Saturday, April 26, 2014


“The Birth of M.E.ChX.A 2014” 2014-04-24 by Itzel Calvo (reprinted from the March-April 2014 issue of The Organizer newspaper) []:
Photo showing the author speaking during a "Save CCSF" event, 2014

For decades, the Chicano Movement was among the most successful in organizing students and having demands met. After the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and early '70s, however, there have been very few Chican@ student-led movements. What we've seen in the past decade has been mass mobilization within the undocumented community for a humane immigration reform involving undocumented youth groups, religious organizations, and community organizations. It's about to be a decade since the wave of mass protest actions across the country for immigration reform back in the spring of 2006, but nothing has been done since that time on a national level for immigrants other than the passing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which only benefits those who are considered an asset to the U.S economy.
The discontent in the Latino community with politicians who keep promising a just immigration reform is much like the discontent with the Democratic Party in relation to Chicanos who were appointed or elected to political office. The Chicano organizations began to realize that these politicians did not care for the average Chican@ or their living standards in los barrios, so they began to withdraw from the Democratic Party. With the wave of new migration from Latin America, the undocumented community grew and began a movement of its own.  For the Chicano organizations, the issues concerning the undocumented community were last on the agenda.
The vision of creating a M.E.Ch.X.A chapter at  City College of San Francisco (CCSF) became a reality on Tuesday, March 11. Students knew that creating a chapter was vital in the struggle to protect and defend CCSF's mission of remaining accessible to all students. The organizations already established on campus were not strong enough, or determined enough, to take on the whole accreditation crisis or the bad administrative policies that disproportionately affect students of color.
One of those policies was the new payment policy implemented to make sure that students paid their tuition up front. Undocumented students who do not qualify for AB540 -- a policy that would allow them to receive in-state tuition and the bog waiver, which pays their tuition, if eligible -- would have to pay a minimum of $800 per class at a community-college level. Tuition fees keep increasing and resources are scarce.
The development of a M.E.Ch.X.A chapter on campus has grown in the past month. It was part of the rally that happened two days after the chapter's formation; eight chapter members were part of the student occupation of the administration building, as ending the payment policy was one of the demands of the student action. We've had tremendous support from students and faculty members in the Latino Studies Department, which has proven the level of commitment of students and faculty towards the movement.
M.E.Ch.A is a national organization that promotes higher education, political involvement, cultura and historia. The undocumented community shares those same struggles, but with the additional burden of not having a legal status in the country to be able to achieve those goals.
The organization on the CCSF campus of undocumented students is an exception to the militancy and self-determination of other undocumented groups in San Francisco. A few campus groups offer a safe space where undocumented students can gather and talk about issues within the community; these groups offer resources to undocumented students. This is helpful, but it's very limited. When it comes to fighting back against the attacks on public education, these groups are less willing to struggle since the majority qualify for AB540.
Those affected by the school administration's attacks -- and those truly wanting to defend the rights of ALL undocumented students -- found they had no option but to organize themselves and be involved in political discussions about how best to defend public education and demand changes to the administration's policies.
As un undocumented student, it has been very conflicting for me to start a chapter of an organization that has not given recognition to undocumented students throughout the majority of its history. It seems that when it comes to the undocumented question, the only thing M.E.Ch.A has done nationally is stand in solidarity with the undocumented student struggle in the most recent years.
For the most part, Chicanos do not understand the undocumented struggle. And when you have a group of undocumented students who understand the struggle but don't wish to act on it, things gets complicated and you begin to question the reasoning of the organization's existence.
Having said this, not all M.E.Ch.A chapters have stood on the sidelines in relation to undocumented immigrants. The M.E.Ch.A chapter at UC Berkeley, for example, did an amazing job organizing demonstrations against new UC President Janet Napolitano, the former department head of Homeland Security who was responsible for hundreds of thousands of deportations under the Obama administration.
In hopes of creating a bridge between understanding the undocumented struggle and taking action on the issues that affect our community regardless of citizenship status, M.E.ChX.A de CCSF will be inclusive to all who identify with Chicanismo.
On April 4-6 Mechistas from our CCSF chapter attended the M.E.Ch.A. California statewide conference in order to be officially recognized as a chapter and introduce our ideas to revitalize the movement. We had a very welcoming experience and an understanding of how the organization works. There is no doubt that other M.E.Ch.A. chapters agreed with us when it comes to acknowledging that the founding documentos of the organization are outdated and need to be more inclusive to our undocumented brothers and sisters.
Along with getting recognized, our chapter was chosen to organize the next regional meeting for Alta Califas Norte and also one of our mechistas, Lalo Gonzalez, was elected National M.E.Ch.A. Co-Chair to represent our region at Nationals. Given this opportunity, we will push for our vision of taking back what it rightfully ours, access to education, immigration reform, and protecting Ethnic Studies. Power comes with numbers, and M.E.ChX.A de CCSF is growing rapidly. It's only a matter of time when it comes to bringing back el movimiento.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

