Fierce

This Chicana Started A Collective For Girl Skaters To Confidently Take Up Space In Los Angeles

For Leti Lomeli, skating always provided her with sisterhood. Playing roller derby for nearly a decade in Phoenix, Arizona, the team contact sport was a community of mostly Latina girls who had each other’s backs and were always bigging one another up. So when the Chicana moved to Los Angeles in her 20s, she was surprised to find that skating was predominantly the realm of white male bros, far from the inviting space she knew and loved. To survive in the new unfamiliar city busting with opportunity, she started the LA chapter of Chicks in Bowls (CIB), an international group building inclusive skatepark communities and experiences.

“It’s more of a structure to get people there, to get more variety and diversity in the skatepark and take up space,” Lomeli, 28, told FIERCE.

After dedicating so much of her life to derby, Lomeli didn’t want to commit herself to the sport as she had in the past. Moving to California to focus on her graduate degree and career, she wanted to enjoy her lifelong hobby without team responsibilities. She hoped it would be fun. But when the transplant first visited a skatepark, her excitement immediately swiveled to insecurity. Alone in a park filled with overweening men, she scurried back to her car, feeling unwelcome in an environment that usually felt like home.

“It was all guys, all skateboards, no quad skates. It was so intimidating to be there by myself. I felt like such a weenie. I left. I didn’t feel comfortable,” she said.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

Hoping to never relive that moment of unease again, Lomeli began searching for diverse skate spaces in LA. She didn’t find one, but she did discover a larger network that would ultimately allow her to create the community she was hungry for: Chicks in Bowls. Founded in 2012 by New Zealand derby skater-graphic designer-entrepreneur Lady Trample, CIB creates and promotes mostly-girl, but open to all genders, roller skate crews around the world. With more than 300 chapters across the globe, the space brings seasoned skaters together with newbies in an environment where they can feel safe, comfortable and excited to do what they love.

While there was already a CIB group in Long Beach, Calif., Lomeli made her case to Lady Trample on why the sizeable and diverse city of Los Angeles needed its own crew, too. In 2016, Chicks in Bowls LA was born, with Lomeli at its helm. She eagerly began organizing meet-ups, which she’d promote on social media. As she anticipated, there was a lot of enthusiasm for the collective she was creating. During any given event, a group of about 30 women skaters took over bowls, confidently entering spaces enmass where they otherwise felt excluded from.

“We just wanted to take up space and own it. We wanted to let them know, we are going to be here, and you’re going to be OK with it. We are going to do what people come to the skatepark for,” she said.

During meet-ups, some women took the opportunity to skate freely while others taught newcomers the basics. Regardless of why the girls came, though, Lomeli wanted them to leave feeling one way: welcomed, not like she did the first time she hit an LA skatepark.

But even among a group of powerful girls, creating an environment where everyone feels safe and secure isn’t always easy.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

“It’s mostly the feeling of intimidation that comes with being surrounded by testosterone and eyes. They might not say anything, but it’s just a big deal to go in there and take up that space. There are certain instances when they do say something or it does get physical, though,” she said.

On one occasion, a male skater, who she says wasn’t practicing proper park etiquette, crashed into her. He then blamed her and wrongfully told her she wasn’t allowed to have roller skates in the bowl. During another event, there was a drunk male skater loudly taunting some of the women in her group. Lomeli put a stop to the jeers.

“For new girls entering a park and seeing this, it’s scary,” she said. “But having other women there, watching them stand their ground, it shows you, ‘I can do this, too.’”

Lomeli, who has since stepped down from her role as president of CIB LA to focus on her career as an applied behavior analyst and explore other recreational passions, says she started the group for selfish reasons: to create the community she felt she needed. However, through that, she was able to organize a collective that extended far beyond her and would excel even without her leadership.

The Gnar Gnar Honeys

While the former roller derby player, who has replaced her skates for dance shoes in recent months, may no longer be active in the scene she helped create in Los Angeles, her message, especially for Latinas, remains the same: be bold about your greatness.

“Because we are women and Latinas, we are told to be humble, be quiet, don’t make daring statements. Fuck that! Make your accomplishments known. Be loud and proud about them. Confidently take up space,” she said.

This story was done in collaboration with the The Gnar Gnar Honeys.

Read: Not Seeing Women Represented In Extreme Sports, This Colombiana Skater Created An All-Girl Collective In Bogotá

An LA Shooting Claimed The Lives Of Two Men, A Latino Ph.D Scholar Who Dreamed Of Working For NASA And A Father-To-Be

Things That Matter

An LA Shooting Claimed The Lives Of Two Men, A Latino Ph.D Scholar Who Dreamed Of Working For NASA And A Father-To-Be

José Flores Velázquez / Facebook

In cities across the US, people continue to die due to senseless gun violence. Los Angeles is no stranger to shootouts and, unfortunately, three more people fell victim to gun fire on Wednesday – leaving two of them dead and their friends and family in mourning. 

The shooting spree took place in South Los Angeles and one of the victims has been identified as a talented scholar full of big dreams. 

Gun violence has struck again in Los Angeles, killing two and injuring a third.

Two men were killed and another injured  in a drive-by shooting into a vehicle in South LA.

When police arrived at the scene, they found two men with multiple gunshot wounds. One of the men was pronounced dead at the scene. The second was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. A third man, suffering from a single gunshot wound, was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Investigators said the two deceased victims were standing outside of a parked car when the suspect’s vehicle drove up and a passenger opened fire, striking both men. The suspect shot the third victim a short distance away as the suspects fled the scene. 

Police are still investigating the motive for the shooting.

One of the victims was Jose Flores Velazquez who was working towards his doctorate at UC Irvine.

Distraught family members who arrived at the scene told KTLA the man who died there was Jose Flores. He and the second man killed, Alfredo Carrera, grew up together six houses apart on the street where they were shot.

