Tag Archives: immigration reform

A Good Way to Start the Month

4 May

These last three days included marchers, a photography challenging perceptions of the API community, funky music, compost kings with children reigning, and Cambodian hip-hop performers.

May began with International Workers Day. MIWON organized one of the 7 marches that were spread through out Los Angeles to call for immigration reform and workers rights. Placita Olvera was the final destination for marchers who began mid-day in Echo Park.

Demonstrators unveil a "human billboard" at La Placita Olvera area in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 1, 2009 during a march and rally for immigration law reform. Organizers are urging passage of an immigration law that provides a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. Sign reads "Workers First." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Demonstrators unveil a "human billboard" at La Placita Olvera area in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 1, 2009 . Sign reads "Workers First." (AP Photo/Damian Dovargane)

While at Placita, I found myself by accident at the Chinese-American Museum. Asian Roots/American Reality is an exhibition of 92 photographs by Corky Lee, a photojournalist capturing the passion and activism of the API community. The photographs tell many brilliant stories of families, workers, immigrants, and movements spread over a 35 year period. Take a free tour and learn some inspiring history that will add to your consciousness


Police Brutality Victim, 1975. New York City, New York. (Corky Lee)

Saturday night I ended up dancing at FUNKYSOLE at the Echo. A brilliant production that hosted atleast 6 djs, including Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch, and a female guest DJ from Bakersfield, spinning classic funk music from the 60’s and 70’s to a crowd that had every body jumping, grooving, and even break dancing.

Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch

Clifton, aka DJ Soft Touch

Sunday I made it out to the Wild Oats Organic Garden in long beach for a Children’s Day Celebration. It was a perfect day to open the vegetable and flower gardens for children to play musical chairs to the drum beats of SKIM, blow bubbles, and enjoy song and poetry.There were also workshops for parents and delicious vegan food provided Food Not Bombs Guerilla Chapter. This event was organized in part by Sumiko Braun, a mother whose intention was to provide a safe and creative space to celebrate children and their free spirits.

Food Not Bomb chefs serving what they do best, vegan justice on a plate :)

Food Not Bomb chefs serving what they do best, vegan justice on a plate 🙂

Joe, the "Compost King", amidst mountains of rotting veggies, helping to keep landfills with less waste, and gardens with nutricious soil. Special thanks to MaryBeth and Jeidi for sharing the garden.

Joe, the "Compost King", amidst mountains of rotting veggies. Special thanks to MaryBeth and Jeidi for sharing the garden.

Girl graciously blowing bubbles...

Girl graciously blowing bubbles...

My highlight was seeing Tiny Toones, on tour through 4 major U.S. cities performing Hip Hop all the way from Cambodia. An empowering and inspirational performance of emcees, break dancers, dj’s, and graffiti artists came together for a fundraiser to continue providing free health and educational services for children in Cambodia.

Brilliant photograph by Jen May (www.jenmayphotography.com)

Brilliant photograph of B-Boy Homie by Jen May (www.jenmayphotography.com)

The founder, Tuy Sobil, was raised in Long Beach spending his daysas a b-boy. Sobil was deported to Cambodia after being caught up with people and in places he should not have been. Children in  Cambodia found out he had mad skills in break dancing and naturally sought him so he could teach them. He soon began to teach break dancing to children who were in need of a positve role model.  In this story, Hip Hop saves lives, again.


B-boys and B-girl Diamond (front), she is an inspiration to all Khmer girls to become break-dancers too. (photo from tinytoonescambodia.com)

Emcee lyrically performs about ancestors, victims of the genocide, youth culture and ... his motorcycle

Emcee lyrically performs about ancestors, victims of the genocide, youth culture and ... his motorcycle

Mother connects to his son, Tuy Sobil, whom she has not seen since his deportation. She expressed her pride in tears for the work he has inspired in the children of Cambodia.

Mother connects to his son, Tuy Sobil, whom she has not seen since his deportation. She expressed her pride in tears for the work he has inspired in the children of Cambodia.

Piolin interviews Obama

19 Feb


On February 17, 2009, President Obama was interviewed by Piolin. Piolin is a host on a Spanish language morning radio show. He is heard nationally on over 100 radio stations.  Piolin, an immigrant himself, has listeners who are able to relate to him. People listen to him at an individual and collective level. This is because Piolin’s show will be tuned in while his listeners are at work, so people laugh together, debate together, and become informed together. When I was in college, my co-workers would always play his show on the radio on our ride from UC Santa Cruz to a middle school in Soledad, an agricultural immigrant/migrant community.

This is the introduction and conversation Pres. Obama and Piolin shared on immigration:


PIOLIN: Hello.

