Thoughts from Gianni


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posted yesterday on Facebook by our friend Gianni Castellanos and reprinted with permission:

Saw news that ICE “lowered” their standards, basically making torture easier to institute and get away with.

How much longer until we stop even hearing about disappearances and deaths?  How soon until all the children people post about are forgotten?

I’m asked the question often: “Why aren’t more people upset? Why aren’t more people protesting? What can we do?”

I wonder these things too.

I make calls. I give a little money to orgs doing on the ground work. But, I’m not out in front of a detention center protesting. I barely have a single part-time job.

Activists worked tirelessly for some time in California to push the state/local governments to divest from involvement with ICE. Now private detention centers are not allowed. Some local law enforcement agencies cancelled their lucrative contracts with ICE to detain people in their jails.

Huntington Beach City Attorney Michael Gates.

But, multiple cities in Orange County have been working to be “free” from state “control,” suing the state so that they don’t have to be sanctuary cities.

We’ve seen reports that state/local law enforcement regularly works with ICE. We’ve seen Nazi flags hung inside law enforcement training facilities. Groups of youth Scouts train with Customs and Border Patrol. It’s considered an “honor”.

Many cities in California were “sundowner” towns. The names of known KKK members still adorn schools and streets. Schools and neighborhoods are still highly segregated, many rich/white folx actively working to redline resources for themselves, despite the positive court results from Mendez vs Westminster, and later Brown vs Board of Education. Many Californians were deported during Operation Wetback following the Bracero Program. Law enforcement and private citizens have violently fought and killed and imprisoned Latinx folx in events like the Citrus War of 1936.

And before that, white settlers, Spaniards, and the Catholic Church enslaved and committed genocide against the native people of California.

Stockton, Bakersfield, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Bernardino… they top the list for nationwide police violence.  It’s mostly unarmed Latinx people who’ve been killed in California. Most people held in jails in California are Latinx people.

A climbing gym.

My current paying work is at an indoor rock climbing gym in Santa Ana. Santa Ana’s population is mostly Latinx people. Very few Latinx people visit the gym. Most Latinx people I talk to in the area don’t know the gym exists or that gyms like it exist.

Climbing is expensive. Yesterday a few people came in wanting information and asked if any of us spoke Spanish. Luckily, we could happily help with that. I hope they return.  

A young Latinx person came in with a white guardian recently, part of a “big-siblings” style program centered around supporting young Latinx people. I had the fortunate opportunity to provide a personalized climbing experience for them for an hour, and the young person loved and excelled at the sport. Sadly, the non-profit is severely underfunded and they had only $20 to spend on an activity. I hope they return.

A young white man came in to the gym, looking to buy a day pass (more than $20), bragging to the front desk about his costume that won him the gym’s contest this past Halloween.

Winning was contingent on crowd votes. He had brought a lot of friends. He put on a show and won.

His proudly professed costume was a “cholo”, a Latinx “gangster.” A “criminal.” A “drug dealer.” A “rapist.” An “animal”.

I’ve lost a lot of friends and family and loved ones for pushing back on “America First” messaging. I’ve lost jobs and opportunities for speaking up.

I don’t think the concentration camps have a chance of closing unless people’s thoughts and feelings and beliefs change about the humanity of Latinx people. I don’t think enough privileged people care, including Latinx people who believe themselves “safe” as “American citizens”.

I don’t think this will end until children don’t have experiences like I did, continually hearing about how I was less than, dirty, ugly, uncivilized, because of the color of my skin, because of my name or heritage, because of the lost language(s) of my ancestors.

If even California is still struggling through white supremacy, what hope does this nation have, no matter who is president?


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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.