Death and Injustice In the borderlands
S P E C I A L
A N A C P H A L L O F FA M E N E W S PA P E R
‘IMPOSTER SYNDROME’ NO MATCH FOR NEW VP BY ANA PAOLA OLVERA Campus Editor
Community college was Dr. Tina King’s road to success. It was a lot of road. A young mother from the rough projects of South Bay Los Angeles, King graduated from Carson High School, then took classes at every single college in the Los Angeles County Community College District. She said she felt like a “freeway flyer,” the honorific of adjunct instructors who teach at multiple schools. “I had a son really young and it was through community college that I was able to get my degree,” she said. Now she is Southwestern’s new vice president of Student Affairs. President Dr. Kindred Murillo said King is all about students. Dr. TINA KING “I have worked in SC Vice-President of this system for 24 Student Affairs years and she is the most student-centered administrator I have ever worked with in my entire life,” Murillo said. Rachel Fischer, interim dean of Student Services, concurred. “Dr. King always puts what is best for the students first,” she said. King said she strives to tear down the barriers to student success. She can relate. She was once a community college student who faced barriers of her own. After her arduous community college years, she transferred to CSU Northridge to earn a degree in liberal studies. She started her career in the K-12 system, teaching at Compton Unified School District for seven years. The campus was adjacent to a housing project, she recalled, similar to the one she grew up in. It was filled with black and brown students that reminded King of herself. “It fueled me,” she said. King earned her Master’s in Education at USC, worked at UCLA as a communications specialist and then moved to CSU Fullerton as Student Affairs Advisor and Students Affairs Officer. She earned a Doctorate in Community College Leadership at Fullerton. Newly-minted Dr. King said she knew where she was going -- back to the community college. Her first cc job was at North Orange County Community College District, where she served as director of Institutional Research and Planning for non-credit programs. She was dean of Instruction and Student Services for two years before arriving at SC. King said her personal experience and her self-identity as a proud Afro-Latina inspired her to create opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds. She said she finds joy disrupting systems of oppression. “Being a woman of color is difficult at times,” she said, “especially when you are one of the only ones in your field— having to recognize how to navigate systems that weren’t necessarily designed for you and you’re not always welcomed.” Impostor Syndrome snuck in as she climbed the ladder of higher education, she said. Women of color frequently feel that because of past treatment, she said, and must find motivation to move forward. It is rare to be an Afro-Latina in higher education, King said, and she hopes to be a symbol for women of color and inspire them to pursue doctorates. THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
S E C T I O N
A N AT I O N A L PA C E M A K E R AWA R D N E W S PA P E R
RESTRICTIONS HAMPER BORDER ZONE BY XIOMARA VILLARREAL-GERARDO Sports Editor
SAN YSIDRO — San Ysidro’s port of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border is the world’s busiest. In a typical year more than 10 million people cross back and forth over la linea, humanity’s all-time greatest gateway. A whole bunch of them are Southwestern College students. SC is the closest college to the border and in the years pre-COVID tens of thousands
(Border restrictions) are arbitrary and having a profound effect. About 95 percent of our clients are coming from Mexico, so you could imagine (the impact). — Jason Wells, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SAN YSIDRO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
crossed daily to attend classes, work and visit family. As many as 40 percent of SC students live in Tijuana or nearby Baja California cities -- including substantial numbers of non-Mexican students looking for less expensive housing and a lower cost of living. A sizable number of SC faculty and staff live in Mexico, as well. Traversing the border was always grueling, but crossing la frontera became even more tedious in March when the U.S., Mexico, and PLEASE SEE Border PG. 3
BLACK SC STUDENTS, STAFF SHARE DISCONTENT Students of color reveal disconnect in climate survey BY ANA PAOLA OLVERA Campus Editor
ANA PAOLA OLVERA / STAFF
MASKED HERO — Arianna Delucchi, a 23-year-old SC nursing student, ministers to COVID-19 patients at Sharp Memorial Hospital. An SC Student of Distinction Award recipient, Delucchi has seen horror and miracles working with critically-ill patients.
So. County COVID crisis forces nursing students into perilous situations
BY ANA PAOLA OLVERA Campus Editor
In February, 23-year-old SC nursing student Ariana Delucchi applied to Sharp Memorial Hospital. In March all Hell broke loose. Delucchi was informed that the unit she was hired to work in had been frantically converted into a COVID-19 Overflow ICU. She was given two options: to join the front lines of the novel coronavirus war or
to wait until COVID-19 passed over. Delucchi immediately joined. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she said, a great time to start working in medicine. It was also a rare chance for a young medical professional to make an instant impact during an international crisis. “I was excited for (the opportunity) and to get my foot in the door to start building my foundation so I could become a good nursing assistant
and eventually become a really good nurse,” she said. Her colleagues insist that Delucchi is officially “a really good nursing assistant” with a brilliant future. Lexie Volquez, a nurse at Sharp Memorial Hospital, said Delucchi has become a battle-worn frontline warrior against the plague of the 21st century at a tender age. She has already assumed many of the responsibilities typical nursing PLEASE SEE Nurse PG. 3
GRATEFUL DEAD Día de los Muertos Celebrations transcend death and sadness. Arts, 6–7
BACKS AGAINST THE WALLS Legendary muralists fight to preserve cherished Chicano works of art. Backpage, 12
QUITTING TIME Some staff are ghosting students at a time we need them most. Viewpoints, 4
More than 80 percent of Black Southwestern College employees reported that they are dissatisfied with the campus racial climate, according to a year-long study by the National Assessment of College Campus Climates. In its 58-page report the NACCC gave SC a low score for emotional support of students of color. About 29 percent of non-White students reported that they “did not always feel noticed or supported” by White professors. SC’s BELONG Initiative is a strategic effort to improve campus climate, according to President Dr. Kindred Murillo. “Belonging is what we want,” she said. “We want our students to feel they belong at Southwestern regardless of where they come from.” Earlier this year students were sent a series of emails inviting them to participate in the NACCC survey. Only 13 percent participated. Divided into six sections, the survey was an attempt to delve into students’ perceptions of their encounters on campus in relation to race, according to the report. Scores, measured in “ribbons,” ranged from one to four. They indicated how SC compared to members of its NACCC cohort, which includes 21 colleges and universities in the United States. S C s co re d t h re e o ut o f f o u r “ r i b b o n s ” ove ra l l , a n ave ra ge score. Four sections received three ribbons. They were cross-racial engagement, racial learning and literacy, encounters with racial stress, and appraisals of institutional commitment. SC’s lowest score came in the section called “mattering and affirmation” with two ribbons. B l a c k f a c u l ty, e m p l oye e s a n d students expressed high levels of dissatisfaction with the college climate in this category. Murillo said SC has been focusing more on culturally responsive teaching and more inclusive hiring practices. Last year the college launched its Advancing Equity Te a c h i n g A c a d e m y ( A E TA ) . Janelle Williams, SC Equity and
PLEASE SEE Belong PG. 2
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
STUDENTS SERVICES ADJUST TO VIRTUAL REALITY Dispersal of Cesar Chavez building created enormous challenges for remote student services professionals BY DIEGO HIGUERA and ANGEL NAJERA Staff Writers
Personal services can be tricky when there is no in-person. Swarms of support professionals that normally inhabit the hive of activity in the Cesar Chavez OneStop Center have dispersed like bees on the wind, same as the multitude of students who visit in a typical semester. Vice President of Student Services Dr. Tina King and her right-hand
Dr. Rachel Fischer agreed that typical is impossible, but good service for students is not. From a “Virtual Welcome Center” to the online “Cranium Cafe,” students can enter myriad campus services from the comfort of their homes (or the parking lot at Starbucks). Financial Aid SC’s financial aid office is fully staffed and open for business, said Fischer, SC’s Dean of Student Services. State and federal programs that provide financial aid, grants and scholarships are fully funded and working as before to support students who qualify (which in past years was more than 80 percent of SC students).
Parking Lot D is open for students
to access reliable wifi and Internet service from their cars. Students may attend classes, do homework, conduct research or communicate with professors from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during class days. There are three simple rules: bring a student ID, respect social distancing guidelines and stay in the car.
In the spirit of the now-closed popular food pantry, students may apply for grocery cards, gasoline s u p p o r t, t o i l e t r i e s a n d o t h e r necessities, according to college president Dr. Kindred Murillo. SC’s CARES Program has been a lifesaver for thousands of students, Murillo said, and has helped keep Southwestern’s pandemic dropout rate below the national average.
PERSONAL WELLNESS CENTER
Jag gym rats can still workout at home alongside their fave trainers and health advisors. Virtual aerobics, yoga, weight training and nutrition counseling is alive and kicking, said Fischer. Sophomore April Najar said she is a fan. “I believe health services (is critical) because stress is building up in students who are stuck in their households for so long,” she said.
DISABLED SUPPORT SERVICES
Students with disabilities can forge ahead with support from DSS, according to its director Dr. Malia Flood. Cranium Cafe is a portal to services for DSS-eligible students,
she said, and so far the virtual system seems to be working well. DSS students who feel too much chill from technology can still get a warm human voice over the telephone, Flood said. “We get a lot of phone calls,” she said. “It felt like students in our program were more comfortable calling us on the phone than doing Cranium ‘Chat With Us’ features.” King said she is happy so many students from the community decided to press on despite COVID constraints. She and her crew pledged to stand by to help in any way possible. “It’s hard emotionally for everyone, but I think our current situation has also made us consider other ways to service students that are beneficial,” she said. “Some innovations we will probably keep after the pandemic is over.”
Belong: Dr. Murillo says college working hard on ‘anti-Black’ perception of staff CONTINUED FROM PG. 1
Engagement Director, said it is a year-long program that helps to develop culturally-responsive t e a c h i n g . A E TA c u r r i c u l u m encourages faculty to examine their practices and how they may be communicating something different to students than they intend, she said. “I think it is one of the bright stars for us right now,” she said. Williams said college administration is looking into institutionalizing AETA so that all faculty go through the program. In 2018, USC racial equity advocate Dr. Shaun Harper issued a highly-critical evaluation of the college’s racial climate that included recommendations. College PIO Lillian Leopold said administrators have implemented many of Harper’s recommendations, including establishing SC’s Office of Equity a n d E n ga ge m e nt m a n a ge d by Williams. SC also joined the USC Equity Leadership Alliance, which unites community colleges in California and “initiates equity-centered conversations.” Murillo said there has been some improvement in college hiring practices, including professional development focused on that area. “We have diversified our campus by about 7.7 percent in the last three years,” she said, “and that doesn’t sound like a lot, but the prior eight years before that it had only diversified .8 percent.” Job descriptions for managers now demand equity focus and race consciousness, and interviews i n c l u d e q u e s t i o n s t h at reve a l applicant’s commitment to equity and inclusion. Research has shown that students appreciate seeing and spending time with faculty that look like them, Murillo said. “It is a slow process,” she said. “Sometimes it is very frustrating because it never goes fast enough.” Almost 39 percent of employees responded to the Higher Education Research Institute’s (HERI) Staff Climate Survey, according to the report. Respondents indicated there is an appreciation of cultural differences at SC, but also problematic areas. It reported a glaring dissatisfaction from Black employees despite recent progress Data indicated that 72.2 percent of Black faculty and 82.4 percent of Black employees were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied when it came to diversity. More than half (56 percent) o f B l a c k e m p l oye e s re p o r t e d experiences with discrimination or exclusion from activities because of their race. Williams said it is important to make sure they name things as they are. “You can’t fix something if you don’t name it,” she said. “What we’ve been doing is not shying away from it. There’s no sweeping it under the rug. There’s no pretending like it doesn’t happen.”
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
PHOTO COURTESY SC DEBATE TEAM
SCORING POINTS — New debate coach Ryan Wash (top-l) has brought his winning ways to SC’s team, despite a raft of challenges.
New coach is himself a college champion
GREAT AT DEBATE BY ANTHONY CORRALES Staff Writer
rebuilding year loomed for the debate team, which came out of 2019-20 nationally ranked, but came into the Year of ‘Rona with a new coach, several members who left school and no way to meet in person. Rebuild has become reload. SC ripped into the semi-finals at the Phyllis Schatz Invitational, defeating powerhouse universities Cornell, George Mason, Houston and West Point along the way. Challenges about, but SC has a new coach who knows what it takes to be a champion because he is one. Assistant Professor of Communication Ryan Wash took over as head coach this year after winning a national championship as a competitor for Emporia State University and another as a coach at Rutgers University Newark. Veteran forensics coach Eric Maag said Wash was handed a challenging situation, but moved quickly to train a strong new team. “We have only two people returning from last year and a group of about eight students who are new to the team,” he said. “They are kind of getting their feet wet and still learning.”
