A protester holds a sign in front of L.A. City Hall

The Future of the LA Times Depends on Disowning White Supremacy

In November 2016, the world found itself reeling in shock and disappointment that an anti-intellectual, openly racist talk-show host could clinch the hearts and minds of a decisive portion of the electorate to seize the White House. From New York to Los Angeles, newsrooms and editorial chiefs-of-staff across the U.S. conceded they largely failed to take seriously the power of race-baiting among the U.S.’s predominantly white “swing” voters, and promised to be more comprehensive in their political coverage going forward. But four years later, with the threat of a second Trump term on the horizon, in Los Angeles, a clear unwillingness to condemn white supremacy from the L.A. Times shows just how much our intelligentsia still has to learn.

At the height of unrest in Minneapolis and later Los Angeles, when businesses shuttered and police sirens shrieked through nights of “curfew,” the L.A. Times published headlines decrying broken shop-windows and damaged property, with photos of mostly Black and Brown Americans under arrest and awash in turmoil. Meanwhile, on all of the “big five” social media platforms, many saw a different story playing out: window-breakers and vandals were not simply random Black or Brown people, but more often masked, white agitators, so-called “anarchists” with professional training, and Trump supporters exploiting police forces spread too thin attacking unarmed protesters. From L.A. City Hall, Mayor Garcetti responded with armed forces to the overwhelmingly peaceful protesters, and once again exposed “democracy” in our city as little more than a poster-board term for government and police organization more ready to defend racial hegemony here than to supply local hospital workers with protective personal equipment in the fight against a global pandemic.

When it came to coverage of these events, or their retelling, scores of people ‘on the ground’ relied on Twitter updates from citizen journalists such as the team at L.A. Taco and StreetWatch L.A., and not on the L.A. Times reporting staff. The biggest reason for this is simply because of the Times’s reputation as an “objective” source, which most experts today agree is just a stand-in term for “coverage without reference to race.” Such coverage by default is not objective reporting for racialized groups, who consistently bear the brunt of police and state violence, but it also plays a major part to obfuscate officials’ roles in acts of violence against such groups.

Consider that Eric Garcetti was originally elected to office in 2013 by only 12.4% percent of L.A. county’s registered voters. Despite such a weak show of support, when protests in L.A. were blamed for damaged property, Garcetti became the commander of an LAPD force that arrested more than 2,700 unarmed protesters in three days, and which at one point jammed those protesters into crowded buses at the height of the worst uncontained respiratory pandemic in over a century.

Garcetti’s mass arrests were an offense against the democratic ideals of free speech and the right to assembly in Los Angeles. But along with Michel Moore and Alex Villanueva, respectively official “chiefs” of the LAPD and the L.A. County sheriff’s department–and backed by Governor Newsom’s National Guard–Garcetti re-branded military law as “curfew.” As the city entered an otherwise undefined legislative realm during the unrest, this euphemization rather easily undermined any notion of democracy in the second largest city in America. Yet the curfew acted not just as a terror for youth, elderly and disabled citizens everywhere who had nothing to do with BLM protests, but also as a restriction on all residents in L.A. County, whether in the city proper or in its suburban respites. The L.A. Times board needed to call this “curfew” out as unacceptable, but instead chose to mostly just “retell” the story, offering virtually no commentary on the larger implications of a military-police state abetted by a “curfew.” Similarly, during coverage of the unrest, the paper relied heavily on officials’ accounts and narratives over the events of the day, even as everyday citizens had far more evidence of aggressive tactics by the LAPD against them than vice versa regarding the danger posed.

Garcetti’s decision to disperse protesters in Los Angeles with SWAT teams and the National Guard also placed him in the same ideological camp of the president despite any “liberal” status. The L.A. Times would thus not have been wrong to juxtapose the way in which whether officials wear red or blue ties, during civic unrest, the vast majority of them side with the state, and by extension, the state’s enforcement of white supremacy. Consider that just a few weeks before the civic unrest the same L.A. Times board published a strong statement lambasting L.A. City Hall’s dirty corruption schemes as exposed by the FBI. Yet smothering protesters’ rights to free speech and assembly with batons and smokescreens was also a dirty corruption of every one of our constitutional rights. Is the editorial board waiting on the FBI for the green-light to make a statement on this?

In any case, renouncing police brutality and white supremacy is not as hard as the editorial rooms may believe. Remember that the very phrase of “white supremacy” itself is not an attack on white people, just as “police brutality” is not an assault on individual police officers. These phrases are observed facts of the structural realities that continually marginalize and criminalize non-white communities in Los Angeles and cities across America. The numbers and stories and data on this have been relayed ad naseum. Yet they still need to be referenced so long as they’re facts on the ground, including from L.A.’s largest paper.

It’s true that calling out such facts ‘on the ground’ should prove difficult for a historically white-owned and white-led paper, especially considering that ownership for decades rested on the Chandler family, an anti-union and pro-white elite dynasty. But it’s for this same reason that acknowledgement of the facts on the ground will be even more fruitful for the paper’s future.

