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AB1460: A Fight for Ethnic Studies

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by Ivan Salinas

In the spring of 2017, CSU Chancellor Timothy White distributed Executive Order 1100 across the 23 CSU campuses for comments and consultation, this was the beginning of the CSU system’s latest attack on Ethnic Studies. The executive order would remove the Cross-Cultural Competency GE Requirement where students had to take six units, two classes, that discussed race, gender, and/or class in order to graduate. Many of the classes offered in Ethnic Studies departments would fulfill this requirement.

Students and faculty began to demonstrate throughout the 23 campuses in response to the chancellor’s decision as many considered this to be detrimental to the Ethnic Studies departments which included four historically defined racialized core groups: Chicana/o Studies, Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, and Asian American Studies.

One of the first major demonstrations at CSUN occurred in Fall of 2017, when several students organized a week of action, walking out in the middle of class and boycotting purchases from campus stores. I was starting my sophomore year at CSUN, and although I was taking many general education courses in the Chicana/o Studies department, many of the professors had not brought up the issue in class. This issue became more visible once the students began organizing outside of classroom halls. It was the first time I joined a protesting march. 

Stevie Ruiz, an Assistant Professor of Chicano/a Studies at CSUN has been on the frontline of the struggle to undo what Chancellor White and his administration had done to Ethnic Studies departments. “We were trying to undo the harm that was done by the executive orders and we were invited by [Pan-African Studies Professor] Melinah Abdullah from CSULA as she had seen the attention we were getting,” said Ruiz “Our faculty voted against the executive order three times. But CSU Chancellor insisted on the implementation and [CSUN president] Dianne Harrison implemented it.”

In December of 2018, CSUN faculty senate voted 44 to 20 against the implementation of Chancellor White’s  executive orders and a 32 to 26 vote of no confidence in President Dianne Harrison.  I was outside of the Oviatt library joining professor Stevie Ruiz and student protesters who were denied entry to the senate faculty meeting. At the time I was working as assistant culture editor at The Sundial, although I was not assigned to write a story, I was there for support. By then I firmly believed the CSU administration was enforcing a system that would only hurt ethnic studies faculty. This was also the time I began to be more involved in MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan), where I learned more of the history of student activism. In fact, CSUN students were arrested in the 1960s for demanding ethnic studies colleges to be implemented in the university. 50 years later, a new generation of students were reminding the administration of the struggles people of color have had to endure to receive a higher education. However, these demands were not enough to ensure that the executive orders would not affect the future of ethnic studies.  

Ruiz explained that student and faculty coalitions found a new strategy, switching gears to save ethnic studies from disappearing on the curriculum through legislation. Dr. Shirley Weber introduced Assembly Bill 1460, a California Law that would require all students attending a CSU to take one class on Ethnic Studies in either Chicana/o Studies, Africana Studies, American Indian Studies, or Asian American Studies before they graduate. Dr. Weber, a California State Representative,was a Pan-African Studies Professor at San Diego State for over 30 years and understood the importances of education on historically racialized communities.

“This is her work. She was elected in San Diego as a voice of the marginalized, including the marginalized faculty in the CSU’s,” said Ruiz.“She’s not jumping into a conversation, but rather someone who’s done the work about this. Weber has shown us how to be diligent in how to advocate for policy. I hope that we can get stuff done. The real change is going to be at the local level.”

AB 1460, which passed and was written into law on August 17 corrects the watered down CSU Cross-Cultural Competency GE Requirement where students could take classes that discussed race outside of the Ethnic Studies. Now Students graduating in the 2024-25 academic take a minimum of three units within the four core Ethnic Studies departments in order to graduate. On top of this the law also requires all campuses to provide Ethnic Studies courses by fall 2021 and the Ethnic Studies Council and Academic Senate of the California State University must approve the core competencies guidelines before the end of the 2020-2021 academic year.

Throughout the summer of 2020 I became more involved as a student organizer to lobby for AB1460. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt to social distancing organizing.  As a result, we created virtual phone banking sessions and made flyers and infographics to encourage entire communities of California to call district senators and vote in favor of the bill. Once AB1460 passed in the assembly, we then encouraged as many people as possible to call Governor Gavin Newsom’s office to sign AB1460 as soon as it was on his desk. We gained the support of many activists and organizations outside of education platforms to share our infographics on their platforms given that this was an issue that would affect future students of color that would enroll in a CSU. On August 17th, Gavin Newsom signed the bill and AB1460 became part of California law. 

