Tag Archives: los angeles

The Longest Dream (12.30.09)

27 Mar

Part One: Lost

I was lost in the wilderness,
Attempting to escape claws and tangling ravines.
A wilderness that held my true colors and passions,
But my colors faded away into everything else.
I needed to stand out,
I had to stand alone,
By myself.
Lost in transitions,
I ran in multiple directions.
My own path was windy,
Filled with distractions,
Filled with guilt,
Filled with curiosity,
Filled with doubt.

Part Two: I Want To Be Art

An October day offered me new colors. It placed a brush and pallet in my hands.
I was gifted a magical wall and the love flowed out of me.
My colors blended into the concrete, becoming one.
And I became a little girl again.
Nothing mattered, except the present;
You didn’t matter.
He didn’t matter.
And neither did she.
It was just me and the colors of life.
Colors of creation.
With Mountains and Oceans,
The Lightning and Fire,
The Rain Drops and Snow Flakes,
The Clouds and the four Winds,
The Rainbow and the Seashells,
The Flowers and Trees,
I danced cumbias with them all.
Somehow it made sense,
This is what everyday should look like…
This is what life should be…
Creation and Art.
A wish, a want, a need was born!
I wish to paint like the wind does, all across the sky.
I want to be movement the way the mountains rise.
I need to reach my dreams and the passing clouds.
I want to create.
I want to be Art.

Part Three: Doubt

But I doubted myself,
I doubted my destiny.
Unknowing where to begin or continue,
Love laughed at me,
Love made me feel ashamed,
Love made me want to disappear,
And yet I held onto love with all my strength.
I doubted who I needed to become.
A daughter who could be responsible,
A writer who could be infinite with words,
A painter who could paint walls around the world,
A friend who could listen, give time and compassion.
A woman of wisdom who flies with the owls and speaks only when needed.
A woman to share love with all who are worthy.
I was drenched in confusion,
Distracted without a core.
I could not be there for myself,
I prayed for my solitude.
I yelled at the past,
I made a mess of the present,
I denied the future,
I denied myself.

Part Four: The Need To Know

I needed to leave.
All these questions and doubts needed an answer.
I needed to know what my destiny would become.
So I flew off,  over pink mountains, past superstitious roads, and crawled up a mountain of Turtles.
I arrived and I prayed,
For everyone.
I could not forget myself.
I thanked the ancestors,
I thanked the Hawk, the Crows, and the Ladybugs that joined me on my journey.
The Rock held me up,
The Sun began to set amongst the most expansive Sky I ever saw,
Dusk lasted a lifetime.
And the Cold moved in amongst the heat of the Fires.
I descended into the Arroyo,
The smell and dampness allowed me to remember.
I walked into my dream,
The Eagle and the Bat were one in the same
It was me, it was I
I was in the middle of my spiral,
my own transformation.
I felt lost searching for a place to call home by midnight.
Then a stranger showed me the way,
A stranger like an angel.
He shared love stories with me,
I shared my stories as well.

“There are no guarantees.”
“Stop being afraid,
Let love be love”, he said.
It made me nervous so i walked away.
Outside the cold went thru my spine,
I shook it off and starred at the tree.
Completely leafless,
But filled with spirits,
We looked up into the branches.
Two little love birds gave each other warmth.
The Tree did not protect them from the weather,
They just had each other.
This is all they needed,

Part Five: The Longest Dream

I dreamt the longest dream,
I met the older me.
She held my hand and answered my questions;
You are a painter.
You are a writer.
You are a daughter.
You are a dreamer.
You are a lover.
You are magic.
In my dream I had wings,
I glided with the Clouds,
The Road below was umber,
The Hawk was my guardian,
The Sky above was every yellow, orange and blue that ever existed.
I Woke up with the sun and chased it all the way to the ocean’s side
The west side, the wild-west, the concrete jungle that waits…
As the sun set I realized I was ready
Ready to love, forgive, be challenged, be blessed…
I am ready grandmother.
I am ready grandfather.
I laughed and cried with the wind.
I am ready.
The greatest me has arrived.
Into the city of angels,
I return to join you.
I am not waking up yet, I am living my dream…

I just got dropped off here

8 May

“Just because i was born here, doesn’t mean i have to stay here”

That’s what i keep telling myself. There are hardcore loyalists to the city of Los Angeles. And i love my home. But in the larger timeline that exists amongst my family and ancestors… i just got dropped of here. My mom and dad dont even live here anymore. They both retired and are kicking it in Guatemala. The cost of living is more affordable for them over there. And I just happen to be born in Los Angeles, CA.

So since i returned from college in 2006, I’ve been trying to assemble my life, my home, my friends/community, family connections, career, etc. Its been a cool little journey so far. Ive found some really cool friends along the way. And I also found the person im in love with here. But I cant shake off the feeling of flying somewhere else.

