Monday, February 18, 2019

Immigration in Comics: Barrier

The immigration narrative told through the lens of science fiction is one of my favorite tropes in storytelling and pop culture. Most of the time, movies and/or stories about immigration are as direct as a slap on the back of the head. Other times, elements of that narrative are just borrowed or touched on because the focus of the movie and/or story is one of outsiders, exclusion, and othering. Finding those kinds of those hybrid stories in comic books is easy, all you have to do is look to characters like Superman and the X men. But every once in a while, something different comes along and Barrier by 
Brian K. Vaughan is that something. 

I read the first issue of Barrier when it was first published digitally in 2015. I don’t remember what my impressions were from that first reading, but I knew it would something cool because of the writer. I also figured it would be easier to wait for the story to finish rather than reading it as it was released. It took a few years, but the creators eventually completed the story and later announced that it would be available in print for a limited time. So rather than buying all five issues online as a digital copy, I waited to buy the physical comic instead. 

So, before I get into my thoughts on the book itself, there will be spoilers if you haven't read it or plan on reading it. I'd much prefer y'all read the story and then come back to read what I have to say.  

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Still Grindin'

For the longest now, I've been telling myself that I need to come back to the blog and post something up. Even if it is something dumb. I don't like letting months pass between post cause that is a sign that the person behind the screen is forgetting about the space. Funny enough, not a day goes by that I don't think about it, mostly cause I've been reminding myself to write something up. I'm still here. I renewed my DACA for the 3rd time at the beginning of the year, so things are covered on that end till the end of 2020 when it goes up for renewal again. Ain't that quite the coincidence? Since my DACA is in good standing, I'm still clocking in at the job I've had the last four years. Last year, around summertime, I stopped doing social media for the artist Favianna Rodriguez. It wasn't something I bragged about it because it was side hustle work and the only people that really knew were those in the social justice/non-profit circles. Still, every once in a while I flexed on foos just to see their reaction haha. I'm grateful to Favianna for bringing me on her team all those years ago and trusting me with her social media channels.

I had a good few months of free time now that I was down to just one part-time job vs having multiple at once. I got to catch up on some great video games, traveled to new states/cities, and genuinely enjoyed my time, but eventually, I picked up another side hustle by running social media on L.A. Taco. I have DEEP history with taco as they were the first place outside my school newspaper and personal blog that gave me space to do the journalism thing. I had a lotta fun back then and while I eventually faded out to get woke and fight for problematic legislation, I still contributed here and there. So when I saw the chance to jump in the mix again as the site took on a new role the L.A. media landscape, I was on it like white on rice on a white paper plate in a snowstorm. Last few months have been exhausting cause I'm back to grinding away at two part-time jobs that each carry the workload of a regular full time one. But brother, when the getting is good, the getting is good. I'm exhaustedly honored to be part of the current L.A. Team and handling their socials. Follow and become a member if you haven't already.

Lastly, the other reason I haven't been writing as often as I should be is because the podcast I started eats up the rest of the creative energy I have in a day. Also, I have a podcast! I'm having a lot of fun with it and chop it up with guest on a monthly basis. This is something I've always wanted to do and short of having my own tv, narrating, hype beast, eating tv show on Netflix, Vice or wherever, this is the closest I'll get. Like I tell most people, once the podcast stops being fun, that's when I'll put an end it to it and that isn't going to happen for a good while.

So, despite me flaking on writing on here, I keep myself busy. Doing all this makes the time go by faster, so much so that I'm taken back every time I realize I'm turning 35 this year. A 35 year old DACA recipient with multiple part time jobs, a podcast, and a mediocre social media following. I am my ancestors wildest dreams.   

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Sound Track To Abolishing ICE

Photo by Rafael Cardenas

A while back I read this NPR article from Felix Contreras, one of the co-hosts of the music show Alt.Latino, on artist creating music in protest of Dump and his babosos. Musicians creating music in reaction to politics is nothing new, especially when it comes to immigration. From Los Tigres del Norte to Rage Against the Machine, there is almost an endless list of songs from different times that act as a cultural time capsule as to what was going on at that time. The story Felix wrote is timely and gives great insight into some of the music being created during these fucked up times and a bit a history as well. However, I take great offense that stories like these leave out bands who aren't mainstream but have been putting in work against the system for years. Bands like Brujeria.

If you couldn't tell by the hat I'm wearing in the picture above, I fucking love Brujeria. They popped off in the 90s here in California when Proposition 187 passed. Fast forward to now and the similarities in terms of the vilification and scapegoating of immigrants is once again a common trend in politics and the public at large. I saw them last year and now more than ever, their music will forever be in my playlist. So, with all this talk about abolishing ice, I'd figure I'd remind folks that there has been a movement to abolish ice, the systems that criminalize immigrants, and the politicians behind the rotating door of those systems. And not only has there been a movement, but if there was going to be a soundtrack to it, Brujeria needs to be at the top of that playlist. Need convincing? Then check out some of their greatest hits below and you will understand why there can't be a conversation about politics and music without Brujeria at the helm.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Born Day Reflections at 34

As of late, I've been thinking back to those times when I first started coming around social justice spaces to listen to older folks talk about their experiences and work at events and panel discussions. At first, I'm all like wow that's so and so. I read about them in class and here they are, talking about it in person, still putting in work. Then as the discussion would start, things would get petty pretty fast between how things are remembered by those who were there. All this time has passed and they're still arguing about who should be credited with doing what in the movement and who is a lying piece of shit. Compile that with homophobia, sexism, and a bunch of other problematic isms and all of a sudden, I see those folks I read about in the movement in a whole new light. I wondered to myself how things could have stayed that bad for so long. Well, I'm finally old enough to answer my own question about how social justice movements can stay hella toxic, fermenting if you will, over time.

