By: Zoë Muntaner
I have been told to never let my mood dictate my manners. Is a practice that takes decades to cultivate, and even more to sustain. In the world of politics, where jabs are constantly thrown at you, the challenge is to keep calm under pressure. Politics are not for the thin skinned, fragile or coward.
If you are a political citizen, at some point you will become passionate about ideals and campaigns, it is wise to be vigilant about emotions that potentially trigger crisis or disaster, which will later require the skill of a professional to manage.
“Am I willing to suffer for this? “ is the question I always ask myself before commiting to action.
“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from” ~Joan Didion
Experience has taught me to be mindful on the passions I choose. Passion: (n.) from Late Latin passionem “suffering, enduring” stem of Latin pati “to suffer, endure, to hurt.”
I’m Latinx therefore my DNA is already infused with passion. Warning: Proceed with caution.
“Manners are the basic building blocks of civil society” ~Alexander McCall Smith
DNA, NOW & CULTURAL APPROPIATION
Cultural Appropiation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture. This week’s Santa Monica Downtown Neighbors Association and North of Wilshire Neighbors Association event was themed “Block Party”. DNA is chaired by Elena Christopoulos a white young female and NOW is chaired by Troy Harris a black young man.
I grew up going to block parties in Puerto Rico and New York. So last night I dressed in washed out jeans, plaid shirt, sweater on my waist, LA Dodger cap and sandals. Most guests were overdressed. Travis Pagel and Peter James, the planners who are on the DCP road show were on point with their dress code. They are busy, and have the toughest job in town: sell a project that will alter the feel and character of downtown Santa Monica. I admire their tenacity and have compassion for the trouble they go through doing their job.
I was greeted by a new Santa Monica resident whom I met at the Santa Monica Democratic Club meeting where David Martin presented the DCP. I was surprised when he told me he became a board member of DNA within months after moving to Santa Monica. His name is Wellington Moreno, we connected because he is Dominican from the Bronx, you know me, I love my color people. Mr. Moreno greeted me with a warning: “I hope you are not coming here to cause any trouble”. It can only go uphill from there, yes? Wrong. Next stop was the sign in table to get my ticket for a free drink (the invitation said drinks, as in plural). I shook hands with Ms. Christopoulos whom I contacted months before to discuss Compassionate Santa Monica. She also serves in the Santa Monica Commission on the Status of Women. I thought it would be easy to sit and meet, after all, it is part of her job. Correct? Wrong again. I was snubbed and unfriended from her Facebook page. I’ll take my speech somewhere else, not everyone has a taste for compassion in this town. Take note, Santa Monica is the first city in LA County to sign the Charter for Compassion, and the 4th city in the whole state of California. Did I mentioned it was a unanimous vote by our City Council? It was, back in September 2013. I have been in the compassion movement for three years now. Not an easy task. I am a developer of sorts, I build compassionate cities, and it is the slowest growth of all developments.
Around 7:30 PM speeches started. Ms. Christopoulos time came up and she scolded the audience because they were not listening to her, and ask people to be quiet. I do event planning through my company New MOON Media & Communications. My piece of free advice: never give alcohol and food to your guests and wait more than 30 minutes before starting the speech portion of an event. When her please didn’t work, she deployed her bomb:
“I am half German, so you know, I have all the time in the world” ~ Elena Christopoulos, Political Consultant, Speaker, Communications Consultant, President of DNA & Commissioner of the Status of Women in Santa Monica
Should I be scared? What does that mean? Oy vey!
My grandfather Maximillian Cohen was Jewish, I was raised Catholic. I’m surprised to find out that Elena has a website offering political advisor, communications, and speaker services. Interesting choice of words and attitude, especially since she was stressing civility and diversity throughout the night. Entitled? You be the judge of that.
My issue here is that I’m commited to moving the needle of diversity in Santa Monica as much as I can. I’m also commited to policing its authenticity and control any cultural appropiation to advance a political agenda.
