7 Brilliant East LA Activists
The Siren Staff The Siren Staff August 29, 2014

7 Brilliant East LA Activists


From the Battle of Chavez Ravine in the 1940s when people battled the destruction of a neighborhood, through the “Chicano Blowouts” of the 1960s when students walked out of class to protest inequalities in education, to the legendary Mothers of East Los Angeles who fought the construction of a toxic incinerator as an example of environmental racism, there is a long, strong tradition of activism here in East LA. There are many great individuals and organizations working today and we only have room for a few our favorites. Inform yourselves! Join a cause you believe in!

1. Iris de Andairisdeanda

Iris is a key member of the Eastside poetry scene, hosting readings like “The Writers Underground Open Mic” at the Eastside Café, 5469 N. Huntington. She recently appeared at a reading with our very own ELH student Jocelyn Reyes! Her powerful new book, “Codeswitch: Fires From Mi Corazon,” is divided into four chambers (chapters) like the four chambers in the human heart: Rage, Love, Revolution, Evolution. Iris is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz and besides being a poet and activist, she is also a practitioner of the healing arts. Check out her website, http://irisdeanda.com.

“Everyday I Write
to make the wrong
things right
to let the pain out
bring in the light
to expose the day
reveal the night
to make sense of life
these words are my fight . . . “
Iris de Anda

2. Dewey Tafoya

DeweyTafoyaDewey Tafoya is an artist who uses humor to comment on the society and politics in Los Angeles. A silk-screen genius, he teaches monthly silk screening classes through Self Help Graphics & Art, an LA institution since the early ‘70s. Join him to learn how to make awesome posters! His work was included in an exhibition called “Fútbol: The Beautiful Game” at the LA County Art Museum. Here’s a look at some more of his work.

3. Las Cafeteras

LasCafeteras“We are made in Los Angeles, and we have a story to tell,” says the amazing band Las Cafeteras on their website. They formed in 2008 with the goal of preserving and publicizing the history of the neighborhoods they grew up in through their music. They have been doing big tours spreading the word on East LA but they always love to play at home. Check out their website to see where they’re playing next!

4. Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)

AngelicaSalasImagine standing toe-to-toe with President Obama in the White House and contradicting him when he said his administration was focusing on deporting criminals. “No, Mr. President, that’s not what’s happening. You’re deporting heads of households . . . Young people are sitting in detention centers when they should be sitting in the best universities in the country,” Angelica is quoted as saying. Count on Angelica to be there when there’s an opportunity to raise awareness and change policy on immigration.

5. Quetzal

QuetzalEast LA band Quetzal is still mixing it up after all these years with their brand of “East LA Chicano Rock” as songwriter Martha Gonzalez calls it. They are influenced by an East Los soundscape of Mexican ranchera, cumbia, salsa, rock, R&B, folk, and other music from around the world. Their music stands against marginalization and oppression. Their latest album is an amazing look at animals in the urban environment: Quetzanimales. The album was partially funded by this Kickstarter page (good idea to keep in mind if you want to fund a project, just sayin’)!

6. LA Kitchen

LAKitchenLA Kitchen’s mission is “to reclaim healthy, local food that would otherwise go to waste, and use it to empower, nourish, and engage the community.” From its location in Lincoln Heights it runs educational programs such as the pilot program that prepares people for careers in food service and healthcare as chefs and nutrition advocates. Students include young people aging out of foster care and older adults exiting the prison system.

7. Proyecto Jardin

JardinProviding good nutrition for good living, Proyecto Jardin has been a community garden in Boyle Heights for over a decade. Besides having sustainably grown, healthy fruits, veggies and cooking herbs (yum!), they hold workshops and events about food and other topics such as bike repair. They are dedicated to building community with good meals and good education.

The Siren Staff

The Siren Staff

The student staff of the East Los High Siren, bringing you all the news and everyday realness from East LA and beyond!

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