by Ruth Serrano and Mariela Garcia
Growing up in the heart of the San Fernando Valley, Arlene Mejorado was exposed to the vast ethnic backgrounds and was able to gain a diverse perspective that led her to become not only a great multimedia artist but a great advocate.
Her love for photography began with a trip to Chiapas, Mexico at the age of 21. She captured many stories through her experiences of a first-generation Chicana. In 2013, Mejorado received a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas, Austin where she received many grants and awards for her art.
She has photography publications, collections, solos, and group exhibitions. Mejorado is a photographer and videographer that specializes in creative documentary projects and visual story making.
Mejorado discovered her passion for art when she was a young teenager, but she did not pursue it until she was in her early 20’s. She is a self-taught artist who took the opportunity of going forward with her love for art thanks to community workshops and online help.
Mejorado’s favorite equipment to work with is a 5D Mark III that she uses with a 50mm fixed lens. It is her favorite equipment because it gives her a closer and more honest view of whatever subject it is that she is trying to capture.
She began her latest project after she teamed up with WE THE PEOPLE campaign. Aaron Huey who is the founder of The Amplifier Foundation. He contacted her after he saw some of her portraits and developed an interest in the themes that she used to create many of her pieces of art.
She was also asked how she continues to stay productive everyday. Her productivity does not really rely on a schedule she does her work as it comes that is how she believes that her artistic side is shown the most. What she does do on a daily basis is meditate and have conversations with people that have a meaning in her life. That is a part of her day to day motivation.
On her website, Mejorado demonstrates strong passion for recognizing vibrant and diverse communities.
Mass killings have been swelling rapidly across the United States of America. Over the last two months, 98 deaths and near 542 injuries have been caused by individuals targeting random innocent people. Four key events unraveled in four different states.
On October 1, 2017, a music festival was targeted and showered with bullets in Las Vegas, Nevada. The white male suspect left 58 dead and about 500 individuals injured.
Weeks later on October 31, 2017 there was another tragic mass killing. This time taking the lives of 9 victims and injuring 12 in Manhattan, New York. The colored skin male suspect rammed a Home Depot rental truck into a crowd of people.
On Sunday November 5, 2017 a white male entered a church in Sutherland, Texas and released fire with an assault rifle. The gunman killed 26 people and injured 20 others. The youngest death was a 5-year-old and the oldest was a 72-year-old.
Not even a week and a half passed before another tragic attack. On November 14, 2017, a gunman fired a weapon near an elementary school in Northern California early in the morning. 5 victims were pronounced dead and 10 were severely injured.
The four men gruesomely murdered 98 innocent people in four different states. They caused sadness, confusion, and harm too so many families. The whole United States of America was emotionally disturbed and filled with terror because of these actions. These four men are nothing less or nothing more than terrorist. A terrorist attack is a surprise attack involving the use of violence against civilians and that is exactly what they did.
These four situations were covered by many news channels and even the president of the United States had something to say about it. The news channels referred to one out of four situations as “terror attacks” or an “act of terror.” Likewise, the president of the U.S only referred to one of these situations as a terrorist attack while communicated to the public through twitter.
Three out of the four individuals behind the mass murders were white. The fourth suspect was a non-white male who was born in Uzbekistan. He was the only individual referred as a terrorist by most news channels and president Trump. United States president Trump made comments on all four situation and terrorism only came up once.
The United States of America lacks self-judgment. As a nation, we make it a norm to try and sweep our actions under the rug. If American’s make a mistake or do something wrong, it becomes a different scenario as supposed to an immigrant carrying out that same action. In the case of terrorist attacks by Americans we often make the story more about the victims and it’s more emotional. When an immigrant carries out an attack the story becomes more about the killer and if he had any affiliation with terrorist groups. Anti-terror investigation teams arrive at certain scenes depending who carried out the attack. The U.S points with a bigger finger when immigrant suspects are at fault.
News channels and U.S. Representatives should keep in mind that these mass murders are terrorist attack and each individual that committed these horrible murders are terrorist. Each of these individuals deserves to have the horrible title of being called a terrorist. The word terrorist is a very heavy term and we cannot continue to apply this word only towards immigrant suspects. It starts to create a stigma towards all immigrants little by little. Eventually individuals within our communities will start to believe that only immigrants are capable of doing such awful murders. It’s going to be another reason why innocent immigrants are treated differently throughout their everyday lives in the U.S. It’ll be more cases of immigrants being treated differently at work by coworkers, at stores by employees, at schools by teachers, and on the streets by the police.
We need to remember that anyone can be a terrorist, Americans can be terrorist. The U.S news channels and representatives might not want to use the term terrorist towards American suspects because of fear of judgment towards the United States citizens. They do not realize that the fact that they cannot judge individuals fairly is what actually makes the U.S seem beyond imperfect.