During the height of protests in Washington D.C., when the lights of the White House went dim, Trump and his allies tucked into a bunker, presumably hiding from the “thugs and rapists”–as the administration is fond to label non-white communities–too close to the gates of the White House. In fact they were Black, white and more protesters assembled en masse for Black Lives Matter, and against policies that see mostly white men at both the lowest and highest levels of government consistently face almost no accountability for crimes against the public. In Los Angeles, a similarly multi-ethnic mass has spent the last few months organizing and pleading with officials, looking to have their concerns and proposals meaningfully addressed, only to find at nearly each turn elected officials who are unwilling to meaningfully commit to anti-racist policies and anti-racist budgets. This leaves only the “the fourth estate” to show leadership.

If newsrooms and editorial boards like those of the L.A. Times are serious about an informed populace for a democratic republic, they need to take an active position against the power structures threatening these ideals, including white supremacy. They must do so through consistent anti-racism, including anti-racist stances in their coverage, in their opinion section, and in scrutiny of elected officials’ decisions when they support policies that reinforce racial hegemony. This is not just a matter of what’s been trending on Twitter, but the proven way to hold some of the most powerful actors in our cities and states accountable for their actions.

Taking a stance will not be entirely new or completely innovative, either. In Burlington, Vermont, for example, where the population is more than 85% white, the city recently declared racism a public health concern, which is a good starting point for policy. In turn, continuing to do the opposite, or to remain “objective,” has damaging effects, and only keeps the paper’s credibility and readership low, particularly with non-white communities, a grave concern given the majority non-white demographics of L.A. County. But the fact is that the paper’s low readership has well to do with the impoverishment faced by Black and Brown communities in Los Angeles; it’s not easy for a single mother, for example, to subscribe to the daily news when her first concern is food for her family and keeping a roof overhead. Yet she and millions more like her live here, and the city depends enormously on their labor. Our paper needs to show it truly grasps this.

It’s also true that actively addressing white supremacy each time it rears its head, including in the actions of our local and national officials, will likely to turn some people away. But leaving this battle for scholars and communities of color to keep waging by themselves ‘on the ground’ reeks of the indifference and elitism of the Chandler paper. Moreover, the distinction between ‘just policy’ and policy in defense of racialized hegemony is as important in this election cycle as the distinction between “rebels” and the treasonous, pro-slavery armies they actually were during the civil war.

Less than a century before that war, a small band of white men were written into the nation’s history books as courageous and impeccable ‘founding fathers’ who freed ‘us’ from tyrannic Redcoat soldiers, and who produced the laws of the land which govern millions of citizens to this day. It’s now self-evident that much was omitted from those history books, and that such omissions continue to have consequences. The L.A. Times can thus not afford to continue omitting the legacy of white supremacy from its coverage, just as it cannot afford to ignore the demands for equity made most recently by the paper’s Black and Latinx caucuses. In the same way that Biden has been beckoned to do with his campaign, the paper’s leadership has more than a responsibility to stand in defense of a progressive and inclusive agenda. It has an active interest in it; the future readership of the paper is still waiting to have its concerns meaningfully addressed. It falls on the fourth estate to fill the void. The time is now.

J.T.

To the Skaters Getting Started: We are a team, a family, an adventure

To all my fellow beginners out there, it is never too late to start skating or even to pick it back up again. I was 7 years old when I first started my adventures with skateboarding with no clue where it would take me, but with just one family member who helped me learn the basics! One year after I first got some of the basics, I stopped because I wasn’t motivated enough, which I sincerely regret. But many years later, my skateboarding adventure would see a new beginning at Lindsay Skate Park on 42nd Pl in South Los Angeles.

Gilbert Lindsay Skate park is where I grew as a person, and where I found my second family. To those who live around Lindsay Skate park or any other Skate park, visit them and experience for yourself how skateboarding and its community can help you as a person.

This year, due to the pandemic, my skateboarding had to be put on hold for a while, which wasn’t easy for me because staying home so much was tough and still is. When I was finally able to go outside again, getting back on my board was kind of odd at first because since it was put on hold for a while, certain parts of it became more challenging. Basically I had to relearn everything and it wasn’t easy. Skateboarding is something you must constantly practice or you’ll lose the ability to do certain things. But eventually, after two weeks of relearning everything, I got my style back and felt motivated to go harder, to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. It’s all helped me gain even more experience then I had before quarantine.

So to those who want to quit this amazing adventure that skateboarding can provide for you, don’t because once you see yourself grow you will only continue getting better. In skateboarding there is no shame for who you are or what skill level you’re in. No matter what, you’ll always be welcomed into the skateboarding community like it’s your second family.

To those that think needing help getting started isn’t “cool enough,” you are wrong. The adventures and challenges that skateboarding can bring upon you are not easy, so if you need some tips, just ask someone because it will help you progress in this crazy adventure.

The first skate deck I ever used was a “blind” deck. And if you still have your very first skate deck, be sure to keep it because one day you’ll look back at it and think about all the happy adventures that skateboarding began with. What I see for myself in these crazy fun adventures on my deck is something that will continue long into the future for me. So if you’re thinking of starting this adventure, go for it, and be prepared for the challenges it can bring upon your life. Most importantly, whether you see it as something professional or as something to pass time with, just have fun.