Ryan Wash has helped me to realize my potential because he gives us very difficult assignments and has very high expectations of us. — Roberto Villagomez, SC DEBATER
Managing a team is hard enough, Maag said, but nearly impossible when you cannot even meet to practice. Content and strategy suffer, but so does camaraderie. “Our team has Zoom calls where we just talk about life and talk to each other, but not having that in person connection is a bit limiting for us to have a better relationship,” he said. Maag said one big drawback is the inability to have long weekend practice sessions. In the recent past debaters would often work at a teammate’s home, spending 8-10 hours or more preparing. “We have Zoom meetings where we try to replicate that, but you can’t spend more than a couple hours on Zoom before people start losing their minds, getting headaches,” he said. “It’s a lot more individual work now.” SC debaters have enjoyed good success
over the years, Maag said, but he expects Wash to take the program to an even higher level. Wash is the first SC coach to have won a national championship, he said. Debater Roberto Villagomez said Wash has already made his mark by boosting the team’s confidence. “His coaching has helped me to realize my potential because he gives us very difficult assignments and has very high expectations of us,” he said. Wash said he is happy with the students’ resilience. “We lost our first two debates, but they didn’t give up,” he said. “They kept fighting and we went on a tear to win the next five, which landed us to the semi finals. They proved kids from community colleges can have the same abilities as those at universities.”
SC debaters have defeated Cornell, George Mason, Houston and West Point, so far…
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
Nurse: SC student volunteers to serve in COVID ward as disease spreads CONTINUED FROM PG. 1
students may not be trusted with for years. Delucchi said she was introduced to the world of nursing when she was 10. Her aunt had Stage 4 melanoma and she would visit her at the hospital every day after school. She was deeply moved by the devotion of the nurses, she said. “They were smart, kind, loving, compassionate, empathetic — just all things amazing,” she said. “And I know that the situation was pretty terrible, but they took really really good care of her and took really good care of my family.” Delucchi said she wanted to be like them. Volquez said she is. Chula Vista and the South County have been a COVID-19 hotspot since the spring, but Volquez said the tsunami of patients started slowly. In March, each nurse had one patient under their care. Then two, then three, then four. It was surreal, Volquez said, the first time she walked into a COVID-19 patient’s room. “I was very nervous,” she said. “(It was unnerving) just to think that this virus that originated (across the Pacific) Ocean was right there in front of me.” Delucchi agreed. COVID-19 is on its way to killing 300,000 Americans — perhaps as many as 500,000 by February 2021, according to CDC estimates. In February 2020 few saw it coming. It flipped the United States upside down and flung the nursing profession into chaotic exhaustion. Even student nurses like Delucchi are being leaned on heavily by a fraying medical system. In addition to classes and training, she spends three nights a week at the hospital working 7 p.m. - 7:30 a.m. She starts each evening by putting on her hospital-issued scrubs and Personal Protection Equipment (face shields, masks and gloves). Next she receives her patients’ reports before launching out to visit each patient and ask if they need anything. Delucchi helps them bathe, shave, eat and walk around their rooms. She also assists senior nurses with an array of medical procedures. Nights are long, lonely and often scary for COVID-19 patients. They are isolated in their rooms and no one is allowed to visit. They can only talk to their loved ones via FaceTime or Zoom. Nurses are the sole source of direct human contact for a critically-ill COVID patient. Biological science goes only so far. The art of conversation is also an essential skill of a great nurse, Delucchi said, and she tries to find topics that help provide a little happiness. “Having the virus can be pretty miserable,” she said. “It’s nice to see them smile for once by just having a conversation with them.” One of Delucchi’s patients had been hospitalized for several days and thought he would be going home until he got bad news -- his oxygen levels slipped and he needed to stay at least one more night. Delucchi eased the disappointed by talking to him about dogs. She told him funny stories about her sister’s boyfriend’s family dog and he told her about how his wife had sent him a bag full of his dog’s hair. They laughed and he thanked her, saying that even though he was disappointed, she had made him feel a little bit better. Sometimes a nurse needs to calm a patient when stress can add fuel to a bad situation. Lack of oxygen is a primal fear for many COVID-19 patients, Delucchi said. Some run out of breath simply trying to speak. Nurses have to help desperate patients avert panic and stay calm while their bodies try to fight off the virus. Delucchi had one shift where they had to transfer three patients to the Progressive Care Unit because they had suddenly stopped responding t o t h e i r oxyge n t h e ra py. S h e watched as a patient’s oxygen level suddenly dropped on the monitor. An adequate level is 93 percent, she said, but even as nurses tried to provide the patient with more NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
oxygen, the number would hover at 88 and 89. Intubation for a ventilator is generally started when the oxygen level slips below 85 percent. “There are a lot of patients who are just convinced that they’re going to die and it’s hard to hear, you know, and it’s hard to see them struggling,” she said. An SC Student of Distinction Award recipient and 4.0 student, Delucchi used to be a power study leader for Professor of Biology Valerie Pennington’s Anatomy and Physiology class. Pennington said Delucchi transcends what one would expect from even an extraordinary s t u d e nt. I t i s h e r u n f a i l i n g l y generous spirit, Pennington said, and her drive to help others. “Arianna’s got a wisdom about her that doesn’t correlate with her age,” she said. “I expect great things from her.” So does Volquez, who nominated her for Sharp Memorial Hospital’s Employee of the Month. She said Delucchi goes above and beyond for the unit, and her inquisitive mind is always ready to absorb new information. As the COVID-19 cases started to go down in the South County, half of Delucchi’s unit returned to caring for other patients. Many of those patients, however, have been getting sicker than before, she said. Effects of the novel coronavirus are sometimes dramatic, but often dangerously subtle and not readily detected. Working at a COVID-19 unit is dangerous. More than 1,000 American doctors and nurses have died from the disease. Data about the number of medical workers sickened by COVID-19 is incomplete, but the Center for Disease Control estimated in August that the 120,000 cases reported to the agency was likely a fraction of the true number. Delucchi said she knows her mission is perilous and takes meticulous precautions not to accidentally spread the virus. If only the rest of society were so conscientious. Social media drains her, she said, because it is rife with images of thoughtless Americans behaving recklessly. Scrolling though her feed unleashes a depressing scroll of people partying obliviously, not wearing masks or incorrectly wearing masks under their noses. It is frustrating for exhausted health care workers to watch this cavalcade of carelessness and callous, Delucchi said, when they spend most of their waking hours trying to keep people alive or watching them suffocate to death as the virus fills their lungs with fluids. Young people are not exempt from COVID-19 despite fallacious social media messages, she said. Teens and twenty-somethings also die horribly from the coronavirus, she warned. She has seen it. “I don’t want that for those people and I don’t want people to pass it on to someone who maybe won’t fare as well,” she said. Pennington said most of her students are working in COVID-19 units. They tell her it is hard to accept that people have politicized a virus and call COVID-19 a hoax, especially when they are putting their lives on the line. “Our health care workers are out there risking their own lives and doing incredible things every day, yet there are people (who say) ‘It doesn’t matter. It’s not real. I’m not going to wear a mask,’” said Pennington. Ni g ht s a re a t t h e i r d a r ke s t, Delucchi said, when a patient passes away. Advanced age and pre-existing conditions make patients vulnerable to succumbing to COVID-19. When patients infected with the novel coronavirus arrive at the hospital, she said, everyone on staff roots for them and they do everything in their power to help. It is traumatizing when they die, she said, and it never gets easier. Delucchi said she strives to be a kind and empathetic nurse — someone who can take care of patients and ease their worries. She got into her dream nursing school at CSU Long Beach this month and plans to start there next semester. Her time in the COVID-19 ward has already shaped her outlook, she said. “This experience makes me want to be a nurse even more, so that I am able to help people even than I am now.”
MATTHEW BROOKS / STAFF
TEARS OF FRUSTRATION — Demonstrators were tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets at a downtown San Diego protest against police brutality toward Black Americans.
BLM SUPPORTERS SPEAK OUT BY MATTHEW BROOKS News Editor
San Diego County — long a bastion of Chicano rights activity — has lent its voice to the Black Lives Matter Movement and protests against police violence. Since the May murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police there have been protests, rallies and awareness raising events nearly every weekend in some corner of the county from Escondido to San Ysdiro — most notably in La Mesa and downtown San Diego. A group calling itself Run for Breonna Taylor has organized weekly protest street races followed by peaceful demonstrations since June and vows to continue until Taylor receives justice. Southwestern College students and staff have turned out by the hundreds — possibly the thousands — to support the protests or document them. Student protestors and journalists have been tear gassed and manhanded by police and White supremacist counter protesters, but there are no known injuries. High turnout by African Americans and young progressives are being credited with an important role in the defeat of Donald Trump this month. Activists insist Floyd and the other Black Americans are martyrs who may inspire the nation to move in the direction of racial equality and justice. Until then, the protests, rallies and runs will continue.
Border: Students, staff living in Mexico suffer under Trump crossing policies CONTINUED FROM PG. 1
Canada agreed to restrict “non-essential land travel across borders” for 30 days in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. These measures have been extended each month for the past seven months. The latest extends through December 21. Border communities are suffering a devastating economic loss, according to Jason Wells, Executive Director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. “(Border restrictions) are arbitrary and having a profound effect,” he said. “About 95 percent of our clients are coming from Mexico, so you could imagine (the impact).” Millions of people circulating across the border generate enormous amounts of money, Wells said. An estimated $2.5 billion moved through San Ysidro last year, he said, along with $1.5 billion in money exchanges and $880 million in retail sales. Mexican tourists and shoppers are currently not allowed to cross the border, raining hardship upon San Ysidro businesses and workers from the mighty Las Americas Outlet Mall to tiny mom and pop start ups. “We have already lost over 100 businesses that will never reopen, not because of COVID, but because of the border restrictions,” he said. “We are at risk for a lot more. In normal times about 35 percent of San Ysidro businesses make their entire net revenue between November 30 and January 6.” Wells said 70 to 75 percent of businesses that have reopened to some degree are operating at a 60 percent loss of their normal revenue. In his 20
MATTHEW BROOKS / STAFF
TAKIN’ IT TO THE STREETS — San Diego County has been a hotspot for BLM protests since the murder of George Floyd in May. A weekly event, “Run for Breonna Taylor,” is ongoing.
