fall through the cracks through no fault of their own and never get a hearing. COVID-19 protocols amplify the difficulty, she said, requiring testing and other medical considerations before refugees can cross the border. Refugees are turned away if they or their children have chickenpox, measles or other childhood diseases which are rampant in Tijuana’s s h e l t e rs a n d t e n t c i ty. T h o s e fortunate to be allowed to cross must self-quarantine for two weeks. Until his appointed time with la migra, Gustavo continues to stroll the colorful squatter’s village on the colorless concrete of the Tijuana River, waving his azure Biden flag as if hoping to be spotted from the air and rescued by archangeles or the United States Marines. He may not be far off. Department of Homeland Security officials report that the influx of refugees along the Mexican border has become unmanageable and may require flying asylum seekers to border processing stations along the Canadian border. Rumors blow through the camp like the cool spring breeze off the Pacific, some based in fact, others tales of fantasy. While the Americans in Washington D.C. and San Diego devise their plans, another day rolls by in the camp wedged between the river and the wall. Eugenia herds her seven niños like unruly puppies careening in every direction. Gloria prepares the next day’s desayuno, while Ana brushes out her familia’s tent with a disintegrating Tom Petty t-shirt. Hope survives, but the waiting is the hardest part.

allow asylum seekers to wait in the United States, which he has done. “These are very important issues and I know he wants to do it, but we have to be vigilant and we have to let him know we are watching,” said Morones. Undocumented immigrants and essential workers must not continue to live in fear and hide in the shadows, Morones said. Holtville has a special place in his heart, he said, and he regularly leads visits to the pauper’s graveyard filled with the remains of unidentified migrants. Immigrants do not necessarily want to settle in the United States, he said, but they seek somewhere safe. There are 250 million undocumented people in the world, he said, 240 million of which are seeking refuge in countries other than the United States. Gloria Saucedo of Coalición Quiero Mi Green Card said most immigrants are essential workers that pay taxes and labor in perilous conditions, including critical work throughout the coronavirus pandemic crisis harvesting crops, preparing food, working grocery stores and many other critical tasks. “It is very important that our immigrant community of essential workers obtain their permanent residency,” she said. “They can then purchase vehicles and car insurance, and no longer have to travel in unsafe conditions.” Franciscan Friar Adolfo Mercado said every human being is God’s child, regardless of their passport, birth place, faith or marital status. Morones agreed. “Society is judged by how we treat our children and we have to demonstrate love.” THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN




O P I N I O N S / L E T T E R S TO T H E E D I T O R

The mission of the Southwestern College Sun is to serve its campuses and their communities by providing information, insights and stimulating discussions of news, activities and topics relevant to our readers. The staff strives to produce a newspaper that is timely, accurate, fair, interesting, visual and accessible to readers. Though The Sun is a student publication, staff members ascribe to the ethical and moral guidelines of professional journalists.

EDITORIAL BOARD Editor-in-Chief Julia Woock

Senior Editor Matthew Brooks

Senior Staff Writer Andrew Penalosa

News Editor Bianca Huntley Ortega

Campus Editor Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo Viewpoints Editor Anissa Durham Arts Editor Aranza Gutierrez Cortes


Sports Editor Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo Photo Editors Israel de Jessus Nieves Matthew Gomez

A S S I S TA N T E D I T O R S Itati Faddis Kaitlyn Greer Maria Herrera-Ibarra Paulina Nunez Edgar Ortega Kinya Savedra


S TA F F W R I T E R S Alexia Cano Jennielyn Cato Janae Earnes Yahir Ibarra Victoria Rietz Naylhea Serrano

S TA F F A R T I S T S Baby Bonane Ji Ho Kim Assistant Adviser Kenneth Pagano Adviser Dr. Max Branscomb

AWARDS/HONORS National College Newspaper Hall of Fame Inducted 2018 Student Press Law Center National College Press Freedom Award 2011, 2018 National Newspaper Association National College Newspaper of the Year 2004-2020 Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Awards 2003-06, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012-2017, 2019, 2020 General Excellence 2001-20 Best of Show 2003-21 Columbia University Scholastic Press Association Gold Medal for Journalism Excellence 2001-20 College Media Association National College Newspaper of the Year, 2020 California College Media Association Outstanding Community College Newspaper


Sanchez feels like breath of fresh air following Southwestern Inquisition

San Diego County Multicultural Heritage Award California Newspaper Publishers Association California College Newspaper of the Year 2013, 2016, 2020 Student Newspaper General Excellence 2002-20 Society of Professional Journalists National Mark of Excellence 2001-20 First Amendment Award 2002, 2005 San Diego Press Club Excellence in Journalism 1999-2020 Directors Award for Defense of Free Speech 2012 Journalism Association of Community Colleges Pacesetter Award 2001-18 Newspaper General Excellence 2000-2021 American Scholastic Press Association National Community College Newspaper of the Year, 2020


merica is under new management. So is Southwestern College. President Dr. Kindred Murillo retired after three years. Hardworking and sensitive, Murillo seemed ready to pass the baton. The Editorial Board thanks her for always meeting with our reporters, taking our emails and calls, and finding time in her busy schedule for a standing appointment with the Editor-in-Chief. She seemed to genuinely enjoy spending time with students and she had a clear command of the workings of the California community college system. Murillo and her team did some of their best work during the pandemic crisis of 2020. Last March 10, SC was the first California community college to announce it was closing in an effort to flatten the coronavirus curve. She and her management team were in a disorienting situation with no playbook. There were a few missteps, but a great deal of innovation and a wholesale effort to assist struggling students. Southwestern took its rightful place as a community hub in service of its citizens. Murillo also gets points for her dedication to leading uncomfortable discussions about racial tension and student equity. She inherited an extremely difficult and volatile situation, and managed to keep the train on the tracks. The jury is still out as to the impact of these efforts and her mishandling of the spring 2019 ASO elections sent a confused message to students. There is a lingering feeling that she played favorites and scapegoated the wrong employees. Communication was a priority for

The Issue: Dr. Kindred Murillo deserves credit for addressing racial tension and for supporting students during the COVID-19 crisis. Our position: Dr. Mark Sanchez, on first glance, brings a relaxed leadership style to a stressed and high-strung campus. Murillo and her “Things to Know” emails were richly informative, often thought provoking and sometimes TMI. We appreciated the effort she made to write and compile these messages. Her legacy in other areas is mixed. Things we hope disappear with Murillo are the infamous Southwestern Inquisition and her opacity. Murillo seemed boastful about the number of investigations she launched — close to 100 — and the attorneys she hired to grill employees. There were, of course, some bad apples to be dealt with, but Murillo cast an overly-wide net that was often hurtful and damaging to completely innocent people. It is sad to think that she spent tens of millions of the taxpayers dollars on out-of-town lawyers while we face 10 percent cuts to the 2021-22 class schedule. For all her talk of openness and transparency, Murillo was far too secretive and had streaks that were undemocratic. She sicced the college’s lawyers on The Sun to block the release of a 2013 investigation into former Police Chief Michael Cash who fired his gun on campus, narrowly missing three employees.

Murillo beat us and the community on a technicality when we missed a remote court filing deadline during the March coronavirus chaos. Perhaps at a later date the new president will lift the veil of secrecy and release the report. We welcome home Dr. Mark Sanchez, a local boy made good who seems like a breath of fresh ocean air. A Barrio Logan kid and one-time Southwestern student, Sanchez on first glance appears friendly, relaxed and in touch with the community. A recent minor campus dustup provided insight into his leadership style. When a faculty member made an uncharitable comment about a colleague during a zoom meeting Sanchez was on, he showed wisdom and grace. Rather than summon an investigator and hold the Sword of Damocles over the head of the offender, he gathered the parties together for a good old-fashioned talk to clear the air. The matter was resolved quickly, professionally and with nary an attorney fee. There are a few things we would like to ask Dr. Sanchez to consider. We need more responsive counselors (or perhaps more counselors). We need more mental health support for students and employees. We need Golden Four classes and sections required for transfer. We need an ASO that is more professional and plays by the rules. We need modern programs for Women’s Studies, Chicano Studies and LGBTQ Studies. We need a multicultural center. We also need a way forward out of the COVID fog and uncertainty buffeting higher education. These are substantial tasks and we wish Dr. Sanchez and his crew godspeed.

MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4

Women need men as allies to end femicide, sexual violence


hile driving through downtown San Diego one evening, I saw a woman with furrowed brows and a clenched jaw waiting to cross the street. She was looking nervously in every direction, her eyes darting to the left to the right to the left like a creepy pingpong match. I started looking around, too, but saw no one. Her pepper spray was cocked and ready. She was in full fight or flight mode, ready to fight. There was no one that evening to fight, but the woman was doing what most of us have been taught to do--defend yourself at all costs. The war against women roars on. This has been a brutal season of femicide. At least six Asian women were murdered in Atlanta (Soon Chung Park, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Xiaojie Tan and Daoyou Feng). Sarah Everard was walking home in London and disappeared, her body found nine


days later in the woods. The alleged killer was a police officer, a man sworn to protect and serve. Right here in Chula Vista, in a neighborhood visible from Southwestern College, Maya Millete disappeared without a trace. A sweet, athletic young Asian American mother, she vanished into the dry winter air like steam from a cold breath. They are the ones we know about. Thousands of Murdered and

Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in the United States cannot be accurately counted because law enforcement agencies are not required to or won’t count them. Mexico averages 10 femicides a day, according to Attorney General Alejandro Gertz. Femicides there have increased 137 percent over the last five years. Victims include Ingrid Escamilla, 25, killed and mutilated by her husband, and Fátima, a seven-year-old girl brutally beaten, sexually abused and tossed away in a trash bag. The American Psychological Association has explored what it would take to end sexual harassment. It will require more than an HR-mandated workshop once every five years. Scottsdale, Arizona psychologist Dr. C. Brady Wilson specializes in sexual harassment and workplace trauma. He found that in some instances sexual harassment complaints resulted in the company closing ranks and becoming tightlipped.

Psychologist Dr. James Campbell Quick, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said his research shows sexual harassment is less about sex than power, aggression and manipulation. Ultimately, he concluded, it is an abuse of power. RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, estimates 90 percent of rape victims are female. Research by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center concluded that 25.5 million American women (21.3 percent) reported rape or attempted rape at some point in their life. The Center for Disease Control found at least 1 in 3 women experienced sexual violence. Rape is not a woman problem, it is a man problem. Men need to step up and join the fight against this epidemic form of violence. Some are, but not nearly enough. Professor Laura Ryan was on to something when she hosted the standing-room-only campus seminars “Men Against Rape”

Asian haters may not know that we literally helped to build America BY JENNIELYN CATO A Perspective


n Atlanta, six Asian-American women are gunned down by a White supremacist. In San Francisco, an 84-year-old Asian American is knocked to the ground and killed by an anti-masker. In Oakland, a 91-year-old man is severely injured by a man who knocked him to the ground and ran away. In Chula Vista across from Southwestern College, a 46-year-old Filipina is accosted by a MAGA-hatted man who screamed, “Go back where you came from and take your f***ing virus with you!” Americans of Asian ancestry are being scapegoated for the novel coronavirus pandemic, often with acts of brutal violence. Like so much of the recent explosion of racist and anti-Semetic violence in America, Donald Trump is the propellant. His insistence on calling the novel coronavirus “the China virus” and “Kung Flu” was his declaration of open season on Chinese Americans. Unfortunately, too many MAGAs cannot tell Chinese apart from Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Guamanians, Thais and Cambodians. Even Navajo, Zuni and Kumeyaay People are targets of Asian haters. Asian Americans, like many other immigrants, have long received rough treatment in the United States. Chinese railroad laborers, Filipino farmworkers, Japanese growers, Vietnamese fishermen and other Asians were brought to America when this country needed them, only to be pushed aside when the work was done. When America had its technology bloom of the 1990s, Asian computer programmers and engineers were imported from China, India, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore to help bring it to life. Oops! Here we go again, trying to defend Asians in America. We should not have to. The contributions of Asian Americans to this nation and its culture are unassailable. So why the disrespect and violence toward the same folks who helped create so much of what 2021 Americans love about our society? Probably the


usual suspects: perceived job competition, economic imbalances, cultural tension -- perhaps a dash of jealousy and a dollop of xenophobia. Trump was played like a drum by China’s cagey leader Xi Jinping and he aided China by pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, bullying nations who helped keep China in check and turning the focus of the military toward Iran, Afghanistan and other distractions. Trump says China embarrassed him, but he embarrassed himself. Maybe this novel coronavirus did originate in China, but Trump and his ilk never seem to mention that the 1919 “Spanish” Flu that killed 50-100 million

around the globe came from an east Kansas hog farm in the United States. American troops took it to Europe during World War I with catastrophic results. No one named it “Yankee Flu” and coldcocked elderly White Americans in 1921, and no one should be sucker punching elderly Asian Americans in 2021. We need allies. Filipinos and other Asian Americans in the South Bay need our Latino, White, Black and Indigenous brothers and sisters to stick up for us. We also need the news media to speak up about AAPI crime and hatred. Distracted by COVID-19 and the Trump Circus, the news media has been slow coming to this long running story. “In many ways Asian Americans are still seen as foreigners,” said Juju Chang, co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline. “That’s why it’s so important that when Hollywood influencers or social media influencers speak up to be able to then say ‘oh,we have people’s attention, let’s dig deeper into this issue.’” Joie Chen, a former news anchor for America Tonight, said too many Asian Americans are quiet about what happens to them. The same applies to many minority groups. “Silence has never been good to us,” she said. It was not until older people of the community were being targeted that Asian hate started to get national attention. About 10 percent of hate crimes against Asian Americans are against the elderly. Stop AAPI Hate is an advocacy organization founded by the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Studies department of San Francisco State University. Stop AAPI Hate has recorded more than 3,000 cases of attacks on the AAPI community already in 2021. We all need to call out racism. We must not tolerate violence. We must stop attacking our fellow Americans. That’s right, fellow Americans. Telling an Asian American to “go back where you came from” is rich. Chances are they came from Wichita, Seattle, Austin, Kansas City, Santa Fe, Philadelphia or Chula Vista. We are home.

Young people trivialize COVID-19 at their own risk BY EDGAR ORTEGA A Perspective


live Garden pasta never tasted so good! After a grueling two-week fight against COVID-19, I was happy just to be alive. Weeks after that I was super happy to be able to taste food. Myth-busters take note: Young people catch COVID-19 just like anyone else. I am 20 and took a beating. On October 25 I was diagnosed with COVID-19 despite being a mask-wearing, hand-washing, socially-distanced healthy young man who took the disease seriously. After suffering COVID-19, I now take it very seriously. I still do not know how I contacted the virus, but work is my best guess. Our workplace has not done a good job with COVID-19 protocols. COVID is cruel and uncaring. It found me and gave me a lashing. For MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4


a fortnight I endured severe muscle pain, dry coughs and nightly fevers topping out at a dangerous 104 degrees. I lost my sense of taste and smell for weeks. COVID pain is enough to break a person, but being stuck in a small bedroom for two weeks worsened

the experience. I missed going to work, going for walks and spending time with my family. I left my home to live at my girlfriend’s place for two weeks to avoid spreading the virus in my household and my parents. It was the longest two weeks of my life as I felt the weight

of every second of every day. While I was fighting to breathe and dealing with pain and fevers, a viral video featured more than 100 SDSU students crammed into a backyard party without masks. Soon after, 1,200 SDSU students tested positive for the novel coronavirus. I watched in disbelief as young folks went to the gym, out for dinner and other dangerous activities. It has reached an ugly point where my generation has become a mortal danger to the public. We have become the super spreaders by going to Christmas celebrations, New Year parties and Super Bowl gatherings. I worry about future spikes following spring break, Easter and Memorial Day. Take it from this COVID-19 survivor: Don’t Do It! It is not worth it. Stay safe. Please wear your mask, follow the CDC guidelines and think about other people. You don’t want to catch this stuff, believe me!

featuring Jeffrey Bucholtz. Each year hundreds of young Southwestern College men would learn specific strategies to help in the war against rape and sexual abuse. Let’s hope Professor Ryan will someday resume these provocative seminars. We need men to be our allies. We need men to actively address issues of misogyny and chauvinism when they see or hear it and hold other men accountable. Dr. Jackson Katz, author of “The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help,” said men need to speak up when friends or family member make a sexist comment or rape joke. He said men need to call out abusive behavior they observe from their male friends. Katz said if doing it in front of the group makes men uncomfortable, it can be done one on one, but it must be done. The worst thing men can do, he said, is nothing because silence is complicit. And too many women have suffered in silence for too long.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR MEChistas have a plan to improve SC curriculum and inclusiveness As the President of SWC M.E.Ch.A. (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/Chicano de Aztlan), I want to give voice to the needs of SWC Chicana/Chicano students. We want to be treated equitable at a Hispanic Serving Institution. We are calling for the Governing Board and Superintendent/ President, as well as the students of America’s Border College to pledge their unconditional support and commitment to the PLAN DE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. Our plan includes the establishment of a Department not rooted in white supremacy and colonialism, but in the genius of Chicana and Chicano scholars and academic scholarship. It is called Chicano Studies and it guarantees cultural competence, expansion of transferrable course offerings, and scholarships. What is currently offered through the program of Mexican American Studies is insufficient and classes fill and we wait in long wait lists for additional spaces/classes that never open. As students, we want to experience a connection to our heritage, history and create closer bonds with faculty as mentors within our college experience. Course offerings in the curriculum, should be relevant where faculty can provide activities that validate our cultural experiences. For too long, us students at Southwestern College have been deprived of their cultural and intellectual inheritance. Chicanas and Mexicanos represent 2 out of every 3 students on campus, yet we are still treated as immigrants and foreigners in our own campus. Our history is being erased or racially coded with labels as Latinx and transborder, which do nothing to empower us. Tell administrators to stop labeling us and let us choose how we want to define ourselves, our needs and our history. It is too painful to see so many aspiring students not met with the support they need to be successful. Too many in our community, struggle to realize the “American Dream” and the “community” college only adds to the neglect of our culture, identity, and history on campus. As a result, our campus is only an avenue to social mobility to very few while most of us stay trapped in systemic cycle of poverty. Let our school be the beginning to the “American Dream” for us and the generations to come after us. Establishing a Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, we students believe, is the remedy to higher student retention, engagement, and cultural literacy that so many other college campuses already benefit from. Sonia Camargo President, SWC M.E.Ch.A. THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN







BUSY MOM — Maysa Wilson is a mother, student and active member of the Southwestern College Mothers and Mother Scholars Club (MAMS). She is also a regional officer for the brainy Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.



here may not be a large crimson scripted S on tights underneath the sweatshirt of Anna Sanchez, but her friends insist there should be. She is a Southwestern Superwoman. Sanchez is a sociology major, club president, student representative for the California legislature’s Violence Against Women Act, a prolific writer, a mentor to younger students, one of 83 California women to receive a Minerva Scholarship… and the mother of five young children. She is also the founder of the Mothers and Mother Scholars Club (MAMS), a popular campus organization that has been a godsend for a number of young mothers struggling to continue their higher education. Like many things, necessity is the mother of invention, she explained. “(Moms) were just kind of roaming around unsupported and misunderstood,” she said. “We couldn’t have the same conversations with other students since most of us are older as well as parents.” Sociology instructor Sarah Castillo is the advisor for MAMS and its self-described biggest fan. Her graduate thesis explored the post-secondary persistence of community college students who are parents. What she learned was alarming. “The number who eventually earned bachelor’s degrees is quite low,” she said. “A major obstacle is parenting.” Sanchez said MAMS started as a club, but it has grown into an indispensable support group. Castillo agreed. “M.A.M.S. is a safe and loving space where mothers can get support and resources,” she said. “It’s a place mothers can come together to share our challenges, but also successes and happy moments.” Club members advocate for parents who are students and generate ideas that could facilitate academic success like a learning community for mother scholars and a daycare center in the center of the campus. Remote learning is a new challenge for student parents, said Castillo. On top of keeping up with their own deadlines, homework, and exams they have to help their children stay on top of their own schoolwork.



Transitioning to remote learning was really rough. My children are home and need more attention. I have to make sure everybody does their homework. My little one is a kindergartener, so I have to physically sit there with him during his lessons so I can help him. — MAYSA WILSON SC COMMUNICATION MAJOR/MOM

Maysa Wilson is a communications major with three kids. She is also a regional officer for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. All three of her children are engaged in learning, she said. “Transitioning to remote learning was really rough,” she said. “My children are home and need more attention. I have to make sure everybody does their homework. My little one is a kindergartener, so I have to physically sit there with him during his lessons so I can help him.” Tiffany Baysa, a business administration major and first-time mommy, said studying is not her biggest struggle. “All the issues come from within, like, am I being a good mom?” she said. “ Am I spending enough time with her?” Baysa said she gains strength and motivation when she remembers that she is going to college so that she can make a better life for her daughter. “I want her to have everything I did not have,” added Baysa. She also gains strength and confidence from her new friends in MAMS. “It is a good place to be on Fridays when we just come together because then you don’t feel like you are alone.”

Martin Luther had his Ninety-five Theses, Padre Hidalgo his grito and Benjamin Franklin his List of 13 Virtues. Southwestern’s MEChA has nailed its own list to the door called “El Plan de Southwestern College.” It is a detailed 10-point guide to developing a Chicano/a Studies Department and other resources to enhance the educational experience of Chicano/Latino students. Inspired by the 1969 El Plan de Santa Barbara, MEChA secretary Myriam Ortiz created a clarion call to establish a Chicano/a Studies Department. “In order to get my Associate’s, I had to take a class at Mesa College to graduate from Southwestern College,” she said. Ortiz said that in one of her classes at Mesa College, students were challenged to create a plan for their community. Ortiz used her assignment as the basis for MEChA’s 10-point plan. A Chicano/a Studies department as envisioned by Ortiz would be a foundation for SC students to pursue Ethnic Studies. It includes scholarships, a Raza graduation ceremony and activities to celebrate the rich Latino/Chicano culture. MEChA President Sonia Camargo said the plan would impact generations of students. “My oldest daughter is 19 and goes to Grossmont,” Camargo said. “She would love to come here and take Chicano Studies.” Like Ortiz, Camargo said she has to go to another college to take a Chicano Studies class. “I’m taking a class at (San Diego City College) because I can’t take it here,” she said, “It’s not easy to be at two colleges at once.” MEChA members said they expect pushback from proponents of more traditional history curriculum. Vice President Christian Sanchez said money is always a factor. “The funding element and getting it written into the master curriculum will be a challenge,” he said. MEChistas have launched a petition drive in support of the 10-point plan at Sanchez said SC is late to the Chicano/a Studies table. “This is something that’s decades in the making,” he said. “This is long overdue for our school. We’re hoping everything we are doing is enough for (college leaders) to understand where we are coming from. I never really had an identity growing up because my parents never spoke to us in Spanish. I never felt like I had a place in society, so the first class I took was Mexican American Studies 121.” Sanchez said MAS 121 was “an underwhelming class” that felt more like a “history class” than a place that would help him find himself in the culture. He said it is troubling that a college six miles from Mexico and is about 70 percent Latino/Chicano does not have Chicano/a Studies when scores of other distance colleges and universities do. “Time for a change,” he said.

A 10-Point Guide for Establishing a Chicano/a Studies Department • Establish a Chicano/a Studies Department. • Hire faculty with advanced degrees in Chicano/a Studies. • Faculty must be bilingual. • Curriculum comprised of a broad selection of Chicano/a Studies courses. • Involvement in Hispanic Serving Institution grant and program development. • Scholarships for Chicano/a Studies majors. • Cultural activities throughout the year. • A dedicated Multicultural Resource Center. • An appointed faculty advisor for MEChA. • Institutional support for Raza Graduation. This is a condensed version of the plan written by Myriam Ortiz. For the full version visit

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SMASH OPENING — Chula Vista re-opened its Montevalle Recreation Center to tennis classes that have become a welcome outlet for housebound kids and their stir crazy parents.


City recreation department serves up an ace with its COVID-resistent tennis classes

JOYFUL RACQUET M Kids still need to stay active and they are in front of the computer the whole day. It’s nice to end the day with some sports. — ROSEMARIE RODRIGUEZ TENNIS STUDENT/MOM


ost sports remain on hiatus due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but tennis has enjoyed positive net results. Tennis, with its emphasis on individualism and natural social distancing, has skyrocketed in popularity and is considered by health officials to be one of the safest sports to play. After six months on the sidelines, Chula Vista has reopened some of its outdoor recreation centers for tennis, including the Montevalle Recreation Center. Juna Villanueva, a USPTA certified tennis coach who works at Montevalle, said he and his students are required to follow U.S. Tennis Association safety guidelines. “We preserve the distance, we have a maximum of six students and we wear face masks during class,” he said. “Students do not touch the tennis balls. They only touch their rackets and their water bottles. I use a (ball launch) machine to minimize risk as much as possible.”

Villanueva said he sets up social distancing marks on the courts before classes. When students arrive, they warm-up and stretch, then practice techniques such as hand grips, footwork and positioning. Students play some games, if possible. Villanueva said his students are thrilled to be with other kids. “Even though they are not getting close to each other, they are really really happy to see each other,” he said. “And because school is at home, this is their encounter in person.” Rosemarie Rodriguez, a tennis student and parent, said she believes tennis classes are a great way for kids to interact. She also said she feels very safe bringing her two kids to Montevalle. “I was one of the really paranoid parents,” she said. “My son has asthma, so we were very cautious in the beginning. But I think that with tennis being outdoors and it being rated as the safest sport out there, I feel safe.” Rodriguez started playing tennis two years ago when she came across a Facebook post called Chula Vista East Mom Group that promoted the Montevalle tennis

classes. Rodriguez’s children, Stella, 7, and Paul, 5, said they have been playing tennis for about four weeks and have learned many of the basics. When asked how much they enjoy the sport, Stella and Paul spread their arms wide and replied enthusiastically, “This much!” Rodriguez said Villanueva is a great tennis coach for adults and children. Villanueva recalled being told by a doctor years ago the mental health benefits of tennis. Besides the physical and exercise aspects, he said, the doctor told him that the social interaction of tennis can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. “It engages most of your senses,” he said. “You’re speaking to (the opponent), listening to them and seeing them.” Rodriguez said she highly recommends the tennis classes to other parents. “Kids still need to stay active and they are in front of the computer the whole day,” she said. “It’s nice to end the day with some sports.”