A couple full moons ago, Olivia Chumasero of the Farmlab, reminded us during a gathering about how we are just visitors to this land. This was placed in the context of acknowledging the indigenous people of this land, the Tongva,  who were displaced off this land we now inhabit and call L.A.. I thought back to my ancestral land and I fully identified with being a visitor here. And that’s why i dont have to stay here.

A tree has several roots. I have a stubborn root that stretches all the way from Central America, then another one stuck in the Southbay/South Central. I even had a tiny root growing while i lived in Santa Cruz, but I had to yank that one out and take it back to L.A. Now im contending my next growth.

As i consider my future, and the generations to come, I realize that I have an opportunity to give my children a different home where they can grow there own little roots. Then i realized that they are just wanna head out somewhere else too and grow roots in some other corner of the world. Before I knew it, my mind traveled into the future and i saw my child deciding to move to New York for his/her career move. And so before Ive even given birth, im already aware that I have to say good bye.

I put myself in my mother’s shoes. All her daughters spread out across L.A… and she brought us here. The irony is she cant completely afford to stay with her family. Its a struggle. And its hard for her and for all of us. She’s coming back though, and my nephews and nieces are gonna have a grandmother again for a few months. Then she’s gotta go back. Ill probably go back with her to Guate for a few weeks. This is the root that needs lots of watering.

Definition of Feminism

8 Mar

I wrote this 10 years ago during my freshman year in college…

“My Definition of Feminism”

A feminist is a woman who seeks knowledge on all or most subjects. Challenges herself and the norm. Speaks her mind when treated unfairly and asks for respect. Makes choices about her body and keeps her body healthy. A woman who can love her body for every curve there exists. It is a woman with self-esteem, confidence, and strength. She will not depend on a male or anyone else. If in a bad relationship whether with a man or a woman, she knows when to get out and move on. A woman who is not afraid to step out of what is expected of her so that she can make herself happy. A woman who helps other women and men to recognize the value of women.

Thats about it. Pretty simple. But pretty heartfelt.


Here’s how I’m celebrating tonight!

AF3IRM LA: Celebrating the Working Womyn 

in collaboration with

Mujeres de Maiz & Ovarian Cycles

Cindi Santana and the Ovarian Psycos

14 Oct

Memorial for Cindi Santana @ Coyolxauqui Plaza | Oct. 12, 2011

The October Luna Ride:

And so it happened, the full moon showed up from the northeast and i left my house on my bike. I took the train to union station and biked to Hollenbeck Park, the meeting grounds for this month’s Luna Ride. The Luna Rides are called together by the lovely and beautiful Ovarian Psycos, aka the Ovas! Representing Womyn’s independence, sacredness and wildness at full speed, i joined these ladies to ride with the warm October wind.

As we left the park i counted 28 of us and took up a whole car lane. With the full moon on our east side in full bloom, i thought to myself, “we exchanged brooms for bikes but not our spirits”. Our bike route that night would take us to the Moon Goddess, Coyolxauqui, literally. A  replica of the Moon Goddess Monument that was excavated from Templo Mayor, sits in City Terrace, East LA. Here we would gather for ceremony to honor and remember Cindi Santana and the victims/survivors of domestic violence. Cindi Santana lived to be 17years old, a senior high school student in South Gate, CA that was beaten and stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. Youth dating violence is not new, its older than the time my mother was first hit by her partner 40 years ago. And it is more wide-spread than we could ever imagine:  “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.” (1)

Domestic violence is a truth that has lingered in my life since before me (my gramma ancestors survived rape and pillage from Europeans, the church, and eventually her partners). When i was in the womb i was already aware of domestic violence, as my mom survived, so did I… Along with 1 out of every 4 womyn. (2)

As we remembered Cindi, we told stories to heal ourselves from pasts that sometimes we bury in shame. Many prayers  and offerings were shared during our ceremony. I want to re-write some of those prayers and share them with you: 

Prayer for children who are surviving domestic violence with their mothers

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have survived domestic violence.

Prayers for sisters, cousins, mothers, and friends who have been murdered by their partner. 

Prayer for the mother of Cindi Santana

Prayer for men

Prayer for womyn to speak up if they are in a violent relationship.

Prayer for womyn to walk away from violent relationships.

Prayer for womyn’s eyes to see their own worth and value.

Prayer for womyn’s heart, womb, and mind. 

I wouldn’t usually share sacred prayers said in ceremony, but bc we need to talk about violence in our homes and in our relationships, i have to let people know why we do what we do. I have to share why as a womyn, wefind ourselves in ancient ceremonies as helicopters, cars, and flashing lights fill our urban lifetime. Our realities may not always be understood, but its time for a change in how we love, respect, and honor our womb and our womyn. If your partner is a womyn, take the time to reflect in the ways you love and honor her. And if you dont do this to the best of your ability, humble yourself to change, learn from her, and be a better person. 