years at the chamber of commerce, he said, he has never seen such a profound effect on San Ysidro’s economy. Sunil Gakhreja, owner of Sunny Perfumes and Maya’s Gourmet Pizza on San Ysidro Blvd., said he is struggling to keep his businesses alive. “Any business (in San Ysidro) takes 95 percent of its customers (from Mexico),” he said. “We’re trying to survive as long as we can, but it’s bad and getting worse.” Even if the border restrictions are lifted soon, Gakhreja said, it will take two to three years for his businesses to recover. He said it is unfair that Americans can cross back and forth over the border but Mexicans cannot. “(COVID-19) has happened to the whole world,” he said. “Me as a U.S. citizen, I can go and come back without any problem, but Mexicans cannot come in and that doesn’t mean that because they are Mexican they are going to have COVID.” Either the border should be completely shut down or not at all, Gakhreja said. Students are also struggling to adapt to the new border crossing restrictions. Aerospace engineering major Luna Sainz used to rent a room in Chula Vista, he said, but moved to Tijuana with her parents due to the border restrictions. “My family used to visit me (in Chula Vista) and that is one of the reasons why I had to move back,” she said. “My parents are Mexican (citizens) and can’t cross the border.” Sainz also lost her job at Kraken Dice, an online role-playing company. Saving on rent was another reason she moved to Tijuana. Biochemistry major Amber RiveraMuñoz said she has faced similar issues. Rivera-Muñoz and her mother rented an apartment in Chula Vista until her mom lost her job. They moved to a less expensive place in Tijuana after struggling to pay their rent stateside. Rivera-Muñoz said she understands
that the U.S. and Mexico are trying to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, but she said restrictions have hurt students. Even U.S. citizens like her who are allowed to cross the border struggle with excruciating wait times, sometimes up to five hours going north. “I’ve already been waiting for like two or three hours in line to cross the border,” she said during a recent transit. Araceli Moreno, an SC Reading Lab Technician and adjunct instructor, lives in Tijuana. Remote education has made life easier for her, she said, because she no longer has the stressful transborder commute. Moreno said she took all her teaching equipment home and is successfully helping students and staff virtually. Moreno said Tijuana residents who used to cross the border regularly to shop are now spending their money and contributing to Tijuana’s economy. “It is something that we are thinking is good for Tijuana,” she said, “but not that good for the United States (economy).” Gakhreja said he encourages everyone in the community to shop local. “That is how you will help local businesses survive,” he said. “I have understood the value of shop local and I urge every local community, not just San Ysidro where we are, but any part of the U.S.” If the US-Mexico border restrictions are lifted before the end of the year, community members like SC students might have a chance to recover their jobs, said Wells. With COVID-19 spiking in California and at nearcrisis levels in the South County, that is unlikely, he acknowledged. Chula Vista’s hospitals are the southern-most in this region of the United States and the nearest U.S. facilities to Americans living in Latin America. Unlike the stores and shops in San Ysidro, the region’s hospitals are experiencing no shortage of customers. THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
E D I TO R I A L S
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
XIOMARA VILLARREAL-GERARDO / STAFF
Copy Editor Bianca Huntley Ortega News Editor Matthew Brooks Campus Editor Ana Paola Olvera Viewpoints Editor Chanel Esparza
College shines during shutdown, but some staff needs to pick up the pace
Arts Editor Aranza Gutierrez Cortes
Sports Editor Xiomara Villarreal-Gerardo Photo Editor Amy Morales
S TA F F W R I T E R S Anissa Durham Robert de Luna Cade Harbin Diego Higuera Alex Kim Angel Najera Israel Nieves Paulina Nunez Andrew Penalosa Victoria Rietz Andrew Sanchez
S TA F F A R T I S T S Baby Bonane Kristen Hernandez 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 2003-20 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
San Diego County Multicultural Heritage Award California Newspaper Publishers Association California College Newspaper of the Year 2013, 2016, 2020 Student Newspaper General Excellence 2002-19 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 2000-2020 American Scholastic Press Association Community College Newspaper of the Year
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
ur world changed profoundly on March 13. We may never get the old one
back. Perhaps we can use this crisis as impetus to make the world better. Our college, too. Southwestern College leadership deserves praise for its body of work from March through October. Compassion blended with calculation as our board, administrators and faculty fought through the dizziness and despair of March to develop effective solutions to help students continue their educational journeys. (Finding a way to continue printing The Sun was one of many.) Here are a few examples: Dr. Murillo made the bold and correct call on March 10 to temporarily close the campus and the right decision on March 30 to move to remote operations. College leaders made safety the priority over money by announcing that the college would not reopen until there is an effective SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. (Numerous universities got this wrong, infecting their students and staff.) All rooms were deep cleaned. Administrators worked with the faculty union to find solutions to teaching-related challenges. Administrators allowed faculty to do their jobs and figure out the best ways to teach remotely. The SC Foundation and the college landed a huge grant to buy 1,000 laptop computers given to low-income students. Parking Lot O was made a wifi hotspot. College leaders convinced phone carriers to open hot spots in lowincome neighborhoods. Food was distributed to students who needed it. Free school supplies were distributed. Many free textbooks were distributed. Crisis and counseling support was increased. A popular commencement was staged. Dr. Murillo did an outstanding job keeping the college community informed.
The Issue: Many onceroutine functions are now excruciating, discouraging and damaging students. Our position: Most employees are working hard, but many are ghosting students who need assistance. Take a well-deserved bow, leaders, but please do not rest on your laurels. Serious problems remain. First and foremost is rampant ghosting by too many college employees. Students and faculty cannot help but notice the college is suffering a significant slowdown. Things that used to be easy are now arduous. Tasks that once took a few minutes can now literally take weeks. Routine matters have become frustrating slogs that often go completely unresolved. Please, people, stop ignoring us! Dr. Murillo’s regular calls for patience are reasonable, but only to a point. Though they are working from home, college employees are still being paid and supposed to be on the clock serving the college. Many are clearly working harder than ever. Some seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth. Students are sharing with us frustrations reaching helpful college employees in admissions, finance, counseling, IT and certain schools. Many have given up and dropped out of college, saying that they will return “when things get back to normal.” “Back to normal” is aspirational. Sociology instructor Dr. Maya Cameron offered an explanation for the slow motion dimension gripping much of the college. “We’re broken,” she said. “People are really trying to hold it together right now. Our communities have been impacted by a lack of social stimulation to the point where we are making ourselves more stressed. I can’t
escape me and there’s a certain level of exhaustion from that.” Fair enough. Students are among the broken and so are college employees. We are drowning in stress. Sociologists report that 16-24 year old Americans are the most stressed in ‘Rona World, followed by 25-34 year olds. That covers 88 percent of SC’s student body. Sealing off the campus has disproportionately affected students suffering from financial instability, housing and food insecurity, and unemployment. Besides being the South County’s only institution of higher education, SC is arguably the region’s hub for social services. Without our campus students lose access to the financial aid offices, Jag Kitchen, walk-in crisis counseling and face-to-face conversations with caring professors. Many students feel hopeless and unsupported, a situation exacerbated when college employees do not respond to emails. Former student Rene Ontiveros described stress and frustration while trying to transfer. “I did have a lot of issues contacting (faculty and staff ),” he said. “There are so many hoops you have to go through as opposed to being able to walk into the office (to ask questions).” Technology that has been the remote instruction lifeline is also a major stressor. Those of us fortunate enough to have access to adequate gear are still trying to figure it out. SC faculty are in the same boat. We could use more support from the IT department, more classes using Zoom and less reliance on Canvas (the high tech graveyard). Transfer season is upon us and we are going to need help from counselors that we can no longer visit in the Cesar Chavez Center. Students must wait days or even weeks to hear back about questions. SC’s enrollment was down 11 percent in August and is certainly lower now as frustration builds and students fall away. Some enrollment loss is unavoidable, but most can be prevented. Ghosting is hurtful and deadly to students. Please return our messages.
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
Farmworkers are overlooked, underappreciated and essential
JOURNEY FOR JUSTICE JU LIA WOOC K
egetarians definitely have the right idea. Reducing the consumption of beef and other farm animals would be good for the environment and the overall health of humanity. Sometimes, however, the side dish of smug spoils my couscous. Vegans who argue that “meat is murder” are correct, but they do not get to claim the high ground of “cruelty free.” There can be abuse in every salad bowl and inhumanity in every fruit platter. Fruit and vegetables in our local grocery stores may have been harvested by desperate people who
work in inhumane conditions for less than minimum wage. They are doused with pesticide and working through a pandemic without adequate PPE. They press on through heat waves, wildfires, choking smoke, dust storms, thunderstorms, frigid mornings and blister afternoons. They sleep in hovels, relieve themselves in squalid outhouses and drink from tainted sources. Many are undocumented workers paid twice monthly or monthly. Amazingly, just when employers are supposed to pay them, they host a raid and invite ICE instead. Deportation, sadly, is a great way to reduce labor costs.
Stanford University medical student Gianna Nino labored as a farmworker with her parents this summer before going back to school. She tweeted a photo of two gallons of blueberries she had picked, for which she was paid $7. She asked how much people paid for blueberries at the grocery store to demonstrate the markup and the exploitation of the people who pick them. Her motivation to become a doctor, she said, was to help her community because she saw cataclysmic health issues suffered by farm workers, including heatstroke, kidney infections, damage to their backs and joint maladies. They had
no access to decent medical care. She said farmworkers experience kidney infections as a result of a lack of toilets and poor water quality. Farmworkers are essential employees who endanger their lives so we can eat well. They are invisible pillars of society unnoticed because they work in remote fields, away from the eyes of the city, the news media and human rights activists. It is easy to pretend they do not exist so we do. Farmworkers deserve our appreciation for their contributions to our society. More important, they deserve our respect and compassion because they are human beings.
SDSU, UCSD among greedy universities who ripped off, abused vulnerable students BY PAULINA NUNEZ A Perspective
ith all the demoralizing realities college students are being hit with during the Age of COVID, one of the most painful is the realization that many of our universities see us as nothing more than piggy banks. Worn out students are being wrung out by greedy universities in a manner that even the most cynical of us could not see coming. It has rattled our faith in higher education right to the core. We could not have imagined in February that American universities would:
XIOMARA VILLARREAL-GERARDO / STAFF
Bad Bunny goes down rabbit hole of Trump malevolence BY JULIA WOOCK A Perspective
ummarizing the lunacy and sickness of the Trump Administration fills news magazines and epic tomes by Washington insiders. Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny did it in 2:34. Like journalism, the arts can present the first draft of history, and clever musicians can do it with a catchy beat. Bad Bunny, however, seems less interested in packing the dance floor than the voter precincts. His latest hit “Compositor del Año” is often profane, but always insightful. He packs enough into two-and-a-half minutes to make you think for two-and-a-half weeks. It starts with an excerpt of Little Richard’s propulsive 1950’s rocker “Tutti Frutti” and the opening volley “Little Richard was always better than Elvis and it’s been some time baby boomers were babies.” He sings of having a beautiful day wrecked by the news of a horrific shooting by “un blanquito,” his response to the shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin by 17-year-old White supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse that killed two protesters and injured a third. Citizens of Kenosha were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man that was shot seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed. Trump refused to condemn Rittenhouse’s actions, suggesting he acted in self-defense. “Black Lives Matter, may Kobe rest in peace, it’s 2020 and racism is worse than Covid,” Bad Bunny continues. “A Black man with a gun is a criminal, while a white one is a guy with a hobby.” Religious hypocrisy by American evangelicals during the Trump era has been eye-popping, and Bad Bunny asked Christians if they think Jesus is still watching. He is. His values do not expire, he sings, and the truth hurts so conservatives prefer lies. Misogyny and violence against women is a long-time Bad Bunny theme and he points out that it is screwed up that women run the risk of rape going to church to pray. Women surely do not come from a man’s rib, he declares, men in turn come NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
from a woman’s pelvis. Peppered with saucy Puerto Rican slang and colorful metaphors, Bad Bunny urges young voters to look at the records of elected officials and to turn out politicians who are acting against voters’ rights, immigrants, women, people of color and the environment. The American Dream, he declared, will not really exist until people stand up. Children caged in ICE detention centers, women who suffer domestic violence and Black men mistreated by White police will get no meaningful relief until voters stand up the politicians that enable these maladies. Bad Bunny reserved some of his fiercest lyrics for bad cops, particularly the Minneapolis officers accused of the murder of George Floyd May 25 when an officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes and suffocated him. “Y está cabrón/Que no te dejen respirar Y que una placa sea licencia pa’ matar/Pero ser blanco es lo que te haga letal Y que ser negro sea lo que te haga un blanco, ey” (“It’s screwed up that they won’t let you breathe and that a badge is a license to kill, but being White is what makes you lethal and being Black is what makes you a target.”) “Compositor del Año,” is another example of a new generation of Latino protest songs and a strong voice from an often silent community that needs to speak up. These artists capture the zeitgeist of what ails society, like the band Molotov’s song “Gimme Tha Power,” a call to unity to eliminate the corruption in Mexico and fight against racial stereotypes. Colombian artist Juanes uses his song, “Fíjate Bien” to tell the harrowing stories of the victims of landmines. Shakira songs such as “Pies Descalzos,” “Se Quiere Se Mata” and “¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?” are also social criticisms. Latin America and American Latinos of the 21st century need their own powerful protest troubadours like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp were in the 20th century. Bad Bunny is hopping into the picture. Let us hope others follow his trail.
