Things That Matter

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

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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Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

Entertainment

Julissa Calderon And Annie Gonzalez On How ‘Gentefied’ Is Offering Empowerment And Representation In This New TV Era

gentefied / Instagram

Netflix’s show “Gentefied” is finally out and we all get to see the love story written to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. The show is complete with discussions of the complexities of gentrification, bilingual jokes, and a cast that is the embodiment of #RepresentationMatters. 

The show centers around the Morales family’s taco shop made up of patriarch “Pop” (played by Joaquín Cosío) and his grandchildren Erik (played by JJ Soria), Ana (played by Karrie Martin) and Chris (played by Carlos Santos). It is set in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, an area with a population makeup of 94 percent Latinos, a median age under 25, and where the average income is under $34,000, according to a Los Angeles Times profile.

In “Gentefied,” the Morales family is trying to save their weathering taco shop Mama Fina’s Tacos from being eaten up by the interests of corporate real estate developers and Westside yuppies. In order to keep Pop from closing the doors, Erik, Ana, and Chris try their hand at making fusion tacos or encouraging the children of patrons to read more books in exchange for free tacos. 

Ana’s strong activist girlfriend Yessika (played by Julissa Calderon), and Erik’s baby mama and first love professor and podcast host Lidia (played by Annie Gonzalez) make up the rest of the circle.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

The type of support Lidia gives to Erik is a kind of #BrownLove we are all here for. We are also excited to see queer Afro-Latinas represented in a show about the importance of embracing everyone’s Latinidad.

Calderon and Gonzalez are just as impassioned off-screen as their characters are on-screen when it comes to issues affecting Latinos.

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

“Gentefied” encourages its viewers to love who you want, no matter what las chismosas de la vecindad say.

Mitú recently chatted with Calderon and Gonzalez at the Netflix Los Angeles office to talk more about how gentrification has affected them personally and what messages do they want to extend to audiences members as characters Yessika and Lidia. 

“I think that’s what this show is doing, it’s just creating space for a group of people who never felt seen or heard, and we are so honored and humbled to be part of a project like this,” Gonzalez said about what Gentefied means to her.  

The show’s characters portray the push and pull that gentrification can cause.

Oftentimes it is at the expense of minorities who are already struggling to pay rental prices. We have seen this happen in communities across the nation with Boyle Heights currently in that fight.

“Gentrification, it affects the minorities. Even though you look at statistics, and we are the majority as far as population is concerned (we make up a large population), we’re still the minority when it comes to politics, and anybody else that has the say on how things are ran. 

I’m born and raised in East LA, so I’ve seen first hand how gentrification has affected the people in my community, my family members,” Gonzalez said.

The writers of “Gentefied” are able to have such a high level of authenticity because its cast and crew have lived these changes themselves.  

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Just a lil primo love. 😅

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

Gonzalez said her own grandmother had to move east to Ontario, Calif., to find affordable housing. Calderon said the Carol City area of greater Miami she knew growing up has completely transformed with different developments, pushing out flea market shop owners and going as far as to re-brand itself as Miami Gardens (now home to the Hard Rock Stadium.) 

“And yes, this story is in East LA, but this is resonating with so many different neighborhoods all around the country,” Calderon added. 

Calderon then shared a story of her grandmother’s Washington Heights neighborhood in New York which is now crawling with hipsters, a change she was taken a bit aback by.

“Before, no one would even walk in those neighborhoods, so it’s definitely interesting to see the turn of events, and unfortunately it’s affecting people of color—always,” Calderon stated. 

Although these gentrification changes are affecting people of color disproportionately, the show portrays a sense of hope and proactiveness by its characters to not only save the cultural roots of their neighborhood but to also help open the minds of the older generation who are grappling with their sense of a changing world. 

Calderon’s Yessika character proudly displays her Afro-Latinidad and lesbian love affair to the world while fighting back.

Yessika shows #BlackGirlMagic is sparkling in the streets of Boyle Heights. 

“I think my character has two messages—one is that she is a Black girl who speaks Spanish and she is proud of it. She owns the skin she’s in. She owns this curly ‘fro that she has. She knows where she comes from,” Calderon exclaimed. She continued, “my character is just not a sell-out. She stands for what she believes in and she doesn’t care if she’s going against everyone else. She’s aware of what’s at stake and she’s aware of what’s important, and she’s for the people.”