If you’re a womyn who finds herself in an fucked up, whack ass, messed up, fearful, emotionally tolling, stressful, worry-some, and/or trapped situation, speak up. Get help. There is help. Start with asking your mom, she knows more than anyone about survivorship. Tell a sister, a friend, a cousin. Call a toll-free number. Listen to your spirit and fight for your freedom. We have to be free! We have to! 

Infinite Fuerza by Ajtun, 2008 (c)

(1) Information found at LoveisRespect.Org 

(2) Information found at Domestic Violence Resource Center

I remember Santa Cruz

27 Sep

This past weekend I returned to Santa Cruz for my 2nd time since graduating in 2006. It’s been 5 years of forgetting, forgiving, and healing from the college/first love/subtly racist hippie town experience. I was unable to return for a while, some of my last memories were painful. I remember when i left i was running away from the Ana in that town. How i got to that town had similar causes…Going to UC Santa Cruz was my ticket out of South Central Los Angeles when I was 18. and between the ages of 18 and 23 I learned to make friends, pass classes, and get by in an affluent, white, expensive-organic food eating, subtly racist beach town…

I grew a lot in Santa Cruz. One post could not capture it all. Lets just say this place offered a wide range of experiences. Positive and negative. I delved a lot into identity politics. I organized on campus for issues that truly concerned me as a student of color. I believed in the retention and outreach of students of color into the university system. I believed in education for people like me. I spoke out at ignorant comments in class. And realized by my third year that I was spending too much time and energy being angry bc I had to explain and defend myself. I worked at finding a place for myself at the university. I found friends through organizing. I remember the threat of resources and mentors being cut out, tuition hikes every year, and my classes holding only a handful of students of color.

Around town, i remember the restaurant with the server that looked down on me for being brown, i remember shopping at Trader Jose for the first time in my life and a man giving me dirty looks for shopping at his store. I remember fighting with a roommate because she was White. damn… I remember when I didn’t want to be angry anymore…

I remember ghost stories. I remember where the caves and best views of the ocean were. I remember walking down windy downtown streets, looking for hot coffee and a quiet place to study. I remember surfers, sunny days, and someone I fell in love with.

I remember the break up. It wasn’t easy, and the poor communication or lack of courage in communicating only hurt the situation.I remember the changes in me as a person. I remember i could only stretch and grow so much in Santa Cruz. I remember a court case where a supposed “friend” did not want to return my deposit money. I remember that woman lying. I remember the friends that believed her and stopped being my friends. yup…

I remember being jailed. I was on my way home, i was pulled over while I was trying to exit HWY 1 to get home on Soquel Ave. I was questioned, made to jump, walk a straight line, and count 30 seconds. I was fine, coherent, but brown. I was trying to get home. I remember them shinning their light in my eyes, blinding and blurring my eyesight. I remember the breathalyzer breaking and they couldnt prove i was intoxicated. I remember it did not matter to them whether i was drunk or not, they wanted to be in the right. I was humiliated, taken to a hospital.  They made me wait for a 3rd person’s opinion on whether or not i was drunk… those stupid cops couldnt decide on their own. i walked a straight line again. I walked straight. But it did not matter, I was hand-cuffed. I was put in jail. I was fuckin cold. I was angry. again.

I never had to go to court. My case was thrown out by the DA. There was no evidence against me. duh. I was only brown.

I am from South Central/the South Bay. I was in my early 20’s. And there were a lot of things that were being figured out during that period of growth. I didn’t go back to Santa Cruz bc th growing pains were too close to my heart and my identity. I didn’t go back because i wanted to desperately forget. In my own healing, i learned to forgive myself. I learned to let go of the hurt. I kept growing…

I went back this past weekend. I had fun. I had really good breakfast food. I went back to the old places i really enjoyed eating at. I still went to the best place i know where the waves crash. A place where my friend and i made friends with a gopher. I saw dolphins in the waves. I walked around a chilly downtown. i had breakfast with a friend and we questioned what really happened to us. Sometimes you dont want to believe someone said something to you or looked at you funky because of the color of your skin. But…it did happen… over and over…

I bought a clif bar at trader joes. The rich hippies and the homeless are still there. Homeless folks can’t collect plastic from trash cans, they will be cited. Homeless folks also cant pick food out of the Whole Foods or any food’s trash bin. Its illegal to take someone else’s trash in Santa Cruz. Classism exists. So does Racism.

I wish I didnt see these things. I wish they were made up in my head. But these inhumane, disrespectful subtleties happen. Everyday. Sometimes worst.

I remembered why i left and didnt go back.

Trust, i rather remember my friends, why i stayed there for 5 years,  and called it my home back then…

Full Cirle

29 Aug

Circles are made to create unity. Circles and cycles mark the movement of the stars, the Earth and the Universe. Seasons and blessings come in cirles. And we live the sacred circle of life.