L@s Autonomous Brown Berets of Sonoma County

We are the continuing legacy of the original organization founded in 67 our of East LA that have adapted to changing times to best fit the struggle for our people's due self determination. Inspired by the work of the Black Panther Party for Self Defence, the Brown Berets where originally designed to be a copwatch program to combat the police abuse of the Raza community in East LA. But as we came to realize that many social issues are interconnected, we quickly evolved our political philosophy to include other sectors of the struggle for social justice such as disproportionate war recruitment, cultural relevance, free health services, proper educational opportunities, voting and labor issues.

In the of the radical times of social activity of the 60s and 70s, the popularity of grassroots militancy quickly fomented the growth of the organization throughout the entire Western half of the country. Under the name of the Brown Beret National Organization, many programs continued to be carried out like the ones I recently mentioned, with the perspective of the two founding principles of self-determination and nationalism. Sonoma County had its original Beret group in the 70s that had approximately 400 members and continued the work of copwatch program, food distribution to the hungry and free health clinics among other programs. In November of 72' the national organization was officially disbanded by the co-founder and then Prime Minister David Sanchez ultimately due to infiltration of Law Enforcement Agencies from all levels of government.

Local and Regional Brown Beret organizations continued to organize. The Berets of the San Diego County eventually decided to form as an independent official organization, taking up the name Brown Berets de Aztlan and continue to organize social movement to this day. In the region of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, the Carnalismo Brown Berets formed, also as its own independent organization that also continue to organize today. I dont have much more organizational information about these two factions. In the 90s the BBNO was re-established by several original members and began to form chapters throughout the southwest of the country as popularity increased. As these factions developed independently, they also grew into their specific niches that best fit their local movements. Hence slight differences of ideology among them. Originally organized as an independent chapter, Sonoma County experienced the growth of its second generation of Brown Berets during this time. We eventually disbanded from the coercion of David Sanchez' demand to affiliate with the then intended resurgence of his affiliated network of chapters.
The establishment of our faction was accredited to the development of the Watsonville Brown Berets, as they disbanded from the BBNO in 1998 I believe and when they did so they published a position paper rejecting nationalism and declaring themselves autonomous. They continued organizing movement such as their Liberation School where they offered tutoring and counceling support, their annual Youth and Power informational event and their annual Peace and Unity March which they held since their establishment in 1994. They solidified relationships with many local community organizations and where active in their local political process. What separated them from the other Beret organizations it that they infused their organization with native ceremony which further reinforced their commitment to communal and healthy lifestyles as a means to establishing our revolutionary vision shared throughout all history of social justice. This was apparent in their organizing structure and approach. Under the guidance of elders, the Native perspective of a cyclical world view was eventually internalized by them familiarizing themselves with ceremonial practices like Sweat Lodge ceremony and Danza Azteca. It was routine for them to ritually begin and end their meetings in a circle, and a traditional collective smudging of sage smoke. Throughout this time, they gained wide spread recognition from the work they where doing (as most of us activists do inspired from by our hearts, without the intent of doing social justice work for fame), which helped the calling of other organizers to establish Brown Beret chapters of direct association. This is what provoked the creation of the Autonomous faction of Brown Berets, while during this time having chapters in LA, Fresno, Houston, Boise, Salt Lake City, El Paso, Sacramento and Sonoma County (among others). The Watsonville Brown Berets decided to temporarily disband in 2013.

