by Jose Medrano
For the last several years, latinx representation in popular music in the United States has been very slim.
We are currently seeing an amazing renaissance of hip hop where artists like Kendrick Lamar, Migos, and Drake dominate the charts and radio. White pop artists such as Adele, Ed Sheeran, and Lady Gaga have had consistent commercial success over the years as well. In all this music, where is the voice of the latinx musician? In 2017’s year-end Billboard charts, a total of only six songs (one of which was a feature) by latinx artists placed. Of course, we had the standout success of Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee’s Despacito but it’s a small success given that it’s one of the only memorable latinx songs in American pop culture last year. This year, however, things are starting to take a turn.
One of 2018’s major artists is former member of girl-group Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello, who’s debut album Camila debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Two of her songs, Never Be The Same and Havana, are the 15th and 16th spot on the Hot 100, respectively (on the April 21st chart). Rapper Cardi B has a whopping thirteen tracks on the chart. It is amazing to see the emergence of latinx representation on the charts. But this emergence of representation can be seen by artists who aren’t even on those charts – particularly at this year’s Coachella festival.
Two artists who are typically considered “underground” and are now experiencing a surge of success are Cuco and Kali Uchis, who both are performers at this year’s Coachella. Columbian indie pop and R&B artist Kali Uchis has worked with the likes of Tyler the Creator and recently dropped her debut album “Isolation,” which has received major acclaim, garnering an 88 out of 100 score on the popular critic site Metacritic. This year, Daniel Caesar’s song “Get You,” on which she featured, was nominated for the Grammy for “Best R&B Performance.” She has an enormous fan base online who has been following her since as early as her 2014 debut single “Know What I Want.” Cuco, also an indie musician known in particular for his “sad-boy” ballads, also has developed a huge fanbase and his name is in the mouths of the entire Los Angeles indie artist community.
Arguably, the most important latinx act at Coachella was the iconic Los Ángeles Azules, a Mexican cumbia band that’s been around since 1976. Many millennial Mexicans grew up with Los Ángeles Azules playing at family parties and in car rides with their parents. For the community, to have such an iconic and older Mexican band be one of the top-billed headliners at Coachella, is nothing short of magical. Fans on Twitter were ecstatic to see them perform:
With the rise of artists like Kali Uchis and Cuco, a major headlining performance at a major festival by Los Ángeles Azules, and the return of latinx artists to the Billboard charts – the future of latinx representation in American pop culture seems not only promising but exciting.
by Jacquelyn Andrade and Melody Medina
Going to the doctor may seem dreadful and somewhat mentally exhausting.
Like many other immigrant communities, Latinx communities bypass the yearly doctor checkup, whether it is due to superstitious beliefs, the inability to pay for the medical costs, or simply because the lack of communication that establishes the importance of a regular doctor’s visit. Many times, the Latinx community rely on religious beliefs and traditional home remedies to help aid in the “healing process,” but what happens when there is a complication that requires critical medical attention that isn’t well known by physicians? Endometriosis is one of the main concerns that women all around the U.S. today struggle to understand.
Even if a Latina, or any woman for that matter, decides to go to the doctor’s for endometriosis, there is no cure, it is relatively unstudied, and the treatments are expensive. We had the opportunity to interview a Latina with endometriosis, who gave us an insight on what it is like to live daily with endometriosis.
Endometriosis is the disorder where the tissue that regularly lines the inside walls of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, even attaching onto outside organs. The tissue located on the outside walls still functions as it normally would – shedding and performing menstruation, which leads to internal bleeding. With no place for the blood to exit the body, it pools inside the body, creating extremely painful cysts. Even with the extremely high rate of women who experience this disorder – one out of every ten women, there are very few options for those dealing with this disease. As explained by Christie, upon arrival to the doctors, she had already researched her possible illness due to the initial uncertain diagnoses given by the doctor who initially thought it was simply cramps caused by menstruation. Once discussing with the doctor she believed she had endometriosis, the doctor looked into the possibility. Not only is the diagnoses hard to come by but the treatments are even harder to obtain due to its high costs. The only real “treatment” for endometriosis is the cauterization of the tissue growing outside of the uterus lining which costs on average $2,000-$5,000 dollars per treatment. And this is not to say that the tissue will never grow back, in many cases it does, leading to multiple laparoscopies, which can cost thousands of dollars over a lifetime.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the Latinx population had the lowest rate of any health coverage and also the lowest rate of private insurance at about 56%. One reason is the lack of documents, but the larger issue is not having employer sponsored healthcare. If they do have employer sponsored health insurance, employees can pay twice as much if they want to include a family members into the insurances.