Visiting Medicine Wheel: Sacred Circle

In June of 2010 I was in Cypress Park holding my first Solo Exhibition of my art-work. Exactly one year later, a full circle was marked. I was in Cypress Park again, at Nightingale Middle School, directly across the street from the art space where my solo happened. This time, I was introducing myself to the parents and the youth I was going to embark on a journey with for the summer. Previous to this day, tt had been unclear whether or not I would be a camp counselor. The position i applied for was denied to me, but I did not realize the true blessings behind the change in positions. My ancestors and Creator was in the process of answering my prayers and they made the switches to place me as a counselor with high school students returning for their second year of leadership development in Wyoming. Instead of being stationed at a camp site, I was going to hike over 50+ miles at Big Horn National Park with 2 different groups of young womyn from Los Angeles.

C5 Dollz on our hardest day of hiking!

Trek Counselors and Guides at 9810

Photographs and words could not describe the magic and the blessings of the sights and sounds I experienced. I made friendships with trek guides from New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Ohia, and Cali. I made strong bonds with high schools students spread through out Los Angeles, from Huntington Park to South Central, to Northridge. I taught, I learned, I cried, I laughed, I climbed, and I swam, but what I did most was thank Creator everyday for the beauty before me. Whether it was mountain peaks and Lost Lakes or the youth and their everlasting sillyness, everything and everyone shared a beautiful spirit.

My own spirit felt like it was glowing.

Finding Lost Lake

Everything was so clear out in the mountains. Everything was true and rich; every color, every sound, every bloom. During my first trek, i saw many caterpillars and by the time i returned for my second trek, I saw countless butterflies. I swam in rivers  and drank water from them, knowing and seeing the direct source of the water I was surrounded by was an amazing blessing. 

In nature, everything is purposeful. Every leaf, every wind, every thunderstorm, and every bird singing serves a magical purpose of life and spirit. Having been back in the city for a few weeks now, I notice the noise, the confusion, and the empytness in people’s souls. This man made reality is harsh. It is not an easy one to live by day to day.

When I was in the mountains, i would go scouting for trails through forests and mountains I had never seen before. I would come across animals and rivers and never once was I afraid. I felt free and beautiful. The other day, I walked from 3rd Street to 7th Street in Downtown L.A., and men would stop there cars to honk or ask me where I was headed. Men would stare at every crosswalk and I walked with my head held high, but my spirit was sad for the level of disrespect I was receiving. I reminded myself that I have felt this vulnerability and uncomfortableness before. And healing is also a never ending cycle. 

I thank Creator and the ancestors for placing me in the mountains this summer and allowing my spirit to heal, grow, and evolve. Inspired from nature, I too seek my true purpose. I know that working with youth is my path. 

My first session with the Frig Friggies at Lily Lake

Transformation: Who we were when we entered the mountains is not who we are after climbing out.

Mi Chikis

17 May

It was two months ago this day, that I put my Chikis to sleep. Its taken this length of time to finally talk and write about her. After making the decision to put her down, it was very hard to think about her, it made me really sad.

I found Chikis Jaguar Ajtun on a cold September night in L.A., abandoned  in a box underneath a light post. As i was walking by I heard her little desperate meows. When i found the box I knew there was no going back once i opened it. Inside was this beautiful little baby kitten starring up at me. She meowed one last time and then cuddled inside my hands for warmth.

I took her inside and fed her milk. She was so little. I started to call her Chikis. By the next day, she learned her name and would come out from underneath the bed when i called for her. I took her to the vet, she weighed 6 ounces and was dehydrated and flea infested. The vets saw her and their hearts melted. People around me began to fall in love with her. Mean while i was trying to figure out whether to keep her or not. I figured a few weeks of care and then i would let someone else take her up.

I was not able to let go of her. I fell in love with Chikis. She was special and I needed to stop being selfish. I decided i would care for her. She came to me during a time that I needed to practice self love and self care, and she would be my constant reminder.

From the beginning I took her painting with me. I figured if she’s gonna be a callejera, it was gonna be because I was a callejera as well. I also took her to work bc someone had to feed her, she was too little to feed herself. Everyone at work loved her, including my boss. Chikis would fall asleep on my supervisor’s lap as she worked on the computer typing away reports. I would sneak her around in my purse, she fit perfectly, she was the size of an orange.

Chikis grew up and was no longer little. She became far from little. She gained excessive weight due to a liver problem. She also became blind and was no longer agile.  She never stopped being sick and was always having digestion problems. I took her to several vets but no one could tell me what was really wrong with her. Vets are expensive and I didn’t know what to do.