Life is filled with challenges and it can be confusing sometimes because everyone handles the challenges differently, but to those who can use some help with the many obstacles life brings, skateboarding won’t let you down. For myself, as someone who gets confused with life’s challenges sometimes, it’s not easy, but with the freedom of skateboarding, the happy adventures help me with everything else. They can help you too!

IR

IR is a skater and student in the 10th grade through South Los Angeles. He dedicates this poem to all the new skaters out there.

A group of kids ride their bikes and scooters as papa watches along near the former Super Pan Bakery

Make Virgil Avenue Feel Safe for Families Again: A Note for Sqirl, Melody, and every White-owned Business Along Virgil Avenue

I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve been able to breathe a sigh of relief over the last few months when walking past Virgil avenue and Marathon street, where the so-called Sqirl restaurant is located. Given the protocol to socially distance, Sqirl’s reduced services have meant a slight reprieve for more than a few local pedestrians from hordes of strangers, overwhelmingly white, whose clustering at the intersection often literally embodies another white wall encroaching upon another once-predominantly immigrant neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Before L.A.’s stay at home orders, the restaurant’s lines were a frequent reminder for local immigrant communities of just how many people in Los Angeles could still afford more than $15 on a salad, even while on the same block families struggle to make $15 an hour to keep up with the rising cost of living each year.

At the same time, despite the absence of Sqirl’s lines, so much as passing through the area still imposes a mental tax on long-time residents due to the mental prospect of further displacement by only more white boutique shops, more white wine bars and shops, and more white patrons, who collectively create more anxiety in the area for non-whites. Even a visit to Rick’s Produce, which is across the street from Sqirl and owned by Latinos, can still feel odd for Brown folks in the area nowadays, most of all because of the white bodies that frequent Sqirl, Rick’s, Melody, and the other strange, white spaces nearby where white people can easily spend twenty dollars on a smoothie, a handful of avocados, or an “horchofee,” which is horchata mixed with coffee, according to Sqirl’s menu. 

“White people are exhausting. That’s what they do, exhaust others, exhaust resources, exhaust themselves in their obsession with dominance. Whiteness is exhaustion.”

Dana White, Twitter

This makes it so that even if Brown folks nearby can appreciate Rick’s Produce’s Latinx ownership, not to mention the shop’s support for small business farmers, the encroaching white wall still seems to close in on the shop, making it so that the only time you’ll see Brown folks lining up for Rick’s en masse is when the store gives the produce away, as in, without discrimination, the way it’s done with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council the last few Sundays. Bravo, Rick’s!

The rest of the time, walking into the shop tends to feel like it’s a place where white patrons are the true customers that the shop’s succulent, yet pricey fruits and veggies serve. At the very least, the space feels contested, as the overly bright specs of Sqirl across the street remind Brown bodies. Standing in line at Rick’s for a smoothie the other day, I asked myself:

“Is my money really good enough here? Or is supporting any new business on Virgil supporting my own displacement, or the displacement of my people?”

If memories of 1992 in Los Angeles still ring fresh in the minds of many Black and Latino residents through South Los Angeles today, then for Latinos along Virgil avenue so are memories of a humbler, more sustainable way of living in the area before the onset of white wealth. In other words, for many long-time residents, whiteness just got here, and it was only the other day that the area wasn’t as heavy with chic stores, or galleries, and the awkward placement of those stores and galleries, and this great white silence as more such spaces proliferate on top of the area’s historic immigrant culture.

Consider that the former Super Pan Bakery on Virgil avenue, owned by Doña Elvia and her family, was the last panaderia standing along the avenue for residents in Virgil Village, offering bread, tamales and more for residents at less than $5.00. When in late 2018 the bakery was displaced in a deal with some new developers in town, it was made clear to the community that Doña Elvia’s only fault was having migrated to Los Angeles without the privilege of whiteness and white wealth to her name. 

In 2019, a small, white-owned bagel company from Silver Lake took the reins to Super Pan’s former space, adding to the further whitewashing of Virgil avenue, and demonstrating how violence against non-white communities is not just inflicted during the literal disembodiment of Black and Brown communities at the hands of police, but also in the repeated trampling of Black and Brown cultural hallmarks, including their homes, their bakeries, and more for the erection of white-owned, white-catering thoroughfare. If the new Bagel shop’s owners set up tables for the shop along Virgil avenue, do they even know how much further they’ll be hemming in little Brown kids and their families nearby?

If, as city budgets across the nation reveal, whiteness wasn’t so invested in hostility towards Black and Brown bodies, perhaps white spaces entering their way into Black and Brown communities wouldn’t have to be a big deal. But Super Pan’s displacement for the sake of another more posh, more white bakery is only the latest example of whiteness equaling the displacement of Brown bodies. So let it be clear: whiteness along Virgil avenue isn’t just a privilege. It is a continual pressure on Black & Brown folks spatially, socially, and psychologically. This Side of Hoover has documented this process for years.