But the CSU Board of Trustees are causing new issues. Ruiz explained they are rushing the process of implementation through an abrupt memo sent by CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Loren Blanchard saying that the full requirement of the law must be effective beginning in fall 2021. 

“We were told in early September we needed to produce the core-competency by Oct. 1st. We have been rushed to meet at all 23 campuses and produce a set of guidelines on how to implement ethnic studies all within less than one month,” said Ruiz. “He’s trying to rush the process so we’re just playing catch-upThis man has demonstrated a record to be anti-ethnic studies. He has not made the issue of a proper racial education a priority. We have been asking if we halt all implementation until we get our new chancellor, so this can be implemented as stated by the law.”

The California Faculty Association released a statement where their Political Action and Legislation Chair Steven Fillings explained in an email that “There is nothing in the law that would require the drastically accelerated timeline proposed by the memo.  There is nothing in the law that would require that ethnic studies courses meeting the learning outcomes requirements be offered in Fall 2021. There is nothing in the law that would require an immediate revision to EO 1100.”

I am currently in my final semester to complete my bachelor’s degree. One of the courses I am taking is Chicana/o Studies 261, Race, Racism, & The Sciences with prof. Stevie Ruiz. His class addresses how people of color have been subject to scientific experimentation and deemed as “inferior” due to our race and even refused us our rights of citizenship. However, the class also offers different ways that we can engage with this information in order to fix these systemic issues.

This moment in United State history, has proven that all residents in America need Ethnic Studies to understand the disparities affecting communities of color such as policing and environmental issues affecting all four communities, especially when the president continues to spread racist rhetoric and the push for a “patriotic” curriculum.

“The Trump administration has belittled the stance of race with a colorblind ideology widely endorsed by left and right-winged groups. They have taken a blind side to talk about racial inequity. We don’t know how his policies are going to shape ethnic studies in the future,” said Ruiz.

CSUN Department of Chicana/o Studies Statement In Solidarity with Black Lives Matter!

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There are times that voices need to rise to articulate what is already certain. 

We the faculty and staff of the Department of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Northridge emphatically restate and reaffirm our support and uncompromising solidarity for and with our Black sisters and brothers. Our department owes much to the bold Black students who faced extreme violence and repression while leading a movement that resulted in the establishment of the Educational Opportunity Program and the founding of the Africana Studies and Chicano/a Studies Departments on our campus. For too long we have seen and personally experienced the white supremacist criminalization of Black and Brown bodies, the predatory nature of the criminal legal system, the bestial nature of policing, and the impunity of police murders. We acknowledge and value the brave stance and mobilization of Black Lives Matter! against repression, suppression, and police murder. We acknowledge that Black Lives Matter! draws specific attention to the plight of Black men and women to live, walk, and breathe free of the threat of violence and murder at the hands of police and we stand in unity with the movement. We See You! We Hear You! We Walk With You! 

`— In Solidarity,  The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies at California State University, Northridge.

FREE FOOD RESOURCES FOR LA COUNTY RESIDENTS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS AND WAYS TO HELP

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by El Popo Staff

Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, April 21, 2020)—An estimated 2 million people in Los Angeles County suffer from food-insecurity issues on an ongoing basis. That vulnerable community is sure to swell because of pandemic-related economic losses in the months to come, but Los Angeles County is committed to preventing hunger and ensuring access to food for all residents. The County is currently mobilizing a Countywide response to hunger by coordinating public agencies, nonprofits, and volunteers to provide meals to anyone in need during the weeks and months to come. The County is also launching new digital resources to help members of the public access food at no cost — including program sign-up information, maps, and frequently asked questions — all located on the County COVID-19 website

Individuals/Families in Need Can:

