Things That Matter

These Boyle Heights Teens Are Shedding Light On What Is Happening In Their Community With Their Own Newspaper

Boyle Heights Beat / Facebook

Teenagers in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles, are taking media and reporting into their own hands and telling the stories that are directly impacting their community from a first-hand point of view.

The unique and very personal approach of having the neighborhood’s teenagers report these authentic stories has caught the attention of several national media organizations including The Los Angeles Times.

The Boyle Heights Beat was born because mainstream news sources were often leaving out stories about Boyle Heights.


According to the website, Boyle Heights Beat is a collaborative project born between USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and La Opinión newspaper to give the predominately Latino neighborhood bilingual news about what is happening in Boyle Heights. The opportunity to report on topics such as immigration and gentrification as they see them affect their neighbors is given through Boyle Heights’ local newspaper, Boyle Heights Beat, or Pulso de Boyle Heights.

“Boyle Heights was not adequately covered by mainstream papers like the Los Angeles Times,” Michelle Levander, a co-founder and publisher of the Boyle Heights Beat, told NBC Latino. “So we thought, who knows a community better than its youth?”

With that, Levander and Pedro Rojas of La Opinión newspaper formed Boyle Heights Beat in 2010 and began recruiting Boyle Heights teens to cover issues and stories that mattered to them. According to NBC Latino, the teens do not need to have experience in their high school newspapers and are required to attended two news meetings a week as well as a journalism boot camp to teach them all the journalism basics.

Most of the reporting for the newspaper is done by teen members of the Boyle Heights community. The newspaper is always looking for new writers to continue their mission of covering Boyle Heights like nobody else does.


Teens interested in working for Boyle Heights Beat must be enrolled at one of the five Boyle Heights high school since the mission is to have the youth of the neighborhood cover the neighborhood. The opportunity to work for Boyle Heights Beat gives students a chance to learn about the field of journalism as well as their own community.

“Before I joined the Beat, I wasn’t really aware of issues in my community. I was just kind of like, I live here, whatever. But doing the Beat has really shown me a deeper appreciation for the community, for where I come from, and for where the community comes from,” Boyle Heights Beat reporter Saul Soto told NBC Latino. “It’s given me a newfound love for this place and I love it. I really love it.”


(H/T: NBC Latino)


READ: Latina Activist And DJ Drops The Cumbia Mix You Didn’t Know You Needed

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‘Our Quinceañera’ Is A Documentary Featuring A Principal Who Has Been Throwing Quinces For Students Who Can’t Afford Them

Culture

‘Our Quinceañera’ Is A Documentary Featuring A Principal Who Has Been Throwing Quinces For Students Who Can’t Afford Them

In the small Mexican-American town of San Benito in Texas, many girls dream of the day that they will make their debut as women to their family and community. But the tabs for orders of gowns, crowns, food, decorations, and DJs often run so high that for awhile such events for the girls in town were out of reach.

Then, Gilbert Galvan, the principal of San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy, came up with an idea that meant that not a single girl would be forced to miss out on the opportunity to take part in the tradition.

Since 2015, San Benito has hosted an annual quinceañera event for young girls and their families.

CREDIT: Avenida Productions

Nearly five years ago, Gilbert Galvan Sr. found himself being invited to quinceañeras by the students at his school. Then one day, some of the answers from the young women at his school caught his attention. After a few of his female students opened up to him about the fact that they did not have enough money to afford a quinceañera, Galvan Sr. was inspired to do put on a party for them on his own.

In just a matter of months, the educator sought out donations from his community to put on one massive quinceañera. Donations and gifts came in all forms– from cakes and dresses to crowns and the volunteered time of makeup artists and mariachi singers. That was the first year.

In the years that have followed, Galvan Sr. has continued to put on the event where as many as 40 girls have attended at a time. Today, donations for the girls come in from across the country.

The community quinceañera has gained so much attention that it’s now becoming captured in a documentary.

CREDIT: Avenida Productions

As reported by FIERCE by mitú last year, Galvan’s son, Gilbert Galvan Jr. —who has worked in the entertainment industry for ten years— was inspired by his father’s efforts and pitched the event as a documentary concept to Fanny Véliz, the award-winning filmmaker and CEO behind Avenida Productions. Now, having been directed by Véliz and given the name “Our Quinceañera” appears to be closer to its release. According to the documentary’s site, the film is in submission for festivals!

