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.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Still Here

Nothing much to really post about on here these days. That's not to say I'm problem free and everything in my life is copacetic, I just haven't needed to write here. That in itself is a major milestone for me because that's what this space has always been about, me figuring things out. I'm turning 34 this year and maturity is settling in. That and I've just been keeping busy working, doing whatever I feel like on weekends, and recording a podcast once a month. Simplicity and complacency at its finest, something I've been working toward my entire life. To reach a point in which I didn't have to work as hard to get by and enjoy my time as I see fit. In that sense, mission kinda accomplished. Now I have to continue working to keep that lifestyle going. Anyway, I'll commit myself to share on here once a month. Maybe I'll talk about my favorite anime or movies at the moment, we shall see.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

Scared Into Complacency

In all my years of being out and loud about being undocumented, I never got much pushback from xenophobes or haters online til as of late. As you can see from the screen grabs up top, they all somehow started coming across my twitter account. Regardless of the how or why they're all emboldened to try and step up to me by tagging the ICE twitter account. I myself ponder on that because I know other folks who are magnets for hater social media accounts, granted they have higher public profiles than I do. I mean, I don't doubt I would get the same kind of attention if I was a guest commentator on CNN or something along the lines of that. But even then, if I did, I'm so beyond it that it would be more of an annoyance than anything else. It would dampen my use of social media because I would have to filter through all the trash to get to what I want to see in my feed and mentions.

Funny thing about all this is that this has been my bio on the location app Swarm/FourSquare since I got it in 2012. The irony of being extra public about my location through social media didn't escape me, so I ran with it and turned it into a joke. I go in waves of when using the app because it's annoying to pull out my phone and tell everyone what I'm doing and where I'm doing it multiple times a day. Especially since not a lot of folks are active on it, so it turns into a bubble. But I brought it back since all these randos started coming to me just to fuck with them.

Still, in chewing on the fat of the situation and knowing that they were trying to scare and intimidate me because of my status, I was reminded that this is the norm on social media now. Last year, people got all freaked out because haters on 4chan were looking for folks through the hashtag undocumented and unafraid and report them to ICE one way or another. It was hot for a minute but then it all died down and it seems like most folks forgot it even happened. To me, that was a wasted opportunity for education and engagement on being secure about your digital habits. It's no different than being on the bus and not busting out your laptop or leaving things in plain sight in your car. Digital security is an afterthought for the majority of folks because every once in a while, I'll get a spam email from an old account that got hacked. It's not till something dramatic happens that folks become aware of the issue of security.

I myself have stepped up my habits and measures over the years. Nothing dramatic, but just like you wouldn't use expensive tech on the bus carelessly, I apply that same logic to my digital life. It's not going to stop someone if their sole intention is to dox me, but at least I know there are some extra steps they'll have to go through before getting full access. Steps that would hopefully tip me off in time to fight back. But the thing about me is that I'm in this field of work, most folks aren't and depending on where you live, there might not be any support networks available to you. That plays into the digital and real life intimidation that has increased since shit hole got into office.

If you live in a major city, you obviously have more resources and can get some help, but if you're out in the boonies of the mid-west or a rural community, the threats become that much more real for everyone. Even access to basic services is an issue for most folks in those situations so I can understand how online security can be on the bottom of their list, but it's not like they're out there on an island, closed off. Being able to look for resources and guides online from trusted sources can put them in the right direction. Being informed and understanding your rights can make a world of difference. It won't stop direct abuse from authorities looking to fuck with you, but you won't make it easy on them either, thereby creating a window of time in which something can hopefully be done to alleviate the situation.     

Having said all this, the best thing I can do is list a bunch of resources for folks to go through and hopefully take away some practices they can incorporate into their digital life, but meh. I'll let folks learn in their own time at their own expense.