Racism rears its ugly head all across SoCal following the election of Donald Trump

file_000-13
by Tom Nguyen

Following the election of Donald Trump, it didn’t take long for reports of blatant racism and hate crimes to start coming in from around the country. These incidents immediately took me back to my youth, as a Vietnamese refugee growing up in Orange County, historically the most conservative county in a blue state. Racism and prejudice were common and often blatant but becoming less of a worry as I entered college.

Then in 1996, my high school sweetheart’s cousin was viciously murdered by a white supremacist, a hate crime that drew widespread coverage and outrage. Looking back, the murder was an aberration at a time when white skinhead gangs once prevalent in OC were losing their foothold and hate crimes in OC by 2000 would drop to a 10 year low. Racism became less of a concern for me as white flight from many OC cities and growing Latino and Asian populations were changing OC into a more diverse place.

After moving to Long Beach, then Boyle Heights, I never looked back. Until this week. The last almost 10 years of covering LA’s diverse communities and cultural arts scene gave me hope and optimism that we had moved forward, past an era where I or anyone of a minority group would have to worry about violent extremists and hateful bigots.

The election of Donald Trump has quickly shattered that sense of progress, normalcy and security. His xenophobic, racist, homophobic, misogynist rhetoric has opened the floodgates on unabashed targeting of anyone he and his supporters deem foreign, or an outsider, or a perceived threat to the preeminence of straight white males. This is what Muslim communities have been contending with in a post-9/11 nation, with an increase in hate crimes specifically against Muslims or anyone mistaken as Muslim in just these recent years.

Living in a globally diverse Southern California region doesn’t make us any less immune to this type of deplorable and frightening behavior. Here are incidents I’ve gathered this week, mostly on social media. Most heartbreaking to me are young children being targeted by their fellow classmates and in one case, even a teacher. It is triggering to me on so many levels, back to memories of arriving in this country in the 70s as a 5-year-old child. Like any child, I had no concept of race and why certain kids taunted and bullied me and just remembering the innocence lost because of acts like these…it’s utterly heartbreaking and unacceptable!

I think it’s crucially important that we raise awareness whenever these are reported as a reminder for us be vigilant and watch out for one another. If you have heard of other incidents, please let us know. If you have been victimized, please report it to your local law enforcement as well as to the Southern Poverty Law Center which monitors hate crimes and hate groups. And lastly, if you witness acts of hate, please don’t be a bystander and intervene if it is safe to do so. Watch this video in response to a similar increase in hate crimes following Brexit in UK:

Los Angeles:
story_la

West Hollywood:
story_weho Continue Reading →

Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015 in LA and a word about Cultural Appropriation

roflbot(1)
by Tom Nguyen

Dia de los Muertos is upon us as the weather in LA finally starts to feel a little bit like Fall! As I repeat from last year’s post, as the holiday gains mainstream popularity, cultural appropriation seems inevitable as more and more people “discover” the holiday. I consider myself part of that problem since I myself was discovering Dia de los Muertos as a more culturally deep alternative to commercialized Halloween. As a person of Asian descent who’s called out racist stereotyping in other costumes and cultural events around LA, I am trying to educate myself where the line is between cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation when it comes to this tradition as well.

So please know that I publish this list of Dia de los Muertos events in support and respect of the communities, the artists, the musicians, the cultural organizations and the small businesses, who work so hard to preserve and celebrate the roots and traditions of this important time of year. For people new to this holiday, please ask this question yourself and don’t be afraid to ask people in the community: how do I participate in this holiday in a respectful manner?

The first step to genuine cultural appreciation is to educate yourself on the tradition’s history and significance to the communities where it originates. Get to know the community and issues that affect people in it, beyond just donning face paint for your entertainment one day a year. If I can extrapolate further, don’t just enjoy black traditions of music and dance and not care about #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t just enjoy the great LA street food and not care about poverty, lack of opportunity and criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Don’t just wear a coolie hat in Chinatown and not care about why there’s a Chinatown in the first place. So please keep this in mind and I hope to see you at one of these great Dia de los Muertos events!

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. (Click on each event to jump to more information and scroll down for a list you can print):

Sat, October 17

Fri, October 23

Sat, October 24

Sun, October 25

Mon, October 26 – Fri, October 30

Thu, October 29

Fri, October 30

Sat, October 31

Sun, November 1

Mon, November 2

Wed, November 4

Fri, November 6

Sat, November 7

Sun, November 8

EnClave LA guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015

Film crew tweet slanders East LA community center upset about Eva Longoria’s Low Rider film

paff
by Tom Nguyen

What is it with film crews working in our downtown and East LA communities lately? I live in Boyle Heights where there have been film notices taped outside my building and late night filming multiple times this past month. On Thursday night, while I was helping a woman spread the word on Twitter regarding a security guard who harassed her on a downtown location for Hand of God, I came across this tweet from Film Crew L.A., a film crew union:

paff

Now, full disclosure, I know many people at Eastside Café, an autonomous, progressive community space in El Sereno, which is very committed and invested in the community, offering classes, workshops and socially conscious events. It’s where one of my favorite East LA bands, Las Cafeteras, got their start (and so named after the center) and I was last there on May 14th for a Free West Papua event. Since that time, I hadn’t known about this sign nor the movie, Low Rider, being filmed in the area. I forwarded the tweet to Eastside Café’s Facebook page, which quickly replied that they would write a response to this. I then tweeted some East LA media and community members for their thoughts: Continue Reading →

Vusi Mahlasela Interview: On Tour with Hugh Masekela to Celebrate 20 Years of Freedom

vusi_hugh-1377281378
by Tom Nguyen

Two of South Africa’s musical icons and freedom fighters, trumpeter Hugh Masekela and singer/guitarist Vusi Mahlasela, will take to the stage together Saturday, March 14, 2015, at Walt Disney Concert Hall.* Their 20 Years of Freedom tour marks the first time the two legends will be collaborating and playing together on one stage and is a special celebration of 20 years of democracy after the end of Apartheid. Vusi, known as “The Voice” back home, gave us a candid interview why remembering this history is as important and relevant as ever to generations in both of our countries.

carnegiehall3

Vusi Mahlasela and Hugh Masekela (Photo Credit: Dana Yavin)

Continue Reading →