How militarized are your police?


This map by the NY Times gives a break down of how much our country’s police forces have become stocked with military surplus weapons and gear.  The trend started in the 1990s from a program designed to deal with extra equipment during the winding down of our wars.

This has no doubt added to the tensions with situations in Ferguson, MO. The St. Louis region has had many issues with racial profiling in the past. In fact, UCLA’s Center for Policing Equity is actually in the middle of a study in St. Louis to explore this very issue.  

These researchers have studied departments all over the country. Recently in Las Vegas they found the lack of diversity training in their police department was causing officers to exhibit racial bias when using force on an individual. In their survey asking officers to anonymously talk about how they view diversity training one said:

All diversity training basically states that if you are white you are wrong, and that everyone else’s culture takes precedence over society’s established norms.

So what can these researchers recommend? and how much sway do their recommendations have?  In the Las Vegas case they recommended the police department integrate diversity training with its training on use-of-force situations.  They also said an outside group should be monitoring incidents where officers stop pedestrians.  

While this type of research may inform policy/policymakers, it also affects citizens at the ballot box. John Gaskin from the Missouri NAACP discussed the historic lack of voter turnout among African-American Ferguson, MO residents:

We warned people about these kinds of things.  Who hires the police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council folks?

You can read more about UCLA’s Center for Policing Equity here and about the debate to demilitarize the police here.

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So there’s a huge flood on UCLA’s campus today…

What I Wish I Knew Before College

Hello world, the arrival of September means nothing to me. But to many of you out there it could mean the beginning of college! I’ve been out of school for 4 years now but it seems like just yesterday I was still a student… so as I was reminiscing, I came up with a list of things I wish I knew before going to college!

1. You don’t know yourself (even if you think you do)

You may have been the awkward loser, best basketball player, or 4.0 valedictorian of your high school but that’s all behind you now. No one cares. You may think you know what you want to do with your life, but be prepared for the start of a long journey of soul searching. Not just academically either! Be prepared to get your mind blown as you witness firsthand how your views on friends, food, career, and clothing change!

2. What happens on the web, stays on the web

The internet is not vegas

I didn’t have my first drink til I was 21 (yes unicorns exist) but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. When you’re 18 and on living on your own for the first time we all tend to make some poor (yet incredibly awesome at the same time) decisions. Just remember whatever gets posted onto the web is there to stay. If you’re underage and voluntarily post incriminating pictures online you probably weren’t meant to succeed. Just make sure if you are going to be intoxicated you’re around people you trust not to tarnish your online image by posting stuff where your parents and potential employers can see!

3. Go to class, office hours, and STAY AWAKE!

Yes I know you have a syllabus, a textbook, and a friend who you can copy notes from. But go to class. Pay attention. 

Go to office hours, get to know the TA and professor. In a lecture hall of hundreds if you can only benefit by having a good relationship with your professor. Your TA knows the ins and outs of the course and will provide invaluable clues on how to do well in the class. Check your professor’s credentials, you’ll be surprised at how influential he/she is within the field. Remember, it’s not just about the grade you get. It’s about who you know.

*Next time you’re bored divide your tuition by the amount of hours of class. Mine turned out to be $356.78 per 45 min lecture. If you had to cough up that dough yourself would you ditch?

4. Step out of your comfort zone

Feeling too comfortable at school? Take a year to study abroad. Introverted? Go join an improv club. You will never grow or progress if you stick to what you’re comfortable with and never try anything new. 

5. Make mistakes.

Yup. I’m encouraging you to make mistakes. Get wasted, make bad decisions, spend beyond your means. Whatever it is, get it out of your system. True value of college is life experience, not the classes. 

6. Intern

If you’re lucky enough to discover what you will enjoy doing as a career during college then intern. It is not about the money so get over it. You’re a college student so know your worth - which is nothing. Find an internship, go above and beyond. Ask questions, take your senior associates/bosses to lunch and pick their brain. Then soak up everything they say like a sponge. 