“Cultural appropriation typically involves members of a dominant group exploiting the culture of less privileged groups — often with little understanding of the latter’s history, experience and traditions.” ~Nadra Kareem Little, Race Relations Expert
According to Wikipedia, block parties are reported as a World War I innovation originating from the East Side of New York City, where an entire block was roped off and patriotic songs sung and a parade held to honor the members of that block who had gone off to war. Traditionally, many inner city block parties were actually held illegally, because they did not file for an event permit from the local authorities. However, police turned a blind eye to them. Block parties gained popularity in the United States during the 1970s, particularly within the hip hop community. Block parties were often held outdoors and power for the DJ’s sound system was taken illegally from street lights, as referenced in the song “South Bronx” by KRS-One.
This was not one of those block parties, evidenced by the end portion of the evening. After Peter and Travis DCP presentation, only board members were allowed to ask questions because, after all, they are paying for the party, those were her literal words. WOW! I was raised to have my guests be the center of attention and cater to their wants and needs. That’s how I roll!
“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy” ~Isaac Newton
ENTRE BROMA Y BROMA…LA VERDAD SE ASOMA (Google it!)
It gets better! Tim Harter, Senior Field Representative of Assemblyman Richard Bloom (Jewish) California State Legislator Office was a speaker at the event as well. He later posted in Facebook about the event:
“Community engagement is a vital function of a healthy community!! Learning about the Downtown Community Plan with the Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) and North of Wilshire (NOW). ” ~Tim Harter, Board Mamber of NOW
“Soon, perhaps in the next few weeks, the California legislature will vote on Bloom’s controversial bill (AB2844) “California Combatting the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions (BDS) of Israel Act of 2016.” This bill – also co-sponsored by State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) – would bar state and local contracts with any private company boycotting Israel and its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Private companies refusing to demolish homes or run segregated bus systems in illegally occupied territory could find themselves on a government blacklist, as Bloom’s bill – reminiscent of the McCarthy era – requires the state Attorney General to keep a list of Israel boycotters.” ~Marcy Winograd, Santa Monica Daily Press
I wonder how Bloom and Harter feel about the Nazi rhetoric of Ms. Elana Christopolos. Does Ms. Christopoulos is aware of the Jewish Community in Santa Monica? A worthy political advisor has to be cognizant of those details. Where she lacked in diversity understanding she has in financial resources, evidenced by her website. I am going to hold on the blonde jokes, I don’t want the backlash this weekend. Seriously, can someone give this lady a better script? If this is how she sells diversity, is time to call the crisis management team. Oy Vey!
It strucked me as odd that Ms. Christopoulos presented Santa Monica as the ideal space to live for her because she can:” jog in the morning, hike at noon and surf in the afternoon.” She is one fit woman for sure! Skinny Blonde, would be an appropiate title for a fitness blog (I charge for my ideas just in case). I can’t relate to her speech. I’m working to establish the board of Compassionate Santa Monica, plan and execute fundraisers, raise capital, manage a startup: diversitymatters.co and run New MOON Media & Communications. In other words….I have to work. I don’t have the luxury of spending my days working out for a skinny bod. I schedule an hour of yoga or fitness class and 30 minutes of steam room in the evening at the Water Garden Bay Club to keep my mojo going. There are countless of Santa Monica residents that do not have the luxury of wellness, despite the fact that Santa Monica was a finalist of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their culture of wellness, and won the Bloomberg Philantrophy Award for the Wellness Project. Food for thought.
AUTHENTIC DIVERSITY: TACO CHALLENGE & BE VISIBLE
Raising LATINO voter registration is something I’m involved in through an initiative from Beatriz Acevedo mitu Network, a Santa Monica Media Company.
Mitu as the voice of Latino millennials is committed to inspiring Latino youth in civic engagement. While Latinos may be driving population growth, only one of three Latino millennials are using their voice to vote. We are represented in numbers, but we are not represented in votes.
As the largest digital media brand, they are able to harness video content and social activations to inspire young U.S. Latinos to take action and make their voices heard.