On the other hand, the movement for Black Lives is calling for an end not only to police violence, but for an end to white supremacy in all forms. This makes it so that Black & Brown communities everywhere can now seriously consider and call for what we want from our tax-dollars, from our schools, from our neighborhoods going forward, and more.

WHAT TO DO (THE RIGHT THING)

Here’s one picture I know I’m not alone in no longer wanting to see through my neighborhood and that of my people’s: the racism permeating along Virgil like a rotten stench, wreaking most heavily from Sqirl’s overbearingly white, classist lines, which are not just offensive, but which create anxiety for our communities, especially in the heightened police state through Los Angeles. If Sqirl, and Melody, and each of these newcomers insist on staying, however, as indicated by the former’s recent expansion, then it’s time to diversify its patronage and increase access for the surrounding communities, whose backs the “Virgil Village” has been built on for decades.

Consider just a few ways that Sqirl and other white-owned business nearby can show up for their neighbors:

  1. Offer healthy, pre-made, carryout meals at different prices for patrons with different budgets. This is literally already being done at Everytable in South L.A. After all, if the owner at Sqirl can afford to expand the restaurant and open more chains, what is it to break even in supporting a major segment of the neighborhood where it’s based?

  2. Donate meals to the local community or nearby farmers, not just to “restaurant-workers,” which overlooks labor from farm-workers and their families. At Zambrero restaurant, their Plate 4 Plate program sees to it that select items purchased from their menu donate a meal to underprivileged communities nearby; what better way to show some gratitude to the people who pick the juicy greens and avocados that make their way to Sqirl’s kitchens and grocery stores all across Los Angeles?

  3. Partner with the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council to get meals to children, moms, and the elderly close by. Because if Plate 4 Plate seems a little too far out there, I’ve got evidence that one local organization is more than ready to serve the community in a fruitful partnership. Find that evidence HERE.

  4. Offer student discounts, or even prepaid student or “family passes” for students and families nearby, year-round. AKA ACCEPT EBT CARDS. Because what can be more inclusive than literally ensuring that your neighbors know they’ve got a special seat at your tables when they’re up for it? Isn’t that what inviting Wah’s Golden Hen owner Lena Louie to lunch was all about? Not including LACC, I can think of many students and families nearby who would appreciate such passes, and who deserve them.

SERIOUSLY, THINK ABOUT THIS (OUR LIVED EXPERIENCES MATTER)

In the days following national mobilization against the police state led by Black Lives Matter, the movement’s insignia became an overnight sensation. In the Virgil Village, signs of “BLM” support could be seen on white gentrifences, on white storefronts, and in those stores’ hashtags, purportedly in solidarity with the fight for Black dignity in this country. Let this note thus serve as an article of solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and people of color everywhere fighting all forms of violence, including displacement from our neighborhoods because we know–as in, we’ve seen for lifetimes–how displacement is intrinsic to this country’s cycle of violence against our bodies.

And since white folks throughout Virgil Village and Silver Lake have stated their support for Black Lives, it’s clear that because so many of them are occupying space in predominantly immigrant communities, their support for racial justice needs to extend to neighboring immigrant families, who build, serve, clean up, and allow these neighborhoods to live and prosper, even as their livelihoods are at greater risk each day in the current political environment. Along Virgil avenue, such support means making and holding space for the mamas, papas, abuelitas and the rest of the familia with a few simple, practical ideas to apply now. Don’t lament over its call out. Play your part to Make Virgil Avenue Feel Safe for Families Again.

J.T.

Rick from Rick's Produce, Serving the People

Our communities are not defined just by struggle. We thrive even as we fight for our humanity

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 100)

Through more than five lifetimes across the American continent, even after the genocide and enslavement of our bloodlines, from the rainforests of Brazil to the mountaintops of Canada, and through this dizzied land of war-songs and bombs, Indigenous, African and more descendants of colonization have still managed to live, love, and laugh in America. We still do. Some days we only manage one of the three. But we get close enough. Each day we fight to keep living.

Most of all, we continue to push past heaps of winds threatening to slow down our progress. Let it not be forgotten that as hostility for our communities rose, our communities chose to rise up in power, guided by love, not by hatred. Let it not be forgotten how this pandemic has shown the whole world the way we keep rising. The way we refuse to be put down.

As one student I worked with last year put it in her first spoken-word poem:

“We broke them damn chains.”

We continue breaking them today. What has also lain exposed after three months of “Pandemic in Los Angeles” is that while the people’s elected leadership and representatives have largely failed, the people themselves have not. The land forgets nothing. And we are the land.

More than as just Americans, we have acted as global citizens with the world for our localities. In marching, outraging, and organizing, we have done so not just for the benefit of ourselves, but for the benefit of all people, for the 21st century and beyond, if our global pueblo can manage to see it.

We have done an immeasurable amount of teaching, just as we’ve done an astounding amount of learning. Consistently in our discourse it’s become apparent that our teaching and learning has been most of all for ourselves, to continue uplifting our youth, families, elders, and more with this lifetime.