As a young man, U.S.A. track star Tonie Campbell was denied a chance to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics due to a political boycott. In 2021 track coach Campbell has seen his athletes denied two seasons due to a global pandemic. With the Southwestern College district still in deep purple and suffering more COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths per capita than almost anywhere else in the country, spring sports were cancelled for a second straight year. Campbell was not happy about the 1980 MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4

Olympic boycott, but this time he said he supports the cancellation of the season, despite mixed emotions. “It’s unfortunate Southwestern College student-athletes are not going to be able to compete,” he said. “But in light of the current health situation, it’s probably the wisest and the best decision.” Campbell said the ruling was not a surprise and he is looking ahead. “We’ll start retooling for the summer,” he said. “We’ll start training again. I’ll start recruiting and get those individuals who are graduating from high school.” Soccer player Norma Kacsinta said she was very upset by the news. “I wanted to redeem myself for how I

played my first year,” she said. “I feel like since then I’ve gotten better physically, so it kind of bums me out. My next step is to focus on this semester and then transfer in 2022.” Men’s water polo head coach Jorge Perez said he has steadily seen his players drain away since last year’s shutdown. He said he misses his team, but there are other priorities now. ”We need to take care of each other and take care of our families,” he said. “Yeah, there are no sports, but I think we will learn that there are more important things than sports. We’ve got to be careful with all the things that are going around.” Like many community college coaches,

Perez said he is standing by. “Right now we are just waiting (to see) if we are going back to the pool during the summer or fall,” he said. SC Athletic Director Jim Spillers said he was saddened by the news, but understood the decision. “I think the district and colleges are putting the safety above all else and expressing an abundance of caution during the pandemic,” he said. Spillers said he is optimistic going forward. “We are going to look at safe ways to bring our athletes back to campus so they can begin to get back in shape and start working for next fall.”


SAFETY FIRST — Athletic Director Jim Spillers said he is sad the spring sports season was cancelled, but supports the decision.









GHOST OF ALLENDE — A former Chilean revolutionary, played by acclaimed actor Sandra Ruiz, is haunted with regret for her failure to act when Salvador Allende was deposed by fascists. Ruiz was a highlight of the OnStage Playhouse production “Monumental History.”

In the United States, more than 100 statues of historical figures have been uninstalled as of March 2021.


ALREADY GONE — While debates rage in other parts of the nation about Confederate statues and monuments to slave owners, Chula Vista removed a controversial statue of Christopher Colombus from Discovery Park. An empty pedestal remains.

Chipping away at history



istory is messy. The personal is political. The OnStage Playhouse production “Monumental History” argues that even when an offensive statue is toppled, the toxic pedestal can linger. Written by Thelma de Castro, Salomon Maya, Carla Navarro, Herbert Siguenza and John Wells III, “Monumental History” was inspired by the removal of statues during recent civil rights protests. James P. Darvas and Emily Candia directed the political drama that explored the ugly underbelly of American history. Darvas said the play was created to start a conversation in the community. Mission accomplished. Its six monologues offer conflicting perspectives on the emotions a controversial monument can invoke in a diverse community. Fictional Centersville is a nondescript town whose history is tied to the Mexican-American War. A monument to founder William Adams Jr. lords over the central park. Engraved on the pedestal is the word “VICTORY.” Here the six characters come to unload their troubles or confess their past. In “To Conquer is to Live” a Vietnam War

REVIEW veteran (Jose Balistrieri) tells the statue how his “dreams evaporated like a forest hit by napalm.” It is a stark reminder that those drafted into America’s most unpopular war once had other plans for their lives. During “The First Cockroach” a contradictory MAGA prostitute (Emily Candia) declares she is upset with the direction the country is heading, but expresses inconsistent and conflicting beliefs. “Cats Can’t Eat Yarn’’ was the strongest piece. A former Chilean revolutionary (a stunning Sandra Ruiz) reflects on her cowardice during the CIA-backed coup that overthrew democraticallyelected President Salvador Allende. She is determined not to miss a second opportunity with revolution in 2021. Her explosive vandalism shocked and awakened the audience. Ruiz, an acclaimed regional actor, created a believable character that transported the audience to her youth and the painful night she gave up being a revolutionary. Each character has a unique relationship with the statue. Some see it as stability and comfort like the reminiscing lover (James Darvis) in “From Y to H to no H.” Others see it as a symbol of destruction. Some see it as both, including a mourning mother (Claudette Santiago) in “The

‘Monumental History’ struggles at times to create empathy for all the characters, but has more success letting us see that many folks feel ignored, misunderstood and left behind. Buzz” and the younger brother (Leo Ebanks) in “Old Will.” One character can even see himself in the statue. Their experiences stir the audience to feel remorse, uncertainty, anger, grief, love and joy. Transitions were meaningful as classic songs and political speeches rang out like old time radio. Clever lighting and an evocative set allowed audience members to imagine their own American cities and towns. “Monumental History” struggles at times to create empathy for all the characters, but has more success letting us see that many folks feel ignored, misunderstood and left behind. With its engaging dialogue and adroit symbolism the production allows Darvas, Candia and a talented cast to demonstrate the messiness of American history. It reminds us that our finest and ugliest moments are seldom clearly delineated.


SAN YSIDRO—Adela Goldbard’s rhinoceros is made from paper mache, but its message is pure titanium. A violent police attack on protesters in Arantepacua, Mexico only steeled the resolve of Michoacaneros, who adopted the rhino as a rejoinder to the authorities’ use of armored vehicles against unarmed demonstrators. Goldbard’s resistance rhino is one of 37 exquisite pieces featured in “Domestic Geographies,” the 14th Annual “Dia de la Mujer” exhibit at The Fronte Arte and Cultura in San Ysidro. Gallery Director Francisco Morales made it clear that Dia de la Mujer is more than a single day, it is an ongoing effort to celebrate the creativity and social messages of the Latinx community. This year’s theme is sex roles and domestic expectations assigned to women in Latin America and the United States. Award-winning Tijuana artist Ingrid Hernandez curated “Domestic Geographies.” Known for her work exploring “irregular settlements” in



Mexico, including squatters and pop-up colonias, Hernandez combines visual art with interviews and oral histories of the people living in these communities. Her work has included settlers in Tijuana, Colombia and New York. “I was very interested in all social phenomena,” she said. “I really liked knowing how society worked and doing interviews with social groups. This informed my art.” Hernandez said women are tired of being channeled into rigid societal expectations that diminish their intelligence, talent, leadership and vision. “Throughout history women have in some way sought to reinvent and subvert those roles and create their own,” she said. “We invite the artists to talk about those roles and how they can be reimagined or subverted.” Morales said the Dia de la Mujer exhibition creates a vital forum for creatives and activists to talk about important women’s issues. “It is a safe and comfortable space where all these opinions and all these ideas are valid,” he said. “It is

a place where we are heard and feel important.” In a typical, non-pandemic year the “Dia de la Mujer” exhibit would attract up to 800 visitors, Morales said. “This year is going to be very, very different in so many ways,” he said. Artists, though, were undeterred, said Hernandez. She received 80 pieces of art from creators seeking a place in the exhibit. Goldbard’s multi-platform project “Kurhirani no ambakiti” was one of 37 selected. It includes a video called “The Rhinoceros,” which calls for “burning the devil.” Pyrotechnics are required, she argues, “because that’s the only way they listen to us.” “The Rhinoceros” celebrates the strength of indigenous P’urhépecha women from the Arantepacua community of Michoacan. Her work was inspired by an event on April 5, 2017 when the Michoacan State police and the Mexican Federal Army attacked the community. P’urhépecha People interviewed by Hernandez referred to a military grade vehicle used in the assault as “rhinoceros.”

“(They called it the rhino) because it was an armored vehicle that represents the excess use of force and abuse of power the authorities used against them,” she said. Goldbard’s project included a dramatic protest whereby she created a life-sized paper mache rhino that took the same route through the community as the armored assault vehicle. Villagers then burned the art in the town’s main plaza in an act of catharsis. “It was the equivalent of the burning of Judas,” she said. “It was symbolic of an act of betrayal by the Mexican government against its own people.” Goldbard’s work incorporates embroidered textiles created by P’urhépecha women. Cross-stitch embroideries are an important tradition in which women preserve their culture and identity, she said. Goldbard’s work can be found at Morales encouraged young artists to visit The Front in San Ysidro. He said he is thrilled to hear from local artists and tries to support them whenever possible.