7. ENJOY IT!

College flies by. It is the only time in your life you will be surrounded by a bunch of people your age without any true responsibilities of real life. Making friends is as simple as knocking on doors in your residential hall or saying hi to someone in class. You can sleep until noon, dress however you want, and enjoy life. So stop complaining about how miserable you are because those stresses aint nothing compared to real life =). Just take a moment and enjoy the best time of your life! 

This probably isn’t the complete list of things I wish I knew before college, but this post is getting pretty long so I’ll stop here! Best of luck to everyone who’s still in school, I hope this is relatable and can be of some help to you! If you’re too young, come back and read this when you apply for college =)

love ya’ll

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The Science of Sushi

Ole Mouritsen on the history of sushi

“The history of sushi is really the history of preservation of food… . Throughout Asia, in particular in China and later in Japan, people discovered that you can ferment fish – that is, you can preserve fish – by taking fresh fish and putting it in layers of cooked rice… . After some time the fish changes texture, it changes taste, it changes odor, but it’s still edible and it’s nutritious. And maybe after half a year you could then pull out the fish and eat the fish. That is the original sushi.”

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UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion is mostly dry today after being flooded with water as deep as 8 inches yesterday because of a water main break on Sunset Boulevard. The break sent a geyser shooting 30 feet in the air and deluged Sunset and the campus with 8 million to 10 million gallons of water. Workers used brooms, squeegees, vacuums and floor cleaners to remove the water from the Pavilion, which underwent a $136-million renovation that was completed in 2012.

Photos: Jabin Botsford / Los Angeles Times

Ruben Salazar and the Indigenous Imperative

by Marcos Aguilar

“The anniversary of Salazar’s assassination and the Chicano Moratorium, remind us of how far we have yet to go to achieve the basic levels of autonomy and self-determination Chicanismo imagined almost fifty years ago.”

Assassinated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department during the historic Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War protest rally in East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970, journalist Ruben Salazar has become an enigmatic symbol of a low point in the crimes against the Chicano communities of Los Angeles. This date marks the anniversary of the killing of four people by police forces as civilians were targeted as enemies of state. With outrage over police violence echoing to this day across the United States, Salazar reported on the injustices protested by Chicano students and teachers in East Los Angeles high schools and had witnessed the massacre of students by CIA coordinated Mexican government forces in Mexico City. These experiences challenged Salazar to contribute to the struggle for civil rights through the media, instead of covering it up. Upon his return from witnessing the student massacre at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, Salazar reportedly stated, “Manito como han cambiado las cosas…”. Certainly, given the state of affairs we face with militarized police forces and continued systemic educational failure, the social causes the Chicano Movement stood for remain relevant to this day.

Understanding the Chicano Movement has been both personal and transformational to me. Born in 1970, I only came to understand Chicanismo in college while attending UCLA. As a committed student and community organizer, I eventually led the call for a UCLA Faculty Center takeover and a hunger strike in 1993 that led to the establishment of the UCLA Cesar Chavez Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. Two score and four years ago, basic proposals of the Movement such as Chicano Studies, had only started to take root in the university. Recent research projects have documented Salazar’s insightful writings about Chicanismo. “Mexican-Americans, though indigenous to the Southwest, are on the lowest rung scholastically, economically, socially, and politically. Chicanos feel cheated. They want to effect change. Now.” Clearly, Salazar echoes the voice of the Plan de Aztlan and Plan de Santa Barbara, seminal documents of the Chicano student movement. Once again, this anniversary serves to remind our community of the importance of expanding access to quality Chicana and Chicano Studies for our youth as indigenous peoples. This change is needed not in the sterile environment of a conference, but in every public, charter or private classroom, school and college our youth pay to attend.

