Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 22

Over the past nearly six years with my blog, I’ve seen frequently how writing–just like educating myself–has rarely ever been just about my personal peace of mind, but about shining a light on the specter of the world around me.

In Los Angeles, that shadow has consistently loomed through the confines of poverty. And the interest to speak out and create awareness about this world hasn’t been just a light, but a conflagration in my mind and a roaring passion in my spirit I suspect won’t vanish until every breath in my lungs for a better world leaves my body.

I glance at the past. A hundred years ago, if it weren’t for Malcolm Little coming to share a home with his single mother and eight other siblings, I wonder if he’d still have been able to stand at the intersections of Detroit and Harlem, calling out to the streets in the name of justice as he eventually came to do.

A hundred years before Malcolm X, in Harriet Tubman rose a woman with no formal education who still understood the most important issue of her time: that slavery was an offense to the history of the human species. The 1850 Fugitive Slave Act notwithstanding, she literally led others to freedom.

When I think back to Los Angeles then, a city at once quite removed from the history of slavery at the same time that it’s steeped in slave wages and disinvestment in its communities, I see a world where education has never been more accessible at the same time that it’s deeply devalued.

I also see a world where, long after the coronavirus passes, our communities will continue struggling to honor a few basic tenets of humanism: that every child deserves an education empowering them; that every human being deserves a living wage and a place to call home like any other; that no community should be victim to policing, jailing, and conviction simply for being the least resourced among our society. The same world that loomed over Malcolm, Tubman, and so many more. I also see myself moving through these worlds, searching at each turn for a better way to unite and advance them.

Earlier today I filed Articles of Incorporation for Quien Es tu Vecindario, a special step for the collective that it’s turned out to be. If approved, it will be the first step in officially recognizing the group’s arts and education work in East Hollywood as non-profit work, making it eligible for funding such as grants as well as partnerships to sustain and expand its noble movement through Los Angeles.

During this time of so much resetting, and so much reflecting, small acts like these keep me not only wondering, but looking forward to what such work can still bring to the future of my community. Because from one generation to the next, we have to keep standing, calling out, and running: the fight for a better world continues. It is a long road towards all of our freedom.


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