• Shut down dorms and send students away, but keep all the money for rent, food plans and other living expenses paid in advance; • Lure students back to campus in the fall knowing full well that put them (and employees) at risk of contracting a deadly disease; • Blame students for COVID spikes on university campuses and the surrounding communities; • Lie about COVID levels on their campus; • Blame community spread on university communities rather than their foolish decisions to move in tens of thousands of students from all corners of the country; • Demand the foreign students from COVID-wracked nations attend classes in person; If university presidents could be sued for malpractice like doctors there would be scores of them turning over the keys to their homes in settlements. These are people with Ph.D.s and leadership training who are supposed to be among the brightest men and women in our society. Another myth punctured. Batteries of university CEOs were actually caught on record saying many of the same idiotic things Donald Trump said about the novel coronavirus, including “Who knew?” They knew damn well that we are dealing with a deadly disease. They knew damn well the semester would never be completed without COVID spikes. They knew damn well they were going to charge full price and keep all their students’ money. San Diego State and UCSD are among the guilty parties and deserve every iota of the scorn being heaped upon them today. After decades of building their reputations as centers of higher education, global research and inspiration, Dr. Adela de la Torre and Dr. Pradeep Khosla have greatly diminished their institutions with their greedy, reckless decisions that have hurt students and spread disease in our region. UCSD’s “Return to Learn” is particularly pitiful considering
XIOMARA VILLARREAL-GERARDO / STAFF
the campus is home to one of America’s best medical schools and scores of its most brilliant scientific minds. Khosla and his minions were warned not to reopen the campus, but ignored the advice of people with expertise he does not possess. SDSU set up its own COVID petri dish in the neighborhoods around campus this fall when it reopened on-campus housing. Now it is quietly moving students out, leaving them scrambling to get home or into a new living arrangement, all the while violating COVID protocols. University administrators across the country misled parents and students into thinking that there was a strategy to reopen campuses and keep them open. They knew better, but wanted to collect dorm fees, food plan money and other sources of revenue before acting shocked by a new COVID spike and sending students home again. Their actions were grossly irresponsible and contributed greatly to the spike in COVID-19 deaths in college communities across the country — include towns and regions that previous to schools opening had few or no coronavirus infections. Greed is driving college football as well. Does anybody really believe that piling dozens of sweating, bleeding, hard-breathing men on top of each other is responsible public health policy? California’s community college system got it right by cancelling the fall sports seasons. Our state’s community college presidents got it entirely right when they put students into remote learning in March and extended it into the fall semester. Southwestern’s President Dr. Kindred Murillo was actually the first to pull the trigger. Well done, madam. Are legions of America’s university presidents really that dumb or are they greedy and willing to sacrifice students on the alter of finances? Either answer is depressing and dispiriting. Shame on all of you who mistreated your students and their parents. You have lost our trust and respect. THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
D Í A
C O M M U N I T Y C U LT U R E
L O S
M U E R T O S
R E T U R N
AMY MORALES / STAFF
Hallowed, hau 1
3 AMY MORALES / STAFF
AMY MORALES / STAFF
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
ETERNAL MUSIC. The living prepare altars with deceased ancestors’ favorite foods and hobbies. Fanciful representations of the dead are also traditional. PHOTOGRAPHS. Photographs are another theme of a family alter and a means to visually honor those who came before. MARIACHI DE LOS MUERTOS. Musicians serenade the dead at Mexican cemeteries, including Tijuana’s famous Cementerio Número Uno, the eternal resting place of the folk saint-martyr Juan Soldado. BALLET DE COVID. Local ballet folklorico dancers have adapted classic Mexican stitchery to masks to augment beautiful dresses and affectations. FLOWERS OF HEAVEN. In Aztec mythology flores de cempasúchil (marigolds) are the mainstay of a flower heaven whose strong fragrance lured humans to the surface of the earth in the time of creation. SPIRIT OF ZAPATA. Courageous ancestors honored with photos in front of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata who declared “Better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!”
BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief
exico and much of Latin America blossom with fragrant orange flowers on the first two days of November to welcome home their dead on Día de los Muertos. An amalgamation of pre-Hispanic and Catholic traditions, it was inducted in 2008 by UNESCO as a cherished cultural heritage. It is so much more for Mexicanos. CONACULTA (Coordinación Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural y Turismo), a Mexican governmental agency whose mission is to preserve heritage, asserts that Día de los Muertos has permeated every aspect of Mexican culture. Día de los Muertos is reflected in music, art and literature, including José Gorostiza’s poetry, José Guadalupe Posada’s murals, the sublime literature of Octavio Paz, dance, popular narratives and la artesanía (handmade crafts). It is celebrated by 97.2 percent of Mexico’s indigenous populations, according to CONACULTA. Día de los Muertos stems from Aztec mythology. Pre-Cortez Aztecs believed when people died they embarked on a perilous journey through Mictlán, la Tierra de los Muertos, the underworld. It is said they travel with dogs, the noblest of creatures, in search of eternal peace for
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
T H E
A N C E S T O R S
XIOMARA VILLARREAL-GERARDO / STAFF
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
aunted homecoming their souls, but only if their owners were good to them in life. Mictlán is ruled by the Lord and Lady of Death, Mictlantecutli (Señor de la muerte) y Mictecacihuatl (Señora de la muerte). Celebrants set up colorful altars in their home or at the cemetery by the graves of loved ones. Each is unique, but usually include papel picado, the deceased’s favorite foods, drinks, hobbies and photos. Other common staples are sugar skulls, pan de muerto and fragrant flores de cempasúchil (marigolds). Flores de cempasúchil, are indigenous to Latin America and their name originates from Nahuatl. It literally means “a flower of 20 petals,” due to the many petals and earthy scent that helps guide spirits home. Legendary Aztec heroes Xóchitl and Huitzilin were childhood sweethearts who climbed the mountain in honor of Tonatiuh, the Aztec sun god, and left flowers as an offering. War broke out and Huitzilin died in battle. Grief stricken, Xóchitl asked Tonatiuh to take her out of her misery and reunite her with her love. The sun god agreed to her request and his beams of sun turned her into the flower we now know as cempasúchil. A hummingbird landed on the flower and her many petals blossomed. As long as there are marigolds and hummingbirds, the legend says, their love will endure.
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
Mural: Creations of legendary Chicano artists threatened by reconstruction CONTINUED FROM PG. 12
is the most prolific artist in the world’s largest collection of outdoor murals. Chicano Park’s colorful and evocative art led to its designation as a National Heritage Site by the U.S. Congress. “He’s our Diego Rivera,” Morones said. Barajas, 78, said he was particularly upset that the school district violated an agreement and did not give him or the other artists any notice that it intended to remove the murals. SDUSD officials, he said, were required to notify the artists in advance if the district planned reconstruction involving the murals. He said he would not have known his murals were in danger had the district not destroyed Torres’ piece in September. Morones and Barajas said the district should move the murals to another part of campus rather than obliterating them. Barajas, a retired Air Force veteran, is also an expert on outdoor murals, their restoration and repair. He was commissioned by the California Department of Transportation to study the Chicano Park murals and devise strategies to save them prior to a major earthquake retrofit of the Coronado Bridge supports many of the murals are painted on. His report, “The Chicano Park Mural Restoration Technical Manual,” is a detailed, scientific study of outdoor art that spearheaded the CalTrans work under the bridge. No murals were lost or damaged during the retrofit. Ironically, the mural Barajas created for Logan Heights children may not be so fortunate. SDUSD indicated it does not want to spend the extra money required to save the murals, he said. Morones said that was “very short sighted.” “Once those murals are gone they are gone for good,” he said. “That would be a huge loss for our community. They are such a source of pride.” Barajas said he painted the two murals with the community in mind. Both murals have images that represent diversity and education, two favorite themes of Barajas who frequently collaborates with students on artistic and social projects. He said he used the school’s mascot, an eagle, as a source of motivation, wisdom and ride. Mexico and the United States share the eagle as its national bird and as a permanent symbol of strength and freedom. Morones said he thinks it is very important for young students in Latino neighborhoods to know their history and the role art plays in its expression. He said he fears the larger community does not understand the cultural significance of Latino art and the stature of artists like Barajas, Torres and Mario Torero. The Cosmic Testament” is a fivepanel mural by Torero on an inside wall at Memorial Prep targeted for demolition. He said he knew the campus was undergoing renovation, but he did not receive any notice about the planned removal of his ambitious art. Torero said his mural is about hope and education. He said he hopes it can continue to educate for many years to come. Barajas and Torero have retained legal counsel in an effort to work with the district to save the murals. The soft-spoken Barajas said he was adamant that the art survive and remain in its context. “One thing I want to make clear is that these murals should not be taken out of the school,” he said. “… because that is why they were painted.” Baca said SDUSD was failing the community and its students by destroying its art. He said CCR would support a court injunction if necessary. Morones agreed. “What a loss this would be for our community and its people,” he said. “I am hoping some of the smart people from the school district can come around and figure out a way to avoid this.”
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
‘The desTROYers’ is a deFINEd adaptation BY ANDREW PENALOSA Staff Writer
Donald Trump, COVID-19, racial strife, police violence and today’s red vs. blue America is enough to make a Greek tragedy look like musicalcomedy. So Ruff Yeager and his team had to dial up the darkness on their adaptation of Eurides’ classic “The Trojan Women” to keep people’s attention. It worked. Doom and Gloom on Zoom may emerge as a new theatrical genre. Yeager and Tanika Baptiste co-wrote and co-directed the conferencing technology adaptation laced with pandemic paranoia, social injustice, loss and grief. It was provocative and relevant, if a little heavy-handed. “The desTROYers” opens with a
press conference featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Vita Keith) lamenting the suffering of Troy from escalating Black Lives Matter protests and social unrest. Then Kamala Harris (Isel Zarate-Tucker) enters, impressed with Cortez’s crowd pleasing skills, and offers her help in exchange for more power and a list of vice presidential nominees. That was the fun part. Grieving Gramma (an impressive Rhona Gold) is dressed in black, clouded with sorrow and consumed with the loss of her husband and son. Her comadre Mama (Sarah LeClair) has suffered the same loss. Sis (Carla Banu de Jesus) warns citizens of cancerous corruption, which infuriates the crooked district attorney (rock solid Walter Murray). As a prophet is not without honor except in her hometown, Sis is arrested by the
belicose DA and charged with treason. Like a mad pre-dawn Tweeter, the Greek Chorus (Lauren Brazell, Grace Haus, Isabella Ruffo, Bianca Vanegas, Dayana Navarette and Jerry Paras ) tamps down already low expectations. Then things go off the rails. Here’s hoping Yeager’s vision is a bad dream, not prophecy. Perhaps all the world’s a stage, but with Mayan Hall locked tight, Yeager and Baptiste had to adapt their adaptation to the computer screen. Zoom Webinar Engineer Alvin Angeles and Technical Director Michael Buckley created seamless scene transitions and conveyed a hint of magic through light and sound that almost made the audience feel like it was snuggled into the fading confines of The Mayan. They skillfully eliminated most potential distractions and allowed warm-blooded actors to
command the spotlight instead of the soulless technology. Stage manager Maria Mangiavellano had no stage, but created minimalist magic with her grey pallet and grim lighting. Her Troy was barren, desolate and bleak -- in other words, perfect. Stark costumes by Baptiste had the unadorned citizens of Troy clashing with the more stylish privileged class of the DA and company. Murray milked the visuals like the experienced actor he is, directing the chorus like he was leading a malevolent singalong in a dingy pub. COVID-19 could not bring the curtain down on “The desTROYers” as it had the brilliant spring production of “Romeo and Juliet.” It was a statement of can-do optimism disguised in its cloak of doom. Yeager and Baptiste, in the indefatigable spirit of theatre, made sure the show went on.
Patient professor’s Palatable palette P
Perry Vasquez solves mysterious Temple of Zoom BY ANA PAOLA OLVERA Campus Editor
ainters learn they can do virtually anything virtually SC painters have found a virtual oasis in a pandemic desert. Studios are closed, but their creativity can flourish inside art professor Perry Vasquez’s online classroom. Vasquez received the news of SC’s campus closure when he was home recovering from hip surgery. He was challenged, he said, but at least knew that teaching art through a screen had successfully been done before. Bob Ross was a fellow artist he could emulate. “I thought, ‘well if you can do it, I guess I can do it’,” Vasquez said. Vasquez, as opposed to Ross, would have to provide discussions, lectures and quizzes— elements that the state requires him to add for a distance learning class. Work has been nonstop since March, he said. In his 15 years of teaching at SC he had never used Canvas for any of his classes. Vasquez said Canvas can be frustrating and time consuming. Even so, it has forced him to tap into a side of teaching that exposes students to different kinds of learning. He took this opportunity to show videos of artists’ lives, he said, and his students have excited discussions about them on the site. Even with the added quizzes and discussion boards, the core material remains the same. Class starts off as an art boot camp, where students learn foundational techniques like color theory and geometric abstraction. They then move on to naturalism, where they learn to paint as realistically as possible. Anna Castro, 20, said she enjoyed learning geometric abstraction. She is majoring in biology and her chemistry classes left her fascinated by the perfect ratio of circles. Nature likes to form circles, she said. Now she does, too. She painted a self portrait with her face composed of polygons and her hair a tangle of blue circles tumbling to her shoulders. There are two circles that show a hint of tawny brown, yet there is no trace of her actual black hair. The two colors combined form black, she said, and the contrast hints at what it could be. Castro said she stopped painting for a few years after high school, though the artist in her itched to get out. A self-described introvert, Castro said she enjoys painting in the comfort of her own room. One problem is the lighting, she said, as the lamps in her room do not compare to the lighting at SC. “They have big rooms,” she said. “They have big windows. So the light gets there better and it is more natural.” Vasquez said some students are not able to carve out a space at home. Working at an art studio is an important part of the experience and it is something students are missing, he said.