Carrera, meanwhile, was about to become a first-time father with his girlfriend, his aunt Michelle Garcia said.

The baby shower was set for Saturday, Garcia added.

Family said Carrera had been shot at least once in his back.

Investigators have yet to release information on the suspects and declined to release a description of the vehicle involved. The relatives say they have no idea who would want to target the men.

Police say the men were victims of a drive by shooting.

A 911 caller told officials a vehicle drove up and the passenger pulled out a handgun. An argument ensued, then shots rang out, said Lt. Derrick Alfred.

It appears that they had driven up and were saying goodbye outside the car to each other when the car drove up (and) some words were exchanged,” Rubenstein said. “Somebody from inside the suspect vehicle fired multiple rounds, striking both the men.”

Velazquez was a nationally recognized scholar who eventually wanted to work for NASA.

Flores was a physics doctoral student at UC Irvine and had his sights set on a job at NASA, a family member told KTLA.

“He was one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met,” said a former sister-in-law at the scene who asked not to be named.

Many took to social media to share their shock and died about the loss of such an accomplished young man who was full of dreams.

While fellow grad students shared in their disbelief.

People who knew Velazquez have been sharing memories and talking about what a kind and caring person he was. They also talk about his many talents, skills, and dreams – of which, he had many.

If you’d like to support Velazquez’ family during this time, they have a GoFundMe page setup here

Ted Cruz Couldn’t Of Been Expecting This When He Showed Up For His Flight At LAX

Things That Matter

Ted Cruz Couldn’t Of Been Expecting This When He Showed Up For His Flight At LAX

@naomimonster1 / Twitter

People are hyper-aware of the detention centers on the southern border and how the overcrowding and indefinite detentions are harming children. This awareness has touched all parts of American society and people. The frustration over the treatment of children on the southern border bubbled over this week when protesters confronted Texas Senator Ted Cruz as he waited for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was on the receiving end of angry protesters while waiting for a flight at LAX.

Credit: @naomimonster1 / Twitter

It isn’t immediately clear what started the confrontation, but it is clear that people were ready to tell the senator what they think of his job. Cruz was confronted while waiting for a flight and the protesters first shouted all of their various frustrations. Soon, all of the protesters were on the same page demanding that the U.S. government “free the children” while some people posed for selfies with the senator.

Cruz represents one of the states in the middle of the migrant crisis. Last month, the world learned about the atrocious and inhumane conditions in the detention facility in Clint, Texas.

People responded to the viral video with their own thoughts about the protesters shouting at Cruz.

Credit: @TerriSm52142746 / Twitter

Welcome to California, indeed. Californians have made their views known about the Trump administration and the migrant crisis at the border. California recently approved a bill that would extend healthcare to undocumented immigrants. One that Cruz at one point defended and promoted.

Others pointed out Cruz’s reaction to being shouted at by the protesters.

Credit: @not_ster / Twitter

While concerned Americans voiced their thoughts to Cruz, he found it amusing, according to some people watching the video. As people confronted the senator, some people can be seen taking up for him and even getting between him and the protesters. Some even took the opportunity to take selfies and photos with him.

It seems like a good opportunity for Cruz to see how other people feel about his politics when not surrounded by people who agree with him.

Credit: @mindmysanity / Twitter

There is a problem with echo chambers and bubbles when it comes to American politics right now. Facebook has been implicated in exacerbating the problem after Cambridge Analytica abused the system and tools to sway voters through misinformation. The Netflix documentary “Great Hack” implied that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg willfully ignored the dangers posed by the data-mining company.

There has been a growing sense of civil unrest and protests as some states try to silence dissenters.

Credit: @DebdLun / Twitter

According to the Washington Post, 17 states have introduced legislation attempting to make protesting a criminal activity by banning the use of masks during protests, seizing the property of people in protests that run violent, and, in some cases, indemnifying drivers who use their car to hit protesters blocking roads. Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

People are calling on Texas voters to vote Cruz out of office.

Credit: @patriciaself / Twitter

Ted Cruz barely won reelection in 2018 against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. The fact that a Republican almost lost their seat in the Senate to a Democrat in Texas sent shockwaves through the political world. O’Rourke is now running for the presidential nomination as part of the Democratic party.

Some Texans even showed their support of the protesters.

Credit: @DelfinaValdez8 / Twitter

According to the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, 47 percent of Texans approve and 39 percent of Texans disapprove of Cruz’s job in the U.S. Senate. When broken down by race, 55 percent of white voters approve of the Senators job while 45 percent of Black voters and 43 percent of Latino voters disapprove of Cruz’s job.

This isn’t the first time Cruz has been called out on his positions in public.

Credit: @CopeMay / Twitter

In September 2018, Cruz and his wife were out to eat at a restaurant in Washington and were confronted by protesters because of his support of Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing was a highly charged moment in U.S. politics as he was accused of raping a girl when he was a teenager.

Some people are waiting for history and karma to do their things.

Credit: @KatrinaHagen2 / Twitter

The saying goes that history is written by the winners. However, with a digital world in which misinformation and lies reign supreme, how will history be written? We have seen examples of history being manipulated from state to state to paint a political image rather than an accurate portrayal of the events. How will we guarantee that history is left nonpartisan and honest for generations to come?

Regardless, the Twitter thread is filled with people celebrating that use of #FreeTheChildren as a rallying cry.

Free the children is something most Americans should be able to agree with. There is no reason why children should die of the flu while in U.S. immigration custody.

Watch the confrontation below!

What do you think about the way protesters confronted Cruz at LAX?

READ: Ted Cruz’s Legal Team Believes That His Fight For $10,000 Is The Same As Rosa Parks’s Fight For Civil Rights

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