Having Endometriosis means patients have to pay ten times as much if you don’t have any insurance. This means someone who is going through this would have to be referred by a regular physician to a specialist, several required testing’s to make sure it is actually endometriosis, and end up only to be prescribed over the counter medications that have no effect in helping painful menstrual cycles.
Even though most of the Latinx communities bypass the yearly doctor’s visit, it is not right for those communities to keep on continuing this path. Sure, some traditional home remedies may work from time to time but the fact of the matter is that it will not always work. We need to try and visit the doctor to insure that all is covered. There could possibly be a bigger health issue than what one might think where only a certified physician can possibly know. Especially when it comes down to Endometriosis most physicians ignore the agonizing pain that patients go through so it’s even twice as important to go and get yourself checked out. Only you know what is going on with your body, do not undermine the pain that your body is trying to tell you.
by Jonathan Gonzalez
by Konzo KO (Staff Writer)
Gonzo Series: Part 1
There I was in the alley of Los Globos with my friend Ana.
We were trying to sneak in to try to see one of our favorite bands ‘Subhumans.’ The show had been sold out for months, so of course, me having the bright idea of sneaking in, tried every conceivable way to get in.
We saw our opening! There a man came out to smoke and look for his friends and that was our chance! There was no security, no bouncers, only smokers and drinkers on the smoking deck trying to get a not so fresh breath of air.
The first act had just gone on and we were fine with that but after that we noticed the security guards were keeping a close eye on us. Did they know that we snuck in? Or were our outfits that cute they had to stare? I tried to push the paranoia to the back of my head, but I couldn’t help having a sinking feeling. So to push all those thoughts out of my mind, I started to drink from the alcohol I had snuck in. Drinks are expensive, so I had to. My fake ID was at home anyways. So we pushed ourselves as close to the stage to be immersed in the body of people gathered there to drink without a worry.
That’s when I knew we were being watched.
A security guard made beelined to us, pushing his way through with his flashlight, yelling. The next band had came on and no one could hear him, as they were to concentrated on the band playing and the mosh pit starting. Finally, freedom!
We can now watch and enjoy the show and our liquor! Oh how wrong I was, the security went to get back up with an extra 3 men on his heels. We hear him yell in our direction and that’s when I knew we were in trouble. He starts pointing to his wrist shouting, he looked like a mad man but as I stare around I see everyone with red paper bracelets. I thought to myself how can we be so unlucky! We’re we really in that much trouble? Is this over got us? Can we really not watch this bad we love? As he closes in on us with his evil henchmen I grab my best friend and run, run where? I had no idea! We had to get out! I run to the exit that leads to the smoking patio and there was one of the evil men that doesn’t want us to watch the show! I panicked and saw the bathroom and pushed my best friend in and shoved in behind her.
“WHAT’S GOING!” Ana shouted.
Finally, we could speak and hear each other so I began to explain but as I was getting into the details I noticed something strange, this bathroom doesn’t look like a women’s bathroom, IT WAS THE MEN’S! Thankfully it was empty but still we weren’t safe. I remember that the women’s bathroom was downstairs. We talked, and I caught her up with everything that she missed, yes she was drunk, so I had to explain it a few times.
Once she was caught up, she asked “well what are we going to do?”
I responded with, “unless you have some paper and a red marker and tape in your purse we have to stay in here.”
