By Tanya Sotelo
To say that this was not the roaring twenties that I think many of us had anticipated, is a gross understatement. The year started off as most New Year’s do with the clamoring on social media of “This is the year that everything is going to change! This will be my year to….!” While the former definitely came into fruition, granted not in the way I am sure most people meant, the latter equally has brought up possibilities that I do not think many considered. If the world had kept its course, I do not think as many people would find themselves in the year 2020 working to dismantle systems of oppression.
The pandemic and the protests against police brutality created the perfect storm of people being out of work and afforded the time and ability to mobilize in a way that frankly I do not believe has been possible in any other time in recent history. I don’t want to say that these events have brought to light the disparities in wealth, education, and health care. That state sanctioned brutality is rare, it’s not and has been a constant injustice that has been well documented to affect minorities and the disabled.
Of course, this is nothing new if you are a person of color, black, indigenous, LGTBQ, disabled or any human who happens to be a minority, this is a place we are familiar with. We are disproportionately injured, killed, and sentenced more harshly than our white counterparts. We know that we are still not equal, we do not have equity and we have inherited the plethora of disadvantages that have been passed down from generation to generation. What is new is more and more people who are not looking away. People are actively working to dismantle racism and prejudice within a much larger scale than ever before. Uncomfortable conversations are being had with friends, family, and colleagues. Relationships are breaking down and being rebuilt or we are finding that they are unrecoverable and are letting go.
We are on the precipice of change and while the media coverage may have slowed down for the time being the momentum and action of the people has not. I am seeing solidarity in so many intersections. I see battle cries rising for other causes, advocates sharing resources. Hurt people reaching out to other hurt people saying I see you; I stand with you, I will fight alongside you, and for you.
Being part of the DSTL Arts family I have seen this solidarity displayed across Concha’s y Café, Artblock and Aurtistic Zine. I look back at the last coffee shop meeting with the Aurtistic team. We shared stories of the microaggressions and dismissals of medical professionals. Between the brainstorming and planning the theme unanimously agreed upon was Advocacy.
While our zine was curated with submissions primarily focused on self-advocacy or advocating for our disabled children, being that our contributors are diverse in all aspects, experiences of dealing with discrimination subtle or blatant is woven into the fabric of the stories and poetry. It is in the lines and brushstrokes of the illustrations and paintings that grace the pages of our offerings. We celebrate and honor the work and creators soon the latest issue will be shared with the public.
As we adjust and evolve as individuals navigating these strange tumultuous waters, so too does Aurtistic. We feel strongly that our Autistic contributors should have an opportunity to not only share their art but they must also be part of the decision making and behind the scene creative process. I am happy to announce the creation of a guest editor position open to our Autistic contributors and followers.
By Jeremy Arias
Cheers echoed for blocks around Mariachi Plaza the last time I was there. There were more smiles, songs, dances, burning sage, and beats of the danza drum. Several weeks of solitude and quarantine have been broken here. We finally broke through the seals of our quarantine after several weeks, not because we wanted to, but because we had to.
I was wondering what the first major gathering I would attend following the COVID-19 Pandemic. I thought I’d go to a concert, getting my skull busted in a mosh pit, or maybe classroom. I didn’t think I would be slapping on a face mask and marching to Mariachi Plaza to mourn the death of George Floyd, an innocent soul lost to the hands of police brutality.
At the protest, members of the community told the stories of their loved ones lost to the brutality of the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Boyle Heights is a community of many colors, we relate to the struggle in our own ways. People from every corner of the community gathered at Mariachi Plaza not to listen to music and celebrate, but to listen to each other and unite over our unfortunate similarities.
The space that previously brought us together for laughs and cheers now hosted our grief and tears. Together we marched to the streets of Downtown Los Angeles under the stare of riot shields and combat boots. We know. We know they know. Black Lives Matter.
Our current system is biased against us and it is important that we aren’t biased against each other. Yes, all lives do matter, and the protests aren’t limited to black people’s rights. There is a presence of tyranny in our country and we have to look after each other, otherwise we will be divided when the hammer of oppression is dropped in our direction. It might not have been you today, but if we watch each other fall there will be no one left standing to help us back up.
By Jeremy Arias
The fog cleared my route to the jogging path when I first noticed it. Its black fur shone with the morning sun as its green eyes pierced contact. It didn’t bother to display sharpened teeth or threaten me with a growl. It watched me with its wicked eyes as I walked by.
I’m not the superstitious type. I don’t get nervous when I walk under ladders. The only threat from a broken mirror is its cutting edge. Salt is bad for you, and when you spill it, you make a mess. The country did enter a national emergency on Friday the 13th, but the occupant knew about the virus since January, so that doesn’t count.
I walked by the black cat thinking twice about superstition. What if black cats could also give us good luck, but only choose to curse the superstitious scaredy cats? Why aren't there any have a good day cats that you can walk by without questioning your existence?
A couple blocks later, I was climbing up a hill and a well groomed dog with a fat brown coat trotted down the street, jingling it’s leather collar. It stopped to sniff the weeds and inspect a Hot Cheeto’s bag with its bulgy black snout.
What a nice dog, I bet you belong to someone, I thought as I kept climbing and crossed the street over to the next block. As I passed the Jack in the Box, I noticed a flyer stapled to a telephone pole.
“MISSING!” The top of the page hollered. Right under it was a picture of a happy, well groomed dog with a fat brown coat and a leather collar. “Her name is Millie, her owner is sick with heart disease. REWARD $1000!”
It was the cat! I thought as I took a picture of the poster with my phone and sprinted back to the hill where I saw the dog.
In a matter of minutes, Millie had vanished without a trace. I kept my ear open for that jingling collar. She couldn’t have gone that far. A few scans of the area led me to an alley where a mariachi group played festive songs to a cheerful crowd. It was a dead end so full of life.
Nobody wins today, except the cat and the mariachi.
The content displayed here is submitted by various local authors, artists, and more, and is curated by the DSTL Arts Art Block Zine–Editorial Board. Works published here are done so with the permission of all artists involved. Artists hold all rights to their work, and none of it may be reproduced without their permission.