If white Americans have been able to grow in their perspectives from our teachings, which have been offered to all since the first day, to become more than just “not racist,” but anti-racist, then great. But if not, that’s fine just as well, because what’s also become abundantly clear for our communities is that it’s not our responsibility as the oppressed to consistently guide our oppressors into behaving more humanely. Moreover, it’s clear that in any case, whiteness is breaking itself down, collapsing under its own fictitious weight, exposing its brutality through the baton for anyone who dares to challenge the inequality it has created as anything but just. One way or another, white Americans need to come to terms with this, which is likely not the end of “whiteness,” but the end of white supremacy, to the best of their abilities.

As for our communities, which still need to see to the development of at least the next generation of great teachers, artists, critical thinkers and more to expand on this great, axis-turning shift in consciousness:

We have an incredibly long way to go. But that’s because we have incredibly long ages to live for.

As I witness the brilliance of our people past even a great fracturing of the roads before us during these last few months, I think of all the societies lost, burned down by the greed of the colonists and slave-masters. And of all the great minds, kidnapped and broken into by the infectious lust for power. But the fact of the matter is that these minds never wholly died, just as the societies never entirely left. Remember: the land never forgets; its roots are here once again now, speaking through only more of our voices as we collectively reclaim a world we know we’ve been given to love.

Speaking of which, this makes 100 blogs from yours truly in as many days for “Pandemic in Los Angeles.” Thank you to each and every reader and supporter, and please expect more soon after a small break to refresh the sound and keyboards.

J.T.

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A pigeon sits atop a lamp post in East Hollywood, Los Angeles

99 Problems but a Blog is not one; a Bookmark for J.T.’s Pandemic in Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 99)

The following is an arrangement of headlines on J.T. celebrating 99 consecutive days of blogging for Los Angeles since the start of the pandemic here. Each line represents a blog, a meditation on the city, an ode, a love letter. Feel free to type any line into the “search” bar on the site to delve into more for our communities:

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)
J.T. The L.A. Storyteller is now on Spotify
Exhaling
Super Pan Bakery of the Virgil Village is being displaced from our community
Get your first ever Los Snapbacks by Jimbo Times
Two Sides of Wonder (An 8th grade student’s poem on being)
Get your first ever Los Hoodies by Jimbo Times
West Hollywood makes way: All Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles
Three months after shut-down, L.A. “reopens” while both COVID-19 and LAPD budget remain uncontained, posing the greatest risk to Black, Latino, and AAPI communities
LAPD will receive nearly 1.9 billion dollars next year while housing & community investment will lose millions
Today, put your sunscreen on and get ready for another walk, Los Angeles
Nahshon D. Anderson: Don’t just Black out now; support queer & trans writers of color
America’s greatness has always been measured by the scale of white violence
Victor Avila: Hope Amid Stones both Tall and Gray
Better late than never: Educating one young hyena in Los Angeles, Part I
Five times David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest FAILS
On Metro’s Gold Line in Los Angeles
Home by the 101 Freeway
Dealing with our news cycle
Tap Cards Out: How L.A. Metro Normalizes Policing, Jailing, Penalizing People of Color
Submit your writing
Bethanee Epifani: Looks Can Kill a Whole Vibe: An Excerpt from Don’t Fall Prey!
Jeremy Tong: A Remembrance for Demetrio Zuniga Farias, Mayor of Breed Street
Meg Rakos: Supay & New York City: Two Adventures, One Destiny
With Demons in the Room
Thelma T. Reyna: Old Habits
Beverly M. Collins: The Mist
Julieta Galan: Memories of our reality
A Strand of Humanity (An 8th grade student’s poem on this COVID-19 season)
Nery Edwin Monroy: Loving Father, Tío to Many
Waiting Again, Los Angeles
Why all 15 L.A. City Council Members should now resign
I Knew (A 7th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Coronavirus lands in East Hollywood, Silver Lake
In a Box, Hidden from My View, Lies a Record
East Hollywood Can Do Better by its Kids
Episode 16 – Japanese Americans on the East Side of L.A.
Home Again
CONTACT
It’s going to be another trailblazing summer in East Hollywood
How to beat Summer 2019: Part I
How to beat Summer 2019: Part II
How to beat Summer 2019: Part III
Don’t Be One Who You Are Not (A 7th grade student’s poem on Identity)
Rap Heat Coming from a Latino: Music in L.A. with Sal Roses
BONUS: How to Outline Your Summer 2019
5 Tips for when 4th of July Sucks
5 NOs to remember with your fams this Summer
Twenty (-Six) Years After the L.A. Riots: How Things Have Changed
We Meet Again Los Angeles
Making Face, Making Soul (1990)
10 Ways Not to Beat Summer 2019
Secret Agent: How to Discover your Neighborhood in Los Angeles
When I Rest My Temple
Asi Somos Los Angeles
10 Things We Learned from an Incredible Time at Our Back to School Party this August 25th, 2018
The Fight for Los Angeles continues: Meet Diana Mabel Cruz
Los Angeles is in Fashion: Meet Mauricio Zelada
“Homelessness” in Los Angeles Today is the Result of Decades of American Discrimination
This year: Thank you Los Angeles
How LAUSD’s Teacher Problem is a Moment of Truth for Progressive Future of California
Motivating Vibes: Music in L.A. with Jon Quest
Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz
A 7th Grade Student’s Poem for Black Lives in Los Angeles
We Will Not be Erased: How Open Mics in Our Community Uplift our Cultural History
BEE STING (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)
Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition (2013)
Tony Bao Tang: Song Unsilenced
By Escalating the Police State, Mayor Garcetti is Officially L.A.’s First White Supremacist Mayor of the 21st Century
What a Ride, Los Angeles; Our Final Flyer for BTS 2 is Now Live
Redlining in Los Angeles
The Soft Graze and the Pitch (An 8th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Top 5 DON’Ts with your friends this Summer
A reflection on Father’s Day for every working-class father, and all the mothers who also play the role in Los Angeles
Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is about fulfilling a need, lunging forward
José Ocampo: I Wanted School to Be Over
Top 5 NOs to Remember with Relationships this Summer
The Path of Togetherness (An 8th grade student’s poem on Growth)
Food Justice in East Hollywood is growing fruits & veggies at Madison Ave Community Garden
You are allowed to press reset, Los Angeles
Episode 17 – Rick’s Produce Uplifts Families with Free Fruits & Veggies
Kevin Walton King: During Trauma, Crisis, and Times of Transition, Love is Essential
About
In Pictures: Marching for Justice Along Compton boulevard for Andrés Guardado
Please sign your name to the petition calling for justice for Andrés Guardado, an 18 year old fatally shot by the L.A. County sheriff’s department
This Juneteenth: Emancipate History to Make Way for a New Future in Los Angeles
Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997)
Los Angeles is not represented by its elected officials. It is trembling on the knees of the dying men and women of its sidewalks
Helena Maria Viramontes: Their Dogs Came with Them (2006)
Summer has arrived in Los Angeles, and J.T. is going to Publishing School with LARB
Madison Block Loses a Little Brother for the Ages, Fernie “Belok” Puga
Donate to Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party this Summer 2019
Jose Huizar Proves How L.A. City Hall Serves Foreign Millionaires While Jailing and Displacing its Poorest Residents
Subscribe to J.T. The L.A. Storyteller
We Raise It: A Poem for Los Youngs During These Times
Sign Your Name to Support Police-Free Libraries in Los Angeles
El Cipitío (2016), the new Cipitío
The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department
Home page/Archives