Forty-five years after Salazar’s exacting words, Los Angeles, California still stands as the largest historically Mexican city in the United States. Of Los Angeles’ school district’s almost 500,000 students identified as ‘Latinos’ (about 75% of all LAUSD students). Around 200,000 LAUSD students are Spanish speakers classified as ‘English Learners’ - most certainly a euphemism for the District’s massive Mexican-origin student demographic majority. Yet, even as a majority, the Mexican community is timid in its demand for the effective implementation of research validated, community generated models of culturally relevant college preparatory curriculum and programs. Schools like magnets, charters and the recently expanded IB programs in LAUSD are great for the few who attend them but what about the roughly 80% of indigenous Mexican and Central American students who graduate ineligible to attend a UC or CSU, or the at least 40% of students who are pushed out every year and don’t even graduate at all. In 2011, the Office of Civil Rights of the U. S. Department of Education again documented the systemic educational discrimination prevalent for ‘English Learners’ in the LAUSD – but what has really changed? Accessible, required and well-designed Chicana and Chicano Studies courses in our high schools could change how poorly public schools engage our youth in a very short time. In education, inspiration is priceless and prescient. Chicana and Chicano Studies is above all else, a methodical, strategic and informed curriculum designed to empower and inspire our youth based upon culturally rooted values and inquiry into their own human condition. It is time to lay Salazar’s spirit to rest and demand more of public education in the spirit of the Plan de Santa Barbara, a seminal declaration of the Chicana/o student movement, “At this moment, we do not come to work for the university, but to demand that the university work for us.” Otherwise, Indigenous students will continue to ‘turn off and tune out.’

My daughter, a top graduate of Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory in East Los Angeles, just recently started UCLA as well. I am proud to think that students of my generation organized and sacrificed to successfully open the doors a little wider and make the university serve our community more effectively. My daughter is excited to take her first university level Chicana/o Studies course in the fall and I am hopeful that the experience will be true to the movement that birthed it.

While Salazar’s assassination most certainly deserves our respect, the injustices that plague us continue to demand our attention, now. It is our future, our Semillas, which ought to command our disciplined passion to regenerate as Indigenous Peoples and renew our own humanity in our ways. Ought we continue to operate as the minority demographic in our minds, or command the effective right to a public education we merit? To be sure, the clearest example of human autonomy and self-determination must be witnessed in the raising of our children. Shall we give them up to others, with contradictory values and imposed languages and then wonder in our old age why our progeny no longer sing our songs or worse yet, die for a city street name or in some foreign legion? We believe that Chicana and Chicano Studies today is as much about defending our access, “to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination,” as called for by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as it is a struggle for our own spirit, our very existence.

The anniversary of Salazar’s assassination and the Chicano Moratorium, remind us of how far we have yet to go to achieve the basic levels of autonomy and self-determination Chicanismo imagined almost fifty years ago. Mandated access to community-based pedagogy and curriculum, such as Chicana and Chicano Studies is one essential step towards closing the achievement gap and better serving the Indigenous youth LAUSD and other school systems struggle to retain. Sterile top-down standards-based exams will continue to do nothing to address the needs and potential of our most vulnerable youth.

“Chicanos will tell you that their culture predates that of the Pilgrims,” once wrote Salazar. I will tell you that this is still true, but how many of our youth today understand this? The imperative today is to remember our roots in order to bring about a world where many worlds fit.

Originally posted at Radical Regeneration

Marcos Aguilar has been an educational leader for over two decades, first as a prominent student activist in the nineties, then as a history teacher in LAUSD and finally as a traditional Aztec dancer and community organizer.

For interesting insights into the work of Ruben Salazar, please visit the Ruben Salazar Project

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The Science of Sushi
Featuring Dr. Ole Mouritsen and Morihiro Onodera
April 23, 2014

To kick off our 2014 public lecture series, Dr. Ole Mouritsen joined Chef Morihiro Onodera to satisfy our craving for sushi-related science. The duo explained everything from sushi’s early history to the starchy science of sushi rice. Check out some of the shorter highlights from the lecture…

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