Things That Matter

Man Buys Pepper Spray For Street Vendors To Protect Themselves During Rash Of Attacks On Street Vendors

We have all seen the multiple videos of street vendors being attacked. Some have lost a day’s wages, some lost their equipment, and at least one street vendor died in an attack. One man decided to step up and bought pepper spray to give to street vendors to protect themselves.

Instagram user @tatz909 bought a lot of pepper spray in Los Angeles to help the street vending community.

In recent weeks, we have seen an increased level of violence against street vendors. The neighborhood street vendors in cities across the country are being attacked, in broad daylight, while trying to provide for their families during this pandemic. That’s why @tatz909 took it upon himself to buy as much pepper spray as he could to give to street vendors to protect themselves.

“This is for you to protect yourself,” the man can be heard telling street vendors off-camera. Their gratitude for the seemingly small gesture is so evident in their emotional replies.

According to a tweet, the man takes donations to do this and is looking to do it again.

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Giving out free pepper sprays to all street vendors

A post shared by Tatz (@tatz909) on

The recent attacks on street vendors have been startling. One assault in Long Beach took place in the middle of the day and two young men physically assaulted a man in his 70s for his daily wages and equipment. The assaults have been broadcast all over social media and people are demanding something be done to protect the street vendors.

This is the heartwarming content we are all desperate to see right now.

This is so wholesome and wonderful. There is something special about how the Latino community looks out for its own. There is a solidarity in the Latino community when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable of our society.

The reactions from the street vendors are very touching with some really breaking people’s hearts.

The woman at the end is exceptionally heartbreaking. She is so thankful to the man for providing her with the pepper spray she has wanted for a long time to feel safe. What a special moment.

Thank you, compa!

You are doing the important work to make sure our community is strong and protected. Everyone should take a moment to thank this man.

READ: Police Are Looking For Two People Who Attacked An Elotero In Long Beach

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Fierce

How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Growing up, Andi Xoch’s aunt encouraged her to speak to plants. Her relatives usually laughed at the sight of a woman talking to her in-house flowers, but Xoch was intrigued. As a little girl, she acknowledged that there was life inside the pots, so conversing with them seemed standard. More than two decades later, that seed of curiosity about flora bloomed into Latinx with Plants, a digital community and IRL Los Angeles-based shop that teaches Latinxs of their ancestral relationship with herbage.

Sprouted in the spring of 2019, Latinx with Plants started as an account on Instagram. Through the page, Xoch wanted to provide representation of Latinx plant parents that she felt was lacking despite the community’s deep and vast connection with herbs and gardening.

“We’ve had a long connection with plants even before the trend started,” Xoch, a Mexico City-born, L.A.-raised organizer and artist, tells FIERCE.

“I wanted to represent that, to show that we’ve been part of this world even if it’s not presented in an Instagrammable form.”

For the past few years, so-called plant porn has dominated Instagram content. With hashtags like #plantgang and #urbanjungles, the growing trend has helped produce a new generation of young people with green fingers that are boosting sales of houseplants and inspiring even the basement recluse to be a plant parent. In fact, a National Gardening report found that 83 percent of the people in the U.S. who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more, it reported that 37 percent of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, more than the 28 percent of baby boomers who do the same.

However, with the exception of a few accounts, including Xoch’s friend D’Real who created @blackwithplants and inspired her to make a similar account, many of these digital spaces are overwhelmingly white. This, Xoch says, ignores the history Latinxs have with plants and the sustainable practices they developed while gardening for decades.

“You walk onto our people’s front yards and you see their food: plantains, avocados [and] chayotes. And it’s all sustainable; they use pots made out of buckets and cans. It’s beautiful,” the 32-year-old says. “This is who we are. This is our culture.”

As Latinxs, Xoch says that our Indigenous roots have been forgotten or intentionally kept from us but that we can reconnect to our origins through inherited practices. Among them is ancestral medicines. At her shop, several elders come in and casually inform Xoch about the healing properties of her different plants. While the whitewashed mainstream plant blogosphere has co-opted much of the everyday traditions practiced within low-income communities of color, she finds comfort in knowing that these remedies are being passed down across generations through word of mouth and are not being commodified. 

These informal educational encounters is one of the reasons why Xoch established her brick and mortar in August. Aside from selling an array of plants at the Boyle Heights-located shop, she wanted to create a space where new plant parents and señora gardeners can enter and feel welcomed, experience the joyous power of verdure and learn from one another. 

She says that her mission is to build community and help people who feel depressed, anxious and alone, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experience the healing power of plants.

