Chicana/o Studies – Publishing an Alternative View Since 1970 – CSU, Northridge

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El Popo Staff

El Popo Staff has 138 articles published.

Street Vendors Need To Earn A Living

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by Guadalupe Canales

Four years ago, a vote to legalize street vending in Los Angeles was completed, but why has not action been taken?

Living with the fear that they receive a one thousand dollar citation, and or be discriminated, assaulted, or robbed many still take on this job.

Street vendors rely on this job to help them provide for their families, and for immigrants, it is one of the only jobs they can do to earn a living. Street vending is known to be one of the few jobs immigrants are able to take on because of their status, but many vendors have not seen any change toward legalization or protection of street vendors.

In this past year, we have seen discrimination and violence towards street vendors more than ever before. With Trump serving as president many fear to go out and do their jobs because of the challenges they face not only with discrimination but also with deportations and fines. Recently, the city council voted 11-4, to draft a policy for street vending. This project has been targeted as a priority in hopes to make a proposal by summer.

If a proposal is passed, we will see the city take action as soon as next year. The proposal is set to regulate where street vendors will be allowed to sell. Street vending will be banned 500 feet from busy venues including Dodger Stadium, Staples Center, Hollywood Bowl and many other crowded locations. Each vendor will have to apply for a permit and they will have assigned locations. The idea is to minimize groups of street vendors, only two street vendors per each side of a city block will be allowed.

The delay has been in part to local property owners who do not want street vendors around their establishments, as well as undecided council members who cannot decide on restrictions that should be applied for street vendors safety and for the safety of the communities.

Until then, street vendors have to wait and see if city council will have a proposal by July to stop living in fear, for not only their lives but also for the sake of their families.

The Other Side of the Tracks

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by Gonzo K.O.

It was the middle of the night when I heard a loud noise that woke me up.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

It brought back the memories.

I got out of bed and immediately went to make sure my dog was okay.

I knew already what the noise was without having to second guess, it was gunshots.

Growing up in an area that is not safe was a common thing to hear this noise. Around fourth of July our neighborhood child game was “firework or gunshot”.

As I went near a window, I could hear the neighborhood wake up to see what was going on (I love being Latina because everyone is in everyone’s business and loves to snoop and be a chismoso). I, of course, joined in and went outside.

The scene I was about to walk in was not a good one.

It was dark, and it was unclear at first what had happened, but there was something on the ground, not moving.

There the person was shot, lifeless and facing up at the sky almost as if pleading with a higher power. There was a man shot, he did not look older than 25, and he was dead. As per usual, the cops did not come until an hour after and the neighborhood had to see this. A young man shot to death by gun violence. It was not surprising to me how there was another body in the streets while his body ran down the street.

Now that isn’t something that should be normal, we shouldn’t be so numb to dead bodies and violence that it doesn’t phase us but that is the case not living in a nice neighborhood.

Since I was a child, I was told do not walk down a certain street, do not go to the park at night. As a child hearing this, I thought this was the norm, I thought this is how all children grew up. It was not until I went to a school outside of my neighborhood that I realized this was not  the case, I had other school friends parents not wanting to come over or even let them sleep over and realized it was because of the place I was living in.

I was the child from the poor, gun violence, gang violent streets.

So as I stood there watching from my yard with my family as the police finally arrived, I can see it in the neighbors faces, we are all use to this, we all can see gun violence and gang violence and not be afraid of it. As I was thinking I could overhead another neighbors conversation, “if that was my son I would have beat his ass for being associated with gangs.” I could see a tattoo on the body that was from a well known gang as I heard the women’s conversation.

Are we immune to this? Is this our normal?

I went to school the next day and told my classmates I was super tired since I had a long night because someone got shot. They looked at me with surprised eyes as I said this without any sadness or fear in my voice.

They asked me for details and when I told them it was from gang violence and the man died, I could see them physically back away from me and try to go somewhere else. We’re they too sensitive? Did I say something wrong? I did not understand.

I talked with my mom later that day and she told me there is stuff that people do not live through so they don’t understand how to handle those situations. I could see my mom had a point, there was no way I could bring this up at my school on the other side of the train tracks in the nice area without being looked at as a freak or a thug.