J.T.

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A new logo for JIMBO TIMES

J.T.’s publishing platform will be strictly for voices from Black, Indigenous, and more communities of color

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 98)

First of all, the 98th column for our series uplifts the name of Breonna Taylor, the EMT worker who was murdered in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky, after a storm of police officers kicked down her door and began firing their weapons, striking Breonna eight times and ending her life. The police officers behind this heinous crime–who had a warrant to raid another home instead of Breonna’s–are still roaming free, unaccountable to justice. To sign the petition calling for their arrest, readers can go HERE.

Breonna’s murder was also in Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of the state overseen by the 2nd most consequential white supremacist in Washington D.C., Senator Mitch McConnell. But I know there are still folks in Kentucky working to have a senator one day who actually recognizes Black bodies as belonging to human beings.

To paraphrase the late Fannie Lou Hamer: None of us are free until all of us are free. In that regard, I also want to uplift the spirit of all my Black sisters, sending them my warmest prayers during these yet more taxing, yet more emotionally draining times. You are not forgotten.

THEIR VOICES

I have shared with readers on the blog some of my experiences visiting various juvenile halls throughout Southern California to facilitate writing workshops with young men and women, the vast majority of those youth being of Black, Latinx, and Native American roots. Each time, during the brief time we shared together, I arrived with a commitment to create community with these young people, something worth pursuing, even as many of them were still just “in the middle” of a system with a vested interest in their incarceration and other forms of disenfranchisement, one benefitting from their poverty and lack of adequate access to resources.

The feeling these programs invoked in me when they came to an end was always a conflicted one; on the one hand, I was happy to see the Black and Brown youth for a time, and to let them know that they were were seen and not forgotten by their peers. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel like so much of our work was only the beginning of far more work to do for our collective freedom.

Today, it’s only more clear how as Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies, we shouldn’t have to be seated inside of jail complexes guarded by chain-linked fences and barbed wire in order for us to speak at length, to write, and to visualize and thus determine our futures according to our own judgments and volition.

Today it’s also clear that Americans need to set new standards for themselves if they’re to create a lasting turning point during this historic time for our communities. Throughout this series, I hope it’s become clearer for readers how violence pervades nearly every walk of life where ethnic communities are concerned, including due to policing, displacement, disinvestments in resources such as education, affordable housing, and more, all so more powerful interests can extend the economic engine that reproduces inequality, one generation after the next.

I also hope it’s now apparent that apart from writing, I really love to read, especially the work of other Black, Latinx, and more writers of color and people with perspectives varying from the norm.

But did you know, that a 2019 survey shows that more than 3/4ths of jobs in the publishing industry are held by white Americans, by predominantly straight, non-disabled white women? What kind of message does that send? Particularly to brilliant Black & Brown youth like those we’ve seen?

