Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 56

In a recent interview with Gustavo Arellano for the L.A. Times, Patrisse Cullors, a leader of the movement to reform L.A. jails and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, discusses “lessons” from the coronavirus over these last two months:

“The coronavirus is telling us, and when I say us, I mean the world, what organizers have been saying for a very long time: which is [that] we live in a capitalist system that benefits only a few, that is laser-focused on money over people…and [that] you would think in the middle of one of the biggest pandemics we’ve seen in our lifetime, that it would shift the course for everybody. But in fact that hasn’t been the case.”

Walking through Los Angeles, it’s clear how much of the city still depends on its business–or capital–particularly its small business, for significant portions of its movement; restrictions or not, people continue populating the city streets making exchanges, reducing, canceling or acquiring debts, and in effect maintaining their advancement towards another meal, another check-point, another logarithm.

Not far along from the small businesses, a great many people left behind for failing to submit to the motions of this renter’s town, or this place belonging to no one or nothing but the movement itself, also conduct business, though in what might be called a hyper micro-economy, taking care of the most fundamental needs for themselves with what they can afford from bodies worn by constant exposure to the concrete.

What’s also true is that each movement has its costs. The more that people populate a place, the more of that place’s ecosystem they affect; with more food comes more packaging to throw out, as with more electricity comes more bandwidth to extend, and on. Eventually every system requires an update; even the mayor’s press briefings are an example of this, going from five days a week recently for L.A. residents to now twice a week.

But what if we could update the capitalist system that Cullors calls attention to, in order to allow more people to reduce their work–and the costs accrued–in the same way?

In the midst of a world that continues spinning on its axis, coronavirus notwithstanding, it may seem like a waste of time to ask about “some day” in a future or theoretical world other than the one right in front of us.

But if we don’t ask about this update, and move forward incrementally towards it, it’s not just that we may find ourselves at the losing end of a wasted opportunity costing only more human life and health. It’s that, as the last two months, and as the last twenty years, and indeed as many decades prior show: wasted opportunity is only more likely.

In any case, the honorable Ms. Cullor says:

“I don’t know what elected officials are going to do. But I know that the people of Los Angeles who have always cared about Los Angeles, who’ve cared about Los Angeles and the country, we are going to continue to do the work.”

J.T.

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A New Support Line for Workers, Families, Elderly and Disabled People in East Hollywood During this Crisis

Written all en español for madres solteras, mayores de edad, gente discapacitada, familias inmigrantes, y más, the Quien Es Tu Vecindario website posts daily updates and also maintains a chat-line to inform the community and keep them resource-full. Please take some time to visit the website, or direct someone you know who may need to it. And if you’d like to get involved or support, please reach out through our contact page.

A nuevo flyer for Quien Es Tu Vecindario, an arts and education collective in East Hollywood.

Thank you Los Angeles,

J.T.

Picking Life Back up in East Hollywood, Rising Once Again

KL for Who Is Your Neighborhood, LACC; October 12, 2019

Arriving to the Los Angeles City College campus this past weekend was no simple task after a range of emotions in the wake of another tragic loss for the Virgil Village community, this one even closer to home.

But as our communities have done for generations atop the barren concrete of Los Angeles, we pulled our spirits up from within to will one foot in front of the other, and to travail through just enough distance to reach the college’s brilliant quad.

What we saw then was nothing less than reaffirming of this mission. Underneath a quilt of loving daylight the quad bustled with life, filled by people from all over Los Angeles and throughout the world who like us, were also seeking to make the most of their time in the environment around them as they made their way to our table, and to the next, and on, it all rushed back into clarity again:

Despite a world that will continue turning with or without our efforts, we’ve got to continue pushing for stronger communities in our neighborhood, for better youth and education programs here, for holistic support of the most vulnerable among us instead of their out-casting, and more. Because the future yearns for it. Because we want that future. And because we know we deserve the opportunity to create it for ourselves as much as anyone else.

J.T.