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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After A Film Crew Went Into Boyle Heights And Began Towing Cars On Labor Day, A Local Artist Confronted Them

Things That Matter

After A Film Crew Went Into Boyle Heights And Began Towing Cars On Labor Day, A Local Artist Confronted Them

nico_avina / Instagram

For many in Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood in East Los Angeles, Labor Day was to supposed to be a relaxing stress-free day. However, on Monday afternoon, local residents living next to Hollenback Park were dealing with Blank Slate Pictures, a film production company, that was towing their vehicles. The messy ordeal was something that Boyle Heights resident and artist Nico Aviña had previously seen before but never on a national holiday like Labor Day when many in the working-class community have the day off. 

The predominately Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights has become a popular area for filming movies and television shows. Yet quite often, the production crews that come into the area haven’t had good communication with local residents when it comes to things like moving their vehicles.

According to L.A. Taco, Aviña saw the situation unfold right before his eyes as he was doing yard work in front of his home. He noticed that neighbors across the street from the park began alerting each other about their vehicles being towed. Upon checking out the scene, Aviña saw a tow truck begin taking cars away and a parking enforcement officer placing tickets on cars windshields. 

That’s when Aviña took things into his own hands and began to ask members of the production crew why they were doing all of this. 

In a series of four Instagram videos, Aviña shared his confrontation with members of the production crew asking them what business they had coming into the neighborhood and towing away residents vehicles. Since this wasn’t the first time he’s seen this happen, Aviña began questioning the motive behind crew members calling city parking and promptly towing away cars.

Aviña made sure that David Mandell heard his frustration about outsiders disregarding community members in Boyle Heights.

Credit: davidmandell / Instagram

“So this is what happens when people from outside of the community come into our community. They use the city against the community, towing cars,” Aviña says as Mandell, a co-founder of Blank Slate Production, argues back. 

In the series of videos, you can hear Aviña begin to get frustrated with crew members as they dodged questions about why they were towing cars and why they didn’t give notice to residents about parking restriction before the weekend. Speaking to L.A. Taco, he said that many of the families in the neighborhood were out town due to the holiday weekend and might have not seen a notice about the production crew and possible parking restrictions. 

“In the video, you hear one claim the signs went up Friday. Kids didn’t go to school on Friday. So if people took a four-day trip how were they going to see the signs?” Aviña told L.A. Taco

Aviña took exception with the production crew as he asked them why there was no alternative to calling a tow truck on residents cars.

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“This is a working-class community. On Labor Day, you’re towing cars. Are you for reals? Did you guys think about that? Did you guys think about this is a working-class community and you guys are towing cars on our day off and we have nowhere to park? Aviña says in the video. “Where’s the alternative parking that you guys offer?”

Aviña and Peter Vogel, co-founder of Blank Slate Production, discussed the parking situation at hand. “You may park in that parking lot over there,” Vogel told Aviña. “It’s open.”

“No. You just said that right now, but you know it’s closed. I just told you it was closed,” Aviña responded. 

“No, you didn’t,” Vogel said.

“You’re going to act like that? Are you going to act like that?” Aviña replied.  

Ironically, the film that the production company was filming is about a woman who is “forced to raise her son in her car” as they “attempt to find a way out of homelessness.” 

Credit: @elrandomhero / Twitter

Blank Slate Pictures was in Hollenbeck Park to film the upcoming movie “Like Turtles,” which according to IMDB is based on a mother who “is forced to raise her son in her car and attempt to find a way out of homelessness all while never letting her son realize the severity of their circumstances.” Some on social media found irony in the situation that a film crew doing a movie about a person living out of their car while at the same time towing away residents cars. 

Parking tickets have become a notorious problem in the neighborhood as there are limited spaces for residents to park their vehicles. With the addition of weekly street cleaning, many residents are forced to move their cars and shuffle spaces to avoid getting a ticket. Those tickets come at a steep price, according to the LA Times, retrieving a towed car can cost close to $290, this includes a $133 charge for the tow, an additional $115 to release the car and $46.56 for each following day the car is in city storage. 

For Aviña, this issue goes beyond just towing cars but is a perfect example of when outside forces come into the neighborhood and don’t bother to reach out to the community.

Credit: @avalonsensei / Twitter

Aviña brings up the issue of privilege and gentrification that has affected the working-class neighborhood for the last decade. He points to the production crew as an example of this and them not reaching out to the local community. Boyle Heights has been ground zero in LA when it comes to gentrification as many longtime residents have lost their homes and businesses due to rising rents and development. 