It made me sad to see her over-weight, unable to clean herself, and always bumping into things. She was smart and found her self around the apt., but she was also becoming sicker. I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to make the decision to put her to sleep. I asked my co-worker for help and she went with me the morning of March 17th, 2011 to put her to sleep. I sat in the car with Chikis asleep on my lap. When i was ready i put her in a box carrier and went inside the office vet. I sat there and signed all the paperwork crying my eyes out. I signed and paid and had boogers running down my face. I was a mess. The vet just looked at me confused. I was so sad. I said one last good bye and walked away. I cried my eyes out the rest of the day. I became sick too.

Who knew a cat or a pet could cause so much emotion. I love Chikis. But I promise to never take up another animal until i have my own home with a backyard where my pets can play and be happy. I want to have chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats. Maybe some rabbits too. I’ll make a little altar so that all my pets can honor her. She was my first pet and she taught me so much love.

Love and Live in Los Angeles

27 Mar

On 1.11.11, a couple of amazing friends of mine organized a beautiful event called Love and Live in L.A. The intention was to bring people together and acknowledge the ways in which we struggle living in this city, as well as to celebrate the ways in which we love and live in this amazing city. About 200 people came together to see art, and listen to poetry, songs, spoken word, and hip hop. We felt each other’s stories. We completed circles meeting people for the first time. For many of us, it was reunity.

Diana, curator, poet, and organizer, along with Skim, gave a beautiful introduction to welcome everyone to the space at KIWA. (the intro and recap of the event is in the video below) Diana spoke of the definitions of love that we have yet to create. Reflecting on 2010, the question was, “How do we love and live in L.A.” In finding an answer she quotes Bell Hookes so that we can build with one another and thrive in our city, “Love is the commitment to another person’s spiritual growth”.  This is so deep bc recognition of someone’s spirit would allow us to see plainly how we affect another being. If we bring true love and happiness to those we love, their spirit will clearly tell us.  Above all though, we must recognize our own spirits, love ourselves,and let it evolve by being in the practice of love with those around us.

I took in the sights and sounds of this beautiful event, experiencing past, present and future simultaneaously. It brought memories of my past and how i learned to love and become one with this city. I was present with other artists and friends. And during an interview that Diana filmed and shared at the event, I stated my future. I walked away with very deep and diverse set of emotions bc this event became more personal to me than I had ever expected. When reflecting on how I came to love L.A., i realized that it had happened through a past relationship. I fell in love with this city and I fell in love with art while falling in love with a past boyfriend of mine. I became emotionally connected to this event. Being at Love and Live also reminded me that it was this kind of space that cultivated my love for this city and inspired me to grow into an artist. I am grateful for everyone that has shared their love, creativity and beauty with me. I love this crazy city… i trully deeply love this city because of the wonderful friendships and experiences i’ve been blessed to have. I give thanks for being able to feel this, being reminded of this, and for living and loving in L.A.

2011 & Colorado

24 Jan

Catching the sight of prairies and mountains

Now that we have entered 2011, i feel that we are actually living the 21st Century. We are a whole decade into it. YAY! This year feels like a great refreshing beginning that is filled with many opportunities to explore and follow thru on. 2010 was challenging and heavy at times but i’d like to believe that was all in preparation for the great potential we now have as we attain to reach our goals and priorities.

I started this year by traveling to Colorado. I always want to leave the country but traveling within is also a great blessing with many surprises. Colorado was very beautiful, super chill, and nice. It was beautiful because of the snow, the mountains, the air, the prairies, the sky, the rock formations, the trees, and the birds. Everything in nature was beautiful and gorgeous. It was chill and chilly, i’ve never been in such cold temperature. But i realized that being cold is a state of mind … and it also depends on proper clothing attire. I didn’t realize that there’s a whole industry around making clothes and sportswear to keep bodies warm. It should have been common sense, but in my defense, Im a Cali city girl. Its warm year round. Sure it rains and it feels cold, but it’s winter now and its almost 80 degrees outside.

Colorado was also nice. People were nice. Coming from L.A. i was on heightened awareness mode. In other words, i was looking around, waiting for someone to trip on me, or give me a weird look, be disrespectful, or not want to take my order at a restaurant. It might be an L.A. thing or a person of color thing. Traveling to the west side places me on that mode, so when traveling out of my comfort zone, i was just waiting and wondering for something to occur. It’s happened before. But in Colorado, no one was tripping and neither was i. People were friendly and they’re acknowledging of your being. Wow. I went to the grocery store and people were aware of one another, couples were shopping, people would say excuse me in a gentle way, and make eye contact with one another. Im sorry to say that in Los Angeles, that is not the culture amongst strangers….

My friend Karinna whom we stayed with while in Co. said it best, “People here make time for each other”. In L.A., people dont have time for one another. I dont know how many times ive scheduled hanging out with my friends 3 weeks in advance. As a spiritual being trying to have a human experience, living in a city can be problematic. Our interactions can be mechanical, rushed, or stressful. It is challenging, but eventually you find love and make friends and community in this city.