San Ysidro’s Casa Familiar hosts ”Domestic Geographies,” which is being presented virtually and by appointment at franciscom@casafamiliar. org. Information about The Front and “Domestic Geographies” can be found on Instagram @ thefrontartecultura and its webpage, thefront. EXPLORE THE WORK:

Hernandez’s work can be found on Instagram @ingridjuliana and her webpage ingridhernandez.

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Black history all year






Black SC students celebrate history, set out to make some of their own. ILLUSTRATION BABY BONANE / STAFF


M A RC H 25, 202 1




BATTLEGROUND AMERICA — Dr. Cleavon Gilman has traveled to COVID-19 outbreaks across the nation in the fight to save lives. He called the work grueling and exhausting, but he is glad to be part of the team fighting the novel coronavirus.

Alum battles virus inside and outside the emergency room



r. Cleavon Gilman returned from Iraq to find an even more deadly war raging in America. Coronavirus trumps even Isis.

Gilman, a Southwestern College alumnus and emergency medical physician, is in the trenches of a pandemic battle that has killed more Americans than the Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam combined. Gilman and his colleagues have engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the novel coronavirus and its enablers — denial, misinformation, political cowardice and anti-maskers. Gilman said he recently worked a fortnight of 14-hour shifts. Even for a war-hardened former Navy corpsman, battling this pandemic is a nightmare. “I’ve seen more death in this pandemic than (six months in) Iraq,” he said with a sigh. “I’m in a war zone at home.” Former President Trump and his supporters created and regularly fed the misery, Gilman said, with politicallymotivated coronavirus denial and damaging rhetoric. Gilman said he was saddened and offended by the disregard for the health of Black, Latino and Native Americans by the government.

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“I’m watching people who do not care about this war (on COVID-19),” he said. “Returning to America was like going back into the war zone, being traumatized again and watching my (Black) community die.”

SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SPRINGBOARD Gilman was a U.S. Navy veteran of five years when he enrolled at Southwestern College in 2005. Professor of Chemistry Dr. David Hecht said he recalls Gilman as a young man with laser focus. Not satisfied with 100 percent on his labs and exams,

Gilman craved a deep understanding of the subject matter, Hecht said, that made him a generational student. Besides being a talented scientist, Hecht said, Gilman was a gifted public speaker who, as a student, gave one of the best and most professional presentations he has ever seen. “He was on a mission to become a doctor and nothing was going to get in his way,” said Hecht. No one outworked Gilman, whose legendary 14-hour days on campus usually began before dawn and ended with security asking him to leave at 10 p.m. General Chemistry was hard, he said, but fascinating, fueling an intense passion to learn. Hecht was a crucial mentor, Gilman said, who was always there with support, advice or a swift kick to the rear when required. Both men were from New Jersey, which completed the bond. “Like-minded souls, Jersey boys,” said Hecht. Hecht was also there with the right advice at a crucial moment. Gilman had the pleasant problem of choosing between UC Berkeley, UCSD and UCLA. “You got into UC Berkeley?” Gilman recalled Hecht saying. “You gotta go there! That’s where all the Nobel laureates are and they even have (chemical elements) named for them!” An East Coast guy, Gilman said he was unfamiliar with California universities, so he decided to drive to Berkeley. When he saw Cal’s Gilman Hall he figured it was a sign, he said. Hecht also saw Gilman himself as a sign. He was a young teacher and Gilman PLEASE SEE Gilman PG. 3

BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief

ernisha Gaines is an awardwinning journalist, an accomplished poet and a talented leader who guided a national champion publication. Her favorite title, though, is Mom. Gaines, her adorable daughter Ayris and her array of talents have left Southwestern College for North Carolina A&T State University, an elite HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Transferring to an HBCU was her dream, her goal and her mission — all of which crystallized during a painful divorce. “In 2019, when my divorce was finalized with my daughter’s father, I started to recognize that I needed to put myself in a position to win,” she said. “I needed to put myself in a position to succeed in life, take care of my daughter, my health and my education.” Gaines said she faced many PERNISHA challenges that GAINES would have made anyone want to quit. Being a single parent in college in a city with no relatives made it rough when she or her daughter got sick. There were times she cried and prayed to God for strength to get through the divorce. As she realized she was going to make it, a new confidence took hold. That same strength to survive divorce could also power her dreams. “Divorce taught me that I can overcome anything, because that is the most challenging thing any woman with a child can go through by herself,” she said. “I didn’t have family or friends holding my hand during the process and it instilled confidence that to this day cannot be shaken.” Her other motivator is Ayris. Gaines said she is earning a degree for herself and because her daughter watches her every move. Coronavirus was a hurdle, one that almost torpedoed the publication of Southwestern’s El Sol Magazine she was leading as Editor-in-Chief. When The Sun broke the story on March 10, 2020 that SC was closing, El Sol was a beautiful vision that was nowhere near finished. Staff scattered to every corner of San Diego County and into Mexico. Slowly, relentlessly, Gaines and her staff pulled together the contents and published El Sol Magazine in July. It was named National Community College Magazine of the Year by three collegiate journalism organizations so far, as well as Best Collegiate Magazine by the San Diego Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. SC graphic design instructor Kenneth Pagano worked closely with Gaines on the publication of El Sol. He said he noticed a natural leader with PLEASE SEE Gaines PG. 2



Black SC transfers encourage others to follow Persistence pays for Jaguars at elite U.S. universities

she said. “I walked into Southwestern thinking, ‘this is the worst because I’m going into community college’, but my opinion changed after three months on campus.” Ortiz-Ruiz left SC with its highest student honor, the Student of Distinction Award, an Associated Collegiate Press national award as America’s best column writer and the honor of serving as Bonitafest Youth Ambassador. “Now I am going to one of the top universities in the nation and I wouldn’t have without Southwestern College,” she said. SDSU Criminal Justice graduate Khalil Adisa is also a SODA recipient and was secretary then vice president of the Black Student Union at SC. He said he strongly suggests students in BSU join the Afrikan Student Union at SDSU, which he served as treasurer. “Follow their Instagram (@asu_ sdsu), talk to them,” he said. “They help make your transition much smoother. I recommend every student, if there is an identity that you identify

with, make yourself at home. There are so many resources that can help you out.” Adisa shared a personal story about a protest he attended in spring 2019 when SDSU’s Black Resource Center was vandalized. “You could definitely see so many student’s frustrations, there were students crying,” he said. “It was so hurting to see that our safe spot on campus was vandalized. A whole mass group of Black students and allies were there supporting us and saying ‘we are not going to stand for this!’” Like Hudson, Adisa copped to a brief bout of imposter syndrome, but shook it off. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” he said. “Don’t dim your light for others. You are there for a reason and you deserve to be there.” Lilly agreed. Black students at elite universities need to have faith in themselves. “You are worthy and you are exactly where you should be,” she said. Lilly said she attended the Black Student Welcome event during her first semester at SC and heard the president of Black Student Union give an inspiring speech. She said she clearly remembers thinking, “that would be an amazing thing to do someday.” A year later, Lilly was herself president of Black Student Union. One of her most important lessons learned at SC was, “define yourself outside of institutional labels.” “I have kind of had this idea that if I got to a certain level of education or if I got to a certain point in my career where I am making enough money, that (race and identity) wouldn’t matter and that is simply not true,” she said. Lilly confessed to being over-eager at SC and at first overcommitted. Stress and exhaustion followed. She learned to balance her activities to preserve her physical and mental health. “You cannot pour from an empty cup,” she said. “I’d rather do a few things in excellence than do everything on a lower level.”