These last few years, I have been guilty of such pettiness. Still am if I'm being honest. I left the work I did with a bitter taste in my mouth that I didn't yet appreciate. Kinda like when you first drink booze and wonder why anyone would drink that stuff, but eventually you learn to like it. I have nothing to do in those spaces anymore, other than still being on DACA, and I find myself talking shit about who is on the soapbox getting attention, who are the leaders of the movement and comparing them to what I and others did in our day. I mostly do this internally or with friends who also like to drink hatorade.

The moment passes, I roll my eyes and go back to own businness. I will say I have gotten a bit better about not hatin' all the time by either just ignoring things or actively going down the list of why I feel the way I do about how things are going down and who is saying them. At times, I wanna connect with folks and support any way I can, but I left and now I'm being erased. As fast as shit hits the fan, this new generation of folks taking up the torch in the immigrant rights movement is just as fast to respond, for better and for worse. I remember doing the same thing and turning my nose at the history because of how it was brought up and the way said older folks walked around like their shit didn't stink, tried to control everything, and profited from these broken systems. So we said fuck'em, let do things our way. And we did.

I'll admit, it's frustrating to see how things are now, knowing I had a role in building it up and seeing it become just another trend for folks to use for personal gain. But that's nothing new in these kinds of spaces. Whoever has the loudest mouth and connections can have the shittiest politics but be put on a pedestal as a leader to a movement. Hopefully, in a few more years, I can be on the same panel as these levas and call them out on their shit in person, continuing the cycle.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What if I just left

Every once in a while, I find myself thinking about leaving everything behind for a life in which I am not involved in social justice work of any kind. I first think back to the days of when all I would do was just work a dead end job to make a living and enjoy things without thinking twice about ethics or what impact it would have in the world. I also remember how empty that life was and come back to reality. I was visiting family out of state recently and I got a sense for that life again, but this time physically removed from a metropolitan area and out in the boonies. In a state, city, and town that is removed from the outside world in so many ways that it is jarring. I was there for a few days and while I was visiting for fun, I couldn't help but think what if this was my norm now?

I would work a meaningless nine to five job, deal with actual weather, be surrounded by hella white people from that boonies kind of life, and be around my toxic family as an adult vs a youth. I compared that kind of life to what I have here in Los Angeles and it didn't seem that bad anymore. Mind you this was my vacation from work and aside from my family, I didn't have access to any friends, art institutions, cultural events, and other amenities I take for advantage in the city. I didn't bother with checking social media, emails or with whatever was going on in the world that moment the way I normally do here at home and it felt like I was catching my breath. This kind of life wears you out fast, especially everything going on right now, so it's a privilege to be able to reflect for a second and catch yourself. 

I've been reflecting internally a lot these last few months because I just feel frustrated with what I got going on and what I don't have any control over. I've been playing it safe for these last few dacamented years and I feel like something is about to give, one way or another. At the same time, I want to keep growing in what I do, what I love, and what I can share with others to build them up. That becomes more frustrating given the politics of politics and who are deemed worthy of being lifted up and acknowledged in spaces. That's why I contemplate just leaving it all behind and literally distancing myself from everyone and everything, but the trade is just too heavy. For all my frustrations, I'm still able to thrive and survive because of everything I have built up for myself and the different communities I'm a part of. 

Maybe in a few more years I'll actually leave everything behind and go Grizzly Adams it, but for now, I'll just stick around all frustrated and shit.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I felt like this toward the end of 2017 and I attributed it to everything I had going at that time. I was overwhelmed with all jobs I took on and I just wanted everything to wrap up so I could spend the last two weeks of the year chillin'. This time around, the feelings aren't being drummed up by being overwhelmed, ironically it's because I'm not doing enough? Sometimes I don't even know myself and I just trip for no reason. I've been intentional about not busting my ass like I did last year, mostly because it was all just stress and headaches caused by work I didn't wanna turn sour on. So all this free time means I've been catching up on things I enjoy doing, but also allowing long-standing insecurities to creep up on me. That and the fact that all I do anymore is sit. I sit driving to work, being at work, driving home, watching tv at home, reading at home, eating at home, working from home. Shit, at this point the only times I'm not sitting is pretty much when I'm sleeping or taking a shower. It's a dramatic change from having a 2-hour commute via public transportation or a 90-minute commute by bike and train. My rotation is all kinds of fucked up.

No one notices when I go through these episodes unless I say something and even then, most folks don't wanna hold space to talk to me about it because I'm an expert in keeping my junk to myself. Only person who would take notice is the bae and it isn't fair to dump my stuff on her either, so I write it out here. It's frustrating because I go through this in cycles, triggered by something or nothing. Doubt, hesitation, existentialism, insecurities on anything and everything that is moving in my life. From the standard questions of my work, it's future, and my purpose to just letting everything go and going back to some no thinking oppressive job. It's everything and nothing at the same time.

I'll be fine in a few more days or weeks, so we'll see. Riding it out is always the hard part before it kicks up again down the line and I go through all over again.