“Plants can be an asset to you because, whether you think it’s just for the plant’s sake to be alive, you are actually participating in a self-care act by nurturing your plant,” Xoch says. “They force you to get up every day and help you realize a lot of beautiful things about yourself that you forget to acknowledge: the caregiving, the attention, the love, the dancing, the singing — all the things that make it bloom are also exercises in self-love, self-care and self-preservation.” 

A newbie business owner, Xoch says she now has another objective, though: to offer a non-traditional example of success and to be honest about the struggles of entrepreneurship. 

On paper, Xoch’s road to becoming a boss seems swift and simple: She learned the location of a potential property on a Sunday, visited it on Monday, signed her lease on Wednesday and opened up shop the following weekend. However, the reality is much more complicated. A high school dropout, her lifelong dream to open a business was halted because she lacked the confidence, capital and connections to get started. Even when she did launch the store, the experience was far from easy. Xoch opened her small business from the ground up on a tight budget amid a pandemic and while her father sat ill at a hospital where doctors thought he would die.

“I want people to know this is real shit that people go through. We have the load of the world on us, we are caring for our relatives and we are trying to make sure our business is doing well,” she says. “I walk in [my store] and that alone is defying the odds.”


Follow Latinx with Plants on Instagram. For those in Los Angeles, visit the shop, which is complying with Covid-19 regulations and operating by appointment only, at 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave.

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Street Vendors Are Struggling So They’re Banding Together To Get The Help They Deserve

Things That Matter

Street Vendors Are Struggling So They’re Banding Together To Get The Help They Deserve

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Neighborhoods in cities across the United States owe much of their character and energy to street vendors. From LA’s Echo Park to New York’s Queens, these neighborhoods are buzzing with energy thanks to the street life and activity provided by street vendors.

So many of us who are lucky enough to live in areas like this would venture outside for raspados or paletas, mango sprinkled with limón and Tajín, or hot dogs, elotes, and so much more.

Now, the Coronavirus pandemic has put these communities at risk as it’s decimated the livelihoods of street vendors.

Covid-19 has ravaged the world’s street vendor communities and they need help and they need it now.

Lockdowns being enforced across the globe have thrown the world’s two-billion informal workers into turmoil – and street vendors, whose livelihoods rely on being in public spaces – have been particularly hard hit.

Street vendors provide essential services in cities across the globe, particularly in South America and lower income areas of the U.S., where residents rely on them for basic needs. They are part of a vast informal food system that keeps much of the world from going hungry. But the pandemic has devastated the livelihoods of street vendors, disrupting their ability to do their jobs and leaving many in a fight for survival. 

In a report by Latino Rebels, Newarks’ Ferry Street is described as a place buzzing with activity for the pandemic. Now, only one ice cream cart was operating on a corner, owned by an Ecuadorian immigrant, Silvia Samuel.

“It was very hard. I used to sell all of my ice cream in a hot day like this. Now, I am barely finishing a bucket,” said Samuel as she was getting ready to go back home. “Nobody is around as before. I pray to God for this to end so we can go back to normal.”

Their situation is made worse because many are undocumented immigrants – making them ineligible for many state and federal benefits.

Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Many vendors – much like Samuel – are unable to access state and federal programs due to their legal status. This makes it hard to afford to get by day to day and have made many feel fearful for the future.

In New York City, the Street Vendor Project estimates there are approximately 20,000 vendors in NYC alone, and most of them are migrants, people of color, or veterans – communities already at increased risk for Coronavirus-related issues. And many of them were already struggling before the pandemic hit, so the impact of lockdown orders has only intensified the problem.

“Street vendors are generally not eligible for state-sponsored benefits or support like paid sick leave and unemployment insurance, or even small business relief funds. For workers in informal economies, this is a dire situation, leaving many with fear and confusion as to how they will support themselves and their families in the days, weeks and months to come,” according to the Street Vendor Project.

“90% of our members are low-wage immigrant workers who rely on busy streets in order to survive day to day. Without a safety net to fall back on, they are forced to continue to work, risking their health and well-being in the process,” they added.

However, a coalition of street vendors is working together to demand the protections they deserve.

Credit: omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Despite being ineligible for several aid programs and being fearful for their futures, a group of street vendor organizations is working to demand more protections.

The National Agenda for Street Vendor Justice was created to put together a united Plato from based on the immediate socio-economic needs of the street vendor community. They hope to set the stage for a “foundation for an equitable national economy that values the contributions of street vendor small businesses.”

The coalition is asking local and federal governments to offer incentives to all small businesses – including street vendors. They also are asking that all information be made available in different languages; to forgive all outstanding fines in 2020; to work towards naturalizing immigrants and refugees so they can access healthcare and financial benefits; and full access to emergency testing and healthcare.

The demands are what all other small businesses already have access to, the group is only asking for fair treatment under the law.

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