THE PRESIDENT: Who am I speaking with?

PIOLIN: PiolĂ­n.

THE PRESIDENT:  Piolín, my friend, this is President Barack Obama.

PIOLIN: How are you doing?  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I am doing good.  I promised you that I would be on the show when I was President, and here I am on the show.  (Laughter.)

PIOLIN:  You promised me that you were going to be in the studio –

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven’t gone to Los Angeles yet, but I should get credit for keeping my promise this way.

PIOLIN:  Thanks a lot, Mr. President. We have Mr. President Barack Obama with us. And let me tell you this, Mr. President; I’m sure you know, but it’s important to let you know once again, we make a big contribution to our country from all across art, music, labor. And most important a lot of Hispanics are in Iraq defending the United States, even without being American citizen.


PIOLIN: We need your help.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I’ve said every time I’ve been on the show, PiolĂ­n, we’re going to make sure that we begin the process of dealing with the immigration system that’s broken. We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens, like you did, that they are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members. And then we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform. Now, you know, we need to get started working on it now. It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen. And we’re going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months.

PIOLIN: Mr. President, is there some sort of network we could establish to be in communication regarding the comprehensive immigration reform, and personally what can I do?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, the key thing right now is obviously we’ve got to make sure that all the people who are involved in immigration reform issues, that they sit down together and they start thinking about how we’re going to approach this problem. Politically it’s going to be tough. It’s probably tougher now than it was, partly because of the fact that the economy has gotten worse. So what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to focus on the economy, I’ve got to focus on housing, and make sure that people feel a little bit more secure; at the same time, get the various immigrant rights groups together and have them start providing some advice in terms of what strategies we’re going to pursue in Congress.

PIOLIN:  Thats one of the things, Mr. President, I would like to happen. I’m working for media and knowing that our people worked so much. And, you know, they came out from the houses, going to work — scary because they don’t even know if they’re going to be deported. And can we try to establish like a signal, like a network — for example, I like what you did with the financial — financial people, that you set it up, for example — the newspaper from LA, is part of that — those groups of advisors, financial advisors that you put — I like the idea. How can we have kind of like the thing where I can receive information? What do we need to do so we can receive a comprehensive reform?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ve got some wonderful people on my White House staff who are working on this issue on an ongoing basis. And what we’ll do is we’ll make sure that one of those people can appear on your program on a regular basis, giving you information about what we’re doing. And hopefully at some point you’ll be able to come visit us at the White House.

PIOLIN: Any time, Mr. President. And I would like to be there when you sign the comprehensive immigration reform.

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Well, thank you so much, PiolĂ­n. It’s great to talk to you.

PIOLIN:  Mr. President, you know we are close friends and you know that I have your BlackBerry phone number and you have mine. (Laughter.) So keep in touch.

THE PRESIDENT:  You know I will.  Thank you so much.  Tell everybody in the studio I said hello.  I had a great time when I visited you, and everybody there was so nice.  And you were very nice to my wife, as well, when she was on the program.  So thank you so much, Piolín.  Take care.

PIOLIN: Take care, Mr. President.  You know, you are in our prayers.  You have our support, and we want to help in any way we can.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Thank you, guys.  Bye-bye.

Personally, I am glad to know that President Obama is making an effort to connect himself to many different communities in this country. This is a huge step in the direction of following through with immigration reform. Many people feel there should not even exist a man-made border that has caused deaths and the criminalization on an entire population. I myself recognize the history of colonization and western expansion by the United States of America in combination with the economic exploitation in our countries that pushes our people to migrate. We can not turn back time and give life to those who have died while crossing the border or break off all the hooks of corporate capitalism. But this interview speaks to a commitment represented by both the immigrant community who works and contributes positively and by the President himself in seeking ways to meet progress on the issue of immigration.

My hopes and ideals may differ from whatever policy and reform does occur. But I do believe that the separation of children from their parents is inhumane and that the trauma caused to our community because of deportations must cease. These issues have politicized and united many people who once felt they did not have a voice. I have been witness however, that through our collective demonstrations of May 1st and our continued community organizing we can be victorious in slashing away xenophobia and finding peace at home, at work, on the streets, and in our daily lives. Even though Piolin is one person, he reaches far and wide and does have the ability to represent our Latino community. This is why I believe in the power of media and have chosen to take part in the media, instead of just being the zombie. I am glad that the President will keep a regular update on Piolin’s show through one of his white house staffs’.

Comments are welcome. But not hate. Peace.

Piolin Portrait done by Artist:

Cano Varela
# 40056-048
Federal Correctional Institution

3600 Guard Rd.
Lompoc – CA – 93436