COURTESY MARIA LLAMAS
VIRTUALLY PRICELESS — Maria Llamas and painting students of art professor Perry Vasquez expressed appreciation that visual arts classes can continue during remote instruction.
“The first time that I walked into a collegelevel art studio I felt very comfortable and at home, and it just felt like a creative place,” he said. “That was how it’s designed to be. It’s designed to encourage creativity.” For some students an online painting class is the only way they can take it. Maria Llamas is a notary public and mother of two teenagers. Between her classes, work and taking care of her children she would not have been able to attend in-person classes, she said. She used to suffer from Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, putting her at a higher risk for developing complications if she were to contract coronavirus. “If it hadn’t been for the painting classes, I don’t know what would have happened to my emotional health,” Llamas said. “I was terrified of the pandemic.” She said it does not matter if a class is online or in person, as long as the instructor has a good method. Her progress spoke for itself. In a summer class she attempted to paint
a dragon-tiger chimera. A pig accidentally emerged in the mix, Llamas said, but it is a good reminder of where she started off. This semester she tried the assignment again. Instead of a pig-like creature, she painted the great fiery dragon-tiger chimera that roared in her imagination. Its red wings spread out over a singed hill. It matches her spirit, she said. Vasquez said not being able to learn in a classroom deprives students and himself of a certain amount of contact—especially when some students turn off their cameras and audio at the beginning of class. Even so, Vasquez said he tries to be as present as possible and give as much feedback as he can. “It is a tough career choice with ups and downs and high and low moments,” he said. “Moments where you feel on top of the world, moments where you feel like quitting.” To survive as an artist requires a strong support network, he said, and he hopes to find a way to model that for students...even in cyberspace.
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
CAMPUS NEWS / STUDENT NEWS
Olympia, Jiovana, Luz Fernanda, Perla – Eva, Kenia, Esveidy,
MEXICAN WOMEN LIVE IN FEAR OF RAPE AND MURDER
Keyra W., Johana Michelle, Noelia E., Adriana G., María
Testimonials from Tijuana Women’s Rights Protest
A partial list of known Mexican femicide victims Yolotzín, Teresa, Cinthya, Amelia, Rosa, Mariana, Nazarea, Anayensi, Gabriela, Iris, Lucero Areli, Jennie, Karla, Yadira, Evelyn, María Guadalupe, Minerva , Magali, Maritza L., Elsa M., Miroslava, Zelania, Ana Luisa, Patricia, Rosaura, Carmen, Dayana, Julia, Karina, Werly Celina, Jasmin Vera, Wadejesus Azul, Claudia Erika, Deyanira, Agustina Luly,., Felicitas, Johana Paola, Francisca G., Gabriela G., Catalina L., Josefina, Cristy C., Lourdes C., Claudia U., Natalie, Beatriz, Maria L., Amada,
BY ANA PAOLA OLVERA Campus Editor
JI HO KIM / STAFF
Asunción, Claudia, Maricarmen, Itzel, Cinthya Luz, Adriana Camila, Alma, Yulisa, Bernardina, Araceli, Citlalli, Karla Paola, Aranza, Susana, Abril P., Aminda A., Brenda J, Hannia, Tania T., Wendy, Anabell C., Perla P., Dorotea – Angie, Claudia – Vianey, Erika -, Saira -, Eloisa, Betsy R., Ma. Teresa, Joselin, Norma, Alejandra, Judith J., Yesenia L., Cinthia E., Mariana, Ingrid, Angelica, Irma, Laura E., María, Sernity, Montserrat, Fatima, Patricia, Elizabeth B., Adilene P., Cristina H., Thelma, Patricia M., Maribel, Alejandra E., Esther, Yadira, Jaqueline, María A., Clemencia, Ana Laura, Olga-Noemi, María Luz, Melanie G., Julia - Rocio A., Concepción – Ana, Luz Nayeli – Juana, Angie – Fanny, Katherine Sandra, Vianey D Myrna, Saira – Arely – Luna, Alejandra Karen, Lorena, Janeth , Carmen, Juana , Mara, Susana , Ma. Luz, Adriana , Nancy S., Denisse, Minerva, Agustina, Lucero S., Isabel C., Jaqueline, Ingrid E., Araceli N., Raymunda J., Esmeralda P., Malena, Sarahi G., Piedad, Karen A., Gertrudis S., Zoila E., Jaqueline E., Yuritzi E., Laura P., Elizabeth A., María, Araceli R., Martha m., Obdulia, Blanca, Sirenia - Anaxeli - Cinthia I., Josefina - Socorro Alma, Laura – Leticia, Carmen O. – Carmina, Laura N. – Adriana, Ma. Elizabeth – Sara, Arcelia – Rebeca, Mercedes , Veronica – Daisy, Denisse – Liliana, Laura, Milagros, Ingrid, Miriam, Janeth D., Lucia M., Veronica M., Leydi G., Melissa G., Natali Y, Guadalupe V., Aurora, Julia – Silvia,
TIJUANA, B.C. – Legions of mostly-Indigenous women have been murdered in Northern Mexico from Matamoros to Tijuana. Mass graves have been unearthed in Cuidad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Tijuana. Bodies have been found in ditches, in barrels, behind factories, in trunks of cars and under houses. Most were sexually assaulted, many were tortured. Though the women span from young children to venerable abuelitas, they are usually poor, vulnerable and forced to walk alone to work or school through dangerous places in the dark. Many are never found, disappearing like forlorn spirits from the face of Mother Earth. Women from cities, town and pueblos in Baja California Norte gather periodically in Tijuana to protest rampant violence against women and indifference by Mexico’s law enforcement agencies. Diffident government leaders, they insist, are also to blame for the crisis. With no end to the violence in sight, the women pledge to continue their gatherings, hoping to draw attention to a problem that has received practically no notice in Mexico. Following are testimonials from three women who marched at a recent protest:
We emigrated from Honduras. We face great injustice in Mexico. We are here to say no to femicide and no to violence towards women. We come from a free place, where people do not see women as delinquents, but human beings. Here, it is far from that. We face discrimination because we are immigrants. We face discrimination because we are women. We deserve respect. We should all fight for the same cause and move forward.
MARIAN LEÓN (19)
A lot of men try to diminish our message by saying that men are murdered, too. But I’ve never seen a news story where a man is killed and raped, his body found on a hill and skinned like Ingrid. It is not a question of just another murder. It is systemic violence against a gender. We must raise awareness or it will continue. More than anything, I want this to stop. Years ago, the problem was body shaming. Now we are not even asking them to stop criticizing us. We are asking them to stop raping and killing us. I do not want to die tomorrow because I am a woman. I do not want to be raped and killed, then in death blamed because I went out at night.
I do not want to be shamed because I am a woman. They see us as the gender that is always in the wrong and responsible for everything awful that happens to us. They say, “Women go to parties. They go out at night.” They should say, “Men rape at parties. Men rape at night. Men kill and harass women at work.”
Z U Z E LY Q U I R O Z ( 2 8 )
This movement has given me life. My ex stole everything from me when he hurt me, violated me, hit me and almost killed me. He took everything from me. He took my life, my voice, my security, my self-esteem. He stole everything. It took a long time for me to get back to being me and to realize my worth. I gather strength from this fight from all the women that I respect and love. We demand justice for every woman -- for me, for the girls that are no longer here, for the women that are no longer here. This movement returned to me everything I thought I had lost. The authorities did nothing to help me. I reported my rapist. I did everything I was supposed to do and the authorities did nothing but humiliate me. They told me my evidence was not enough and that my bruises had faded. They told me I was wrong and to go see a psychologist. They made me feel worse and they made me feel alone. These women and their stories inspire me to fight, demand justice and live in peace. Being a woman in Mexico means you live in constant fear, always having to fight for your life. It should not be like that. Women are 60 percent of the Mexican population. It is not fair that we contribute so much to our country, its schools, hospitals, food supply and culture as mothers and as women and we are not treated with respect. They laugh at us, they offend us, they ignore us, they rape us and they kill us. That’s why it is important for women to educate ourselves, support the feminist movement, read, learn our stories and know our origins. Since the French Revolution women have demanded their rights. Our efforts are not recent, they are ongoing. We are angry, but we want justice, not vengeance. I want to thank every woman who came out today and the ones who support us. We want to teach our country how important we are to the economy, school, health – everything! When we go on strike may no woman go out, shop or talk. No social media. It will be as if every woman has died or as if we have disappeared. Maybe that way men can see in our absence how important we are to this country.
Yuli – Elvia, Claudia, Juana, Lizbeth – Thalia, María de Jesus, Vanesa – Norma, Fernanda – Elena, Ilse – Rosalia, Nayelli N., Gabriela, Ana-Josefina, Dulce Paola, Cecilia-Rosa, Mercedes T., H Jaqueline, Adriana-Ana, Rosario-Dora, Diana-Jesusita, Blanca G., Brenda C., Argelia, Ivett-Gina, Guadalupe, Isabel, Dalila, Esbeydi, Carolina D., Mayra, Dolores G., Veronica, Victoria, Stephanie, Monica Z., Fabiola, Lucero H., Nancy R., Karina C.
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
Being a woman in Mexico means you live in constant fear, always having to fight for your life. We contribute so much to our country, but are not treated with respect. —Zuzely Quiroz
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
COURTESY ERNESTO RIVERA
MOTHER OF ALL CLUBS – Ana Sanchez had a winning idea when she founded a popular club for students who are also parents.
CLUBS STILL CALLED TO ORDER BY PAULINA NUNEZ Staff Writer
ASO Vice President April Dayana Lopez had a mission. Resurrect the college’s once-robust system of student clubs during a time of crisis when no one could meet face-tofacer on campus. She turned Mission Impossible into Mission Accomplished. Southwestern College hosted its first ever virtual club fair for 35 clubs so students could meet and connect with like-minded classmates. “It took many weeks to solidify a date and plan exactly how it would happen,” Lopez said. “It was decided to have a Zoom meeting featuring all the clubs in which all students were able to breakout into rooms and join the room of the club they were interested in joining.” Lopez said returning club members were very motivated to relaunch activities and inspire their new members. “I am thankful to have an amazing team, amazing club members who still keep active and create fun events despite the strain COVID has caused,’’ she said. Anna Sanchez, founder and president of the M.A.M.S. club for students with children, said her organization empowers student mothers, creates a virtual healing space and a much-needed peer support group. M.A.M.S. meets over Zoom weekly to host “healing painting sessions,” chat groups and access to counseling. “We plan to support women and children in shelters, as well as Southwestern College mothers,” she said. “Our goals include checking in with a counselor to vent and heal, as well as having guest speakers every month.” The Business Club is creating a productive virtual space for aspiring entrepreneurs. Club president Karina Sanchez said a goal is to fight isolation and encourage students to network with likeminded classmates. Some members have created a home business, she said, so the club serves as a support for them by providing ideas and connections. “We meet Thursdays on Zoom,” Sanchez said.“We will host discussion panels and then on our Instagram we will be providing links to several articles. We also plan to do several Kahoot activities online for the members.” Students interested in joining clubs may contact Lopez through the ASO’s page on the college website. Club activities will run through mid-December and the end of the fall semester. All clubs will need to re-charter in the spring semester beginning in January.
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
AMY MORALES / STAFF
STAND UP GUY – Sporting goods dealers report a big increase in paddleboard sales and rentals since March.