We were lucky enough to hear the music from the bathroom and we planned to stay in the restroom until our favorite band came on. We were drinking and having a jolly time on our own. Alas, our fun was short lived! We heard men getting close and we ran into one of the stalls. We heard a group of men come in and heard them pee. They were talking amongst themselves how great the band playing was and soon after the band stopped. Oh no! Doomed! We are DOOMED! That’s when all the guys at the show had to use the restroom, it’s always in between bands, and we just prayed no one had to poop and use the stalls. But like I said luck wasn’t on our side and sure enough they came on knocking. I put on the most manly voice and said “I’m taking a shit man” and either he was drunk or didn’t really care but somehow that worked!
Finally I can hear our band come on! That’s it were in the clear! We rushed out and rushed into the best place to be, the pit. Being in the pit you need to either be very drunk or have your wits. There are no rules and it’s just a free for all! No one gets mad you punched them in the arm or gut or face and everyone respects each other at the end of the day. If someone falls we all stop and help them up and block the, you never want to be stomped on, and continue pitting.
Just when it was getting good I see my evil men coming to us so we go on the other side of the pit, then again they try to follow but can’t. They come to our side and the same dance happens, we move to the other side. Midway through our bands set I suppose they gave up and we were in the clear! Finally!
The show ended, and I felt a tap on my shoulder, bruised and sweaty I turn around to see the security guard that I had been running from all night. He asked me for my red bracelet and laughed.
He said “damn you gave us all a run for our money! I knew the last band was on and after everything you went through I knew you deserved it”
His name was James, and he was one of the nicest people I had the privilege of being chased by.
Would I do it again? Without a doubt, IN A HEARTBEAT!
by Jose Medrano Velazquez
PLEASE NOTE: This article will be discussing queer identity and will use terms that might not be familiar to most. Please refer to the bottom section of this article for definitions.
In today’s America, we seem to be one of the most progressive countries for LGBTQ+ individuals, yet our understanding of queer identity is not as strong as it needs to be. The struggle of transgendered and genderqueer individuals in particular is often ignored or their identities are targeted and invalidated by both the cisgender heterosexual community as well as even other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Although queer issues come in a variety of forms from politics and policy to media representation, this article’s goal is to provide insight on the non-binary experience within Latinx culture. Keep in mind that queer people of color disproportionately are affected by hate crimes. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reported that 50% of LGBT homicide victims in the U.S. were trans women of color.
A few days ago I sat down with a longtime friend from high school (who friends have nicknamed Kho) who was designated female at birth, and identifies as non-binary. Both they and I are non-binary individuals who come from Mexican families and live/were raised in Los Angeles, CA. We had a discussion about the struggles that come with our identities as non-binary individuals in a seemingly progressive city that still has it’s boundaries.
Many of us are familiar with the idea of “coming out,” but we tend to think of coming out only in terms of sexuality and not gender. Sexuality and gender are independent of each other. I came out as bisexual (now identifying as simply queer in both gender and sexuality) to my mother at the start of my freshman year of college in 2015. At first my mother was tremendously upset and tried to use her Catholic ideals against my identity, claiming that God did not want that for me and that although she loved me she could not accept my sexuality. It is interesting how she turned to religion although she is not a very religious person; it is clear that catholicism is very much instilled in Mexican life. Over the last three years she’s grown to accept me and more recently I did not need to come out but I started to explain my non-binary identity and how I don’t feel comfortable with the gender expectations and masculinity of man, and that I also do not feel I can relate to womanhood or femininity. My gender and experience with identity is unique and doesn’t need labels. She still does not fully understand it all, and of course gender is a social construct that’s really challenging to deconstruct. I am fortunate however to have a mother and also friends and cousins who accept me for who I am and want to see me grow. The only challenge is my grandmother who is aware of my identity and keeps trying to impose masculinity and finding a girlfriend to get married and have children with even though I’m only 20.