lesson and I’m going to continue to go to my lessons and win in my own way, whatever that means for me.” North Carolina A&T was warm, welcoming and made her feel important, she said. After earning a BA in African-American Studies, Gaines said she aspires to a Master’s from Howard University, an HBCU in Washington D.C. Her down range goal is to become an HBCU faculty member or administrator where she can empower students like herself to accomplish their dreams. “I want to reach back one day and help someone else,” she said. “I think we should focus not just on ourselves, but also on our community.” NCA&T called to her, she said, because she consistently read motivating things about the college. At predominantly white institutions, she said, African-American culture and history is an afterthought. At an HBCU they are at the forefront. “I would much rather go to a school which considers me and my legacy a top priority, than to attend a college or university that plays down my relevance,” she said. Black women are no different now than they were years ago when icons like Coretta Scott King were fighting in the hot Southern sun for the civil rights of African Americans, said Gaines. Vice President Kamala Harris exemplifies that spirit, she said, paving the road for all women of color. Black women should care about all people who are burdened, she said, and be a force for goodness. “I think Black women are the mothers of this earth and that is only because we’ve given birth to so much,” she said. “We’ve given birth to the race. We’ve given birth to our families. We’ve given birth to ideas, careers and innovations. We will continue to make a way out of absolutely no way. When there is a wall, we find a way to break it down.” Black women face myriad issues, she said, and so do young Black children. Black women must fight to keep families together, Black communities together and Black culture together, Gaines said. “Representation is essential because my young Black daughter can look

up to me as a Black woman and say, my mommy did it, so can I,” she said. “And if my daughter doesn’t say it, my granddaughter can say it, and if my daughter happens to bring a set of friends around who are also young Black women, they can say it.” Gaines said it is important for Black women to see themselves in other Black women. “As a Black woman, I’m looking up to Black women,” she said. “I’m looking up to the familiar race and that is how important representation is. If I don’t see that, then I have to go off of someone who doesn’t necessarily experience the culture I do.” Work remains to make American a place where all men and women are created equal, she said. “I can’t believe that after hundreds of years we are still not there,” she said. “I want my daughter to be able to walk outside and know that she’s not going to be harmed or killed by someone who is not Black because of her skin tone. I want her to have a very Black experience, but I also want her to be able to feel comfortable in her skin in any room. I feel like that is what we’re struggling with now as Black individuals -- feeling uncomfortable being Black because someone else is uncomfortable with us.” Former SC President Dr. Kindred Murillo said Gaines is a deserving student and she hopes others will follow her from SC to HBCUs. “Our Historically Black Colleges and Universities are doing such an amazing job getting students into great jobs and advanced degrees such as law and medicine,” she said. “Pernisha will thrive at her HBCU and continue toward her potential.” Gaines has advice for Black women and girls: Work hard, ask for help and do what you can with whatever resources you have. “You never know when the opportunity that changes your life may present itself,” she said. “Never give up on yourself no matter how hard it gets and learn what it means to go above and beyond for yourself. A lot of times we go above and beyond for people who don’t value us enough. Learn to go above and beyond for yourself.”



abressa Lilly entered Southwestern College looking for a smart, cool role model. Now she is one. A recent UCSD psychology graduate, Lilly acknowledged that Black community college students face challenges and Black university students face larger ones. She insists they are surmountable. “You are worthy and you are exactly where you should be,” she said. “You can do this.” Five Black former SC students who are enrolled in or graduated from their dream universities shared messages of encouragement while acknowledging that the journey was frequently bumpy. Ayona Hudson, a political science and African-American Studies major at UCLA, advised SC students to “go for it!” “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” she said. “So never be scared, never be hesitant.” Hudson recommended that firstyear Jaguars connect with UMOJA (Kiswahili for UNITY). UMOJA changed her life, she said. “That’s where I had great counselors, where I felt encouraged with my academic journey, where I met great people,” she said. “UMOJA opened me up to so many opportunities in terms of going to conferences and navigating my financial aid, knowing who to talk to and getting help.” Starting at UCLA was a bit intimidating at first, Hudson confessed, partly because all the students surrounding her seemed so outstanding. She entered UCLA with a 3.6 GPA, she said, and knew that students with higher GPAs did not



SCHOLARS TO EMULATE — SC alumni Ayona Hudson, Khalil Adisa, and Monte Clark urge students to work hard and pursue their dreams.

get in. She said for a while she felt unworthy and wondered how and why she was admitted. She got over her imposter syndrome. “We’re always looking at the next person instead of just looking at ourselves,” she said. “I was accepted (to UCLA) for a reason. I can do this!” At SC Hudson was vice president of the Black Student Union and secretary of Soul Sisters, a club to empower women of color. “I had the opportunity to help really uplift those clubs and create a community for fellow Black students at Southwestern,” she said. “I know we are a minority in the population, so being a part of BSU and Soul Sisters, having leadership roles, I felt very empowered to make sure other Black students know that we are in this together.” San Jose State biology major Monte Clark said that joining Delta Sigma Phi, the most diverse fraternity on campus, was exactly what he was looking for. Clark was president of the Black Student Union at SC and is

now Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at his frat. “I saw that they didn’t have a position, so I offered to create it and unanimously they agreed,” he said. Solé Ortiz-Ruiz is studying English, journalism and film at UC Santa Barbara. At SC she was president of Soul Sisters and the award-winning Sports Editor of The Sun -- one of the few female sports editors in the state. When speaking about UCSB and SC’s racial climate, Ortiz-Ruiz said she loves UCSD, but felt more at home in Southwestern’s diverse culture. “At UCSB it’s predominantly white and everyone is really nice and sweet, but you don’t see people that look like me,” she said. “That (means) people don’t share the same experiences as me.” Ortiz-Ruiz said her most amazing memory at SC was being the Sports Editor of The Sun. “The greatest thing that Southwestern has given me has to be the newspaper and Professor Max and just all my friends that I made there,”

Gaines: Editor led El Sol Magazine to national titles CONTINUED FROM PG. 1

the perfect balance of managerial and interpersonal skills. “She’s so bright,” he said. “She could talk about anything, she can talk to anybody. She could listen and she really inspired us.” Pagano said Gaines was good at working with diverse, creative people. “One thing I’ve always liked about the journalism program is that it attracts people from all backgrounds, all races, nationalities, politics, ethnicities and she was such a guiding light,” he said. “Even though she’s had her own struggle, she used her own struggle as a source of determination and did not let her struggle define her success.” Dr. Cynthia McGregor, dean of the School of Arts, Communications and Social Sciences, said Gaines is smart, visionary and tough. “I remember her coming in looking like she wasn’t feeling well, but she was so committed to her studies and committed to her work in journalism that she had the perseverance to flourish,” McGregor said. “I could tell by her commitment that she’s got a bright future.” McGregor said an HBCU is a wonderful choice for Gaines because she would have the support to continue to flourish and become the best version of herself. She said Gaines was invaluable to the journalism program and “did a great job as Editorin-Chief of the national champion school magazine, El Sol.” “When you see students like Pernisha embrace those challenges and move forward, it’s the best feeling,” she said. “It is very inspiring.” Gaines said the pandemic brought on additional challenges, but she embraced a mindset that she can tackle anything, making her unstoppable. “I only see myself winning,” she said, “nothing is a fail. Everything is a





MOTHER ON THE MOVE — Pernisha Gaines covers a story at the San Diego Association of Black Journalists 'Pro for a Day.' (below) Gaines and daughter Ayris at North Carolina A&T State University, an elite HBCU she now attends.

Never give up on yourself no matter how hard it gets and learn what it means to go above and beyond for yourself. A lot of times we go above and beyond for people who don’t value us enough. Learn to go above and beyond for yourself. COURTESY PERNISHA GAINES


MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4

Gilman: Emergency physician fighting COVID-19 across U.S.

fatigue the next day, but I documented that,” he said. “I told people about it, ‘here’s what I have.’ I’ve been normal ever since (and) nothing’s happened to me.” Gilman said he thinks people of color need people they trust to show the way out of the pandemic. He is trying to be one of those role models, he said, by being authentic and transparent. Gilman said other physicians are also documenting on platforms like Twitter. He said being kind and truthful is essential in a nation where procedures against people of color are still taking place, such as hysterectomies in ICE detention centers in Irwin County, Georgia.


was one of his first students, Hecht said. Gilman was exceptional and a pleasure to teach. “A great way to get into teaching,” said Hecht. Transferring into an elite institution was very hard for a Black Jersey kid, said Gilman. He said attending UC Berkeley opened his eyes to the privilege other students had, but also proof that someone from humble beginnings can succeed. He attended UCSF for medical school and then did a four-year emergency medicine residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan through Cornell and Columbia universities.



Gilman said the Trump administration inexplicably downplayed the pandemic from the beginning, even though Trump and members of his inner circle told Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward they knew from the beginning exactly how deadly this virus was. Trump’s ill-advised comparisons of COVID-19 to the flu, flippant remarks about masks and disparagement of scientists were damaging, he said. “It doesn’t work when you have a president that is saying this (misinformation) to his followers,” said Gilman. “We were really doomed. I knew at the beginning it was going to be a test of American solidarity like 9/11.” Gilman worked in New York during its grim COVID-19 outbreak last spring when hospitals and morgues were overwhelmed. Refrigerator trucks that usually hauled beef and dairy products to supermarkets were brought in to store bodies as they piled up. Affluent travelers who had returned home from Italy and Spain unknowingly brought the novel coronavirus with them, Gilman said, launching one of America’s worst ever urban contagion episodes. Coronavirus got loose in crowded lowincome neighborhoods of color, he said, killing thousands. After months of grueling work in New York, Gilman transferred to Yuma, Arizona. There he saw firsthand the stark differences between Democratic- and Republican-led states and the effect governors had on public health policies during a crisis. New York lost 20,000 people in 10 weeks, he said, but moved assertively to enact stringent measures to curb the spread of the virus. New York’s efforts were painful, but worked, Gilman said. Arizona, on the other hand, politicized the virus and took little meaningful action. Masks were never encouraged, much less required, and everything remained open to such an extent that COVID deniers from California and other states traveled to Arizona to engage in sports events, political rallies and other super spreader activities. Politicizing the novel coronavirus, blaming it on Asians and downplaying its danger in an inexplicable effort to prevent an economic slowdown were all catastrophic moves by conservative elected officials, he said. Yuma, much like the San YsidroNational City corridor of the South Bay, is still getting hammered by COVID-19, Gilman said. The U.S. Army has deployed personnel to Yuma due to a severe shortage of doctors and nursing staff, he said. Almost 90 percent of Gilman’s patients are people of color, including Latino and Indigenous people. He said there is an enormous and uncountable population of Mexican farm laborers considered essential workers that have been hit particularly hard.