Our current generation of Brown Berets of Sonoma County began in April of 2010 as a small group of young men of different backgrounds felt that our community needed this type of revolutionary political-cultural perspective which was not found in our area. We quickly got to establishing our organization suited to our local area, have continuously been developing and strive to always be open to learning while 'keeping our eyes on the prize' (and old movement saying). We are consensus-based in our decisions and have our Elders' Council as a general guide and support, who we are given very wise advice from. Ideologically, we respect the necessity of having a nationalist perspective because the ages old struggle for social justice is necessarily born out of the need for the oppressed to liberate themselves, and therefore existing the necessity to identify with traits that unifies these people(not limited to ethnicity or class). We also respect active internationalist solidarity, which we believe is just as important as nationalism in collectively manifesting the environment of a revolutionary/utopian society of social justice. In having a reasoned balance of these two principles, we agree that we do allow anybody for our recruitment process but will always continue to be a Raza oriented organization. Early on, we participated in the occupation of Sogorea-Te (the Glen Cove take back in Vallejo), presented several workshops at several events, held a live-broadcasted discussion panel (in collaboration with our historic KBBF), and a few fundraisers. We have usually preferred to collaborate with other organizations for the purposes of building relationships. Recently we have added Ramon to our group and are proud of his exemplary activity that embodies the example of a developing Brown Beret with his heart in the right place, an element required for the long-term revolutionary struggle. We have continued to stay true to the vision of a revolutionary perspective and have not lost our way by falling to the illusion of liberalism (the notion of seemingly progressive politics that is ultimately un-loyal to the people) or selling out in any other way.

The struggle is long from dead. The only reasonable way to deal with today's reality is by living the genuine existence that the revolutionary life-style advocates. Ignoring a problem is the easiest way of selling out. Our loved ones and our people of today, the past and the future depend on us to do our part to make all the difference for them and for ourselves. One of the most grounding fundamentals us revolutionaries live with is that we are honest with our own selves. This allows us to be genuine with others and paves the road for the establishing of the revolutionary world that, in one way or another, we all have always struggled for.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Qilombo Community Social Center

As we begin this new stage of struggle, we are asking for the support of comrades from all over the world by becoming Friends of Qilombo and making a one time or recurring donation [].
If you have any questions, would like to be added to our announcement list, or would like to host a class, meeting or an event, please email or visit

Announcing the Qilombo Community Social Center Grand Opening
In January of 2014, the Holdout temporarily closed its doors to do some serious cleaning. Now that the space has gone through several transitions, it’s time to reopen as a radical social center that supports community in struggle–with new energy and a new name.
From the Kimbundu word kilombo, the original quilombos were maroon societies founded by African people in Brazil and throughout South America between the 16th and 19th centuries. Most inhabitants of the quilombos were Africans escaping the trans-atlantic slave trade, but included indigenous people from local regions and other marginalized people fleeing European colonization. These autonomous zones provided land, shelter, and safety for those fighting to protect themselves from colonial enslavement and genocide. Resistance meant survival.
In this spirit of inter-communal solidarity, we invite you to join us in struggle! The Qilombo community social center is a place of intersection for Anarchists, other revolutionaries for liberation and folks from our neighborhood.
We have meeting and event space, a bookstore, a bike workshop, a free store, a pool table, a printing studio, and free use computers. A mutual-aid food distribution that offers free, nutritious groceries every Sunday. The HEPPAC collective that provides a needle exchange Friday mornings. We also host regularly occurring skillshares in Swahili and Chinese Martial Arts, an Anarchist/Autonomous Person of Color reading group, the Educate to Liberate workshop series, a prisoner letter writing night, and more! We are seeking new volunteers and new proposals for workshops and events, hit us up! These events are open to the public and are free or donation based.
Our bookstore specializes in radical books that are relevant to our communities. We have an excellent selection of books on African liberation, Anarchism, revolutionary movements, critical theory, a choice selection of zines, and some excellent fiction. Come by and read a book, or buy one that you’d like to take home.
We offer instruction on basic bike maintenance and repair. If you need help fixing up your bike or are interested in building one yourself, stop by the bike workshop.