The message is that while a multitude of voices exist in the most ethnically ‘diverse’ country in the world, the industry is dominated by just one segment of the population, while Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, queer, disabled, and more voices are left to occupy a tiny corner with one another. If that sounds like segregation, it’s because it is.

As one comment pointed out out regarding the survey:

“The issue concerns BIPOC and LGBT people not having an equal voice in an industry that shapes education and culture. Gatekeeping is real. Essentially, the survey results show that white cis women continue to have the loudest voices in the publishing industry and continue to decide which books should be read by the masses.

– Matthew Anderson, Struck

My mind thinks back to the scores of young people I’ve met in Los Angeles, not only through its detention centers, but also at its inner-city schools, so many of whose tremendous voices can stun the world with reverberating effects.

I want all of such young people and each of their peers to know, that JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller is unapologetically a safe space for them, as our community together despite the enclosed gates and hallways of detention centers and policed space around us has always been. I also know that I no longer want to be able to meet my community only when surrounded by chains and barbed wire; if the online publishing world is therefore the next great ventures for yours truly, then let there be no confusion: it belongs to Black & Brown and any other marginalized communities most of all.

The good news is that with the twenty different voices we’ve published on the blog so far, this is already true, and that therefore, as an old saying goes: we’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing.

If you know someone whose voice can continue to grow this effort, please encourage them to SUBMIT THEIR WORK.

J.T.

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The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 97)

Andrés Guardado’s and Terron Jammal Boone’s deaths at the hands of L.A. County sheriff officers in Los Angeles this past week cannot go in vain: they serve as crucial reminders that the people of Los Angeles can settle for nothing less than reclaiming their spaces from the police state before police cause more harm.

Even at this time of heightened tensions between communities of color and law enforcement across America, the L.A. County Sheriff’s department has shown no willingness to ban or even begin discussing a ban of its fatal policies against Black & Brown civilians, even after killing two Black & Brown men within just days of each other during the week of June 14th. At a meeting at L.A. City Hall this past Monday, June 22nd, L.A. City Council Member Curren Price said of Andrés Guardado’s death:

“He was shot by a sheriff deputy, but as far as the community’s concerned, he was shot by police, by law enforcement…That tragic death just underscores the conversation that’s happening all over this country.”

In East Hollywood, since March 16th of this year, sheriff deputies have guarded more than 1.5 million square feet of LACC’s campus, making it completely inaccessible for thousands of nearby students, workers, and other community members, the vast majority of whom are people of color and immigrants, but who also count African-American, disabled, elderly folks, and trans people within the community.

Signs posted around the campus state that authorized persons must “check-in” with the L.A. County sheriffs to be allowed on campus, but how can that procedure possibly feel safe for Black & Brown people?

At first, the campus’s closing-off was admittedly in line with the uniform policy across L.A. County, under the notion that it was a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection. More than three months later, however, when much of the city is “reopening” due to data suggesting we may now be getting ahead of the virus–at least, according to our public officials–the LACC campus continues idling by aimlessly, with sheriff SUVs and other vehicles guarding off the entrance. It does not feel safe for Black & Brown people, but is probably the most dangerous to the scores of unhoused residents who set up their tents around the area.

Only a few weeks ago, I recall passing by the campus while an African-American woman sat on the curb on Heliotrope drive, perhaps resting from a jog or workout, only to have two sheriff officers call out to her from behind the fences separating the campus from the sidewalk, presumably to make sure she wasn’t “posing a threat.” It shouldn’t need to be stated that if not for one or two slight gestures, she could have been moments away from being shot, but time after time we forget this is exactly how it happens across America. Moreover, I’m confident that several more of these types of instances have taken place around the campus grounds, but that they’ve gone mostly unreported since Black, Brown, and other working-class communities have simply come to view such harassment as typical of police officers.

Instead of having armed law enforcement encroaching upon unarmed citizens who actually reside in the community, however, LACC’s 1.5 million square footage should now be making space accessible to these groups.

For one, the campus can be used as a testing site for COVID-19, or as a location for limited exercising, as is the case at Dodger stadium and Elysian Park in Angeleno Heights. For another, LACC’s benches should be made accessible once again for pedestrians looking to take refuge from the exhausting rush of car traffic along Vermont avenue, just as its green spaces should be made accessible again for picnicking or meditation. There is also much that can be done with the campus’s air conditioning in order to help the community cool off with the onset of summer. One way or another, it’s time to innovate. But whatever alternative use for campus instead of clustering large groups of people, this I’m certain of:

The L.A. County Sheriff’s department has no grounds to be left as overseers of the college. It belongs most of all to students, student workers, and the various other community members in the vicinity. They form the community in the “community college.”

If any of this sounds extraordinary, remember that even the Los Angeles Public Library community has taken its own LAPL Board of Commissioners to task, calling for the board to divest in police at our public libraries, since police only serve to intimidate and incarcerate our city’s most vulnerable populations there; they also intimidate Black & Brown library workers into “walking a fine line” for fear that they may be confused as a threat by police officers. Only in America.