All in all, i want to keep getting to know other parts of the States. I’d like to visit my friend in New York. I’d like to see more of California, its a beautiful coastal state and im very lucky to live here. (despite my rantings, more on living and loving in L.A. in the next blog). Im excited for 2011, and after only a couple of weeks into it, im having to remind myself the purpose for this year: Finding my balance and harmonizing with life. Its time i get back in sync with my path, my creativity, my health, my spirit, and the cosmos.

I choose Love as my fighting force!

7 May

“Stop racism!”
“End family separations and deportations!”
“No human being is illegal!”
“We are human!”
“Veto SB1070!”

The messages are clear. The emotions are sincere. The urgency is present. Our nation stands at a crossroads, a moment that will be written in history, a moment where we define ourselves by our fears, or we define ourselves by our love and our humanity.

Unfortunately, the state of Arizona has been exemplary in demonstrating how far the sentiment of hate and racism can go. SB 1070 was a bill that was signed into law on April 23, 2010 by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer demanding law enforcement to stop, question and detain those who are “suspected” of being undocumented. Residents of Arizona are forced to prove their legal status when racially profiled by police officers. It makes it a crime to look for work, or offer a ride to someone who may be undocumented. The last time someone in this country had to carry paperwork to walk this land was 1863, before Emancipation Proclamation.

During the week that Arizona state legislators passed SB1070, nine university students chained themselves to the state capitol’s building. Over 11,000 letters, and over 80,000 petitions had been sent to the governor and legislators to prevent the passing of SB1070. A vigil began after the arrest of the students. Two days later, on April 22, a bus from Los Angeles arrived to Phoenix with 56 students, elders, and organizers, including myself, to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Arizona.

I have been a community organizer since the age of seventeen. I became politically conscious and active through my involvement in Gardena’s High School Task Force. I I learned to become an advocate for myself, whether it was in taking a personal stance to not engage with drugs as a teenager or take a political stance against Proposition 21, a law that enacted the mass incarceration of youth in California in 2000.

At 27, I am still a community organizer taking political stances, standing up for my personal freedoms. When I jumped on a bus to Arizona, I went with love as my guiding emotion to fight and stand up against this racist law that was written to hurt someone like myself, a person of color. When I arrived in Arizona, I was caught by surprise at the love that was expressed in return by over 2,000 high school students that walked-out of eight different schools in Phoenix that Thursday morning. “Arizona, we got yo’back!” and “La lucha sigue, el pueblo vive!” where my statements on a megaphone. And when I looked into the eyes of Arizonians standing up for their human rights, we cried together and thanked each other for believing in one another and for believing in the movement.

The teenagers that walked out on April 22 are my heros. Even though they were sincerely afraid to step out of the gates of their schools, they found courage amongst each other, inspiring one another to take the risk. At the state capitol, students from the different high schools shared their personal testimonies. They were speaking out for their parents, themselves, and discovering their voice and power. This movement that we are witnessing is driven by many factors of love; the want to raise a family, maintaining a commitment to work arduously, accomplishing educational dreams, simply creating a better future for self and community. Will this country continue to arrest and deport those of us who hold these dreams and ambitions or will this country acknowledge the human right to pursue our life, liberty, and justice?

SB1070 will come into full effect on July 28, 2010, ninety days after its signing. The ACLU and MALDEF have already committed themselves to fighting this law in the courts, proving its unconstitutionality before it is implemented. Discrimination on the other hand, does not have to wait to be implemented. History will judge Ms. Jan Brewer and the legislators of Arizona for allowing racial profiling to be a lawful reality in their State. But the massive politicization and consciousness of an entire generation of youth has been set into play. This law has awaken the minds and consciousness of an entire generation of young people. The politicization that has taken place as a result of this law is irreversible and empowering for our future.

When I was in Arizona, we celebrated “nuestro encuentro”, our gathering. Abolition and Civil Rights were not won overnight, it took a movement and a whole generation. In this moment, our human rights are at stake, and this generation is taking part in the movement. We can all be in solidarity, we can all boycott businesses in Arizona, we can all speak out. If a 17 year old in Arizona can do it, so can we. And so the question is asked, “Se Puede?” Can we do it? Can we disobey immoral laws, the way Martin Luther King Jr. disobeyed them? In the spirit of Rosa Parks, will we refuse to be moved from our God-given human right to work or go to school without being arrested? Can we? If you listen, you will hear the answer… SI SE PUEDE! YES WE CAN!

Alex Sanchez Bail Hearing Update

1 Jul

FREE ALEX SANCHEZI am sad to say that Alex Sanchez was not released yesterday by the courts. This comes to show that a fair process has already been denied in this case. A case where over 100 character letters of support was scuffed off by the courts, Over 1 million dollars in bail was raised by community in less than a week and the court still stood by their words, “he’s a risk to the community”.