For Kho, the situation is a lot more complex. Although their friends embrace Kho’s identity, they still haven’t been able to come out to their family. Kho says they started realizing their genderqueer identity and sexuality around 2010 when they were 13 but still has not been able to come out to due to circumstances at home. Their family is shaped by a patriarchal mold where their father is a driving force of machismo and enforcing gender roles. Kho was forced to wear dresses and act feminine when they were younger and felt pressured when all they wanted to do was “put on cool light-up sketchers and run with the guys.” One of the biggest moments of rebellion yet self-care was when Kho cut their hair. They told me, “The biggest thing with my dad was that I was notallowed to cut my hair. When I was in middle school I had hair down to my hips. I, of course, was tired of it. I wanted a pixie cut or hair at my shoulders but he said that was for boys. I remember when I first cut (my hair), he didn’t talk to me for two weeks. He completely ignored my existence.” When things started to click for Kho, they started asking themselves: “What does that mean for me? I don’t wanna be completely masc(uline) so I don’t identify as trans. So what does that make me? A tomboy?”
Another issue that Kho has had to deal with is their father’s treatment of their brother. Anytime Kho’s brother shows his feelings, cried, or done anything really seen as feminine (and as we’ve both noticed, in patriarchal society anything perceived as feminine equates to weak), he is harassed and told to “man-up.” Kho has to be a support system for their siblings and helping them feel comfortable regardless of how they have to act at home. It’s important to look at why the family structure is the way it is, and Kho brings up why it might be so: “His dad was even worse than he is. My dad lived in the pueblos…in the smaller towns they’re still looking at things in a very old way.” Personally, I grew up in a household of women. My grandmother is the matriarch and my father hasn’t really been around since I was 12. Yet interestingly enough, masculinity is still expected.
Toward the end of our conversation, we talked about the idea of an androgynous space: a space that plays with aspects of both femininity and masculinity and aspects that rebel against that idea of binary self expression. We fantasized about a world where we all can coexist without gender and gender roles influencing our perceptions of each other. There is massive privilege in living in Los Angeles where we can safely express ourselves as we see fit, and our issues of outward expression and feelings at home are relatively minor in comparison to the suffering that those in other countries (and even other states) go through daily. Still it is important to keep in mind that our identities aren’t something we woke up one day and chose, our identities are fluid and natural and the way others interact with us can be harmful to our mental health and self esteem. Both Kho and I have decided to use our Los Angeles privilege to live empowered lives, and maybe hopefully inspire others along the way. We’ve also noticed that many like us and especially those younger than us are starting to deconstruct gender.According to J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, only 48% of Generation Z identifies as “completely heterosexual,” and most reported knowing someone who identifies with pronouns such as “they/them.” It’s a day by day process but by understanding our cultural backgrounds and misconceptions, we can begin to deconstruct the ideas of gender that bind us.
Queer Identity Vocabulary (According to Merriam-Webster with annotations by Jose Medrano Velazquez):
Cisgender: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. ** The concept of being cisgender can vary across cultures and the gender roles each culture assigns to a given sex. The term designated at birth refers to the gender (and its roles) one is expected to take on based on their sex. Those who identify with their culture’s definition of their designated gender are cisgender.
Transgender: of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity differs from the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth; ** A reminder that transgender is an adjective and not a noun.
Binary: a division into two groups or classes that are considered diametrically opposite. ** In the context of queer identity, the binary refers to the idea that the sexes male and female must be opposites and that gender is linked to sex. This is far from true. A human can be born intersex, which is both in their chromosomes and physical, and gender does not match sex.
Non-binary: relating to or being a person who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that is neither entirely male nor entirely female. ** Similar ideas of identity include gender queer, gender variant, gender fluid (which could possibly identify with both parts of a binary). The idea of gender queer or non-binary/variant identity is that an individual feels most comfortable identifying on their own terms, and not based on designated norms ideas that society might have about one’s assumed gender solely based on appearance or sex.
A final note: remember that one’s outward appearance (physically AND the way they might dress) and sex is irrelevant to that person’s gender identity or even sexual identity or their pronouns. Only a single individual has the right to identify as they like, and we might (consciously or not) make assumptions, but we must respect what they identify with and not what we want them to identify as. That individual also gets to choose their own pronouns (which are also not tied to outward appearance or sex) based on whatever they feel comfortable with. A common pronoun is the singular they/them/theirs whic