Is this why I do not see a need for gun control? I know if those gangs wanted guns they would get them. Why is it an issue now? Why was it not an issue when I was a child having to duck when I heard gunshots? Or the first time I saw a dead body from gang violence? Why is this an issue now? Guns have always been here, but when it crosses over the train tracks ,it becomes a big issue. So are they really doing this for the people? Or are they doing this because the gun violence is now in their backyards?

There’s Always Help Out There: A Podcast With My Therapist

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by Jose Medrano

After dealing with depression for a few years, I decided Spring of 2017 that I would finally make the effort to see a therapist.

I was tired of dealing with feelings of self-loathing and losing my sense of self. However, this might have been a little easier said than done. When my local clinic first referred me to a therapist, the therapist had a ridiculously limited schedule which didn’t work well with my school schedule, so I was not able to ever have a meeting with him. Later that Summer, I went to another clinic that accepted my insurance  and covered mental health services. Unfortunately at that clinic, my first appointment was mailed to me without any prior discussion, and it also conflicted with my school schedule.

When I tried to call them to reschedule, they would never answer regardless of what day or time of the week I called. I was also too busy to go in to the clinic myself because of school. This past February, I brought up this struggle to my doctor, and she assigned me a case worker who made it their priority to find me a good therapist. Within one week of talking to my doctor, I was reached out to and was able to schedule my therapy at a convenient time for me. Of course, I was a little bit nervous to finally begin such a major step towards good mental health, but it’s a step that many of us need to take.

I sat down with my therapist, JC, and asked him a few questions about why therapy is important to him and how he feels he is making a difference as a therapist.

Lies, Lies, Lies of Our Times

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by Jonathan Gonzalez

Sean Hannity, anchor of Fox News’ Prime Time show “The Sean Hannity Show,” has been recently connected with Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen. The question on many people’s minds is if this relationship was known by Fox News, or did Hannity fail to provide such crucial information to his employers. For a news station that promotes itself as being fair and balanced, a relationship that directly links one of its prominent hosts to a Republican Party official opens a gateway of bias to be put forward in the news that he has reported.

As the news broke out of the professional relationship between Hannity and Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, Hannity immediately stated that he “never retained his services, I never received an invoice. I never paid Michael Cohen for legal fees.” This statement from Hannity was baffling because if that were to be the case, then why was he named in federal court as a client of Cohen’s? He then went on to state that he “might have handed him ten bucks – ‘I definitely want attorney-client privilege on this’ – something like that.” So not only has he withheld information that would impede him from doing his job unbiasedly, but he has also lied to his viewers on national television as well.

As news of the revelation hit, many other news anchors put in their two cents of just how detrimental a relation such as Hannity and Cohen’s could be to their organization. CNN’s Host, Anderson Cooper, stated that “not disclosing a business or legal relationship with someone you reported on … doesn’t sound either fair or balanced.” USA Today found that “Another Fox News Pundit, Juan Williams, also took issue, suggesting on The Five that Hannity should have disclosed his connection with Cohen. Some of his fellow Fox anchors attempted to defend Hannity’s actions by saying things such as “Who he hires as a lawyer is nobody’s business” (Tucker Carlson).

For a news anchor reporting on a story that he has a personal investment in, it is much like an investigator who has tainted evidence in that all of their previous work will be open for review. Hannity’s reporting on the election as well as his reporting on the investigations that have been going on, have now become a problem for Fox News. Their employment of Hannity puts them under scrutiny as many feel that they should have stricter standards for the people they put on air, as they are the ones who are promoting the vision or philosophy of fox news. It is also because of issues like this one that long time Fox News strategic analyst Ralph Peters, a retired lieutenant colonel, left Fox news. Peters stated in a farewell note sent to his colleagues, that “In my view, Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration.”

A situation like this leads to more questions than answers. Ultimately, it is up to the viewers to determine if they would like to continue viewing a news anchor that has an active bias towards the news that he is reporting. Like with all news, if one only receives it from a single entity, then they are only being given a partial side of the story. For those that only received their news from “The Sean Hannity Show,” they are actively choosing to be blind.