I was unable to attend the court hearing myself, but I am adding a link to a piece written for The Nation by Senator Tom Hayden, here. This is a really well written article with insight given from Father Boyle of Homeboy Industries on MS members refuting the information that the FBI is putting out there about Alex, in fact they laugh at the idea of Alex being a “shot caller”. Tom Hayden was at the bail hearing and was questioned as to why he did not put up his house as a bail asset if he believed in Alex’s innocence, at which point he did offer the title to his home as bail. The court said they would not take his home as an asset either way.

Also, below is an informal report by Sandra, who was inside the court hearing and by Sonji, outside on the streets for the community press conference. After all of this, Juan Gabriel’s song, “Pero que Necesidad”, is the only thing making me feel better, watch the whole video, you’ll understand why…


“i just got back…sandra and i totally needed a beer after that one…

so bail was denied..apparently because he is a “flight risk” and he has contacts in El Salvador…totally ignoring the fact that alex is here due to political assylum..he can’t go back…this is just another way of keeping him locked up..in a matter of days..alex defense was able to raise 1.1 million dollars to bail him out..just goes to show the power of people, right? and tom hayden actually offered to put his house up as callateral and the judge said NO..Alex stays in jail..

These are some notes that  sandra took because she was inside the hearing…im putting everything as bullet points.
* it was mentioned that alex can loose his political asylum
* he has no respect for US law.
* he’s a danger to the community
* his defense attorney had not been provided any discovery (evidence documents) before the hearing so he couldn’t provide a good defense for this hearing

* What they have as evidence:
– about two dozen phone calls where intercepted by wire taps 2000-2001-2006
– a 1999 photo taken of alex coming out of a anti-gang conference..they said he is posing with gang members throwing gang signs
– although alex has taken most of his gang tattoos off he still has one around his neck they said that shows that he’s still in the gang and that the tattoo removal program is a sham..the defense response was that
tattoo removals are very expensive he did take most of them off and the only one left is around his collarbone..the most painful place to remove a tat from

* charges: extortion, narcotics trafficking, swaying witness testimony, raqueteering, murder and conspiracy to murder
* they said alex has been living a double life and that Homies was created as a MS front and that they have proof of him being a shot caller for MS13, normandie clique.

i was outside and took notes of the press conference…bear with me..

Monica one of the board members addressed:
* alex is not a flight risk and a part of the community
* over 100 letters were written from people around the country and given to the judge.
* the Board of Directors and Homies Unidos stand by Alex.

Tony Mohammed repin’ the Nation of Islam:
* Nation of Islam stands by Alex and Homies Unidos
* this is an injustice being committed
Alex has broker more peace deals and saved more lives then any lapd or sherriff officers
*we are not pleading for quilt or innocence but his honor as someone who has put himself in the front lines and bringing peace between the black and brown community.

Deacon Douglas Johnson on behalf of Greg Boyle of HOmeboy Industries:
* Father Boyle is out of town
* Homeboy Industries stands by Alex and Homies Unidos
* Alex stands by the demonized and placed him self on the margins; true prophets of justice often pay a price.
* we wait with alex and stand by him as he stands by those disfranchised and readly left out.

Oscar sanchez – Alex’s brother:
* was confident due to bail amount raised and his history with community work. is disappointed. thanks for all the support…

Senator Tom Hayden:
*the judge said alex had no community support, that he leads a double life and we are all being fooled.  (he kind of went over what happened in the hearing)
* he said that in his experience this case is weak

Cecil B. Murray FAME Pastor, was not present but fame stands by alex and homies.
Luis Rodriguez the author is Always Running was also present…
so was a bunch of folks from homies, yjc, i don’t know who else but it was a decent size crowd and it was very diverse too…

for more info go to – www.wearealex.org

that’s it..i got to go throw up now.. peace…”


28 Jun

Fair Trial for AlexI met Alex Sanchez for the first time when doing a radio interview for Mujeres Abriendo Caminos on the work of gang interventionist and the transformation it was creating in the lives of two teenage womyn who were who were caught up in a local gang. The young women respected Alex and saw him as a mentor because he was brave enough to change his life and help young people like them find hope in creating a different future. These women were very smart and greatly related and recognized Alex’s work from ex-gang member to peace-maker.

I continued knowing Alex and Homies Unidos for the selfless and tireless work they commit to on a daily basis in Los Angeles. Alex also participated in the hunger strike for immigrant and human rights that took place in Placita Olvera in 2008.  Homies Unidos works with families to help young people remove themselves from a life of violence. H.U. has offered free legal services to under-resourced residents of L.A. They have participated in free food programs in the Mac Arthur Park area. They have helped people clean their bodies and mind by offering affordable tattoo removal services. During another interview, I learned of the commitment that Alex and Homies Unidos offered to Luis Enrique Guzman to fight his case for freedom in the courts.

