Mexico isn’t the same continent that U.S. citizens wake up on. I mean, it’s in North America, sure — but take a few steps across the border and it’ll quickly feel like you’re on a faraway planet. That’s because if you grew up in the States — like I did — there will always be a protective wall separating you and life in the south.
I know, since I’ve tried it. I quit my job in California, lived with my abuelo down in Veracruz, traveled around Oaxaca, Jalisco, San Luis, and Queretaro as a dual-citizen, and soaked it all up…
In Oakland, the revolution is being muralized. For weeks, local artists and activists have united in a takeover of Oakland’s downtown streets to deploy vibrantly-charged murals that encourage viewers to reimagine what safety in the community should look like.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the East Bay’s hub — long known for a legacy of art and resistance — has taken center stage in the dismantling of police brutality, systemic injustice, and anti-Blackness.
If you’ve lived in San Francisco in recent years, you know about the honey bear. These cute, stenciled icons are smattered on building exteriors throughout the city. Sometimes, the honey bear wears a cozy beanie. Other times, it’s disguised with 3D goggles and popcorn. Recently, it’s been spotted wearing a Black Lives Matter sweatshirt and mask in response to Covid-19.
For many, the honey bears are a harmless, fun splash of pop art — a symbol of San Francisco’s quirky art scene and the city’s playful appeal. The artist behind the bears, who remains anonymous and is known simply as…
When 2020 is said and done, it’ll likely become known as the year of massive uncertainty. But with so much instability (from Covid-19 to crimson skies on the West Coast), corner store culture remains familiar. LEVEL’s Corner Store Chronicles series pays homage to the power of the store that delivers the warmth and care that ACME will never replicate. Whether known as bodegas, tienditas, or another term of endearment where you’re from, our hoods would be nothing without them.
I can’t see him smiling beneath his face mask, but I know Yusuf is happy.
The enthusiastic 23-year-old Yemeni immigrant works…
I had never taught Tatiana before. Yet, after a Latinx student meeting in Oakland, the 12th grader unexpectedly embraced me, crying: “You’re the first Mexican teacher I’ve seen at this school; I just wanted to say thank you.”
Translation: I’ve never seen someone like you in a position of academic importance.
I understood Tatiana. In my years as a student in Bay Area schools from kindergarten through high school, I only had one male teacher of color amid a stampede of mostly white women. This isn’t just a Bay Area problem, of course. My nine-year teaching career has allowed me…
In a year as stressful as the pandemic has been, my wife and I have found refuge in each other — but also, in our community of lifelong friends, and in escaping to the outdoors.
It’s a privilege in many ways to be able to pack up, leave the hood, and spend a couple nights sleeping under the stars, but it’s something we’ve prioritized for ourselves and have made an effort to do during quarantine, since being trapped inside working from home all day isn’t exactly good for your melanin or mental health.
So we hit up Burney Falls (about…
If you haven’t seen Seis Manos yet, you need to get your shit together and support this 2019 original, which features the voices of Danny Trejo, Jonny Cruz, and Angelica Vale. Here’s a rundown of the dope, unorthodox plot: it takes place in the 1970s and follows a trio of kung fu fighting Mexicanos who — with the help of a Black DEA agent and Mexican policewoman— battle to defend San Simon, a fictional border town. They’re up against a hyper-savage cartel takeover, using only their six fists (“seis manos”) to combat the flying bullets. If it sounds wildly unbelievable…
I recently received a surprising text from my older brother: “Thank you, LaMelo Ball!”
He’s a self-proclaimed “resurrected NBA fan,” and admittedly doesn’t know much about the current players or League, but has become highly interested this season, just like so many others around the world who have helped to make the NBA the fastest growing sports league — which has grown at a rate three times greater than their biggest competitor, the NFL.
I immediately opened the screenshot he’d sent, curious to see what he was referencing since him and I don’t typically talk about the NBA on solo…
Posters adorn pockmarked walls.
Boy drinks them in like communion wine — holy water.
Jordan hangs in the air
like a Christmas ornament he floats
over the court. The ball splashes
cleanly through the net: a smooth stone
As Bird falls backward
into the other team’s bench,
time seems to slow.
The ball screams from his hands:
a thunderbolt loosed from a longbow. Time has expired,
but the arch of the projectile holds existence together.
Rushing earthward gathering phaeton-like speed. And then:
shot slices surgically through nylon.
Cheers like confetti, fall from the crowd.
The ball appears where…
I’m currently writing this from my house in the East Bay Area. But when Covid-19 hit, I was nearly eight months into living with my family on the other side of the U.S-Mexico border — and I was unsure about returning.
First, some context: Mexico isn’t the paradise or warzone that the U.S. media constantly simplifies it as. It has elements of paradise and warfare, like most nations, but it’s much more complex than what the news regularly portrays. Like most Latin American nations, it contains extreme wealth along with rampant poverty, privilege underpinning political corruption, indigenous traditions balanced by…
Bay Area writer, blogger, teacher. Books: Piñata Theory (2020); This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album (2019). Twitter + IG: @alan_chazaro