Board MEETINGS President Murillo among those who celebrate ‘zen’ qualities of paddle boarding
BY ALEX KIM Staff Writer
chool administrators carrying on rhapsodically about paddle boards may cause naughty baby boomers to shiver, but in pandemic-punched 2020 the boards are increasingly a source of joy. College president Dr. Kindred Murillo is a witness to the power of the paddle board, the ocean-faring surfboardon-steroids whose popularity has soared during months of social distancing. “It’s something you can do during COVID that’s not bothersome to anybody because you are out there in the water,” she said. A paddle boarder since 2012 when she was president of Lake Tahoe Community College, Murillo was likely motivated to learn quickly so as not to topple into the frigid alpine lake. She said she loves the health benefits and zen nature of the sport. It is a great core workout, she added, and something inspiring to do before work.
“I lost weight,” she said with a hint of pride. “How about that?” Michael Jimenez, owner of Chula Vista Water Sports, said interest in water sport has grown since the March shelter-in-place order from the governor and the state’s slow, partial reopening. His business has increased by a factor of four, so much, he said, he was able to buy jet skies from last quarter’s revenues. Paddle boarding, he added, is more popular than ever. “When you’re going to restaurants or going to get your nails done, it doesn’t feel the same (due to coronavirus precautions),” he said. “When people paddle board (they) don’t have to have a mask on and it’s just a fun time. I feel like people are starting to appreciate the outdoor activities because we’re so cooped up inside.” Paddle boarding SC student Leilani Ojinaga agreed. “It’s a relaxing and head-clearing activity, and just being outside makes you happier,” she said. “We’re also working out our core, but we’re not really thinking about it because it’s so enjoyable.”
PANDEMIC EATING INTO LOCAL RESTAURANT PROFITS BY MIGUEL DIAZ Staff Writer
Death is bad for business. Global pandemics are not so great either. Hundreds of South County businesses have called it quits, unable to stay afloat during nine months of shelter-in-place orders and other directives aimed at stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus. Most, though, have adapted, embracing the adage “the only constant is change.” Creativity has been the hallmark of MJ’s Fusion Grill since the day it opened, but even the genre-blurring duo of MJ and Chef Kevin have been pushed to their innovative limited by the South County’s stubbornly-purple COVID-19 reality. “Ain’t gonna lie, it’s been tough,” said MJ, whose normally preternatural cheerfulness has been challenged by a sharp decrease in foot traffic at his critically-acclaimed poly-cultural eatery. “With (Bonita Vista) High School and Southwestern closed, we’ve lost all the midday student traffic. All the kids that used to come here to hang out have pretty much disappeared.” MJ’s menu that blends tasty elements of culinary traditions from Guam, Mexico, Hawai’i, the Philippines, Japan and SoCal has
been celebrated in magazines and foodie cybersites. It attracted a rich cross-section of the South County’s diverse population from all age groups who lingered on the puffy chairs and comfy couches. Now, rather than enjoying the stream of diverse faces that came through the door, MJ said he sees antsy Uber and Grub Hub drivers eager to get moving. He admitted to mixed feelings about the gig economy’s intrusion into his business. “After they take out the percentages from Uber and GrubHub and all that, we are basically left with nothing,” he said. “We basically tolerate the app for advertising and visibility. After the food costs and their percentage, we are left with about five percent that goes into the business.” Chef Kevin said he understands why people are reluctant to visit their old food haunts, but encouraged people of means to support small businesses like MJ’s Fusion Grill. “(Restaurants are) a tough business, but we have faith in our idea,” he said. “We are going to hang in as long as we can.” MJ agreed. He asked members of the community to think about supporting small businesses and restaurants.
“It’s better to go in for the food (yourself ) because we don’t have to give those big (delivery) percentages to anybody,” he said. “We are hoping people will support us so we can still be here when the pandemic is over.” Juice Adventure, the award-winning juice bar and sandwich shop across the street from the college, also lost its reliable stream of students and employees, but is “hanging tough,” according to owner Larry McCrory. A former BVHS track star in the high hurdles is facing his biggest hurdle ever, he said. He remains open only for takeout, which he said has steadily increased since March. “I was very worried at first, but we have adapted,” he said. “We are keeping on our feet.” McCrory confessed that he is less than thrilled by the bite delivery services take from his bottom line, but he said he has no choice but to accept the new reality – at least for now. “It’s the cost of staying in business,” he said. Scruffy long hair prominent on Zoom meetings in the spring and summer is gradually giving way to better coifed heads, but local barber shops and salons have also seen their profits clipped. Luis Palomares of The Barber Shack reported a big fall off.
“For one, I can’t do any more walk-ins,” he said. “I have to do all appointments. Walk-ins were like 30 to 40 percent of my business. A lot of the regulars are not coming back yet because they are scared of the virus.” Palomares said cleanliness and sanitation are priorities at his shop, but he understands people’s concerns, especially in the hard-hit South Bay. Mohammad Rashidi of Otay Books has seen his business fall off by more the 50 percent since March, he said. His discount textbook exchange business has been a Southwestern College-area institution for nearly 20 years, but has been severely impacted by the closure of the college and the switch to remote learning. Professors are using fewer books and relying more on online publications, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Colleges and universities across America have reported sizeable enrollment drops after the pandemic hit, including 10-11 percent at SC this year alone. Rashidi said he has noticed that trend as well. “Overall there are less people coming in to buy and sell books compared to pre-COVID times,” he said. “We are trying to get by until the situation changes again.” NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
CAMPUS SP ORTS
F E AT U R E S
A LT E R N AT I V E S P O R T S
MUSIC OVER MANTLE — In 1968 the legendary Mickey Mantle played his final season and the New York Yankees were looking for his replacement. They wanted to sign a slender centerfielder from The Bronx, but Joel Levine had another great offer to consider.
Southwestern 1, Yankees 0 Teenage Joel Levine had a tough choice — sign with the NY Yankees or accept a prestigious music scholarship
BY ANDREW SANCHEZ Staff Writer
capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium fell deathly quiet during Game 2 of the 1951 World Series when transcendent rookie Mickey Mantle writhed in agony on the right field grass after stepping on a sprinkler, his knee shredded. Seconds earlier Mantle had veered out of the way of iconic New York Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio to avoid a collision on a fly ball by Willie Mays. The venerable Yankee Clipper stood over the Kid from Commerce, concerned about his teammate and heir. Mantle left right field on a stretcher, never the same. It remains one of the most notorious injuries in baseball history. Joel Levine made sure to avoid the sprinkler. Southwestern College’s dean of Language, Literature and Humanities, Levine stepped over the Mantle sprinkler when he stepped onto the outfield turf at America’s most venerated baseball stadium. He also stepped across hallowed ground during his 1968 tryout with the New York Yankees. A South Bronx native, Levine grew up near Yankee Stadium during the Golden Age of the “Bronx Bombers,” who appeared in 13 World Series in the 1950s and early ‘60s, winning eight. Like other young New Yorkers, he played baseball and stickball in the streets when not on a grass field playing youth ball. In high school he was a talented pitcher and center fielder. He was also a very talented musician who even as a child demonstrated precocious virtuosity and flair on the clarinet. Levine dreamed of baseball, but his mother encouraged him to play music. For years he did both, he said, dreaming of playing center field for the Yankees during the day, and first chair clarinet for the New York Philharmonic at night. Fate collided as Mantle and DiMaggio almost had. Manhattan School of Music had an eye on Levine and offered him a full scholarship. MSM was and remains neckand-neck with The Juilliard School as the New York Yankees of music universities, all-time champions. The Yankees had an eye on Levine, too, and invited him to a tryout the summer after he graduated from high school. He grabbed his glove and spikes and headed to The House That Ruth Built, the Bronx baseball cathedral of Yankee Stadium. About 300 high school and college baseball standouts were invited to the tryout. Most were sent home after the first day. Levine stuck. And he kept on sticking.
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
For two grueling weeks he kept sticking. Yankee scouts liked him as a pitcher, but also liked his bat and saw his powerful arm as an asset in the outfield -- possibly as a replacement for Mantle himself, who in 1968 was hobbling through the final season of his Hall of Fame career. Levine took flyballs and fungos in the outfield, stepping around the Mantle sprinkler and gliding in front of “Monument Park” where bronze and stone obelisks stand erect through time honoring Yankee greats Miller Huggins, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, DiMaggio (and a short time later, Mantle.) He gloved fly balls where the mighty Ruth trod in the 1920s, threw from the same places DiMaggio had cut down baserunners in the 1940s and guarded the gaps like home run champion Roger Maris early in the 1960s. After a fortnight of relentless workouts, the Yankees winnowed the field down to 20 teens who had risen above the rest. Levine was left standing. The New York Yankees wanted to sign him. Levine said he was ecstatic, but his mother conflicted. She was proud of Joel for being offered a spot in the Yankees organization, but concerned about his spot at Manhattan School of Music and his scholarship. She had never liked the sport and her baseball-obsessed husband did not help, chain smoking in front of the TV, watching every possible Yankees and Mets game. Young Joel said he still remembers the bright Bronx morning when the phone rang around 9 a.m. At that time of the year sunlight reflected off the fifth floor tenement across the alley into the Levines’ tiny unit. Mrs. Levine happened to answer the phone the day the Yankees scout Arthur Didi called to make Joel a formal contract offer to play late summer rookie baseball in the Yanks’ system. “I don’t want my son riding in a bus all over the country,” a horrified Levine recalled his mom telling the Yankees’ representative. “He’s got better things to do with his life!” He coaxed the phone away from his mother and set up a personal meeting with Didi. Rookie league for high school players started in late August, he was told, about the same time Manhattan School of Music started fall classes. It was a pivotal moment in his life, Levine recalled. “Time slowed down,” he said. “Even though I was very young, I knew I was about to make a lifetime decision. I still remember how the light looked reflected off the fifth floor windows. I figured I could play the clarinet long past the time I could play baseball.” He chose music over Mantle, college over professional baseball. He told the Yankees he did not want to abandon his scholarship. “It’s okay, son, you are still young,” Levine recalled Didi telling him. “We will watch you play in college and see how you progress there. We can sign you up later.” Levine said he did not have the heart to tell Didi that Manhattan School of Music was not exactly an intercollegiate baseball powerhouse. In fact, it had no sports programs at all. It enrolled about 450
If I had the opportunity for a doover maybe I would pick the Yankees. But I love where I am in my life and love serving as a dean. —Dr. Joel Levine, SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE DEAN of LANGUAGE, LITERATURE and HUMANITIES
students at that time -- all musicians. “Not a Babe Ruth or Willie Mays in the bunch,” Levine said. Levine had hit that moment in time where so many young men with dreams of baseball stardom reluctantly arrive. His baseball career was over. Other great adventures lay ahead. As the baseball cleats grew cold in the crisp fall air, Levine’s clarinet was hotter than ever. His scholarship paid for almost everything at MSM except lunch, he recalled, so he took a thermos of soup, a sandwich and an apple to campus each day to fuel his music. One of his classmates was Santo “Sunny” Russo, the already-legendary trombonist for “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” who came to school during the day to study music education. Levine earned a B.A. in music with an emphasis in clarinet performance in 1972. He completed an M.A. in music in 1973, while working in several education classes, also at the Manhattan School of Music. He completed a teaching credential program in 1975 at Columbia University, where he developed a love for the science of education. In 1980 he earned a second Master’s and a Doctorate in education administration from Columbia, completing both degrees from the
venerable Ivy League University in just two-and-a-half years. Levine was offered a cushy job in mostly-white, upper middle class Staten Island, but turned it down to teach in lowincome, mostly-minority Spanish Harlem. “Best decision I ever made, it was great,” he said. “That experience taught me so much about inequities in our education system and what we needed to do to elevate disadvantaged communities.” Teaching in NYC’s barrio communities helped to spawn and nurture what became a decades-long devotion to developing critical thinking skills in underserved students on Native American reservations and borderlands schools. He took that mission with him to Pittsburgh, California in the East Bay north of Berkeley, then to work for the Campo Band of Mission Indians (who now refer to themselves by their ancestral name of Kumeyaay). In 1989 he ignored discouraging naysayers and staggering odds to write a successful grant application to the Federal Indian Act of 1988. Levine’s Campo Indian Education Project was awarded $250,000, which he used to establish a preschool on the Campo reservation, hire counselors, employ seven after-school tutors and build two modern classroom structures. In eight years the Native American high school dropout rate nearly flipped, dropping from almost 90 percent to just over 10 percent. Levine arrived at SC in 2006 as dean of Language, Literature and Humanities. He teamed with Professor of Reading Dr. Sylvia Garcia-Navarrete and instructor Yuki Yamamoto to develop the awardwinning curriculum “My Reading Toolbox” that has spawned successful textbooks and requests for workshops and classes around the globe. Levine also serves as a mentor and adviser for doctoral students at San Diego State University where he serves on dissertation committees. He is, colleagues agree, still a wicked clarinetist who practices every day for 6090 minutes. “I actually think I’m better now than ever,” he said. “That makes sense because learning should be continuous. We can all continue to improve at whatever we like to do as we grow older.” Levine said he enjoys performing with Dr. Cynthia McGregor, Dr. Jeff Nevin, Dr. Jenna Posey and other talented classicallytrained musicians on the SC faculty at recitals and concerts. He played in the SC Orchestra performance of the “New World Symphony,” conducted by Nevin. One of his favorite all-time gigs was playing the world premier of the Joseph Julian Gonzalez chorale “Misa Azteca,” which featured SC’s lauded Concert Choir directed by Dr. Teresa Russell. His career in education has been richly rewarding, he said, but during baseball season he occasionally wonders “what if?” “If I had the opportunity for a doover maybe I would pick the Yankees,” he confessed. “But I love where I am in my life and love serving as a dean. I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve had a great life and I love being part of Southwestern College.”
