Thursday, August 13, 2009

Visibility Project at Downtown Art Walk Tonight

What does the face of a typical queer Asian female look like?

The answer is, as demonstrated by Mia Nakano and Christine Pan with The Visibility Project, there is no answer. Their project is currently showing at Infusion Gallery and the opening reception is tonight-- all the more reason to check out Downtown Art Walk.
The Visibility Project is a collection of photography portraits that are part documentary, part activism, and all heart. Bold and beautiful individuals from the Asian & Pacific Islander queer women, transgender, and genderqueer communities have come forward to share their diversity and to be visible. By being visible and by being out, they increase their presence, their voice, their power in the culture at large. They self-represent. They are active and affected participants of social issues locally, nationally, internationally.
There is power in numbers and this project aims to capture images across the country to show that API queer women, trans, and genderqueer folk make up a viable, palpable community with limitless contributions to offer.
I heard about this project while I was traveling earlier this year and wanted to participate, but I was in San Francisco while they were seeking subjects in Los Angeles and vice versa. I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibit after having only browsed the online galleries.

Infusion Gallery
719 S. Spring St.
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 13 (6p-9p)
General Hours: Wed-Sat (12-6P)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Serve & Protect... Who?

On July 21st, after leaving a lovely evening at Tuesday Night Cafe and then Weiland Brewery, my friends and I spotted a man laying face up on the sidewalk next to a car. We were on Traction, off of Alameda, and the area being what it is, the thought did spring to mind that this man could have been a member of the Skid Row community, but when he didn't respond to our multiple calls of "Hey man, are you alright?" we decided that the right thing to do would be to try to find him some help.

Being three women, we were worried about our own safety and decided to request help from those employed by our tax dollars. When I called 911 from my cel phone to seek help, I encountered an automated menu. We realized that it would be faster to just track down the police officers who regularly "patrol" in front of Starbucks and Yogurtland.

We pulled up behind two police cars and pulled the officers, I'm not sure whether there were four or six of them, away from a conversation they were having with civilians. They were reluctant at first, saying "He's probably just drunk," but they got into their squad cars--without asking us exactly where the man was. We followed them to Alameda, where they harassed a man who was obviously homeless and sleeping until we yelled to them "Not him! The guy over there!" and lead them to the passed out man we saw.

It was already frustrating at that point. What happened next was infuriating.

The officers approached the man on the ground, and one of them yelled "HEY NACHO!"

From inside my friend's car, the three of us watched in shock as the officers then began to kick him. We could hardly believe what we were seeing and were frozen. In hindsight, I wish that I had found the wherewithal to get out of the car and intervene somehow. When the man finally got to his feet, my friend asked the officers whether they knew him and they all shook their heads "No." The man got up and began walking east on Traction and we left.

This deplorable treatment of a man, a human being, by officers of the law was something that I don't think any of us had ever witnessed first hand before. What's worse is the sense of disempowerment we had-- we didn't challenge the police, we didn't know how to stand up to their authority.

What shocked me further was that beneath my initial shock with the officers' exhibition of racism in calling that man "Nacho" and their violent treatment of him, I was not entirely shocked. I even attempted to rationalize their actions-- they're desensitized because they deal with this sort of thing every day-- before coming to my senses: no one should be kicked awake or be subject to racial slurs, whatever their economic or social standing, and an officer of the law should be trained not only to hold a weapon but to treat people with dignity.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Free Healthcare Aug. 11-18 in Inglewood!

Anyone uninsured and interested in attaining some medical, dental, or vision care may want to know about RAM LA 2009:

The Forum
3900 W. Manchester Blvd.
Inglewood, CA 90305
Registration begins at 5:30AM daily

Taken from the RAM website:
The Remote Area Medical® (RAM) Volunteer Corps is a non-profit, volunteer, airborne relief corps dedicated to serving mankind by providing free health care, dental care, eye care, veterinary services, and technical and educational assistance to people in remote areas of the United States and the world.
The LA Forum website had more details about the event:
Our parking lot will open at 3:30AM and registration begins at 5:30AM daily. Services will be offered on a first-come first-served basis each day so please arrive early if you would like to be seen. Registration numbers will be handed out at 3:30AM when we open the parking lot. If you are being dropped off or if you are walking to The Forum we will also have a table where you can walk up and receive a registration number.
You may also call their line at The Forum @ 310-330-7310.
Please spread the word, not only to those who might want to get care, but to any medical professionals who may be able to volunteer. Information about volunteering is also on RAM LA 2009.

With the 3:30AM start time, it looks like they are (prudently) expecting a massive number of people. If your healthcare needs are not immediate but you are in need of assistance, LA County Helps might offer a suitable program.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bicycle Kitchen Is Hiring!

I put my first road bike together last summer at Bicycle Kitchen. I'm excited to see that they've received a grant and will be able to hire someone to handle some of their operations (I imagine that with the increase in folks using bikes for transit, the workload was getting to be too much for volunteers to handle). It looks like a great opportunity and I am definitely considering applying myself. (Click here to read the full listing.)
The Bicycle Kitchen has been awarded a capacity building grant to hire one full-time staff person for one year. The OpsFac will support the organization's daily operations through a variety of administrative, financial and logistical duties, including inventory and processing donations. This position will interface directly with clients, volunteers and the community. The OpsFac will report to the Board of Directors and work closely with many members of the volunteer staff. 
The largest project over the course of the year will be creating an operations manual to streamline and standardize regular operations. 
I found the listing on, pretty much my go-to website for job hunting in the nonprofit sector. If anyone has suggestions for other sources, please, feel free to pass them along.) Congratulations, Bike Kitchen!