Tag Archives: South Central

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…

LA REINA … makes the news

23 Apr

Street Inc.’s LA Reina, a take from L.A.’s Spanish founding name, El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles, made the news by both IndyMedia Los Angeles and Santa Monica College’s, The Corsair. Indy Media’s coverage featured LA Reina as a production that included artists, dj’s, photographers, graff writers, vendors, and multi-media artists coming together to celebrate our Los Angeles, the people’s L.A. The Corsair however, drew on classic stereotypes that people of color in the media so often become; gang-bangers, with the potential to shoot and  cause bloodshed while “invading the art world“.

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4/11/09 - Guests at LA Reina (photo by IndyMedia)

Street Inc. producers were very excited about including artists not just from South Central, but throughout the neighrborhood of Los Angeles. Street Inc. wanted to make sure that this was a true celebration of who we are as a people in the movement and in this city. A creative way this was accomplished was by hitting up

Photograph by Hyobin Hwang

Photograph by Hyobin Hwang

The Southern California Library (not the Los Angeles public library) to use their archives of L.A. history, art, culture, fashion, music, and social movement for promotional purposes. Leading up to LA Reina, we also asked guests to share their photographs of the Los Angeles they love. On the day of the event we filled digital screens with over 200 photographs submitted by the public.

But according to Scott O’Malley of SMC’s student newspaper, “Street Biz Inc.” (wrongly cited) threw an “art fair” (it was an event production) that was filled with reefer smelling, highly tensioned, illegal immigrant raging, potentially violent party goers. Sadly, it shows once again the ways in which media and their “journalists” become stuck on reproducing racists notions of who we are as people of color, even when coming together to create a space that is safe and celebratory.

Hmmm…. hmmm….

Well let me finish by noting who did attend the party. Street Inc. chooses to work with hot artists and hot DJ’s. Mixing and playing music for LA Reina was DJ Rani D., Lady Diplomat, Papalotl, and Dahi; out on the scenes through out L.A. from Highland Park to South Central and everywhere in between. Also featured were live performances by the Inner City Dwellers, March 4th, and Wose Kofi.

ICD members RHIPS and VDAH being gangsta!

ICD members RHIPS and VDAH being gangsta!

Art was curated by Stephanie Calderon of “The Collective” and by Sonji Mariposa, curator for the Eagle Rock/Highland Park Monthly Art Walk at Juanitas Lounge. The artists partaking in the exhibition included Maximillion Espinoza, Brian Carroll, Malie Huffman, Natalie Bixon, Linda Roberts, Michael Hubbard, Nori Sepina, Sandra Luna, Eddie Baldono, Hazel Shakti, Raquel Chavez, and Issac Ramirez aka Dazer 169 .

And just to add, Street Inc. also has hot guests, we don’t gang bang, but we are gangsta, gangsta! We are teachers, social workers, lawyers, students, poets, musicians, photographers, and community organizers amongst a wealth of other party-goers. We are Cumbia dancing, funk jiving, hip-hop nodding, “One Love” gangsta’s celebrating our city and each other. I will agree though, we are raw, we are genuine,  and we make it happen.

So Mr. O’Malley, for your next homework assignment,  interview some guests to get their perspective, put some context to your quotes, research your sources and citations, and enjoy the atmosphere.

Btw, please check out the audio and news clip by IndyMedia. Thanks IndyMedia, for proving the benefits of independent news to community 🙂

Peace!

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4/11/09 - Lovely Guests on Dancefloor... nope, no tension here, just smiles and laughs 🙂 (photo by IndyMedia)

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4/11/09 - Senor Fish: No cheap vodka or flying bottles here either... (photo by IndyMedia)