  • Get help with food expenses. CalFresh is a Nutrition Assistance Program that can help people in low-income households purchase food by increasing their food-buying power. Apply here and see eligibility requirements here.
  • Find free food near you. County agencies and partners that provide free groceries and meals are expanding their services during COVID-19. Click here to see options and find food distribution sites near you. Some programs also provide delivery.
  • Get food delivery assistance. The County has launched a Critical Delivery Services program to deliver food and other vital items to adults age 60+ and individuals with disabilities who are unable to leave their homes due to COVID-19. Items must be prepaid and ready for pick-up. There is no cost to the client for delivery. For more information, click here or call 1-888-863-7411.
  • For assistance, or if you do not have access to the Internet, please dial 2-1-1. Multilingual operators are available to help members of the public find free food resources. 

Service Providers/Nonprofits in Need Can:

  • Request volunteers. L.A. Works matches community organizations with volunteer labor and other resources. More information here.
  • Request food to redistribute. The L.A. Regional Food Bank is accepting new applications for partner agencies. Partner agencies receive free food and re-distribute it to community members. More information here.
  • Join a food recovery network. There are a number of organizations that use mobile apps with matching technology to recover unused food from restaurants and other businesses and re-distribute it to communities in need. If you are interested in donating food or receiving donated food to re-distribute, look for the following in your mobile app store:

Here Are Other Ways Los Angeles County Residents Can Help: 

  • Giving food-related offers and donations. Does your business or organization seek to sell or donate food-related resources to support COVID-19 response efforts?  The County is helping to match available food resources with those in need. Fill out an online questionnaire to let us know what food resources you have to share. Our partner providers are in need of food resources, services, and equipment including:
    • Prepared meals ready-to-eat meals: no heating required
    • Prepared meals: just heat and service
    • Groceries: non-perishable, shelf stable food items and perishable food such as produce, meats, and dairy
    • Specialty foods: Vegan, kosher, gluten-free, and other specialty options
    • Food delivery: drivers and vehicles, including special vehicle types such as refrigerated trucks
  • Other types of donation and support. Looking for other ways to lend a hand during this crisis? Explore the County’s COVID-19 resource page to learn how you can help, from doing wellness checks on older neighbors to donating blood.
  • Starting a food pantry. Interested in offering free food to community members? If you already have food to re-distribute or are planning to collect food items from private sources, please follow these Guidelines for Charitable Feeding Operations. If you are interested in receiving donated food to re-distribute, consider partnering with the L.A. Regional Food Bank, which is currently accepting new applications for partner pantries. More information here.
  • Joining a food recovery network. There are a number of organizations that use mobile apps with matching technology to recover unused food from restaurants and other businesses and re-distribute it to communities in need. If you work for a restaurant or other business that is interested in donating food, look for the following in your mobile app store:
  • Volunteer your time. L.A. Works matches community organizations with volunteer labor and other resources. More information here.

Mapping the Use of Injunctions to Push Gentrification and Metro

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  • COLUMBUS-STREET-GI-gang_injun_citywide_85x11-1.jpg

by Jimmy Ramos

Ellen Reese, Deverteuil, and Thach describe strategies of poverty deconcentration as a way to control and discipline the poor and their command of space in order to create ‘spatial fixes’ of capital accumulation by transforming social landscapes . 

These strategies include the placement of police officers, homeless shelters, and other social services for the poor as efforts to deconcentrate Skid Row which includes the collaboration between government, business and development interests, and nonprofit agencies.  The authors believe that there are two mechanisms of poverty deconcentration.

The displacement of housing and services which includes HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) program.  A program that funded the demolition of public housing, its dispersion, and/or efforts at income mixing .

The second mechanism of poverty deconcentration is the criminalization of low-income residents and the displacement by police action and harassment.  This encompasses implementations of ‘zero tolerance’ policies of crime that tends to target poor racial minorities.  These were recognized as ‘Homeless Reduction Strategies’ titled Safer City Initiative which hired additional officers to police Skid Row, ordinances that prohibit camping, urination, and defecation in public areas, and dispersement of social services.  LAPD promoted these police strategies based on the ‘broken windows’ theory of crime. 