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
T H E B AC K PAG E
VO I C E S I N O U R CO M M U N I T I E S
AMY MORALES / STAFF
Chicano leaders decry destruction of school murals
BY ARANZA GUTIERREZ CORTES Arts Editor
an Diego County Latino and arts leaders who have rallied to the defense of three muralists whose iconic creations face destruction due to school remodeling. They have threatened legal
action if the paintings are damaged. Renown Chicano muralist Salvador Barajas is one of a trio of prominent regional artists whose sweeping creations may get swept away by a reconstruction project at Memorial Prep Middle School in Logan Heights. He painted his towering three-part mural “Aztec School” in 2001, he said, when the principal wanted to address a chronic graffiti problem. Barajas said the plan worked perfectly. “Ever since I painted the mural, no one ever touched it, and it has been 18 years,” he said. What vandals did not destroy wrecking crews may. The San Diego Unified School District has plans to demolish and replace several existing buildings, including one that hosts “Aztec School.” SDUSD contractors already destroyed Chicano artist Salvador Torres’ mural “The Memorial Mural of the San Diego Unified School District” in September, allegedly without informing him in violation of their agreement. Chicano leaders insist the murals be moved, not removed. Herman Baca, president of the Committee on Chicano Rights, called the destruction of murals by nationally-known artists a form of “cultural genocide.” “We are all aware and know what happens when so-called ‘progress’ is defined and implemented by a system that cares little about our history, culture or language,” he said. Enrique Morones, founder of Gente Unida and the House of Mexico, said it was surprising that anyone in San Diego County would want to remove a mural by Barajas, whom he called “a legend in the artistic community.” Barajas has painted four of Chicano Park’s famous murals, including the gateway Founders’ Mural, created in 1973 shortly after Chicano Park was birthed in the wake of a community uprising. He
PLEASE SEE Mural PG. 8
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
AMY MORALES / STAFF
TREASURES TRASHED — Chicano art legend Salvador Barajas (top) with his original miniature paintings of his wall-sized murals at Memorial Prep Middle School. Barajas makes small representations of ambitious pieces before creating the fullsized renditions. (above) Barajas at the site of the destruction of the Salvador Torres creation “The Memorial Mural of the San Diego Unified School District.” (l) One side of the towering “Amigos de San Diego” mural painted by Barajas in Chicano Park. Barajas has painted four of the iconic park’s murals.
A prolific legend walks among us
Salvador Barajas helped to paint Chicano Park’s first mural, the “Founders Mural” in
1973, which he repainted recently with new faces, including Chicano giants Herman
Baca and Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez. He has
painted commissions for Border Angels,
Amigos Car Club and the city of San Diego. Chicano Park is a National Heritage Site
home to the largest collection of outdoor murals in the world. AMY MORALES / STAFF
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
INJUSTICE I N
T H E
B O R D E R L A N D S
SPECIAL EDITION A N A C P H A L L O F FA M E N E W S PA P E R
A N AT I O N A L PA C E M A K E R AWA R D N E W S PA P E R
JI HO KIM / STAFF
INDIGENOUS HOLOCAUST I N V I S I B L E I N T H E DATA INVISIBLE IN THE MEDIA I N V I S I B L E I N D E AT H
BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief
haunting American Holocaust is claiming new victims every day in the most frightful and dangerous way. Out of sight and invisible. Indigenous women are statistically the most murdered members of our society, killed with such regularity that victims are vastly undercounted. Native American women are allowed to disappear three times, advocates charge: in life, in the media and in the data. It is like they never disappeared. It is like they never existed. They did exist. Data is shocking. Native American women face murder rates 10 times the national average. Homicide is the third leading cause of death of American Indian females aged 15-34. More than 95 percent of the cases were never covered by the American or international news media. The lack of data is also shocking. Of the 5,712 cases of murdered or missing women in 2016, only 116 were logged into the Dept. of Justice database. Hundreds of law enforcement agencies have no category for Native American crime victims and lump them in with White THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
victims. Hundreds of known murder victims and disappeared women appear in no law enforcement records whatsoever. No law enforcement or Native American advocates will even take an educated guess at how many women have been killed or disappeared in recent years. All fear the number is staggering, but no one is counting. Were it not for a single DOJ study of the problem we would have no empirical evidence to describe a problem that we know anecdotally exists on a horrifying scale. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro are members of a bipartisan group of lawmakers concerned about America’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. They introduced the “Not Invisible Act” this month in an effort to bring forward meaningful recommendations from law enforcement, tribal leaders, federal agencies and victims. A previous bill, Savanna’s Act, was signed into law in October. It is a small step in the right direction. Introduced by former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp in 2017, the legislation bears the name of 22-yearold murder victim Savanna LaFontaineGreywind of the Spirit Lake Nation. She was eight months pregnant when she was killed by a neighbor. SAVANNA’S ACT aims to: • Train law enforcement how to record tribal
enrollment of victims in federal databases; • Educate the public on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System; • Make it easier for Native American tribes and organizations to enter crime information into the system; • Train law enforcement to better respond to cases of missing or murdered Native Americans; • Track and report statistics on missing or murdered Native Americans in an effort to develop a federal database; Crimes against Native American women are not isolated to remote reservations. Health care advocates report that thousands of women living in urban centers are also victimized, but fall through the bureaucratic cracks. Canadian and Mexican women face the same dark fate. Some of America’s most cosmopolitan cities have some of the highest crime rates against Indigenous women, according to The Urban Indian Health Institute. Wealthy, well-run cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Tucson, Sacramento, Albuquerque and Anchorage are among the urban centers with high rates of murder and other forms of violence against Native women and girls. Other cities almost certainly have comparable or worse records, but again, there is little or no data. Part of the reason is likely incompetence by law enforcement record keepers, but some of the blackout is
intentional. Many jurisdictions refused or slow-walked Freedom of Information Act requests by government researchers and journalists. Some of the worst offending cities were Bakersfield, Gallup, Billings, Portland, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, Fairbanks, Ketchikan and Flagstaff. America’s news media shoulders much of the responsibility for this stealth tragedy. To say that coverage of Native American women murdered and missing is pathetic would be generous. We have been too busy salivating over Donald Trump’s deranged Tweets, the kooky Kardasians and COVID deniers at motorcycle gatherings to give any meaningful attention to the barbaric treatment of our Native sisters. America is rightfully convulsed with a reckoning about its dreadful treatment of African-American men, Latinas and our LGBTQ community. Hope glimmers on the horizon. A case could be made that Native Americans are the most mistreated of all people in this country. While other people were enslaved, sublimated, terrorized, marginalized and abused, Indigenous People alone were exterminated. There is a reason they make up just 2.09 percent of the population. Native Americans are the powerless in this country, and need us to add our voices to theirs. Native American women are disappearing without a trace. They need our voices most of all. NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
SONGS OF FREEDOM — Kumeyaay bird singers seek divine intervention to prevent further desecration of ancient lands. Kumeyaay People have lived in the region for at least 12,000 years.
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
NO BORDERS, JUST HORIZONS — Kumeyaay activists protest the Trump Administration’s extension of the border wall east of Tecate that disturbs burial grounds and sacred cultural sites.
KUMEYAAY LANDS IN 1769
YA AY B O R D E R RIV
LORAD OR CO
N PACIFIC OCEAN 20 MILES
TES D STA UNITE O MEXIC
O IEG SA N D
SAN FELIPE CREE
SEA OF CORTEZ THE SWC SUN / STAFF
HOMELANDS OF THE OLD ONES Kumeyaay People have lived in this region for 12,000 years after traversing the Bering Strait Land Bridge during the Ice Age. They are thought to have lived primarily west of the Cuyamaca Mountains, though they are known to have wandered great distances north to acquire trading materials and east to trade with the Yuman People in present day Arizona. Kumeyaay moved back and forth from the mountains to the ocean with the seasons, harvesting plants and small plots of crops they had cultivated earlier along the way. During summers they gathered acorns and hunted in the mountains, during the winters they would live closer to the beaches. They were acute stewards of the land, which they considered a living, sacred entity and a partner in survival. As Spaniards, Mexicans and
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
Kumeyaay demand end to destruction of burial grounds, sacred sites BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief
S LUI N A S
HOMELAND SECURITY REDUX
Americans invaded their homelands, Kumeyaay were forced to the east, living most of their existence in the dry foothills and mountains. After the Mexican-American War of 1846–48, an international border was drawn between the two countries right through the heart of Kumeyaay land. During the Indian Wars of the period from about 1880–1900, Kumeyaay lost much of their remaining land to greedy settlers, prospectors and other invaders. They also lost most of their culture and heritage for more than a century until Mexican Kumiai helped to reteach it in recent years. Southwestern College is built on Kumeyaay land, as is the entire college district. Construction of homes and shopping centers have routinely unearthed the sites of Kumeyaay villages and burial grounds.
INTERNATIONAL BORDER, TECATE, CA — Four generations of Kumeyaay bird singers offered sacred songs for those who came before. ...before Abraham. ...before Caesar. ...before Cabrillo. ...before Columbus. ...before Trump. Horrified Kumeyaay recently discovered that a portion of Donald Trump’s $13 billion border wall slices through burial grounds and sacred cultural sites in the arid mountains of East County — unearthing tools, pottery shards and human remains. Complaints to Trump Administration officials have fallen on deaf ears, so elders appealed to a Higher Authority. Dr. Stan Rodriguez, a Santa Ysabel Kumeyaay elder, led the traditional bird singing and called for nonviolent defiance of the desecration of his ancestors’ graves with bulldozers and backhoes. “They go over our sacred burial sites,” he said. “They go over our sacred places to pray. Although they have made this border, this land is Kumeyaay land. They have tried to separate us. They have tried to keep us apart.”
For at least 12,000 years the Kumeyaay and their forebearers flourished on a vast area of lifesupporting land from what is now Oceanside and Escondido in the north to the beaches and mountains of Ensenada to the south. They also gathered food and traded as far east as modern day Yuma and Las Vegas. On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day they gathered at the sleepy Tecate port-of-entry in front of the tiny U.S. Border Patrol station to demand a cessation of the desecration of their land and religious sites by Homeland Security construction crews and heavy machinery. Tecate, a border hamlet tucked high in the dry mountains about 25 miles east of Southwestern College, is symbolic because it is separated by the rest of the original frontier community which is now Tecate, Mexico by the border drawn after the Mexican-American War. Politicians of the day redrew the border right through Kumeyaay land without consultation or care. Traditional Kumeyaay lands are sheared by the border much like the Berlin Wall or the Korean Demilitarized Zone, separating families and decimating a culture much older than that of the European invaders. Kumeyaay activists are in the fourth year of a racially-
tinged battle with the Trump administration and its infamous wall that vivesects sacred lands where the remains of their ancestors rest in the sandy soil among granite boulders and chaparral. Rodriguez called the wall a violation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Kumeyaay activists drew national attention last month when a viral video showed a vicious White woman profanely mocking and insulting Kumeyaay protesters at a remote border wall construction site near Descanso. She hopped on one foot and spun drunkenly in circles as she spewed vituperous names and racist invectives at the Native Americans gathered for a religious ceremony. She taunted them for “losing” their land and pushed them as they sang and prayed. Rodriguez said winning and losing are in the eye of the beholder. “These borders are an effort to keep us away from our own family, our own friends, our own relatives,” he said. “Borders do not work. They will never work. It is a waste of time and a waste of money.” Kumeyaay were hunted and chased into the rocky mountains of what is now eastern San Diego County by Mexican expansionists in the early 19th century, then nearly exterminated by Americans
They go over our sacred burial sites,. They go over our sacred places to pray. Although they have made this border, this land is Kumeyaay land. They have tried to separate us. They have tried to keep us apart. — Dr. Stan Rodriguez, SANTA YSABEL KUMEYAAY ELDER
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
WE WERE HERE FIRST — Kumeyaay lived in harmony with the land in what is now Tecate, where the border splits through ancient lands, and the border wall desecrates burial grounds and cultural sites.