It’s therefore time for members of the Los Angeles City College community to call for the reopening of our campus, hand-in-hand with the dismissal of armed law enforcement for the benefit of our community and to prevent any more unnecessary bloodshed and loss of life for our families. If the weeks since the unrest in Minneapolis have shown anything, it’s that after marching, there is organizing, making our voices heard, and standing resolutely in our pursuit of a safer world for our being. We deserve it.

J.T.

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A helicopter making the rounds above East Hollywood, Los Angeles

Summer has arrived in Los Angeles, and J.T. is going to Publishing School with LARB

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 96)

Our blog is officially kicking the season off with a fundraiser for yet another special program with yours truly this summer 2020. The Los Angeles Review of Books Fellowship (LARB) for entrepreneurial projects is a special opportunity rightfully fitting for Los Cuentos. Starting in July, along with a group of fellow burgeoning writers and storytellers, I’ll be work-shopping for five weeks under the guidance of the editor-in-chief at LARB to grow J.T. The L.A. Storyteller into a premier platform for working class voices in our communities as I know it needs to be.

Because if you think up to 100 blogs in a row for Pandemic in Los Angeles makes for a lot of reading, you haven’t seen anything yet, Los Angeles.

I believe in the power of words because they were once only a few words that endangered my life. Just as they were once only a few words that saved it.

Today, there are septuagenarians–or readers in their seventies–who follow Jimbo Times, and who I’m proud to count among the ranks. But there are also 13 and 14 year olds who follow the blog, who I’m inspired to think gain some perspective from its words. Most of all, there’s an array of readers in between these ranges who’ve come to count on Jimbo Times for thoughts and analysis of the always interesting times we find ourselves in.

One such friend and supporter told me to “tell those stories” from my eyes at the LARB workshops. I thought then of all the young people whose eyes have seen the depths of hardship in Los Angeles in ways that no one would wish for others. I am fortunate to be here, and fortunate to be able to make this call to the community in honor of our collective ‘eyes’, once again towards a brighter future for all in this sacred pueblo we call Los Angeles.

J.T.

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A woman stands with her first in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado

In Pictures: Marching for Justice Along Compton boulevard for Andrés Guardado

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 95)

Marchers hold a sign up with a statement from Bob Avakian regarding the role of police in America
Marchers hold a sign up with a statement from Bob Avakian regarding the role of police in America
A row of motorcyclists led the way and cleared the path for the march along Compton boulevard in honor of Andrés Guardado, who was shot and killed by L.A. Sheriffs department
A row of motorcyclists led the way and cleared the path for the march along Compton boulevard in honor of Andrés Guardado, who was shot and killed by L.A. Sheriff’s department
A woman stands with her first in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
A woman stands with her first in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
A woman and her daughter raise their firsts in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
A woman and her daughter raise their firsts in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
A woman stands with her first in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
A woman stands with her first in solidarity with marches in Compton, California for Andrés Guardado
Marchers atop a pick-up truck make their way past a Compton boulevard sign en route to the Compton sheriff department station
Marchers atop a pick-up truck make their way past a Compton boulevard sign en route to the Compton sheriff’s department station
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff department
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff’s department station
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff department
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff’s department station
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff department
Marchers hold signs up, as well as the Salvadoran flag, along Compton boulevard en route to the Compton sheriff’s department station
A pair of hot dog vendors pursue crows at Compton City Hall, where marchers descended at the end of the march for Andrés Guardado.
A pair of hot dog vendors pursue crows at Compton City Hall, where marchers descended at the end of the march for Andrés Guardado

J.T.

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A mural along Melrose avenue depicting Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant

A reflection on Father’s Day for every working-class father, and all the working-class mothers who also play the role in Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 94)

On this day–during this most critical year for our nation–I hope it’s only becoming clearer that if our nation has respect for the concept of the family, then it should show that respect in its treatment of families everywhere by uplifting them, as Kobe “Bean” Bryant was celebrated for uplifting his daughter Gianna Bryant.

In the days and months following the untimely passing of this first-class pair, the city of Los Angeles, along with people all over America, mourned their sudden loss with many words, moments of silence, and testimonials. Though it may seem just a faint memory now, one can still recall that in the short time before the coronavirus, almost every other day in L.A. was marked by some kind of space for mourning the unthinkable loss of the Bryants and other families above the hills in Calabasas.

Today, when mothers and fathers march for the deaths of their sons and daughters–or those who could be their family members–especially following their deaths at the hands of law enforcement–which, don’t forget: are preventable deaths–they’re only participating in the same collective grieving that arose for these far more famous figures not long ago.

But every human life, no matter how rich or how poor, is absolutely worth the world, worth fighting for, and worth demanding a better world for, as so much of the working-class is now calling for, once again, in America. When state and public officials thus choose to meet such demands with indifference, force, or disdain, they are openly betraying–once again–one of the ideals they claim to want to uphold. Hence why we mourn, Los Angeles, and why we must continue to rise again.

The battle is long. But it is still our duty to win. Kobe Bryant knew this. And that’s why we loved him. Or at least, why we claimed to. The time has now come to extend that love to people just as human as Bryant and his 13 year old daughter. We march for justice.

J.T.

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