by Melinda Mellado and Katarina Machmer
by Melinda Mellado, Katarina Machmer, & Valerie Quiroga
by Katarina Machmer & Belinda Mellado
by Katarina Machmer
As an international student from Germany – where my major is North American studies and my minor Spanish – I came to CSUN not only because the University’s classes allowed me to study both Mexican and American culture but also because Los Angeles itself is a place where both cultures intermingle.
In addition to theoretically studying American and Latinx culture in my hometown, I wanted to get to know both outside of the classroom. Reporting for El Popo gave me a special insight into Latinx culture in Los Angeles. It enabled me to discover parts of the city that I would not have seen and get to know the stories of people that I might not have met otherwise.
Having enrolled in different ethnic studies classes at CSUN, I learned something very telling about the American educational system: It is only in American universities that students of color get the possibility to learn about their own communities and their history. But even there, outside of the ethnic studies departments, education is sometimes still dominated by a white perspective and worldview. Realities such as racism and discrimination towards minorities in the United States are often glossed over.
This racial narrative is also perpetuated in journalism, the reason why many mainstream newspapers ignore people of color or do not represent their communities in an adequate way. Since I come from a different cultural background myself, I was afraid that I would not be able to appropriately represent the Chicano community in El Popo either. But I was welcomed to bring my own perspective to our newspaper, and I think this is what journalists should be able to do: instead of excluding people because they belong to a different race or class or don’t fit into America’s white racial narrative, journalists should operate as cultural ambassadors and promote diversity, bridging cultural differences and fighting America’s one-sided way of reporting.
They should present alternative as well as critical perspectives, something I could do by helping to voice the stories of people who are still too often ignored or inappropriately portrayed in American media. Racism and discrimination have unfortunately always been present in American society, and during my stay in the U.S. I noticed how deep the division between white people and people of color, especially African-Americans.
Before my semester at CSUN, I had not consciously been aware of the many privileges a white person enjoys in the United States. Since its roots are so deep, this problem is hard to eliminate – but changing the narrative and helping to voice the underrepresented is a step forward. Alternative journalism has the capacity to bring about social change, and I believe in its power.
by Lisbeth Benavidez
My name is Liseth Benavidez. I am a full time student, full time employee, and a full time mother to a beautiful one year old. Her name is Luna Rae Valdez.
My daughter has been the greatest motivation to get me through school and work. I stress out at times, but I do have a great support system. My mother helps me out and so does my mother-in-law. Having someone to help you, especially when you are a first time mom, is very helpful and beneficial. I go to school four times a day. When I go to school, I drop my daughter off at my mom’s house. Many times, my mom is working or busy that I find someone else to watch her. I usually only go to school, then right after I go pick my daughter up, I go back home. I work five days out of the week. Sometimes I feel I do not spend enough time with my daughter but then again, everything I am doing now is for my daughters future. I want her to have everything In life, everything and anything she wishes for.
I go to work Wednesday through Sunday. I am a full time employee. I work at a sushi restaurant as a waitress. I must maintain a smile in my face because I work with customers face to face. It is fun where I work because there I am able to make great connections with great people. Also, many of the people I work with are parents or students at CSUN, just like me.
I always tend to miss my daughter throughout my shift. My daughter is the one person I can go to and look at, and all my stress goes away. When I go home to my daughter after school or after work, I take full advantage. I start playing with her. I read books to her. I feed her and change her. I nap with her. She is literally a mini me. I always tend to give her my full attention when I am with her because I do not want her to ever feel like I do not love her or that I do not want to see her. When i found out I was pregnant, I felt my life was over because many people told me so. I cried at night thinking how am I going to raise this baby if I am just a teen. But with the love and help I received from everyone in my life, I made it. I do live with my boyfriend, so having him to hep me was a blessing.
My biggest fear was brining my baby into this world. Now that my daughter is one year old, I am thankful and lucky. I do go to school and I work to make sure I have everything my daughter needs. My life changed in a better way. So for those who tell a pregnant girl that their life is over, is wrong! It is a new beginning and it is the most beautiful one. Watching my daughter grow has to be the most exciting yet sad things because you notice everything and they grow up way too fast. When she gave her first steps I began to cry cause I could not believe it. Now my daughter is running all over the house, getting everything, dropping everything and just being an energetic kid. I love my daughter to death and I will do anything and everything I need to do so that my daughter has a great future.
by Gloria Larios