The U.S. has a long and dark history with people of color and health care due to heinous experimentation on African-Americans and Native Americans. Cells harvested from Black cancer patient Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge in 1951 continue to be used in laboratories across the nation without compensation to her family. “HeLa Cells” are used in cancer research, in MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4



HIS YOUNGER SELF — Dr. Gilman is a cherished Southwestern College role model. (top) Honored by former SC President Greg Sandoval and mentor Dr. David Hecht. (above) Gilman supporting a career day event.

Intubating a patient is a very dangerous thing. The process releases aerosols full of the virus. The new hurtful (rhetoric) is that healthcare workers are vaccinated and have nothing to worry about. There has been a constant narrative to try to downplay the severity of this pandemic at the expense of healthcare workers. (Many people downplay) what we’re going through. — DR. CLEAVON GILMAN vitro fertilization, immunology and — most recently — development of COVID-19 vaccines. An even more notorious case, the brutal Tuskegee Syphilis Study, was a 40-year observation of the effects of untreated syphilis in Black men. It began in 1932 when syphilis had no cure. Even when penicillin became available for treatment, the U.S. Public Health Service made sure study subjects did not receive it so researchers could watch the gruesome disease run its course, blinding victims, infecting their brains and

killing them. It was not until 1972, when the gruesome story was leaked to journalists, that the horrific syphilis study ended. By then 128 patients had suffered terrible deaths from syphilis or complications, 40 of their wives were infected and 19 of their children developed congenital syphilis. Countless others suffered from the painful, pernicious disease, including severe brain damage. Fanny Lou Hamer, a mid-century Black Civil Rights activist, was sterilized without her knowledge. She later discovered that six of 10 hospitalized Black women were unknowingly sterilized by a procedure so common it was known as the “Mississippi Appendectomy.” Native American women in the 1960s and 1970s were victims of mass sterilization at the hands of the Indian Health Services, an agency originally created to help them. Data indicates more than 25 percent of Indigenous women of child-bearing age were sterilized. Researchers insist that figure is probably much higher. Between 1970-76 up to 50 percent of all Indigenous American women were sterilized, according to investigator Jane Lawrence. Dwindling Native American populations are the result, Lawrence reported. Gilman said people of color have every reason to be angry about past abuses and to be wary of American health care, but he said change is afoot and doctors of color are leading it. He encouraged Black Americans, Latinos and Native Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible to help stem the COVID-19 crisis in their communities. Gilman praised people of color who are recording themselves getting the vaccine and posting on social media in an attempt to earn the trust of their communities. He also documented his experience with the vaccine on his social media. “I got the second shot on Inauguration Day and had a bit of

Gilman said he has lost track of how many of his patients have died due to the virus. He was finishing his residency in Manhattan when New York City became ground zero for COVID-19. For a stretch he was calling at least three families a day to inform them that loved ones had died. Most of the patients he intubated did not survive, he said, and their deaths were difficult. “The amount of trauma and the amount of patients that I’ve lost, that I’ve had to intubate, the families I’ve had to call, the shrill cries when I tell them that their loved ones (are) dead was extremely difficult,” he said. “It just chips away at your heart, chips away at your soul.” Ghosts inhabit his fitful nights, he said, as he dreams of patients he could not save, he said. “It’s really hard, because I feel like we’re alone in that there is no way out of this and that all this trauma, all this burden, all this emotional stress is being put on those healthcare workers,” he said. “I have to live with the fact that these patients died and I was at their bedside.” Gilman said it is insulting to health care workers when belligerent people are out and about without wearing a mask. Listening to legions of Americans whine about “lost personal freedom” and “individual liberty” is a narcissistic manipulation of American values, he said. Selfishness has replaced altruism, belligerence has replaced patriotism, indulgence has replaced sacrifice, cowardice has replaced heroism. While entitled gym rats and foodies bellyache about missed weight lifting and fancy dining, healthcare workers are battling Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, marathon shifts with few days off to rest and their own brushes with COVID-19 illness and death. Each dead, ill or overwrought healthcare professional means the survivors have to work even harder with less help. “Intubating a patient is a very dangerous thing,” he said. “The process releases aerosols full of the virus. The new hurtful (rhetoric) is that healthcare workers are vaccinated and have nothing to worry about. (It is nonsense) because I can still contract the virus and bring it home to my fiancée, and she can die. I can still bring it home to my mother in law who is in her 60s. There has been a constant narrative to try to downplay the severity of this pandemic at the expense of healthcare workers. (Many people downplay) what we’re going through.” Watching people die never gets easier, Gilman said. He recounted an episode in a COVID ICU where he witnessed sobbing members of a young family say goodbye to their father, who was on the brink of death. The man’s wife and young children lost something that was wonderful and irreplaceable, he said. Gilman said he has endured similar encounters hundreds of times in a dozen settings. “These young children lost their father, who was also young,” he said. “Then I go home and see (on TV) people galavanting, like at the Super Bowl, without masks.” Gilman said it is frustrating and lonely to be a healthcare worker under these conditions. “I’m in a constant war where it’s not supported (by the entire nation) and I’m being traumatized,” he said. “My staff of healthcare workers are being traumatized.” Thousands of experienced healthcare workers are leaving the profession because they feel unsupported and are no longer willing to risk themselves and their families in an endless war, Gilman said. Many have collapsed under the depressing and exhausting conditions, he said, and the aftermath is alienation from their own families, nightmares, trauma and constant stress due to the

emotional toll of working under brutal conditions. “(We are losing) the ICU nurses who have been there for years and who know how to work everything,” he said. “They are being replaced with new grads who haven’t really had any experience.” To compensate, the remaining experienced nurses overextend themselves in a heroic but unsustainable effort to pick up the slack, said Gilman. “Instead of caring for the norm of two ICU patients, some people are caring for five or six, because they just aren’t enough nurses to go around,” he said. Gilman said healthcare professionals are not receiving adequate PPE and are often forced to attempt to re-sterilize N95 masks and other items meant for one use. Cleaned up PPE is never as effective as new equipment, he said, and can be a cause of coronavirus spread among doctors and nurses. Even with the sunny narratives cropping up in COVID-exhausted America, the reality in many parts of the country is still grim, Gilman said. There are still not enough beds for all COVID-19 patients and ICUs across the nation are still jammed. Non-COVID patients suffering other ailments are often unable to be admitted to hospitals or treated, he said, which is also unnecessarily driving up fatalities. Thousands of very ill people are parked in emergency rooms or makeshift facilities because COVID-19 wards have swallowed up so much of America’s hospital footprint.


Coronavirus has been a twofront war, Gilman said. COVID-19 is one front, misinformation the second. Misinformation, magical thinking and denialism creates a never ending stream of patients and perpetuates relentless suffering and death, Gilman said. Misinformation comes in many forms, he said, from the ignorant (“young people cannot spread COVID”) to the preposterous (“hydroxychloroquine will save us”) to the flat-out delusional (“Bill Gates is using the vaccine to inject us with microchips”). People died when Trump suggested ingesting bleach and some of his followers did it. Anti-vaxxer groups are capitalizing on the crisis to fan misinformation and further their anti-science agenda. Vaccines are the key to leading humanity out of the pandemic, he said, and time is of the essence. “We just haven’t gotten a break as healthcare workers and as educators throughout this pandemic,” said Gilman. “We are constantly battling to stop the spread of misinformation. During the (Trump) administration there was not a clear public health message, so the misinformation filled in.” Misinformation and political denialism led to the COVID-19 breakout in America, Gilman said, and these forces have slowed progress against the pandemic. Trump’s attempt to convince Americans that the novel coronavirus was not dangerous and his administration’s slow roll of countermeasures was catastrophic, Gilman said, and could well be again. “There are new variants of the virus spreading and hopefully the vaccine holds up against these,” he said. “It may be (that Americans will require) an annual vaccine because when you let a virus spread uncontrollably, this is what happens.”