Qilombo Events for Early April -
Below are the Qilombo events for the first half of April! We hope to see you. Remember to check [] for any schedule changes that may happen.

April 5 // Free Jihad! Fundraiser for Comrade Facing Repression
6pm - Midnight
Comrade Jihad Mujahid Muhammad, Minister of Spirituality for the Black Riders Liberation Party, was scheduled to be released last week after being held captive for a year in San Quentin and Folsom Prison. On the day he was supposed to be released, he was transferred to Santa Clara County and arraigned on new trumped-up charges. There will be a screening of the Black Riders Liberation Party documentary “Let Um Hear Ya Coming;” hip-hop performances by Ras Ceylon, Shango Abiola, E Da Ref, Ms. Incredible, and Fly Benzo; a raffle and halal food.

April 6 // Labor, Black and Brown Revolutionary Discussion Series: Women's Liberation and Class Struggle
We will be discussing:
How does exploitation differ from oppression.
How do revolutionaries utilize the wisdom that: “you can judge a society by how the women are treated.”
The historical overthrow of the matriarchy.
Questions or issues that participants want to discuss

April 6 // Sin Fronteras: A Benefit for Mexican Political Prisoners
5pm - 8pm
Come to Qilombo Community Center on Sunday April 6th to hear about support forming for political prisoners in Mexico from people working on various campaigns for political prisoners in Mexico City as well as Soy 132 Bay Area and the support work they are doing for a political prisoner in Guerrero. Hear how these networks of support are formed and help sustain growing resistance across borders.

April 12 // Pachuco Prom
As MEChA De San Pancho, we strive to provide access to higher education to underrepresented and marginalized communities. Xicana/o Grad was created in order to honor and recognize the long journey taken by these graduates to obtain their college degrees, as well as to pay tribute to the families and communities that have helped guide them in their college careers. This event is free to all graduates and their guests, knowing that we come from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and do not feel that people should be excluded due to cost.

Here's a glimpse of some of our recurring events!

April 2 // Graffiti Skillshare
Noon - 4pm (recurring weekly)
Come learn graffiti skills from one of our compas, and help bring art onto the walls of Qilombo!

April 2 // Anarchist People of Color Reading Group
8pm - 9:30pm (recurring monthly)

April 4 // Needle Exchange
11:30am - 1:30pm (recurring weekly)
A service provided by HEPPAC.

April 5 // Decolonizing Feminism
Noon - 3pm (recurring weekly)
The decolonizing feminisms study group is an all women of color group. We intent to develop not only a critique of patriarchy in the context of decolonial struggle, but also to formulate steps forward, and ways to implement and put into practice our understanding of what that means.

April 6 // Community Breakfast
11 am - 12:30pm (recurring weekly)
Feeding ourselves and the neighborhood! Free!

April 6 // Mutual Aid Food Program
12:30pm - 3:30pm (recurring weekly)
Come volunteer and/or come take a bag of produce for yourself! Rice and beans are also available for .50c-$1.00 per pound donation!

April 7 // Educate to Liberate
7pm - 9pm (recurring weekly)
BRLP workshop series.

April 11 // Chinese Martial Arts
3pm - 4pm (recurring weekly)
Bagua and Xingyi are two traditional fighting arts which are often taught together. Our class focuses on the self defense and grappling/joint locking applications of the arts. Class involves solo and partner training which are both readily modifiable for people with chronic injuries and other health limitations.

April 12 // Kiswahili Skillshare
3pm - 5pm (recurring weekly)