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Street Vendors Leave the Shadows

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Image of Street Vendor selling tortillas

By Jorge Arriaga and Evelyn Robles.

For many years, local street vendors in Los Angeles operated under the radar. For many Chicano families that relied on selling their food or accessories on the street, they were forced to hide and run away from local police and health officials to avoid hefty fines and tickets. It was not until early New Year’s Day 2019 that street vending become legal. Bringing relief to many vendors all around the Los Angeles area.

Street vending has become a primary source of income and in some instances, the only source of income for many families. According to an LA Times article, over 50,000 people who make ends meet by street vending, 80% are females. Selling food is one of the most popular and common items sold in the streets of Los Angeles. Street vendors all around the Los Angeles county from East Los Angeles all the way over the San Fernando Valley selling tacos, fruit any many other delicious foods.

We had the pleasure of meeting a wonderful lady named Maria, who happens to sell a bunch of Mexican and Central American goodies in an intersection on Beverly Blvd & Kenmore St. She sold Tamales, Chiles Rellenos, Atole de elote, Arroz con leche and garnachas (a very popular central american food that is made up of a lightly fried handmade tortillas that comes with beef, cheese and tomato sauce on top, with cabbage and jalapenos on the side). I remember asking Maria how she felt about food vending being legalized, and her response was really heart warming and eye opening at the same time. Maria responded to my question by saying “ Le doy gracias a dios por esta oportunidad, por muchos años la cuidad me tiraba toda la comida que yo vendía, quitándome la oportunidad de trabajar y ganar mi dinero para poder soportar a mis hijos, la policía me a multado y esos eran unos tiempos muy espantosos.” The wonderful part about street vending is that consumers like you and I can have mouth watering food for relatively cheap prices.

I live down the street from what is now a really popular taco truck called “Leo’s tacos”, a viral sensation that started off as a small taco stand within a car wash on the corner of Temple and Glendale. I went over to Leo’s tacos this past weekend and briefly asked a worker that has been there since the beginning, what It felt like to have a successful business despite all the obstacles that they faced. One of the workers named Irma went on to tell me that it was hard in the beginning, especially before the street vending law went into effect because there were times where the city would come and shut them down or where the car wash would call the police on them. She went on to tell me “ No sabia que hacer, me estaba desesperando, no tenía a nadie y me quería regresar a méxico, pero de repente paso un milagro, cuando pasó la ley dándonos el poder de vender en la calle hicimos un trato con el car wash y empezamos a vender nuestros tacos, y les encanto a la gente… después nos hicimos virales en facebook y de ahí crecimos, mucha gente de diferentes lugares nos visitan hasta celebrities”, She ended by saying “No se den por vencidos, si se puede, hay que echarle muchas ganas.”

Street vending has opened up many opportunities for many Chicanas like Maria and Irma but not everything is as perfect as it may seem. Vendors sell in the parts of Los Angeles where lower income families live and are the ones who benefit . They are able to sell their food to the low-income families at relatively cheaper prices and most importantly face little to no problems with the law. But what happens to those Chicanos that street vendors on upper scale cites such as Santa Monica? As it turns out, those vendors tend to have much more problems despite having their vending license. According to an article in Forbes, cities like Santa Monica have found other alternatives on how to target street venders by citing them with tickets for other so called ‘crimes.” The article explains how a couple was making its way out of the metro station and about to cross the street when they were given a ticket for “blocking, impeding, or obstructing the path to a beach facility”… as we can see the city of Santa Monica is finding any little reason to fine these poor street vendors. But despite the fact that street vending is now legalized and Chicana/o vendors now have the opportunity to make a living without having to worry about being fined or arrested despite some cities finding others way to stop vendors from making an honest living.

Federal Government Creates Fear in Family Separation Policy

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    A new policy approved by ICE would separate families detained at the U.S.-Mexico border and target parents who try to retrieve their children from immigration detention centers. (Photo: @NIJC/Twitter)

by Elizabeth Valdez

The Federal Government has deliberate fear among immigrants by separating families.

Parents and their children are the main victims. Reports indicate that children less than the age of one are separated by their parents and placed into foster care. The act of taking children away from their families also result in psychological trauma as such that children will have to live the rest of their lives in fear of never seeing their parents.

More than 2,300 children have been separated. The number of children exposed to this trauma will have to live with the memories of losing their parents. The psychological impact these children will have to go through will not only affect the way they think, but they way they behave as well. According to The Washington Post’s What Separation from Parents Does to Children, “Those separated from their parents at a young age had much less white matter, which is largely made up of fibers that transmit information throughout the brain, as well as less gray matter, which contains the brain-cell bodies that process information and solve problems.”

Children are separated from their parents as migrants cross the border. They are not allowed to be held in a federal jail due to our policies, so instead they are taken from their parents and placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

It first started on March 7, 2017, when the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly confirmed in a report that the administration is considering separating families at the border. On April 20, 2018 a news report claimed that more than 700 children had been taken from their parents since October of the previous year. Moreover,100 of those 700 are under the age of 4. 

The Trump administration started a “zero tolerance” policy on the southwest border that started on April 6. After many months, it finally ended when Trump signed an executive order designed to keep migrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border because of ACLU lawsuits. However, many children have yet to be reunited with their parents. Litigation is continuing.

How can we stop this from happening again…

A few of the things we can do are:

1.Donate money to charities that help those families getting affected

2. Call our representatives because they are the ones they represent what we want to happen.

3. Find a local protest so your voice gets heard.

4. Inform others so that everyone as a whole can make a change.

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?

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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