Calderon has embraced her full Afro-Latindad through Yessika and is ready to see the impact that representation will have for the next generation. 

“I just want these little girls in these neighborhoods to be like, ‘OMG! That’s me!’ I can see that, because I don’t recall seeing that as a child on TV. The novelas we used to see, everybody was very white-washed, blue eyes, blonde hair—that was the go-to market. We’re changing that sh*t.”

Gonzalez wants her character to convey a clear message of empowerment while attaining your wildest dreams. 

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Spread the chisme…we’re coming.

A post shared by Gentefied (@gentefied) on

Lidia proves you can do it all (and do it in your style of hoop earrings and turban headband!) 

“Lidia, she’s strong, confident, educated, born and raised in the ‘hood, [who] doesn’t need to code-switch to convey her intelligence. She’s empowering the Latinidad to get an education, but not to abandon their roots, thinking that her community is worth pouring into,” Gonzalez had to say about her character.  

Gonzalez added the show’s characters can resonate with audiences because each person knows someone like these characters. She said the example of the love story between Erik and Lidia, in which they each allowed each other to be equally sensitive and powerful, allowed her to find healing within herself.

“I found so much healing through Erik and Lidia’s story via my parent’s severed relationship. I felt I was able to make the ending they weren’t able to have,” Gonzalez shared in the interview. 

The show’s creators, Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus knew that these types of stories would resonate because it’s their stories.

It’s a side of America that is finally being shown but was always there. 

The cast and storylines of “Gentefied” prove that the Greater Los Angeles area (and all neighborhoods in general) need to learn that pockets of working-class neighborhoods ARE worth pouring into and exploring—because the small businesses, the parks, the art, the people—they all have value. Having a supermercado instead of a Whole Foods grocery store does not make the history or culture of a city any less important.

READ: Netflix Finally Released The ‘Gentefied’ Trailer And The Show Looks Like An Instant Hit

Netflix Finally Released The ‘Gentefied’ Trailer And The Show Looks Like An Instant Hit

Entertainment

Netflix Finally Released The ‘Gentefied’ Trailer And The Show Looks Like An Instant Hit

netflix / YouTube

We have been waiting for a look at “Gentefied” since we first heard that the project was in the works. Now, after so much waiting, we finally know what the show we’ve been waiting for is going to look like. Here is the trailer for the upcoming and highly anticipated “Gentefied.”

The trailer for “Gentefied” is here and it looks like one of the most authentic representations of East LA life.

It all centers around a family-owned restaurant in Boyle Heights. Like most people in Boyle Heights, the restaurant is in jeopardy because of the rising scourge of gentrification. To fight back, a community unites to push back against the rising threat of gentrification.

A lot of people are excited but many are still concerned that Netflix will cancel the show like “One Day At A Time.”

Credit: @_dracarys96 / Twitter

Who can forget the day Netflix announced that they were cutting a very culturally relevant and beloved show? The growing outcry from fans around the world eventually led to “One Day At A Time” being saved by Pop TV. Thankfully there was one network that understood the importance of the show.

Legit, people are really concerned that Netflix will give us a little bit of representation only to take it away again.

Credit: @HillsideThots / Twitter

It’s hard to trust people in this world, especially when they have proven they will take beloved things away. We still aren’t over the sudden and never-fully-explained cancelation of “One Day At A Time.” They literally left Lydia stranded in Cuba…

Yet, people are still here to support the show because representation matters and we need more of it.

Credit: @Jasons_phuckery / Twitter

Our community is often overlooked by Hollywood. In fact, studies about Latino representation in front of and behind the camera shows an overwhelming underrepresentation of our community. “Gentefied” is bringing a clearer look into our community and a fight to protect the community against rampant gentrification.

Check out “Gentefied” coming to a Netflix account near you Feb. 21.

Make sure you have your friends log in information up to date so you don’t miss this.

READ: “Gente-Fied” Tackles Gentrification In Boyle Heights With Jokes (And Some Awkward Gringos)