Emerging from this pandemic is going to be difficult, Gilman said. A critical percentage of the population must receive the vaccine, continue to wear masks and social distance for the foreseeable future, he said. Though he has great faith in the medical profession, he said, he has grown wary of Americans who lack the courtesy and discipline to remain vigilant. Gilman said watching televised super spread events like maskless Trump rallies, careless holiday gatherings, the Capitol Riot and the Super Bowl were demoralizing to him and his colleagues. Super spreader events overwhelm hospitals and their staffs, knocking down all the coronavirus dominoes again. “I think it’s patriotic to wear a mask,” said Gilman. “It’s the most patriotic thing that you can do right now at this moment for your country and for other human beings here and around the world.” THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN




MARCH 25, 2021, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 4

A BLACK TRADITION ROLLS ON — Solé OrtizRuiz (l) and her sister Candelaria Ruiz are active roller skaters who acknowledge those who came before.



Former Southwestern College SODA winner and her sister keep Black culture rolling



hile stir crazy Americans are nostalgically proclaiming the return of roller skating, Black skaters are rolling their eyes. Skating, they insist, never went away. Roller skating is experiencing a pandemic-powered revival made possible by Black skaters who kept it alive. Skating has strong ties to the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, including Ledger Smith’s epic 685-mile skate from Chicago to the 1963 March on Washington with a sign around his neck that shouted “Freedom!” Black hip-hop and R&B artists in the 1980s performed at roller rinks because other venues would not have them. Even at the height of the gruesome gang wars in Los Angeles, the Bloods and Crips respected rinks as sanctuaries. UC Santa Barbara junior Solé Ortiz-Ruiz was nine years old when her biological father taught his kids to roller skate. It was his passion and something he wanted to pass on,

BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in Chief

she said. Her dad took her to haunt Chula Vista thrift stores in search of the skates they used to practice in the backyard to “The Sound of Music” film score. Today skating is a stress releaser for Ortiz-Ruiz and a way to bond with her sisters. “We go to Mission Beach and we skate together,” she said. “It’s something we do to break a sweat and there’s tricks that test your strength and capability.” Skating is also a test of character, she said philosophically. “Falling only makes you better,” she reasoned. “Every time I fall I think I never want to fall again. It inspires me to perfect the trick.” Candelaria Ruiz, her sister, said she began skating when she was four. “It’s very freeing and it’s just really fun to have something else on your feet other than shoes,” she said. “It’s shoes with wheels. You can go really fast or do tricks. You can learn a lot of stuff and you meet new people.” A high school basketball player and 2020 Southwestern College Student of Distinction Award recipient, Ortiz-Ruiz said she prefers roller skating over running to activate endorphins. Her favorite path is the boardwalk linking Mission Beach to Pacific Beach, a rare trail that is long, smooth and straight. Beautiful beach views abound, she said, and older generations salute younger folks who have carried on the skating culture. “They admire you because they haven’t seen that many skaters around San Diego, so it’s like ‘Look at them. They’re skating. It’s still alive,’” she said. The boardwalk is a fave outdoor spot, Ortiz-Ruiz said, but the best indoor roller rink is miles up the I-15 in Riverside County. “I like the roller skate rink in Temecula,” she said. “It’s called Epic Skate Rink and it’s one of my favorite places because that’s where all my folks are. (Local rinks) do not have a lot of people of color. Epic has more Black people.” Epic lets Black skaters roll their own way, she said, while some White rinks can have a less welcoming vibe. “I feel like I don’t fit in and I’m not allowed to fit in,” she said. Epic reflects Black culture, said Ortiz-Ruiz, through its flashy large screens, upbeat dance music and celebratory vibe. Like the beloved Black skating rinks of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, Epic was a rolling safe house for urban Black Americans as well as a respite from the wear and tear of living in White society. Epic, unfortunately for its fans, remains closed for the time being, a victim of the pandemic. Skating rinks like Epic are the evolutionary products of the classic East Coast and Upper Midwestern rinks that would generally only let Black skaters in one night a week. Legendary African-American skaters like Bill Butler took the sport to an artful new place with his astonishing moves and athleticism. More important, perhaps, he infused fun and flamboyance into a staid culture. Butler convinced a segregated rink in Detroit to play early rockn-roll and R&B records rather than the traditional carnivalesque organ music played live by a house musician. Soon the place was packed on “Negro Night” with Black and White skaters who loved the youthful music and vibe that allowed them to cut loose at little. Skating rinks began to resemble multiracial dance floors where Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Bo Diddley had teenagers rockin’ and actually rollin’. Butler took his formula to Brooklyn and skating became a Big Apple phenomenon that fueled a national craze. Skating rolled on through the Age of The Beatles, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and disco until losing steam in the 1980s. Black skaters went underground again during the Rule of Reagan, but never went away. Ortiz-Ruiz said she is a cultural descendant of the skaters from her father’s time and those who came before. Roller skating, she insists, is ingrained in her DNA. Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Ortiz-Ruiz has her own enchanted wheels. Her magical golden skates were a gift from world-renowned performer Marawa the Amazing, who designed her own PETAapproved line of Impala roller skates. Marawa gave Ortiz-Ruiz amazing rose gold skates with a holographic boot that glimmers in the sunlight. Their metal plate is muted rose gold with urethane wheels that look like they were chiseled from luminescent marble. “They were given to me by a Black woman who is really talented, wellknown and respected in the skate community,” she said. “She also has her own clothing line for skaters of

— Candelaria Ruiz

TO VIEW THE TRAILER VISIT: watch?v=0BADk7n0x6A&ab_ channel=HBO

HBO Documentaries ”United Skates” spotlights the struggle a community endures and how they fight to save the AfricanAmerican subculture of roller skating.


all body types. So me getting skates from someone like that made me feel really appreciated. Those are my favorite skates by far.” Despite the occasional tumbles, skating is a confidence booster, she said. It can also be a source of pride for Black Americans. Ortiz-Ruiz encouraged young skaters of color to learn the rich history and culture of the sport which she finds so artful and uplifting. “I understand this is something people picked up during this pandemic as a hobby, but there’s a whole world behind it,” she said. “There’s actually a rich culture behind it. There’s racism behind it. There are problems behind it, but there’s a lot of love behind it, too.” Lacing up skates is to embrace their heritage, Ortiz-Ruiz said. “Once you pick up those skates and you choose to be a skater, it’s time to understand everything that comes with that and the history behind it,” she said. “Then you can appreciate the people who gave it to us and respect the (culture). There are Black skaters who are the blueprint and backbone of skating.” Ruiz, her sister, agreed. “It really is a Black culture thing,” she said. “You see (all kinds of) people out here doing what they do, but most of the time it’s Black people who (create the moves and innovations). It really bothers me to see (others) claim (undeserved credit).” Credit should go where credit is due, said Ortiz-Ruiz. She is critical of self-promoting skaters on social media who claim creation of moves and techniques developed by Black

It really is a Black culture thing. You see (all kinds of) people out here doing what they do, but most of the time it’s Black people who (create the moves and innovations).

skaters decades ago. “I feel there is a difference between appropriating and appreciating,” she said. “I feel some people appropriate rather than appreciate.” Sometimes a little sexism creeps in, too. Skating in hot weather brings out the shorts and rude men. “I get catcalled by weirdos sometimes when I’m skating around the neighborhood,” she said. “I’ve been getting catcalled since I was 15, so it’s weird for me when older men look at me and honk. Like, sir, that is disgusting, please stop!” Another drawback of skating’s renewed popularity is the Law of Supply and Demand. In short, skates are more expensive than ever. Like busting a cool move, purchasing the right skates takes some skill, she said. Ruiz recommends skates with metal plates and cautions that components made of plastic are generally not suitable for outdoor skating. Price gouging is rampant, said Ortiz-Ruiz. New skaters should visit thrift stores to purchase skates, she advised. When she was a child roller skates were not nearly as expensive and something her dad could afford to buy his six kids. That, she said, would be impossible today. “My dad obviously wouldn’t be able to buy all of us $300 skates,” she said. “If it was like that when I was little, I may never have skated. When we started out I think she spent about $100 total on skates for all of us.” Just as gentrification is pushing people of color from their traditional neighborhoods, the soaring cost of skates is putting the sport out of reach of many minority children. “I think it’s sad skates are not affordable now because people are missing out on the opportunity,” she said. “It’s erasing their culture. Everywhere you see people that have money with skates that are overpriced. Not a lot of (working class) people can (participate) because it is now super expensive.” Foreign-made outdoor roller skates range in price from $95 for Impalas and $149 for Moxi Beach Bunnies to $349 for American-made Moxi Lollys -- if you can find any. Moxi Lolly skates sell out instantly and remain on backorder for months. Ortiz-Ruiz said it is worth the effort to hunt down affordable skates and join the fun--even if falling down is part of the gig. Skinned knees are a skater’s badge of honor. “Keep at it. Once you get better, you will never want to stop. It is so cool to meet new skaters because they come in different shapes, sizes and colors. It’s an amazing culture.”

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