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
APPEAL TO HIGHER AUTHORITY — Native Americans of the Southwest borderlands including the Kumeyaay, Apache and Tohono O’odham have seen their ancestral lands vivisected by the border after the Mexican-American War of 1846-48.
THIS LAND IS OUR LAND — First Americans are hoping for better treatment under the Biden Administration, according to Kumeyaay elders protesting the desecration of Indigenous lands in border regions.
in the 1880s and 1890s during the period that marked the Indian Wars. Survivors were stripped of their language, culture and lifestyle. Children were forced into English schools, forbidden to speak their Ipay language or practice any ancient customs. Some Indian schools lasted into the late 1960s and were not banned until 1978. Only in recent years have Mexican Kumeyaay who were able to maintain their Ipay tongue, bird songs and other cultural treasures helped to reestablish the culture among the northern Kumeyaay of San Diego County. Rodriguez said Kumeyaay are survivors who still pray, celebrate life and find ways to come together. “Everything they have tried to do since 1492 to erase us as a people has been unsuccessful,” he said. “We still live in our traditional homeland. They have not taken that away from us. We still have our singers. We sing our traditional songs, which they tried to erase and make illegal until the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed on August 11, 1978.” Singing, speaking and living are acts of resistance, Rodriquez said. There is power underfoot. “When we talk about the Holy Land, this is our Holy Land,” he said. “Each peak is holy. Each valley. This mud. This land is sacred to us and by us coming together we acknowledge that. We do this not only for the Kumeyaay, but for all people. Each and every one of you here is native from somewhere. To be able to hold that deep in your heart and allow it to grow is important.” Americans should not be satisfied with “tolerance,” Rodriguez said, because it is a mediocre standard at best and corrosive at worst. “Tolerance has a connotation, it’s
Ronny Paipa, a Campo Kumeyaay, said separation feeds sadness. “Obviously the border separates us and I think it’s really hard because (Kumeyaay living in Mexico) have it a little bit harder over there than we do,” said Paipa. “I think people tend to forget that our people are over there, too. Just because the border crossed us (people may) think it’s just Mexico or they’re Mexicans, but that’s not the case.” Baines agreed. She said it is essential to raise awareness of the border-spanning reality of the Kumeyaay. “I feel like it’s very important that the Border Patrol has a good understanding that our people are on both sides and that it affects us and it saddens our heart that we can’t just easily come together,” she said. “This border wall and all these Border Patrol (agents) interfere when we try to do things together. I feel like the Kumeyaay people and people of this land, in general, go unnoticed, especially on the (southern) side.” As historic transgressions loom, so does a 21st century killer — COVID-19. Baines said Native Americans — including local Kumeyaay — have been hit hard. Gov. Gavin Newsom and his COVID-19 response team have acknowledged the situation. “We are faced with the stark reality that Indigenous Peoples are being disproportionately impacted by the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and make up many of the people on the front lines – tribal leaders making sure elders and communities are cared for, farmworkers ensuring that we have fresh food on our tables and medical personnel treating those who have fallen sick,” said Newsom. “As the state faces historic wildfires,
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2
BANDS OF BROTHERS AND SISTERS:
KUMEYAAY PEOPLE OF SOCAL AND BAJA Indigenous Kumeyaay People have lived in what is now the border region for at least 12,000 years after crossing the Bering Strait Land Bridge from Asia and migrating down the coast. Spanish missionaries called the natives Los Dieguenos. Americans often called them Mission Indians, a name some Kumeyaay bands kept in honor of their ancestors who bore the name. Southern California is home to 13 Kumeyaay bands. San Diego County has more Native American reservations than any other county in the United States. The Kumeyaay were split into SoCal and Baja People by the border drawn after the Mexican-American War in February 1848. Southern California Kumeyaay Bands: • Campo Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
negative,” he said. “Like I tolerate this heat or this inclement weather. Each and every one of us has something we can teach each other. We can be like a bundle of arrows. One arrow is easy to break. A bundle of arrows is unbreakable.” Rodriguez pointed toward Baja California where Kumeyaay on the other side of the border were conducting similar ceremonies. “It is regrettable that we cannot come together as one People again because of this border and sing our songs together and celebrate our indigenousness and our lives,” he said. “This is the best we can do right now. Someday we will all be together again.”
• • • • • • • • • • •
Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians Barona Band of Mission Indians San Pasqual Band of Indians Inaja Cosmit Indian Reservation Capitan Grande Indian Reservation Santa Ysabel Band of Diegueno Indians Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians Manzanita Indian Reservation Jamul Indian Village of the Kumeyaay Nation Mesa Grande Indian Reservation Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
Baja California, Mexico, Kumiai Bands: • San Jose de la Zorra • La Huerta • Juntas de Neji • San Antonio Necua • Santa Catarina (Kumeyaay Pai Pai)
Brooke Baines, 19 a member of Saving Homelands of the Indigenous and Ending Land Desecration (SHIELD) represented a new generation of Kumeyaay activists. “I wish we could just come together and have a gathering right here,” she said. “We can hear them and they can hear us. There’s just this invisible line stopping us from being together.” Forcible separation has prevented Kumeyaay from interacting with “cousins” al otro lado, Barnes said, in some cases preventing close relationships from ever meeting, similar to a 200-year version of the Berlin Wall.
Indigenous Peoples have fought fires, provided shelter and shared traditional ecological knowledge of cultural burns to prevent future large-scale fires. And, in the midst of these challenges, Indigenous families continue to be impacted by the federal government’s xenophobic immigration policies, and construction of a border wall could threaten cultural resources.” Baines said it was “beautiful” to have people unite to raise awareness, even during a pandemic. Education is the greatest tool, she said. “Get educated on the Kumeyaay people,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing you can do. There’s a Kumeyaay Community College that’s open to all people.” Courses include Kumeyaay history, culture and the Ipay language. Kumeyaay Community College is hosted through Cuyamaca College and offers an Associate in Arts in Kumeyaay Studies. California’s Native Americans are not alone when it comes to bisection by the border, said Baines. Apache, Tohono O’odham and San Xavier People in Arizona face the same struggle, as do Pueblo People in New Mexico. “In weeks to come we would like to plan a day where we are all out on the border wall on the same day and creating a line almost as if we were holding hands,” she said. Rodriguez said Kumeyaay culture was like an earthen pot shattered by encroachment. Each community got a shard of the pot and when they come together, he said, they grind them together to make a powder. They then add new clay and form a new pot. “It has our past, what we do today as our present and we make it strong for our future.”
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
In 2002 there were 20 undocumented people buried in this place. Now there are hundreds … If they cannot be identified they are buried with no ceremony or anything. It’s truly sad. — Enrique Morones, Gente Unida
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
REMEMBERING THE FORGOTTEN — Enrique Morones and Gente Unida volunteers place handmade crosses at the unmarked graves of unidentified migrants.
acres of the dead A M E R IC A’ S S EC R E T C E M E T E RY OF T H E U N K NOW N BY JULIA WOOCK Editor-in-Chief
HOLTVILLE, CA — Holtville keeps a terrible secret. Death is underfoot. Even most of its 6,700 citizens are unaware that this hardscrabble town near the Arizona border is the final resting place of almost 1,000 nameless people buried in pauper’s graves in anonymous acres of rust-tinted Imperial Valley dust. Unlucky migrants who drown in the filthy New River, withered under the relentless desert sun, froze during frigid mountain nights or starved ambling toward an American agricultural oasis will spend eternity unmarked, unwatched and unaccounted for in this unkempt depository of the unwanted. Except for one day each year. It is Día de los Muertos in Holtville, and Enrique Morones has summoned the volunteers of Gente Unida to the chain link fence separating the paid customers of the verdant Terrace Park Cemetery from los inmigrantes who never expected to end up there. As the gate creaked open visitors entered an unknown world of the dead before them in a sprawling horizon of nothing. Nothing on the surface. La tragedia, said Morones, is what is beneath the desiccated soil that collects like chocolate powder on the boots of the mourners. “It’s a cemetery where people that don’t have the money to be buried are buried,” he said. “When I first came here in 2002 there were like 20 undocumented people buried in this place. Now there are hundreds. These bodies were found out here in Imperial Valley by the sheriff or the border patrol. If they cannot be identified they are buried with no ceremony or anything. It’s truly sad. Every life is equally important.” Terrace Park Cemetery is privately owned, Morones said, and the area where the unidentified migrants lie is a pauper’s grave that is not kept up save an occasional dragging to knock down spring weeds. It is the largest non-military graveyard of
THE SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE SUN
JULIA WOOCK / STAFF
FINAL IGNOMINITY — Desperately poor in life, anonymous migrants and refugees are buried nameless in paupers graves in lonely Holtville.
unidentified bodies in the United States. No newly deceased will be buried again in Terrace Park Cemetery. It is closed because it is full. Unidentified bodies are now cremated by the INS without consideration to the victim’s religious beliefs. Otherwise, Morones said, Holtville’s acres of the nameless dead would extend even further into the relentless desert. “I’m upset they still don’t have grass and even in death they are kept separately,” he said. “It’s important that we honor them and pay our respects.” Once a year Gente Unida generates a religious burial service for the dead of Holtville. A Catholic priest offers blessings while volunteers evoke the traditions of ancient Aztecs and other indigenous people of Mexico.
Mourners pay tribute to the forgotten residents of the cemetery by placing handmade wooden crosses and flores de cempasúchil (marigolds) by dirt-encrusted chipped bricks stamped with John or Jane Doe. Las flores de cempasúchil are a staple on Día de los Muertos altars and graves. Flowers rooted in Náhuatl mysticism, they are cherished for their powerful scent that guides spirits home to commune with family. Hospice chaplain Frank Modic led prayers in English, and gave his blessing. “People do care,” he said to the departed, “even if we do not know your names.” Then a moment of grace and beauty. Mourners released painted lady butterflies which pranced and bobbed in the warming morning air, carrying the hopes and dreams of the departed Heavenward.
Butterflies are a metaphor for transformation and rebirth, Modic said. Releasing las mariposas honors those who have gone ahead and extends hope to those left behind. Fragile and delicate like life itself, butterflies are a strong connection between the earth and the flower heaven of the Aztecs, he said. Modic said Native American tradition dictates people should make a wish when releasing winged creatures because they take our hopes to the creator. Butterflies, he said, represent divine grace. “A butterfly is a universal symbol of being set free,” he said. “There’s an old saying that just when the caterpillar thought its life was over, it began to fly.” While the butterflies spread out over the grave sites, Morones said America needs to do more to remember who is in the ground at Holtville. He said he would like to enlist forensic anthropologists to help identify remains and repatriate them. Money is an obstacle, so are arguments about which governments should pay. “We don’t know if they are all Mexican,” said Morones. “Then the excuse is: what if they’re Central (American)? I say regardless, we should find out who these people are. The U.S. government has the money to pay for it. They are people who died in the United States and there could be Americans here, too.” Gente Unida Vice President Ari Honarvar, an Iranian refugee, said she could relate to the unfortunate immigrants in Holtville. “I had to leave Iran at the age of 14 when people were getting killed by the bombs (of the Iran-Iraq War) and government oppression,” she said. “We couldn’t get out. The smugglers would tell people to run in zig zags so when the authorities shoot at you, you might have a chance to survive as you cross the border. Others would marry their daughters at the age of 12, 13, 14 to someone who could get them out. This is how difficult it was.” Love is the answer, she said. “We have to open our hearts and with our hearts we open the borders.”
NOV. 27, 2020, VOL 57-A, ISSUE 2