Giving a Voice to LA Students: Inside Out Community Arts’ Political Theatre

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by Jose Medrano

“Inside Out and all it’s members teach me more about myself every year I’m with them. Because of Inside Out I’ve learned to embrace my creativity in all aspects of my life. The program has allowed me to take my all my emotions  and let them run free by throwing it all on the stage. I’ve been burned and bruised in order to give it my all out on not only the stage in a theater, but the stage of life. The support system and experience I’ve gained and continue to gain from Inside Out is something I am eternally grateful for.”

When I was in the seventh grade, two theatre artists walked into my my arts class and asked if anyone in the class was interested in acting, dancing, and singing. To my surprise, maybe three hands (including mine) went up in the air and everyone else seemed a little shy or uncomfortable.

The follwoing Wednesday I found myself sitting on the stage of the John Adams Middle School auditorium surrounded by a small group of other students, playing an improvisation game based on hitch-hiking while embodying the emotion “hyperactive.” Some of the students were just like me and were excited and ambitious, jumping at every opportunity to go first in a game, and others were more quiet and perhaps even a little afraid. There was one thing we all had in common, however. All of us in that room grew up in the same area of South LA and had issues we needed to work out or speak up about, and Inside Out Community Arts gave us the opportunity to do so. 

Later that semester after several weeks of acting, creative writing, and visual arts workshops, we went to see what was for many of us our first play. Then start writing our own plays that would culminate in a showcase of several twelve minute plays created by the student groups at each of the three greater LA area schools Inside Out hosted each Spring, and later for three years in the Fall as well in the South Bay area. The name of the showcase, which remains the name to this day: What’s On Our Minds? We filled up a white board with several social topics that interested us: ranging from topics such as divorce, bullying, and depression, to my very first play topic – animal abuse.

The program itself, founded by Camille Ameen and Jonathan Zeichner in 1996, was founded as a response to the Los Angeles Uprisings. We went up to a three-day camp in Malibu which we hold every year and rehearsed our plays, and had fun activities with the other schools such as painting scenic flats to use as posters for our shows. I remember feeling so safe and heard in this theatrical environment. I’d never felt this sort of freedom before – the freedom to express myself openly and talk about the issues that matter to me, and the freedom to dress up in wild costumes and wear make up and sing songs. 

In eight grade, I returned and did a play on a silly topic – celebrity obsessions. Come high school, I volunteered as part of the formerly existing alumni mentor program (which is unfortunately on hiatus at the moment and I’ve been told the program is being restructured). Each year of high school, I mentored students and helped them learn to express themselves, participated in mentor program plays and even directed a short film developed by writers from ABC. I helped direct scenes for the plays with our teachers (dubbed Artist Leaders) and at times even fill in the roles for missing students. I gained the most, however, was during my years as a post-mentor program “A-Team” member – helping run our yearly camps. I developed such a strong name for myself within Inside Out Community Arts, and I use my skills and talents at camp to push students to their limits. My goal every year is to make sure they feel fearless, confident, and ready to speak their minds.

At this year’s 2018 Spring Camp, the students are working on much more serious political topics that reflect the current political climate. One of the plays, We Stand Together, deals with racism through the expression of microaggressions, subtle forms of discrimination that in this case are rooted in racism. Another play, The End?, students discuss the idea of a corrupt government which leads to an apocalypse that leaves the remaining few stuck in a world where they struggle to bring nature back. Perhaps the most directly relevant play is Please Stop This. Think About It., which deals with school shootings and the effect they have on the students and the community. Our middle school students have always had something to say and this year their voices were louder than ever.

While I sat in during rehearsals, you could see the passion in the words they were writing. Often times, students found themselves struggling with creating scenes because they wanted so hard to make sure their message was clear. These students were discussing ideas that I had never even heard of when I was their age – such as cultural appropriation, mental health initiatives, and those subtle yet destructive microagressions. 22 years in, the students are still carrying on what the program set out to do: to take those feelings and thoughts we typically keep trapped inside, and let them out – put them on a stage, make an audience be aware of the social issues that are impacting our communities.

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