During an interview with FIERCE last year, Galvan Jr. said he hoped the documentary will inspire viewers to “embrace their heritage and celebrate the power of community… We want to document this historic event while empowering and inspiring Latina girls across the country to pursue and achieve their dreams.”

Check out the full trailer below!

This YouTuber Thought It Would Be Funny To Dress As A Mexican In Boyle Heights But Didn’t Get The Response He Wanted

Things That Matter

This YouTuber Thought It Would Be Funny To Dress As A Mexican In Boyle Heights But Didn’t Get The Response He Wanted

Two YouTubers, “Kimo & Dani World” decided to use Boyle Heights as a backdrop to whatever YouTube project requires the use of cultural appropriation. Boyle Heights is a culturally rich Mexican community in Los Angeles that has long been a haven for immigrants and the Mexican-American community.

Kimo painted on a mustache, used white face paint, and threw on a sombrero and a cheap knock-off serape. Dani was carrying a camera, filming Kimo in a Mexican costume in Boyle Heights. But the community ejected him real quick.

Apparently, the guy thought it was okay to wear a culture as a costume because he’s Egyptian.

@nico_avina / Instagram

Nico Aviña, the Instagram user who confronted the YouTubers in Boyle Heights on camera, captioned the video, “This foo thought he was gonna stroll and be racist and not be called out. Nah! What was worse is he said he ain’t racist cause he is Egyptian. White girl was recording thinking all of this was funny. #boyleheights”

“I do think it’s funny.”

@nico_avina / Instagram

Though posted on Aviña’s account, a woman, named Myra, is recording the video of Aviña confronting Kimo. You can hear Aviña asking the man, “You think this is funny?” He responds “I do.” The man’s accomplice responds, smiling, “I do, yeah.”

This is the moment before the guy tells Aviña, “F*** you.”

@nico_avina / Instagram

Both Aviña and Myra are telling the disrespectful visitors to “get the f*** out” of their neighborhood. That’s the message they’re delivering these guys. Aviña asks him again, “You want to dress like that? You think this is funny?”

In one breath, Kimo responds, “I do think it’s funny. F***k you. I’m not here to disrespect you, dude.” 🤔

As store owners come out to stand their ground, Kimo says, “I’m spreading a f***ing good message.”

@nico_avina / Instagram

Aviña responds by saying, “Spread the good message, motherf***er.” Kimo keeps saying that he’s not trying to disrespect him, but also “it is funny” to wear traditional Mexican clothing. That’s not respect.

Their last project was a mockery of being “Homeless in Dubai.”

In a tone-deaf endeavor, Kimo dresses up like a homeless person, draws white paint on his face, like his Mexican costume, and goes around Dubai harassing locals for money and jobs. It’s not at all a social experiment nor an attempt to understand homelessness. It’s for entertainment.

This is a shot of Kimo acting like a hungry homeless person looking at pastries. 😡

The video on Instagram has left many stunned that this kind of tone deaf “comedy” still happens in 2019.

@its_me_bina13 / Instagram

It wouldn’t matter if the guy was trying to raise money for Boyle Heights or raise awareness on gentrification. It doesn’t matter what the message is when the means involve wearing a culture’s traditional clothing as a costume.

Most folks commenting thank Aviña for disrupting whatever “message” they were sending.

@WUIXICAN / Instagram

“Bro, thank you,” writes @wordtrav. “damn…que pendejos but you handled it!!! I am glad you and Myra are ok,” comments @polalopez1. “I hope they never come back

Other folks are concerned about the income for serape vendors.

@SKELETO62 / Instagram

The incident took place near Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, where vendors are sometimes seen selling serapes and sombreros. In a barrio where that vendor may exist and other people won’t tolerate the costume, this does spark an internal dialogue.

One person struggles to grasp how stereotypes are a manifestation of racism.

@JACK__RIPLEY / Instagram

There is no footage of Aviña touching Kimo, but at the start of the video, Kimo says, “Don’t f***ing touch me.” The majority of comments are positive, some offer a jumping off point for a dialogue, and, now, the trolls are coming in.

See for yourself. What would you do?

The real message here is that you can’t go up into Boyle Heights mocking Mexican culture. Latinos are allergic to racists and will not tolerate this en el barrio.

READ: Harvard Took A Stand Against Racism By Revoking Admission To 10 Incoming Freshmen Who Posted Obscene Memes

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