Rick from Rick's Produce, Serving the People

Our communities are not defined just by struggle. We thrive even as we fight for our humanity

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 100)

Through more than five lifetimes across the American continent, even after the genocide and enslavement of our bloodlines, from the rainforests of Brazil to the mountaintops of Canada, and through this dizzied land of war-songs and bombs, Indigenous, African and more descendants of colonization have still managed to live, love, and laugh in America. We still do. Some days we only manage one of the three. But we get close enough. Each day we fight to keep living.

Most of all, we continue to push past heaps of winds threatening to slow down our progress. Let it not be forgotten that as hostility for our communities rose, our communities chose to rise up in power, guided by love, not by hatred. Let it not be forgotten how this pandemic has shown the whole world the way we keep rising. The way we refuse to be put down.

As one student I worked with last year put it in her first spoken-word poem:

“We broke them damn chains.”

We continue breaking them today. What has also lain exposed after three months of “Pandemic in Los Angeles” is that while the people’s elected leadership and representatives have largely failed in their duties to serve our communities, the people themselves have not. The land forgets nothing. And we are the land.

More than as just Americans, we have acted as global citizens with the world for our localities. In marching, outraging, and organizing, we have done so not just for the benefit of ourselves, but for the benefit of all people, for the 21st century and beyond, if our global pueblo can manage to see it.

We have done an immeasurable amount of teaching, and even more learning. Consistently in our discourse it’s become apparent that our teaching and learning has been most of all for ourselves, to continue uplifting our youth, families, and elders for the sake of one lifetime.

If white Americans have been able to grow in their perspectives from our teachings, which have been offered to all since the first day, to become more than “not racist,” but actually anti-racist, then great. If not, that’s fine as well, because what’s also become abundantly clear for our communities is that it’s not our responsibility as the oppressed to consistently guide our oppressors into behaving more humanely. Moreover, it’s clear that in any case, whiteness is breaking itself down, collapsing under its own fictitious weight, exposing its brutality through the baton for anyone who dares to challenge the inequality it has created as anything but just. One way or another, white Americans need to come to terms with this, which is likely not the end of “whiteness,” but the end of white supremacy.

As for our communities, which still need to see to the development of at least the next generation of great teachers, artists, critical thinkers and more to expand on this great, axis-turning shift in consciousness:

We have an incredibly long way to go. But that’s because we have incredibly long ages to live for.

As I witness the brilliance of our people despite fractured roads before us during these last few months, I think of all the societies lost, burned down by the greed of the colonists and slave-masters; of all the great minds, kidnapped and broken into by the infectious lust for power. But the fact of the matter is that their minds never wholly died, just as their societies never entirely vanished. The land never forgets; its roots are here once again now, speaking through only more of our voices as we reclaim a world we know we’ve been given to uphold.

Speaking of which, this makes 100 blogs from yours truly in as many days for “Pandemic in Los Angeles.” Thank you to each and every reader and supporter, and please expect more soon after a small break to refresh the sound and keyboards.


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A pigeon sits atop a lamp post in East Hollywood, Los Angeles

99 Problems but a Blog is not one; a Bookmark for J.T.’s Pandemic in Los Angeles

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 99)

The following is an arrangement of headlines on J.T. celebrating 99 consecutive days of blogging for Los Angeles since the start of the pandemic here. Each line represents a blog, a meditation on the city, an ode, a love letter. Feel free to type any line into the “search” bar on the site to delve into more for our communities:

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)
J.T. The L.A. Storyteller is now on Spotify
Super Pan Bakery of the Virgil Village is being displaced from our community
Get your first ever Los Snapbacks by Jimbo Times
Two Sides of Wonder (An 8th grade student’s poem on being)
Get your first ever Los Hoodies by Jimbo Times
West Hollywood makes way: All Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles
Three months after shut-down, L.A. “reopens” while both COVID-19 and LAPD budget remain uncontained, posing the greatest risk to Black, Latino, and AAPI communities
LAPD will receive nearly 1.9 billion dollars next year while housing & community investment will lose millions
Today, put your sunscreen on and get ready for another walk, Los Angeles
Nahshon D. Anderson: Don’t just Black out now; support queer & trans writers of color
America’s greatness has always been measured by the scale of white violence
Victor Avila: Hope Amid Stones both Tall and Gray
Better late than never: Educating one young hyena in Los Angeles, Part I
Five times David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest FAILS
On Metro’s Gold Line in Los Angeles
Home by the 101 Freeway
Dealing with our news cycle
Tap Cards Out: How L.A. Metro Normalizes Policing, Jailing, Penalizing People of Color
Submit your writing
Bethanee Epifani: Looks Can Kill a Whole Vibe: An Excerpt from Don’t Fall Prey!
Jeremy Tong: A Remembrance for Demetrio Zuniga Farias, Mayor of Breed Street
Meg Rakos: Supay & New York City: Two Adventures, One Destiny
With Demons in the Room
Thelma T. Reyna: Old Habits
Beverly M. Collins: The Mist
Julieta Galan: Memories of our reality
A Strand of Humanity (An 8th grade student’s poem on this COVID-19 season)
Nery Edwin Monroy: Loving Father, Tío to Many
Waiting Again, Los Angeles
Why all 15 L.A. City Council Members should now resign
I Knew (A 7th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Coronavirus lands in East Hollywood, Silver Lake
In a Box, Hidden from My View, Lies a Record
East Hollywood Can Do Better by its Kids
Episode 16 – Japanese Americans on the East Side of L.A.
Home Again
It’s going to be another trailblazing summer in East Hollywood
How to beat Summer 2019: Part I
How to beat Summer 2019: Part II
How to beat Summer 2019: Part III
Don’t Be One Who You Are Not (A 7th grade student’s poem on Identity)
Rap Heat Coming from a Latino: Music in L.A. with Sal Roses
BONUS: How to Outline Your Summer 2019
5 Tips for when 4th of July Sucks
5 NOs to remember with your fams this Summer
Twenty (-Six) Years After the L.A. Riots: How Things Have Changed
We Meet Again Los Angeles
Making Face, Making Soul (1990)
10 Ways Not to Beat Summer 2019
Secret Agent: How to Discover your Neighborhood in Los Angeles
When I Rest My Temple
Asi Somos Los Angeles
10 Things We Learned from an Incredible Time at Our Back to School Party this August 25th, 2018
The Fight for Los Angeles continues: Meet Diana Mabel Cruz
Los Angeles is in Fashion: Meet Mauricio Zelada
“Homelessness” in Los Angeles Today is the Result of Decades of American Discrimination
This year: Thank you Los Angeles
How LAUSD’s Teacher Problem is a Moment of Truth for Progressive Future of California
Motivating Vibes: Music in L.A. with Jon Quest
Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz
A 7th Grade Student’s Poem for Black Lives in Los Angeles
We Will Not be Erased: How Open Mics in Our Community Uplift our Cultural History
BEE STING (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)
Black and Brown in Los Angeles: Beyond Conflict and Coalition (2013)
Tony Bao Tang: Song Unsilenced
By Escalating the Police State, Mayor Garcetti is Officially L.A.’s First White Supremacist Mayor of the 21st Century
What a Ride, Los Angeles; Our Final Flyer for BTS 2 is Now Live
Redlining in Los Angeles
The Soft Graze and the Pitch (An 8th grade student’s poem on Doubt)
Top 5 DON’Ts with your friends this Summer
A reflection on Father’s Day for every working-class father, and all the mothers who also play the role in Los Angeles
Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is about fulfilling a need, lunging forward
José Ocampo: I Wanted School to Be Over
Top 5 NOs to Remember with Relationships this Summer
The Path of Togetherness (An 8th grade student’s poem on Growth)
Food Justice in East Hollywood is growing fruits & veggies at Madison Ave Community Garden
You are allowed to press reset, Los Angeles
Episode 17 – Rick’s Produce Uplifts Families with Free Fruits & Veggies
Kevin Walton King: During Trauma, Crisis, and Times of Transition, Love is Essential
In Pictures: Marching for Justice Along Compton boulevard for Andrés Guardado
Please sign your name to the petition calling for justice for Andrés Guardado, an 18 year old fatally shot by the L.A. County sheriff’s department
This Juneteenth: Emancipate History to Make Way for a New Future in Los Angeles
Two Badges: The Lives of Mona Ruiz (1997)
Los Angeles is not represented by its elected officials. It is trembling on the knees of the dying men and women of its sidewalks
Helena Maria Viramontes: Their Dogs Came with Them (2006)
Summer has arrived in Los Angeles, and J.T. is going to Publishing School with LARB
Madison Block Loses a Little Brother for the Ages, Fernie “Belok” Puga
Donate to Our 2nd Annual Back to School Party this Summer 2019
Jose Huizar Proves How L.A. City Hall Serves Foreign Millionaires While Jailing and Displacing its Poorest Residents
Subscribe to J.T. The L.A. Storyteller
We Raise It: A Poem for Los Youngs During These Times
Sign Your Name to Support Police-Free Libraries in Los Angeles
El Cipitío (2016), the new Cipitío
The LACC community must now reclaim its campus from the L.A. County sheriff’s department
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J.T.’s publishing platform will uplift voices from Black, Indigenous, and more communities of color

