Today I had the chance to visit the office of the L.A. Weekly in Culver City. I know the publisher, Mathew Cooperstein, because he’s the father of one of my younger sister’s good friends, so we’ve been talking about the possibility of my coming over to tour their office for some time. With Spring Break this week, everything just so happened to line up perfectly for me to check the place out, and I’m really glad I finally got to do it.
Not only did I get to tour the office, which is housed in a pretty awesome looking building as I’m sure you can see in the featured image I have above, I also had the chance to sit down and chat with both Coop and the L.A. Weekly’s Managing Editor Drew Tewksbury. Both of them were really receptive and nice, and it was great to be able to swap stories and get some advice from people who have been entrenched in the news industry longer than I have.
Drew and I talked more about the writing side of things, both for short-form daily (or in their case, weekly and heavily online-based) reporting and for deeper investigative stories. Meanwhile, Coop talked with me more about the advertorial side and about things like community outreach, audience demographics and search engine optimization.
While I was at the office, I also picked up a couple copies of their two most recent publications: A regular issue with the cover story about deportees sent to Tijuana and their special 99 Essential Restaurants issue.
Happy pi day everybody! As somebody who had one of the punniest math teachers ever for Precalculus/Trigonometry in high school (thank you for the silly turtle drawing that will never let me forget what a sinusoidal line is, Mr. Baumgartner), I feel like this is the kind of fake holiday I can get behind.
However, that’s not why we’ve gathered here today. No, we’ve gathered here because I’m ready to self-promote myself once again, this time for an article covering an event I attended yesterday.
To be completely honest, if there’s any article I’ve written that deserves a little bit of praise, it would be this one. I don’t usually like to toot my own horn or anything, but covering this as a whole was one of the hardest journalism experiences I’ve had in the six years I’ve worked as a student journalist. Not only was the subject matter fairly heavy, being a lecture about human trafficking, but also…
The entire lecture was given in Spanish.
Yeah, as someone who lives in Southern California you’d think I would be at least semi-knowledgable in the romance language nearest and dearest to us… But no, I’m the kid that decided to take three years of Chinese in high school instead.
I don’t regret that decision by any means, even if I still wouldn’t call myself fluent in the language, but it did make things substantially more difficult for me in this particular instance.
Now, just how did I get myself into a situation where I was covering an event in a language I don’t know? It’s a long story, but to put it simply a poster for the event landed in my lap at just the right moment when we needed extra content for a floundering page, and none of the promotional materials suggested it was going to be given in an entirely Spanish-speaking course.
Luckily I have some amazing friends in the newsroom that were able to help me out. In particular, our copy editor Aaron was able to swoop in and not only understand what was going on, but also help me break through a sudden bout of paralysis I had when doing interviews for the story after the lecture ended.
Seriously, without him I would’ve been screwed, and I couldn’t be happier that he was around to help and not over in New York at a conference getting buried in snow.
Plus he helped me pull the story together pretty late, and it looks way better with his contributions than it would have otherwise.
If you want to check out the article in its entirety, you can see it here. You can also check out my full archive of work for the Daily Titan over on the right!
“When Mexico sends its people, they aren’t sending their best … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with [them]. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime – They’re rapists.”
Stereotypes, as a political tool, have been used to oppress people since before written records were even kept. They’re typically overgeneralized ideas about a group of people used to demean them and incite public ridicule or shunning. Undoubtedly, stereotypes have been used in terrible, awful ways throughout history. However, some – regardless of the way they’re used – are based on some aspect of reality.
This is the nature of overgeneralization. For example, a staple of Anti-Semitism is identifying a Jew as having a “giant nose”. Groups like the Nazis used this depiction (among other things) in their propaganda, which drove the Holocaust, an event too horrible for words. Yet, as a Jew myself, I’ve met many members of the tribe who exhibit the “giant nose” trait. It’s a plausible generalization, which makes it an easy target for stereotyping.
Just because a stereotype is sometimes true does not mean it’s the rule for all members of a group. Donald Trump followed up his ridiculous comments by attempting to soften them, saying “some, I assume, are good people.” At least he acknowledges exceptions to his insidious rules – but should something like this be considered an exception?
Chantal Akerman’s 2002 film “From the Other Side” talks to people on both sides of the Mexican/American border, people of all ages and sizes. While I felt the presentation of the 100-minute documentary was hard to get through, the power of the people interviewed on the Mexican side of the border was compelling.
Be it the elderly couple talking about their dead son or the young boy who failed at his attempt to cross the border alone in the growing security of a post-9/11 world; all the stories told shared a common thread, the struggle and loss of family in trying to find a better life through The American Dream. None of those whose stories were told are recognizable as the criminals or rapists Trump hoped to paint with his blanket statement.
That’s not to say there aren’t such criminals trying to cross the border from Mexico into the United States. With such a large basket, there are bound to be some bad eggs. This doesn’t mean we should judge the whole group like bad eggs are the norm, however. Every individual is different.
In Alfredo Corchado’s three part “Faces from the Border” series, published in the New Yorker in 2015 (Part 1 / 2 / 3 ), he shows that this mentality can apply not only to the immigrants, but to those guarding the border as well. Many who guard the border are children of Mexican immigrants themselves, yet they’re just as determined to deter illegal immigration. While there are some problem officers, as shown with the story of Margarita Crispin (a border guard who helped sneak drugs across the border), most are honorable people doing a difficult job to the best of their abilities. They all have their own stories just like the immigrants wanting to cross into the United States.
In a time of Globalization, where information is instantly available anywhere at any time, it can be difficult know what is truth or fiction. Entire groups of people can be summed up by statistics and figures on the World Wide Web, and anonymous people feel free to express their own thoughts and opinions without repercussion. If we want to one-day move past stereotypes, anger and stigmatization, we need to remember that every individual has a unique life story, whether they’re anonymous or not. While lives may be similar in nature, it’s unfair to believe you know another solely due to things like their upbringing or skin color.