The positive transformation that Alex Sanchez has been a part of in inspiring is infinite. And it is the reason why hundreds of his supports, locally and internationally, are standing by him during this challenging time. Today a meeting was held where his lawyer, Homies Unidos board members, and family members spoke so that we may be a part of his campaign for a fair trial, WE ARE ALEX ! (website active after July 1, 2009). The truth is that Alex should not even have to go through this. Those of us who have worked with him throughout this city recognize his sincerity of servitude in peace-making. If you would like to support the campaign, you can attend his bail hearing on Tuesday, June 30th @ 1PM. Also, please write a character letter of support, there is also a collection of bail assets that are being received by: Kerry Bensinger’s Law Firm.  Bensinger, Ritt, Tai & Thvedt, 65 N. Raymond Ave, Suite 320, Pasadena, CA 91103 – fax 626-685-2562.

I will continue to update my blog as much as possible, currently I am in pain from a pinched nerve on my right shoulder, it hurts to type all this out on multiple levels. Below is my personal letter of support, also here is a link to CISPES Letter of Solidarity. Remember to keep the faith, we are all strong and courageous as we walk with truth and justice on our sides. WE ARE ALEX!

June 28, 2009

Honorable Alicia G. Rosenberg
United States Courthouse
312 N. Spring Street, Courtroom D
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Re: Mr. Alex Sanchez Cr. 09-00466

Dear Judge Rosenberg:

My name is Ana Castillo and I am a community organizer working with youth advocates in the prevention of substance abuse and violence in the city of Inglewood. I write to you in full support of Mr. Alex Sanchez, a person who is deeply valued in the community because of his tireless and selfless commitment to youth, families, and the social well being of the city of Los Angeles as a whole.  In my career and efforts to create a better future for our youth, I have had the honor of using Homies Unidos and Mr. Sanchez since 2005 as a resource and source of wisdom and inspiration in the arduous work of peace-keeping, creation of safe alternatives for young people, and collective empowerment of communities.

Mr. Sanchez has served as an example of what violence prevention and intervention can do in the lives of under-privileged youth in our city. He has over-come and survived the violence in this city and has committed himself for over 10 years to building peace and uplifting the lives of young men and women. His presence in the community has been so strong, that I have seen first hand the way young people look up to him. Young people relate to his past, but most importantly, they want to relate to who he has become, and that is a person of servitude, turning lives around for youth who desperately need a way out of the circles of violence and poverty.

In Mr. Sanchez’s commitment to the work of social justice, equity, and creation of opportunities for youth, he has been asked to speak in college lecture halls, community town halls, and media outlets. He is sought after as a person of example because his stories serve purpose time and time again for those of us who want to change at a personal level and beyond ourselves. Mr. Sanchez is no threat to our community; he empowers, gives tools, and resources to individuals so they can build their future.

I speak highly of Mr. Sanchez because of the work he is committed to in this city and across borders. Please allow for his release. I do believe that the court can see that he is a person of trust and respect because he also has the community’s trust and respect. Thank you for your time and commitment to justice.

Ana Castillo

Galeano on a party bus!

15 Jun

I arrived at 3PM to stand in line to see Eduardo Galeano speak till 7:30PM. The first 7 women that arrived brought books to read, notebooks to write in, & cameras to document with. Everyone i met was a geek at heart and we were all proud to be fans of Galeano. We discussed L.A. apartheid, Gealeano’s femininity vs masculinity in writing, and a world-wide peace march. Mayra, the woman wearing green is an international organizer from Bolivia but lives in New Zealand. She is part of the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, and they are organizing a trans-continental march from October 2 thru January 2, 2010.  Please support a world peace march, follow the links. 

Galeano fans esperando y conociendose

While we stood in line, we self-organized a waiting list that went up to 50 something. We originally offered to volunteer to set-up tables, but all we got was a smirk. Turns out that they over-booked the event anyways. There were seats for 235 people but allowed 400 RSVP’s to be made. It did not matter that we stood in line so early, we were never going to get in. The organizers were punks about it too, at one point they wanted to throw the cops on us and denied the validity of our list. Even though as Galeano fans, we were peaceful and beyond it all. 


After all the madness of trying to get in and finding alternative routes to sneaking, my friend and i decided we had done everything we could. So instead, we went to go dance, on the streets! The Downtown Art Walk was happening and this is what we found …

Dancing on the Streets

Dancing on Spring St. / Gallery Row

We walked across the street and found some beautiful art curted by The New Latin Theater Company on Spring St. The artists were refreshing. 

Owl made with metal strings by

Dancing Women carved and painted onto Wood

Then we skipped around to other galleries and spaces and found more music,more artists, more fun, and a party bus. By the end of the night, we wondered if Galeano would have rather hung out with us and enjoyed the art walk instead. 

Reggae Band on Main St. and 5th, L.A.

Artist doing live art, he was featured in this months Citizen L.A.

The Party Bus, with Graffiti art by Sherm