“You see what I’m talking about, the privilege? You could’ve easily knocked on doors, man. You could’ve easily warned the community. Instead, a working-class neighborhood that is barely affording the effects of gentrification that pays the rent. […] A working-class community that can’t afford the rent because of the exploitation, because of what’s going on with gentrification. And instead of knocking on their doors, what do you do? You get their cars towed away,” Aviña says in the final video to the production crew. “So now they got another fine. Now they got a parking ticket, plus get their cars out. You know I’m making sense. You know it’s the truth. It’s our reality. We live this shit every day. You’re not the only ones that come and film here. We gotta deal with this daily.”

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

This 11-Year-Old Latina Has Thousands Of Followers On TikTok And The Most Hilarious Sense Of Humor About Latinidad

Things That Matter

This 11-Year-Old Latina Has Thousands Of Followers On TikTok And The Most Hilarious Sense Of Humor About Latinidad

Of the new class of TikTok talent that has cropped up since the app’s boom in popularity, no one is as relatable or as hilarious as adorable superstar-in-the-making Oliva Olivarez. Daughter of one of the reigning queens of TikTok, Ashlay Soto, Olivarez started out as a co-star in her mom’s viral short movies and quickly upgraded to scene-stealer. The videos were so popular because they riffed on the old “mother knows best” adage and playfully acted out the consequences of what would happen if alternate-reality Olivia rebelled against her Mom’s good (if strict) intentions.

Now, this little Latina upstart of Mexican descent has her own TikTok account that boasts over 1 million followers–not a shabby number for a girl who isn’t even 12-years-old yet! Needless to say, Olivia has an incredibly bright future ahead of her and we can’t wait to see more of it. In honor of Olivarez 12th birthday coming up on July 29th, we’ve compiled a list of Olivia’s top TikTok videos that illustrate precisely why she’s the reigning Princess of TikTok. 

Here is a round-up of Olivia Olivarez’s top Tik Toks!

1. Olivia Stealing the Spotlight

One of Soto/Olivarez family’s best videos because of how candid it is, Ashlay is getting really into her performance when Olivia pops in and does a sassy hair flip, completely stealing her mom’s spotlight.

2. The “No Boys Ever” Video

Ashlay makes it no secret that she’s not a fan of the idea of her daughter growing up and dating. This is one of many videos where she makes her feelings known.

3. When Olivia Reveals the Man Behind the Curtain

Olivia is not afraid of calling out her mom for her online shenanigans when they’re misleading. This is why we love Olivia–she’s all about keeping it real.

3. When Mom finds out you’ve been lying about boys…

In another hilarious video of Ashlay’s reactions to Olivia talking to boys, Olivia denies she’s talking to one before her mom catches her in the act and chases her off screen. This is an ongoing bit for the mom-daughter duo that, frankly, never gets old.

4. The Adorable #TBT of Young Olivia

Here’s a #TBT to when Olivia was super young and super adorable. As her mom and her brother sing One Direction’s “Olivia” on a split-screen, Olivia dances and sings before her hair suddenly turns into colorful braids. 

5. Mama Knows Best!

Both Olivia and her mom lipsync the lyrics to the song “Weak”–an ode to resisting the temptation of vices like drugs, alcohol, and sex. In the end, as usual, Olivia hilariously rebels against her mom making for comedic gold.

6. Me: “Momma, I’m a big girl now”. Momma: “Not if I have anything to do with it”.

Another hilarious “no boys” Tik Tok, Olivia sings Hairspray’s “Momma I’m a Big Girl Now” song and when she gets to the line “now I’d rather play around with teenage boys”, Ashlay cuts in and tells Olivia “You better run”. 

7. When the tables have turned

In a hilarious turning of tables, while usually, Olivia is the one to run away from Ashlay, when Ashlay tells Olivia “I don’t care about Fortnite”, she ends up being the one running!

8. Instant Regret.

The family drama continues! We’ve all been in the situation where we talk back to our madre and then immediately regret it. This Tik Tok illustrates that feeling of instant regret perfectly.

9. Potty Mouth

We know that if we had Ashlay as a mother, we’d be terrified to step out of line. Like in this video when Olivia is about to sing along to a song with the f-word and Ashlay steps in and makes her think twice about cussing.

10. Relatable AF

“Mom, I just want to tell you that I love you.” “What do you want?” How many of our moms have responded EXACTLY like that when we say those words to them? As usual, Ashlay and Olivia are spot-on with their interpretations of everyday life.