On the week of October 23 through the 26, CSUN students and faculty organized a week of action to raise awareness of Executive Order 1100 to the community and to exclaim their outrage and distrust of both the order and the CSU Chancellor. Executive Order 1100, if implemented, would eliminate section F of CSUN’s graduation requirements, the section in which ethnic and comparative culture learning is located. By eliminating section F, it eliminates cultural learning classes as a requirement for graduation. We the students and faculty were not going to stand by and allow this to happen. So we took action.
The slogan for the week of action was Unnatural Disasters on CSUN. This is to stand for the disaster that is erupting on campus by the order. On Monday, October 23, we held, the Wildfire. This day was meant for people to spread the word out to as many people as possible to get others aware of the order and it disastrous effects on the campus and community. On Tuesday, October 24, we held a day named Evacuate. On this day, all students and staff were to reframe from buying anything on campus in order to reframe from financially support an administration that might agree to implementing the order. Instead, students and clubs held food stands where they sold food for their club, some stands and organizations even gave out free food to students who were hungry.
On Wednesday, October 25, the action taken was named The Flood. On this day, students and faculty members were encouraged to walk out of their classrooms and meetings and organize a demonstration on campus from 11:00am – 1:00pm. It is being said that over 300 people took part of the demonstration. On Thursday October 26, the action taken was called “The Quake.” This was the final day of the week of action. The students and faculty members gathered and marched to the faculty senate meeting which had to be moved from the Library to a room in the Grand Salon in order to fit all the expected people to arrive. The overwhelming number of people that showed up, eventually helped convince the senate to stand with the students and faculty and oppose the order.
The meeting took longer than expected because of the number of people there. Many students and faculty wanted to speak and express their thoughts and concerns to the room, but especially to the senate. The faculty senate agreed to allow all those who wanted to speak a chance to talk. After voting on opposing the order, the senate had to agree on a write up of what they would send to the Chancellors office for why we are opposing the order. This took longer than expected but eventually we came to an agreement nearly an hour after the meeting was scheduled to finish. The student leaders involved in organizing the week of action and spreading the word on EO1100 were overwhelmed with joy and feelings of satisfaction for having pulled off this great action. We are all, however, very hesitant and awaiting for this to officially become a part of CSUN’s constitution.
Since the meeting took place, President Diane Harrison has vocalized her position with the students and favoring keeping cultural studies. This is mainly due to the pressure she felt coming from the student body and its mobility against the order. The student leaders from the week of action have since then helped to organize a student task force to stand next to the faculty senate and help aid in the implementation of policies which affect students. This is so that students within ethnic studies departments can have a say in the policies that are placed that affect their future and the future of all other comparative studies students. On November 8th, student leaders and faculty made their way to the Board of Trustees meeting where they voiced their opinions on the order. Dr. Loren Blanchard, one of the members in the board, stated that “intentionally or unintentionally, there was no motive in EO 1100 to diminish cross-cultural studies on any campus.” He further stated that EO 1100 was moving forward no matter what in 2018. And, that “campuses have been offered the opportunity to ask for more time on the implementation of EO 1100.” This is basically disregarding the voices of the students and faculty and our stance against the order. He basically is saying that no matter what w do or say, this order will be implemented eventually. The future is uncertain and more student and faculty meetings are to take place in order to map out our next steps. Our student’s continued activism is CSUN’s main hope in defeating racist oppressive people like those in the Board of Trustees and those in Sacramento along side the Chancellor.
The Pacific Standard Time LA/LA is presenting numerous art exhibitions Latin America and Latino Art in Los Angeles. The celebrations are all across California, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. Two interesting exhibits coming up this Thursday, November 9th, are Pre-Columbian History Talk with Xochitl Flores-Mariscal and 6 Generations: a talk and Film Screening with Ernestine de Soto. The first two events will take place at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the third event will take place at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.
As an El Popo student, I recommend these events because it is crucial to be aware and acknowledge how the indigenous culture is still present and very much alive here in California.
Talk on Pre-Columbian History Talk with Xóchitl Flores-Marcial
November 9 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Venue: Library Foundation of Los Angeles – Website
Address 630 W Fifth Street , Los Angeles, CA
Therefore, the first two events by Xochitl Flores-Mariscal (CSUN Professor) and Bill Esparza celebrate the existence of our indigenous roots.
The simple task of our mothers and/or grandmothers going outside to the garden to cut some “hierba buena” to make a tea when we feel sick, is an indigenous trait that is still alive. Also, there is food that derived from the indigenous state of Oaxaca and even other places of Mexico that are still present in our meals.
6 Generations: A Talk and Film Screening with Ernestine de Soto
Santa Barbara Historical Museum
November 09, 2017 05:30 PM — November 09, 2017 07:00 PM November 15, 2017 11:00 AM — November 15, 2017 12:30 PM Santa Barbara Historical Museum — Website Address 136 East De La Guerra Santa Barbara, CA
Consequently, Ernestine de Soto, who is a Chumash Elder, elaborates on the journey that her Chumash ancestors experienced over the last six decades. These exhibitions teach us how historical events can also tie into modern day issues. In the modern day, we have witness how social and cultural change has crossed barriers and borders. Thus, these exhibitions celebrate the existence of indigenous roots without taking them for granted.