They have created a unique crossbreed of content that has engaged their audience a million times over. By intersecting the world of hard news and popular culture in a social-friendly format, their audience has not only watched their video content, but has become engaged in the national discourse. For example, Mixing a pop icon, like Selena, and creating a song that encourages people to vote, in the Selenagram Voting video, has garnered over 1 million views, over 14,000 shares and comments like this “Wow we have power in numbers!!!!! Latinos stand up, get involved, and vote for the only candidate that has our best interest.” Not only are people commenting on the video, but they are commenting on the comments. We’re watching Latino millennials become an active part shaping the future of our country. The power of social video with their community is very powerful and mitú will always use it to engage and inspire our youth.
Beatriz is an inspiring role model and speaker, we reconnected three weeks ago at the BE VISIBLE Event at Cal State LA, where I found my tribe. When I was tasked with asking her a question after her presentation, I brought the issue of Santa Monica’s at-large vs. district elections debate. That’s how I became aware of the Take Action Commit Others Challenge. #TACOChallenge
To learn more about Be Visible go here: BE VISIBLE
“We will use mitú’s massive social reach through its video content to engage and inspire Latino millennials to have a say in how our country will be run and encourage them to get out and vote.
We are excited that so many celebrities and social influencers have joined our T.A.C.O. Challenge by agreeing to take action and commit others to vote,” ~Beatriz Acevedo, President and Co-founder of mitú.
Join us tomorrow at the #TACOChallenge.
The special events will feature live performances, food and voter registration booths. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a supporter of this movement and will be onsite helping to get voters registered. Other expected event guests include Rosario Dawson, Richard Cabral, Diego Boneta, Nick Gonzalez, Jackie Cruz, Efren Ramirez, Chef Marcela Valladolid, La Santa Cecilia, Maya Jupiter, Kat Dahlia, Eric Ochoa “SUPEReeeGO”, Luan Palomera, Yulema Ramirez.
Rosario Dawson is excited to join the movement and attend the event. “Latino millennials are the face of the new American majority. Together, we have a responsibility to transform our democracy and ensure that every person has a voice in the political process,” said Dawson. “That’s why I’m proud to be a part of a historic effort to register and activate 1 million Latino millennials. This election will be decided by us, all of us, and we must do everything in our power to ensure that we create the kind of future that we know is indeed possible,” she continued.
Organizations dedicated to helping mitú reach the voter registration goal include, City of Los Angeles, Revolve Impact, Toberman Neighborhood Center, Divine Forces Media, NCLR, FWD.us, Rock the Vote, CHIRLA, Voto Latino, Define American, Mi Familia Vota, LULAC, United We Dream, NHMC, NALIP, Homeboy Industries, Center for Community Change, LifeBoxset, Communities in Schools, Youth Justice Coalition, Homies Unidos , Gathering for Justice , Project Kinship , Anti-Recidivism Coalition, Sankofa, The Courage Campaign, Inner-City Struggle, New Earth, Street Poets, Alliance for Community Empowerment, Arts for LA and All of Us or None Los Angeles.
WRITING AS MEDICINE
The daily task, practice and dicipline of writing allows me to process ideas that would otherwise go unexamined. I proudly belong to the Joan Didion school of thought:
“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”~Joan Didion
To have a forum to express my ideas freely is part of my wellness project, is healing. Oh, yes I also have a company that provide wellness programs. I am a certified Kundalini Yoga and Pilates Instructor. You can find more information about us here: The Wellness Project. We were in business way before the city of Santa Monica came up with their original idea.
I welcome vigorous debate and treat our City Manager Rick Cole with the same transparent honesty and respect I do with Portia, the Metro Rail Ambassador at the Bergamot Metro Station, or Domingo the server at the Ralph’s market Bistro who travels three hours by bus to get to work each day in the morning and evening. Is who I am, because I was raised in diversity, where manners were meant for everyone, not only those who agreed with my politics.
I leave you with sincere Shabbat Shalom wishes from the bottom of my heart!