The theory is authoritative and involves the elimination of what is believed to be the root of violence in an area (violence can only be suppressed if the ‘quality of life’ offenses that encourage social disorder are punished swiftly and eliminated).  The displacement by police action and harassment justified through ‘zero tolerance’ policies and the ‘broken windows’ theory of crime resonates with civil gang injunctions.

Gang injunctions are civil court orders that prohibit a gang and its members from conducting certain specified activities within a defined geographic area known as a ‘safety zone’.  In Los Angeles, restrictions are the association with other gang members, the use of gang signs, colors, and attire, illegal drug activities (possession/the selling and transportation of illegal drugs), the possession of alcohol, possession or ownership of any dangerous or deadly weapon, graffiti/vandalism and/or possession of graffiti/vandalism tools, intimidation, threats and harassment (ACLU).  The violation of this order can be up to six months in jail or juvenile hall and/or a $1,000 fine. Once a person is listed on an injunction, they are not allowed to congregate in groups of two or more, stand in public for more than five minutes, wear certain clothes, and make certain gestures. According to Ana Muniz from Youth Justice Coalition, they can be arrested if they engage in any of these activities and subject to a ten year sentence .

The map bellow depicts current Gang Injunctions in Los Angeles in grey.  The map also features Metro Gold, Red, Purple, Blue, Green, and Expo Lines. 

The map was designed to visualize the greater context of gentrification which begins with displacement. Gentrification is a process influenced by housing policies, private interests, and the revitalization of Cities and its inner cities.  Revitalization refers to returning capital to the City.

Map of Gang Injunctions and Metro Areas

Both state and corporate power contribute through public-private partnerships and policies that use public funds for private development. This is very relevant concerning the neoliberalistic U.S. housing policies beginning in the 1980s. In the process of gentrification many people of low-income communities of color are displaced. Displacement in Los Angeles’ inner cities are supported by law enforcement through police action and harassment justified through the legal system.  These tactics have been repeated in past waves of “revitalizing” the city such as Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine where police forcefully removed residents.

In the case of Chavez Ravine, the use of eminent domain was used by the state to hand over Chavez Ravine to the owners of the Dodgers (Private developer). Mayor Norris Poulson and his urban renewal committee were behind Bunker Hill, Chavez Ravine, and the scheme to annex Boyle Heights, City Terrace, and Belvedere to private developers.  Residents of those communities were able to prevent this from happening after what was done in Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium is a form of revitalization as it attracts people and brings capital. 

This is true with Metro light rails /Transit-Oriented Development and its relation to housing.  Downtown is surrounded by low-income communities of color and the largest homeless population in Skid Row.  Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is a tool to maximize the amount of residents, business, and walkability. Los Angeles County has planned Transit-Oriented Development around certain stations including the Gold, Blue, and Green Line for the future.

This map aims to visualize the relationship between Gang Injunctions and Metro Light Rail /Transit-Oriented Development.

Gentrification Engulfs Grand Central Market

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  • Central-Market.jpg
    picture of grand central market in downtown los angeles

by Guadalupe Canales

Chile Stand Grand Central Market Downtown Los Angeles
Chiles Secos: Grand Central Market

Living in the Valley at times can feel as if you need to venture out a bit more and discover all the other things this city has to offer. Grand Central Market in downtown LA should be one of your pit stops to discovering various foods and witnessing the change in the Los Angeles gentrified landscape.

Grand Central Market, back in the days was known as the only place to find fresh produce for many families who not only lived in downtown but also worked in downtown. This location was not visited a few years ago because it was part of skid row where many suffered from homelessness. Now that Downtown has amped not only Broadway, but also most of the downtown, Grand Central Market has become a major attraction for its various food stands and other foodie attractions. I personally love going to Grand Central Market because I can eat tacos, ramen, buy some Chinese food and even pick up a few groceries along the way it’s a one-stop wonder.

Grand central market became a huge hit after it was featured in the hit film LA LA Land. It was then that I realized that Grand Central Market was changing fast. But perhaps not all change is good for many business owners within the facility. The changes are visible to those who are frequent visitors to the market. Many vendors have left because of the high rents, and for those who stay, they have increased the prices to meet costs.

Gentrification has left many of the GCM vendors out. Thus leaving the Grand Central Market without some of the uniqueness that the place had when I first walked the aisles . 

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