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 98)

First of all, the 98th column for our series uplifts the name of Breonna Taylor, the EMT worker who was murdered in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky after a storm of police officers kicked down her door and began firing their weapons, striking Breonna eight times and ending her life. The police officers behind this heinous crime–who had a warrant to raid another home instead of Breonna’s–are still roaming free, unaccountable to justice. To sign the petition calling for their arrest, readers can go HERE.

Breonna’s murder was also in Louisville, Kentucky, the heart of the state overseen by the 2nd most consequential white supremacist in Washington D.C., Senator Mitch McConnell. But I know there are still folks in Kentucky working to have a senator one day who actually recognizes Black bodies as belonging to human beings.

To paraphrase Fannie Lou Hamer: None of us are free until all of us are free. In that regard, I also want to uplift the spirit of all my Black sisters, sending them my warmest prayers during these yet more taxing, yet more emotionally draining times. You are not forgotten.


I have shared with readers on the blog some of my experiences visiting juvenile halls throughout Southern California to facilitate writing workshops with young men and women, the vast majority of them being of Black, Latinx, and Native American roots. Each time, during the brief interval we shared together, I arrived with a commitment to create community with these young people, even as many of them were still just “in the middle” of a system invested in their incarceration and other forms of disenfranchisement.

The feeling these programs invoked in me when they came to an end was always a conflicted one; on the one hand, I was happy to see Black and Brown youth for a time, and to let them know that they were were seen and not forgotten by their peers. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel like so much of our work was only the beginning of something far bigger for our collective freedom.

Today, it’s only more clear how as Black, Brown and Indigenous bodies, we shouldn’t have to be seated inside of jail complexes guarded by chain-linked fences and barbed wire in order for us to speak at length, to write, and to visualize and thus determine our futures according to our own judgments and volition.

It’s also clear that Americans need to set new standards for themselves if they’re to create a lasting turning point during this historic time for our communities. Throughout this series, I hope it’s become apparent for readers how violence pervades nearly every walk of life where ethnic communities are concerned, including due to policing, displacement, and divestment in resources like education and affordable housing, just so more powerful interests can extend the economic engine that reproduces inequality one generation after the next.

I also hope it’s now apparent that apart from writing, I really love to read, especially the work of other Black, Latinx, and more writers of color and people whose perspectives vary from “the norm.”

But did you know, that a 2019 survey shows that more than 3/4ths of jobs in the publishing industry are held by white Americans, including predominantly by straight, non-disabled white women? What kind of message does that send? Particularly to brilliant Black & Brown youth like those we’ve seen?

Pie Chart from Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results - Lee & Low Books
Pie Chart from Where Is the Diversity in Publishing? The 2019 Diversity Baseline Survey Results – Lee & Low Books

The message is that while a multitude of voices exist in the most ethnically ‘diverse’ country in the world, the industry is dominated by just one segment of the population, while Black, Brown, Latinx, Indigenous, queer, disabled and more voices are left to occupy a tiny corner with one another. If that sounds like segregation, it’s because it is.

As one comment pointed out out regarding the survey:

“The issue concerns BIPOC and LGBT people not having an equal voice in an industry that shapes education and culture. Gatekeeping is real. Essentially, the survey results show that white cis women continue to have the loudest voices in the publishing industry and continue to decide which books should be read by the masses.

– Matthew Anderson, Struck

My mind thinks back to the scores of young people I’ve met in Los Angeles, not only through its detention centers, but also at its inner-city schools, so many of whose tremendous voices can stun the world with reverberating effects.

I want all of such young people and each of their peers to know, that JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller is unapologetically a safe space for them, as our community together despite the enclosed gates and hallways of detention centers and policed space around us has constantly been. I also know that I no longer want to be able to meet my community only when surrounded by chains and barbed wire; if the online publishing world is therefore the next great ventures for yours truly, then let there be no confusion: it will prioritize Black & Brown and any other marginalized communities most of all.

The good news is that with the twenty different voices we’ve published on the blog so far, this is already true, and that therefore, as an old saying goes: we’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing.

If you know someone whose voice can continue to grow this effort, please encourage them to SUBMIT THEIR WORK.


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